2nd Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– I desire, with the indulgence of the House, to make a personal explanation. I have not troubled honorable members in this way before, because I think that as a rule such explanations are a mistake ; but, in his speech yesterday, the Prime Minister made a. statement regarding myself, which, coming from one in the high official position which he occupies, I do not feel free to ignore. His statement was to the effect that, during my term of office in the late Administration, I was most of the time absent from the House, and took little concern in its business. As my late colleagues know well, nothing could be further from the facts.
– Hear, hear.
– I was in the House every parliamentary day, and when not actually within this chamber, listening to excellent arguments excellently repeated, I was in the room behind, doing work for the Government and for the country in connexion with my Department. I also rendered such assistance as was required of me in shaping amendments, and in dealing with clauses. The work of the Arbitration Bill being left to very competent hands -the late Prime Minister and the late Minister of External Affairs - and the work of the Seat of Government Bill also being left to competent hands - the Prime Minister and the Minister of Home Affairs - I remembered that too many cooks may spoil the: broth, and I felt that I should be doing no good by interfering in the course of debates which were already too prolonged. I have1 to thank the right honorable gentleman for having fathered the statement, because, although I have noticed it before as coming from anonymous sources, yesterday was the first time that it was actually and boldly put forth, and his remarks have given me an opportunity to publicly deny it. I felt the accusation very deeply, and particularly because I regarded it as a reflection upon ,ti/ good faith in the circumstances under which I assumed office.
– The honorable and learned member’s own newspaper, the Bulletin, was the first to repeat it.
– This is the first chance I have had to refute it, and I hope that I shall not have to trouble the House with my personal affairs again.
__ My remark was a random one, I admit, and was based upon proceedings in the chamber ; but I most cordially accept the statement of the honorable and learned member. I see that I have quite unintentionally done’ him an injustice.
– How often was the Prime Minister here to see if the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne was or was not present?
– Lately I have1 been here a good deal.
– I wish to ask the Minister of Trade and Customs, - without notice, if the statement which has been attributed to him, that the transfer of Chinese from the other Stales to the Queensland sugar fields would be a desirable policy, was made by him.
– I am sorry that my honorable friend has not extended to me the usual courtesy of mentioning the matter to me beforehand; but I think I can remember pretty accurately what took place on the occasion to which he refers. I presume that the statement of which he speaks is one occurring in a report in the daily press of some remarks made by me under the following circumstances : - The representatives of the newspapers came to me at the end of the day, as they generally do, to see if there were any items of news to be obtained, and among other things they asked me if there was any truth in the reports that Chinese were largely replacing kanakas on the Queensland sugar plantations. I told them that we had no knowledge of any such thing having occurred, that only one application for a bounty had been made by Chinese prior to my taking office, and that on that occasion the applicant showed that he had employed nothing but white labour. One of the reporters asked, “ Do you not think it would be a good thing rather than otherwise, if the Chinese, who are competing with white persons in other industries, would take to sugar planting on their own account?” and’ my reply was, as nearly as I can remember, to this effect, “ No doubt it would be a good’ thing for the States who got rid of their competition, but the people of Queensland, who are primarily interested, are those who should be consulted in the matter.” I may remind my honorable friend that the migration of Chinese from ‘ one State to another is not a matter in which my Department has any concern, and I believe that the opinion which I expressed is that which he would have expressed under similar circumstances.
– I wish to know whether the following passage, which appeared in the Argus of the 30th August, is a correct report of the Prime Minister’s remarks : -
If I bad tabled a direct motion of censure, every one of the gentlemen who voted against the Ministry on that occasion would have voted against them just the same later on.
– I believe that, for once, the newspapers have reported my utterances with absolute accuracy. T was expressing an opinion which I entertained at the time, and which I still entertain.
– Is the right honorable gentleman aware that on the evening when he made that statement, the honorable and learned member for Bendigo, who is one of those who voted for the amendment of the honorable and learned member for Corinella, stated in Bendigo that had a noconfidence motion been moved, he would not have voted for it ?
– I accept the assurance of the honorable member.
Motion (by Mr. Maloney) agreed to -
That a return be laid upon the table of the House showing -
asked the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : - 1 and 2. Officers who arc entitled to automatic increases under State laws at the date of transfer to the Commonwealth are entitled to be paid such increases up to the date of the Order in Council confirming the classification, of the Service, when, in accordance with the advice of the law officers of the Commonwealth, the State increases become superseded by the classification effected under the provisions of the Commonwealth Public Service Act 1902.
asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– This matter is now under consideration.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– I regret that this question, of which notice was given a long time ago, did not come before me until yesterday. It is my intention to make inquiries as to the practice which the Departments have observed in these matters during the preceding years of the Commonwealth, and I hope to be able to give some definite, reply within a week or so.
asked the Prime
Minister, upon notice -
If he will communicate with the State Premiers to ascertain whether any State will give facilities to Pasteur’s agents to test the efficacy of chickencholera as a destructive agent to check and ultimately destroy the serious plague of rabbits which is so rapidly extending?
– The agents have made no application to this Government. I would suggest that Pasteur’s agents might communicate direct with the States Governments.
asked the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows : -
All accounts received in the Home Affairs Department for services by the Queensland police have been paid, but further inquiry will be made.
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– In answer to the honorable member, I wish to say that, in the first place, I am not aware that such a rumour is in circulation. The only thing I know is that I expressed’ the opinion, which I still hold, that, owing to various causes, in the early future there may be a shortage of officers of higher rank to fill various positions in the Commonwealth Defence Service, and that it will be necessary for the Department of Defence to take the requisite steps to prevent that shortage occurring or continuing. The inference was founded upon that statement of mine that I had made up my mind to ask for the services of officers of the Imperial Army ; but that was subsequently contradicted in the newspaper in which it was made. I have formed no such intention. As I think honorable members know, my desire has always been to officer the Australian Forces, so far as that can be done, with Australians, and it is still my feeling that that should be done. I do not say absolutely that we should not ask for officers from home, but I would certainly do so only if there were a shortage which could not otherwise be made up. In reply to questions 2 and 3, if any such officer were obtained, it would neither be owing to a belief that the European officer, as the honorable member calls him, is rank for rank superior to the Australian, nor to the idea that the Australian is incompetent.
Mr. McCAY laid upon the table the following paper : -
Addition to the financial and allowance regulations of the Military Forces, dated 3rd September, 1904.
The Clerk laid upon the table the following paper : -
Return to an order of the House of the 8th September as to contract post-offices in the Melbourne metropolitan area.
– I think that the House will concur with me that it is highly desirable that the debate on the Ministerial Statement should be continued, and with the consent of honorable members who have business on the notice-paper for this afternoon, and with the concurrence of the House, I move -
That general business be postponed until after the consideration of Government business, Order of the Day No. i.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from 7th September, (vide page 4353), on motion by Mr. Reid -
That the despatch from the Secretary of State, with reference to the metric system, be printed.
