House of Representatives
26 May 1904

2nd Parliament · 1st Session



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

VICTORIAN MAIL SERVICES.

Mr. PHILLIPS.- ;I wish to ask the Postmaster-General, without notice, if he is, aware that a Jame number of mail services’ in the State of Victoria, and especially in the mallee and north-western districts, have been curtailed through the Railway Department discontinuing the running of a number of trains. Will he endeavour to arrange for mails to be carried by the special goods trains which are daily being run on many lines, as the Railway Department at present refuses to carry mails by these special goods trains?

Mr. MAHON. - I am aware that many of the Victorian mail services are being curtailed through the discontinuance of trains in some of the country districts. I do not know how far the powers of the Commonwealth extend in the direction of enabling us to require the Railway Commissioners to carry special mails by the goods trains to which the honorable member refers, but an inquiry into the matter will be instituted at once, and an effort will be made to come to a satisfactory arrangement with the Railways Commissioners.

page 1605

QUESTION

FREMANTLE FORTIFICATIONS AND POST OFFICE

Mr CARPENTER:
FREMANTLE, WESTERN AUSTRALIA

– A short time ago Inspector-General Owen was sent to Fremantle to report as to the best site for a post-office in that town, and also in regard to the question of fortifying the place. Have his reports yet come to hand, and, if so, will the Minister of Home Affairs make them public?

Mr BATCHELOR:
Minister for Home Affairs · BOOTHBY, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · ALP

– The reports have been received from Colonel Owen, and the honorable member can see them if he desires to do so.

page 1605

QUESTION

STATISTICAL DEPARTMENT

Mr WILKINSON:
MORETON, QUEENSLAND

– I wish to know from the Minister of Home Affairs if it is the intention of the Government to establish in the near future a Commonwealth Statistical Department. If so, will the honorable member tell us approximately how soon action will be taken in that direction?

Mr BATCHELOR:
ALP

– I cannot tell the honorable member when the Government propose to take over the Statistical Departments of the States, but detailed estimates have been prepared as to the cost of a Commonwealth Statistical Department, and these estimates will be submitted to the Cabinet very shortly.

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PAPERS

MINISTERS laid upon the Table the following papers: -

Transfers approved by the Governor-General under the Audit Act, financial year 1903-4, dated 23rd May, 1904.

Papers relating to the proposed erection of a new post-office at Wolloongabba.

page 1605

QUESTION

LT.-COL. OUTTRIM

Sir JOHN QUICK:
BENDIGO, VICTORIA

asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -

Whether the Deputy Postmaster-General of Victoria has been censured by him for illegal acts, or for indiscretion only, and what is the nature of the illegal acts or indiscretion alleged?

Mr MAHON:
Postmaster-General · COOLGARDIE, WESTERN AUSTRALIA · ALP

– The answer to the honorable and learned member’s question is as follows : -

The. Deputy-Postmaster-General of Victoria has not been censured by the PostmasterGeneral, but his action in certain respects has been criticised, and he has been instructed as to the manner in which some of the duties devolving upon him should be carried out.

page 1605

QUESTION

AUSTRALIAN FLAG

Mr CROUCH:
Corio

– I move-

That, in the opinion of this House, the Australian Flag, as officially selected, should ‘ be flown, upon all forts, vessels, saluting places, and public buildings of the Commonwealth upon all occasions when flags are used.

Mr O’malley:

– The honorable member should include the public schools.

Sir John Quick:

– The Commonwealth has no control over the public schools.

Mr CROUCH:

– No doubt honorable members will be surprised to learn that it was necessary to place a notice of this motion upon the business-paper, and that a resolution of this House must be passed to require to be done by the Government something which it is only right and proper should be done. They are aware that, at the request of the King, designs for a Commonwealth Flag were asked for by the first Commonwealth Administration. Prizes, amounting to ,£75, were offered to successful competitors, and designs were invited from the citizens of the Commonwealth and of the ad-, joining Colony of New Zealand. Ultimately, the prize-money was divided among five competitors, who, strangely enough, all sent in the same design. The designs submitted were then publicly displayed in the Exhibition Buildings at Melbourne. To the opening of this display not only were members of the then first Commonwealth Parliament invited, but invitations were extended to many of the prominent citizens of Melbourne, and additional prestige was given to the event bv asking the wife of the Governor-General, the Countess of Hopetoun, to formally declare it open. After considerable delay, it was announced in the press and in the Commonwealth Gazette that a design had been chosen, and, after further delay - as I could not understand why, since

Ministers had selected a flag, it was not being flown from the public offices - I asked two questions upon the subject, which were reported in Hansard. The first question was asked on the 21st November, 1901, and was addressed to the then Prime Minister, now his Honour Mr. Justice Barton. His reply was that the matter was still before the Colonial Office. Then, on the 30th July, 1902, I addressed another question to the honorable member for Ballarat, because the flag had not even then been used; and I was told that its use was still unauthorized. But, because of the attention directed to the matter by. my questions, a cablegram was sent to the Colonial Office, with the result that shortly afterwards the selected design was gazetted, and a coloured copy of it, together with a full official description, was printed and circulated with the Commonwealth Gazette. I was then informed, as will be seen by reference to Hansard, that the selection of the design had been made by the Ministry at the request of the Imperial authorities, and that the design accepted and authorized was the official Australian flag. Since then the position has been that the Ministry have had a flag, but have not known what to do with it. Possibly the members of the late Administration were rather sorry that they had anything to do with the matter, because they saw that, if the official Australian flag were used, it would have to be flown from the ships of the fleet paid for and controlled by Australia, while the British flag would be flown from the vessels partly paid for by Australia, but entirely under Imperial control. It seems to me that the fact that this distinction will have to be made has kept the Government from insisting upon the flying of the flag from vessels like the Cerberus, the Victorian gunboats, and other vessels of war owned by the Commonwealth, and it has been rarely_ flown even from .our public buildings. When at any military function the Military Forces of the Commonwealth are marched past a saluting base to salute the flag of their country, the Australian flag is always conspicuous bv its absence. Whether that is due to the ‘fact that the General Officer Commanding is an Imperial officer, and would not stand under the Australian flag, I am not prepared to say.

Mr Willis:

– The Union Jack is there, and is honoured all the same.

Mr CROUCH:

– That is so; but it should be remembered that the Australian flag bears the Jack, and there is no idea of separation involved in its use. By the Jack in its corner it symbolises the history of the old country, whilst, in addition, we have the States symbolised by distinctive stars, and the Commonwealth’ itself symbolised by the larger star underneath them. When we have an Australian flag, it is difficult to understand why it should not be used. I have experienced a good deal of difficulty in my .n.’ ./. to induce tha Department to take any step in regard to this matter. Before’ I gave notice of the motion I am moving to-day, I tried to get the Department to take action. I wrote first of all to the then Prime Minister on the 1 6th April, 1903, calling his attention to the fact that a flag other than the Australian flag was flown at the recent military encampment, and on the ships of the Auxiliary Squadron during the Easter naval manoeuvres, and that the Australian flag was conspicuous by its absence. I received a reply from the Secretary to the Prime Minister, which I shall read to the House, in order to show the position the Government took up in the matter : -

Dear Sir,

I am desired by the Prime Minister to acknowledge your letter of 16th inst, calling his attention to the fact that a flag other than the Australian flag was flown at the recent military encampment, and on the ships of the Australian Auxiliary Squadron during the recent Easter manoeuvres.

In reply, I am desired by the Prime Minister to say that his attention has not been previously drawn to the fact mentioned by you, into which he will make early inquiry.

With reference to the fact that the Australian flag is not flown on the ships of the Auxiliary Squadron, the Prime Minister desires me to point out that, as these ships still belong to the British Navy, and that only a proportion of the cost of maintenance is borne by the Commonwealth, it is hardly a matter for surprise that the British flag is flown on these ships.

I am, &c,

  1. R. Bavin.

Although that letter is dated from Sydney, 24th April, 1903, in the Commonwealth Gazette of the day after there is published an order directing that the- Royal Standard is the proper flag to be flown over all the forts of the Commonwealth and over Commonwealth buildings.

Mr CROUCH:

– Although the Prime Minister of the day stated in reply to me on the 24th April that the matter to which I directed his attention would be considered, the late Minister of Defence - the right honorable member for Swan - on the 25th April issued an order in the Commonwealth Gazette directing that the Royal Standard was the only flag to be hoisted over all the forts in Australia- the only flag to be recognised by the Commonwealth Government in forts maintained entirely by Australian money.

Sir John Forrest:

– On certain days?

Mr CROUCH:

– On any and every day. In consequence of the issue of the order, I wrote to the Prime Minister on the 28th April, 1903, as follows: -

Dear Sir,

I am obliged to you for your letter of the 24th inst., promising early inquiry into the nonuse of the Australian flag on Australian forts and ships ; and would be glad if you would also direct your attention to a Gazette announcement, 1903/253, where the Right Honorable the Minister of Defence, only the day after the date ‘of your letter, the 25th April, issued from the Department of Defence an order from His Excellency the Governor-General in Council for the use on sixteen forts therein set out of the Royal Standard and the Union Jack, with full details of their use, and containing the statement that they are to be used in certain cases daily and in other cases on Royal anniversaries and State occasions, the official Australian flag not even being mentioned. As it is possible that the Defence authorities consider the Australian flag a kind of inferior ensign, to be used only upon occasions when it suits the official mood, you will doubtless take into consideration this Gazette notice when dealing with the whole question.

No reply was received to that letter, and I wrote again, and on the 18th September, 1903, I was informed by the Secretary to the Prime Minister that the whole matter had been referred to the Defence Department. I knew what that meant. The matter is still before the Defence Department, and remains there in what may bte considered a proper grave for the interment of all questions which another Department finds it inconvenient to answer, unless this House is induced to pass some such motion as that which I submit to-day. Seeing that a new Ministry had come into power, I wrote on the 20th of January, 1904, to the then Prime Minister, the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, in these terms : -

Dear Sir,

I wrote your Department on the 24th April last, drawing your attention to the fact that the selected Australian flag now officially approved in London, was rarely, and on many occasions never, flown from the Commonwealth public buildings and ships; and, further, in a letter dated 28th April, 1903, called your attention to the Commonwealth Gazette’ announcement 1903/253, in which the use of that flag on the Austraiian defences was completely ignored.

On the 18th September last I was informed that you were obtaining a report from the Defence Department on the matter, and were giving the whole subject careful consideration.

I would be obliged if you will inform me if any decisions which we can make public have yet been arrived at by you ; and when we can expect the Australian flag to be used in the Commonwealth by the Commonwealth authorities.

Again I was promised further consideration. The Secretary to the Prime Minister writing me as follows on ‘26th January, 1904 : -

I have the honour, by direction of the Prime Minister, to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 20th inst., with further reference to the question of the Australian flag being used in the Commonwealth by the Commonwealth authorities, and to inform you that the matter will receive early attention.

It is still receiving early attention, and unless honorable members agree to pass some such motion as I submit, it will be impossible for) the Australian flag ever to be used. It appears to me that it was but a farce to have adopted an Australian flag, unless the Government of the Commonwealth intend to ‘ use it upon suitable occasions. I must say that the late Government under the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, proposed the use to a certain extent of the Australian flag. In the Navigation Bill which they introduced, and which I understand is now withdrawn, they had inserted a clause by which it was provided that the flag of ships registered in Australia was to be the English ensign, with the southern cross and a large star. That was a proposal to adopt the Australian flag for Australianowned ships, and if it is to be adopted, for use by Australian ships, it is a pity that it should not also be used in connexion with public services of the Commonwealth.’ If there is one feature connected with American school life, which I think might be very properly adopted in Australia, it is the institution of the National Flag Day, when the children are taught lessons on patriotism, what the flag of their country stands for, and what certain institutions mean. The late Senator Sir Frederick Sargood did his best to introduce that feature in Victoria by presenting flags to all the State schools. It is a pity that when children attending State schools in Australia ask what is the Australian flag, they should have to be told that, although one has been selected, the Minister of Defence is frightened to use it. Perhaps I should not say frightened ; but Ministers - have objected to use it, haveignored it, and treated it with contempt,. instead of recognising it as the emblem of the Naval and Military services, and thus conferring upon it the most honorable associations. I trust that the . House will agree to the resolution, and that our flag will be accorded the position to which it is entitled.

Mr WILLIS:
Robertson

– I think that the House is very much indebted to the honorable and learned member for Corio for bringing forward this, question. Judging from the correspondence in which he has been engaged, it has occupied a good deal of his attention. I think I remember some previous reference to the matter in this House. I suppose that one of the reasons why the Australian national flag’ has not been flown from our buildings is that a very long time elapsed before the Imperial authorities extended their approval to the design which was adopted by the Commonwealth Government. I think that the Australian flag should be flown upon all Commonwealth buildings, and that we may reasonably ask the Prime Minister to see that in future our flag is accorded the chief place upon all great occasions. It is only proper that it should also be flown from the ships maintained by the people of Australia. The fact that it has not been so displayed in the past is probably due to the circumstance that the officers of the Navy feel that there is nothing like the flag under which they have served in the past. They have, however, a duty to perform’ to the Commonwealth, and they should discharge their functions under the conditions laid down bv the Commonwealth Government. Even though our naval policy may be changed, I think the Prime Minister should take steps to insure that our flag is always accorded a prominent place, and that the youth of Australia are taught to pay it as much respect as h.u hitherto been accorded to the Union Jack. We have adopted the Union Jack as part of the design of our national flag, and upon the face of it also appears a representation of the Southern Cross, and ‘ a six-pointed star, which is intended to indicate the number ‘of States in the Federation. It seems to me that the officials of Downing-street have been too tardy in their recognition of the national spirit which Australians have shown in adopting a flag which is intended to be emblematical of the Federal Union, and I trust that, the Government will do their best to correct their errors of omission. I have very much pleasure in supporting the motion, and desire to express my personal indebtedness to the honorable and learned member for Corio for having submitted it. The correspondence which he has quoted shows that he has treated the authorities with every courtesy and respect, that he has thoroughly investigated the matter, and that his proposal is entitled to the fullest consideration.

Mr FOWLER:
Perth

– I agree with the previous speakers as to the desirability of having the Australian flag displayed upon our public buildings upon all suitable occasions. Perhaps one reason why we have not seen the flag displayed to the same extent that some of us would have liked, is that its design is not one of which we can feel very proud. Personally, I have looked at the flag time and again, and have felt almost disgusted, because, unless there is a very strong breeze blowing, the distinctive portion of the design is all but ‘ invisible ; at any rate, its significance is hidden. I do not presume to say wh.it design should have been adopted, but I think that we have been most unfortunate in selecting the commonplace emblem which typifies the Commonwealth in that flag. At -some future time, probably not very far distant, the States will be further subdivided, and I should like to know what will then happen to that particular star which is intended to represent the number of the States.

Mr Wilks:

– We could make of it a circular saw.

Mr FOWLER:

– As the honorable member suggests it would become not unlike a circular saw, or a childish representation of the moon. Whilst we may decide that the Commonwealth flag shall be adequately displayed, I think that the Government might very’ well consider whether the design should not be submitted to experts, with a view to making it distinctly Australian, and of a design which will lend itself to possible, and, in fact, very probable, developments in the near future. I believe in the principle of the referendum as applied to matters upon which the people are able to form an accurate opinion, but I. do not think that the people themselves desire to take such a matter as this out of the hands of experts. The method adopted by the late Government, in- order to secure the adoption of the design, appeared to me to be almost childish. The flag selected, in an almost similar manner, under the auspices of a Melbourne newspaper, is, to my mind, vastly superior to that which has been adopted. It is a matter of common knowledge that a number of prizes were offered by the Government for suitable designs for a national flag, and I shall never forget the feeling, of amusement with which I inspected the work of the competitors. It showed conclusively that in asking the general public to express their ideas upon a subject concerning which they -were not competent to form a sound opinion, an entirely wrong course had been adopted. To my mind the most artistic flag of the whole of the Australian States is that of Western Australia. At the same time I do not urge for one moment that the symbols upon that flag should be given any special prominence in the Commonwealth flag. Next to the Western Australian design, the prettiest and the most distinctive flag from a heraldic stand-point is that of New South Wales. The fact that New South Wales is the mother State, and that when her flag was adopted it was practically the flag of Australia, is quite sufficient in my mind to justify the Government in adopting it as the flag of the Commonwealth. In that emblem we have the Southern Cross depicted in the conventional form, which I take it is a better method of representing it than the Victorian method of reproducing it in its accurate astronomical form. Personally I take special exception to the enormous star. which appears in the Commonwealth flag beneath the Union Jack, and which, I have no doubt, causes in the minds of many who see it for the first time a great deal of wonderment regarding the particular portion of the firmament from, which the constellation has been copied.

An Honorable Member. - It is a star of the first magnitude.

Mr FOWLER:

– Undoubtedly. It is a star of such magnitude that it dwarfs the Southern Cross - which in itself is composed of stars of considerable dimensions - to very small proportions indeed, in fact, the whole design of the flag is puerile. I trust that the Government will reconsider this matter, and that, as a result of their deliberations, we shall secure a flag the design of which will be at once more handsome and more significant from an Australian stand-point, and which will, at the same time, lend itself to possible developments in the future.

Mr WATSON:
Treasurer · Bland · ALP

.- I must confess that I have not looked into this matter very carefully, having been busily engaged with other affairs for some little’ time past. Consequently, I am not prepared to definitely state the opinion of the Government regarding the whole of the suggestions made by the honorable and learned member for Corio. One difficulty, however, presents itself to my mind, which would prevent the Government from giving effect to his proposal to fly the Commonwealth flag upon all vessels. As it is framed, his motion seems to refer only to vessels of the Commonwealth, but from his speech I gathered that he intended it to apply to vessels of the Australian Auxiliary Squadron.

Mr Crouch:

– No, I said that we could not fly the flag upon them.

Mr WATSON:

– I beg the honorable and learned member’s pardon. I was under the impression that he advanced the opposite contention. Personally, I think there is every reason why the Australian flag should be flown upon all Australian-owned vessels. I quite agree with the views which have been urged by the honorable member for Perth regarding the undesirable character of the design of the present flag. It does seem to me that though it includes the Southern Cross it does not adequately symbolize our national life, and that it is not sufficiently indicative of Australian unity. Before we take any steps in the way of displacing upon our forts a flag of which’ we are all proud - I refer to the Union Jack - we should secure- a design which is more in accord with the views of those who have taken the trouble to carefully examine this question. One thing, however, might be done. I am informed upon a hurried inquiry that so far no instructions have been issued that the Austraiian flag shall be flown upon all public buildings of the Commonwealth on holiday occasions, or when they are decorated. I think there should be a clear understanding that upon Commonwealth buildings the Australian flag should occupy the preeminent position on such occasions.

Sir Philip Fysh:

– What about the Royal Standard?

Mr WATSON:

– I confess that I am not learned in these intricacies, but I understand that the Royal Standard is used only upon special occasions, when of course it would take precedence over the Australian flag. Upon all ordinary gala days, however, the Australian flag should be given pre-eminence. A copy of the warrant issued bv the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty authorizing the flag - adopted as the merchant flag of the Commonwealth - to be

Sir JOHN FORREST:
Swan

– I am inclined to agree with the . Prime Minister that the present flag is not a very striking one. When viewed from a distance, one cannot distinguish the distinctive emblems1 upon it, and the large star does not look like a star, but looks like a sphere. I think that we ought not to deal with this matter with unnecessary haste. I am unable to say at present what Statutes or Royal Warrants relate to the flying of flags in the Commonwealth”, or whether we have any law on the subject. There may be an Imperial Statute governing the floating of flags over ports and other military and naval establishments.

Mr Watson:

– There is a measure relating to the flying of flags on British vessels.

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– We all desire that the Australian flag, once selected, shall fly over all Commonwealth buildings; but we should deal cautiously with this proposal.

Mr Fowler:

– Is there any danger of the Imperial authorities sending the Prime Minister to gaol in this connexion ?

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– No; but I am sure that the honorable gentleman desires that all our proceedings shall be transacted with due regard for order. I would suggest that the motion be not pressed. If its consideration were postponed for two or three weeks, the Prime Minister would have an opportunity to make enquiries that would be of assistance to us on the resumption of the debate.

Mr Crouch:

– I wrote on various occasions to the Ministry with which the right honorable member was associated in regard to the question.

Mr Crouch:

– We have the authority of our own right.

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– The matter is, no doubt, governed by some Statute or Royal Warrant. The Governors of the various States receive instructions as to the flags that aTe to be flown over public buildings on certain days. On the birthday of the Sovereign, for instance, the Royal Standard is flown,, while in connexion with certain other celebrations, the Union Jack, sometimes bearing the badges of the States, is hoisted. We should not deal with the matter until a full inquiry has been made, and I would therefore move -

That the debate be now adjourned.

Mr SPEAKER:

– The right honorable member having spoken, cannot submit that motion.

Debate (on motion by Mr. Watkins) adjourned,.

page 1610

QUESTION

COMMONWEALTH COINAGE

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

– I move -

That, in the opinion of this House, the Attorney-General should introduce the necessary legislation to give effect to the recommendations contained in the report of a Select Committee on Commonwealth Coinage and Currency, adopted by the House on 19th June, 1903.

I rise to again address myself to this important question, with not only a natural inclination, but a sense of public duty and a desire to comply with my election pledges. In returning to the subject it will be necessary for me to go over much of the ground that I traversed when the report of the Committee was last before the House, inasmuch as since then there has been a general election, with the result that we have many new members whose opinions in reference, to this subject are entirely unknown to me. It is my desire that the question should be definitely settled by legislative action,- and I feel constrained to put the case as embodied in the report of the Select Committee as clearly as possible before those who were returned at the last” elections, and to revive the strong interest which was shown in the question by honorable members of the last Parliament. I may be pardoned for expressing the belief that the question is of far more importance than that which has engaged our attention during the last two weeks. In many respects that debate has been marked by some of the characteristics of the discussions of the ancient schoolmen on such questions as “ How many angels could dance on the point of a pin?” and other matters of that kind, to which the old Aristotelians used to devote their spare time. I trust that the consideration which will be given to this subject will bear as much relation to those discussions as does the Baconian philosophy to that of Aristotle. We come now to a question which is to be considered in the light of the philosophy Bacon brought into being - the science which resolves everything from fact, and judges everything, by the fruit it will produce. Whilst we have been engaged during the last week or two in the consideration of a very serious matter, it seems to me that we have been somewhat discursive, and have certainly failed to come tb a definite conclusion. I hope that the debate on this motion will be concise, and that as the result of it we shall arrive at a definite decision. When the question was previously under the consideration of the House, the late Treasurer remarked that if a report of a Select Committee was adopted by the House it was usual to give legislative effect to it, and that the adoption of the Coinage Committee’s report would necessarily mean the introduction of a Bill. But such are the exigencies of public life that Ministers very frequently do not give effect to the expressed will of the House in reference to matters of this kind. I’ am supported not only by the manner in which the report was received by the last Parliament, but by what I believe to be a very general belief on the part of the public, that legislative effect should be given to it. Earlier in the session - before the present Ministry took office - I. asked the late Prime Minister what despatches or other information bearing on this subject had been received from the Secretary of State for the Colonies, or from any other source. I wished to know whether the Government had communicated with the authorities with a view to carry out the various suggestions contained in the report, and whether they had applied for information, as suggested by the Select Committee, in regard to the minting of the coins that would be neces sary under the . proposed system, at such places as Birmingham and other cities where they are turned out by the million to the order of various Governments. There may have been some well-grounded Ministerial objection to the production of this information, and the late Prime Minister certainly took up the stand that the time was not ripe for the presentation of the despatches and other information which he admitted had been received. Now we have a new Ministry, and probably in the course of the discussion which may’ take place, some member of it may see fit to reveal the nature of these despatches and other communications, and so assist us in coming to a conclusion upon the matter. I have alluded to what I believe to be a definite growth of public opinion in the direction of the adoption of a system of decimal coinage, and certainly in favour of coining our own silver and bronze, and retaining the immense seigniorage or profit to be made thereby. I have noticed from time to time, by what I have read in the daily press, as well as in special publications such as banking and insurance magazines, that considerable interest is being taken in this question ; and although the Committee could not obtain from bankers and others in their representative capacity any indorsement of its views, I find that many bankers individually are strongly in favour of them. They see the immense saving of time that could be effected by the adoption of the decimal system, and know of no reason why this new nation of ours should not have the advantages which are to be obtained by coining its own money. The late Treasurer told the Committee that the difficulty was to get the ordinary working people to take an interest in the subject ; but, contrary to that opinion, I find that the working classes take a much keener interest in it, understand its details better, and appreciate the many advantages to be gained from the system much more highly, than do the better educated classes. That they have taken a real practical interest in it is evidenced by the attitude of the many meetings I have addressed, and by the many letters which I have received from working people and bodies representing them. The electoral division which I represent contains probably one of the largest aggregations of working men in the Commonwealth, and there the question has been received with a good deal of interest, and my action in connexion with it certainly indorsed. I feel sure that at the late elections I received considerable support because of what I had done in securing the appointment of the Committee which reported in favour of the adoption of a decimal system of coinage. I should like now to refer very briefly to the Committee’s report, because, although the matter has been gone into before, there are now many new members present whom I wish to interest in it. I hope that they will read the document, and thus prepare themselves to come to a conscientious conclusion on the whole subject. The Committee was one of the most impartial bodies that was ever got together in any Legislature. When I first moved in the matter, the members of this House were, to a very great extent, unknown to each other. I was not then personally acquainted with more than two of the members of the Committee, and it was with a certain amount of difficulty that_ I succeeded in getting together the requisite number of men to serve upon it. Those appointed came from’ different parts of the Commonwealth, and represented diverse interests ; and any one who goes to the trouble of examining in detail the somewhat voluminous report and minutes of evidence will see every indication of an honest and conscientious discharge by them of a public duty. The members of the Committee came together with no preconceived ideas. Of course, I myself had a most definite opinion of the advantage of the decimal system of coinage, and of the profit to be gained by coining our own silver and bronze ; but the members of the Committee as a whole had, I think I can say, no preconceived notions, and there was no general determination to report in favour of or against the decimal system. The Committee sat for a considerable length of time, and took all the evidence it could. I regret that that evidence is not so voluminous as i.t might have been. It does not contain the opinions of as many public commercial institutions as I should like to have had .; but that was no fault of the members of the Committee. We went to no end of pains in order to accurately gauge the average opinion of institutions representing various commercial and industrial interests, but with very inadequate results. The difficulty was that most of the representatives of banking and other companies were unable to speak in their representative capacity as the matter had not been formally discussed by the members of their corporations. But our report has led to the consideration of this matter by such bodies, and there is a growing conviction on the part of their members in favour of the reform which I am now endeavouring to get honorable members to indorse. The corollary .of this reform, the adoption of a decimal system of weights and measures, will introduce itself at every stage of the argument, although we may try to keep it out as not having been included in the reference to the Select Committee. One of the great arguments used against a reform of the coinage is that it has not been proposed to accompany it by a similar reform of our system of weights and measures, many people contending that the two reforms should go together. I shall deal with that question somewhat later. I wish now only to refer to the fact that, in the interval between the adoption of the Committee’s report by the last Parliament and to-day, there has been a great advance in the opinions of the English-speaking world on the subject of the adoption of a decimal system of weights and measures. . Some two years ago the Parliament of New Zealand passed an Act making the metric system compulsory there after the year 1907, upon the giving of twelve months’ notice by the Administration then in power. The Executive can, at any time after the 1 st - January, 1907, by giving the requisite notice, make the use of the metric system of weights and measures compulsory throughout New Zealand. It was the regret of many of the m’embers of the New Zealand Parliament, when the measure was under consideration, that that Colony had not done what we here were trying to do, and secured a reform of the coinage in the first instance. Then, at the last Conference of the Premiers of the scattered British possessions which assembled in London under the presidency of the Right Honorable Joseph Chamberlain, the question of the adoption of a decimal system of- measures was brought forward, and it was resolved that it would be desirable for the representa.tive men composing the Conference to consult their States as to the best system to be adopted. The representative of the Commonwealth complied with that resolution, and this Parliament forwarded to the Secretary of State for the Colonies a resolution strongly favouring the. adoption by the Empire of a decimal system of weights and measures. The decision of the Conference was followed up bv the Colonial Office issuing letters to various Governors and representatives of the Crown, advising them to inquire whether the authorities in their States and Colonies would favour the introduction of such a system throughout the Empire. I have had an opportunity of perusing the various replies, . and a great deal of other information which I regret to say I have not at my disposal in Victoria, as I was not aware that the question would come up for consideration to-day. These replies received from so many British possessions are distinctly in favour of the decimal system of weights and measures, and, although it was not a part of the inquiry, in many instances they express a very strong desire to see it accompanied by a reform in the direction of the decimalization of money. This bears out the contention of the members of the Select Committee, when the matter was previously before the House, that it is inevitable that something will shortly be done by Great Britain and her numerous dependencies towards adopting the decimal system. The decimalization of British money must come, and there is only one way in which it seems to me it can-be decimalized - that is by the method we are asking this Parliament to adopt for the Commonwealth. The Committee having, in an impartial way, taken all the evidence which could be obtained, and having consulted all the authorities to be found in the libraries, and in the archives of the Colonial Governments, came to the conclusion that it was eminently desirable to retain for the Commonwealth all the profit and advantage of coining its own silver and copper coins, and that when this proposal was being put into operation, to reap the considerable advantages to which I shall refer later on, we should make use of the opportunity to adopt the decimal system. The members of the Committee were unanimous in determining that no other system offers such advantages as does the decimal system. As a matter of fact there is no other system in the world. The other so-called systems of money are really not systems at all. They are the growth of accident, never having been thought out or directly adopted as systems. On the other hand the decimal system never originated anywhere by accident. It is a true system, because it was planned by the human mind, before it was put into operation. The members of the Committee were convinced, as have been the majority of people everywhere in the world where the subject has been discussed, that the decimal system is not only the best, but the only system. The Committee were then faced by a difficulty as to which of the many possible decimal systems they should report in favour of. We had to consider long, and carefully weigh the merits of the different systems in force to-day. The subject has been considered by many Conferences of the nations, but they have all been unable, so far, to arrive at what may be called a “ universal “ system of money. Any one who gives the consideration to the question, which I and others have given to it, is compelled to admit that no such thing is necessary. Universal money would not give us a single advantage that I can see, except that of assisting slightly commerce in a large way between nations by saving time in effecting translations of money. But for the operations of 999 people out of 1,000 universal money would be of no advantage over any other system. The decimal system, no matter which is adopted, gives a distinct advantage to everybody who handles money, and that is to everybody who lives. When we came to discuss the different decimal systems we had to consider, the United States system of the dollar, divided into 100 cents ; the system adopted by the Latin Union, originating in France, of the franc divided into 100 centimes ; and also the decimal systems in operation in Germany and elsewhere. We had further to consider the decimal system that had been proposed in Great Britain. There were probably two or three slightly differing systems proposed in Great Britain, and we were forced to recognise the advantage of the definite millesimal division of the sovereign - that is, its division into 1,000 parts. The Committee, after long consideration, were forced to tha conclusion that, by reason of our connexion and trade with the home country, the use of the sovereign in all our transactions, its world-wide celebrity and great credit, and the fact that all our records are being kept in pounds sterling, representing sovereigns, they must report in favour of that system which had been demonstrated to be not only the best, but the only system for Great Britain. We all believe that that system will ultimately be adopted by Great Britain. We therefore reported in favour of keeping as the gold standard and base of the Commonwealth coinage the existing British sovereign divided into ten florins. Under the system proposed the shilling would no longer be recognised by name as a shilling, but would become half-a-florin, and the sixpence would become a quarter-florin. When we left the sixpence, and came at last into the region where we had to make changes, we found that we could not retain, except temporarily, the existing threepenny piece, because it is not a decimal part of any of the preceding coins. We had, therefore, to recommend a smaller coin the tenth of a florin, and another coin, a tenth of that again, which would give us a coin a little less in value than the existing farthing. This scheme for. decimalizing British money is one which makes the least change, and creates the least friction. Those who have argued against the proposals of the Committee have said - “ You get rid of the penny; we could never stand that. We believe in the decimal system, and that it is the best system to adopt, but we must not get rid of the penny.” It is submitted that the penny is in such general use that we have penny stamps, penny fares, a penny box of matches, and a thousand other things which can be bought for a penny. But the people who argue so strenuously against getting rid of the penny, and at the same time say that they are strongly in favour of adopting a decimal system, must admit that they cannot get a decimal system without altering some of the coins in use under the present scheme. If we were to retain the penny or the half-penny as the basis of our system, we should have to alter the sovereign for some other coin, and the florin and the shilling could not remain under a decimal system based on .the retention of the penny. So that it will be seen at once that any idea of retaining the penny would involve a much greater alteration than the retention of the sovereign. The sovereign is intimately associated with our history, and in our records and statistics, values are expressed in sovereigns. It is well known that it was owing to the desire to ultimately decimalize the sovereign, that the florin was introduced by the British Government, and a resolution was passed a little later in the British House of Commons requesting the Crown to immediately complete that decimal division, by adopting the very coins which this Committee recommended. I think it will be admitted that the recommendation of the Committee presents, not only the simplest and easiest way of obtaining a decimal system, but also the only possible way that will ever be taken into consideration in the old country. Therefore, in order to keep ourselves in line with the inevitable trend of events in the mother land, it will be best for us to adopt the proposed reform. As I have said, the report was adopted in this House by a majority of only three. That was a small majority having regard to the importance, of the report, but when a matter of this, description is taken up by a private, member, it has a very small chance of securing the consideration which might be given to it if it were made the subject of a Government measure. It is well known to honorable members who sat in the last Parliament, that when we dealt with private business on Fridays, a number of members left for their homes on Thursday, and consequently private business was always dealt with in a more or- less thin house. Judging, from a personal canvass of the absentees, however, I believe that a much larger majority than was indicated by the result of the division would have been in favour of the proposals of the Committee in a full House. I think that I may say, without any breach of that respect for private conversation which should prevail, that two,’ or probably three, of those honorable members who voted against the report have since admitted to me that they were strongly in favour of the Committee’s recommendations, and have expressed the view that I should continue to press for the reform. They did not, however, consider that they were justified in further incommoding the Government, which was already staggering under the large amount of work it had to perform. Most of the objections urged at the time were expressed by the late Treasurer, some of whose arguments answered others advanced by him. For instance, the right honorable member said that there was no advantage in a decimal system, and that no saving would be effected in the education bill of the nation. It will be recollected that the Committee pointed out that we might save considerably upon our education bill by adopting a decimal system. The right honorable member denied this, but towards the close of his speech, as reported in Hansard, page 900, he appealed for time for consideration and discussion - in order that the people may be taught that the benefits to be derived from the simplicity of keeping accounts and the lesser schooling required will compensate them for the losses they will have to submit to in the first instance.

