2nd Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read praters.
– It will be remembered that the late Prime Minister made a statement at the last sitting of the House with reference to events which had occurred since the meeting of the House on Friday, and I now wish to state that, in view of the resignation tendered by the late Prime Minister of himself and his colleagues, I was commissioned by His Excellency the GovernorGeneral to undertake the formation of a new Administration, and that I have performed that task. Before naming the Ministers, and the offices which they will hold, I wish to make an explanation. It will be remembered that I invited the right honorable member for Balaclava to join with me, upon terms of ‘ perfect equality, in the construction of this new Government, and he has acted on that footing, and in that capacity with me, in the formation of the Government whose names I shall presently announce. My right honorable colleague, in view of the state of his health, still suffering as he is from the effects of a prolonged illness of a serious character, and in consideration of the duty which he owes to himself, has asked me to relieve him from any extra political work beyond that attaching to the Department with which he will be intrusted. As honorable members know, the position which he occupied under the arrangement made would entail a considerable amount of political work outside the particular duties of a Department, and in the present state of my right honorable colleague’s health he ‘ would be absolutely unequal to any such task. Under these circumstances, he has asked my honorable friend, Mr. Allan McLean, to take the position to which I have referred in the Cabinet. I shall myself fill the office qf Minister of State for External Affairs, and the list of my colleagues in the new Administration, with their respective offices, is as follows : -
The Hon. Allan McLean - Minister of State for Trade and Customs;
Senator Sir Josiah Henry Symon, K.C.M.G., KC. - AttorneyGeneral ;
The Hon. James Whiteside McCay - Minister of State for Defence ;
The Hon. Sydney Smith - PostmasterGeneral.
These ‘ gentlemen will occupy the whole of the Departments allotted by the Constitution. I may add that the position of Vice-President of the Executive Council will be filled by Senator Drake.
– Before the business of the House is proceeded with, I may perhaps be permitted, on behalf of the direct Opposition, to offer my congratulations to the new Prime Minister upon the names which he has submitted to the House as those of his colleagues. I am sure that, although we may differ from the new Administration in matters of policy, so far as personal considerations are affected we can extend to them the heartiest welcome as Ministers in the new Government. I suppose that all of us must acknowledge that, in regard to the probable administration of the Departments, there is not the slightest fault to be found ; but that, on the contrary, the best anticipations may be indulged in as to the. working of the Departments under the gentlemen whose names have been announced. On general matters of policy, I am afraid that we shall not be able to be quite so cordial.
– Give them fair play
– Such expressions are capable of such differing interpretations that I. do not intend to indulge in them. I can only promise that the Government shall receive at our- hands such treatment as they merit in our view of the best interests of the country. I congratulate Ministers, and cordially welcome them upon their accession to office.
Motion (by Mr. Groom) agreed to -
That the time for bringing up the report of the Select Committee on Electoral Act Administration be further extended to Friday, 30th September next.
– I desire to ask the Minister of Home Affairs whether he will continue the work which is now being carried out in connexion with the addition to the electoral rolls of the names of persons who are entitled to be. registered, but whose names have been omitted owing to the hurried inquiries which were made when the rolls were first compiled.
– Perhaps the honorable member will allow me to answer that question in this way. I should rather, before any questions are answered, that Ministers should have some time allowed to them to consider the state of public business.
– My reason for pressing the question at this stage is that if the necessary instructions are not issued to the police at once, hundreds of persons whose names have been left off the rolls, but who are justly entitled to be placed upon them, will lose their chance of voting.
– I can promise the honorable member that the urgency of that matter will not be overlooked.
Motion (by Mr. Reid) agreed to -
That the consideration of all other business be postponed until after the consideration of Government business.
Mr. SPEAKER reported the receipt of a message from His Excellency the GovernorGeneral, recommending that an appropriation be made from the Consolidated Revenue for the purposes of this Bill.
In Committee of -Supply:
– I move -
That a sum not exceeding , £326,423 be granted to His Majesty for or towards defraying the services of the year ending the 30th June, 1905.
The passing of this Bill is necessary to enable the Treasurer to provide the funds required to make certain payments which will fall due towards the end of the present month. The measure was prepared under the supervision of the ex-Treasurer, and I understand that copies of it have been circulated amongst honorable members. I. have had an opportunity to go through it with the responsible officers of the Treasury, and I find that it makes provision for ordinary expenditure upon the basis of the last financial year. In the Defence Department one or - two large sums are proposed which I have ascertained are for the purpose of defraying the cost of certain ammunition - some of which has been delivered - and for a portion of which we must pay when ordering. A further expenditure is required to provide the necessary prizes at some of the Rifle Association meetings, which will take place very shortly. The other items are not of a contentious character. Under these circumstances, I trust that honorable members will allow the Bill to pass as quickly as possible.
– I raise po objection to the passing of this Bill. As has been stated by the Treasurer, the measure was prepared at my instance, because, irrespective of a new Government coming into office, it would have been necessary to obtain Supply. Yesterday I carefully scrutinized its details, and in my view it is essential that the items outside of the ordinary salary votes for August should be passed at the earliest opportunity, with a view to maintaining the efficiency of the Departments.
– When the Treasurer previously filled his present office, a promise was made that a refund should be granted of certain money which was paid by way of duty upon trophies. I believe that the ex-Treasurer also assented to that course. As an urgent necessity exists for closing the accounts in connexion with the recent fire brigade demonstration, I wish to ask the Treasurer whether he will make provision in the next Supply Bill for the refund in question?
– The amounts must appear upon the Estimates, and be voted in the ordinary way. They do not constitute ordinary expenditure.
– Some special items are contained in this Bill.
– No; except so far as the purchase of ammunition is concerned.
– I wish to call the attention of the Treasurer to a public work of a very urgent character, for which the Parliament provided ^12,000 last year, namely, ,£7,000 for construction and £5,000 for armament, although nothing has been done up to the present time* I refer to the defence works at Fremantle.
– What became of the money which was voted?
– I shall deal with that matter presently. Some time ago an arrangement was made with the Government of Western Australia under which that State agreed to provide the necessary land for the purpose of the fort at Arthur’s Head, and to regard it as transferred property. The public buildings standing upon the land were demolished, and everything was in readiness to give effect to the wishes of Parliament by proceeding with the erection of the fort. Difficulties, however, arose. The present Treasurer was of the opinion that the work, when finally completed, would involve an expenditure considerably in excess of that which was understood by Parliament when the £t 2,000 was voted, and therefore he urged me to refrain from expending £7,000 of the amount. He thought that we had not taken Parliament sufficiently into our confidence, and eventually the course which he suggested was adopted by the Government. He, however, undertook to lay the whole matter before Parliament, and to provide a sufficient sum for the current year’s expenditure. He also promised to recommend that the necessary financial provision should be made for carrying out to completion the work in its entirety. Last year Parliament voted £5,000 to provide one gun for that fort. I regret to say that this amount was practically used by my honorable friend the then Minister for Defence, without my knowledge, but that fact will in no way militate against the progress and completion of the work. I rise chiefly to remind the Treasurer of the understanding which was arrived at by the Government of which we were both members, and to express the hope that on the EstimatesinChief he will give effect to that understanding, which I at the time communicated to the people of Western Australia.