– I think that if there is one feature of the speech of the Prime Minister yesterday upon which we can congratulate him, it is its extraordinary brevity. As to any other aspects of it, I hardly think that they would form the subject of much congratulation on the part of his supporters. In fact, to my mind, a certain proportion of honorable members sitting on the Government benches must have been filled with disappointment, both on account of the fewness of the matters referred to, and of the proposals in detail’ which the Prime Minister put forward. The right honorable gentleman dealt first with the crisis that has existed in this Parliament for some little time past, and stated that the late Government chose its own battleground in connexion with the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill. He quoted a statement of mine which was made to representatives of the press in Sydney, as to the attitude that the then Government would take up if this House failed to reconsider its position in regard to the amendment adopted at the instance of the Minister of Defence. The honorable member for Grey took exception to the statement put forward by the Prime Minister, so far as its first presentation was concerned. His statement as it was first put forward would lead the public to believe that the Government had chosen the particular motion upon which they were afterwards defeated as their battle-ground, but that was very different from what was stated by myself. I stated to the representatives of the Sydney newspapers that if the House failed to reconsider the amendment adopted at the instance of the Minister of Defence, we should take their action as an intimation that our services were no longer required. That, however, was a very different thing from the proposal of some honorable members of this House to take the whole conduct of business out of the hands of the ‘
Government by refusing to go into Committee. No Government would have been worth its salt if it had submitted to an insult of that kind lying down, and therefore when the right honorable gentleman stated that we chose our own battle-ground he was some distance from the truth, so far as the particular motion which was carried against the Government was concerned.
– I was referring to the clause containing the amendment to which the late Government took exception.
– We never reached the clause. Owing to the machinations of the right honorable gentleman and those honorable members who assisted him, we had not an opportunity of reaching the clause. The right honorable gentleman and some of his supporters stated that the effect would be the same, whether we reached the clause or not. No doubt the effect was the same for their purpose, which was to dislodge the then Government by a side wind. But sp far as it affected the supporters of the Arbitration Bill, the effect was very different, because if those gentlemen who supported the right honorable member in ousting the Government had honestly desired to have that Bill passed in the shape that the majority pf Parliament were anxious to see it assume, they would have gone into Committee, and tried every expedient to obtain the decision of the House, and the full sense of its desires in regard to that important measure. My complaint is, however, that the right honorable gentleman and his supporters showed no desire to pass the Bill in such a shape that it would prove effective. Their sole anxiety was to take advantage of the declaration of some honorable members that they would not change their vote upon clause 48, in order to eject the Government from office1. So far as I am concerned, I entertain no great regret at being thrown out of office. I never whined for office, nor have I whined at being thrown out of it, I made no improper attempt to get there, and I never went to one man with the idea of inducing him to alter his opinion, so that the Government might be retained in office;. Therefore, I have no regret at being ejected from office. As one, however, who has supported the principle of conciliation and” arbitration for years past, and as one who believes that if an effective measure were passed it would save the Commonwealth millions of pounds, and that it would be in the best interests of the country, I do regret that some honorable members thought fit to wreak their vengeance upon the Government by leaving the Bill to its fate. I say, therefore, that the battle ground was not of our choosing. We certainly objected, and still object, to the proposal embodied in the Bill; but I think - I may be wrong - that much greater regard would have been shown for the principle which the majority of honorable members on the other side of the House have always professed to support in regard to the Bill, and a more seemly spirit of sweet reasonableness, if they had consented to go into Committee, and to there1 confer as to the best means of expressing the desires of the majority. There was one feature of the Prime Minister’s speech yesterday that I thought was regrettable. In speaking of the recent crisis, the right honorable gentleman was good enough to refer to myself as having tendered certain advice to His Excellency the GovernorGeneral. Of course, the fact that the House is still in existence is sufficient evidence that that advice was not accepted. I do not wish for one moment to canvass the right of His Excellency as the representative of His Majesty the King to take what.ever course he thought proper in the interests of the people of Australia. I have not the slightest doubt that the action he took was dictated by no other consideration than what he conceived to be the best interests of the community. But I say that it comes most” improperly from the right honorable gentleman, who must have assured His Excellency that he could carry on the Government of this country, and that the time had not arrived for a dissolution - who must have given his assurance in explicit terms in the face of the fact that there was only a majority of two in support of the Government - to come down, and, in so many words, threaten this House with a dissolution if what? - if the Opposition did not combine with their strength the quality of mercy, if the Opposition did not extend consideration to the Government fat and away -greater than that extended by the right honorable gentleman and his supporters to the late Government. We were told that if we did not extend to the Government greater consideration than thev gave to us, the result would be a dissolution.
– We heard something of the same kind from the last Government.
– I beg the honorable member’s pardon. That is not correct.
– We heard it from their supporters.
– If any supporters of the late Government said that, they had no authority from me. On the contrary, I took the opportunity to explicitly deny, by interjection, that there was any such promise made, or any such contingency afloat.
– The honorable member told the House that he would seek a dissolution.
– Certainly. Who would object to the Prime Minister stating that he would seek a dissolution? His statement went a great deal further than that.
– I do not think it did.
– Perhaps the right honorable gentleman is a biased observer.
– Is not the honorable member also biased?
– I do not think so- not to the same degree, at any rate. The action of the Prime Minister appears to me to be most improper, and certainly unprecedented. T do not remember a single instance in which a Prime Minister, upon meeting the House for the first time with his programme, practically threw out, in so many words, a threat that if the members of the Opposition did not behave themselves they would ‘have to go about their business.
– I said no such thing.
– I refer the right honorable gentleman to the words of his own speech.
– I am not the Emperor of Japan.; I could not dissolve the House.
– Probably that is a good thing for the country.
– The ‘honorable member, when he asked for a dissolution, admitted that the House was not competent to carry on the business of the country.
– I shall argue that question when it arises. I am quite prepared to take the full responsibility of any advice I tendered in that direction. I must .say that I regret exceedingly that we had not an opportunity to consult the country.
– Pray leave this most distasteful subject.
– The Prime Minister then proceeded to compare his party with honorable members in Opposition. I suppose that he was justified in speaking of his “ party “ ; although the members who support him are certainly a heterogeneous lot.
– Do not say that.
– I think so. I cb not use the term disrespectfully. Among honorable members who sit on the Government benches, there exist the most remarkable differences of opinion upon many of the leading questions before the community. I do not in any way seek to imply that such opinions are not legitimately held, or that honorable members are not honestly seeking to secure the betterment of the condition of the people; but that their opinions widely differ must be admitted by the most unprejudiced observer. The Prime Minister said that there was one great point of similarity between his supporters and the members of the Opposition, namely, that they were all democratic. We can understand the excitable ramping democracy of the honorable and learned member for Parkes, who has been noted as a democrat for many years past ,in New South Wales. Then there is the honorable member for Flinders, who is another raging democrat, who is anxious , to put all the power in the hands of the people, and to secure absolute equality for all classes of the community. I notice, too, that even the honorable member for Corangamite shelters himself under the term “Liberal.”
– We are democrats who have not gone mad.
– It is always safe to imply that the other fellow is just a little weak in his top storey. I do not, however, wish to say that of honorable members opposite. I do not think that my honorable friends are even politically mad. No doubt they are politically sane, so far as the interests of the people they represent are concerned. But it does sound like a travesty upon the term democrat when we find coming under its beneficent shelter the gentlemen I have indicated who are sitting in the Government corner. Sitting behind the Government also, there will be found other gentlemen who have just as little title to the term “democrat” as those to whom I have referred.
An Honorable Member. - What about the honorable member for Kooyong? Mr. WATSON.- He is another excellent sample of a democrat. He is a most estimable gentleman, but 1 do not think that he would claim to be particularly imbued with democratic ideas. The honorable member for Oxley is another strong democrat, whose whole aim during the time’ he has been ‘ in politics has been to advance the cause of democracy. He has been pushing its interests forward with all his strength, and the only regret that remains to him is that he has been comparatively unsuccessful in his own State.
– The honorable member would be proud to have the support of every one of them.