The right honorable gentleman thus answered one of his own objections to the scheme. .Then, again, after saying that there, was no advantage whatever to be derived from the adoption of the. decimal system, he remarked -

Let me say that among all the -schemes I have seen I think the American is the best and the simplest. There can be no question as to its simplicity. If any change were; made I should much prefer the adoption of the United States of America’s system to that proposed by the Committee; but we cannot do away with the sovereign.

If it is desired to’ retain the. sovereign, as recommended by the Committee, it will be impossible to adopt the American system. The right honorable member said, further -

In the United’ States they have five, ten, twenty-five, and fifty cent pieces, while; the dollar piece, which has been mentioned, is not very often used. They work out their calculations at so many dollars and so many cents, and the whole system is very simple. It has been well put by some of the witnesses, whose evidence I shall quote for the benefit, of honorable members.

What I should like to point out is that all manifest advantages of the system of the United States would be secured by the adoption of the scheme recommended by the Committee, the only difference being in the name. The right honorable member stated that in the United States they had the dollar, which was divided into 100 cents, and that their system was verysimple. If the recommendation of the Committee were adopted, we should have a florin divided into 100 cents. The cent would not be the one-hundredth part of a sovereign, but the one-hundredth part of a florin. The idea was that the florin would ultimately become the dollar of the Commonwealth and of the Pacific. There were very good reasons for taking that ground. The right honorable member admitted that the dollar was not carried in America. It is too unwieldly a coin to be carried about, and the only coin really in use in America is the half-dollar piece. The same remarks apply to Canada. The half-dollar is the nearest equivalent for the florin, which the Committee are proposing to divide into 1.00 parts. On the other hand, if we turn to the Latin Union system, we have the franc - a coin rather smaller than our shilling - which is used as a standard of value, but which is really too small for that purpose. In the florin we have a happy mean between the too heavy dollar of the United States, and the too small franc of the Latin Union. We should have a coin which could be carried with facility, and one in which we could express values with much more readiness’ than if the franc were employed as a standard. All the advantages enjoyed under the United States system would be conferred upon us if the system recommended by the Committee were adopted. <It does not matter what coin is made the standard so long as it is a convenient one for carrying, and can also be used as the leading coin of account. If accounts are to be made up in dollars, that coin should be of such a size that it can be conveniently carried about, and I think that the Committee did well to adopt the florin as the standard coin of the new system. As was pointed out by some critics in the press, the system contemplates the division of the florin, and not of the sovereign, into 100 cents. “Why should you say that your system is based on the sovereign?” they ask. It may appear a little inconsistent, but it is plain that the florin is intended to be the central coin of that system. The reason for retaining the sovereign as the standard is to disarm the ridiculous suspicion that, in favouring the coinage of silver, the Committee were indorsing bi-metallism. If we told people that the florin was to be the central coin of the system, they would conclude that we were relinquishing a gold basis, and, consequently, we felt it’ absolutely necessary not to depart from a gold standard We have retained the sovereign, but have introduced the florin as the coin of account, well knowing that, though we retain a gold basis, the habits of the people themselves will speedily establish which coin shall be used in expressing values and keeping accounts. Honorable members will recognize that, though the sovereign is the standard of the existing system - or want of system - values in excess of £1 are frequently expressed in shillings. Do we not often see suits of clothes quoted at 45s. - not at £2 5s. ; or at 55s. - not at £2 15s.? It is more convenient to the people that values should be expressed in this way. Similarly, we shall find that the public will adopt the florin as the standard coin of the system. We have merely to look to the -United States to discover that. In that country to-day the dollar is not the basis, of their system - it is the golden tendollar that is the standard. But the coin which really represents the gold system is the half-eagle, or 5-dollar piece, which is somewhat akin to our sovereign. This coin stands as the very basis of the system, yet all accounts and daily transactions are reckoned in dollars and their hundredth parts, which are called “cents.” I do not think that any objection can be urged to the system proposed, upon the ground that we recommend the use of the cent as expressing the hundredth part of the florin when we adopt the gold basis of a sovereign, of which the cent is only the one-thousandth part. The system is not interfered with if we call a farthing a “mil.” I take up the ground that we should make a cent the hundredth part of a florin, and do away with its thousandth part, knowing full well that the business people of Australia will adopt the florin as those of the United States did the “ dollar,” and the cent as the hundredth part of the florin. The right honorable member for Balaclava also urged that this reform should be preceded by the adoption of the metric system of weights and measures. It is very curious that arguments, which are advanced against any particular reform frequently take the shape of a proposal for a previous reform. That fact is well illustrated in the present instance, because those who object to the reform of the coinage system do so on the ground that they first wish to reform the metric system. I may mention that a Bill, which is intended to deal with the latter system, has recently been introduced into the House of Lords, and referred to a Select Committee, which is still investigating the question. So far as I can ascertain, the principal objection urged against the reform of the system of weights and measures is that it should be preceded by a reform of the coinage system. So it will be till the end of the chapter. If our efforts to effect necessary reforms are thus to be stayed, we shall never achieve anything. In my judgment, there is not the slightest reason why the introduction of one of these reforms should depend upon the accomplishment of the other. Both are excellent in their way. Of the two, the reform of our weights and measures would probably be more far-reaching, and would exercise the greater effect upon the whole nation. ‘ For that reason we should first attack the coinage. It will create the least disturbance, and will be productive of the least friction. The reform of the metric system will involve the loss of millions of pounds to the British public. We shall have to get rid of many of our weights, measures, scales, as well as thousands of tools, to give effect to such an innovation. At the same time the reform will mean a gain of countless millions of pounds to the nation, thus completely outweighing the loss which would be incurred. On the other hand, the reform of the coinage system will involve no loss, but a very substantial gain. In Great Britain itself it would mean no appreciable loss. There is nothing to be destroyed, save a few dies. Nothing would require to be done beyond the gradual calling in of coins, and re-coining them under the new system. At this stage I wish to refer to an agitation which has cropped up since this question was previously under discussion. It has been alleged by some of our British statesmen that Great Britain is failing to maintain her commercial supremacy. Many measures are advocated to meet this alleged failure. I hold that the reform which I am advocating, and its corollary - the amendment of our system of weights and measures - will ‘ do more than anything that has .as yet been proposed 10 re-establish the supremacy of the mother land in the markets of the world. We are being beaten in many directions, because we are fighting with less perfect weapons - because we are engaged in a battle in which we are using bows and arrows against the repeating rifles of our competitors. We can never hope to successfully compete with other nation’s whilst we adhere to the present obsolete method of transacting our commerce. I propose to deal merely with the question of our currency. Although the disadvantage under which England labours by reason of that currency is much less than that a which is imposed by thi present system of weights and measures, it nevertheless ought to be removed to assist her to maintain that supremacy which we, as members of a united Empire are proud to share. We can accomplish more in that direction by a reform of the currency system than can be achieved by the adoption of all the nostrums which are advocated. The advantages to be gained from the reform recommended, not only in competition with foreign countries, but in our own midst, ar.? incalculable. I claim that the Commonwealth can make a profit out of this system of ,£36,000 per annum. Upon a former occasion I said - and I repeat it now - that bv its adoption we can secure an advantageof probably not less than £1,000,000 annually in the saving that would be effected1 in keeping the accounts of private institutions and in the various schools throughout Australia. I have previously pointed out that in America, where children in theState schools have been taught the enumeration of numbers, they pass straight from the tables of units, tens, hundreds, and thousands, which are so familiar to our infant days, into problems of money which our own children have for one or two years todelay attacking. Here we have a distinct advantage - an advantage which was partly denied by the ex-Treasurer, but which has been reiterated over and over again by those best qualified to speak in regard to the position of our educational establishments. At a conference of school teachers recently held in New South Wales, the necessity for various improvements was discussed, and one of the leading and most trusted inspectors in the State saidthat more good could be done in. the direction of this reform than in any other ofwhich he knew. He strongly advocated the two reforms recommended by the Select Committee, and reiterated what has been said by many of the great thinkers of the old country, who hold that by the adoption of the new system at least oneyear’s tuition would be saved in the education of every child in the Commonwealth. I would ask honorable members to consider what saying that would effect in the national education bill? If, instead of devoting a year to acquiring a knowledge of rules that under this system would be no longer necessary, children of school -going agecould devote it to some other form of instruction which would better qualify them for the struggle of life; if instead of having to give their attention during that time to useless rules, they could acquire the technical education which is so necessary to enable England to maintain supremacy in the world’s markets, how great would be the reform? Honorable members must recognise that the . adoption of this system Would result not only in the small monetary profit to which I have referred, but in the much larger sum that would be saved bv every private institution, every individual, and every struggling school child in the land. It is on this ground more than that of the mere monetary benefit that would accrue to the Commonwealth in its State capacity that I urge the carrying out of the reform. The question naturally resolves itself into two parts. In the first place, we have to determine to what extent . the Commonwealth is prepared to take advantage of the power conferred upon it by the Constitution. Many personsoutside the Legislature entertain the opinion that we have no power to establish a coinage system of our own. I would point out, however, that we have the fullest power in this direction, and can regulate all questions of currency. We have thus to ask ourselves, firstly, whether we should take advantage of that power in order to obtain the. great profits now being reaped by the Imperial authorities from our Australian currency ; and, secondly, whether’ we should avail ourselves of the opportunity that would be given by the creation of a Commonwealth coinage to secure the very best system, that could be devised. As soon as it is determined that the Commonwealth shall adopt its own coinage system, we shall be met with questions as to the class of coins that should be issued, and the relation they should have to each other under the system adopted. I believe that even the opponents of the Select Committee’s report have admitted generally that the decimal system is the best and in reality the only system for us to adopt, and if we are going to adopt it, why should we not avail ourselves of the opportunity to do so that the coining of our own metallic currency will give us ? The report shows that the desirableness of securing the profits of the coinage of silver in Australia was mooted as far back as 1873. Much correspondence took place between the various Colonial Treasurers and the Imperial authorities with regard to the giving of the necessary power to mint our own silver, and the negotiations were protracted . year after year until practically the eve of the proclamation of the Commonwealth. It was then pointed out by the Imperial authorities that the difficulties which had arisen in the course of the correspondence would be resolved by the Commonwealth, which would have power to deal with the question of coinage and to determine what should be the currency. The matter was left at that stage. I believe that the late Treasurer has since had further communications on the subject with the British authorities, and I am rather anxious to learn the nature of them. I fail to see that it was necessary for them to take place. The simple question before us is whether we are prepared now to take action or whether we are going to delay this reform and lose the profits and other advantages which would result from it. It is time for us to consider the question as a practical one. ‘ We have to decide whether we should continue to receive nearly£100,000 a year of silver coinage from the Home Government, and allow them to make the first great profit. The Imperial authorities, of course, incur the cost of repairing worn-out coins; but the net profit derived by them is very considerable. The late Treasurer holds that we ought not to adopt the decimal system unless England first takes action in that direction. I have already pointed out that we did not wait for England to take action with regard to the ballot, the Torrens title, adult suffrage, and many other

At all events, it is said that it would be over £1, 000,000. When I first saw that statement I felt that we should be prepared to suffer almost any inconvenience in order to obtain so large a sum of money for the Commonwealth. But when we look carefully into the question honorable members must see that we could not hope to obtain, anything like that profit unless it represented the earnings of a considerable number of years. Whether we had a system of decimal coinage, or adhered to the existing system, there would be no difference so far as that matter was concerned. The profit in either case would be exactly the same.

There is no difference between the right honorable member and myself in regard to that point. He admits that a saving is to be made, but we differ in this way : I say that the moment that the Commonwealth is ready to coin its own silver, we should introduce the Coins as soon as we can, and gradually ship the whole of the silver now in use back to Great Britain. The right honorable member for Balaclava, however, is not prepared to go as far as that. I would point out that the new coins could be introduced only gradually. It would not be possible to substitute the new coinage for the present coinage within a few months, or even within a year, and it would be only as new coins came into circulation that I would send back to England the coins now in use. The Imperial authorities have received the profit on their coinage, and should be prepared to redeem it, or to pass the coins into circulation in Great Britain. The right honorable member has intimated that he thinks that this should not be done ; but, in my opinion, it can fairly and honestly be done. He contends that we should go on getting the small profit to be obtained on coining the £100.000 worth of silver coins’ now imported each year, until 3 per cent, interest upon an accumulated capital of £1,000,000 would give us an annual return of £30,000. We differ only as to the degree of despatch with which the new coinage should be substituted for the old. We the Mint, though the nominal value of the rupee is higher, in comparison with its intrinsic value, than is that of our florin. The Imperial Mint turned out 83,000,000 odd Imperial pieces last year, and 41,000,000 odd Colonial pieces. They do a lot of minting in England for the Colonies. The value of these coins was £9,090,000. We require in the £2,000,000 worth of silver coins used in Australia about 28,000,000 pieces, because great numbers of threepenny and sixpenny pieces are needed. If. honorable members will take the trouble to consult the report from which I am quoting, they will see that the Imperial Mint coined during the last year for which we have information, 125,000,000 coins of all denominations, the cost of the operation, inclusive of interest, rent, taxes, sums paid to the Board of Works, and all other charges which would be debited by a sound commercial concern, but exclusive of the cost of buying silver and gold, being £120,000. That, divided by the total number of pieces issued, makes it evident that the cost of coining the 28,000,000 silver pieces required for the Australian currency would be £26,666, so that the estimate I gave when the matter was last under discussion - £30.000 - is not very far beyond the mark. The right honorable member for Balaclava is of opinion that we import only some £60,000 worth of silver coins from England each year, but I think that he has made the mistake of taking the average importation for a number of years back. The figures given in the last report of the Deputy-Master of the Imperial Mint are these: In 1901, Western Australia imported £24.650 worth of silver coins; New South Wales £90,000 worth; and Victoria £72.400 worth. In the following year there was a falling off, Western Australia importing only £16,200 worth; New South Wales £40.000 worth ; and Victoria £26,000 worth ; the total importation of the Commonwealth for 1901 being £187,050 worth, and for 1902 £82,200 worth. It will be seen that the average importation of those two years is much greater than the sum mentioned by the right honorable member for Balaclava. In my opinion the estimates obtained from experts in regard to the value of the silver current in Australia are very much under the mark This conclusion is borne in upon me when I read the value of the silver imported and exported. I do not wish to place the case unfairly before the House, and therefore I have to admit that certain deductions

3 1 2

should be made from the figures just given, inasmuch as a good deal of the silver imported by New South Wales is exported again to supply a currency for the Islands of the Pacific. The florin, which the Committee propose to make the chief coin of our decimal system, is already known as the “ dollar of the Pacific,” and is current every where in the islands which are dotted over thousands of miles of ocean to. the northeast of Australia. But, making this allowance, the figures I have quoted show plainly that there is more silver in use in Australia than the experts are prepared to admit. One has only to look to the circumstances of similar countries to show that that must be so. Canada is, perhaps, the safest criterion I can adopt, because, as the United States currency circulates, freely there, a smaller number of English coins are required than would otherwise be needed. The English coins in circulation’ in Canada are made by the Royal Mint, Limited, Birmingham, a’ sort of chartered company which does the extra work which the Royal Mint finds itself unable to get through. Last year 4,100,000 pieces were coined for the use of the Dominion of Canada, the value of the Canadian coinage amounting in 1901 to £90,000, while in the year 1902 £76,000 worth of silver coins were sent there. It must be remembered that the Dominion gets the-, profit upon that coinage, less the actual cost.

Mr Bamford:

– What fs the profit?

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

– Roughly, about 140 per cent. I shall deal more specifically with that question a little later on. Beforeleaving the report of the Deputy Master of the Mint, I wish to refer to some facts concerning the branches established in Australia. When the matter was last under discussion there was a tendency to consider that it would be desirable, if the Commonwealth took over the coinage of the whole Australian currency, to concentrate operations ; but I have since seen very good reason for altering my opinion that the Western Australian Mint might advantageously be closed,- because the figures in the report from which I am quoting show that, although its operations previously resulted in a loss, they are now giving the best profit which is being obtained in Australia. The various mints are kept going by votes of the State Parliaments, in the nature of Treasurers’ advances. In some cases £.15,000 is ad- vanced and in other cases £20.000, and as the receipts come in the money is paid back to the States Treasuries. For many years the States made a loss on these transactions. Then came the time when a slight profit was obtained, economies being effected which actual operations had shown to be necessary, and more skilled workmen being employed. Now the operations of the mints in New South Wales and Victoria are satisfactory in varying degree, while in Western Australia a very handsome profit is obtained. In New South Wales there has been a decrease of £2,815 m the revenue collected. That revenue amounted to £15,396, and the expenditure to £14,900, while a small balance carried forward made the profit to the State nearly £500. In Melbourne, where we used 10 be able to show rather large figures, we seem to have receded last year. The Deputy-Master of the Mint reports that the revenue amounted to £16,863 as against £16,664 in 1901. The unexpended balance of the Mint annuity for the year was £4,339, and’ the Mint operations resulted in a profit to the State Treasury of £1,202. For the previous year the profit was greater than that. When we turn to Western Australia we find a most promising state of affairs. This was the last Mint to be established in Australia, and, for the first year or two, it involved the Western Australian Government in a loss. At that time most of the gold used to find its way out of the State, without going through the Mint ; but now the greater proportion of it passes through the local Mint, with the result that the Master states that there was a gain of £6.930 to the Western Australian Government on the working of the establish men during the last year. This is very satisfactory in one way, because, in considering any scheme of dealing with our own coinage, we have to remember that it will be necessary for us to make good any losses on *he gold coin used in Australia, as well is the loss resulting from the wear and tear of silver coin. Therefore, it is pleasing to see that the Mints are already making a sufficient profit to enable us to defray the cost of rehabilitating all the worn coin of Australia. Another point that cropped up when we were discussing this aspect of th? question was the practice of exporting large numbers of sovereigns, which were used for the purpose of settling international balances, and which, immediately they reached the countries to which they were sent - notably the United States - were melted down again. It appeared to me that this was a .senseless practice, and that we should, if possible, relieve ourselves of the necessity of going to the trouble and expense of turning out sovereigns which were simply to be melted down again. Not only thousands, but millions of sovereigns have been sent away to the United States in the course of a year, and have been melted down again in order to comply with the currency laws of the United States. The Committee strongly recommended that we should do what we could to adopt, for the purposes of export, a 10-oz. bar of gold, not minted, but stamped with a mint mark, guaranteeing the gold as being of a certain standard of fineness. This would result in a great saving of expense, and would also afford those who desired gold for export purposes, an opportunity to send it forward in a convenient shape. The Director of the Mint in the United States points out that -

The gold coinage of the country is now being almost entirely stored, the Treasury holding about 500,000,000 dollars, and the cost of the coinage is therefore an unnecessary expense, inasmuch as when gold is wanted for export it is required in the form of bars. He adds -

For domestic circulation the public prefer Treasury certificates to gold coin. It is considered, indeed, that with some modification in the existing laws certificates might well be issued against gold bars instead of against gold coin. There, I think, we have an indorsement of the practical suggestion of the Committee with regard to saving money on our present system of gold coinage. I have stated that the quantity of silver coin required for the Commonwealth has been variously estimated at about £2,000,000 worth. I have reason to believe that that is an under estimate; but, for the purpose of calculation, and in order that I may be upon perfectly sure ground, I am assuming that £2,000,000 worth of silver coin will be required for circulation in Australia. I think, however, that I shall be able to show that more than that will be needed. The price of silver, in London, on 24th May, according to to-day’s Argus, was 25 1 1 -16 pence per ounce - a rise of A. per oz. since Friday last. It requires 1 oz. of silver to turn out 5s. 6d. worth of coins, or, to use the ratio given in Lord Liverpool’s famous letter, every pound troy of silver should turn out sixty - six shillings . worth of coins. Here we have a basis for calculating the actual cost of the silver that would be required to turn out silver coins of a face value of £2,000,000. The amount of silver required would be 7,272,726 ozs., which, at 2s. 1 n-i6d. per ounce., would cost £777>575 12 s. 3d. I think that, like the immortal Mantalini, we may “ dem “ the 12s. 3d. That leaves us a clear difference between the first cost of the silver and the value of the coin, which we may regard as a first profit. Then we have to take into account the cost of producing such a large amount of coin. Honorable members will, perhaps, recollect that, by a rule-of -three sum which I worked out by making a comparison with the British system, I calculated that the cost of minting £2,000,000 worth of silver coin would be £26,000. I have, however, put down the amount at £30,000. This would, bring the total outlay up to £807,575. This would leave £46,536 less gross profit than I said would be derived when the House last considered this question. That is owing to the fact that silver was then worth only 2s. o£d. per ounce. The effect of that slight rise in the price of silver has been to reduce the profit by that amount. In addition to the cost ,of the silver, and of turning out the coin, we have to make provision for wear and tear. The average life of a silver coin is thirteen years, so that for some years to come we should have nothing to pay (on that score. I think it is safer, however, to make provision from the commencement for wear and tear, and I set down an amount of £[7,000 as sufficient to rehabilitate both our gold and silver coin. That calculation has been carefully checked, by means of comparison with the various reports of the Master of the Mint, and I am sure would correctly represent the amount of depreciation.

Mr Bamford:

– What is the average life of a sovereign?

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

– The sovereign is not subjected to the same wear and tear as are silver coins. The average life of silver coins is thirteen years, whereas that of the sovereign is calculated at slightly over nineteen years. Of course some sovereigns last for hundreds of years. There are hundreds of thousands of sovereigns in a strong vault in Sydney, where they have been deposited by the banks for the purpose of facilitating the balancing of their exchanges. This coin has remained untouched for years, and may remain there for ever, for all we know. The life of a sovereign is much greater than that of silver coins, because it is not subjected to the same rough usage. The gross profit upon the coinage of £2,000,000 of silver would be £[1,185,000. I am prepared vo stand by those figures in spite of anything that the right honorable member for Balaclava may care to say. If the Legislature chooses to derive this profit in driblets by spreading it over a number of years it can do so; but I think that we should be fully justified in deriving it as fast as we could, by turning out the coin as rapidly as possible, under some arrangement with the Royal Mint, or with some private firm possessing the necessary facilities. I have estimated that £2,000,000 worth of silver coin would be required to meet the necessities pf the Commonwealth, but I believe that is a much less amount that we should need - although many of the experts have given a much lower estimate. On page 15, of the report of the Master of the Mint, he gives an answer to some inquiries which” were made from India with regard to the quantity of silver required for currency purposes. The Master of the Mint entered into some very abstruse calculations, and came to the conclusion that in England silver coin to the value of us. 5d. per head of the population was required to provide a sufficiency of currency to carry on the operations of every-day life. If we multiply ns. 5d. by 4,000,000 - the population of Australia - we shall find it will give us an amount of £[2,283,333. I do not think that the ordinary man in the Commonwealth requires less silver for everyday purposes than does the ordinary man in Great Britain. If anything, I should say that the average man here carries more coin than the average man in Great Britain. Therefore, if the Master of the Mint is justified in coming to the conclusion that ns. 5d. per head is required to meet the necessities of the people of the United Kingdom, we shall want £2,283,333 worth of silver coin to meet the necessities of the Commonwealth. The Master of the Mint works out a similar calculation in regard to the bronze coinage, and estimates that i6-5id. per head of the population is required. Upon that basis, we should require £272,221 worth of copper coinage. We can submit this calculation to another test. In Germany, in order to guard against the overissue of silver, it has been enacted that no more than 15 marks, roughly 15s., per head of the population shall be issued in the form of silver coins. If we adopted 15s. per head as thS basis of calculation we should require £3,000,000 worth of silver coin in Australia. I do not think that we are likely to fall into any trouble owing to the overissue of silver in Australia. We should scarcely be inclined to play “ ducks and. drakes,” with the operations of such an institution as the Mint. If, however, it should be considered that there is any danger of an attempt of this kind we could provide that silver coins should never be issued from the Mint except in exchange for gold. In this way we could institute a certain automatic check against the over-issue of silver. If silver could be issued only in exchange for gold, no profit could be derived by the Government from the issue of silver coin over and above that required for the legitimate uses of the people. If the people can obtain silver in excess of their requirements, the thing will regulate itself by the banks refusing to purchase it They will bus only, when from the needs of their business, they can see that more silver currency is required. I do not think there need be any apprehension that we shall make use of our power to manufacture silver coin ad lib. We can purchase silver for 2S. an ounce, and if we could mint silver coin without restriction, there would be no need for the introduction of many of the schemes which are proposed by honorable members opposite. There would be no necessity, for example, to take over the gold reserves from the banks - a scheme to which I do not object, provided that it is safeguarded by proper regulations - if we could turn out silver ad lib. at 2s. an ounce, and obtain 5s. 6d. an ounce for it. There need ‘ be no fear that the Commonwealth will do anything more than issue silver currency as it may be required for specific purposes of trade within our midst. But we have a right to appropriate this million pounds odd, fund it, and pay the interest upon it into the Commonwealth Treasury. The ex-Treasurer took exception to that proposal. He thought that we should not treat any portion of that sum as revenue, but should apply the whole of it towards the extinction of our national debt. His view is very much better than my own, and, therefore, I am only too willing to adopt it. At the same time, it would be a legitimate transaction to use the interest derived upon the profit secured from the adoption of the system as current’ revenue. But if the- Treasurer prefers it, I am perfectly prepared to agree to any suggestion which will have the effect of reducing, in however small’ a degree, our national debt. I earnestly impress upon honorable members that the proposed, reform is a most desirable and practical one. Nothing can be urged against it, either on the score of honesty or of the letter of the law as it is contained in the Constitution; I am satisfied that this reform will be brought about in England within a comparatively brief period. Whatever difficulties there may be in the way of effectingit at the present moment will increase rather than diminish with the lapse of time. If we intend to attack the question at all, the sooner we do so the better, because our difficulties will never be less than they are’ now. There is no reason why the Commonwealth should not secure the advantagewhich is offered by the adoption of this’ scheme, and apply the proceeds to the re,duction of our national debt, or fund them for some other useul purpose. To those who urge that we can obtain all this financial benefit by getting the silver coined for us without adopting the decimal system, I would put the question, “ Is it wise, when we are adopting a new system, to embrace other than the best ‘ possible one?” If we are going to initiate any reform, before doing so, we should decide what is best under the circumstances. Having made our choice, it should be a system to which we can adhere. No nation which has’ adopted the decimal system has ever thought of discarding it. It is the’ natural system. Many people appear to think that there is some mysterious quality about the number “ 10,” which makes it the only radix of a system of numbers. But I would point out that we can perform arithmetic with “ 12.” or practically any radix we choose. There is no mysterious virtue about the number “10;” but a system of decimal currency exists throughout the civilized world, with the exception of Great Britain, its depend-1 encies. and Turkey ; and I do not envy Great Britain, her associate, in opposition to this reform. It is a great reform, which offers us a legitimate profit, and I have every confidence in submitting this motion to honorable members.