– I should like to emphasize the remarks made by the right honorable member for Swan, and to remind him that this is not the first occasion on which this matter has been mentioned in the House. It is only due to the late Government that I should mention that, on my representation, they agreed to provide on the Estimates for 1904-5 a sufficient sum to carry out these defence works, and that I informed the people of Fremantle that this course was to be pursued. I am glad that the right honorable member has confessed that it was with his consent that the money voted by the House for the carrying out of these works was not spent as proposed.
– I did not say that. It went very much against my grain to see the money devoted to another purpose.
– The right honorable member said that he was approached by the Treasurer of the , Government of which he was a member, and that he agreed to the £12,000 voted for certain defence works being devoted to another purpose, while the sum of , £5,000, voted for a gun, was commandeered without his knowledge by the honorable member for Eden-Monaro when holding office as Minister of Defence. I did not have the honour of being a member of the last Parliament, so that I am not familiar with the course of actdon which it adopted ; but I was somewhat astonished to find that the House had permitted a vote passed for a specific purpose to be devoted to another object. The reappointment felt by the people of Fremantle because of the failure to carry out these defence works was very keen. This is, I take it, a reasonable opportunity for me- to express my disappointment that in the newlyformed Administration, Western Australia has not a direct representative. I do not intend to refer . at any great length to the -personnel of the Government which meets the House for the first time to-day, or to any act that they may or may not have committed ; but it is only fair to point out that the reason given bythe Prime Minister for the non-inclusion of a representative of Western Australia in his Cabinet is that honorable members from that State are not to his political liking.
– If the honorable member will allow me to say-
– Does the right honorable gentleman rise to a point of order?
– I wish to say, if my honorable friend will allow me. that it is not a fact that I gave the reason mentioned by him. That is all. I suppose any one has a right-
– Order. The honorable member for Fremantle will proceed.
– I am quite sure that the Prime Minister does not wish to keep this side of the House as silent this week as it was last week. If he has any such desire there is no hope of its realization. I do not wish to criticise the present Administration, but I take this, the first opportunity, to express my deep regret thai: it does not comprise a representative of Western Australia, and to say that the reason which has been given in the press for the non-representation of that State in the Cabinet is one which ought not to be advanced by a statesman.
– Hear, hear.
– I shall reserve what I have to say on this subject for some future occasion. I hope that the matter brought forward by the right honorable member for Swan will receive the earnest attention of the Government, and that a suf ficient sum will be provided on the Estimates to enable the work to be completed.
– I may say that I have some recollection of the matter mentioned bv the honorable and learned member for Corio; but that the item, which relates to a refund of duty on trophies, is one for which provision could not be made in a Supply Bill. Such a Bill is passed by the House on the assurance of the Treasurer that it provides for ordinary expenditure and a refund of Customs duties would not. come within that definition. I understand, however, that the Estimates will provide for a refund of the duty in question. Coming to the matter mentioned by the right honorable member for Swan, I think it will be admitted by all who have given the question any consideration that it is absolutely necessary that a certain sum shall be spent on works necessary for the proper defence of Fremantle and North Fremantle. At my request last session honorable members passed a certain item relating to these works, which appeared on the Estimates, together with a footnote that a further sum would be required in order to permit of their completion. That footnote was inserted as the result of information afforded me by the Defence Department, in response to my inquiries ; but when I subsequently discussed the matter with the Minister of Defence and MajorGeneral Hutton I found that a far larger sum - a sum of from £60,000 or £80,000 - would be necessary to enable the. work to be effectively carried out. Honorable members know that it is useless to only partially carry out an undertaking of this kind, and that we must be prepared to vote such a sum as will permit of the construction of the complete work, . so that it may be, not a sham, but a sure defence. In these circumstances I felt that I was not justified in committing Parliament to the larger expenditure, and would not proceed with the work until I had had an opportunity to put the full facts before honorable members, leaving them to decide whether an expenditure larger than I had in the first instance anticipated should be incurred.
– The larger sum is required in connexion with the works at North Fremantle.
– Provision will be made, not on the ordinary, but on the Special Works Estimates, for a considerable sum in relation to this particular work. Certain negotiations which have taken place between the Commonwealth and the Western Australian Governments have cleared the ground to a considerable extentThe State Government have agreed to treat certain lands, in respect of which they formerly asked a large sum, as being part of the property of the transferred Department, and in that way the actual cash outlay which otherwise would have been incurred in connexion with these defence works, has been considerably reduced. I can assure honorable members that the right honorable member for Swan was in no way to blame for what occurred. He desired that the work should proceed, but I have always held that a Treasurer has no right to sanction a work which will involve a larger expenditure than was’ anticipated until he has placed all the facts before Parliament, and enabled it to say whether the increased expenditure should be incurred. I repeat, however, that a considerable sum will be provided for in the next Special’ Works Estimates. When those Estimates are brought down, the whole of the facts will be placed before honorable members, and it will be for the Committee of Supply to say whether the larger expenditure proposed is justified. After investigating the matter, as well as I was able to do, with the assistance of the responsible officer, I came to the conclusion that it was one which might well, be incurred.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Resolution reported and adopted.
Motion (by Mr. Reid) proposed -
That the, Standing Orders be suspended in order to enable all steps to be taken to obtain supply, and to pass a Supply Bill through all its stages without delay.
– I, like the leader of the Opposition, must congratulate the Prime Minister on the manner in which he has obtained office.
– I would remind the honorable member that the question before the House is whether or not the Standing Orders shall be suspended, and that it is not competent for him, on this motion, to discuss the personnel of the Ministry or its policv.
Mi. MCDONALD- If necessary, Mr/ Speaker. . I shall conclude my remarks bymoving an amendment which will materially broaden the scope of debate, and enable me to discuss such matters. I maintain that I shall be within my legitimate rights in advancing reasons in support of my contention that the Standing
Orders should not be suspended on the ground that the Government have not the confidence of the House.
– To such a line of argument as that, I could not object ; but I did not understand that the honorable member desired to take that course. On the question whether or not the Standing Orders should be suspended, any arguments which may be advanced in support of the honorable member’s contention that the Government have not the confidence of the House might be in order.
– Clause 48.
– I do not propose to deal with clause 48 ; it has nothing to do with this question. I am prepared to take the course I propose to take at the present stage, or to wait until a later stage when the Supply Bill is before honorable members, as on that Bill we can discuss anything we please. If you, sir, think that that would be a more opportune time, I have no desire to place you in an unenviable position, and I shall be pre pared to take that course.
– As I said just now, the honorable member would be in order in arguing the question whether the Standing Orders should be suspended or not, to incidentally refer to such reasons as he mentioned, but I think it would, be more convenient if the honorable member dealt with this matter on the Bill, when putting forward arguments why Supply should not be granted.
– We can give the Government a fair show.
– We intend to give the Government every reasonable consideration. I am prepared to treat them just as they have treated us. They can ask for no more than that. I will defer the remarks I proposed to make until the Bill is introduced, in order that I may not in any way hamper the procedure in connexion with this particular motion.
– Give them time to ring up their supporters.