– If I had their support, it would be a clear indication that I was at last going wrong in my public career. The right honorable gentleman, passing from that vain attempt to prove similarity between the two parties to an endeavour to accentuate the points of difference, said that the great primary distinction between the supporters of the Government and the Opposition was that the. former did not believe in a caucus. We are given to understand that the Government conduct their business in quite a different way. There is no bringing of their supporters into consultation, that a proper result may be arrived at. They manage these matters at present, I understand, not by the domination of one man, but by the domination of two half men. They arrange their business on the basis of the two heads of the Government being “equal in all things,” and these two honorable gentlemen* seem to manage the concern for the rest of the party.
– It saves trouble, so far as the rest are concerned.
– Certainly it does; but the thinking machine is liable to become rusty if not occasionally agitated, and such a thing may perhaps happen to the supporters of the Government. There is one feature of the right honorable gentleman’s statement that certainly calls for remark from me. Some considerable time ago - I think it was when addressing a rather innocent audience at Warragul, in the Federal electorate of Flinders - the right honorable gentleman stated that the policy of the Watson Government was put together in the vaults. The Prime Minister has rather a weakness for graphic forms of expression, and we can understand the attractiveness of the word “ vaults “ to a man who is given to vaulting so regularly over any obstacle, no matter how high it may be. I think it was on the day following the making of that speech that I made a clear and distinct statement to the press to the effect that the policy of the Government of which I was the head was determined by the Ministry, without reference to any outside person - without reference to even an extra leader, or kind of fifth wheel to. the coach, a practice which, we are told, obtains in the present Ministry. In any case, the programme of the late Ministry was prepared without reference to any outside person, and was subsequently placed before the supporters of the Government at a meeting held, not in the vaults of this House, but in the ordinary meeting-room.
– What does the Labour Party do at these meetings?
– I shall come to that matter in the course of a few moments. I do not wish to be drawn away from the point that, to my mind, it is a regrettable feature of public life that, when a definite statement is made, to which an equally definite denial is given, that denial is not accepted clearly and without reservation.
– I have not seen the newspaper statement to which the honorable member refers.
– It appeared two days after the statement made by the right honorable gentleman.
– I can assure the honorable member that I do not read the newspapers regularly, but that I would accept any statement made by him, whether made through the medium of a newspaper, or in any other way.
– It is very good of the right honorable gentleman to say that. As a matter of fact, there was no necessity for the late Ministry to go before the caucus, for the simple reason that the policy on which the members of the Labour Party had been elected to this Parliament was well known to all. So long as no attempt was made to depart from that policy, there was no occasion to consult members of the caucus or of the party individually in regard to it. The members of the Party had sufficient confidence in the late Ministry - and would have had sufficient confidence in any other Ministry formed from its ranks - to believe that they would stand by the policy to which its members had pledged themselves when before the country. In these circumstances, there was no necessity for the late Government to do more than tell their supporters : what particular portion of their policy they hoped to carry out in the immediate future, and how much of it would necessarily have to be left in abeyance until the time arrived to take action.
– The caucus never instructed the late Government, even in regard t0 that matter.
– I must say that I was treated with a generosity which certainly was never excelled by the supporters of any Prime Minister of the Commonwealth, or of the Premier of any of the States. No member of the Party ever approached me in regard to the personnel of the Ministry which I was about to form, or in reference to the programme which we should insist on carrying out. This, perhaps, is not a matter of public importance, but it is only right that the facts should be stated. The Prime Minister attempted to make some capital out of the alleged power exercised over members of the Labour Party by the Labour Leagues, and the honorable and learned member for Ballarat traversed the same ground in a speech which he delivered some little time ago. For public men who have been acquainted to a greater or lesser extent with the Labour Party and its organizations for a number of years - and certainly the Prime Minister has been very closely identified on some occasions with the Labour Party-
– He was “ in the hollow of their hand.”
– I believe. that the right honorable gentleman confessed that he was at one time in that position. It is strange that such gentlemen should exhibit so much ignorance as to what are the relations between the Labour Leagues and members of the Labour Party.
– It is not ignorance, but something worse.
– That is rather a vulgar assertion.
– I scarcely like to assume that these honorable gentlemen would be guilty of deliberate misrepresentation ; but the statement having been reiterated yesterday, it is proper that I should in a few words state exactly what the facts are. In the first place, the programme of proposed legislation which the Labour Party will support is agreed to by a conference at which’ every supporter of the party, whether a unionist or non-unionist, may be represented. I am glad to say that the vast bulk of the support of the Labour Party comes from the ranks of the non-unionist’s - from men who, while not actively opposed to unionism, are certainly not at present included within its ranks. Every person who supports the programme of the Labour Party has an opportunity to be represented, either through the agency of a labour league or by a union, at the conference to which I have referred.
– Farmers -have been represented at such conferences.
– I am pleased to say that we receive substantial support from the farmers of New South Wales and Queensland. When the programme is agreed to, it is, of course, laid down that every person desiring to stand as a labour candidate must first subscribe to that programme - it would not be of much use for a man to appear as a labour candidate if he did not - and, secondly, he must pledge himself, if not selected by the organization, to stand down in favour of the selected candidate.
– The. Labour Party have two platforms - -a fighting programme and a propaganda.
– Quite so. We have one programme for immediate action, while the other is a declaration of principle; but it makes no difference to the position of the candidate. He is asked to express his belief in the whole programme.
– He takes the lot.
– That is so. From the time a candidate is elected on that pro gramme, until he again comes before the league for selection, that league has no’ power over him. Its members trust to his honesty, and to the honesty of those associated with him in the Parliament, to carry out the programme on which he has been returned. There is no domination in the slightest degree by the outside leagues or organizations of the Labour Party.
– But they can pass resolutions.
– Certainly; but do not the supporters of the right honorable member occasionally pass resolutions?
– They do not.
– In Western Australia they -have passed several resolutions in regard to the right honorable member.
– They have never passed any about me.
– I was about to say, when this cross-firing commenced, that it was absolutely incorrect for persons to assume or to state that any power over members of Parliament exists in the hands of any labour organization, except in this degree - that, as the right honorable gentleman stated yesterday, if those members do not give satisfaction,, they may not be again selected to stand for Parliament. What sort of ta man is he who is afraid to face those who are in agreement with him in regard to every detail of his political programme? What man is there who, being honest, and anxious to carry out the principles to which he has pledged himself before the electors, would fear to face those who necessarily must be prejudiced in his favour, seeing that, they are in thorough harmony and agreement with him on all the material issues that come up for public discussion? The members of the Labour Party share the liability to rejection equally with every other member of this House. The right honorable gentleman finds it convenient to talk about machine politics as applied to the Labour Party, but he seeks to gloss over the operations of equally objectionable machine politics among the ranks of his old-time supporters. Let us recall to mind the case to which he referred yesterday - the case of a member of the State Parliament of New South Wales, who was one of the most faithful’ supporters of the party which the right honorable gentleman led so ably and so long, and who, in regard to both loyalty and service, deserved well of the party. The machine - the local organization - selected another man.
– By ballot?
– Yes. They ran a gentleman in opposition to Mr. Hawthorne for the electorate of Leichardt, and, notwithstanding that the leader of the party which is now heir to the ideals of the right honorable member for East Sydney - Mr. Carruthers - had received every support and assistance from Mr. ‘Hawthorne - notwithstanding that Mr. Hawthorne’ had been as loyal to his new leader as he was to his old one-
– For sixteen years !
– Notwithstanding that he had given this support to his leaders for sixteen years, the machine was so strong that not only was another man brought out against him, but the leader of the party spoke against his old henchman. The accusation may be made .against the Labour Party that they’ are governed by organizations; but I say, without the slightest hesitation, that if a man had been loyal to the party of which I was leader, I should never speak against him. The “ machine “ might do as it pleased, but, whatever else! I might do, I’ certainly should not be guilty of such an action. I am not putting this forward against the machine. Unfortunately, some kind of machine or organization is necessary.