Debate (on motion by Mr. Batchelor) adjourned.

page 1622

QUESTION

MAIL COMMUNICATION WITH KING ISLAND

Mr O’MALLEY:
Darwin

– I move-

That, in view of the enormous increase of the population of King Island and the magnitude of its agricultural and commercial importance (the island lying midway between the States of Victoria and Tasmania), in the opinion of this Housethe Postmaster-General should make arrangements with the Union Steam-ship Company for its steamer plying between Melbourne and’

Strahan, Tasmania, to call at King Island and to stay there long enough to deliver the mails at Currie Harbor or Sea Elephant Bay.

As this motion is not of a contentiousnature. and has little relation to politics, I think that it may very well be agreed to without much debate. The facts of the case are that King Island lies abou midway between Melbourne and Strahan, and is situated in the middle of Bass Straits. It has become a very important place, and possesses a population of 600 or 700. These people have no communication with the mainland or Tasmania, save that which is afforded by a sort of antiquated tub, which plies between Launceston and the Island. Settlers there never know when this vessel wll arrive, and when it will depart. Yet the steamer Kawathi, belonging to the Union Steamship Company, travels from Melbourne to Strahan weekly, and passes within six miles of Sea Elephant Bay. I desire the Postmaster-General to endeavour . to arrive at some business arrangement with that company, which will enable its vessels to remain long enough at Sea Elephant Bay, or Wickham, to land the mails. If the winds were unfavorable at one place, the mails could be landed at the other. They could then be carried on horseback to Currie Harbor, which is the chief centre on the island. This island has an important pastoral interest, and contains good fattening country. Indeed, some of the finest cattle come from there. The settlers are all pioneers, really hard workers, and substantial citizens of the Commonwealth. For a small additional expenditure on the part of the Postal authorities, these people would be enabled to send their produce to Melbourne, and to obtain a regular mail service. During the recent election campaign, I was unable to reach King Island, and none of the candidates could address the electors there.

Mr Mcwilliams:

– The ballot-papers did not arrive there in time for polling day.

Mr O’MALLEY:

– That is quite correct. The polling had to be postponed until the day after that which was originally fixed for the election, because the boat, which at present runs there, did not reach the island in time.

Mr Crouch:

– What expense will be involved by the adoption of this motion?

Mr O’MALLEY:

– It will not be much, because a steamer belonging to the Union Company passes within six miles of the island twice a week. By steering another course, that distance would in reality not require to be covered.

Mr Conroy:

– Is there any mining conducted upon the island?

Mr O’MALLEY:

– It is becoming a very, important mining place.

Mr HUME COOK:
BOURKE, VICTORIA · PROT

– It seems to be the “ hub of the universe.”

Mr O’MALLEY:

– I claim that the population settled upon the island should be given every possible encouragement. The motion, which I have, submitted, really takes the form of a suggestion. It is not mandatory.

An Honorable Member. - Is there a harbor at King Island ?

Mr O’MALLEY:

– There is a harbor at Currie, but the steamers will not go there. All I ask is that an arrangement shall be made with the Union Company under . which its vessel will enterSea Elephant Bay, and land the mails in a boat.

An Honorable Member. - Can that be done ?

Mr O’MALLEY:

– I am informed so by a captain who has been there. Personally, I have not visited the locality. I would not risk my life in the Yambacoona. I trust that the Postmaster-General will see his way to communicate with the Union Steam Ship “Company, and ascertain what can be done.

Sir John Forrest:

– How many people are settled upon the island?

Mr O’MALLEY:

– About 600.

Sir John Forrest:

– How often do they receive their mails?

Mr O’MALLEY:

– Once a week. The island is only six miles out of the ordinary route followed by steamers trading regularly between Melbourne and Strahan, and can be clearly seen from her decks.

Mr Conroy:

– Would the steamer be able to land mails and passengers there?

Mr KING O’MALLEY:
DARWIN, TASMANIA · ALP

– She could land them at Sea Elephant Bay, or at Wickham. The port to be selected would depend upon the quarter from which the wind was blowing. If the steamer could not land passengers at one point she would be able to do so at the other. There is a landing place on this side of the island, which one might say is in the very track of the Kawaliri, that runs between Strahan and Melbourne. That vessel is never overladen, and, even if she were delayed an hour or two as the result of the granting of this convenience, it would be immaterial.

Sir John Forrest:

– Does she carry passengers ?

Mr O’MALLEY:

– Yes ; but, as a rule, they are not landed at Strahan on Saturdays before 9 p.m., and a delay, of a couple of hours would be nothing, as compared with the advantage that the people of King Island would receive from the granting of this accommodation. The island has become, within the last two years, a most important centre of civilization. At present the mails are carried by a small steamer, wrhich, I would not be surprised to learn, was one of the rowing boats attached to Noah’s Ark, but, having been fitted with a steam engine, is now employed in this service. One never knows how long she will take to reach her destination. It is my desire that passengers and mails for King Island should be carried by the Kawatiri, and this arrangement would not involve any large increase on the cost of the present service.

Mr Mahon:

– Does the honorable member say that it would cost very little more than does the present service?

Mr O’MALLEY:

– It would not largely exceed the present cost.

Mr Mahon:

– What does the honorable member believe would be the increased cost ?

Mr O’MALLEY:

– I do not wish to make any calculations at the present stage, but we shall have an opportunity later on to discuss it. I trust that the PostmasterGeneral will accept the motion, and I am sure that he will have ample opportunity to give effect to it.

Mr McWILLIAMS:
Franklin

– I am sure that the Postmaster-General will give the motion his careful consideration, for it cannot be denied that the residents of King Island are far removed from many of the ordinary privileges of civilization. The island is the largest in the straits, and its population, which consists of men who have made their homes and settled there, is undoubtedly a very deserving one. The land is fairly good. For grazing purposes it is all that could be desired, and as a matter of fact the settlers are now supplying the Launceston market with some of the finest fat stock that has ever been yarded there. This motion does not contemplate any interference with the direct mail and passenger service between Melbourne and Tasmania. The Kawatiri takes the northern course, and in voyaging between Melbourne and Strahan passes so close to the island that it can be plainly seen from her decks. Admittedly, neither of the harbors of King

Island is first-class, but as there is one on each side of it, the steamer would generally be able to get a lee, and it would rarely happen that she would be unable to land passengers and mails. Honorable Members would be surprised to learn the irregularity of the Straits mail service. If the Union Steam-ship Company would deliver a mail once a week, alternating with the present service, the islanders would secure a biweekly mail, and I am sure that the expenditure which this would involve would be comparatively small. I can assure the House that the honorable member for Darwin has not made one statement as to the condition of the residents on the island that is no”t absolutely correct. We have there some 600 or 700 people, and their only means of comunication with the mainland or Tasmania is the small steamer from Launceston, which certainly cannot be described as a high-class vessel.

Mr Bamford:

– Do they at present possess a weekly mail service?

Mr McWILLIAMS:

– Sometimes they do not have anything like a weekly mail. I would also remind the Minister that King Island should be the distributing centre for the whole of the islands in the- Straits. The mails for the other islands would be despatched from that point..

Mr Mahon:

– What is the population of the other islands?

Mr McWILLIAMS:

– The total population is, I think, considerably over 1,000.

Mr Mahon:

– If there is a population of 700 on. King Island, there must, therefore, be only about 300 persons on the other islands.

Mr McWILLIAMS:

– I do not think that there, are more. I feel satisfied that the Postmaster-General will be prepared to make inquiries, and to ascertain whether a reasonable service, at something like a moderate cost, cannot be secured for the islanders. If his inquiries show that it can, I trust that he will see that it is supplied. The House would readily agree to the slightly increased expenditure that would be necessary in order to extend the present mail facilities.

Mr PAGE:
Maranoa

– It is most remarkable that a thousand people living on islands within a few hours’ sail of Melbourne should be cut off from mail and telegraphic communication with the rest of the world for so long a time as the honorable member for Darwin has mentioned. There must have been something rotten in the state of Denmark prior to the establishment of Federation, or the Tasmanian and Victorian Governments would surely have arranged for a weekly mail. The ‘islanders have my entire sympathy, because in the district which I represent there are many who know what it is to be practically shut off from the rest of the world. In many parts of my electorate the residents do not receive a mail once a month. It seems almost incredible that in this year of grace there should be no regular mail communication with King Island. The honorable member for Darwin has made out a good case, and the PostmasterGeneral, who has fought more strenuously than has any other honorable memberf or reasonable mail facilities for his own constituents, must surely sympathize with the motion.

Mr McCay:

– But he was not PostmasterGeneral when he fought in that way.

Mr PAGE:

– That, of course, alters the position. We have it on the authority of two of the representatives of Tasmania that a steamer trading between Victoria and Tasmania passes King Island twice a week, and there should be no difficulty, therefore, in arranging for a better mail service at a reasonable cost. If new expenditure were incurred in this direction I am sure that no objection would be offered. I trust that the Postmaster-General will see his way clear to give the residents of these islands, who are living where perhaps many of us would not care to go, better mail facilities than they at present possess.

Mr MAHON:
PostmasterGeneral · Coolgardie · ALP

– Like the honorable member for Maranoa, I sympathize with those who, like these islanders, are situated in remote or inaccessible parts of the Commonwealth. I also agree with him that it is remarkable that apparently no attempt has previously been made to secure reasonable postal accommodation for the residents of King Island. It is certainly singular that the Tasmanian Government, when the Postal Department was under its control, did not supply the facilities which honorable members from that State have so eloquently advocated this afternoon.

Mr Mcwilliams:

– I have fought for them for years past.

Mr MAHON:

– The honorable member should have told us of the causes responsible for his failure. I am sure that the House would have welcomed a more ample explanation of his inability to secure these postal facilities.

Mr O’malley:

– A large population has only lately settled on the island.

Mr MAHON:

– I presume that the island has been populated for many years, and I have not heard of any reason for a sudden influx of population:

Mr O’malley:

– There has been of late a very large increase.

Mr MAHON:

– If correct that constitutes a very good argument for the proposal. I am entirely in sympathy with the motion, but I am not at present prepared to accept it as a direction to the Department to immediately make the suggested arrangements. It seems to me that the explanation of the position in which the people of these islands find themselves is that they have no suitable harbor accommodation on their coast line. That being so, shipping companies are naturally reluctant to allow their vessels to touch there. The honorable member for Darwin,- and the honorable member for Franklin, have formed a rather economical estimate of the expenditure which would be required to establish the service for which they ask, and I fear that they will be somewhat surprised when they learn that the Union Steamship Company of New Zealand, with which I have already communicated on the subject, require no less than £500 per annum for a fortnightly service.

Mr Conroy:

– Having, regard to the risk, that seems to be a comparatively small sum.

Mr MAHON:

– I have before me a letter from the manager of the Union Steamship Company, dated 24th inst., in which it is stated that -

We cannot arrange to call at the island each week, but we will be prepared to make a call each fortnight for£500 per annum.

Then they go on to explain what is apparently the real difficulty -

Such call would require to be made either off Currie Harbor, on the west side of the island, or off Sea Elephant Harbor, on the east side of the island, according to the direction of the wind, and it would be necessary for the mails to be landed by a boat from the shore at either place - to be in waiting on arrival of the steamer.

They are apparently not prepared to send their steamers close in to land, so that the Department would have to incur the additional cost of providing a boatman and boat to take the mails to and from the steamer. The letter continues -

Should the boat not be in readiness to receive the mails on the arrival of the steamer, the master to at liberty to proceed on his voyage after waiting for an hour. I understand that, while a steamer - say the Kawatiri - could approach within about two miles of the shore at Sea Elephant Bay, she could not safely anchor within about six miles of Currie Harbor, on the west side of the island.

Mr Watkins:

– It is always the way when there is no competition.

Mr O’Malley:

– Hear, hear; we shall have to put a Government steamer on.

Mr MAHON:

– I am not prepared to say how far the position is due to the absence of competition. An earlier communication from the Union Steamship Company, dated 20th April last, says -

The difficulty we foresee is in arranging for landing at the island, as the depth of water at Currie Harbor is too limited to allow our steamers to enter, and Sea Elephant Bay is exposed to easterly weather. It is possible, however, that if an arrangement can be made with some parties on shore to send a boat off to meet the Strahan steamer, communication with the island may be provided for. Further inquiries . are being made.

The information in my possession is not so full as I should like it to be, and, therefore, I shall be glad if the honorable member will withdraw his motion, to enable the Department to obtain ampler details.

Mr Chapman:

– That is what the Department is always professing itself desirous of doing, though it never does much.

Mr MAHON:

– I do not suppose that the Department of the Postmaster-General is less successful in the transaction of its business than are some of the other Departments. ‘ There is a certain amount of circumlocution in connexion with the operations of every Department. No doubt the honorable member found, when Minister of Defence, that he was not able to accomplish all that, before accepting office, he wished to have done.

Mr Chapman:

– We shall see whether the honorable member will carry out the pledges which he has made.

Mr MAHON:

– I undertake to carry them out, so far as it is in my power to do so. The honorable member for Darwin must see that the estimate of cost is greatly in excess of what he thought it would be. Taking everything into account, I think he will do well to withdraw the motion.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE:
Hume

– I know something about this matter, and can indorse what has been said by the honorable member for Darwin. Some three or four years ago I made inquiries on the subject myself ; and . having friends living upon King Island, I tried to ascertain why a better steam-ship service could not be given to the place. The Tasmanian Government was applied to, but in all these matters it is rather slow. It must not be forgotten that at the time there was no steamer running directly between Melbourne and Strahan. The service would have had to be done . by steamers running from Launceston, and would have cost a great deal more than the service which could be provided by the use of the steamer now running between the two places I have mentioned. The estimate of cost submitted by the Union Company is absurd. The work should be done very much more cheaply, because their vessel plies close to King Island.

Mr O’malley:

– Within a few miles of it.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE:

– Yes. The population of the island has increased very largely during the last ten years, and there is now a considerable traffic between it and Launceston. The steamer which plies between Melbourne and Strahan would not have to go much out of its way to call at the island, and would be detained only a few hours. I do not agree that it would be necessary to keep a boat upon the shore, because a boat could easily be sent from the steamer.

Mr O’malley:

-£20 is charged now for every time the steamer stops.

Mr Mahon:

£40.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE:

– That is ridiculous. I cannot see that it would do any harm to pass the motion. It requires a slight amendment, because it is now too absolute, since it says that the PostmasterGeneral “ should make arrangements.” In my opinion, it can be so amended as to strengthen the hand’s of the PostmasterGeneral, and at the same time leave him entirely free in making arrangements.

Mr Mahon:

– Why name any steamship company ?

Sir WILLIAM LYNE:

– The Union Steamship Company is named because it is the only company which has a steamer plying between Melbourne and Strahan. Of course, if any other company were prepared to send a steamer to . King Island, the PostmasterGeneral should- be at liberty to make arrangements with it.

Mr Mahon:

– It is not necessary to pass a resolution to enable me to make arrange-, ments.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE:

– The passing of a resolution would help- the honorable member.

Mr Mahon:

– I am already considering the matter.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE:

– I think it is better to pass a resolution than to merely discuss the motion and then drop it. I move -

That after the word “should,” line 6, the words” make arrangements with the Union Steamship Company for its steamer plying between Melbourne and Strahan, Tasmania, to call at King Island, and to stay there long enough to deliver “ be omitted, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ endeavour to make better arrangements for the landing of.”

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

– The honorable member for Darwin would do well to accept the amendment, because it gives him what he asks for.

Mr.O’Malley. - I accept it.

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

– If carried as amended, the motion will express the general consensus of honorable members as to the desirability of providing the mail service asked for. Unquestionably it can and should be provided. We have already agreed to subsidise a wealthy steam-ship proprietary in order to obtain better communication with the New Hebrides and other islands which lie outside the Commonwealth, whereas King Island is part of the Commonwealth. The residents there are, by force of circumstances, excluded from . the ordinary means of communication enjoyed by those in other places, and, seeing that they now number 600 or 700 persons, we should do all we can to improve their means of . communication with the mainland, and with Tasmania. I have been on King Island, and, while I cannot describe it as one of the finest places in Australia, it is quilt possible that, with better communication, it would be largely resorted to by tourists. Many of us have already intimated that we are agreeable to the policy of bringing the various parts of the Commonwealth as much in touch as is possible. No doubt when the Navigation Bill comes under consideration, the Postmaster-General will be ready to relax certain of its provisions in order that there shall be no interference with the communication between Western Australia and the eastern States. I do not say that that will be wrong ; in my opinion it has a good deal to ‘recommend it. Similarly, we should not overlook the claims of an important island lying so near the mainland as does King Island. The other branch of the Legislature, some time ago, instituted an inquiry as to the best means of improving the communication between the mainland and the island State of Tas mania. There is a great deal to be said for that. The steam-ship company which now does so large a part of the trade between Tasmania and the mainland could easily make a visit to King Island a side trip for one of its vessels. I do not say that it is necessary to have a vessel callingthere frequently, but, as the residents of the island consume a large quantity of goods, and, “therefore, pay a considerable amount of taxation to the Commonwealth, they should be considered in this matter. I do not think any great expense would be involved in providing the inhabitants

Of King Island with means of access to the other States. If such facilities were afforded, they would tend to the development of the island, and probably result in its becoming a popular health resort. Although King Island is not what I should call the most charming place in Australia, there is no doubt that it is one of the healthiest. I spent the most miserable day of my existence there. I was on board a weather-bound ship, and, therefore, saw the place under the worst possible circumstances. I had to help the sailors to carry sheep down to the ship, because we had run out of food. I think that if we can do anything to bring the inhabitants into more direct contact with the people of the mainland we shall be justified in incurring a small expenditure with that object. If King Islandwere divided from the great centres of population by a desert, similar to those which exist in the interior of Australia, instead of by sea, it would be considered necessary to provide it with postal facilities, even though the cost involved might be considerable. Therefore, I do not think that the inhabitants of the Island should be placed at any disadvantage. Ships already trade along routes which pass very near it, and they would require to make only a slight detour in order to call there. Theywould not need to go out of theirway “for the purpose of conveying mails only, because the Island yields a certain amount of produce, which has to be sent to the mainland, and the inhabitants require stores, which have to be brought to them from the mainland or Tasmania. Therefore, a certain amount of tradewould be carried on by anyvesselswhich called there, and Ave should only require to pay such a. sum aswould compensate theowners for the expense of maintaining a regular service for the conveyance of mails. I have great pleasure in supporting the motion.

Mr STORRER:
Bass

– I shall support the motion, but I should be very sorry indeed if the provision of the proposed facilities involved an outlay of such a large sum as has been mentioned. There are a number of people living upon the islands in Bass Straits who do not enjoy the same conveniences as do the inhabitants of King Island, and they are entitled to at least equal consideration. It has been complained thj.1 the ballot-boxes and ballot-papers intended for King Island during the recent elections, arrived too late for use by the electors there. The people living on other islands in Bass Straits had no special facilities for recording their votes. Their only recourse was to go to Georgetown, on the mainland, I and vote there as best they, could. It was arranged that certain papers were to be sent to these islands to enable the electors 10 vote by post, but these did not arrive in time, and the electors were disfranchised. No harm can be done by passing the motion; on the contrary, it may do some good, ‘ and I think that we should certainly afford all’ reasonable facilities to the inhabitants of King Island.

Amendment agreed to.

Question, as amended, resolved in the affirmative.

Resolved -

That, in view of the enormous increase of the population of King Island and the magnitude of its agricultural and commercial importance (the island lying midway between the States of Victoria and Tasmania), in the opinion of this House the Postmaster-General should endeavour to make better arrangements for the landing of the mails at Currie Harbor or Sea Elephant Bay.

page 1628

TRAVELLING ALLOWANCES .OF MILITARY COMMANDANTS

Mr MALONEY:
Melbourne

– I move-

That a return be laid upon the table of the House, showing -

What sum per diem is drawn by Major-. General Hutton as travelling allowance when he. is absent from Melbourne.

How many days Major-General Hutton was absent on his recent visit to Tasmania.

What sum was paid to, or applied for by, ( Major-General Hutton as travelling expenses in respect of the visit in question to Tasmania. 1

How many days Major-General Hutton was absent from Melbourne on his Easter visit to New South Wales. ,

What sum was paid to, or applied for by, Major-General Hutton as travelling expenses in 1 respect of the visit in question to New South I Wales. . I

What was the total sum paid to, or applied ) for by, Major-General Hutton as travelling expenses in 1902.

The same information for 1904.

The sums paid or applied for as travelling expenses of Major-General Hutton’s aide-de-camp for each of the years 1902, 1903, and 1904.

The sum paid or applied for as travelling expenses for Major-General Hutton’s private secretary for each of the years 1902, 1903, and 1904.

Whether Major-General Hutton travelled with an orderly.

If so, what was the sum annually paid for his travelling expenses.

I do not propose to detain the House at any great length. In the first place, an inquiry is pending, which might render it a matter of delicacy for me to discuss the subject it length ; and, secondly, I know that honorable members are anxious to proceed with

I other business. I think it is only right that the community should know exactly the sum of money paid to the General Officer Commanding. I find, by reference to tha official papers, that Major-General Hutton receives a salary of £2,500, including all allowances, except travelling allowances. I know that, in connexion with certain forces, three different kinds of allowances are provided for under the head of travelling expenses, living expenses, and route expense.;, the latter term being somewhat difficult to define. I find that Von Moltke, who led the victorious legions of Germany against France, and who had the command of about a million men, received a salary of only £1,500, and although the salaries paid in Australia must be upon a relatively higher scale, we should guard against any undue extravagance. The citizens of Australia are entitled to know the exact amount which is paid to the General Officer Commanding out of the funds- of the Commonwealth.

Mr POYNTON:
Grey

– I have no objection to the motion, but I think we should enlarge its scope in order to cover the expenses paid to the State Commandants. I am under the impression that the aggregate amount expended . in the form of travelling expenses to the military commandants represents a very considerable sum. I- move -

That the following words be added : - “ (13) Similar information regarding the travelling expenses of each of the six State Commandants for igo2 and 1903.”

Mr WATSON:
Treasurer · Bland · ALP

– i do not see much objection, on principle, to the House desiring and obtaining information of this description, especially as within a comparatively short time the Estimates will be presented. I expect, however, that the amendment will lead to a considerable increase in the cost of preparing the return.

Mr Page:

– The public should know what they are paying.

Sir John Forrest:

– They do now.

Mr Page:

– They do not.

Mr WATSON:

– No one knows the actual amount spent in the form of travelling expenses, because the payments are made out of the vote for Contingencies.

Sir John Forrest:

– The public know the rate per diem that is allowed.

Mr WATSON:

– I have no objection to the motion, but I hope that the preparation of the return will not involve any great expense.

Sir JOHN FORREST:
Swan

– There is no objection to any return being asked for in connexion with the public expenditure, so long as the information sought is required for the enlightenment of the public, but it appears to me that the motion is somewhat longer than is really necessary, and that there is something underlying it. If that be so, I do not approve of it. The travelling expenses of public officers of the Commonwealth are fixed by regulations which have been approved by the Public Service Commissioner and the Executive of the day. Those allowances are not of a haphazard character. They are absolutely fixed. Officers of the Commonwealth are allowed two things. In the first place they are granted the actual cost of their transport, whether it be by coach, rail, or otherwise. Then they are allowed a certain sum per day, which, as a rule, is regulated by the amount of their salaries. From the day they leave their place of residence until they return they receive this allowance, which is intended to cover everything. Their only other reimbursement is for out-of-pocket expenses, such as might be involved in the despatch of official telegrams. In the case of Major-General Sir Edward Hutton, his allowance was decided whilst I occupied Ministerial office, and therefore I have some knowledge of the matter. Originally he was granted his actual expenses. That arrangement continued for some time. It did not prove a very satisfactory one, because it was felt that it was undesirable to have numerous small accounts submitted to the Department, in some of which the expenditure was vouched for, whilst in others it was not. Eventually an agreement was arrived at which was based upon the Major-General’s expenditure for more than a year. Under that arrangement the Commonwealth agreed to allow that officer £2 per day as travelling expenses whenever he was absent from Melbourne on duty. The amount covers all his expenses, with the exception of transport by railway. He has a pass over all railways. He is required to pay all his expenses out of the £2 per day to ‘which I have referred. It is impossible for him to travel without an orderly. It would not be possible for any honorable member, if he occupied Major-General Sir Edward Hutton’s position, to do without an orderly.

Mr Page:

– I have had to hump my saddle through Queensland.

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– Probably the honorable member had not as many uniforms as has the Major-G*eneral ?

Mr Crouch:

– Who pays for the orderly ?

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– The orderly is a soldier.

Mr Crouch:

– He is supposed to be doing garrison work.

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– General Officers are always allowed orderlies.

Mr Crouch:

– I think they should pay for them.

Mr Page:

– All officers in the Imperial Service are allowed a soldier groom and a soldier servant.

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– “All the expenses I have enumerated are covered by the allowance to Major - General Sir Edward Hutton of £2 per day. I do not know that it is of any interest to the public to learn how many days were occupied by that officer in travelling to Tasmania and back. Surely, it is not implied that he charged for more days than he was absent ! In my opinion, the more frequently he is away from HeadQuarters, the better it is for the forces of the Commonwealth. I would remind honorable members that the duties of the General Officer Commanding are by no means confined to Victoria, but extend to the whole of the Commonwealth. Of course, the longer he remains in Melbourne, with his family, the more comfortable he is. On the other hand, it is necessary that he should travel, in order to efficiently perform the duties of his office. Instead of having a General Officer Commanding, I understand that it is suggested by some people that we should appoint an InspectorGeneral, who would be required to do a great deal of travelling. The question as to how many days Major-General Sir Edward Hutton was occupied in Tasmania is absolutely silly, unless he has done something which he ought not to have done. The answer to the third question raised by the honorable member is that the Major-General, on his visit to that

State, was allowed travelling expenses at the rate of £2 per day. I scarcely think that we are in a position to judge whether he was absent for too long or too short a period. The total sum paid to him, as travelling expenses, during 1902-3 might possibly be of interest to some persons, but the other matters upon which the honorable member for Melbourne desires information appear to suggest that the General Officer Commanding charged for more days than he was entitled to.

Mr Maloney:

– Evil be to him who evil thinks.

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– I cannot help thinking that some one has supplied the honorable member with these questions for some purpose of his own, and perhaps with a desire to trap the Major-General. I do not like this system of espionage upon a public officer.

Mr Brown:

– If there is anything wrong it ought to be cleared up.

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– There is nothing to clear up.

Mr Maloney:

– The right honorable member mav try to hide it as much as he chooses, but the truth will prevail.

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– I do not desire to conceal anything. I am merely expressing my opinion, and I have some knowledge of these matters. The questions raised by the honorable member seem to reflect upon the Major-General, and in my judgment it is wrong to put queries which even insinuate a double meaning. I repeat that it is necessary for . Major-General Sir Edward Hutton to travel in order to faithfully perform his duty. No one can urge that he endeavours to spare himself, because he is ever ready to do his work. I do’ not like to see the slightest semblance of a reflecton cast upon an officer who is lent to us for a short period by the Imperial Government. These questions impress me with the idea that there is something behind them, and beyond the information which is sought. If that is the case, let it be clearly stated.

Mr KELLY:
Wentworth

– I quite agree with the remarks of the right honorable member for Swan. It seems to me that this motion could have been concentrated under two or three heads, and that then the information required by the honorable member for Melbourne, could have been asked for in the ordinary way, at a convenient time, in the form of questions. . I should be the last to endeavour to curtail information supplied to any honorable member. But I do think, with the right Honorable member for Swan, that in this motion there is implied an indirect attack on the General Officer Commanding the Commonwealth Forces. I find, in support of my contention, that this motion might have been narrowed down considerably. Looking at paragraph 2, for instance, we find that it is desired by the honorable member to know “How many days MajorGeneral Hutton was absent on his recent visit to Tasmania “ ? I am quite convinced that three minutes’ conversation on the telephone with the shipping company would have extracted that valuable information. Therefore. I do not think it was necessary to ask for it in this form. As regards the other questions, they mainly concern details of the expenses of Major-General Hutton when he has been travelling. Surely, with regard to those questions, the matter is equally simple. The honorable member might simply have asked what travelling allowances the General Officer Commanding received from the Government. That would cover almost the whole of his questions. Lower down, we find that the same information’ is wanted for years back. I do not know whether that is necessary for the honorable member’s purposes. Of course, if it is, I would not attempt to suggest anything that would frustrate the obtaining of the information. I would defer to his request absolutely. But, at the same time, it appears to me that the information could have been obtained from the Estimates. The allowance paid to the General Officer Commanding would give the honorable member the result at once. Looking further down, we find that the honorable member wants to know the amount paid to the Major-General’s aide-de-camp, and also whether he travels with a private secretary and an orderly. As the right honorable member for Swan very rightly said, it is absolutely necessary for the ‘ General Officer Commanding to travel with some servant, if only to look after his baggage. I should say that’ it is also necessary for him to travel with his secretary, because, under our dual system of military control, he has a great amount of secretarial work to do. In this connexion, I should like to remind the House that some Ministers of the Commonwealth - very rightly, I think - have taken secretaries with them when they have travelled. I am not speaking of the members of the present Ministry, be! cause I do not actually know what they da

But certainly there have been Ministers who have travelled with secretaries as well as with servants.