Question resolved in the affirmative. Resolution of Ways and Means, covering resolution of Supply, adopted.
That Sir George Turner do prepare and bring in a Bill to carry out the foregoing resolution.
Bill presented by Sir George Turner, and read a first time.
Motion (by Sir George Turner) proposed -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– Probably this is a more convenient time to offer the few general remarks I propose to make.
– I think the best time would be on the message to send the Bill to the Senate.
– I have no doubt that the right honorable gentleman would. prefer that nothing should be said on the matter at all.
– I wish to have the first word - that is all.
– Very likely; and no doubt the right honorable gentleman would like to have a good many last words also. When the Labour Party took office under the honorable member for Bland, the Prime Minister rose in this chamber and told us that that honorable member had no right whatever- to accept the responsibility of office, because he had not a majority behind him.
– Who said that?
– The right honorable gentleman who now sits at the head of the present Government.
– I thought it was the right honorable member for Swan.
– The right honorable gentleman was not content with saying that in this Chamber, but he went whining about the country, telling people that inasmuch as he did not send for himself, instead of the leader of the Labour Party, when the Government, led by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat resigned, the action of the Governor-General had been unconstitutional.
– It has all come right in the end.
– The end is not yet.
– Now, what has been the action of the right honorable gentleman ? Despite his continual whine about his not having been sent for on that occasion, we find that he has accepted a similar commission from the Governor-General, knowing full well at the time that he had not a majority behind him, and knowing also that he could not secure a majority except by humiliating himself and those honorable members whom he had to recommend to His Excellency as responsible Ministers. The right honorable gentleman, when he came back from his interview with the GovernorGeneral, was like a man who had secured a mining concession. He started to hawk it around where he could make most of it. He went first to the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, and that honorable and learned gentleman sent him on to the right honorable member for Balaclava, by whom he was passed on to the honorable member for Gippsland.
– The honorable and learned member for Ballarat would have nothing to do with the right honorable gentleman.
– The honorable and learned member would not take any stock in the syndicate.
– That was the position ; the honorable- and learned member for Ballarat refused to have anything at all to do with the right honorable gentleman. He said, “ No ; I have only made one political mistake in my life, and that was in joining a Coalition Government.” The honorable and learned gentleman refused to have anything to do with the Prime Minister, but he passed him on to the right honorable member for Balaclava. We have then this humiliating spectacle in the present leader of the Government. - The right honorable gentleman went, cap in hand, to the present Treasurer, and said to him, “ Although I am Prime Minister of this Commonwealth, I am only in that position nominally ; I am not really Prime Minister, because you will have co-ordinate powers with myself.”
An Honorable Member. - The right honorable gentleman sublet half of his contract.
– As the honorable member says, the right honorable gentleman sublet the formation of half of the Government’.
– Subletting is illegal.
– The Government propose to work on the butty-gang system.
– I hope that we shall not find, in this instance, the amount of sweating which usually takes place in connexion with a contract which has been sublet. After finding fault with the ex-Prime Minister, because he did not inform the GovernorGeneral that he could not command a majority, surely it was the absolute duty of the right honorable member for East Sydney to give that assurance? But the right honorable gentleman had a party of only four. His whole party, all he could rake together, numbered no more than four. Not only was that so; but when- he came to deal with the members of the other party, they said, “ We will join you, but you must swallow the whole of your life-long principles.” The right honorable gentleman had to swallow his Life-long principles, and had to include in his Ministry men for whom he has the greatest contempt.
– Not contempt.
– The honorable member must know that I am not speaking in. a personal, but in a purely political, sense. I remember that some time ago the right honorable member for East Sydney delivered a very great oration, as we all know he can do, in the Melbourne Town Hall, and on that occasion he referred to the Labour Party as the “ Steerage Party.”
– That is where the true gentlemen are - the true democrats-
– I was present in the Town Hall when the right honorable gentleman made those remarks, and I know that he did not intend them as a compliment to the Labour Party.
– The right honorable gentleman said lhat every protectionist was a coward.
– There was another incident at that particular meeting of which I have a very vivid recollection.’ I remember that the right honorable gentleman referred to the present leader of the Executive Council in another place, Senator Drake. The right honorable gentleman, in a sneering sort of way, said, “ Now, there is that great and glorious statesman Mr. Drake !” That remark brought rounds of applause. But now we find that this gentleman has been also swallowed by the right honorable member.
– There is lots of room !
– The right honorable gentleman came down to the House and, I think, on sixteen or seventeen occasions - I cannot give the exact number - told us that he intended to move a no-confidence motion. Every day the unfortunate reporters for the newspapers were waiting outside his door to ascertain just when he intended to move this motion.
– The honorable member did not believe it, did he?
– We were all deceived. The right honorable gentleman had other designs for getting upon the Treasury bench. First of all, he came to the conclusion that he must kill the Deakin Government. The method he adopted was that a number of his supporters should vote in a certain direction upon a certain clause, it being distinctly stated that if a certain proposal were carried it would kill the Bill.
– They were wreckers.
– They were wreckers of the Bill, and at the same time desired to defeat the Deakin. Government. That Government was defeated. The right honorable gentleman pursued exactly the same course in connexion with the late Government. He was not prepared to move a no-confidence motion. He was aware that if he submitted a straightforward honest proposal of that nature he would be defeated. He could not possibly have carried such a motion. Therefore, he endeavoured to attain his purpose by carrying an adverse vote upon a clause which .was vital to the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill. I should not have spoken at this length, except that we know the right honorable gentleman and his methods, and we are aware that during the next three weeks he will be granting interviews and delivering addresses in different parts of the country. It is therefore necessary that we should as far as possible put our case before the public. The late Prime Minister is too modest on an occasion like this. There is such courtesy in his disposition, .that he wishes to grant to the present Government a concession similar to that which he thinks was granted to him on a recent occasion.
– We will give the Government courtesy as soon as we have the numbers !
– We have the numbers to-day.
– We have the numbers now, and the Prime Minister will either have to “ stone-wall “ this Bill, or he goes out.
– I would not even encourage a debate upon a question of urgency.
– The right ‘honorable member cannot complain. I did not complain when he did not submit a straightout vote of no confidence in the late Government. Honorable members opposite were quite within their rights. They had a perfect right to adopt the method which they did adopt, if they thought fit. Personally, I should not have taken the course which’ they adopted, because I thought it was a very questionable one; but technically speaking they were within their constitutional rights. But they must not blame us for taking a similar course when we think it expedient. It is just as well that we should face the situation. I am giving a start to a discussion which I trust will afterwards be carried on with more vigour and ability than I can command. When the Prime Minister had defeated the Deakin Government, he endeavoured to bring about a combination. Just here I feel that something ought to be said concerning the action of the honorable and learned member for Ballarat. The Prime Minister and the honorable and learned member to whom I have referred, came to a certain agreement. Of course, we have no right to object to their coming to an agreement, but what I did object to was that while the honorable and learned member for Ballarat had signed an agreement with the head of the present Government to form a coalition, he was at the same time negotiating with our party.
– The honorable and learned member for Ballarat never signed an agreement for a coalition.