– To which of the machines is the honorable member now referring ?
– I was referring to the machine called, I believe, the “ Liberal and Reform Association of New South Wales.” We shall shortly learn how far that “ reform “ will go.
– What is the name of the newly-formed alliance between the Opposition and honorable members in the Opposition corner?
– It is a Liberal and Labour alliance. I repeat that so-called machines are necessary and are universally employed. The Prime Minister himself used a machine at the last elections in New South Wales. I am told that it was not quite so effective in this State, but in New South Wales we had the free- trade organization working hotly and strongly for him. I do not blame them ; but what I do object to is the political hypocrisy of which men are guilty when they come here and object to the Labour Party as an organization per se, while they themselves use the machine, and, as in the case of the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, bring into existence! yet another organization to remedy the defects of that already existing.
– It is only the despotism of an enlightened democracy.
– I think that the decision of a Committee appointed in part by the right honorable gentleman before the last Federal election, and in part by gentlemen who had previously appointed themselves a committee, is a form of despotism a little more complete than the organization of the Labour Party, in ‘connexion with which every individual may join a labour league, and may in that league have his direct vote by ballot to decide whether a particular candidate shall be run for Parliament.
– The only difficulty about it is that it is not true. That is all.
– It is true. It has been done all through New South Wales.
– I must ask the honorable member for Parramatta, if I correctly understood. him to say that something which was said by the honorable member foi Bland is untrue, to withdraw that statement.
– I certainly withdraw the statement. I made it in no personal sense.
– I quite accept the explanation of the honorable member for Parramatta that he did not intend any imputation on my trustworthiness.
– Merely that the statement was not one of fact.
– Just so. What I understand is that one-half of the committee was appointed from members of Parliament, presumably on the initiative of the right honorable member for East Sydney, and the other half from organizations consisting of a number of gentlemen who were not representatives of leagues or organizations existing throughout New South Wales.
– Is that the statement the honorable gentleman made before?
– I think it is nearly the same. I have no wish to say any more on that point. 1 come now to deal with the Prime Minister’s statement that another great difference between the members of his party and the Labour Party is that the latter believed in socialistic legislation. The right honorable gentleman referred to some remarks I made in reply to a deputation from the May Day demonstrators.
– Did the right honorable gentleman bring that up again?
– Yes, but not in quite the same terms as those in which it was previously referred to. I was quoted as stating that the time was not ripe to enter upon a general socialistic propaganda, but that one might begin with the plum that was in a condition fit to pluck - the tobacco monopoly. The way in which that was referred to by the right honorable gentleman would lead people to believe that some great public wrong was likely to be inflicted if the tobacco monopoly were nationalized. The Prime Minister did not proceed to explain exactly of what the tobacco monopoly consists, or how far it is necessary in the public interests that some steps should be taken in order to clip the wings and cut the claws of that and kindred monopolies.
– Or that a Select Committee of the Victorian Legislative Assembly recommended the nationalization of the tobacco industry some years ago.
– That is so, but the question has developed very materially since that Select Committee inquired into it.
– The position is much worse now.
– Then the monopoly existed in a comparatively innocuous form, It was then practically confined to one State, and was not there complete ; but to-day the tobacco monopoly has its tentacles over every State in the Common “ wealth.
– It is a real monopoly.
– It is an actual mono- * poly. It is not one to which the term may be applied merely in a general way; because it has now become actually and specifically a monopoly, and is taking advantage of the people at both ends.
– Why does the honorable gentleman support it?
– My method of supporting it is to transfer its control to the national Government of Australia at the earliest possible opportunity.
– The honorable gentleman subscribes to its funds.
– I admit that I indulge in tobacco, if that is the insinuation of the honorable member; but beyond that, I do not support the trust. So far as Australia is concerned, I believe that, no matter what form of Tariff we have, and no matter what other steps we take short of the nationalization of some of these industries, we are bound to have enormous monopolies battening upon the people, and taking advantage of them at every opportunity. Are we to stand idly by and impotently lament that these things should be, or are we to seize the nettle resolutely, and determine that if there is to be a monopoly - and in many cases I admit that monopolies cheapen production, so far as manufacture is concerned - it shall be in the hands of the people, and controlled for the benefit of the people? The Prime Minister went on then to refer to another socialistic proposal of the late Government, namely that we propose to take some ^8,000,000 sterling belonging to the banks-
– Has not the new combination opposite thrown that over?
– Not that I am aware of.
– It is not in the joint scheme.
– There is plenty of time ; we do not propose to deal with the matter this session.
– I notice that there is something about “ social status “ in the joint scheme. Where did honorable members op- posite get that phrase? Possibly they could not express what they intended in English.
– I should like to remind the Prime Minister that what he terms a socialistic proposal in regard to banking legislation-
– I did not say that it was socialistic.
– I think the right honorable gentleman did. He was referring generally to the socialistic proposals put forward by the late Government, and included in the number the proposal to take £8,000,000 belonging to the banks. I say that that financial policy has been given effect to, as I indicated some time ago, for over thirty-four years in Canada - a country where, so far, at all events, there has not been any great progress on the road to Socialism.
– They were very hard up for money at the time they adopted it.
– They were, but in view of the indebtedness of Australia, and of the fact that we have to cut down in every direction in order to balance our finances, one would think that we were not too flush of money at the present time.
– Hear, hear. We starve the members of the Federal Parliament.
– I propose to refer the Prime Minister to a statement made by the present Treasurer when delivering his budget in 1901. At page 5693 of Hansard for 1901 the right honorable gentleman is reported to have said -
I have looked at the Canadian system. It is said that instead of borrowing money we ought to take ten or twelve millions of gold which the banks have lying in their coffers.
I said only eight, or less than eight millions.
In Canada they compel the banks to keep a reserve - I do not think we do - but they provide that a certain portion of that reserve must be kept in the Dominion’s notes. By that means they get the use of a considerable amount of money without paying any interest. On the face of it, it appears to be a fair proposal, and that no harm is done.
– ,The right honorable gentleman said, “on the face of it.”
– I propose to quote the right honorable gentleman fully. The honorable and learned member for Corinella need not be afraid that I shall do the Treasurer any injustice.
– I know the right honorable gentleman’s present opinion on the subject.
– The right honorable gentleman further said -
But until I get the fullest information I .am not going to rush into any scheme of the kind.
– Hear, hear !
– The report goes on-
– It is a splendid scheme.
– In theory I admit it is splendid, but I do not know that in practice it works out well. I have sent to Canada to get the fullest information with regard to the working of the scheme.
– Hear, hear ! There is no duty on bank notes there. We get a revenue from a duty on bank notes here.
– That -is so, but in Canada, as the right honorable gentleman is probably aware, the Government issue, all notes below the denomination of five dollars. They issue one, two, and four-dollar notes against which they, practically speaking, hold no reserve.
– That is a very bad system.
– They hold no reserve up to nine million dollars. But after that issue is reached, they hold a certain reserve, increasing as the issue increases. Up to an issue of nine million dollars, which it is believed the country can fairly carry without any risk, they hold no reserve at all. What I desire to point out is that the present Treasurer, in 1901, thought that that, on the face of it, was a fair scheme. The right honorable gentleman had not, I admit, gone fully into it, but he led the House to believe that he considered it favorably, so far as he had then gone, and he intended to refer to Canada for further information. But, of course, the right honorable gentleman has got into different company since then.
– The right honorable gentleman got the information long before he joined me.