Mr Page:

– Not the ex-Minister of Defence.

Mr KELLY:

– I am not mentioning any particular branch of the service, but I think all the Departments are affected in this respect. I think that it would be invidious to mention one; but when a Minister finds it necessary to travel with a secretary and with a servant, we may very well concede the same advantages to a distinguished officer who has to discharge the enormous duties devolving on the General Officer Commanding. I urge that all the information which the honorable member for Melbourne asks for in this series of questions could have been obtained in the ordinary way at question time. I hope that the honorable member will not suppose that I am objecting to his obtaining the information. If he attempted to obtain it at question time, andi it were refused, I should then be inclined to support a motion ofthis kind.

Mr Maloney:

– I could not obtain it by means of questions.

Mr KELLY:

– I do not think the honorable member could in this detailed form, but I think that if he narrowed down his motion, and put the questions under . two or three heads, or four or five, at the outside, they would have been allowed. Of course I am not an authority on these matters, and have never pretended to he cr.t. But it seems to me that the only way in which to get information of this kind, if an honorable member does not want to .’cave a sting in the minds of those against 1,1,On his questions are directed, is to ask them at question time in the ordinary way.

Mr Page:

– One cannot get information in’ that way. Ministers often smother it up.

Mr KELLY:

– In that case such a mo- tion might be justified. As the case stands I regret that I must oppose the motion.

Mr PAGE:
Maranoa

– In speaking to this motion, I may say that I am one of those who are regarded by a number of honorable members as having a particular “down” upon Major-General Hutton. I have no particular “ down “ upon him personally. But I have a “ down “ on Imperial militarism. As far as the travelling allowances of Major-General Hutton are concerned, I do not think the Commonwealth pays him too much. I might tell the honorable member for Melbourne that I have given to ihe travelling expenses of all the officers, the commandants and their staffs, and MajorGeneral Hutton and his staff, a great deal . of scrutiny. I do not think we are paying them too much in these allowances. The right honorable member for Swan has put it very plausibly when he states that the more Major-General Hutton is away from Melbourne the more and the better he is earning the salary which we pay to him. But there is a fault in the regulations in regard to travelling expenses. I have spoken to the ex-Minister of Defence, the honorable member for Eden-Monaro, about it. I allude to the great difference in the amount paid in travelling allowances to different officers of the service. Every one of us knows that, in travelling and staying at hotels, a man like Major-General Hutton is- not charged any more than a private individual or a lieutenant. The charge is exactly the same, unless, of course, the General has a special suite of rooms, for which, naturally, he would pay correspondingly. But people, in travelling, do not very often go in for privileges of that kind. I cannot see for the life of me why a colonel who is travelling should get £2 a day for his expenses, whilst a lieutenant, who is travelling with him, and has to spend exactly the same amount for his. conveniences, gets 10s. 6d., or, at the most, 15s. a day.

Sir John Forrest:

– The General has to have a horse.

Mr PAGE:

– So has his orderly. How can an orderly go with a General on foot if the General is on horseback? One of the paragraphs in the motion of the honorable member for Melbourne is : “ How many days Major-General Hutton was absent on his recent visit to Tasmania?” There is also another paragraph which deals with the travelling expenses in respect of MajorGeneral’s Hutton-‘ s visit to Tasmania. I do not know why the honorable member for Melbourne has picked out Tasmania any more than any other place ; but I believe that, when Major-General Hutton was over in Tasmania, he had to perform one of the most difficult tasks as regards, military discipline that any General OfficerCommanding ever had to perform in any; country. It seems to me that he got out of the difficulty very well- indeed, under the circumstances. If what happened in Tasmania had happened in some of the countries of Europe, a penalty much more serious than’ the disbanding of a corps would have been the consequence.

Mr Storrer:

– What could have been done?

Mr PAGE:

-The men would have been in prison to-day in consequence of their action. It was not simply that they did not turn up to duty; it was practically rebellion, and the honorable member for Bass must know what the penalty for rebellion is.

Mr Chapman:

– It was- a military strike.

Mr PAGE:

– I can tell the honorable member about an incident that happened at Woolwich while I was soldiering. Some drivers in the artillery were discontented at having to drive out on a wet day. We got orders to do route marching every day in the week, except Saturday, because the General Officer Commanding was under the impression that our battery was not efficient. The drivers refused to turn out. What happened? Every one of them was sent to gaol, with a long term of imprisonment.

Mr Storrer:

– They were regulars.

Mr PAGE:

– But the oath taken by both regulars and volunteers is the same, and if a volunteer breaks it he is just as liable to imprisonment as is a member of the regular forces. I am unable to say what object the honorable member has in view, so far as his inquiry in reference to the visit paid to Tasmania by the General Officer Commanding . is concerned ; but fie is quite within his rights in asking that the return be furnished. The honorable member for Wentworth suggested that the honorable member might have secured the information he desires as to the length of Major-General Hutton’s stay in Tasmania, by telephoning to the Steam-ship Company ; but it seems to me that it would be infra dig for an honorable member to resort- to any such source of information. Why should he spy round the shipping offices?

Mr Hutchison:

– Had he done so he would have acted practically as a private detective.

Mr PAGE:

– Quite so. Under our Standing Orders the honorable member is entitled to secure this information, and no exception can be taken to his action. Complaint is made of the action of the General Officer Commanding in taking his orderly with him. But every officer in the British Army is allowed two men - one to act as groom, and the other as a valet. He takes those men with him wherever he goes on dutv, and the British Government bear his living as well as his travelling expenses while he is so engaged. It may well be said that we are becoming very niggardly if we refuse to allow the General Officer Commanding to have even one servant in attendance on him when he is travelling from place to place in the performance of his duties. I was surprised at the interjection made some minutes ago by the honorable member for Corio. As a military man, he must know that- even the officers of volunteer regiments are each allowed a batman to polish their swords, and keep their buttons burnished. Surely the honorable and learned member would allow . the General Officer Commanding at least the privileges that are accorded to a- lieutenant in a volunteer force ? Last year I moved for a return showing the expenses incurred by Major-General Hutton and his staff in connexion with his northern tour - inclusive of the trip to New Guinea - and was astounded by the information that I obtained. The amount paid to Major-General Hutton was exceedingly small, and I had to admit that I had discovered a mare’s nest.

Mr Willis:

– What did the trip cost?

Mr PAGE:

– It did not cost £500, and I was under the impression that it had involved an outlay approximating to , £5,000. When the return was furnished, I at once saw that I was on the wrong track, and allowed the matter to rest. My opinion of Major-General Hutton is such that I feel satisfied that he would not take£1 from the Commonwealth if he was not justly entitled to receive it. In this respect, I also believe that my honorable friend, the member for Melbourne, is on the wrong track. As to the appointment of a private secretary, I would ask honorable members whether they do not consider that the General Officer Commanding, who has to control the Military Forces of the Commonwealth in no less than six States, is entitled to the services of such an officer. Could he be expected to personally attend to. all his voluminous official correspondence, and to take notes of the many interviews which he has to hold. Whenever he visits Queensland, he invariably has long interviews with officers and others, and whether we believe in his system or not, we must all admit that his heart is in the work His intentions are undoubtedly good; and I believe that in ability he is second to none. The fact remains, however, that just as honorable members opposite consider that members of the Labour Party would administer the affairs of the Commonwealth in a curious manner, so many persons entertain the opinion that the

General Officer Commanding has a peculiar way of giving effect to his views and schemes. We must, nevertheless, give him credit for honesty of purpose, although, perhaps, the honorable member for Robertson may not do so.

Mr Willis:

– I have not said anything.

Mr PAGE:

– But the honorable member thinks a lot. So far as the Major-General’s private secretary is concerned, I do not think that greater efficiency would be secured by the abolition of that office. Had I required the information which the honorable member for Melbourne seeks, I should have inquired from the Minister of Defence whether it was available to me as a private member. The Minister would, doubtless, have fenced a little-

Mr Chapman:

– He certainly would not have done that.

Mr PAGE:

– I believe that he would have done so; but I should have parried, and eventually obtained the information. When I first asked for information relating to Major-General Hutton’s northern tour of inspection, I was informed that it was not available.- I persisted, however, in visiting the offices of the Defence Department day after day, with the result that I secured the information piece by piece, until by the time the Estimates were ready for our consideration I was in possession of all the facts. As soon as I discovered that everything was fair and above board, I was satisfied. I would point out to the honorable member for Melbourne that the travelling expenses are fixed by regulation, and cannot be exceeded. The accounts are audited by the Audit Department, and vouchers have to be forthcoming in respect of every claim for allowances. If an honorable member queried any item of expenditure the late Treasurer invariably went to great trouble to ascertain whether there was any ground for objecting to it. I am sure that the present Treasurer will take up a similar position, and, although the honorable member for Melbourne is not exceeding his, privileges in asking for this return, I am satisfied that when it is furnished he will find, as I did in connexion with my request for the return relating to the northern tour of inspection, . that he has been “ barking up the wrong tree.”

Mr BROWN:
Canobolas

– The objection raised by the right honorable member for Swan to the- passing of this motion has given me considerable surprise. The honorable member for Melbourne apparently desires to secure certain information, for which he is entitled to ask, and it would seem that he can secure it in no other way. I do not know whether the honorable member for Maranoa has succeeded in securing information of this kind by personal application to the Department, but he will admit that we all do not possess his degree of persistency. The Defence Department expenditure is very heavy, and the Estimates are so drawn up that it is often impossible to secure specific information in regard to’ any particular item. The honorable member for Swan has placed a certain interpretation on the action of the honorable member for Melbourne in submitting this motion. If there is anything in his remarks which amount to an imputation against the General, it is to the interest of the officer concerned that the information desired by the honorable member for Melbourne should be made public. Personally, I do not entertain any suspicion of wrongdoing on the part of the General, or of the members of his Head-Quarters Staff, nor do I think that such a suspicion Has crossed the minds of any considerable number of honorable members. But after the suggestion made by the right honorable member for Swan, who ‘ was himself for a time Minister of Defence, the motion should be passed, so that the House may be put into possession of all information, and it may be seen what justification there is for the imputation. Therefore, I shall support the motion.

Mr CHAPMAN:
Monaro · Eden

– I see no reason why the information asked for should not be given, though it is difficult to understand why the honorable member for Melbourne has moved a motion, instead of placing a question upon the notice-paper, because every honorable member is well within his rights in asking for information such as this. I shall support the motion. If I thought that the honorable member for Melbourne imputed misconduct to the Major-General Commanding, I should have to consider the matter more fully ; but I see nothing in the motion which leads me to believe that he has any such intention. General Hutton is too well known for any member of the House to harbor the suspicion that he would be guilty, of wrongdoing in connexion with the expenditure of the public money intrusted to him. The honorable member for Maranoa spoke of the difference between the travelling expenses of officers who might all have to stay at the same hotel; but I would point out. that the military travelling allowances are provided for by regulation. They bear a certain relation to the salaries paid, and are as far as possible identical with the scale of traveling allowances sanctioned by the Public Service Board. That seems to me as good an arrangement as can be made. In reply to the cavilling at the amount of money spent by the Military Department generally for travelling expenses, I would ask the House to remember that that branch of the service has of late been in a state of flux, or change, and a considerable amount of travelling has had to be done in connexion with the rearrangement of positions which has been necessary. The Major-General Commanding receives for his expenses a fixed sum. We, who know something about military matters, know that, although the right honorable member for Swan did not, perhaps, clear. v express his opinion, what he intended to convey was that it is a cheering sign to hai’e at the head of our Military Forces an energetic man like General Hutton, who is always flitting about the various States of the Commonwealth. It cannot be very pleasurable to General Hutton to rush from State to State, as he does, in ail’ weathers and at all times, and no one would accuse him of travelling in order to save money out of his allowance. I take it that it is very necessary that he should move round as he does. Whatever accusations may be levelled against him, he cannot l-e charged with not being energetic enough. Something has been said about his action in Tasmania. It is hardly in order to refer to the subject on the motion under discussion, but I should like to say that I look upon the action taken in that case as the turning point in the history of Commonwealth Defence administration. What occurred in Tasmania was in the nature of a military strike. Most of us strongly favour the building up of a citizen soldiery. But we must have discipline even where citizen soldiers are concerned, and it is a good thing that on the occasion to which I refer we had a commanding officer who was not afraid to act. Persons who have forgotten more about military matters than I ever knew, have spoken very highly about General Hutton’s action on that occasion. He knew that whenever large bodies of citizens are concerned, attempts are made to bring political influence to bear, and it is a cheering thing to remember that he was not afraid to make the recommendation which -he did. He knew that he would have to face hostile criticism, and that he might be blamed in this or the Other House, but, nevertheless, he did his duty. I myself have on many occasions felt bound to differ from General Hutton, and to express my views plainly in this Chamber ; but I owe it to myself and to the country, whenever a public officer with whom I am acquainted or have come into contact is unjustly censured, to say frankly what I know about the facts of the case. With regard to what has been said about carrying servants and private secretaries about the country - as we all know, officers of high standing are accustomed to take with them certain attendants. In my opinion there should be a line drawn between servants and messengers. It is quite a different thing for the General to take a servant and for the Prime Minister to take a messenger about with him. But I hold that if a high military officer claims a right to take with him a private secretary and an orderly, it is for the Minister in charge of the Defence Department to say when the bounds are overstepped. Members of Parliament cannot go into these details. I take it that the honorable membet for Melbourne wishes to elicit information, so that when the Estimates come be- . fore us for discussion, he will be able to say whether the lump sum asked for is too much. I hold a strong opinion in regard to travelling expenses. I believe that in many ways a saving could be made in this expenditure; but, as I have pointed out, a good deal of it has been unavoidable, because of the changes which have been in process. Now that these changes have been made, and men are settled in positions where they will probably remain for some considerable time, the travelling expenditure of theDepartment should be reduced.

Mr HUTCHISON:
Hindmarsh

– i do not for a “moment suppose that MajorGeneral Hutton has drawn, sixpence more than the amount to which he is entitled for travelling expenses, and I do not think that the honorable member for Melbourne suggests that he has.

Mr Maloney:

– I do not suggest it, nor do I think it.

Mr HUTCHISON:

– The right honorable member for Swan and ‘ the honorable member for Wentworth would be among the first to resent any dictation in regard to notices of motion. Every honorable member has a right to place upon the business-paper any notice of motion. If it is not in order, he will be told so by the proper authority ; but if it is in order, no other honorable member has a right to object to it on the ground of form. The taxpayers are entitled to know what any and every department of Government costs. I myself am anxious to obtain the information for which the honorable member for Melbourne asks, because I wish to know how the travelling allowances granted to military officers compare with those given to travelling lettersorters, who receive 2 s. 8d. per day. The right honorable member for Swan spoke of an officer getting £2 a day. I do not say whether that is too much or too little, though to me it appears a very generous amount. What I am anxious to see is that justice is done to lower paid officials, such as the travelling letter-sorters to whom I have referred. In many small towns there are only one or two hotels, where every person stopping has to put up. I have gone round the country with Royal ‘ Commissions, and have found that we were’ charged no more than ordinary visitors. If a Railway Commissioner is stopping in the same town as a letter-sorter, although the one may be getting /[1 or £2 a day as travelling allowance, and the other 2s. 8d., they may both have to stay at the same hotel and pay the same charges. I shall support the motion.

Mr. MALONEY (Melbourne).- I assure honorable members that I have nothing to hide . in connexion with the motion. I desire to procure certain information, and I have taken a course which a great deal of experience in the Victorian Legislature makes me think necessary. At the present time no one knows what the Military Commandant of Victoria receives in travelling expenses. Although I had- a pledge from the late Treasurer of the Commonwealth, when he was Premier of Victoria, that he would give me similar State information, I never got it. The general who commands 250.000 Switzers in time of war gets only £2 per day. Personally, I have nothing against Major-General Hutton. I do not know this gentleman, and I have yet to learn to take a dislike to a human being whom I have never met. I should like, through the press if possible, to assure , this gentleman that I have no animus against him. I hold that,_ in. my position as a member of this House, I have a right to demand this information so that the public, who have to provide these large sums, may know exactly how much is spent in this direction. ‘ I thank honorable members for the courteous way in which the debate has been conducted.

Amendment agreed to.

Question, as amended, resolved in the affirmative.

page 1635

QUESTION

MINISTERIAL STATEMENT : PAPER

Debate resumed from 25th May (vide page 1584), on motion by Mr. Watson -

That the letter from the Secretary of State for the Colonies regarding the use of the title of “ Honorable “ by members of the first Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia be printed.

Sir JOHN FORREST:
Swan

– With the exception of my leader, the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, no member of the party to which I belong has spoken during this debate. As the debate appears to be coming to a close, and, seeing that I am now free from all Ministerial obligations, I do not feel justified in remaining silent in regard to so important a matter as the transfer of the administration from the party with which I am associated to what is known in this House as the Labour Party. I should like to say, at the beginning, in view of the misstatements or misrepresentations as to the political leanings or proclivities of members of this House, that I am now, and always have been during my political life, a protectionist. It ought not to be necessary for me to make such an avowal, but the circumstances render it necessary. I do not know whether the misrepresentation is intentional, and I am quite willing to admit for the sake of argument that it is quite unintentional. I have called myself, though no one else has so called me, a moderate protectionist; and during the twenty-one years in which I have been engaged in legislative work in Western Australia and in the Commonwealth Parliament, I have never changed my views. Since the inauguration of the Commonwealth I have, as honorable members know, served under two leaders, both representing what is called the Protectionist Party - first Sir Edmund Barton, and, more recently, the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, Mr. Deakin. Three years have passed away, and, being now relieved of Ministerial responsibility, I am quite free to say that I have always been a very open and candid colleague. I have never hesitated to express my opinions, which are well known to both the gentlemen I have mentioned, and, to a smaller extent, to all my colleagues. I may tell honorable members, that both these gentlemen are now my personal, as well as my political, friends, to a greater extent than they ever were before. That utterance should, I think, dispel any idea that during our association we did not work together with the greatest harmony and friendship. It would be impossible for me to say that every measure introduced by the Administrations to which I belonged, met with my approval ; and the members of the present Government, when they have had longer Ministerial experience, will find that they have to submit to much with which they are not altgether in accord. It must be a matter of real and vital importance to a Minister’s principles and conscience, before he takes such an important step in politics as to dissociate himself from those with whom he has been working. To take that course involves greater responsibility than may be imagined by those who have not had to take it into consideration. In such circumstances, a Minister has to consider, not only his leaving his colleagues - that would be painful enough - but he has also to consider where he is going, and with whom he is going to associate. Therefore it is very seldom in the political history of our country, or of any country within the British Empire, that we find men associated in a Government finding it necessary to separate from one another. I should like also to say that I have always had the fullest confidence of the two leaders, under whom I served in the Commonwealth Government ; nothing was ever kept back from me. Whether I agreed or disagreed with them, I always had, as I say, the fullest confidence of those two gentlemen, under whom I am proud to have served. I wish to repeat, that to-night I am free from Ministerial responsibility. I owe no allegiance whatever, which, in my opinion - I say my opinion, and not the opinion of other people - is inconsistent with my duty to my constituents and my conscience. On me there is exerted no pressure, either from outside or from any inside caucus of any political party - no pressure from a few individuals, who, meeting almost in secret, and calling themselves a labour council, may seek to bind me. Can honorable members opposite say the same?

Mr Carpenter:

– Undoubtedly.

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– Honorable members opposite have to reckon not only with an outside caucus, but with a caucus inside.

Mr Carpenter:

– Tha right honorable gentleman is wrong.

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– We are alwavs said to be wrong in making that statement, but the printed documents of the Labour Party show that we are quite right.

Mr Bamford:

– Does the right honorable gentleman not think that one caucus is quite enough for any reasonable man ?

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– If I do not vote to-night, or to-morrow, as my friends beside me think I ought to vote, I am not liable to be called opprobrious names, such as “blackleg” or “scab.” I do not know the meaning of the latter term, but I have heard it used. I am not exposed to these opprobrious names if I exercise my own judgment and vote as I like. On the contrary, I feel that I am at liberty to vote in a way that will commend itself to my constituents and to my own conscience.

Mr Hutchison:

– The right honorable and learned member for Adelaide had to leave the Barton Government.

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– I shall refer to the right honorable and learned member for Adelaide bv-and-bv. I- desire, in what I have to say, to be very frank. It is my desire also, as it has been, throughout my’ political life, not to exhibit any personal feeling. I wish it to be thoroughly understood that I have no personal feeling against honorable members, opposite, and I am urged only by a sense of public duty to say what I shall say. We have worked together as friends for over three years, and though I may in some of my remarks upon honorable members opposite be severe, I hope that what I shall say will not interfere with our friendship in the future.

Mr Carpenter:

– So long as it is the truth, we shall not mind.

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– I remind the honorable member that the truth is not always told in a courteous way, but I desire to be courteous, though there may be some difference of opinion on the point before I shall have done. A little incident happened yesterday, which shows how one may be misrepresented. I had noticed in certain newspapers a reference to remarks which were made by the present Minister of Defence. I thought the remarks were very improper, and not such as should have been made by a public man, whether years ago or at the present time. I gave notice of a question dealing with the subject, and

I find that the honorable gentleman has written and stated that. I am suffering some pique or disappointment on being relieved of the duties of my office as a Minister. If that is the spirit in which a simple question is to be received, I cannot help it. I believe that I was the honorable gentleman’s best friend, if he only knew it, because there wasan absolutely easy and satisfactory answer to the question I submitted, and the answer which I should have given if I had been in his unenviable position. If I had made any statement at a previous period of my life which was not justified, or which was not creditable to me, I should have said in answer to such a question - “ It is perfectly true that I made the statement, and I very much regret it.” If the present Minister of Defence had adopted that course, the incident would have closed to his advantage. When a man has made statements which are not of a creditable character, concerning our public institutions, or public men, he is not entitled to expect, when he enters this Parliament, that he will be shielded, and will not be asked what he meant. I have little doubt that the action which I took in this matter will do good. It will show our public men that they must be guarded in what they say. No man is justified in designating people who are trying to do their duty, and who are doing the bravest thing whicn mcn can do when they leave their homes and kindred to fight for their country in a distant land, incurring all the disadvantages attending that . action, as “‘swashbucklers,” “cowards,” “curs,” or “dogs.” I think that the action I have taken will afford the Minister of Defence the best lesson which the honorable gentleman could receive; it will be good for him and for the community generally. I leave the matter now, and add only that personally the honorable gentleman and I have always been good friends, and I regret to have to say anything that reflects upon him.

Mr Mahon:

– He is a good friend to the railway, too.

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– That only goes to show how very unreasonable it is to suggest that, in the course I took, I was actuated by anything but what I considered my duty. We have heard excellent speeches from the honorable and learned member forBallarat and the right honorable and learned member for East Sydney. If anything were necessary to show that either of those gentlemen is fully qualified to lead any party in this country, those speeches gave proof that they are specially well fitted for such a task. It is no doubt to the credit of those honorable gentlemen ; but they appeared to me to be a little too complimentary. In my opinion, the Opposition should never say anything very complimentary about the Government, but should find fault with them if they do wrong. If they do right, the Opposition should say, “That is just what you ought to have done ; you have done your duty ; “ but if the Government does wrong, the Opposition should hold them to account for it. I do not think it was necessary for those who had just been dispossessed of their positions to pay compliments to those who had turned them out of office. What has occurred serves to show the kindly dispositions of those two honorable gentlemen, and, perhaps, how very superior they are in that regard to what I think I should have been under similar circumstances. I cannot forecast the future; time will tell what is to take place; but I do not look upon the present as a time of political peace. It is, in my opinion, a time of political war. What are the facts? We on this side have been vanquished ; honorable members opposite are the victors, and they have taken possession of the spoils.

Mr Hutchison:

– That is the grievance-

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– The honorable member has spoilt my joke by saying “ That is the grievance.” I can assure the honorable member that the loss of the “ spoils “ is not a grievance with me. Some of the pleasantest days I have spent since I entered this Parliament have been those which I have spent in opposition. My circle of acquaintance has been largely extended. Persons upon whom I had looked rather askance during the last two or three years are, I now find, really excellent men, with whom I can fraternize, and enjoy myself. Instead of restricting my parliamentary circle of acquaintance, I have enlarged it in the last few days, and I can assure honorable members that the experience has been agreeable.

Mr Bamford:

– The right honorable member has only to join us to still further enlarge it.

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– When I hear what the terms are, I shall see about that. I may say, at once, that I am quite in accord with the action recently taken by my honorable and learned friend and leader, the honorable member for Ballarat, and with the expressions he has used in the memoranda which have been made public. I am in accord with him when he agrees with the right hort- orable and learned member for East Syd- ney -

That the existence of three parties in the Federal Legislature of nearly equal strength has thrown public affairs into confusion, makes parliamentary government on constitutional lines impossible, and calls for some. immediate remedy.

These words give expression to an opinion which I have held for some time, and it is gratifying to me to find the honorable and learned member for Ballarat and the right honorable and learned member for East Sydney holding exactly the opinion which I have previously held and expressed on several occasions. I am in accord with those honorable gentlemen also when they say that -

Unfortunately, the party now in power, quite apart from any question relating to its programme, maintains control of its minority by its majority.

I agree with that statement absolutely.

Mr Carpenter:

– Does the right honorable member think that the minority should rule?

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– I like a little freedom. I wish to make myself perfectly clear. I expect to occupy some time, and I shall frequently make use of the term “Labour Party.” I do not want to be misrepresented. Therefore, I should like to explain exactly what I mean when I use that term. I refer to the organized labour unions of this countrv. which, in my opinion, dominate the present Government.

Mr Carpenter:

– The right honorable gentleman is starting with a false definition.

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– Very likely, according to the view of the honorable member ; but I think that I am justified in my definition. The honorable member may think otherwise. He may be like the schoolmaster mentioned by Goldsmith, who could still argue even when he was vanquished. When I speak of the Labour Party I refer to the organized labour unions which, in my. opinion, dominate the present Government. I do not mean the rest - the large majority - of the workers and toilers of this country. Let that be thoroughly understood. I believe that almost every one of us, myself amongst the number, is to be included within this latter category. I am as much a representative of the workers and toilers of this country as is any other honorable member. I am as much a toiler myself as is any labour representative. I have been a worker and a toiler all my life. I worked with my hands in my early days, and I have been a toiler ever since. I do not want any question to be raised as to what I mean, or to leave the slightest opening for the misrepresentation that in speaking of the Labour Party I refer to the whole of the workers and toilers of Australia. We are all industrious people. The majority of our citizens, if not labouring now, have worked in clays gone by. With very few exceptions our fathers came here, not as the inheritors of wealth, but in order to establish homes and better - their condition in this new country. Therefore, we are all toilers and workers. I again reiterate that when I speak of the Labour Party I mean only the organized labour unions, which, in my opinion, dominate the present Government.

Mr Hutchison:

– They do not wholly constitute the Labour Party.

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– It has been stated over and over again by honorable member’s - by the Attorney-General and by the Minister of External Affairs, and by others, in the press and out of it - that the Government policy, as set for(th by the Prime Minister, is identical with that of the late Government. That may be true so far as the headings of their proposals are concerned; but I have yet to learn that the heading of a Bill is any indication of its contents in detail.

Mr Higgins:

– The right honorable member intends to convey that we mean what we say, and that some other Governments do not.

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– I do not mean anything of the sort. If our policy was identical with that put forward by the present Ministry, why did we leave the Treasury benches? If the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill introduced by the present Government is the same as that brought forward by us, why did we resign ?

Mr Higgins:

– Hear, hear. It was wrong for the Government to resign.

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– That is a matter of opinion. I believe that we did right. ‘ Were we, as a Government, in favour of placing State public servants under Commonwealth control ? Have we changed our opinions since we came over to this side of the House ? Do we not think as strongly to-day as when we resigned, that the action of the Labour Party, and those who assisted them, in so amending the Bill as to bring the public servants of the States within its scope, is hot warranted by the terms of the Constitution?

Mr Chapman:

– That is not a vital question now.

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– It was a vital question with the late Government. Bnt what is sauce for the goose may not be sauce for the gander.

Mr Higgins:

– Who is the goose?