– He signed an agreement to this effect - that the terms were to be submitted to his party. But while he signed that, and was negotiating with the Free-trade Party, he was also negotiating with the Labour Party. That, to my mind, was a base act of treachery. Suppose, for a moment, that the Labour Party had agreed to the terms desired by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat. What would have been the result ? Probably he would have gone to his party and recommended it to sell itself to the highest bidder.
– Has not the honorable member heard of a party in this Parliament which made such a proposal ?
– No; I have never heard of a party that did so. Anything that the Labour Party has ever done, we are prepared to bring to the light of day. I am blaming the leader of the Deakin Government for the action which he took on that occasion. I maintain that to negotiate terms of agreement with the Labour Party, and also with the right honorable member at the head of the Government, was hot a fair deal. What came of it? When we hear, from time to time statements made about the members of the Labour Party signing away their liberty because they have signed a pledge, I ask in what position are other honorable members? What was the position of the head of the Government, and the honorable and learned member for Ballarat when they entered into an agreement? They signed an agreement. Now we “have a pledged party on the other side. Honorable members of that party, who, we were told, could always take each other’s word, decided, on this particular occasion, that they would have an agreement drawn up in- black and white, so that none might back down. ‘ I hope that for the future we shall not hear any more about the Labour Party being compelled to sign a pledge, seeing that the leaders of the party opposite cannot trust one another without a similar precaution. There is another little matter which I think ought to be mentioned, though only casually, because there will be ample opportunity later on to enlarge on these topics. I can remember when a Tariff was being passed by this House. The present Prime Minister then, in his place in Opposition, made such a pathetic appeal on behalf of poor little children, whose boots were subject to a duty of 30 per cent., that the ladies in the gallery were obliged to use their handkerchiefs; indeed, the honorable gentle- i man’s own tears dropped on his notes
I as he spoke. At one moment he fairly wept, and the next he yelled, at the top of his voice, denunciations of what he termed the outrageous duties of 30 per cent, on hats and boots. But what do we find now? The honorable gentleman has swallowed the 30 per cent, on boots, and the 30 per cent, on hats, and what has become of the little children of whom he spoke does not matter, because he has now attained the ambition of his life - he has become Prime Minister of Australia. However, as I say, there will be ample time later on to deal with these matters ; but before I sit down I should like to ask the honorable member for Gippsland whether he feels nice and comfortable in his present position ? That honorable member advocated the stock tax to its fullest extent, while the Prime Minister vigorously denounced that impost ; but now we find those gentlemen arm in arm.
– “Adversity makes us acquainted with strange bed-fellows.”
– That is quite true. What does this Government, with its mixed elements, propose to do? The Prime Minister, and those who support him, once talked about the rule of the caucus; but what is their own position now ? They are so bound hand and foot that not one can move. Even the Prime Minister dare not take independent action, as a Prime Minister should, because he has to consult his co-equal in the Cabinet.
– His equal in all things.
– That is . so. Talk about shackles ! Why, the Prime Minister is chained up more than any man of whom I have yet heard of in political life. In what little experience I have had of politics I have never heard’ of a gentleman accepting the position of Prime Minister who allowed himself to be shackled as the leader of the present Government has on this occasion. I hope that the Commonwealth will never see a similar spectacle - that the Commonwealth will never see another gentleman so degrade his position ns to be only half a Prime Minister. I shall not, however, pursue that line of comment ; I see I am treacling on dangerous ground. I have had my little innings this afternoon, and others may follow me if they so desire. In any case, there is not the slightest doubt that at the end of three weeks, just before this Government are turned out. we shall have ample opportunity to let them know what we think. The Prime Minister cannot take exception to the course which T am following; the example has been set by himself. When the amendment was submitted, which resulted in the defeat of the late Government, the Prime Minister was told that the tactics to which he was then resorting might be used against himself; and I promise the honorable gentleman that, so long as I sit in the House, I shall fully avail myself of such tactics as are within my knowledge. The present Government and their supporters had. no doubt, a perfect right to displace the late Government, even by the questionable methods then adopted; and the Labour Party have no cause to feel discontented. We are a growing party; indeed, we are the most powerful political party in Australia. There never has been a similar party in this country ; and our great power is shown in the fact that the chief political leaders of Australia have had to swallow their life-long principles in order to obtain a momentary victory. The Labour Party could not have been beaten in any other way than that which the late Opposition followed. The power of our party is growing from day to day; and honorable members opposite, who see that it is ultimately going to rule the Commonwealth clutch at a straw in the hope of arresting our progress. I congratulate the Prime Minister on selecting, as his coequal, the honorable member for Gippsland - a gentleman whose fine democratic and advanced ideas are well known all over Australia, although it is a . fact that he always gives a Conservative vote. We now have the extreme protectionist in the person of the honorable member for Gippsland, and the extreme free-trader in the person of the Prime Minister, in the same Government- Those gentlemen might rightly be termed the “ heavenly twins,” though whether they will ever wear the heavenly wreaths is quite another matter. I regret that the Prime Minister has already had to announce a slight split in the Cabinet, he having had to accept another co equal in place of the gentleman he desired to have. In any case, I can assure him that he has my hearty congratulations on his attainment of the 1 osition he now occupies ; and 1 also can assure him that there are a large number of honorable members on this side who will give him encouragement and ample opportunity to deal with the business of the House.