– Yes ; but the right honorable gentleman had not declared against this scheme before he joined the right honorable member for East Sydney.
– The right honorable gentleman has not clone so vet.
– I can quite understand, when se many members of the present Reid-McLean Administration are sinking their convictions in so many directions, the right honorable member for Balaclava must sink some portion of his.
– The members of the Government will sink themselves in the end.
– And will come up again smiling. It is all in a life-time.
– I come now to deal with the practical proposals of the Government. I regret that I have taken up so much time in the introductory portion of my observations, but in that I have merely fol lowed the example of the Prime Minister, who yesterday devoted the greater part of the admittedly short time he took up, to general matters outside of ‘his programme.
– Is the honorable gentleman going to continue to imitate the Prime Minister?
– Only in so far as the right honorable gentleman is right. The first definite statement we had in the right honorable gentleman’s speech yesterday was with regard to Preferential Trade. The Prime Minister says that he takes up the position taken, up by the Deakin Government in respect to Preferential Trade.
– And that involves the raising of duties to the foreigner.
– This is a most interesting alteration of policy on the part of the right honorable member for East Sydney.
– The honorable gentleman does not complete what I said in respect of waiting for a definite proposal from the Imperial Government.
– That was an addition to the statement first put forward, and not retracted, that the position taken up by the Deakin Government on the subject of Preferential Trade was the position adopted by the present Administration. I say that this discloses a most interesting state of affairs.
– Because that was to raise the duties against foreigners.
– Some of the newspapers say that I have dropped it altogether.
– I desire to have some clear understanding as to what policy ‘in this matter the present Government has taken up. If there is to be any emendation of the statement put forward yesterday, the sooner it is made the better in the interests of the public generally. I am quite willing that the position of the Government in this matter should be cleared up now. If the statement I heard yesterday is correct, that the policy of the Deakin Government is taken up, I desire to know what is the opinion of the honorable and learned member for Werriwa on the subject? Is that honorable and learned member prepared to support the proposal of the Deakin Government to raise duties against foreigners ? Personally, I am in favour of it.
– What does the honorable and learned member for West Sydney say to that?
– I am quite prepared to increase the duties ; tout I wish to know is it the Government decision to follow the Deakin proposal in that regard?
– They say - No.
– I do not know what they say. That was the statement yesterday.
– I am sorry if I have misunderstood the right honorable gentleman. If that is not the position, are we to assume that the honorable and learned member for Ballarat is going to acquiesce in the lowering of the duties at present existing in favour of British goods?
– Who said so?
– Only two positions are possible, even to this Government. Even this Administration cannot take up more than one of two positions on this question, and it must be one or other of the two positions which I have mentioned.
– The honorable member is all astray.
– I am asking what the Government propose to do, and whether they do not propose to do what I heard yesterday was their intention. I am free to admit that the versatility of the right honorable gentleman is equal to all emergencies, but I hardly think that it is possible, even for him, to find more than two paths to follow in relation to this particular matter.
– We should know what their policy is, at any rate.
– Is this a caucus?
– Perhaps for an explanation of the other aspect of this particular question we should look to the other head of the Government. When, a little later, the Minister of Trade and Customs speaks, he may supplement the statement of the Prime Minister in regard to preferential trade with an amended proposal which will be distinct from that which we heard yesterday ; but,, in the absence of such an amended statement, I am forced to the conclusion that those who followed the Prime Minister originally are now being asked to back down upon their ideas of preferential trade, and to submit to the duties being raised against the foreigner.
– If that is so, I congratulate them upon having come to an opinion which I share, and which I have shared for a considerable time past.
– The Government Is solid only on the trade marks measures.
– I regret the decision of the Government to postpone the passing of the High Commissionership Bill until next session.
– It is a wise decision.
– It seems to me an unwise decision.
– It is certainly an un-Wise decision.
– I do not know that there would be any greater wisdom in an appointment which might be made in another direction. It is possibly because of the unpopularity, if not unwisdom, of some appointment that the Bill is not being proceeded with. In my opinion, it is certainly a proper thing to have a High Commissioner in London at the earliest opportunity possible. I have held the view that true economy in this relation consists in having a Federal representative in the heart of the Empire as soon as we can, and that the cry about the expense is a paltry matter when it is recollected that we shall be able to do without the services of the AgentsGeneral of the States if the High Commissioner is appointed.
– We cannot dispense with the services of the Agents-General of the States, though the Governments of the States may do so.
– If a Commonwealth officer is appointed, who will be competent to perform, for one-sixth or one-fourth of their salaries, the work which the AgentsGeneral of the States are now doing, public opinion will force the Governments of the States to make use of his services in order to save expense.
– But this House has no control over the States in regard to the appointment of Agents-General.
– Would not friendly negotiations with the States be better than an attempt to force the change upon them? I think that, in the first instance at any rate, it would be better to proceed by negotiation.
– I do not see any objection to friendly negotiation, but, see’ing how much time has already elapsed, it is rather too late to proceed in that way now. Australia has already suffered through having no proper representative in London. In my view, the acts of this Parliament have been misunderstood and grossly misrepresented in London, and that could have been avoided if we had had some one there able to speak with authority on behalf of Australia, ‘as to what our aims and our intentions really were. I was informed, only a couple of days ago, of an instance in . which an AgentGeneral, speaking in London, showed him- self absolutely ignorant of the terras of the Constitution, and thereby conveyed an altogether false impression to the people to whom he was speaking as to the powers of this Federation. This is a most unfortunate state of affairs. The least we should expect from any gentleman appointed to that high position is that he would be fit to interpret to the people of England our Constitution, and the legislation under it.
– Interpret our Constitution ?
– The honorable member knows what I mean. He should not make any gross errors in regard to it. But in the case to which I refer, a gross error was made. I am sorry, therefore, that the Government have seen fit to postpone the passing of the High Commissioner Bill, and the appointment of a High Commissioner. I believe that to be false economy. I do not think that there would be any friction with the Governments of the States if a High Commissioner were appointed. On the contrary, anxiety would be shown at an early date to take advantage of the facilities which his office in London would afford. There is another measure referred to in the Ministerial statement upon which I should like to say a word or two, and that is the Iron Bonus Bill. We have been told that the question of the granting of an iron bonus is to be an open one with the Government. The right honorable gentleman seemed to be rather concerned yesterday as - to the opinions of those in Opposition upon this highly important question. I at once say that I have been opposed to the granting of bonuses to private individuals, just as a number of the members of the Ministry, and a number of those who are supporting the Ministry, have been opposed to it. But I have never been unprepared to take the opinion of the House in regard to that question as in regard to other questions. In my view it is one in regard to which a difference of opinion may legitimately exist. I give way to none in my anxiety to see the iron industry successfully established in Australia; but I differ from those who think that the best way to establish it is to pay large bonuses out of the public Treasury to private individuals. I was, however, prepared to bow to the decision of the House on the question, both before I took office and while I was a Minister. The policy of the last Administration in regard to that measure was not parallel with the course proposed to be followed by the present Government. The Prime Minister, in common with, and almost in company with, the honorable member for Ballarat, has for months past been impressing upon the electors of Australia that what is needed in this country is to restore responsible government and majority rule ; that that is the one thing necessary, and the great end to which all energies should be bent. Judging by the appearance of the benches in this chamber, both yesterday and to-day, it does not look as though majority rule has been achieved, and certainly one cannot say that it was responsible government which the right honorable member emphasized yesterday. He spoke about the example of the British Parliament in this matter ; but responsible government is not achieved by a decision such as that of the Ministry in respect to the Iron Bonus Bill. The right honorable gentleman was frank enough to say that there is no rule, no matter how good, to which there may not be exceptions. These exceptions appear to be getting rather frequent, and are made nearly always when it is convenient that there should be an exception. I myself have no complaint against the proposed treatment of the Iron Bonus Bill ; but it must be a sore disappointment to those outside who have followed the Prime Minister blindly, believing that when he obtained office he would give them this much-vaunted responsible government - what it may be worth I do not know, but they seem to think that there is something in it - and now find that they have been left in the lurch. Perhaps we have an explanation in their attitude towards this question of the disinclination of the Government to meet its followers in caucus. The right honorable gentleman stated yesterday that it has not been their practice so far to meet in caucus, and we could understand the difficulties of a caucus on the T ron Bonus Bill if the honorable member for Eden-Monaro, and the honorable member for Lang division, or the honorable and learned member for Werriwa, and the honorable member for Echuca were present. We can understand that it would not be wise to bring these full-grown tigers into so small an arena.