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– I will come to the honorable and learnedmember directly, and give him a little sauce. We still think that the provision inserted by the Labour Party is unconstitutional. If the High Court should decide against us on that point, we should hold that it is inexpedient under existing conditions for the Commonwealth to exercise any . control over the public servants of the States. We contend, further, that never in his wildest dreams did the honorable the AttorneyGeneral, who proposed at the Convention the sub-section of the Constitution relating to conciliation and arbitration, ever imagine that it would be construed in such a manner as to confer upon the Commonwealth power to exercise control over the public servants of the States. Moreover, we hold that such a provision would strike at the very root of the Federation and the autonomy of the States. We said that before we resigned, and we say it now. In spite of this, however, it is stated in the press, and in this House, that the policy of the present Government is the same as ours. Our policy is the very . opposite of that put forward by the present Government. It differs from it in the fundamental principle involved in the amendment proposed to be inserted in the Bill by the present Government. It is not only with the platform of the Government and the party behind it for this session that we have to deal. We know all about their programme, because, as they have so often boasted, they have published it in books and newspapers all over the country. There is a little difference here and there between the platforms adopted by the State labour leagues. The Victorian platform is, perhaps, a little wider than some of the others, but none of them are less wide than the platform of the Federal Parliamentary Labour Party. It is not their programme for the present session alone with which we are concerned. We might be able to wriggle through if that were all. Are we children ? . Are we going- to approve of a little bit of a programme because it is somewhat in accord with the views of some honorable members on this side of the

House ? The members of the late Govern ment are absolutely opposed to the labour programme. We went out of office because we regarded their proposals with regard to the public servants of the States as unconstitutional. We sacrificed not only the emoluments of office, which are so frequently mentioned, but we forfeited something that was of much greater importance, namely, the control of the affairs of the Commonwealth. When any one talks about our being hurled from office, I hope that he will not suppose that the loss of the salary attached to the office is the important matter. It may be very convenient to receive such a salary - but the loss of the emoluments attached to the office sinks into absolute insignificance when compared with the surrender of the control of the affairs of this great Commonwealth. Surely it must be conceded that there must have been very strong reasons and influences actuating us, or we would not have resigned.

I I am dpposed to the platform and the methods of the Labour Party. I am opposed to the domination of any class, irrespective of whether they are members of labour unions or otherwise. The question has been asked over and over again, “ Why not give the Labour Party a fair trial?” I think that is a most unreasonable proposition. What is a fair trial ?

Mr Mauger:

– Three years.

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– I wish that the honorable member for Melbourne Ports would go over to the other side.

Mr Mauger:

– I shall go soon enough.

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– And the members of the Labour Party will call the honorable member opprobrious names, just as they did at the last election.

Mr Page:

– What did they call the right honorable member?

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– I do not say for one moment that the honorable member for Melbourne Ports deserved the opprobrious epithets which were hurled at him. On the contrary, I know that he did not. Nevertheless, the fact remains. Because the Labour Party have been very circumspect and reserved during the few weeks that they have been in office-

Mr Page:

– They are always circumspect..

Sir JOHN FORREST:

-Because no injury has resulted from their occupancy of the Treasury benches, because our heads have not been chopped off, and we have not been bowie-knifed, is that any reason why we should give them special consideration? We know what their platform is. We are aware of the goal at which they aim. We know that they have not even the power to alter their platform without going to infinite trouble to secure the consent of hundreds of people outside of this House. Because no harm has resulted from their accession to power, is that any reason why we should give them a trial if we disapprove alike of their platform and methods? When we are of opinion that those methods, even in regard to administration, cannot conduce to the welfare of this country, is there any logical reason why we should allow them an interval in which to overcome the difficulties which confront them, and to equip themselves for a fight? If we were playing marbles, and were not engaged in political war, I could understand such a plea, but not otherwise. The question which I ask myself - and I put it to every person in this country - is - “ Are we content to trust this party with the administration of the public affairs of the Commonwealth?”

Mr DAVID THOMSON:
CAPRICORNIA, QUEENSLAND · ALP

– They trusted the Government of which the right honorable member was a Minister.

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– That is another matter. I think there was a quid fro quo in that case. Are the Labour Party entitled to be intrusted with the administration of the affairs of this country? Do we believe in their platform and ultimate aims? If I could give an affirmative reply to these questions I should be quite satisfied to allow them to continue in office. It is the duty of those honorable members who believe that they can be trusted to administer the affairs of the Commonwealth, to support them. Let them cross over and take the pledge if they wish to.

Mr DAVID THOMSON:
CAPRICORNIA, QUEENSLAND · ALP

– They are already teetotallers.

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– The honorable member is referring to a different sort of pledge, and one which is in manycases also very irksome. But those honorable members who believe that the Labour Party are not entitled to be intrusted with the administration of Commonwealth affairs, and who disapprove of their platform and ultimate objects, are in duty bound to oppose them.’ The best service which we can render to the country at the present juncture is to carefully consider the existing situation, which - as was said bv the honorable and learned member for Parkes last night - constitutes the greatest political crisis that has ever occurred in Australia. It behoves every honorable member to act straightforwardly in this matter. Above all things we should exercise an independent judgment, irrespective of whether it lands us in victory or disaster. Let us not shilly-shally; let us not be undecided as to what we propose to do. Do not let us act like Mr. Micawber, and wait for “ something to turn up.”

Mr Higgins:

– We know what we want.

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– I desire now to say a few words of a personal character. It is necessary for me to do so, because I come from a far-distant State which is little known, little understood, and very often misrepresented. A section of the Melbourne press designates me “ a Conservative.”

Mr Mauger:

– What is a Conservative?

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– Perhaps the honorable member will explain when he addresses the Chamber. I think that a section of the press style me a Conservative because I hold definite opinions which I do not hesitate to express. If I did not entertain definite ideas upon public matters at this period of my political career I certainly ought to. If that is the definition of Conservatism, undoubtedly I am a Conservative. I entertain a strong belief that anything which a man has lawfully obtained should not be forcibly taken from him. If the State requires to take any of his property from him upon some public ground, the State should pay him for it. I have a strong recognition of what is called meum et tuum - what is mine and what is thine. If that constitutes Conservatism, undoubtedly I am a Conservative. But, I consider that it is true Liberalism. It is the foundation of liberty, as we understand it in British countries. If we do not believe in the cardinal principle that no one shall take from a man that which he has lawfully obtained-

Mr Ronald:

– We certainly believe in that.

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– There are plenty of persons in this country who think otherwise. I have heard a great deal in reference to the bursting up of estates and the taxing of them out of existence. Such proposals are tantamount to robbery. Let us pay men for what they have, but do not let us rob them. If we have not this cardinal principle, we are serfs and slaves, and not a Christian people. By a section of the press in this State I am regarded as a Conservative. I am content to allow my Liberalism to be judged, not by my words but by my acts. I should like to say that there are, at least, half-a-dozen great Liberal measures which I can refer to as having been passed into law during my Premiership of ten years in Western Australia at my instance. I abolished all property qualification for members of Parliament. There was a £500 freehold property qualification when I went into office. I gave manhood and womanhood suffrage. I passed an Immigration Restriction Act in 1897, and I will tell honorable members what I said about the question at that time. It is practically the same Act that we have in force in the Commonwealth - and was based on what was called the “ Natal Act.” ‘On the 15th November, 1897, when I introduced that measure, I used these words : -

The influx of coloured people into al] the Colonies of Australia has been a matter which has caused grave anxiety to the people of the various Australian Colonies. There has always been a difficulty in dealing with the question, and that difficulty I am sure is recognised by every one in this House, and every one in the Colony who takes a reasonable and moderate view of the question, and has any regard to the responsibility which attaches to dealing with the question.

Then I went on to comment on what Mr. Chamberlain had said at the 1897 Conference in London about the matter, and pointed out that he had told us that -

Her Majesty’s Government have every expectation that the natural desire of the Colonies to protect themselves against an overwhelming influx of Asiatics can be attained, without placing a stigma upon any of Her Majesty’s subjects on the sole ground of race or colour.

I concluded what I had to say in moving the second reading of the measure - which was subsequently passed through both Houses of Parliament - by saying -

The position is a difficult one; but I think that the wise words which I have read from Mr. Chamberlain cover the whole ground ; and he has not hesitated for a moment to say that it is our duty and privilege to try to keep ourselves as free as we can from the disadvantages which would follow the ingress of persons alien in colour, in sympathy, and in civilization, to our own countrymen. He has not hesitated to say that it is ‘our duty to try to protect ourselves as far as we can from those influences.

Honorable members will, therefore, see that so long ago as 1897, I introduced a measure on these lines. And it has worked exceedingly well. It was, I think, administered faithfully and fairly, and there has been no objection to it by any large section of the community. Besides the Immigration Act, I introduced and carried through Parliament a Conciliation and Arbitration Act. It was the first measure ot its kind in Australia, if we except the South Australian Act, which has never proved to be of any use. I can say this, without any egotism - that if I had not supported that Act, it could not have been passed at that time. I also passed a Payment of Members Act. I do not take all the credit for that, because I was ‘ not at first in favour of it; but certainly it could not have been passed without my assistance. I passed dozens of Bills that were beneficial and liberal in their character, but there is one other, ihe principle of which might be introduced in other States, which I may mention. I introduced a Bill in 1894 - I think that was the date - giving to any man in Western Australia, whether he had recently come in as an immigrant, or was previously settled there, 160 acres of land, on condition that he would go arid live upon it. The land was given free; all that the settler had to do was to make some improvements upon it. Not only did we give the land free, but the Government lent money at a low rate, and on the easiest terms to improve it. I also passed through Parliament another Act, which is not, I think, in force to any great extent in any other State; that is, a Truck Act, which makes it obligatory on employers to pay their employes in cash, and not in stores. I passed many other Acts of a similarly liberal and progressive- character. But, sir, the point of the whole matter is this : There was no Labour Party in the Western Australian Parliament at that time. Honorable members who knew Western Australia in those days are aware that there was no body of men of that party sitting behind me, and urging me to pass such legislation. There was no. sword of Damocles hanging over my head.

Mr Mahon:

– The right honorable member did not give them a chance to get into Parliament; they were in the country, and he knew that thev were coming.

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– The PostmasterGeneral was one of those discontented people at that time.

Mr Thomas:

– He urged the right honorable member on from outside.

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– He did, and I give him all credit for it. He and others stirred up these questions outside Parliament. Of course, I do not suppose that everything which occurred would have occurred if there had been no public representations. Probably I should not have moved in some of these matters except for outside influences. But there were public demands, and I was liberal enough to give effect to them. There was, as I have said, no payment of members in Western Australia at that time, nor was there a Labour Party in Parliament ; but, nevertheless, these Acts were passed into law at the instance of your humble servant, sir, this Conservative member. These facts cannot be gainsaid. I am quite content, whatever a section of the press of this State may say in regard to me, Or to my political views, or as to my being out of sympathy with the toilers of the Commonwealth, to be judged by what - I have done. I say to them, as I say to honorable members here - let my works bear evidence for or against me. I am sorry to intrude personal matters into this debate. I have been reluctant to say these things, but I feel it is necessary to speak of my personal acts -in the interests of myself and. of the State I represent.

Mr O’malley:

– The right honorable member also voted in the Convention for the provision with regard to old-age pensions.

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– Yes, I voted for that, and am very glad to have done so. But with regard to the provision of the Constitution as to conciliation and arbitration, if I had known that it was to be used as it is now- attempted to be used, I should not have voted for it. I must have had over me the glamour of the eloquence of my honorable and learned friend, the AttorneyGeneral, so that I either became stupefied, or was hoodwinked, or I would not have voted for that provision. If I had not voted for it, i.t would not have been inserted in the Constitution.

Mr Higgins:

– The right honorable member is quite correct.

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– I admit that I have sinned, and sinned grievously. It is all very well for the honorable and learned member to smile, but the House knows that I and every other member of the Convention never understood or even imagined the use which would be attempted to be made of this provision. If I and other members of the Convention had imagined that it would be used as it is now proposed to use it, it would have been ignominiously rejected.

Mr Hughes:

– The right honorable member’s Government introduced an Arbitration Bill in the Western Australian Legislature.

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– The States being autonomous are at liberty to deal as they please with their own employes and property ; but we are asked to allow the Commonwealth to interfere with their employes and property. I wish now to refer to some of the remarks made by the Minister of External Affairs a day or two ago. When addressing himself to this question, he assumed a very jaunty air, and appearing to be well pleased with himself, invited honorable members on this side of the House to “ come over.” He invited us to go oyer to that “land of Canaan,” that land flowing with milk and honey, and to enjoy the good things which he had in store for us. He extended an open invitation, saying, in’effect, “We shall be glad to see you over here ; we shall do unto you almost, if not quite, as we shall do unto ourselves.”

Mr O’Malley:

– It was a Christian invitation.

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– The honorable and learned gentleman in extending that invitation to us, knew that the Government was in a minority, and that if he could only induce some of us by promises of advantages of one kind or other, although I do not for a moment suggest anything in the nature of monetary gain, to give them the support they so much required, all would be well. He recognised that it would be a good thing for his Government if we crossed the floor, because we should thus give them a majority that would enable them to carry on the affairs of the Commonwealth.

Mr Hughes:

– Has the right honorable member’s party a majority?

Sir JOHN’ FORREST:
SWAN, WESTERN AUSTRALIA

– I am not in office, but if we ever take office, as’ I hope we shall, I trust that, if we have not a majority, the honorable and learned gentleman will say as many hard things of us as I now intend to Say of the party with which he is associated. The invitation that he extended to us was an extraordinary one, coming as it did so soon after his party had defeated us, ‘ and taken possession of the Treasury benches, and everything attaching to us as Ministers. Immediately after his party has done all this the Minister extends to us this invitation. “ Come over and join us,” he says ; “ come

Over and help us to defeat those honorable members who have been in opposition to you from the inception of the Parliament ; you will put us in a constitutional position, which, unfortunately, we do not at present occupy.” Doubtless the honorable and learned gentleman meant us well, but he had “ an eye on the main, chance.” He invited us to forget- our defeat, and to join the ranks, or, rather, to enter the service - that, I think, is the better description of his invitation - of the enemy. It might be possible for some members to do so by-and-by ; but the honorable and learned gentleman is asking too much when he seeks our consent to such a proposal immediately after our defeat. The Minister made many promises, and one of them, if it was not a lapsus linguae - and doubtless it was - was not merely politically improper, but actually immoral. I refer to his promise that if the invitation were accepted we should not be opposed by the Labour Party at the next election. The inference was that we should be allowed to enjoy a walk-over, and thus remain in undisturbed possession of our seats in this House for the next five years. He offered us the security that -we should enjoy, by acting as the tail, or, perhaps, in time, as a very small part of the body, of his party.

Mr Hughes:

– That was one of the proposals of the right honorable member’s own party. It was one for each party .

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– But the Ministers’ offer came too soon after-

Mr Hughes:

– Too soon after that made by the right honorable member’s party.

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– Too soon after our defeat. It was another case of - “Come into my parlour, said the spider to the fly.”

Mr Hughes:

– I invited only those who believe in our principles to join us ; the right honorable member does not believe in them, and has never clone so.

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– I certainly do not, and can quite understand that I was not considered eligible. But, so far as I, and many other honorable members on this side of the House, are concerned, even an offer of undisturbed possession of seats in this House for five years would have no effect upon us. Let the honorable member look after his own seat ; we will look after ours. We are not going to be bribed.

Mr McDonald:

– That is rubbing itin.

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– In view of the principles I profess, I, for one, should not be willing to kiss the hand that struck me a severe blow. I know that if I did, I should sooner or later receive another blow that would practically destroy me. Avery amusing reason has been given for the con tention that we should support the present Government. An honorable membef opposite, I think it was the Minister of Trade and Customs, urged that, as the Ministerial Party was in a minority - and they certainly are at present - they could do no harm, and therefore we should support them. Has a more extraordinary claim for support ever been advanced by the representative of a Government intrusted with the administration of the affairs of any country ?

Mr Kennedy:

– They, at least, had a majority to oust the right honorable member and his colleagues from the Treasury benches.

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– Surely Governments are not formed merely that they shall do no harm. Surely Ministers are created to accomplish good work, and in order to propose and carry out a policy under our system they must have a majority behind them.

Mr Hughes:

– The right honorable member had a majority for many years.

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– That is what the government do not at . present possess, although the honorable and learned gentleman occupies the Ministerial chair at the table, and looks so complacent.

Mr Hughes:

– Why does not the right honorable member turn us out ?

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– We have the statement of the Prime Minister himself that he has not a majority behind him. and I defy the honorable and learned gentleman to say that there is a majority in this House in favour of the Government.

Mr Hughes:

– On our programme.

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– What is the Government programme? Is it the whole labour platform, or only a portion of it?

Mr Poynton:

– . How is it that the Government occupy the Treasury benches if thev have not a majority ?

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– I shall dealpresently with that point. The honorable member is ever ready with what he very erroneously thinks ingenious and pithy interjections, and has a habit of making them at an inconvenient point in a member’s speech ; it invariably causes him for the moment to lose the thread of his argument. The Ministry cannot even control the House at the present time. I am somewhat amused when I hear honorable members opposite asserting, when it is proposed’ to adjourn the debate, as a condition that’ it must be closed at a certain hour. They have not the power to enforce their will. They are absolutely in the hands of those who are opposed to them, and I advise them not to say that we must do this or that, until they are certain that they have a majority.

Mr Fisher:

– Is that the policy?

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– It is common sense.

Mr McDonald:

– Why does not the right honorable member move a motion which will have the effect of displacing the Government? Why is he not honest in this matter?

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– The time has not come for that yet. We could certainly displace the Government if we wished to do so.

Mr McDonald:

– The present situation is a public scandal.

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– The entreaties of the Labour Party are so great, and their endeavours to retain office so many, that one does not wish to hurry events. Nor do we desire to treat them in the least degree unfairly. As has been said, there is no doubting the fact that they occupy the Ministerial benches, and that brings me to the constitutional point which I should like to discuss for a few moments. I agree with the views expressed by the honorable and learned member for Parkes last night as to the constitutional usage in regard to the acceptance of Ministerial office. The conclusions which he put before the House cannot be gainsaid. If it were otherwise, all British procedure and precedent would be wrong, and we should have t.o create a new practice for ourselves. I do not wish to unduly criticise the action of the Prime Minister, in this connexion, and I should be sorry if anything I said were to cause him offence. The temptation to which he was submitted when he was sent for by the GovernorGeneral, and asked to form an Administration, was one to which stronger and abler men might have succumbed.

Mr Poynton:

– Did not the head of the Government in which the right honorable member was a Minister recommend that the honorable member for Bland be sent for?

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– The honorable member for Grey seems unable to make a relevant interjection. His remark is in no way apropos to my argument. The temptation would have been a great one if it had been offered to a man who had spent long years, and had grown grey, in the service of his country. If the situa tion is carefully analysed, it will be seen, I think, that the honorable member for Eland made a false move, in the interests of. both himself and his party, in accepting office. It is no longer a case of “ Yes, Mr. Watson,” in this Chamber. He is as impotent here as any leader of a political assembly anywhere has ever been. He is absolutely in the hands of those who are opposed to him.

Mr Hughes:

– We never told the right honorable member that when he was in power, though it was abundantly true.

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– Why did not the honorable and learned member and his party turn us out? Because it. did not suit them to do so.

Mr Batchelor:

– But the Government in which the right honorable member was a Minister could not boast of having a majority.

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– I have expressed the opinion in the press and elsewhere that the action of the honorable member for Bland, in accepting office, was, under the circumstances, a grave departure from constitutional usage, and many persons to whom I have spoken have agreed with me, while high authorities have written to me to say that they share my view. The honorable member, unintentionally, no doubt, misled His Excellency the GovernorGeneral. Constitutional government, as we understand it, means government by a majority. An Administration must be supported on the vital planks of its platform by a majority of the House which it leads. The present Prime Minister had not such a following when he submitted to the Governor-General the names of those who are now his colleagues. He has not a majority behind him even now.

Mr Hughes:

– The late Government never had a majority.

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– Then why did not the Labour Party turn us out?

Mr Hughes:

– Because we believed in the principles of that Government. Honorable members opposite believe in our principles, but thev will not support us.

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– When the first Parliament assembled, the line of cleavage between parties was the fiscal issue, and the Government were supported by the protectionists who formed the majority of the House. The first elections were contested on the fiscal issue. But the Administration of Sir Edmund Barton was appointed before a Parliament had been elected. After the elections, our position in this House was challenged by a no-confidence motion, moved by the right honorable member for East Sydney, which he was not able to carry. I do not say that we were not at times saved from defeat by the votes of honorable members of one or other of the two remaining parties. That is not the point. My position is that we did not take office knowing that we had not a majority behind us. Sir Edmund Barton did not tell the Governor-General that he was able to administer the affairs of the Commonwealth, knowing that he had not a majority behind him. His action was absolutely in accord with constitutional usage, whilst that of the honorable member for Bland was not.

Mr McDonald:

– The Barton Government did not act constitutionally in regard to the Governor-General’s Allowances Bill”. They permitted a private member to take it out of their hands. It was the most disgraceful thing that has ever been done in’ any Parliament.

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– The honorable member cannot hold me responsible for every act of that Government. I was not its leader, and -was not primarily responsible for what was done. I do not know why he should go back so far.

Mr Batchelor:

– As a Minister in that Government the right honorable member was, in some measure, responsible.

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– When the honorable member for Boothby has held office as long as I have, he will find that a Minister has to concur in many acts which are . not altogether in accord with his wishes, but for which “lie must accept responsibility. When one does not altogether approve of a thing, one generally says little about it. There is one thing, at any rate, which has been very evident during this crisis. I am sorry that the Attorney-General is not here, because I am about to refer to him, though I would prefer to say what I have to say to his face rather than behind his back.

Mr Hughes:

– If the right honorable member will wait, we shall bring him in.-

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– One thing has been very evident during this crisis, and that is the readiness with which a few honorable members have changed their allegiance. If my inclinations had been in the direction of accepting the invitation of the honorable and learned member for West Sydney, I think that I should have had some little compunction in doing so, unless my late colleagues had consented to go with me. I should not have been inclined, I think, to go over to the other party in the hour of our defeat, and leave my friends behind me, on a matter of this sort. There is a certain animal which is notorious, I believe, for leaving a sinking ship. No one likes to be accused of doing that, I am sure. But we have seen that thing done lately, and the desertion of his leader by the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne, now Attorney-General, is a good example.

Mr Kennedy:

– Oh! no; he voted with the party that put out the late Government.

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– I am much obliged to the honorable member, but if he will leave me alone I shall get along much better. The conduct of the AttorneyGeneral, I submit, affords a good example of the desertion of a party in the way I have mentioned. I refer to this matter, not on any personal ground, but only on a public ground, because, personally, the honorable and learned gentleman and I are good friends. I am determined to say what I feel. I mention his action in this matter, the more readily as I have always expected him to set a high standard of political morality for all of us to emulate.

Mr Kennedy:

– Here he is.

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– I am speaking about the action of the Attorney-General in changing his allegiance from the party to which I belong, and going over to the ranks of the enemy, politically speaking.

Mr Higgins:

– I voted in the same way last year as I voted this vear.

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– That is not the point I am making. I do not wish to say anything which is offensive or unfriendly, but I have a public duty to perform. I mention this matter the more readily, because I have always looked to my honorable and learned friend to set up what I consider a high standard for us to follow. I need hardly say that I am very disappointed with the action that he felt it his duty tq take. Of course, I am aware that he voted with the Labour Party on clause 3 of the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, both last session and this session. But I take it that because a vote I give is not in accord with the policy of those whom I am associated with, I do not cut myself off by that act from them. At any rate, if I do, I must give reasons for my action. I think that the people of this country, and those persons who have been associated with any honorable member, have a right to expect him to give some’ reason why he takes a course of that kind. The Attorney-General voted against his party on a division, which caused the resignation of the Government. He then took office with those who had defeated us with his assistance. When he spoke in the House, he did not explain the reasons why he had deserted his leader and taken office with the other party. We know that he voted against us, and that he had voted in the same way last session, in accord with his convictions. In my opinion, he acted honorably and properly in that matter. But he did not do what I think we were entitled to expect him to do. He gave us no explanation of the reason why he, having helped to defeat his own leader and his own party, accepted office from those with whom he voted, and with whom he had not been allied previously.

Mr Hughes:

– The idea of a man taking office simply because he agrees with other men’s principles is simply disgusting, I think !

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– When the AttorneyGeneral spoke in the House the other evening, he had an opportunity to give, and I suppose that every one here expected that he would give, the reasons why he felt justified in accepting office with the party that had defeated the party to which he had hitherto belonged. I must say that he made a very poor speech - the worst that I have ever heard him make - and he seemed very unhappy. I do not wonder that he was very unhappy, but notwithstanding that fact, he told us none of the reasons why he had parted from his old friends and joined those who had defeated them.

Mr Higgins:

– Were the reasons as plentiful as blackberries, I should not give them under compulsion to the right honorable member.

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– The honorable and learned gentleman has always had the credit of being very outspoken and very reasonable. I have heard him say in the House - and I know that he has made the statement many times, on anxious occasions, when a vote was about to be taken, and the life of the Government was at stake - “ If you will only assure me that this is vital to the Government, notwithstanding my personal views, I shall support you.”

Mr Groom:

– Was this said in a private conversation to the right honorable member ?

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– No; it was said openly in the House. If the AttorneyGeneral wishes to plead, let him speak for himself. The learned King’s counsel is here, and he does not, I should think, want the assistance of the honorable and learned member for Darling Downs in this matter. If I am mistaken, he can correct me. He has always taken that high stand - a stand which really did him the utmost credit, because a man owes allegiance to the party that he is associated with, as much as to the pledges that he gave on the hustings. There are some honorable members who seem to think that a pledge on a detail of a Bill, sometimes on a great principle of a Bill, is of greater importance than a pledge that if elected he will range himself under the banner of a leader. If they had not ranged themselves under that banner, they would probably not have got a seat in the House to give a vote on any matter. The other night the honorable and learned member for West Sydney told us all sorts of things about the right honorable member for East Sydney, but he forgot to tell us that, as I am informed, he asked to be allowed to fight under the banner of the right honorable member at the last election.

Mr Hughes:

– I distinctly deny that.

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– I accept the denial.

Mr Hughes:

– The right honorable member for East Sydney was very glad to have my assistance, as he will admit himself. He always has been glad to have my assistance, and would be glad to have it again.

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– What I have heard stated is that the honorable and learned member for West Sydney asked to be allowed to fight under the free-trade banner of the right honorable member for East Sydney.

Mr Hughes:

– The right honorable member for Swan has mv distinct denial.

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– And I accept the denial. I care nothing about the’ vote or the consequences of the vote which was given by the Attorney-General, although he often before has said that if he could be assured that a question was vital to the Government he would support them, although his views and theirs were not in accord.

Mr Higgins:

– That is a mistake; I did not say that.

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– All I can sayis that I have heard the honorable and learned member say so.

Mr Higgins:

– On other questions not so vital as that then under discussion.

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– I did not say that the honorable and learned member had said so in regard to the question then under discussion, but that he had said so in regard to other questions. But that is not what I find fault with. I do not care how the honorable and learned member exercises his vote ; but I cannot forget that after exercising that vote, he took advantage of the result, and accepted a lucrative office with those who had defeated his old friends. If the honorable and learned member only knew what has been said about the negotiations between himself and the Prime

Minister-

Mr Watson:

– There were no negotiations.

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– Conversations, then.

Mr Watson:

– No.

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– I mean before the vote was taken, or before the Prime Minister was sent for by His Excellency the Governor-General.

Mr Watson:

– It is absolutely untrue.

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– I am very glad to hear that.

Mr Hughes:

– The right honorable member is not glad ‘to hear that.

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– I am very glad to hear it.

Mr Hughes:

– I am pleased to hear t you say so.

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– Such statements as have been made in regard to this matter cio a great deal of harm, and it is better to have a denial, which I unreservedly accept.

Mr Watson:

– I did not, in any shape or form, approach the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne until two days after I had been sent for by His Excellency the Governor-General.

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– I am absolutely satisfied. My remarks, which are disagreeable to myself, and, I am sure, not pleasant to others, might have been avoided if. the Attorney-General, when he spoke the other evening, had taken the course which is usual under such circumstances, and explained his position to his old friends, whom he saw relegated to the Opposition benches while he had gained by their defeat a comfortable seat on the Treasury benches

Mr Batchelor:

– The Attorney-General has worked much longer with the party with whom he is now associated, than with the other party.

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– I know nothing of that ; I only know my own experience in this House. The Attorney-General had surely done enough to injure his party without profiting by its downfall ; he had joined in slaying his leader, and his party, and if might well be said of him what was said of old to Jehu by Jezebel - “Had Zimri peace, who slew his master?”

Mr Higgins:

– I thought the right honorable member advocated freedom from caucus compulsion.

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– I believe in sticking to one’s friends in the hour of danger. I do not believe in going over to the enemy when the party is in difficulty. My motto is - “ Do not leave the ship when it is in difficulties “ ; but the honorable and learned member did not act up to that motto.

Mr Hughes:

– Is the ship of the right honorable member for Swan in difficulties now ?

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– No; it is sailing smoothly along, and I am quite happy. I should like to say a word in regard to the Arbitration Bill, which the Government have put in the forefront of their policy. No one can say truthfully that I am out of sympathy with the principle of arbitration, seeing that, as I have already said, I introduced a similar measure in Western Australia. It is true that the Bill was clamoured for by the labour unions in the western State ; and there are at present in the Senate two members who accompanied a deputation which urged me to introduce the measure. I had introduced a Bill the previous session, but it was impossible to pass it, owing to want of time. The next session I once more introduced it, and was desirous of seeing it passed into law, if time would permit. The Labour unions were very anxious in the matter, and I was told at the time by Senator de Largie in the presence of several of his friends, who came to me on a deputation on the subject - “ If you pass this Bill it will be the first of the kind in Australia, and you will raise a monument for yourself, and will earn the love and respect of the working classes, not only of the present generation, but of future generations.”

Mr Johnson:

– They knew how to pile on the “jam “ !

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– They did.

Mr Hughes:

– Did that utterance affect the right honorable gentleman?

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– It is not unpleasant to hear such things. There is no sound so sweet as praise, especially in a good cause; it is good to hear that you have the good- opinion of your fellows. I told the advocates of the measure that they would have to keep the Opposition in order, and they carried out their promise to do so. The Government had a strong majority, but there was opposition and obstruction.

Mr Hughes:

– That is how we regard the opposition to the present measure.