– I rise to congratulate the Prime Minister and his colleagues on the feat they have accomplished during the last few days. I am not going to complain - I have no right to complain - of the turn events have taken in regard to the Ministry of the Commonwealth. As a labourite, who belongs to the advancing army of democracy, I am delighted to find that at last, after only a few years of organizing and of political work, we have, bv the aid of the arch Conservative of the Commonwealth, separated those who are with us from those who are against us. That fact is now indicated by the seats honorable members occupy in this House. The position of parties to-day. in this Parliament, is to me a pleasing feature in the political history of the Commonwealth. No one in the ranks of the Labour Party ever expected that the time would come so quickly when we should be able, without any doubt, to single out our opponents and mark them off for what they are. What is the obiect of this strange combination that we see? The honorable member for Kennedy has hinted at the object as though it was something which was unwelcome to the people of Australia. In the Cabinet I see elements which, before the Labour Partv became the factor that it is. fought bitterly one against the other, on the alleged sacred principles of protection or free-trade. But when fhev find, as they do to-day, that the Labour Party has been growing anace like the bav tree, and is spreading its branches over the democracv nf Australia, and welcoming converts from every side, what dp they do in order to “ down ‘ ‘ that party ? They do what has never been witnessed in the history of any Legislature within the Empire. What will .those persons who for years have admired the - standard-bearer of the glorious doctrines of free-trade and liberty say when he returns to Sydney, and they recognise that the banner under which they have worshipped and fought has been changed, and that it is not merely a question of “yes” to-day and “ no “ to-morrow, but is a question of “Yes - no” perpetually? “Yesno” is a fitting conjunction of words to describe this Cabinet. It is no longer a question of altering opinions. We have before us a combination which is unprecedented in the political history of this country. Of course the Labour Party are highly delighted, because, whilst our right honorable friend on the opposite ‘ side imagines that he is going, as it were, to steal a march on the army of democracy by singling out those respected protectionists who have long commanded the respect of their party, and believes that he will thereby bring behind the Cabinet the large mass of the protectionist support, is it likely that that will happen ? When he appeals to the country he will get the support of only the Conservative section of the protectionists. The democratic section of the party will never stand behind a Conservative Cabinet such as they see in this Chamber to-day. What is the position ? A new line of demarcation has to-day been laid down in the political history of the country. Hitherto the protectionists have been combined, and have worked in unison, believing that the doctrine they preached was for the benefit of all. But to-day we find that the people, by reason of education on the fiscal question, are beginning to realize that there are two sections in the Protectionist Party, just as there are two sections in the Freetrade Party. The people are beginning to realize that the Conservative protectionist is the man who wants protection so that he can favour the manufacturer all the time, so that monopolies may grow and overshadow the rights, the liberties, and the very living of the people. The people are beginning to realize that there are Conservative protectionists who are prepared to work for monopolies every day they sit on the benches here, every day they speak in support of their principles. The Democratic protectionists comprise the men who have sympathy with the toiling men and women in our factories, who wish to make the lives of these people brighter than they have been. This section of the protectionists are going to tear themselves asunder from the old monopolistic protectionists, and stand by the people for whom they are fighting. The Liberal protectionist who to-day stands by the people in the interests of that fiscal faith, as it might be called, says, “We want to make work in this country ; we want protection, not merely for articles of manufacture, but also for the lives and the freedom of the workers in those industries. We desire that the conditions under which the people work in protected industries shall be such as to tend to their advancement. We desire that these people shall be allowed to work under conditions which will improve their constitutions, and make them better members of society. We desire that they shall work for only so many hours a clay, so that they may have some time for recreation and education. We desire also that the people who work in protected industries shall have preserved to them the right to obtain a living wage for their labour.” That is the position of the Liberal protectionist todayThe right honorable member for East Sydney is. welcome to his allies. He has selected the most Conservative Cabinet which has ever been created in Australia. If he had questioned every man in the Chamber he could not have succeeded in constructing a more Conservative Cabinet that he leads today, and I congratulate him on his work. It is a distinct step in advance for the labour movement. We know exactly who are our foes, and what we have to meet. Hitherto we have been deceived, to some extent, by men who have professed to be the friends of the people, whether as protectionist; or free-traders. We have been deceived by the platform utterances of these men. when they have been appealing to the proletariat to give them place and power. They will no longer be able to throw dust in the eyes of the toilers, because the men who are fighting for the toilers have severed themselves - for ever, I hope - from gentlemen who are prepared to support a protective policy only so long as it gives a monopoly to the capitalist and a greater pull out of the Customs duties which the Parliament has imposed. I do not intend to deal unfairly with the Government, although they have not shown to me or to the party I belong to that fairness which we might have expected to receive. I recognise that two wrongs do not make a right. I do not intend to mete out the same treatment to those honorable members who would not allow me to speak the other day, who kept me within .the four corners of the strictest rules of debate, who were always raising points of order, and making interjections irrelevant and otherwise. As I said during that debate, I would not support nv party in taking a mean advantage of any other party, but whenever war is proclaimed, and the field is cleared for action, I stand in the front ranks, or, if necessary, behind as a powder monkey, to assist to force the battle to an honorable conclusion, to the end that the best side may win. We expect to meet those honorable gentlemen - those free-traders, those protectionists, those “ pro-traders “ and “ freetectionists “ - whom we can now define, so far as Socialism is concerned, who have sunk their principles and combined for the sole purpose of securing place and power. 1 tell the right honorable member for East Sydney, without fear or hesitation, that never before, in Australia, did a leader display such anxiety to attain the ambition of his life, show such eagerness when he thought that it was within his grasp, or so abuse the ordinarymethods of fair play. I could forgive the honorable and learned gentleman for the methods he has used, but how can any one forgive a man who has sacrificed those life-long principles which have kept him in politics for so many years ? I. have heard the right honorable gentleman declare in the Town Hall at Sydney, and in other parts of the Commonwealth, that free-trade is the doctrine for which he has the highest admiration. We all know his characteristic style. If he cannot influence an audience by his logic or his rhetoric, he will gain their support by his humour. But notwithstanding his versatility, I am sure that New South Wales free-traders and Victorian protectionists alike must feel that they have been deceived. He has left free-trade at the mercy of the protectionists, and is being supported to-day by men whose arch enemy he was a year or two ago. I keenly sympathize with the democratic free-traders who stand behind this conservative combination: ] know how they are hobbled and haltered The Prime Minister complimented them in the press the other morning for their loyalty to him. He said, “They never questioned me. They followed me whether I did right 01 wrong. Even when I took an unmanly attitude in regard to the Labour Government I was able to tell them to sit down, and they sat down.” Even the most robust member of the right honorable gentleman’s party, the honorable and learned member for Werriwa, a pitherto untamable character, whom the Prime Minister was never before able to bring under his hypnotic eye, was compelled to be silent on that occasion. When that debate was in progress, I said that it was unfair to tie the hands of the Labour Party, and that it was also unfair to tie the hands of the democratic section of the free-trade party. But what does unfairness matter to a man who is eager for office. There are democrats behind the right honorable gentleman, who for years have fought for democracy ; but they have succumbed to his hypnotic influence in a manner which I did not think possible. We look to them to help us to carry out the great work of liberal reform ; but to-day they are bound and helpless, and unable to say a word in defence of their position. We know how uncomfortable they must feel, because they are Radicals at heart, and represent constituencies of working men, who know what they want. Yet these unfortunate members have to support the most conservative Ministry that has yet been hatched in Australian politics. Why did not the Prime Minister exercise some charity towards them? Why did he not allow them to say a word in defence’ of their position? Why did he not allow them to act as free men, instead ‘ of gagging them, and binding them hand and feet ? The Labour Government were put out on a technicality, and by methods repugnant to British instincts of fair play. The followers of the present Prime Minister were not allowed to exercise the right of free speech, and to criticise the policy or administration of the late Government. All that we heard on this side of the Chamber, hour after hour, was “ Clause 48.” If the present Government receive similar treatment, they will have no ground for” complaint. My political existence has been threatened by those who have humiliated so many of my old colleagues ; but I am ready to go down fighting for the cause which I have supported so long. I would rather die than haul down my flag, as some men have done. It is a degrading thing that a man who has received the Cobden Medal, and who has spoken for years on the advantages of free-trade, should now combine with men who have supported a policy which he bag referred to as industrial. strangulation. What a blot upon Australian history it is that there should be such a combination brought about, not to secure the administration of the affairs of the Commonwealth on constitutional lines - because there is nothing but praise to be given to the late Government for the manner in which they administered the affairs of State - and not because the legislation put forward by the late Government was antagonistic to the views of a majority ; but to secure merely personal ends. The members of the’ Labour Party were forced out of their position on the cross benches to take control of the Departments of the Commonwealth, but the nine or ten free-traders who helped to put them in that position have since gone back on their principles, in order to give office to the right honorable member for East Sydney, who has desired it so eagerly and so long. These honorable members, although they condemned the Bill in toto, acting under the hypnotic influence of the Prime Minister, walked over to the other side of the House, in order to give him the opportunity for which he was longing. The Deakin Government went out ostensibly on a matter of principle, and the Labour Party came into power, not at their own desire, but simply because the trap set by the Prime Minister did not serve his purpose. Now, the very men whose votes contributed to place the Labour Government in office have assisted to confer power upon the deadly enemies of democratic legislation. The Prime Minster says that he will take up the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill. He will embrace that measure in the same way that he has embraced the honorable and learned member for Ballarat. The right honorable gentleman is capable of embracing anything. He is such a generous political godfather that he is prepared to adopt anything that comes his way, provided that he can retain power. This has been characteristic of the right honorable gentleman throughout his political career. Many of us are well aware of this, but other honorable members, who have not taken the trouble to inquire closely into his political history, will have cause for regret before very long. Does the right honorable gentleman suppose that when we reach clause 48 of the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill we shall be content to allow it to retain its present form?