– It would not be more incongruous than to bring the honorable member, the honorable and learned member for West Sydney, and the honorable member for Hume together.
– Our contempt of responsible government, as the right honorable member seems to understand it, and has advocated it throughout the country, was not disguised. I have never made any pretence of regard for responsible government as it has been understood and written about in British communities for many years past. I see no virtue in it per se. The right honorable gentleman, however, has taken quite a different stand. He seems to me to have tried to persuade the people that if they achieved responsible government all their troubles would disappear as if by magic. Now, however, that opportunity has been taken from them, because in dealing with the Iron Bonus Bill he proposes to drop it as inconvenient.
– All coalitions have their little differences - even the Opposition coalition.
– There is one little difficulty that might be fixed up. Who is to be leader of the Opposition?
– The right honorable gentleman need not worry; he will find out.
– Upon that head, we shall not have half the difficulty that seems to have confronted the right honorable gentleman some little time ago. There is one remarkable statement in the speech of the Prime Minister that is another striking commentary upon this, cry for responsible government. The right honorable gentleman said, by way of apology for the small programme that he was putting forward, that if there was anything else for which time could be found, and which the House desired, the Government would afford opportunities for its discussion. That is responsible government with a vengeance. The Prime Minister said, in effect, “ Gentlemen, we present a programme to you ; if it does not suit it can be altered, or extended, or anything else done, so long as we remain in office.” I must say that that struck me as a rather peculiar way of reintroducing responsible government.
– There is no more consistent man in Australia than I am.
– I do not make any reflections upon that head, but I cannot quite harmonize the statement that room will be found for anything in the Ministerial waggon so long as the House gives some reasonable indication of its desires, with the claim that responsible government will be restored. That appears to me tantamount to saying that responsible government can go hang.
– I did not say that.
– I defy any one to attach . any other meaning to what the right honorable gentleman said. For myself I can conceive, of no other, and I should like to hear an explanation of that phrase.
– I .shall make a note of it.
– I should like to hear each of the Government supporters getting up in turn and trying to explain by thorough dissection exactly what that phrase means, if it does not mean what I have said. We were told yesterday that every endeavour would be made to establish cordial relations between the Commonwealth Government and the States Governments.
– As if they were not already established.
– I was just about to say that I was not aware that any Government so far had failed in the endeavour to act in the most generous fashion towards the various States Governments. I have certainly heard no complaint from any of the States Governments upon this head.
– Mr. Bent does not seem to think that the relations have been satisfactory.
– So far as Mr. Bent is concerned, his bark is very much worse than his bite. According to my own experience, whilst Mr. Bent has occasionally spoken about the awfulness of the Federal Government - and he will probably- speak in just the same way of the present Government’ in a little while - I have found him most easy to work with in regard to matters which concern both the Commonwealth and the State of Victoria. I succeeded in settling up several matters which had been in abeyance for some years, and which I wished to have disposed of upon equitable terms, so far as both Governments were concerned. Therefore, while it is true, as the honorable member for Lang has indicated, that Mr. Bent may have made some random remarks about the Commonwealth Government spending money they were not entitled to, so far as the actual relations between the two Governments are concerned, they were of the most cordial character.
– Perhaps Mr. Bent was misreported.
– He may have been; but in any case I do not know of any real complaint. Further than that, so far as’ the States Governments generally were concerned, there was no exception taken, or any ground for taking exception, to the administration of the last Government. lAnd I heard nothing as to the relations of the previous Government with the States Governments being unsatisfactory. Therefore, the Prime Minister appears to me to convey quite a wrong impression when he states that every endeavour will be made to establish cordial relations with the various States Governments. I do not wish to say a great deal more with regard to the programme of the Government. The Prime Minister, when speaking at Warragul some time ago, referred to the programme of the late Ministry as a crawling programme. If that term was justifiably applied to the programme of the late Government, which included some debatable matter - something over which a fight might be made - surely it could be applied with tenfold force to the wretched programme which the Prime Minister has put forward, which is not calculated to offend the meekest individual in the community.
– That is what makes it so indigestible.
– The right honorable gentleman talked about the crawling programme of the late Ministry. One would imagine that he was the knight valiant, who was going to put forward a programme when he had an opportunity - when the “ chap to save the country ‘ ‘ was called on - about which there would be no cavil, and which would range all the forces of righteousness on his side. The mountain has been in labour, and what is the result? This programme is significant quite as much in respect of its omissions as for what it contains. On the occasion of the last election, we heard from the right honorable gentleman some statements about the administration of the legislation of the then Government. When he made the opening speech of the campaign at the Protestant Hall, Sydney, on 13th October, 1903, he stated that the contract labour provisions of the Immigration Restriction Act, and the prohibition of coloured labour on steamships, constituted blots upon the prospects of Australia. We were told by inference, if not explicitly, that this was the reason that immigration had fallen off, why people barred Australia when they desired to settle in a new country and make homes for themselves. The right honorable gentleman said he would not rest until these blots upon our statute- book were removed, that no effort of his would be spared to alter both the legislation and the administration in these regards. Now, we have a most significant silence in regard to these important matters - important in our eyes, as they were held to be important by the right honorable gentleman a short while ago. We hold them to be important, because we believe that the best interests of Australia are bound up in their retention, whereas the right honorable gentleman regards it as important that they should be abolished. 1 ask why there is no mention in this programme of any proposal to deal with either of these important matters?
– The honorable and learned member for Ballarat will not permit it.
– Is it that the stress which the right honorable gentleman laid four months ago upon administration, is to find expression in the action of himself and his colleagues in the Departments? Are they content to rely on administration for effecting their purposes, instead of coming down to Parliament fairly and openly and asking for the reversal of the previous decisions ? I say that the circumstances are such as to arouse suspicion. When the Prime Minister sought the suffrages of the electors, and asked for their support, he put these matters in the very fore-front of his programme, and emphasized their importance; but now he is significantly silent upon the subject. This must arouse the suspicion that, either he is dropping these questions, upon which he assumed an attitude which he claimed to be just and right, or that he is going to effect his object in an underhand way, by means of his administration, instead of asking Parliament reasonably and fairly to arrive at an opposite decision. I think that we are entitled to a statement upon Ohe matter. In coalitions it is, no doubt, necessary that some sacrifices of opinion should be made, temporarily, if not permanently ; but I say that on important matters regarding which so much controversy has been raised in Aus- tralia - because it was sought to make the last election turn, to some extent, upon the question of the six hatters - it is surely reasonable to ask that a fair and candid statement should be made to Parliament on an occasion of this kind. I should like to congratulate the Prime Minister upon, his new-found anxiety to promote friendly feelings between the States of New South Wales and Victoria. Relying for his support - I will not say for his majority at present - in the bulk, upon the representatives of these two States, we find the right honorable gentleman saying that it is time that Inter-State jealousies died out, and that we should demonstrate our belief in the fairness of members who come from the other States. Now, I would point out that this sentiment was not especially expressed during the last election in New South Wales.