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– The Bill was passed. Not long after, however, it was stated by another gentleman, who is now a member of the Senate, and was present when Senator de Largie made his generous speech, that the Labour unions or the labouring classes owed me nothing in regard to that measure. I was disappointed, but I had to submit. I was satisfied that I had done my duty, and placed what I thought to be a good Act on the statute-book, with a view to prevent strikes. If there is one thing which I abominate more than another, it is that people should strike, and, by so doing, inflict much injury upon one another. I mention these facts to show that, as the Minister who introduced the first real measure of the kind in Australia, I am in favour of the principles of arbitration. But sometime has now elapsed, and I recognise that compulsory arbitration is on its trial in this country, both in regard to capital and labour. The provisions of the Acts in force, which were intended to cultivate good relations between employers and employed, are, I think, in danger of being run to death. I am not singular in that opinion. That great democrat, my friend, Mr. Seddon, Prime Minister of New Zealand, has expressed the same opinion, and has warned the trades unions of that Colony, with whom he is in great sympathy, as he has been for years, that they must be careful, in the administration of the Arbitration Act, not to run it to death. Only to-day I read in the Melbourne, newspapers the remarks which were made by the Chief Justice of New South Wales in connexion with the Act in force in that State. I am not familiar with its provisions, but- I believe that it is more stringent than was the New Zealand Act when I introduced the Arbitration Bill in the Western Australian Parliament in 1900. It would appear from the remarks of the Chief Justice of New South Wales that a very serious condition of affairs is growing in that State. Speaking of the New South Wales Act, I find that he said -

It does encroach upon the liberty of the subjeqt as regards person and property; it creates new crimes unknown to the common law and not contained in any previous statute.

We knew that, of course. He further says -

It interferes with the liberty of action both of the employer and employé ; it precludes one from giving and the other from obtaining employment except upon terms settled by the . Court ; it has the effect of preventing persons from obtaining employment at their own specific calling except upon terms imposed by the Act.

Mr Hughes:

– The right honorable, gentleman, of course, does not believe all this ?

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– I must believe it . on such high authority.

Mr Hughes:

– What, after the right honorable gentleman introduced such a measure in his own State ?

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– Itis not the same measure, and the Chief Justice was speaking with regard to administration.

Mr Hughes:

– Not at all. What he says is against the Act.

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– The Chief Justice is speaking of the New South Wales Act, and not of the Western Australian Act.

Mr Hughes:

– It is precisely the same.

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– I beg the honorable and learned gentleman’s pardon ; it is not the same.

Mr Hughes:

– In what respect does it differ?’

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– It is very different.

Mr HUME COOK:
BOURKE, VICTORIA · PROT

– After all those remarks, the Chief Justice upheld the application which was before the Court.

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– The Chief Justice of New South Wales further said -

It deprives an employer of the conduct of his own business, and vests it in a tribunal formed under the Act; and it can prescribe terms of management which, however injurious they may be to an employer, . he must comply with under penalties for any breach of an order of the Court. There are many other matters to which I might refer, such as the operation of the common rule upon persons who have not been before the Court, but it is not necessary to do so. Further, I think this Act is productive of the most alarming and deplorable amount of litigation, with its concomitant ill-feeling and ill-will, between employers and employes, who are by this Act forced into hostile camps.

He concludes with these words -

I believe the object of the Legislature in passing the Act was to promote peace and good-will between employers and employes, but I fear it has npt had that effect.

Mr Webster:

– Does the right honorable gentleman think that a Judge should deliver a political speech from the Bench?

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– Will the honorable member be good enough to ask that question of the Judge himself? The statements I have read, coming as thev do from the highest judicial authority in New South Wales, constitute a terrible indictment.

Mr Hutchison:

– They show his bias.

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– I have no desire to say anything against the New South Wales Act, but I repeat that this is a terrible indictment, and it behoves us, as sensible men intrusted with great responsibility, to examine into the working of that measure before proceeding with a Bill of our own dealing with the subject. What has been said by the Chief Justice of New South Wales should be a warning to us to act carefully, and we shall act very foolishly if we ignore what he has said. We shall make a mistake if we sav, “ We do not care what the Chief Justice of New South Wales, or any one else, has said about the working of the Act in that State; we shall not take the trouble to look into it, but are satisfied that it is all right.” Having introduced a similar measure in Western Australia, I perhaps feel a greater sense of responsibility in this connexion than do other honorable members. I was guided in the action I took by New Zealand advice and experience; but if the remarks made by the Chief Justice of New South Wales correctly describe the experience of the effect of this legislation in an Australian community, as reasonable and sensible persons we should look into it.

Mr Hughes:

– The same measure is proposed in the coalition programme.

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– What the honorable and learned gentleman refers to is merely the heading of a proposed Bill. If there should be a coalition, and such a Bill were introduced, and if, even after it had almost reached its third reading, we found in it provisions which would not be to the advantage of the country, we should have only one plain duty before us, and that would be to amend it.

Mr Cameron:

– Throw it out altogether ; that would be the best plan.

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– I repeat that the remarks of the Chief Justice of New South Wales constitute a terrible indictment against the New South Wales Act, and deserve careful consideration. I ask honor-, able members to consider the effect of it on Australia in the eyes of the British people. Who will embark in business under such conditions, as are described by the Chief Justice of New South Wales? When they are acquainted with the fact that such an Act is in operation here, are there any people in the old country who will be so stupid as to embark capital under conditions of that sort? The indictment of the Chief Justice of New South

Wales is not one which we can afford to treat lightly. It is one of the most important deliverances ever brought under the notice of this House. As a private individual, I should say that, if I had any money to invest in industry, I certainly should not put it into any venture in New South Wales, if the Chief Justice of that State has correctly described the way in which I might be treated. I imagine’ that every one would act in the same way, and while those who have capital invested there will not invest more, they will probably withdraw what they have already invested as soon as possible. We, who are in favour of the principle of arbitration, and who have taken action to impose such legislation on the community, are not, I hope, going to be blind; and, if, after investigation, it is found that such legislation is likely to become law, we must reconsider our position. We must “see that those provisions in the Bill which are not good are eliminated, and that other provisions are introduced which will make it carry out what we intend.

Mr Webster:

– It requires amendment,

Ave admit that.

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– Myown opinion is that the New South Wales Act is’ not being treated fairly by the persons for

Avhose benefit it Avas passed. It appears to me that it is being run to death. I haA’e received a long list of cases Avhich have been brought before the Arbitration Court in that State.

Mr Conroy:

– There are over sixty cases before the Court now.

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– Those engaged in almost every industry in that State appear to be dissatisfied, and are going to the Arbitration Court. That, to my mind, is an unfortunate state of affairs. If Ave are men

Avho desire to do Avhat is right, Ave shall not, in the circumstances, ignore the opinion of the Chief Justice of NeAv South Wales and neglect to look closely into the matter.. One of the reasons Avhy I object to the methods of the Labour Party is that they never seem to be satisfied with. any leaderwho does goodwork for them. Perhaps the present Prime Minister will receive better treatment at their hands, because he is one of themselves. One of today’s neAvspapers contains a report of an intervieAV with the Premier of Western Australia, whose observations have a considerable bearing upon the point which I desire to impress upon honorable members. The Premier of Western Australia, Mr. James. entered Parliament some years ago, when I was Premier of that State, and has remained there ever since. We used to regard him as an extremist. He was a young and ambitious man, was full of fire an excellent speaker, and possessed of a high character. He was imbued with the idea that no community could become great unless it gave its attention to social legislation, even though there might not appear to be any immediate necessity for it. He used to ransack the records of other States with a view to find’ desirable new laws, and when any measure took his fancy he brought it before the Western Australian Legislature. He did not succeed in carrying many of these Bills, as all our time was taken up in providing for the new order of things brought about by the rapid progress of the Colony. I used to say that, although the proposals contained in his measures were in many cases very good, they were not required. I argued, for instance, that there was no use in legislating in the direction of establishing a minimum wage, when all the workers of the State were receiving wages far in excess of any minimum that was likely to be fixed. Now, Mr. James, whilst he has been the Premier of Western Australia, has succeeded in placing on the statute-book a large amount of legislation of a more or less radical character. He has been a staunch friend of the Labour Party ever since he has been in public life.

Mr Frazer:

– The right honorable gentleman should not forget to tell the House that the Labour Party kept Mr. James in power.

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– They apparently do not intend to keep him in power any longer. Perhaps they kept Mr. James in power for a time, because it did not, suit them to turn him out in favour of others who might be even less favorably disposed to them. Mr. James has no doubt been a good friend to the Labour Party, and an advocate of advanced legislation. In the course of an interview on Wednesday last, he was asked why all the members of his Government were being so bitterlyopposed by labour candidates. The James Government is constituted of several men who were political opponents of mine. They were never tired of airing their liberal or radical views, and tried to impress on their hearers that they were far in advance of me so far as their ideas of liberalism were concerned. Now the

Labour Party are not only opposing their friends at the hustings, but every Minister, including the Premier, has to fight for his life. The contests will be three-cornered in most cases, because there are three parties in the field. I venture to think that the Labour Party will exhibit more bitterness against the Premier and his Ministers, who have been their friends, than against others, who have not been on their side. They will probably display the same spirit that was shown at the last Federal elections towards sympathizers and supporters like the honorable member for Melbourne Ports and the honorable member for Bourke, against whom, so I am told, their opposition- was more furiously directed, than against other honorable members who had been openly hostile to them. Mr. James, in reply to the question I have indicated, said that -

The cause of the workers never had a better or more consistent friend than himself.

He is represented as saying, further, that -

It was a wonder, after such long and practical sympathy with the workmen, that he and his colleagues shoul’d be opposed. He did not object to labour being represented in Parliament, but he objected to the attempt to make unionism the exclusive mouthpiece of labour in Parliament.

Mr. James, who was opposed to me in politics - although we have always been very good friends apart from that - was supposed to be the “ white-headed boy “ of the Labour Party, and he worked hard for them. He was supported bv the party against me, in spite of trie fact that I had given them good measures and good works, and had made the State a land’ of plenty for all classes. Mr. James went on to say that-

He sympathized with the desire of the workers to support their own candidates when they and their policy were progressive, but when the organizations claimed the exclusive right to represent labour, and aimed at making the party representation a practical monopoly of their organization, it was the duty of the people to plead for greater freedom and more democratic views.

These are the views which are entertained by one who has been considered a friend by the Labour Party for many years.

Mr Carpenter:

Mr. James has been the avowed opponent of the Labour Party for many months.

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– There is no doubt that he is being denounced now, and that he is receiving the same treatment that was meted out to me. I used to think that when he reached power, and had responsibility, he would find that it was not so easy to please the Labour Party. In the beginning, he was young and inexperienced, and full of life and enterprise. Now he is more experienced, and has more knowledge, ‘ and probably finds that it is not so easy to exercise the powers of office in such a way as to please his supporters, as it is to sit in opposition and criticise those who are trying to do their best. Although evidences of the good work done by what was known as the Forrest Government can be found all over the goldfields, I had not, for some time before I resigned office in Western Australia, the support of more than two out of the ten representatives sent from that part of the State for which I had laboured so hard. I say -to honorable members who may contemplate accepting the invitation that has been so graciously extended to them by the. Minister of External Affairs, “ Beware “ ! I desire to say a few words regarding the administration of the Immigration Restriction Act. Yesterday I asked the Minister of External Affairs if every passenger from Colombo to Fremantle by the mail steamers was to be hauled up before a Customs official and interrogated as to whether he was under an engagement for manual labour. The reply given was that immigrants are to be asked whether they are bond or free men. Unless they satisfy the officer upon this point, what is to happen? I, or any other honorable member of this House, who may be travelling from Colomboi will’ be liable to be hauled up before a Customs official and interrogated.

Mr Hughes:

– Why differentiate between individuals’?

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– I am not advocating that.

Mr Hughes:

– I thought that the right honorable member was asking me a question.

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– I was not, but I shall have something to say to the Minister presently.

Mr Hughes:

– I have an engagement elsewhere, but if the right honorable member will sav it now, I will answer him?

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– If the Minister has an engagement elsewhere, he is at liberty to go. I have no wish to detain him. What are the instructions which he has issued to the Collector of Customs at Fremantle? He has directed that -

A special officer shall 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 the officer is satisfied that they are under contract they are to be treated as pro-‘ hibited immigrants.

I do not believe that there has been a single case of an immigrant landing in Western Australia under contract.

Mr Hughes:

– Then how will my instructions affect these people ?

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– Where is the necessity for the action which has been taken ?

Mr Hughes:

– The right honorable member must know that a large meeting was held in Western Australia, at - which certain resolutions were passed.

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– But when the cases were investigated, it was proved that very few . Italians were employed in the mines at Kalgoorlie. The Minister’s instructions continue -

If he is not so satisfied, but has reasonable grounds to suspect that false statements have been made to him in this regard -

I suppose that the looks of some men would constitute “ reasonable grounds to suspect that false statements had been made “ - - he should permit the immigrant to land, and instruct him not to leave Fremantle until advised that he may do so, and while there to report ‘ himself every second day at the Customs office. In the meantime all ‘possible inquiries should be made by the 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 the matter as briefly as possible by telegraph, and ask for instructions.

What will happen to an immigrant who, after being treated in this way, proves that he is not under contract? Will the Government pay him anything for the inconvenience to which they have subjected him?

Mr Hughes:

– Yes. I have agreed with the Italian Consul to pay all the immigrant’s expenses “in such cases,, and the Italian Consul is perfectly satisfied with the arrangement.

Mr Thomas:

– Hear, hear.

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– The honorable member for the Barrier says “ Hear, hear “ without knowing anything of the circumstances of the case. I am chiefly . concerned with the. interests of the travelling public.

Mr Hughes:

– How did the right honorable member fare at New York?

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– I walked ashore there in the same way as I should walk from the Spencer-street railway station, without any Questions being asked of me. The Minister has not been out of Australia for twentv years, and knows nothing whatever of the usages of the world in matters of this character. I have travelled all over the globe, and .my liberty has never been interfered with, save by the laws of quarantine.

Mr Hughes:

– Should not all men be treated alike?

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– Yes; but they should be treated on business lines. In New South Wales, I am aware that great care is taken to exclude undesirable persons coming from Vancouver. What is done there? Under regulations, every captain is required to get each passenger on his ship to fill in a form, setting out who he is, what he is, and the nature of his avocation. At New York a passenger has to declare that he has the equvalent of $30 in his pocket. But all that is done en route; it is not done at the port, where everybody wants to get off the ship, or meet his friends on shore. Administration of this sort only shows the inexperience of the honorable gentleman, who ought to be guided by his own officers, instead of issuing regulations of this description.

Mr Frazer:

– Would the right honorable member advocate handing over the administration of the Act to the pursers of the vessels?

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– Is this the way to encourage white men to come to this /country? We say that we want immigration. In my opinion, the honorable gentleman wants to keep immigrants out of Australia.

Mr Hughes:

– What does the right honorable member’s opinion matter to any sane person ?

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– Some people pay some attention to my opinion. The honorable and learned gentleman evidently does not like it, although what I have said is true.

Mr Watson:

– Tlie people of Western Australia did not show much regard for it at the elections.

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– Western Australia has .a far better opinion of me than New South Wales has of the honorable gentleman who interrupts me.

Mr Watson:

– We got some support from New South Wales, but the right honorable member got no support from Western Australia.

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– If it were not for the honorable gentleman’s party, he would not be here at all. Honorable members opposite are dependent entirely upon their organizations to place them in the positions they occupy.

Mr Hughes:

– I had a bigger majority in New South Wales than the right honorable member has had during the whole of his political life.

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– Let me tell the Minister of External Affairs that if he lives for a thousand years he will never be regarded in this country as I am regarded by the people who know me in my own State. If he doubts that statement let him come over to Western Australia and see.

Mr Hughes:

– The honorable member -

Mr SPEAKER:

– I must point out to honorable members that this is not a dialogue; it is a speech. I will ask the right honorable member for Swan to proceed.

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– Honorable members opposite should not interrupt me offensively.

Mr Watson:

– We know that the Western Australian people have a great opinion of the right honorable member personally, though not politically.

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– The Prime Minister says that they have a high opinion of me personally. What a piece of arrogant impertinence towards a man who has been ten years continuously Premier of ‘ that State, enjoying the absolute confidence of the people all that time, and ‘ who has been returned unopposed ever since he has been in public life ! What does he mean by addressing this remark to me? What does he mean by saying that the people of West Australia have no regard for me politically? They have not only a regard for me politically, but an affection for me personally, and if the Prime Minister doubts that let him come over to Western Australia and see for himself.

Mr Watson:

– Yet they voted against the right honorable member.

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– They will not do it again. There were reasons for it last time. I did not speak and work against the Labour’.Party, because they had been supporting my party. I was in a difficult position.

Mr DAVID THOMSON:
CAPRICORNIA, QUEENSLAND · ALP

– The labour senators got a majority vote in the right honorable member’s own electorate.

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– What was the majority ?

Mr O’malley:

– About 500, I think.

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– There were not many who voted for them altogether. I think only 15,000 or 16,000 electors . voted out of 106,000 on the rolls. I am altogether opposed to interfering unduly with Europeans entering Australia. We must act like other nations in dealing with the travelling public. There are plenty of ways by which passengers, from the humblest to the richest, can be interrogated on the journey, instead of being pestered and delayed when they arrive at Fremantle, and instead of the impression being conveyed to them that they are entering a country in which they are considered to be in bondage. They may not be allowed to land for hours and hours after the ship has arrived. Probably honorable members do not know that vessels only remain five or six hours at Fremantle altogether, and if passengers are to be humbugged about for an hour or two while the officials look after some Italian or Austrian whom they think is coming here to try to earn a living, they must regard it as most harassing. That conduct will not suit the people of Western Australia. I do not say these things on personal grounds. If I were a selfish man, merely looking after myself, I should say to this Government, “ Go on and make your blunders - make a by-word of your administration.” But I mav tell honorable members opposite, and the Minister, that if he tries to carry out in Western Australia the instructions that have been issued, he will have a hornet’s nest about his ears. I am quite sure that the honorable member for Fremantle will have something said to him on the subject. It will be more than his political life is worth if these instructions are persevered with.

Mr Carpenter:

– Let the right honorable member leave that to me; he is raising a bogy.

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– Surely to goodness the landing of passengers at Fremantle is difficult enough now, without the Commonwealth Government placing further restrictions in the way. It takes a very long time to land. Is that difficulty to be intensified in order that the Commonwealth Government may look after a few men who can just as well be looked after en route?

Mr Mahon:

– Passengers can land just as easily at Fremantle ‘as at Port Melbourne.

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– I have warned the Government, and they can take the responsibility.

Mr Carpenter:

– They are quite ready to do that.

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– The honorable member, is very’ bold now, but he will not be quite so bold when he has to answer for these things which I am talking about. I understood that it was intended that we should treat all European nations alike. Now, however, Austrians and Italians are being singled out for objection. I do not know what the Austrian Empire and the people of Italy will say to this discrimination.

Mr Brown:

– New Zealand has done the same thing with regard to Austrians.

Mr Mauger:

– There is a Bill before the House of Commons at this moment dealing with aliens, and Austrians are amongst those who are causing the difficulty in London.

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– I am desirous that the greatest care shall be taken in discriminating between different nationalities. The Minister who is responsible for the working of the Immigration Restriction Act must, use his own discretion, but to discriminate in this fashion will probably be very offensive to the nations affected. The instructions which he has issued simply show the sort of slap-dash policy indulged in by this new Minister, who has had no experience at all in matters of this sort. It is evident that the Minister has not a proper appreciation of our obligations to the Empire. He must have forgotten altogether that incidents of this sort may make the position of the mother country very difficult indeed in regard to her relations with great and powerful foreign nations. This shows the danger of intrusting the administration of the government of this country to people who have had no experience of the management of affairs of this kind, or, indeed, of any affairs of any magnitude. Now I want to say a word or two with regard to another feature of the policy of the Government. They say that they are opposed to borrowing, or at any rate that they wish to see borrowing restricted. Well, I suppose we are all in favour of that. No one wants to be extravagant or to borrow uselessly. They do not appear to be averse to taking money from the banks without paying any interest for the use of it. Doubtless a scheme will, in due course, be laid before us, showing how it is proposed to refund the money. I presume that the Government do not propose to give the banks nothing but paper in return for their gold, and to make no provision for a refund.

Mr O’malley:

– Provision will be made.

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– I’ fail to distinguish anty great difference between this proposal and a policy of Commonwealth borrowing, save that the Government probably hope to escape the payment of a certain amount of interest by using other people’s money instead of borrowing to the extent necessary to satisfy their needs. I am altogether opposed to the contention that we should not construct any public works, or embark on any enterprise, unless we have the necessary capital in hand. Such a policy would not tend to the development of this country.. I am as anxious as is any honorable member that proper regard shall be paid to the principle of economy ; but, in Western Australia, I have spent loan moneys to the extent of many millions of pounds in carrying out works, not one of which I would undo if I could. Public borrowing has been a benefit to Australia, and I feel that the Labour Party have not merely been assisted by, but practically owe their existence as a party to the public borrowing policy of the States. Does any one suppose for a moment that the great cities of Melbourne and Sydney would be what they are to-day, or that railways would be running throughout the several States if a loan policy had not been adopted in any of the States? It goes without saying that, in the absence of such a policy, they would not.« If a country is to be benefited, the’ Government must make its highways, or allow private enterprise to step in and do so, and in either case borrowed money is the factor. It is not the borrowing, but the unwise spending of money, that is to be deprecated. The Labour Party in the New South Wales Parliament is not opposed to borrowing, for during the last four years they have kept in power a Government which, I believe, has increased the public debt by something like ^20,000,000.

Mr Webster:

– And used the money in carrying out good work.

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– How do honorable members opposite reconcile the attitude of the Labour Party in New South Wales with their statement, that they, are opposed to public borrowing? The stand which they take up reminds me very much of a man who, having sucked all the good out of an orange that it is possible for him to obtain, says that he “ does not like oranges.” I come now to another plank in the Labour platform to which I object - the nationalization of industries. It is a Utopian idea. Perhaps some honorable members may describe it as a piece pf Tom Mannism

Mr Carpenter:

– The right honorable gentleman has misquoted the platform. The word used is “ monopolies,” not “ industries.”

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– We find the word “industries” used in one place, and “ monopolies” in another. In the programme of the State Labour Party of New South Wales “ land nationalization and the whole means of production, distribution, and exchange “ are included.

Mr Ronald:

– That is not the case.

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– Then there must have been some mistake, for the copy of the platform which I have certainly contains that item as plank’ No. 17 of the fighting platform. Honorable members on this side may reasonably speakof this proposal as Utopian or socialistic. They may say that it is in keeping with resolutions passed at the May Day celebrations, to which, as has already been pointed out, the Prime Minister has made such sympathetic reference.’ I believe that a large degree of individual liberty and individual enterprise are the necessary incentives to great efforts, and that those manly attributes have been the great factors in building up Our race and our country. I have heard of some curious Socialists, and the story of one to which I will refer may not’ be unknown in this House. A Tasmanian Socialist once declared that he believed in the equal distribution of property, and when asked whether that was his honest belief, replied in the affirmative. “What,”’ said his interrogator, “if you had two houses, would you give me one?” “Certainly,” replied the Socialist. “And if you had two horses or cows, would you give me one?” “I would,” again replied the man. “ Then, if you had two pigs, would you be prepared to give me one of them?” “Ah! you beggar,” replied the Socialist, “ you know I have two pigs.” That is the position of Socialists generally. They are willing to divide everything that they themselves do not possess.

Mr Watson:

– Socialism does not mean division.

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– I know what it means.

Mr Watson:

– Apparently the right honorable member does not know the meaning of Socialism.

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– It is only the thin end of the wedge. If there are any Socialists in this House, let them go to Port Darwin, under the leadership of the honorable member for Darwin, and found a Colony in the Torrid Zone.

Mr O’malley:

– I am very comfortable here.

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– I should think so.

Mr Watson:

– Why go to the Torrid Zone ?

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– Because honorable members of the Labour Party say that white men can work there in comfort. I wish now to refer to the Government proposals in regard to navigation laws. What has become of this part of their fighting platform? I wish to be perfectly candid, and to say that I think the Government have acted wisely in this matter. The question requires far more consideration than it has yet received, before a Navigation Bill is passed. Honorable members know what my feelings are in this regard. 1 induced my colleagues to insert certain clauses in the Bill which we introduced, in order to make it more acceptable ; but I never liked the Bill. I considered it to be premature. However desirable a measure may seem in theory, I do not think that it should be passed into law unless it is “actually required. Let us first deal with those matters which are pressing and practical, and allow those that are not to await a more convenient time.

Mr Watson:

– The caucus overruled the right honorable member in regard to the Navigation Bill.

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– But I could have left that caucus, and that is more than the honorable gentleman can do, so far as his party is concerned.

Mr Watson:

– I could do the same.

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– Not unless the honorable gentleman gave up his seat in this House.

Mr Watson:

– Yes, I could.

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– I could have left that caucus, and yet remained in the House.

Mr McDonald:

– The right honorable member admits that he supported a measure to which he was opposed.

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– I have honestlygiven expression to my opinion on the subject, and it is open to the honorable member to place what construction he likes upon my action. I am glad that the Government have not gone on with the measure, but that does not alter the fact that the Labour Party pressed, urged, and almost coerced the late Government to bring in the Bill. Why should it be sacrificed, when it was considered last session to be so pressing?

Mr Webster:

– It is not sacrificed.

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– The consideration of it is, at all events, to be postponed-

Mr Webster:

– In order that the work of the Government, of which the right honorable member was a member, may be perfected.

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– Then the measure is not as urgent as it was said to be? Was the demand for the passing of that Bill merely an election cry? What about, the poor seamen, and the poor ship-owners,, of whom we heard so much last session ? An alliance between the poor seamen and” the poor ship-owners was formed, in order to secure the passing of this Bill, and when I saw those parties come together I felt that there must be something associated with the demand that required attention. The two parties had not been hitherto very friendly, and the fact that they were associating together for a certain purpose, suggested that, in the public interest, some inquiry was necessary. Are the seamen to be sacrificed ? Are the ship-owners to be sacrificed for the present session? But, perhaps, the Prime Minister is of the opinion that the Bill, as introduced, applies to them without specifically naming them.

Mr Watson:

– I am not a member of the legal profession, so I decline to give a legal opinion.

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– If the Government think that seamen come within thescope of the Arbitration Bill, as introduced, it is their duty to tell us so. It is not fair that they should keep us in the dark on such a subject. They should be outspoken. We expect their confidence. We were told last session that a strike was imminent, unless special legislation applying to seamen was passed. The right honorable member for Adelaide resigned hs portfolio in the Barton Administration because the provisions of the last Conciliation and Arbitration Bill were not made to apply to seamen in oversea and foreign ships. He spoke of the imminence of a strike. Was it all a sham? Was what has been said merely a cry to influence the elections? Every one knows that the seamen on our coast are fairly well paid, that our steam-ship owners are fairly affluent, and that there is no likelihood ot a maritime strike. I am informed that the coastal shipping obtains more employment by the carriage of goods transhipped to them from the over-sea and foreign steamers than it loses by the competition of those, steamers. I understand that now the shipowners themselves are frightened, and are doubtful if it is in their interests to legislate in the way proposed. Is this virtuous and consistent party going to sacrifice the public servants as well as the seamen and the shipowners? Personally, I think that the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill should not apply to public servants. But t he members of the Labour Party are ready to sacrifice anything to gain their own ends, and although they were enabled to get possession of the Treasury benches by carrying an amendment applying the provisions of the Bill to public servants, now that they are in power they are discarding them. I regret that my speech has been so long. My task has been a heavy one, and I have not been in the best of health for its performance. My concluding words are these : I have had to ask myself two questions. The first is, “ Am I prepared to give my help to the Government to carry out the platform, present and prospective, of their party ? “ The second is, “ Do I approve of their- objects and their methods? “ To both questions I definitely reply “ No.” I am not in accord with the platform of the Government, present and prospective, nor with the methods of their organization.

Mr Webster:

– It is the programme of the right honorable member’s party,

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– I deny that. The manner in which it is proposed to give effect to this programme is not that of the party to which I belong. Neither have I sufficient confidence in the knowledge and experience of Ministers to justify me in intrusting them with the administration of the affairs of the Commonwealth. I thank honorable members for the attention which they have given to me.

Mr Higgins:

– I desire, with your permission, Mr. Speaker, and that of the House, to make a personal explanation. The right honorable member for Swan has said that I arranged to take office before the vote which displaced the late Administration was taken.

Sir John Forrest:

– What I said I had heard was, that a conversation or understanding had been arranged either before the vote or before the honorable member for Bland was sent for bv His Excellency the Governor-General. My statement was denied, and I accepted the denial.

Mr Higgins:

– I am glad that the right honorable member has withdrawn that statement. It is in accordance with his usual frankness to do so.

Sir John Forrest:

– I did it when it was denied, and was very glad to.

Mr Higgins:

– I regret that the statement was made without better reason.

Sir John Forrest:

– I assure the AttorneyGeneral that I did not invent it. It w.as stated to me as a fact.

Mr Higgins:

– I am sure that honorable members believe that I would not utter a word that is not true, and I say that I heard nothing as to the acceptance of office until a day or two after the Prime- Minister was commissioned by His Excellency to form an Administration. The right honorable member for Swan also said that, in accepting office, I had deserted my party, and had given no excuse for my action. But before I had accepted office I was assured that the honorable and learned member for Ballarat had been consulted, and that he had no objection to my doing so.

Mr Watson:

– The words were, “ He had no objection whatever.”

Sir John Forrest:

– Did he say that to the Attorney-General?

Mr Watson:

– He said it to me.

Mr Higgins:

– I wrote to the honorable and learned member for Ballarat afterwards. He replied ; and if he does not regard the correspondence as confidential, I do not, and am perfectly willing that the right ‘ honorable member for Swan should see it. I have a genuine respect for the right honorable member, but may I say, with all kindness and respect, that I can understand now his black looks at the Ministerial benches. If he had been loyal to the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, and had consulted him about what had been done, he would have had all these doubts and difficulties dispelled.

Sir John Forrest:

– I do not think so.

Mr Watson:

– I had the authority of the honorable and learned member for Ballarat only a few minutes ago to make the statement which I have made.