– The honorable member must not anticipate the debate on the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill.
– I thought that this motion was broad enough to cover every subject under the sun. If it is not, we shall deal with the Arbitration Bill at another time. -No one desires more than I do to observe the rules of the House, and if I transgress it will be because we are all human, and liable to err. Mr. Spence. - What does the honorable member propose to call the present Government? Is it a Socialistic Ministry - or what ?
– I should call it the arch-conservative combination of the British Empire.
– Every combination ought to be conservative.
– That is, no doubt, a sound proposition. The right honorable gentleman can prepare the way for himself better than any man I know. No matter on which side of the fence he finds himself, he can always give reasons why he should not be on the other side. Many honorable members on the Government benches are very uncomfortable because they are not in their proper positions. I sympathize with them in the same way that I should sympathize with the bird caught in the snare of the fowler. I believe that the time is not far distant when they will realize exactly where they stand. We are not troubled about being relegated to this side of the House. This is the first chance that we have had, as a party, to fight as members of a direct Opposition. The Prime Minister has never before had the Labour Party in direct opposition to him. He should be glad of the opportunity which is now presented to put them to the test in that capacity. Whether his pleasure will be lasting is quite another matter. From to-day it should go forth to the public that the fiscal question has no longer any political existence within the Commonwealth.
– I thought ‘ that the Labour Party was a free- trade-protectionist combination.
– I have nothing to do with what the right honorable member thinks, but I am dealing with the facts presented to us. I sympathize deeply with the deluded free-traders of New South Wales - with those men who have stood by the free-trade flag, and have honestly and sincerely battled for the policy which, in their opinion, would give freedom to the people, and enable them to overcome the difficulties of life with greater success than would be possible under other conditions. These men have travelled miles and miles to hear the Prime Minister, and have worn their boots out in working for the return of his supporters. What are they saying to-day ? I have been in New South Wales for only 48 hours since our meeting on Friday last, and the impression I derived from the demeanour of the free-traders there was that a double funeral was taking place in that State. In the course of my travels I met some of the strongest supporters of the Free-trade policy, and they said, “ What do you think about it? Could you have believed that the Free-trade Party would be sold as they have been ? We worked for years to support the free-trade doctrine, and longed for an opportunity to subject it to a practical test; but alas ! alas ! the man in whom we placed our trust, the idol whom we have worshipped so long, has broken asunder, and has been practically absorbed by the party of which he was the avowed enemy for so many years.”
– Did they say that I was broken asunder ?
– No; they said that the right honorable gentleman was burst asunder. Ambition bursts many men. That tragic consequence has been visited upon some of the greatest men who ever lived, and, politically speaking, ambition has burst the right honorable gentleman. I sympathize, also, with the people of Victoria, who have in the past pinned their faith to the champions of Protection. The honorable and learned member for Ballarat who played such a prominent part in bringing about the coalition, occupies a position which, so far as the fiscal question is concerned, is inexplicable to me. When I first came into this House, I listened with admiration to the eloquence of the honorable and learned member, and I felt that if ever there was a sincere man he was one. Now, however, that I have an opportunity of contrasting the actions of the honorable member with his magnificent oratorical flights, and his assur.ances in connexion with the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, that he did not wish to alter the Bill, except so far as might be necessary to make it read correctly, I am amazed. A few months after I was so favorably impressed by the honorable and learned member I see him sitting side by side with the enemies of democracy, acting as a buffer between the free-trade and protectionist parties, and endeavouring to soften the effects of the collision which must sooner or later come. Why ? Because he hopes that his opportunity will come some other day. Does he stand aloof from the present Ministry because he anticipates that within a comparatively brief period a little inspired message will come from the British Isles, urging the leader of the Government to adopt a policy of preferential trade? Is it not possible that the Prime Minister, who has gone back upon his free-trade principles, will be found advocating such a policy ? I venture to say that he will prove quite equal to the occasion should it arise. He will declare that his duty to the Empire upon which the sun never sets impels him to adopt a policy which will insure to the mother country a certain amount of freedom from the competition of those nations which are fast wresting her commercial supremacy from her hands- If that be the secret of the split which, has taken place between the Conservative protectionists and the Liberal protectionists, we shall know it very shortly. At any rate, I cannot congratulate the honorable and learned member for Ballarat upon his action in practically strangling the Arbitration Bill. I appeal to the democracy of Australia, irrespective of whether they be free-traders or protectionists, to be “ up and doing,” because our day is coming. The sun is up ; it has not yet set. I urge the democracy of the Commonwealth to prepare for the political battle which is inevitable. The Liberal Party will be no longer sundered by rival fiscal creeds. Its members will meet their opponents in a fair hand-to-hand fight. I welcome that fight, and I rejoice at the prospect of affording the people of Australia an opportunity to combat their arch enemy. In my opinion, the life of this Government will be a brief one. Our turn must come, and it will last so long as we serve a majority of the electors, so long as we make Australia a better country than it is, and so long as we continue to remove the shackles of those who. are oppressed. When our party resumes responsibility it will continue to hold office, whilst that which is led by the Prime Minister will rapidly sink into decay.
– In view of the charges which were recently made by honorable members opposite to the effect that they were “ gagged “ - -
– The gag is now removed.
– Since the supporters of the late Government crossed to the Opposition side of the chamber they have ungagged themselves. When they sat behind the Watson Administration we heard no fiery invective from the honorable member foi’ Gwydir.
– I was “ gagged “ last week, otherwise the honorable member would have heard me to some purpose.
– The honorable member was not “gagged “ by the Opposition.
– Did we not hear the honorable member for Gwydir upon this day week ?
– We did, and as far as I am aware, he could have continued to address the House until the present time.
– No; the debate ‘upon the motion which he submitted was interrupted at half-past 4 o’clock.
– That marked only one stage of the proceedings. It seems strange that this little rift in the lute is now being held up to scare the protectionists of Australia. An effort is being made to show that, as the result of the action of some honorable members in recording an important vote last week, the protective policy’ of the Commonwealth is in jeopardy. That is the whole burden of the song of the honorable member for Gwydir. He accuses those protectionists whom the Prime Minister has taken into his Cabinet, of being Conservative protectionists.
Honorable Members. - Hear, hear.