– That feeling should be reciprocal.
– Of course it should. But who has ‘done the most to keep alive the feeling of animosity between the States ? - the press supporters of the right honorable gentleman in New South Wales.
– And the press opponents of the right honorable gentleman in Vic “-oria.
– I admit that some of the Victorian newspapers have helped to keep alive the feeling of hostility betweenthe States. I contend, however, that no encouragement has been given to any such feeling by myself or by any other member of the Labour Party, whereas it was distinctly stimulated by the right honorable gentleman. I say that the honorable member spoke about the domination of Victoria ad nauseam throughout the last election campaign, and stated that the Barton Government had Been enabled through its brutal majority of Victorian representatives to carry through a’ Tariff to which he objected. He laid stress upon that fact at almost every meeting he addressed.
– None of those appeared in the press; no statements in that strain.
– The right honorable gentleman- will find such statements in the report of his meeting of 10th ‘October, 1903, published in the Sydney Morning Herald, and also in a report of his speech at Bowral in August of the same year. That was just before the opening of the electoral campaign, and I dare say that he will find similar statements in other speeches delivered at a later stag. I have not had time to look them up. We had an example of this only a few days ago. The Sydney *Daily Telegraph, which is to-day amongst the most influential newspapers supporting the present Government, stated that the Liberal Protectionists, now in alliance with the Labour Part)’ - the Liberal Protectionists who are in opposition to the present Government - constituted that section of Victorians who had all along shown the utmost enmity to New South Wales.
– It spoke of a section of Victorians, not of Victorians generally.
– Tt stated that they constituted that section of Victorians who had shown the greatest opposition to New South Wales.
– That is absolutely untrue.
– It is a most unfortunate libel.
– I rise to a point of order. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports loudly interjected that a certain statement was untrue.
– I distinctly heard the interjection, and it was to the effect that the statement quoted from the Sydney Daily Telegraph was false.
– It is most unfortunate that attempts of this kind should be made to stir up inter-provincial feeling. I am happy to say that this feeling is largely confined to the cities of Sydney and Melbourne, and that there is very little evidence of it in the country districts.
– There is none in Melbourne.
– There is some feeling of the kind.
– Very little.
– Surely no public man should encourage, and no public print should give publicity to, such statements. They are absolutely untrue, so far as individuals are concerned. I have not seen evidence of any desire on the part of any representative of Victoria to do injury to New South Wales interests. There has naturally been an anxiety evinced by them, and I am happy to say, by the representatives of New South Wales also, to stand firmly by their opinions, but I have not seen any indication of a desire on the part of Victorians or of any other section of the House to attack New South Wales interests. I am satisfied that there is no such desire existing in the minds of honorable members on either side of the House. As an instance of the length to which these tactics may be carried, I should like to mention a statement which I read in an issue of the Sydney Daily Telegraph, published shortly before the last general election. It was contained, not in a letter to the editor, but in an article written by a member of the staff, and it was to the effect that some blunder had been committed in the electoral office, and that “ Melbourne must be called to account for this.” ‘ Having regard to the fact that the Minister of Home Affairs, who then controlled the electoral office, was a New South Welshman, and that the Secretary of the Department of Home Affairs, as well as the gentleman immediately in charge of the electoral office, were New South Welshmen, it does not seem to me that Melbourne was particularly responsible for any blunder that had occurred.
– All of them had strong Victorian interests.
– I do not think that is true.
– I think it is.
– I think the expression was - “ The Melbourne office “ not “ The- city of Melbourne.’’
– I am sorry to say that the reference was to Melbourne itself. It is only in keeping with frequent statements of the kind that have been made. I believe I speak for every honorable member on this side of the House, when I say that while we recognize that the Government are entitled to reasonable consideration as to the form that any attack should take, we have so little confidence in them as a Ministry - we have so little confidence in their public administration, apart altogether from the personal merits of the individual members of the Ministry, which, of course, must at. once be conceded - that we shall avail ourselves of every legitimate step that can be taken to turn them out of office. It is all very well for the right honorable member to speak of the democracy which is behind him. We know, as against that statement, that all the reactionary forces of Australia are banded together in support of the Ministry ; all the conservatives who can be martialled into line are strongly of the opinion that the present Government should be maintained.
– And all the anarchists are behind the Opposition.
– The right honorable member talks of anarchists ! Where are the anarchists in Australia, if we except the honorable and learned member for Werriwa and the honorable and learned member for Parkes ? I am glad to say that, so far as I have been able to ascertain, there are none. If there are any they certainly have never demonstrated their support of the Labour Party. We cannot in New South Wales even secure the support of the official
Socialistic party, not to speak of the anarchists. All the gentlemen whose belief in non-interference with private enterprise inevitably leads them in the direction of political anarchy are on the other side.
– Necessarily they are on the other side, and linked with them are, as I have said, all the reactionary conservative forces which exist to-day in Australia. The Government have even the moral support of Mr. Walpole, the paid organizer of the Employers’Federation, who tells the workmen of Australia that marriage is a luxury which should not be indulged in by the poor.
– Is the honorable member responsible for trie views of every outside supporter of his party ?
– Are we responsible for the statements of Mr. Tom Mann?
– What about the insinuations made by the Prime Minister yesterday in his endeavour to place the responsibility for various statements by irresponsible persons on the shoulders of the Opposition? The present Government are not responsible for all that is said by these persons.
– This side of the House has nothing to do with Mr. Walpole.
– The present Coalition Government is supported by Mr. Walpole, and by every other force similar to that by which he is maintained as a paid organizer. The right honorable gentleman has told us that the Government are in favour of encouraging private enterprise. He will, of course, go to the assistance of those who are anxious for the success of private greed as acainst the public good. The gentlemen who have lately done so well out of the butter trade will give every assistance to this Government. They do not believe in interference with private enterprise. Why should the State step in?
– Why should the State interfere?
– That is what they say. Why not let the weakest go to the wall? Why should not free play be given to these grand original individualistic instincts of the people? That is their doctrine.
– All this is the result of the bonus system.
– No ; the honorable and learned member knows that the later swindles disclosed by the evidence given before the Butter Commission had no connexion with the bonus system. The gains in question were made at the expense of the butter producers, quite independently of the bonus system.
– But the operations of these men did not commence until the bonus system was inaugurated.
– I repeat that the swindle was perfected, independently of the butter bonus, and was the legitimate pro-duct of private enterprise in the form of a trust.
– It is such systems which give rise to tactics of the kind to which the honorable member refers.
– The Government will certainly receive every assistance from gentlemen of the character to which I have referred, as well as from the members of the tobacco monopoly, who will also give them all the influence that it is possible for them to exercise ; and when we find all these forces brought together in support of a Government it is certainly time for the radicals of Australia to sink their minor differences, and to concentrate all their energies in hurling that Government from power.