Mr Higgins:

– I have made this statement, because the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, who has the respect of all who know him, and has always been my friend, gave me permission to do so ; otherwise I should not have made it. i decline to give my reasons for joining the Ministry, beyond saying that I regard it as a good thing for Australia that the Labour Party should have an innings. Every one knows that,- from first to last, I have had a strong and a growing sympathy with their aspirations. That sympathy has not been lessened one whit by the unjust attacks made on them. I am sorry that the right honorable member has been misled by rumours and suspicions. I think he has taken his beating very badly. I attribute that to his want of experience in being beaten. I think he was never beaten before.

Mr SPEAKER:

– I am afraid that the honorable and learned member is going beyond a personal explanation.

Mr Higgins:

– The right honorable member’s infinite capacity for learning will enable him to gain an advantage from this experience, and help him to bear his present trials. My admiration for his character and powers is not in the least diminished.

Mr CONROY:
Werriwa

– As one of those who assisted in displacing the late Government, and rendering it possible for the Labour Party to come into power, I should like to state briefly the reasons which actuate me in declining to sit on the Ministerial benches, or to support the Ministry in any way. I have more than one ground, I think, for taking that attitude, as I shall proceed to show. It is impossible for us not to -sympathize with the aims and objects of the Labour Party, although we have no sympathy with the methods they propose to adopt, because we believe that those methods, so far from increasing the prosperity and contentment of the great bulk of the working classes of Australia, will depress them still more than they have ever been depressed. It is on such grounds that I base my opposition to the party in power and their methods.

Mr Bamford:

– To which particular method does the honorable and learned member refer?

Mr CONROY:

– To almost every method that can be employed. You seem to me to be determined to employ wrong methods. Starting out with high aims and high aspirations, vou go the wrong way to work.

Mr SPEAKER:

– Order. The honorable and learned member must address the Chair.

Mr CONROY:

– The Labour Party go back to the musty-fusty past, arrogate to themselves the name of progressivists, say that they alone have’ a knowledge of what is wanted, and lo and behold ! when we come to examine the methods thev propose, we find that they date back to from 7,000 to 10,000 years ago. They are the same as the methods that caused the castes of. India to spring up to-day. If they were carried out to the full, even at the present time, there would be no free men in Australia. When the honorable members at the head of affairs show that they have so little intelligence that they cannot even separate themselves from a common bond or pledge that they must all work together - not because they all have the same ideas, but because a majority of them say that they ought to have the same ideas - then I submit that it is making a laughing stock of this Parliament. We are in this position that we do not know when one of them gets up in the House and delivers himself most forcibly and strongly on a point whether a caucus may not be held the next morning, and he may not enter the House next day and say - “Well, you know what I think about this subject ; but now I am going to speak and vote the other way.”

Mr Tudor:

– That has never occurred yet.

Mr Brown:

– We have never had that in this House.

Mr CONROY:

– I shall give an illustration. When the Electoral Bill was going through the House, who insisted so strongly as the Labour Party on enacting the principle of one vote one value, and on altering the very quota of the Constitution Act ?

Mr Mauger:

– “ The end justifies the means.”

Mr CONROY:

– They justified themselves by saying that it was a plank in their platform, and, undoubtedly, it was. Time after time men in the Labour Party rose here and spoke of that very thing, and at the very first opportunity for carrying that idea into effect by providing for the distiibution of the States into, as nearly as possible, electorates of equal value, every one of them went back on his principles, with the single exception of the honorable member for Yarra.

Mr Tudor:

– What about the honorable members for Canobolas and West Sydney? The honorable and learned member does not know what he is talking about.

Mr CONROY:

– I beg pardon. With the exception of three members the Labour Party went absolutely against their pledged word in this House.

Mr Tudor:

– The honorable and learned member is wrong.

Mr CONROY:

– The effectof that vote was to practically disfranchise hundreds, nay, thousands, of persons in New South Wales. Only yesterday the Minister of Trade and Customs explained that Queensland has not its proper representation. Whv ? Because some men, under a State Act, were allowed to vote in more than one

I electorate; in other words, two per cent, of the people had more votes than they should have had in the various electorates. And yet that Minister, with other members of his party, excepting the three just mentioned, voted to make a difference of over 100 per cent, in some electorates in New South Wales. I am now asked to say that you are a party of consistency, that you stand by your pledged word because it was a plank in the platform which you put specially forward, and which- you absolutely departed from.

Mr SPEAKER:

-Order ! The honorable member is repeatedly using the second person.

Mr CONROY:

– If there was one party I sympathized with more than another when I entered this House it was the Labour Party.

Mr Tudor:

– Sympathized with them?

Mr CONROY:

– I think that my votes and my attitude on all great questions will show that I did. It is true that I did not always agree with the methods adopted, because they seemed to me to involve a marching back in so many cases) that they ought not to have been brought into a House like this, which laid any claim to advancement. One of the first shocks I received was in connexion with the very vote to which I have referred. When I saw a body of men, with the exception of three, all turn round and vote in quite the other way, it showed me very clearly that they were not keeping to their principles as they should, and I have always regarded them with less favour on that account. At all events, they have come into power. I am not going to question the advisability of selecting a leader from a third party in the House. I have always been of the opinion that there ought to be only two parties here. I am still of opinion that there ought to be a party on the side of the ayes and a party on the side of the noes, and that if the former cannot carry on some person among the latter ought to be askedto lead the House. That, it appears to me, is the simple principle of government. I am not going to argue now how far that principle has been departed from. But I will say that when the Labour Party came into office I was prepared, if their principles were fashioned according to what they really believed, if they showed the same intense earnestness and enthusiasm to carry out their platform that they had displayed in the past, to make some little allowance for their great lapse from virtue, and to wait to see what they would do.

Mr Spence:

– The honorable and learned member discovered it pretty quickly.

Mr CONROY:

– I did. ~May Day came, and everybody who has even an elementary knowledge of what the May Day Socialists throughout the world are, and what they profess, would not have dreamed that the Prime Minister of Australia would express his sympathy with them.

Mr O’malley:

– Did .not the late Prime Minister do it last year?

Mr CONROY:

– I am not concerned with that question. I do not believe that he did. But if he did, it was clearly in ignorance of the Socialist programme. At all events, it is strange that the head of the Labour Party should not know what the May Day Socialists of the Continent and England propose. The words of the Prime Minister are perfectly clear, and express every sympathy with those men.

Mr Spence:

– The honorable and learned member for Werriwa says that he has sympathy with the Labour Party.

Mr CONROY:

– But I did not think the Labour Party would carry their ideas to such extremes. I have sympathy with the Labour Party when they are willing to follow on the lines of sound legislation, but not when they join with a body which proposes the abolition of wagedom, and, therefore, a possible return to slavery ; because, in slave countries, in the absence of wages, the workers are in the position of serfs.

Mr Mahon:

– Had the honorable and learned member not better prove the connexion first?

Mr CONROY:

– I shall prove the connexion. The Prime Minister expressed his sympathy with the May Day Socialists.

Mr Mahon:

– In Australia.

Mr CONROY:

– Does the PostmasterGeneral mean to’ say that there is no connexion between the Socialists here, who hold their celebration on the ist May, and the International Socialists ?

Mr Mahon:

– I say that the honorable and learned member has not proved the connexion.

Mr CONROY:

– Does the PostmasterGeneral mean to say that there is no connexion between men who have selected a common celebration day ?

Mr Mahon:

– Does the common celebration day prove the connexion?

Mr CONROY:

– Does the PostmasterGeneral mean to say that there is no connexion ?

Mr Mahon:

– I say that it is the business of the honorable and learned member to prove the connexion.

Mr CONROY:

– Do I understand that the Postmaster-General disapproves of the action of the Prime Minister in expressing his sympathy with the Socialists?

Mr Mahon:

– Nothing of the kind; but let the honorable and learned member show the connexion of which he speaks.

Mr CONROY:

– I shall show that the May Day Socialists are a body with whom decent men ought to have nothing to do - whom decent men ought not to recognise, and against whom our voices ought to be raised loudly.

Mr McDonald:

– I am a Socialist, and I am just as decent as the honorable and learned member is ever likely to be.

Mr CONROY:

– The honorable member must be one of those milk-and-water Socialists, who would be condemned by the May Day body, and who does not understand what the latter are. From my personal knowledge of the honorable member I am confident that he has no sympathy with the aims and objects of the men whose opinions I am about to read.

Mr McDonald:

– I have no sympathy with lunatics of any kind.

Mr CONROY:

– I shall read the doctrines of the May Day Socialists, so that honorable members may know with what body the Prime Minister has expressed sympathy. For the first organization of the Socialist class, or the great body of that class, we may go back to the time of Karl Marx, and, perhaps, Marx’s chief disciple, Engels.

Mr McDonald:

– The honorable and learned member knows very little of the subject, if he goes only as for back as Karl Marx.

Mr CONROY:

– I am speaking of the May Day Socialists, of whom the honorable member approves, and not of any other body of men.

Mr Mauger:

– Why not give us Charles Kingsley’s Socialism?

Mr SPEAKER:

– I must point out that it is quite impossible for the honorable and learned member to proceed, with interjections coming from two or three honorable members at a time, and being constantly repeated. I ask honorable members to give the honorable and learned member for Werriwa an opportunity to express, not the opinions of other honorable members, but his own.

Mr CONROY:

– Charles Kingsley knew nothing of the May Day Socialists, because their movement had not started in his day. I am now speaking of a particular body of men, with whom the honorable member for Melbourne Ports ought to have no sympathy. The honorable member has taught in the Sunday schools of the community, and tried to uphold religion; and I should like him to hear a part of the programme of the May Day Socialists, whose principles are published in two newspapers, and issued in no fewer than twelve manifestoes. It is remarkable how, running through all these declarations of doctrines, there is what, if honorable members like, may be called a revolting idea. The only excuse for the expression of sympathy by the Prime Minister must be his ignorance of the Socialist programme, and I expect from him a complete renunciation of the Socialist doctrines as soon as I have explained what thev are. I shall begin with the collective ownership of land and the collective ownership of all means of production. I have nothing to say against those proposals if they can be carried out ; but if a man places his hand on my throat in order to get my share of the world’s goods I shall take care to have my two hands on his throat, and my foot on his stomach at the same time. It is just as well to1 let it be understood that there are those amongst us who are prepared to fight for their rights ; and before anything like the programme of the Socialist is possible there must be the bloodiest of wars, in which one side or the other will be completely wiped out. I now draw the attention of honorable members to the second proposal of the Socialists, because there is no doubt that the expression of sympathy by the Prime Minister has been cabled to all the countries of Europe.

Mr Watson:

– My utterances are not so important.

Mr CONROY:

– There is no doubt that the Prime Minister’s expression of sympathy will be printed in all the Socialist journals. Mark how this proposal in the Socialist programme is disguised : -

Substitution of a free and equal family for the moral and oppressive family in which the wife and children are the slaves of the husband and father.

Mr O’malley:

– What is meant by that ?

Mr CONROY:

– The honorable member knows perfectly well what is meant - a subversion of all family ties. Lest there should be any doubt on that point, I shall read a still more open declaration made on behalf of those gentlemen. That declaration is not made in what I can call a mild manner, but in such a fashion that everybody may not, perhaps, be able to fully grasp its meaning. The inner manifesto of the party, however, will fully explain the position. Deville and his party declare that marriage is a regulation of property, and strongly advocate the suppression of all marriage, and the substitution of what is gloriously termed “ free love.”

Mr O’malley:

– What kind of business is that?

Mr CONROY:

– What kind of business is it for the Prime Minister to even seem to approve of ?

Mr Watson:

– How long is it since these proposals were written, and who approves of them now?

Mr CONROY:

– I shall show that they are approved of by the very men whom the Prime Minister has mentioned - Karl Marx and Engels. Deville and his party declare -

It is marriage which gives to the possessing class its hereditary character, and thus develops its conservative instinct. Marriage is a regulation of property, a business contract before being a union of persons, and its utility grows out of the economic structure of a society which is based upon individual appropriation. By giving guarantees to the legitimate children, and insuring to them the paternal capital, it perpetuates the domination of the caste which monopolises the productive forces. . . . When property is transformed, and only after that transformation, marriage will lose its reason for existence, and boys and girls may then freely and without fear of censure listen -to the wants and promptings of their nature …. the support of the children will no longer depend upon the chance by birth. Like their instruction, it will become a charge of society.

The reason given is that the support of the children will no longer depend on the “ chance of birth.” I object to the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth publicly sympathizing with people who hold such views as these.

Mr Watson:

– This is a most ungenerous and unfair attack. The honorable and learned member ought to be ashamed of himself.

Mr CONROY:

– If the Prime Minister wishes me to say that I do not believe he really does approve—

Mr Watson:

– It is a most disgusting party move.

Mr CONROY:

– If the honorable gentleman desires that I should say that I personally believe that he absolutely disapproves of this kind of thing, well and good; but my complaint is that he should never have taken advantage of his position as Prime Minister of this great Commonwealth to allow it to go forth to the world that this is the sort of thing he does approve of. Are not the people of Australia to be considered when it is published abroad that this kind of thing is approved of by the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth?

Mr Watson:

– No one will be so foolish, as to think so.

Mr CONROY:

– Let me give one statement published in one of the manifestos by these people, and then let honorable members say whether they are right in approving of what is proposed -

Deliver us at last from the phantom called God, who is good only for frightening little child! en. Religions are only trades intended to enable those mountebanks of priests, as Dupis calls them, to grow fat at the people’s expense. That is our programme. Moreover, before putting it into execution there will be needed a good blood-letting, brief but copious.

Mr SPENCE:

-How old is the book from which the honorable and learned member is quoting?

Mr CONROY:

– I have not gone further back than 1873 for my quotations, so that honorable members may know what these people are driving at, and- 1 have taken them up to 1897.

Mr Spence:

– The honorable and learned member has not yet got up to date.

Mr CONROY:

– And yet Mr. Tom Mann the other day said that he would not deliver the full manifesto of the party, because the people were not ripe for it. I trust the day will never come when they will be ripe for it. I was never one who looked with favour on the granting of the suffrage to women. I admit that honestly, but if the kind of thing to which I have been referring is attempted - if these are the doctrines to be preached - the extension of the suffrage to women will be found to be one of the very best things that could possibly have happened in Australia, because under female suffrage at least we shall not have any wild-cat nonsense of this sort. With female suffrage we shall know where we are. I can give honorable members another example.

Mr Spence:

– What have we to do with all this?

Mr CONROY:

– These people advocate the suppression of churches and all forms of religion, as well as all forms of marriage.

Mr Watson:

– Who does ?

Mr CONROY:

– The May Day Socialists, of whom honorable members opposite approve.

Mr Spence:

– That is not true.

Mr Watson:

– Nonsense ! The honorable and learned member must be mad.

Mr SPEAKER:

– Order. I understood the honorable member for Darling to say that something which the honorable and learned member for Werriwa said was not true. If he did say so, I must ask him to withdraw the statement.

Mr Spence:

– I gladly withdraw anything which you consider was not in order. I was not charging the honorable and learned member for Werriwa with being untruthful. My interjection referred to the assertion that the May Day Socialists believe in the doctrines which the honorable and learned member has quoted.

Mr CONROY:

– If the honorable member for Darling will admit that he was not aware that these men assert and believe these things, I shall accept his statement unreservedly. I am quoting the names of these men, and I have given honorable members the opinions of Karl Marx and Engels to start with.

Mr McDonald:

– Does the honorable and learned member say that Karl Marx and Engels believe in the opinions he has quoted ?

Mr CONROY:

– I do.

Mr McDonald:

– The honorable and learned member’s statement is absolutely untrue. It cannot be borne out by their works.

Mr SPEAKER:

– Order.. I must ask the honorable member for Kennedy to withdraw the statement that something which the honorable and learned member for Werriwa says is absolutely untrue.

Mr McDonald:

– I quite understand that it is a parliamentary rule to withdraw such a statement, but nothing appearing in the works of Engels and Marx will bear out what the honorable and learned member for Werriwa has said. So far as they are concerned, the honorable and learned member has uttered a slander on the character of honorable men in making such an assertion.

Mr Spence:

– The honorable and learned member does not know what he is talking about.

Mr McDonald:

– My opinion is that such assertions could come only from a diseased brain.

Mr CONROY:

– I quite agree with you ; they could only come from a diseased brain.

Mr SPEAKER:

– Order. The honorable and learned member must not address honorable members directly.

Mr CONROY:

– I quite agree with the honorable member for Kennedy that these opinions could only be the’ emanation of diseased brains. When men like Marx assert such things, they must be possessed of diseased brains. I see that the idea of Bakunin was the same. I consider that, he is an anarchist more than a May Day Socialist. I do not need to quote the continental men - Deville, Blanqui, Raspail, and- half-a-dozen others to whom I could refer.

Mr Thomas:

– Will the honorable and learned member quote Blatchford ?

Mr CONROY:

– It has been well pointed out that these people dare not give voice in England to doctrines which are openly published in other places. I could, however, quote from Mr. Bax, who, honorable members will admit, is a Socialist.

Mr Mauger:

– He is not a modern Socialist.

Mr CONROY:

– I can quote William Morris, or Mr. Hyndmann.

Mr O’Malley:

– We will take Morris.

Mr CONROY:

– Very well, here is a quotation -

Marriage should cease to be a permanent and binding contract, and should be a mere voluntary association, dissoluble at pleasure by either party.

In order that there may be no mistake, I refer honorable members to the page for this quotation. It will be found on pages 299 and 300 of Socialism in its Growth and Outcome.

Mr Spence:

– The same kind of thing might be quoted from the Bible.

Mr CONROY:

– Do not honorable members opposite see that if they are willing to admit that they have made a mistake in this matter; that they do not agree with this kind of thing, and have no sympathy with such a party, I am prepared to accept their disclaimer. I know from my knowledge of the lives and conduct of all of you.

The SPEAKER:

– Order. . The honorable and learned member is again transgressing.

Mr CONROY:

– I know, from the lives and conduct of honorable members opposite, that this sort of thing does not meet with their approval.

Mr Hutchison:

– The honorable members will find references to concubines in the Bible.

Mr CONROY:

– Does the honorable member for Hindmarsh mean to say that he is one who cannot be classed as amongst the decent members of the Labour Party.

Mr O’Malley:

– Would the honorable and learned member condemn the Bible because Solomon had 300 wives or concubines ?

Mr CONROY:

– I am dealing with what is happening in the world to-day, and I am complaining that the publication of the approval of the opinions of the. May Day Socialists by the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth in all the countries of the world, will do harm which cannot be overestimated. I can quote something from Mr. Bax, who describes Socialism as an - “ Atheistic humanism,” which utterly despises the other world, with all its stage properties - “that is the object of religion.”

The desire is to put down all churches, priests, and clergy, and he goes on to say that -

Existing theology is so closely identical with the current mode of production, that the two things must stand or fall together.

I am aware of no one amongst the class of May Day Socialists Who has not expressed those opinions.

Mr Thomas:

– I am a May Day Socialist, and I go to church every Sunday.

Mr CONROY:

– The honorable member ought to be ashamed to admit it.

Mr Thomas:

– On the contrary, I am proud of it.

The SPEAKER:

– Unless the honorable member for Barrier has become a Minister he is not entitled to speak from the Treasurybench.

Mr CONROY:

– I could quote another May Day Socialist, Herr Bebel, who is at present a member of the German Parliament. The teachings of all the Continental Socialists are subversive of morality: In one of Bebel’s works, Woman and Socialism, he puts forward a plea for extreme latitude in love.

Mr Mauger:

– I would ask your ruling, Mr. Speaker, whether the honorable and learned member’s remarks are in order - whether they relate to the question which we are at present discussing?

Mr SPEAKER:

– I have sought to follow the argument of the honorable and learned member for Werriwa. I understand that he objects to the present Government, because on a certain occasion the Prime Minister used some expression which the honorable and learned member deems to be an approval of some Socialist programme. If the honorable member so believes, I think that he is quite entitled to indicate what the nature of that programme is.

Mr Watson:

– The honorable and learned member is in order, and is indecent, too. I consider the honorable and learned member’s conduct positively indecent.

Mr CONROY:

– I should expect you to say that.

Mr SPEAKER:

– Order ! I should be very sorry to proceed to extremes,- but I must point out that repeated disobedience of the calls to order by the Chair merits, and must receive, only one form qf treatment. I must, therefore, ask the honorable and learned member for Werriwa not to transgress any further by addressing honorable members directly, instead of through the Chair.

Mr CONROY:

– I was led to digress from my subject by the remark of the Prime Minister regarding indecency. It was verv indecent on the part of the Prime Minister to express his approval of sentiments-

Mr SPEAKER:

– Do I understand the honorable and learned member for Werriwa to object to the phrase used by the Prime Minister? If so, I shall ask him to withdraw it.

Mr CONROY:

– I do not object.

Mr Watson:

– I certainly withdraw the expression, if the honorable and learned member objects to it.

Mr CONROY:

– Guesden, another May Day Socialist, in his Catechism Socialistic, pages 72 - 79, says that the family was useful and indispensable in the past, but it is now only an odious form of property, which must either be transformed or totally abolished, and he conjectures that the time will come when the -

Family relationship will be reduced to that which exists between the mother and child during the period of lactation. He also expresses the opinion that the sexual relations between men, and women will be founded solely upon mutual love and sympathy, and will be as varied, as frequent, and free as intellectual conversation is at the present time.

This is the sort of stuff that is written by the men with whom the Prime Minister expresses his sympathy. Perhaps that is going a little too far ; but I shall be perfectly correct in saying that the Prime Minister has expressed his sympathy with a body, the whole of whose leaders express views of that kind.

Mr Hutchison:

– The honorable and learned gentleman ought to be ashamed of himself.

Mr CONROY:

– I am quite prepared to accept the explanation that the Prime Minister did not know what he was doing. I honestly believe that he did not know ; but he has allowed it to go forth to the world that he really indorses the creed of men who hold views such as I have indicated. We know, as a matter of fact, that he does not do so, but before he expressed his approval of such a creed, he should have made himself acquainted with the aims and objects of those who preach it. The announcement that has gone forth to the world constitutes a blot upon the fair name of Australia. Mr. Hyndman, one of the English Socialists, has expressed very much the same views as those I have quoted. He does not see why people should make such a fuss over the proposals of the Socialists. He tells us that -

The family, in the German Christian sense of marriage for life, and responsibility of the parents for the children born in wedlock, is almost at an end even now ;

And he predicts - a complete change in all family relations which must issue in a widely-extended communism.

Mr O’malley:

– He is another Brigham Young.

Mr CONROY:

– I am glad . that the honorable member condemns men of that type. When the Prime Minister discovered the grave error he had committed, he should have admitted that he had no idea of the aims and objects of the Socialists, and have utterly disclaimed all sympathy with them. The people of England and Europe know perfectly well what has been advocated by the leaders of the Socialists, and they recognise that some of their writings are so disgraceful that they will not allow Socialist literature to be introduced to their homes. One would have thought that, after the “Prime Minister had started off by making a mistake such as I have referred to, his party would have been prepared to fight for their platform. The Prime Minister has made the statement that the people who governed Australia in the past paid too much attention to the interests of a certain class. We may accept that. He then went on to say that, because of that the people would have to stand up for their rights, and undo much that had previously been done. If it had been the aim of the Government to undo much that had previously been done, they would have brought forward some measures to repeal the iniquitous laws which are now pressing upon the masses of the people. I admit that some of our laws do press very heavily upon the working classes, and if I had been in office, I should have brought forward proposals with a view to relieving them.

Mr Spence:

– This Parliament might not be able to deal with such laws.

Mr CONROY:

– At present I have only Federal matters in my mind. The Government do not propose to repeal one of these oppressive laws.

Mr Spence:

– Neither does the honorable and learned member’s party.

Mr CONROY:

– My party does not happen to be in existence at the present time. When the Prime Minister declared that they would undo much of what had previously been done, he ought to have given some indication of the measures which he proposed to repeal. We all remember the Minister of External Affairs when he was consumed by a burning ardour in defence of principle. Now, however, he is merelyconsumed by an ardour to defend his Ministerial position. The Prime Minister told the May Day deputation which waited upon him, that the Labour Party would continue to work in the direction of freeing the people from industrial shackles. Where I may ask, is there any indication of that intention in the Government programme?

Mr Spence:

– What about the question of old-age pensions?

Mr CONROY:

– That subject is to be relegated to a future session, notwithstanding that the people who need old-age pensions are dying to-day. I hold that if it is within the power of the Government to bring that question forward next year, it is within their power to deal with it today.

Mr O’Malley:

– We must have time to think about how to raise the “boodle.”

Mr CONROY:

– Of course, I admit that if the Labour Party believe that the question is so intimately bound up with measures of taxation as to prevent the possibility of its being dealt with even next year, the position is somewhat different. I say unhesitatingly, that their proposals in this connexion should be submitted in the immediate future. The only proposal for which they seem to be earnestly fighting, is one in favour of the printing of a despatch which will permit of members of the first Commonwealth Parliament being designated “Honorable.”

Mr Spence:

– That motion was submitted to give us a chance to hear the honorable and learned member.

Mr CONROY:

– It is not even proposed to extend that title beyond Australia, although, under a despatch which was issued in July, 1893, Legislative Councillors in the different States are permitted to enjoy that distinction beyond His Majesty’s dominions. It does seem to me ridiculous that the first undertaking of this Labour Government should be to submit a motion asking the House to allow the members of the first Commonwealth Parliament to term themselves “Honorable.” It is a sad commentary upon the brave professions with which they set out.

Mr Culpin:

– It is a terrible commentary on the speech of the honorable and learned member.

Mr CONROY:

– Honorable members opposite arrogate to themselves the title of “ Labour.” I confess that I do not appreciate what is meant by that title, but I should be very much surprised if, man for man, honorable members upon this side of the House could not work them blind. I will undertake to say that either at pickandshovel or axe labour I could work any member of the Labour Party blind in a month.

Mr Watson:

– The honorable and learned member can be accommodated.

Mr CONROY:

– Honorable members opposite seek to represent trades unions only, utterly oblivious of the fact that out of 900,000 men in Australia, not more than too, 000 belong to those unions.

Mr Webster:

– The legal union is the strongest on earth.

Mr CONROY:

– I deny that any man who represents organized labour only can truthfully be termed a labour representative. The masses of men for whom honorable members opposite ought to fight are not those who can already make their voices heard, but those who are not in a position to do so. I say, therefore, that honorable members on this side of the House can be more truly called labour men than any of those sitting opposite; because we represent not union labour only, but non-union labour also. At the present time, the nonunionists exceed the unionists in Australia by the proportion of over eight to one. What would become of the unionists of this country if the non-unionists treated them as those men are now being treated. If the non-unionists took up arms, and said, “ As you have passed a law under which you will not allow non-unionists to work for a living, we will pass a law which will not allow unionists to work” - what would be the result? Only recently in Sydney we had a trades union closing up its books and saying .that no man outside the ranks of that society should be allowed to get a living at the calling affected. It is a perversion of terms to say that justice can be obtained in this country while a union can close up against all non-union men in that fashion. It is a return to the Indian system of caste, where a man was shut out from association with his fellows if he ventured to concern himself in any occupation that was not permitted to him by the regulations of his caste. Yet the men on this side of the House, who fight against that sort of thing, are to be termed Liberals or Conservatives* but are not to be allowed to style themselves representatives of labour. Honorable members opposite ought, if they were properly described, to be termed representatives of union men only. ,

Mr Hutchison:

– But the honorable and learned member’s statement is not true.

Mr SPEAKER:

– Order.

Mr Hutchison:

– I do not mean to say that the honorable and learned member is deliberately telling an untruth.

Mr SPEAKER:

– I called the honorable member to order because to say that a statement is not true is unparliamentary.

Mr Hutchison:

– I withdraw it, of course ; but why does the honorable and learned member say that we represent unionists only ?

Mr CONROY:

– For the reason that the Arbitration Bill passed in New South Wales, and the Bill introduced into this House, gives a preference to unionists, although, as a matter of fact non-unionists exceed them in numbers. If the unionists of this country are represented by twentytwo or twenty-three men in Parliament, it would only be right that the non-unionists, who number over 900,000 men, should have at least fifty representatives.

Mr Spence:

– How can the honorable and learned member say what their opinions are?

Mr CONROY:

– It stands to common sense that the great body of non-unionists do not wish any laws to be passed which would exclude them from participation in the work there is to do. If force is to be used on one side, as it is being used, it may just as reasonably be used on the other. Because force is used when the police and military are, in cases of emergency, put into operation to support such laws as I have indicated. It is true that it is called legal force, but it is none the less force against which the great body of unorganized workers cannot fight. It is because I object to this perpetual legislation on behalf of a section, whom I call. the aristocracy of labour, that I take up this stand. I do not care from what party legislation of that kind comes. I shall raise my voice in objection to it as long as it shuts out from consideration eight men . out of nine- in this Commonwealth.

Mr Tudor:

– The honorable and learned member’s own party have agreed to support an Arbitration Bill.

Mr CONROY:

– I have nothing to do with what my party, or any other party, has agreed to. From whatever party measures come, which are, in my opinion, inimical to the interests of the people of this country, they will receive steady and persistent opposition from me. I am not going to support them for any party that can be formed. It is, it seems to me, one of the most awful things that can be contemplated that a large body of men, who ought to be the very men to fight for the unorganized workers, should be found supporting legislation which will render, those workers absolutely more helpless, and will push them still lower down in the scale. I have no hesitation in saying in regard to the proposal before the Chair to print a despatch in reference to conferring on members of the first Parliament the title of “ Honorable,” that I intend to vote against it.