– Those who are acquainted with the political history of the gentlemen who now form part and parcel of the Reid-McLean Administration, know that they were the standard bearers of liberalism, progress, and protection throughout Victoria before the honorable member for Gwydir entered public life. The workers of this State - not the monopolistic manufacturers - have to thank the present Treasurer, and the Minister of Trade and Customs, for whatever industrial advantages they enjoy to-day “Mr. McDonald. - The honorable member should read the State Hansard reports of McLean on Turner and Turner on McLean.
– It is true that they had their political differences in the State Parliament ; but it is well that the people of Australia should be reminded that the only vital point of difference between them was in respect of the method to be adopted to reform the Victorian Constitution. So far as I am aware, it was only in regard to that matter that any difference ever occurred between them as leaders of their respective parties. One believed that the proper method to a’dopt was to give Parliament an opportunity first of all to make an effort to bring the Constitution up to date; while the honorable member for Gippsland, who was then Premier of Victoria, held that the matter should be dealt with by a Convention, somewhat similar to that which framed the Federal Constitution. I think I am justified in putting these facts before the House, in view of the suggestion on the part of the Opposition that at one time there was considerable rivalry and jealousy between these honorable gentlemen. Both have fought for liberalism and progress, and for the industrial welfare of Victoria, yet the Opposition to-day hold them up to ridicule as representing the Conservative section of the political life of Victoria. ‘
– The Conservative section are supporting the Government to-day.
– Honorable members of the Opposition would have us believe that that is so.
– The Argus is supporting them.
– All the Conservative forces are with them.
– Be that as it may, I propose to place a few hard facts before this House.
– The honorable member is protesting too much.
– I am not protesting, but I wish to place a few facts before the people, who are the jury that will determine this question. Some reference has been made to the position of the Protectionist Party, and the side on which they ought to sit. But what had the Protectionist Party, to expect from the late Government? What assistance did they receive from honorable members of the Labour Party when the Tariff Bill was before the House? Was there a more bitter opponent of the Protectionist Tariff, as introduced, than was the ex-Minister of External Affairs? He was, if anything, a stronger opponent of the Tariff than was even the present Prime Minister. What attitude did the late Government take up when they were questioned on notice as to their intention with regard to the Manufactures Encouragement Bill? Did they say that they would deal with it as a matter of Government policy? No; they simply stated that after consideration they were prepared to allow a private member to take charge of the Bill, and to afford him an opportunity to submit it to the consideration of the House.
– Will the present Government take up that Bill? ,
– They have not been asked.
– The honorable member should question them on the subject.
– I shall make it my business to do so; because it relates to a matter to which I am pledged. Not only the free-trade members of the House, but the Labour Party as a party helped to kill the Bill as introduced by the Barton Government.
– It was. not made a party question.
– It is absolutely true that the Labour Party, with the late Prime Minister at their head, and with the assistance of the free-trade section of the House, killed the Bill. What had protectionists, who desire to secure bonuses for agricultural and manufacturing purposes, to expect from the late Government?
– The’ honorable member should say something with regard to the Victorian butter bonus.
– Let that matter stand by itself.
– It is quite strong enough to do so.
– That is so. I have nothing to say in support of the degree of commercial morality-
M..r. KENNEDY.- I have nothing to say in support of the standard of morality which, according to the evidence given before the Butter Commission, obtains in our commercial community. But what has that matter to do with the present political situation ?
– Those who are being exposed by the Commission are not members of the Labour Party.
– Labour members are not always angels of sweetness and light; they have attained the average-
– It is a “ Kyabramite “ who is now being exposed.
– That may, or may not be so. Honorable members opposite may choose to charge me with “ Kyabramism,” but they seem to forget that at the last election I had the pleasure of fighting the Chairman of the Reform League.
– We merely say that the honorable member is in bad company.
– With such an opponent I may have been in bad company, but circumstances have forced me into the company in which I now find myself. Much stress has been laid on the allegation that the protectionists are to-day in bad company, but what had we to hope from the late Government?
– The honorable member admits that there are more protectionists on this side than on the Government side of the House.
– That merely goes to show that there are more protectionists gone wrong. What has the industrial life of Victoria ever been able to obtain from the Labour Party, so far as the protectionist policy is concerned? The party prides itself on being a body of fiscal athiests.
An Honorable Member. - Not the majority of them.
– Why is it that they gave no adhesion to fiscal principles when the Tariff Bill was before Parliament?
– What did the freetrade party do for the industrial life of Australia ?
– What is the honorable member for Bourke squealing about? He has probably been forced into his proper position - a position which he should have occupied before. I wish him luck.
– He is sitting where the honorable member should be.
– That is a matter for the people of Moira to determine. The honorable member is not the guardian ‘of my conscience or of my political principles. What hope had he of passing the Manufactures Encouragement Bill while the late Government was in office?
– Every hope.
– What was the reply which the honorable member received when he inquired what course the Government intended to take in regard to that Bill? He was simply informed that the Government would afford him an opportunity to bring in the Bill before the House. Will he ask the present Government to accord him the same privilege?
– I would not ask for any privilege from them. So far as I am concerned, it will be a stand-up fight against them.
– It is immaterial to me on which side of the House I sit ; I am not stripped of my political principles from my support of any party.
– That reduces the Government majority to one.
– It does not so far as the Government programme is concerned-
– The programme of the Reid-McLean Administration has not yet been published.
– It is bound to be a “ crawling one.”
– A programme was formulated by the party now in office, and we were told by the late Government that it in no way differed from their own.
– That being so, why were the late Government displaced?
– That is a question which the honorable member will have to decide for himself. The late Government selected their own battle-ground, and said that if a certain vote were given they would have to leave the Treasury benches. That vote was given, and their lamentations are now being poured forth.
– Where? All we say is that we had no chance to fairly deal with the position.
– I venture to say that the Opposition will have ample opportunity to reflect.
– I am afraid it will not be very long before we shall have to get to work again.
– Honorable members may yet see the error of their ways. I am really delighted that the enthusiastic supporters of the Government recently dispossessed have found their voices so readily. For the last three months I have been in some doubt whether they ha’d not pledged themselves to complete silence. Now that they have found their voices again, it is pleasing to reflect that whenever any question comes before us, we shall have their opinions freely expressed. I think that will be found best for all parties. I desire to emphasize the point that these hon- 01 able gentlemen, and more particularly the members of the new organization which has been brought into existence by the circumstances by which we have been confronted during the last few days - the members of the Liberal Protectionist Association, which is going to be the be-all and end-all of industrial life in Australia - those honorable members appear to forget that so far as protection, as represented on the statute-book, is concerned, the electors of Australia, at the last general election, decided what the policy of this Parliament should be. They decided that the Tariff should not be interfered with, except in connexion with questions incidental to preferential trade. Now what are honorable members talking about? They are claiming now that the re-opening of the Tariff was the practical business for which protectionists were sent into this Parliament. How utterly absurd that is, and especially coming from such honorable members as the honorable member for Bourke, and the secretary of the Protectionist Association.
– Surely it is the business of protectionists to see that protection does not disappear?
– Is there any danger to protection, so far as it is represented by the Tariff, whilst the honorable member for Gippsland is administering the Customs Department ?
– Yes; there is.
– I have as much confidence in that honorable gentleman’s administration of the Tariff as I have admiration and respect for its administration by the late Minister of Trade and Customs, the honorable member for Wide Bay, by whom the letter, and spirit of the Customs Act was faithfully adhered to.
– Does the honorable member not think that there is some danger when the protectionist party is split into two ?
– Before honorable members who complain that the protectionist party is split into two accuse members of another party, thev should take a little retrospective view of the situation, and ask themselves who is to blame for the split? They should not accuse the other fellow of all the sins in the Decalogue.
– Surely those protectionists who are now supporting the freetraders are to blame for the split?
– Might I ask what is the fiscal creed of the party whom the honorable member is now supporting? They represent no fiscal creed.
– The majority of the party are protectionists, whilst the majority of the party which the honorable member is supporting are free-traders.
– How is the majority of the party to be ascertained ? Has the honorable member for Bourke any proof that the majority of the party, in the tail of which he is the smallest joint, have any fiscal creed of their own ?
– Has the honorable member any proof that the free-traders will help him?
– It is not expected that they will help us.
– They are not traitors.
– That is just whatthey are - a whole set of traitors - and the right honorable, gentleman is the arch-traitor of the lot.
– I have this comforting reflection, that as soon as there is any deviation from the programme laid down, or the policy I am here to support, the honorable gentlemen who constitute the present Cabinet know that they cannot hope for any allegiance of mine. My political principles will not be wrecked for the support of any party. With that confidence’ between us, it does not lie in the mouth of any honorable member, and especially of the honorable member for Gwydir, whose movements have taken him round the political compass, to reproach me. I appreciate the sympathy which honorable members opposite have extended to honorable members on this side, but I may be permitted to say that, so far as I am concerned^ I am not in the least degree uncomfortable.
– The honorable member ought to be.
– It is not what I ought to be, but what I actually am. ‘ When I am looking for a leader for my fiscal .creed, it is absolutely useless for me to look to a party who, while proclaiming themselves the party of the industrial workers of Austra-Iia, are without any fiscal creed whatever.
– When I came in just now I had not the slightest intention of saying a word. I really cannot understand why it is that the honorable member who has just resumed his seat should have spoken with such heat.
– No heat at all.
– The honorable member had to justify himself.
– There was certainly a very considerable glow, if there was no heat. It appears to me that there must be something underlying the very vigorous statements the honorable member made. I hope that the honorable member and I shall continue to be friends, because I admire him. I trust that nothing I shall say will hurt the hon-
orable member’s feelings; but I must say. in reply to the remarks he has made, that I think there is a very much greater probability of protectionists getting some of that which they desire from a party, the majority of whom are protectionists, when they are supported by a .not insignificant minority of protectionists who do not accept the whole programme of the Labour Party as given by them, than from a Free-trade Party. When the honorable member for Moira boasts of thirteen or fourteen straying protectionists going over to the other side, to carry with them about twenty-six or twenty-seven free-traders, he must believe that those thirteen or fourteen misguided Honorable members have very great power over the twenty-six or twentyseven free-traders. The honorable member made an . attack on the honorable member for Bourke which I do not think justified. That honorable member stood by his colours. He is a protectionist, and we on this side who are protectionists have stood by our colours, whilst others have done their very best to destroy the Protectionist Party in this Parliament. If they do not mind what they are about they will absolutely destroy the party and themselves too. The public like consistency ; they do not like any “ Yes-no “ business, nor do they like honorable members who are followers of “ Yes-no” politicians. One is just as objectionable as is the other. The honorable member for Moira asked what chance I had, as honorable member for Hume, of getting an opportunity from the late Government to deal with the Manufactures Encouragement Bill. I say that I had every chance and a promise ‘honestly made, and if it had not been for the action of misguided protectionists who are now following a free-trade leader, the honorable member would have found that this week the Manufactures Encouragement Bill would have been dealt with, and become the law of the land.
– What an escape the country has had.
– By their vote the other night, the protectionists to whom I refer intercepted the opportunity I should have had of dealing with that particular measure. The onus of preventing the consideration of that and similar measures, which would have been of great value to the country, must rest upon them. The honorable member was, therefore, incorrect and unfair when he said that I should not have had an opportunity of dealing with the Manufactures Encouragement Bill. I was faithfully promised that opportunity, and I was promised that once I got the opportunity of dealing with it, the business would have been uninterrupted until the Bill was finally dealt with by the House.
– The honorable member might have had an opportunity as a private member, but not as the member of a Government.
– As a private member I should have had all the rights given by the message. The late Prime Minister was aware of that, and the Speaker also decided that I had as much right to deal with the matter as if it had been ‘dealt with by a member of the Government. Let me again emphasize the fact that the protectionists who voted against the last Government have for the time being destroyed the measure to which reference is made.
– So much the better for the country.
– That is the kind of company that these protectionists are now keeping ! I should not have said a word, except for what fell from the honorable member for Moira, but I feel that an opportunity to deal with this measure which had been offered to me has been intercepted to the serious injury of the iron industry in Australia. A time will come, I hope, when those persons who believe in dealing with a matter of this kind will be able to record their votes with regard to the action of protectionists who have acted as they have done. I presume that the Prime Minister intends to ask for an adjournment for three weeks. That, of course, will be’ granted, but when the House again meets, the question whether the right honorable gentleman has a majority on certain points will have to be tested. Whatever my feelings may be, I have never wavered from my principles as a protectionist, and never shall waver ; and I regret to see joining a free-trade Prime Minister certain honorable members whom I never expected to see in that position, and some of whom personally informed me that they never would join such a combination.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages.
Motion (by Mr. Reid) proposed -
That the House at its rising adjourn until Wed. nesday, 7th September next.
– I have no objection to the adjournment of the House until the 7th September. I think that it is only reasonable that we should allow the Ministry to have time in which to bring down a policy or a programme. We cannot take exception to the . time proposed. But Imust say that the probabilities are that that time will hardly be sufficient to enable the right honorable gentleman to harmonize the discordant elements under his command. Seriously, however, I have no objection to the adjournment.
– I should like to point out that an adjournment until the 7th September gives the Queensland representatives insufficient time to go to their homes. If the adjournment were extended for another week-
– I am quite agreeable; I wish to meet the convenience of honorable members.
– Speaking personally, my position is that I was not able to leave for Queensland on Wednesday, and I have now no opportunity to leave till next Wednesday. I must waste a week either in Melbourne, or on the way to my electorate. The position is awkward. I do not wish to offer any antagonism to the motion, but if the House has no objection I should like the Prime Minister to extend the time for another week.
– As a Western Australian member, who could not get home and return even in the time- suggested by the honorable member for Kennedy, I think that we ought not to ask the Government to adjourn for a longer period than has been asked for. The session is far advanced. We shall soon be approaching Christmas. In the interests of public business we ought not to have a longer adjournment than is necessary. The shortest possible adjournment has, I feel sure, been asked for. I ‘should strongly object to forcing upon the Government a longer adjournment than they consider necessary. In fact, the session has been largely made up of adjournments, and we have done ‘very little useful work. I hope that the Prime Minister will not consent to the suggested extension of the time proposed in the motion.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 4.37 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 18 August 1904, viewed 6 July 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1904/19040818_reps_2_21/>.