Mr McDONALD:
Kennedy

– I should not have said anything if it had not been for the speech of the honorable and learned member who has just sat down. I had decided not to speak, but when the honorable and learned member for Werriwa made the attack, which he has done on the party with which I am associated, by quoting obsolete documents, and then trying to fasten them on the supporters of the Government, it is time that some one made a reply. The honorable and learned member has been guilty of the most despicable attempt to assail the characters of political opponents that I have ever heard of in all my life. Had the honorable and learned member been a stranger to this Chamber; had he not known honorable members on this side of the House; had he not been associated with them for several years past, I could have excused him in quoting from documents of that character. But, as the honorable and learned ‘ member knows us all personally, and knows that the members of this party lead honest, and pure, and moral lives, for him to make such an attack was the most cowardly piece of work I ever heard of. If I knew only one prominent free-trader who had committed a murder in, New South Wales, should I not be the most cowardly man under heaven if I endeavoured to associate his conduct with thatof men like the honorable and learned member for Illawarra, the honorable member for Macquarie, or even the honorable and learned member for Werriwa himself? It would be just as reasonable for me to say that I. had known free-traders who believed in bigamy, and to declare, therefore, that honorable members of the Free-trade Party believed in bigamy.. But. what.sort . of a man should I be if I were to make any such accusations against honorable members opposite? Should not I be unworthy of a seat in this House? The honorable and learned member has attempted to cast upon members of the Labour Party a slander which neither he nor any other honorable member can justify, and in these circumstances he should for ever hide his head in shame.

Mr Conroy:

– The honorable member has made the disclaimer that I desired. I knew that he did not approve of these things, and I merely wished him to say so.

Mr McDONALD:

– There is no occasion for me to make any disclaimer. I stand here as a Socialist, and have openly declared for the last sixteen years that I am one. When I was first returned to Parliament I asserted that I had been elected only as a Socialist. Let the honorable member turn to Karl Marx, Hyndman, William Morris, . Webb, Harrison, and others whose characters, at any time, will bear comparison with his own. I for one should be prepared to stand by that comparison. The- men I have named are all well-known scientific writers, whilst, on the other hand, the honorable and learned member has quoted from the writings of fanatics in various parts of the world. Without having read, or properly digested, the theories propounded by the men to whom he referred, he rushed, forward to make a speech which did no credit to himself or to the party to which he belongs.. I feel sure that I echo the feelings of his party when I assert-that they do not give the slightest credence to any of the statements which the honorable and learned member has made. If I have spoken warmly. I think I have a right to be excused. The attack made by the honorable and learned member for Werriwa was most cowardly, and certainly ought not to have been made in this House. So far as the Prime” Minister is concerned, he is well able to defend himself, and needs no assistance from me. I do not take any exception to what the honorable gentleman did or said in relation to the May Day celebrations.

Mr Conroy:

– I do.

Mr McDONALD:

– The honorable and learned gentleman may do what he pleases. I care not what he does.

Mr Conroy:

– I expressly excluded honorable members opposite from any belief in the matters I have mentioned. I said that they did not know-

Mr Watson:

– Does the honorable and learned member imagine that he is the only man who has read a book on the subject ?

Mr McDONALD:

– If the honorable and learned member were acquainted with the May Day Socialists who meet once a year on the banks of the Yarra he would not have anything to say against them. Much though he might disapprove of the principles they advocated, it would be impossible for him to take exception to them personally or to Jay a charge against any one of them. I have nothing further to say, for the discussion is not likely to have any profitable, result. I understand that honorable members opposite do not even intend to press the matter to a division. Much time has been wasted, and I should ‘have refrained from speaking but for the violent attack made by the honorable and learned member forWerriwa.

Mr. CONROY (Werriwa).- By way of personal explanation, I may say that I made it very clear-

Mr McDonald:

– Apologize like a man.

Mr CONROY:

– I made it very clear that, from my knowledge of honorable members opposite, I was satisfied that they would not give their assent to doctrines such as those to which I referred. I said that assent had been given in ignorance to the utterances of the May Day Socialists, and I wish it to be distinctly understood that I made no personal charge against the honorable member for Kennedy, or against any other honorable member.

Mr McDonald:

– But the honorable and learned member knows that every servile newspaper in the Commonwealth will quote his remarks.

Mr Watson:

– I do not think that they are likely to do so.

Mr CONROY:

– I regard the honorable member for Kennedy as a friend, and it is scarcely probable that I should select as a friend any one who had a belief in such pernicious notions as those to which I have referred.

Mr Spence:

– The honorable member should never come near us again.

Mr CONROY:

– I distinctly said that honorable members opposite did not know what these things were.

Mr McDonald:

– We know as much about the subject as does the honorable and learned member.

Mr CARPENTER:
Fremantle

– It was my intention to reply at some length to several of the points made by the right honorable member for Swan;, but, at this very late hour, I am sure. that, honorablemembers have no desire that the debate should be continued. I shall, therefore, content myself with a very brief reference to two features of the right honorable member’s address, and I regret that he is not present to hear what I have to say. He referred, first of all, to the action taken by the Minister of External Affairs with reference to the administration of the Immigration Restriction Act at Fremantle. I have no desire to accuse the right honorable member of having wilfully endeavoured to give rise to a scare ; but I must say that one effect of the remarks made by him will be to frighten those engaged in mercantile pursuits in Fremantle into the belief that some new and harassing restriction has been placed upon the shipping of that port. The right honorable member is entirely mistaken if he imagines that the Government have done, or propose to do, anything of the kind. As a member of the Ministry which introduced the Immigration Restriction Bill, he was doubtless sincere in the desire that every possible restriction should be placed upon undesirable immigrants. In these circumstances it ill-becomes him, when an attempt is being made to remedy many past defects, to seek to make capital out of the efforts of the Government to administer the measure in something like an honest and effective manner. Let me assure any one who might otherwise be misled by the remarks of the right honorable member, that the Government do not intend to do anything that . will, in any way, hamper . or harrass the travelling public. They will do all that is necessary, as they ought to do, for the proper administration of the Act, and do no more. The right honorable member made a veiled attack on the Labour Party in Western Australia, by . suggesting that they were disloyal to those who had been their recognised leaders. He referred to a paragraph appearing in this morning’s issue of a Melbourne newspaper, in which the Premier of Western Australia, Mr. Walter James, is said to complain of the opposition which is being shown to him in the present State elections. The honorable gentleman told the House that the Premier of Western Australia had been for some time past a recognised leader of the Labour Party there. It is true that he has been known as a Radical, and has assisted to pass what we call labour legislation,’ but he has never been officially connected with the Labour Party. He has held office almost entirely by the support of that party, but the fact that it is now in antagonism to him arises purely from his own expressed wish. Only a few months ago, speaking at a meeting at Bunbury, he publicly declared that from that time onwards he wanted only two parties, in Western Australia - the Ministerialists and the Labour Party. Having been challenged in that way, the Labour Party could not do less than take up the gauntlet, and they are, therefore, opposing the honorable gentleman now. I wish to make that statement in justification of their action, and to refute the charge that they are ungrateful to those who have led them. There has never been any relation, official or implied, between the Premier of Western Australia and the Labour Party of that State, and I wish these remarks to follow as quickly as possible those of the right honorable member for Swan, so that the people may be able to read both sides of the case at the one time.

Mr STORRER:
Bass

– When I entered the House a short time ago, if any one had told me’ that after the lapse of three months we should have done no business, I would not have believed him. I have listened to the debate which has been proceeding for now more than a week on the question of the printing of a letter referring to the adoption of the title of “Honorable “ by certain honorable members, and I consider it an exceedingly regrettable waste of time. I am sorry that questions are not discussed in this Chamber quietly ‘ and coolly, and without the imputation of improper motives. I treat every honorable member as an honorable man, and have no desire to impute improper motives to any one. The members of this House were sent here’ by a majority of those whom they represent, and their position is, therefore, not to be questioned. It is to be re gretted that we have heard so much about what has taken place in the Parliaments of the States, of the constitution of the labour, organizations, and of other irrelevant matters. I desire to correct a mistake which was made last night,- and repeated this evening, in reference to my position. .1 am not a member of the Labour Party. I am still an independent member, and hope to continue so, although I sympathize with .many of the aims of .the Labour Party, and shall vote with them on many questions which will come before the House. The complaint was’ made yesterday that the members of the Ministry are not business -men. Now I am a business man, and have’ had a workshop. When I entered that workshop I wished to see what my men had done for their money. If our masters, the people of Australia, could be brought here, they would find that we have done very little for our money during the past three months. I trust that this debate will not last any longer, and that if a no-confidence motion is to be moved, it will be dealt with as soon as possible. I have not had much experience in politics, and therefore I am new to the method of killing time with which I aim now being made acquainted. Personally I would rather not be in Parliament than take money for work which I have not done. We are not elected to indulge in party fights. We were sent here to legislate for the welfare of the Commonwealth. It has been my policy all my life to vote, not for men, but for measures, and I shall continue to adopt that attitude; Whenever I regard a measure as a good one, I shall vote for it, while if I believe it to be a bad one, I shall vote against it. There are many other matters to which I should like to refer, but the hour is late, and I consider the whole debate a waste of time.

Mr BROWN:
Canobolas

– I should not have risen to speak but for the remarks of the honorable and learned member ‘for Werriwa. I believe that fair play is bonny play. I do not belong to the Socialist Party. I have never allied myself to them in any way. I believe, however, that there are good men in that party. Not only have the members of the Labour Party in this House been slandered by the honorable and learned member for Werriwa, but a number of good, honest, clean people outside who claim to belong to the Socialist Party have been traduced. Let me give one or two definitions from authoritative sources, instead of from the musty old records with which the honorable . and learned member has dealt in his endeavour to fasten a slander upon Socialists and the members of the Labour Party for low-down political purposes. I turn first : to that, great work, whose authority even the honorable and learned member will not ; question, the Encyclopaedia Britannica. How . does it define Socialism ? It says that the ethics . of Socialism are identical with- those of Christianity. That is not how the honorable and learned member presented it. I could also go to a Webster’s Dictionary, another eminent authority, but . I prefer to make . a short quotation from a poetess whose moral standing and work on behalf of humanity cannot be doubted. I refer to Ella Wheeler Wilcox. This is what she has written -

Who is a Socialist? It is the man ‘

Who strives to aid or formulate a plan

To better earth’s conditions. It is he

Who,, having ears to hear,, and eyes to see,

Is neither deaf nor blind, when Might roughshod

Treads down the privileges and rights which

God

Means for all men - the privilege to toil,

To breathe pure air, to till the fertile soil,

The right to live, to love, to woo, to wed,

And earn for hungry mouths their need of bread.

The Socialist is he who claims no more

Than , his own share from generous Nature’s store ; .

But that he asks, and asks, too, that no other

Shall claim the share of any weaker brother,

And brand him- beggar in his own domain,

To glut a mad, inordinate lust for gain.

The Socialist is one who holds . the best

Of all God’s gifts is toil- the second rest.

He asks that all men learn’ the sweets of labour,

And that no idler fatten on his neighbour -

That all men be allowed to share their leisure,.

Nor thousands slave that one may seek his pleasure ;

Who on the Golden Rule shall dare exist,

Behold inhim the Socialist.

The honorable and learned member for Werriwa made a vile- attack upon the Prime Minister. He wished to associate the honorable gentleman with the views which he himself put forward as being the basic principles of Socialism.

Mr Conroy:

– That is not what I said.

Mr BROWN:

– I shall content myself with the remark that that innuendo has been thrown out against the leader of the House for low-down political purposes. I despise the honorable and learned member from whom it emanates. I am prepared to go outside and to fight my political battles, but I believe in straight, fair, fighting.

Mr Conroy:

– That is straight fighting, and I shall fight against’ that kind of thing to the day of ‘ my death.

Mr BROWN:

– As this innuendo has been made against the Prime Minister, I shall quote the utterances of a worthy clergyman in Sydney from his pulpit last Sunday with respect to that honorable gentleman. In. the course of his sermon last Sunday, the Rev-. George Walters used these words: -

Upon merely party questions I shall not speak from this pulpit, but upon the purely personal aspect I venture to say that the present Premier, Mr. J. C. Watson, is one of the cleanest, straightest,. and most honorable of those who have had the destinies of the Commonwealth, in their care and keeping. When in this church, fourteen years ago, I married him to his partner in life, I hardly anticipated that he would become Premier of a united Australia ; but, from that day to this, in humble or exalted position, John Christian Watson has been a true man whom, we may respect and admire, whether or not we agree with his political ideas.

Mr Conroy:

– Have I denied one word of that?

Mr BROWN:

– If there is to be a fight in this House by those who do not believe that the Labour Party should sit- on these benches, surely there is plenty of opportunity for them to put up a decent, clean fight. I shall not ally myself with lowdown fighting,, and, although not a Socialist,! should be false to myself, knowing the good, clean lives that these men live, both inside the House and out of it, if I did not raise my protest against -the travesty and the caricature on Socialism which has been presented here to-night.

Mr CONROY:
Werriwa

– I desire to make a personal explanation.

Mr SPEAKER:

– The honorable and learned member has already made ohe personal explanation, but if it is the pleasure of the House that he should’ be permitted to make another, he may proceed.

Honorable Members.- Hear, hear.

Mr.CONROY. - There is one thing that I thought I made most perfectly clear. My astonishment was that men whom I know in the most friendly way,, should have any communication with this body of May Day Socialists, and I then explained what the May Day Socialists are. I also stated that I hoped that as soon as the Prime Minister understood the kind of men they are, . and the class to which they belong, he would at once give an assurance - but for the way in which the news is transmitted to other countries I should not require it at all - that he has no sympathy with such . a body. I know that he has not, and I cannot too strongly impress on the honorable member for Canobolas that I was most careful about pointing out the views, not of honorable members. in this House, but of the May Day Socialists at home. Further than that T cannot go. If honorable members can question one case to which I referred,’, then I shall admit that . I have .made a big error. But I did not refer to one individual in the House, as honorable members know.

Mr Spence:

– Yes, the honorable and learned member did, .and to a number of us.

Mr CONROY:

– Honorable members know that I did not.

Mr Spence:

– The honorable and learned member tried to damage us in the eyes of the country.

Mr WATSON:
Treasurer · Bland · ALP

.At this hour it is not my intention to say much on the general tone of the debate on the programme I submitted a week ago. I regret that so much time has been taken up with a discussion on what, after all, is only ah abstract matter, because I would have preferred much, if we had” been able, to have a clear fight on the issue whether this Government is to retain office - if that issue is intended to be raised - or whether ‘we are to get on to the work of the country, and, by accomplishing something, justify our existence as a Parliament. I think that the complaint of the honorable member for JB ass - that we have been sitting here’ for about three months, and yet have nothing to show for our work - is justified. It is about time that, with the help of one side or the other, we buckled to, and gave some result to the country. With regard to the line of attack ‘which has generally, been followed, of course it was quite within’ the competence of the speakers to fasten their attack, not on the programme of immediate’ work presented by us, but rather on the question of whether our methods of organization are justified ; whether we are acting with propriety in insisting on a man doing in our party as he is required to do in every party - that is, to sink his minor convictions when a crisis arrives, in order that the matters which he holds to be of larger importance should be given effect to. That principle obtains in every party in’ a State. The right honorable member for Swan, who talked so much about the great independence that he possesses, had to subdue his intense desire to burst up the Commonwealth because, being in a Cabinet, he had to give way to the pressure of his colleagues and the circumstances that surrounded him. It is only the sheerest hypocrisy on the part of honorable members on the other side to talk about the rules of the Labour Party and their organization, when they know, every one of them, that they must give way to party discipline if they are to accomplish anything under the system . of responsible Government that obtains in every British community. It is an absolute essential that we must give way here and there if we are to acomplish anything ; and, I say that honorable, members, knowing that, were onlyspeaking for party purposes when they complained of the methods of the Labour Party. We have followed their example. It is true that our members exhibit a degree ‘of loyalty perhaps greater than that exhibited by members, of some other parties.

Sir John Forrest:

– It is more cast-iron.

Mr WATSON:

– That is not so. We show a greater spirit df loyalty to principle in a programme on which we are agreed.

Mr Thomas:

– The Labour Party is no more cast-iron than was the honorable member’s party when he was Emperor of the West.

Mr WATSON:

– When,’ as I am reminded, the right honorable gentleman was running Western Australia there was riot a man, not merely in his party, but out of it, who dared to raise his voice in opposition to any proposal, because he knew that if he did he would be thrown into outer darkness without the semblance of a trial.’

Mr.-THOMAS. - He dismissed one of his Ministers for that offence.

Mr WATSON:

– The right honorable and learned gentleman who is leading one section of the Oppositional refer to the honorable member for East Sydney - said in regard to the indications given by myself of the anxiety of the’ Government to” nationalize the tobacco monopoly, to convert a private into a public monopoly, that that proposal, and all that went with it, would trample out every form of individual liberty in industry. I am quite prepared to admit that to the extent to which such a proposal is operative it does trample out individual liberty ; but in this, as in every other civilized community, it’ is being recognised that we must take in hand these monopolies for the safety of the State. Surely no one would think of calling President Roosevelt a Socialist - at any rate, he would not be termed a May Day Socialist. Yet President Roosevelt just a little while ago, when trouble existed in the United States in connexion with the’ coal strike, assured the “ Coal Barons,” as they are termed, that if an agreement under the Commission he appointed was found to be impossible, he would take the extreme step of resuming the coal mines in the interests of the community, in order to insure that the public should have coal, and that they should not be left to die of cold because of the arrogance, greed, and rapacity of the people who controlled the mines.

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

– But President Roosevelt does not recognise the creed of the Socialists who meet in Chicago on Mav Day.

Mr WATSON:

– Of course not. That is quite another question, and it is only .a man who. is so full of .prejudice’ or of party feeling that he would descend to anything base who would assume that we had any sympathy with such a creed. I come now to the remarks of the honorable member for Werriwa. I was pained to think that an honorable and learned member, to whom I have always given credit for at least fight- ‘ ing fairly, if always hitting hard, should have descended to an attack of the description in which he engaged.

Mr Conroy:

– Was it a personal attack on the Prime Minister ?

Mr WATSON:

– No ; I did not regard it in that way. I have, however, just as keen- a regard for the reputation of my party’ generally as I have for my own, and I felt it deeply that it should be suggested that any of us sympathized with free love, or the breaking down of the marriage institution. It was a most shameful thing, in my view, for the honorable and learned member, who knows us so well, and knows the labour movement so well, to cast an imputation of that character upon us. He knows very well that no such sympathy is entertained by any man in our party.

Mr Conroy:

– I made two personal explanations to the effect that I did not refer to the Prime Minister, or to the other members of the Labour Party, but to the May Day Socialists, of whose programme the Prime Minister expressed his approval. I said that the Minister did not know their programme.

Mr WATSON:

– I know that perhaps I should not take as much notice as I am doing of what the honorable and learned member has said,’ because, after all, I do not think there is .any man in this House who would pay the” slightest regard to the arguments which he has used. I do know, however, that there is a certain section of the press in Australia which will note any insinuation of this kind, and spread it broadcast through the country, with . a view to injure, not us individually, but the movement with which we are associated. I put it to any fair-minded man whether it is right that those men who waited on me the other day - many of whom T know to . be just as upright and clean living as any honorable member of this House, and who, whether they be right -or wrong, have made sacrifices to carry out their principles - should be branded as being in favour of free love. That is a shameful libel on men whom the honorable and learned member ought to know advocate no> such thing. Sure!’- in these matters of great public importance, we should sufficiently appreciate principles as distinguished from the individuals who may advocate them. Surely that is the first qualification for a man who desires to become a ‘ legislator. I, for one, say that, although I may believe that a socialistic writer is sound on the economic side of the question, I am not necessarily bound to follow him into every aspect of social life, and to subscribe to his theories thereon. The honorable and learned member studiously refrained from quoting any of the leading Socialists of England.

Mr Conroy:

– I quoted Bax, Morris,’ and ‘ Hyndman.

Mr WATSON:

– I never heard Hyndman quoted in connexion with the views which the honorable and learned member has been putting- before us to-night. But what about Blatchford, the most represent tative Socialist in England at the present time ?

Mr McDonald:

– And John Burns.

Mr WATSON:

– Yes, I include John Burns. But first I shall refer to Blatchford, who is the most representative Socialist in England to-day, the man who, at this moment, exercises a greater amount of influence than any other on the working classes of England. What is the view of Blatchford? He says -

I would sooner give up the Empire, or give up wealth or fame, rather than the old-time institution of marriage, and the right to marry the woman I love.

Mr Thomas:

– Why did not the honorable and learned member quote Blatchford ?

Mr Conroy:

– I quoted the international manifesto of the Socialists. I could noi quote every individual leader of the party.

Mr WATSON:

– We are not responsible for the opinions expressed by continental economic writers. Does the honorable and learned, member, as an individualist, hold himself responsible for the views expressed by every anarchist who cares to subscribe to his doctrine, and who wants to tear down and burn and destroy and ravage right through the’ land?

Mr Conroy:

– I have never expressed my .sympathy with the anarchists.

Mr WATSON:

– But the honorable and learned member is a pronounced individualist. He “will not deny that.

Mr Conroy:

– I do not.

Mr WATSON:

– The honorable and learned member is an individualist, and so is every anarchist; ergo, the honorable member- is an anarchist, and is responsible for every statement which may be made by those who subscribe to his doctrine of individualism.

Mr Conroy:

– I do not approve of anarchists, or of their creed.

Mr WATSON:

– No ; but every anarchist believes, with the honorable and learned member, in the fullest individual liberty, and if the honorable and learned member carried his own doctrine to its logical, conclusion he would, to his own surprise, find that he was an anarchist. I desire to show the ridiculous nature of the honorable and learned member’s argument, by quoting from Lecky. I suppose that the honorable and learned member will acknowledge that Lecky is a high authority on the subject of individualism, as against Socialism - that he strongly denounces .Socialism.

Mr Conroy:

– Yes, and anarchy.

Mr WATSON:

– And that, therefore, the honorable and learned member agrees with him.

Mr Conroy:

– With me, Lecky denounces anarchy.

Mr WATSON:

– Let me quote what Lecky says in connexion with this very question of marriage in his History of European Morals, volume II.

Mr Conroy:

– I have never expressed my approval of Lecky.

Mr WATSON:

– The honorable and learned member will not wait for his own medicine to be dispensed to him.

Mr Conroy:

– If the Prime Minister will show me a letter of sympathy, which I have written to Lecky, then I shall say no more.

Mr WATSON:

– I shall show that Lecky gives utterance to views which I should not think of ascribing to the honorable and learned member ; although it would be quite fair for me to do so, because I should only be following the course adopted by him this evening. Lecky says, at page 269 -

Connexions which were confessedly only for a few years have always subsisted side by side with permanent marriages; and in periods when public opinion, acquiescing in their propriety, inflicts no excommunication on one or both of the partners, when these partners are not living the demoralizing and degrading life which accompanies the consciousness of guilt, and when proper provision is made for the children who are born, it would be; I believe, impossible to prove by the light of simple and unassisted reason that such connexions should be invariably condemned.

He goes on to say that -

There are always multitudes who in the period of their lives when their passions are most strong are incapable of supporting children in their own social rank, and who would therefore injure society by marrying in it, but are nevertheless practically capable of securing an honorable career for their illegitimate children in the lower social sphere to which they would naturally belong. Under the conditions I have mentioned these connexions are not injurious, but beneficial, to the weaker partner.

No concern is there expressed for the poor woman.

They soften the differences of rank, they stimulate social habits -

A fine stimulation for social habits 1 - and they do not produce upon character the degrading effect of promiscuous intercourse, or upon society the injurious effects of imprudent marriages, one or other of which will multiply in their absence.

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

– He praises the prostitute as offering a vicarious atonement for her virtuous sister.

Mr WATSON:

– Quite so. I make that quotation from the writings of an individualist, in order- to show the unfairness of applying to us the doctrines of those amongst Socialist writers of the Continent who may advocate these lax and, in my view, most pernicious opinions in regard to the marriage tie.

Mr Conroy:

– -If one Minister is ito be held responsible for another, one Socialist should be held responsible for another.

Mr WATSON:

– I should not be so contemptibly unfair as the honorable and learned member was when he sought to make us responsible- for the opinions he quoted.

Mr Conroy:

– I pointed out that the honorable gentleman would not have done what he did if he had known.

Mr WATSON:

– This assumption by the honorable and learned member, that he alone is acquainted with the fact that these views have . been expressed is most amusing. I daresay that’ there are honorable members on this side, of the House, who, on that aspect of economics, have read as widely as has any honorable and learned member.

Mr Conroy:

– Probably. I have found more knowledge of these things amongst honorable members opposite, than amongst Other honorable members of the House.

Mr WATSON:

– In any case, I can assure the honorable and learned member that there was no question of our being ignorant of that aspect. But what did I say to those who waited upon me? I ask the attention of the honorable and learned member. This is what I said -

I have to thank you for the kindly expressions conveyed to my colleagues and myself upon our assumption of office, and to say that so far as the general spirit behind the May Day movement is concerned, we are heartily in sympathy with it. What is that spirit?

Mr Mauger:

– The spirit of brotherhood.

Mr WATSON:

– It is the spirit of humanity ; the spirit of those who care for the poor and lowly ; of those who are prepared to make an effort to interfere with the iron law of wages, and with the coldblooded calculation of the ordinary political economist. That is the spirit which I recognise as being behind the May Day movement. It is not in anv way circumscribed by any mere declaration of this or that plank of a platform, but is the motive of those who will leave no stone unturned, and no experiment untried, in their efforts to benefit humanity.. That is the spirit with which we are heartily in sympathy, and I can challenge any honorable member to say that he is against it.. At this late hour I shall not say any more. As one who has always had a personal regard for the honorable and learned member for Werriwa, I am sorry indeed that he should have so far forgotten himself as to follow the course which he has pursued this evening.

Mr Conroy:

– The honorable gentleman should not take it personally ; I pointed that out.

Mr WATSON:

– I am not taking it personally. I know that the honorable and learned member would not be guilty of such an aspersion. But I do take it as an aspersion upon the movement with which I have been connected, and on the tens of thousands of people who are behind the Labour Party, and who are just as strong as the honorable and learned member for Werriwa can possibly b.e in their determination to uphold all that makes for purity in our social life.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

page 1672

SPECIAL ADJOURNMENT

Motion (by Mr. Watson) agreed to -

That theHouse, at its rising, adjourn until Tuesday next.

page 1672

ADJOURNMENT

Personal Explanation

Motion (by Mr. Watson) proposed -

That the House do now adjourn.

Mr WEBSTER:
Gwydir

– I should not detain theHouse at this late hour, were it not that it has come under my notice that the honorable member for Lang during his speech yesterday made a number of statements concerning my career, which I was not present to listen to, and to which I think I should make some reply. When I spoke in the debate which has just concluded, I stated that. the honorable member at one time contested an election as a pledged labour candidate, and is now opposed to the party of which he was once a member. That was a perfectly legitimate statement to make, but the honorable member, I understand, entered upon a long dissertation with regard . to my past history. I have no reason to fear any investigation’ of it. First of all, the honorable member said that I was a free-trader. I plead guilty ; . but I was never a fanatic. He has said that I was an alderman and a councillor. I plead guilty again. I was an alderman and a councillor for six years, and in those capacities I have left a record of which I have no occasion to be ashamed.He went on to say that the Labour Party was started in New South Wales in 1898, and that he was. the father of the movement in that State. I cannot confirm that statement, because I took part in the ‘ initiation of the movement in New South Wales, and I have no knowledge of £he honorable member being in any way interested in it at that time, whilst I am glad to say that it has since grown beyond any possible danger of identification with the honorable member. In the early days of the movement in New South Wales a number of men set to work-

Mr SPEAKER:

– When the honorable member for Lang was yesterday referring to this matter, I did not allow him to proceed. He, thereupon, closed his references to matters which are now being discussed, and went on to deal shortly with matters of Government policy. Having prevented the honorable member for Lang from continuing to make a’ statement, which I con- sidered unfair, I must now ask the honorable member for Gwydir not to traverse the same ground, and, if he thinks it necessary to do so at all, to refer to these matters quite incidentally and most briefly.

Mr WEBSTER:

-I was not present when the honorable member for Lang spoke, and I do not know to what length he was allowed to go. I am aware that, he said a great deal respecting myself, to which I propose to reply. The honorable member has said that in the electorate in which I lived for twenty odd years, I received, on one occasion, only eleven votes. The honorable member knows well that that statement is not correct. He is aware that I was nominated practically in error, and that at the time of the election I was working the whole of the day at my trade. He is aware also that my opponents circulated the rumour that Ihad retired, arid when my supporters were informed by members of my own committee that I had retired, they, of course, did not vote for. me. I was practically a retired candidate, but I could not remove my name from the ballot-paper, because the law would not permit me to do so. The honorable member for Lang has made this statement with a view to disparaging me, leaving it to be understood that in my own electorate, where I had served the people in the council for years, I must have lost public confidence, since I could poll only eleven votes. That is a wilful misrepresentation, and I have a right to contradict it, seeing that it has gone forth to the public.

Mr Fisher:

– But the honorable member has been returned now.

Mr WEBSTER:

– I realize that ; but it is not a question of my being returned ; it is a question of these misstatements going out to the public. The honorable member finally said, according to the . remarks I heard, that I was “ consistent in my inconsistency.” I have been in the labour movement since its inception, and I did not, nor would T, agree to nomination under the domination of a party which had usurped the functions of the first Labour Party, by engineering the first labour platform on which that party split asunder in its first Parliament. The single taxers wrecked that party. But I insisted in bringing into power the solidarity party, and in framing its pledge, under which I have fought six hard fights - two against members of the association to which the honorable member belongs, who were unpledged labour men.. It is because I fought against those men in two elections and maintained the solidarity movement, to which I am pledged, that these statements are made on the floor of the House. The fact is, I am here as a successful man, while he is here, not as a labour man, but as one who, having signed the labour platform, “ went back “ on it, and was returned to this House as the result of his mysterious appointment as secretary of the Free-trade and Reform Association. He was elected after a hard fight over the method of his selection, and thus became a member of this Legislature.

Mr Watson:

– I should have said earlier, that I expect the House to be prepared to make a start with the Arbitration Bill on Tuesday.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

House adjourned at 11.53 p.m.

Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 26 May 1904, viewed 6 July 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1904/19040526_reps_2_19/>.