– I think that honorable members will agree with me that in the tone and manner of the discourse he has just concluded, as well as by the great force and ability displayed by him in its delivery, the leader of the Opposition has well maintained the high reputation that has made him so deservedly popular in this Chamber. The honorable member, however, cannot expect me to concur with the views he has expressed on the different matters with which he has dealt, seeing that they constitute the distinction between the Government and the Opposition. Before proceeding to reply to the honorable member’s speech, I should like, with the indulgence of the. House, to refer briefly to some statements which have been made regarding myself and the other protectionist members in the ranks of the Government and of their supporters. It appears to me that if there is one section of the House who need not explain their position - who are acting in strict accordance with their election pledges - it is the protectionists on this side of the Chamber. Honorable members are aware that after we had spent more than a year in wrangling over the Tariff Billand in settling it on the most favorable terms that we could obtain, we went to the country advocating fiscal peace during the life of the present Parliament, and in the advocacy of that policy we were joined by several free-trade members. At that time we heard nothing of our honorable friends the seceding protectionists.
– The seceding protectionists are members and supporters of the present Government.
– The honorable member is a distinguished member of the seceding protectionists. I can show him a list of the names of both protectionists and freetraders who went to the country as advocates of fiscal peace. If honorable members in the Opposition corner, who are now asking that the Tariff be immediately reopened, held that opinion at the time of the last Federal election they should have been found working under the banner of my right honorable colleague the Prime Minister, who went to the country openly advocating its immediate revision.
– But what did he do?
– What were these honorable members doing ? If they intended to support the re-opening of the Tariff question - as my right honorable colleague said he intended to do as soon as the House met - they were simply masquerading under the banner of those who advocated fiscal peace. The position of the Protectionist Party was at the time well stated in the columns of the Age, and I will quote one or two passages from an article which appeared in that journal on 12th December last, some four or five days before the general election took place. In the issue of that date the following statement appeared in its leading columns : -
The watchword of the Deakin Ministry is fiscal peace, and all Australia should, at the present juncture, cry a truce on the tariff question -
A truce, bear in mind. That is the very word I have been taken to task for using - while the great issue of Imperial Preference is being fought out in England.
There are two points in that paragraph, short as it is,- that bear directly on our present attitude. It describes the position of the Deakin Government at that time. Their policy was to have a fiscal peace, or a fiscal truce, I care not which phrase is used, during the term of the present Parliament, and to wait to deal with the question of preferential trade until some proposal w:is made by the Imperial Government. That position is put as plainly as it can be in the paragraph I have quoted - “While the great issue of Imperial preference is being fought out in England,” we were to have a fiscal truce.
– That is the Age. What has it to do with the members of this Parliament ?
– It is the age in which we live.
– That appeared in the Age of 12th December, and I quote it, because that newspaper correctly reported the views of the Deakin Government at the time.
– Was it not the attitude of tha Deakin Government on preferential trade, to raise duties against the foreigner ?
– It was. I was one of those who went to the country, advocating fiscal peace during the life of the present Parliament.
Mir. Higgins. - And preferential trade.
– I believe I can say for every protectionist on this side that . we pointed out to our constituents ‘that we had got the best Tariff which could have been got, considering the relative strength of parties, and that there was no use in re-opening the Tariff while the relative strength of parties remained unaltered.
-Does the honorable member think it consistent that those who opposed fiscal peace should ask for fiscal peace when they are beaten ?
– I think their position is quite logical. They went to- the country openly advocating an immediate revision of the Tariff.
– And they were beaten.
– They were hopelessly beaten on that question, and they are prepared to bow to the decision of the majority. But is it consistent for my honorable friend opposite, or any one who went to the country advocating fiscal peace, and who won on that policy, when the country backed them up, and dealt with their request by sending into this House an overwhelming majority, made up of protectionists and free-traders, in favour of fiscal peace, to turn round now and say, “ We were only fooling you at the elections ; we did not believe in fiscal peace. We believe in re-opening the Tariff at the earliest possible moment “ ? What are the excuses that are being put forward ? We are told that what we objected to was the re-opening of the Tariff by free-traders, but that it was-quite legitimate for protectionists to re-open the Tariff. Surely, that is a story which will not impose upon the credulity of the inhabitants of a nursery, much less upon intelligent adult people? Does not every one know that if the Tariff is reopened - and it does not matter a rush by whom, whether by protectionists or freetraders - if one item of the Tariff is reopened, every item on it is open to attack by both free-traders and protectionists. We have had over twelve months of a struggle on the Tariff. It has been admitted by both sides that the relative strength of the protectionist and free-trade parties was not disturbed at the last election. That was stated in the columns of the Age newspaper a couple of days after the elections took place. It was explained that the losses in one place were made up by gains in another, and that so far as the relative strength of the parties was concerned it was exactly as before.
– May I interrupt the honorable gentleman for a moment? We asked for fiscal peace as a compromise. That compromise was refused. Does the honorable gentleman think that we are now bound by the compromise?
– It was not refused by the country.
– It was refused by our opponents.
– It was granted by the country. Will honorable members opposite say that the country having given a majority to them, and to those who fought under the same flag, they should turn round immediately, and take up the attitude of the party that was defeated at the elections?
– The question is : Have those who were defeated when they refused the compromise a right to insist now on the compromise being kept?
– There is no insistence. They say openly, “We asked for permission to re-open the Tariff. That permission was refused by the country, and we bow to the verdict.”
– Honorable gentlemen wish to tie our hands, and to keep their own hands free.
– We, as protectionists, tied our own hands at the last election. The name of my honorable and learned friend is in the list of those who went to the country asking for fiscal peace.
– No, I did not.
– Then the honorable and learned gentleman allowed his name to be used in that connexion. If we take the protectionists who are ‘ now asking for a revision of the Tariff away from the the majority who supported fiscal peace, and add them to the members of the party led by the right honorable member for East Sydney, who advocated an immediate revision of the Tariff, it will be found that we shall make a very material difference in the verdict of the country.
– There can be no truce where both sides do not agree to it. If one side fires on the flag there is no truce.
– The truce was confirmed by the country. The country was the arbiter and the proper arbiter. The electors who were the judges heard both sides, and they said virtually, “ We are tired of this Tariff wrangle, and we decree that the Tariff shall not be re-opened during the life of the present Parliament.” That is the position which I and other protectionists on this side took up. That is our position to-day, and I therefore say that we have nothing to explain to our constituents, because we are acting in strict accordance with our election pledges.
– Then why is the honorable gentleman explaining now?
– Because my honorable friend and others acting with him have been making certain statements to the country - statements very much at variance with their utterances of a few months ago. Perhaps the honorable member for Hume will give me his attention for a moment while I quote a paragraph from his own speech in returning thanks for his election to his constituents at Albury.
– These papers ought to bc burnt.
– These are the words of the honorable member for Hume, as reported in the Age of 18th December -
The fiscal question should never have been raised in this election. Owing to the stringency of the financial clauses of the Constitution it was impossible to have either protection or freetrade. Whatever party was in power, the only possible Tariff must be very similar to that now in force; and until the expiration of the Braddon clauses, it was vain for either party to dream of radical alterations.
Those were the views of almost the whole of the members of the party with which my honorable friend was associated at that time. The only difference at- the present time, so far as I can learn, is that we are still of that opinion, whilst some of our honorable friends have seen fit to change their attitude.
– Who said that?
– Sir William Lyne.
– A gentleman for whom I have the highest respect, my old and honorable friend the member for Hume.
– Hear, hear ; and I shall refer to it myself presently.
– It is quite true that I, and I believe all of the protectionists on this side, advocated preferential trade. The attitude of the Government which we supported was to wait until some proposal on the subject emanated from the Imperial Government. That is our attitude to-day. We do not think it is likely that these proposals will come to us during the life of the present Parliament, but if they do, we are prepared to carry out our election pledges, and to deal with them in accordance with those pledges.
– Is the ot’her head of the Government going to do the same?
– The head of the Government is absolutely willing that every member of the Government and their supporters should be true to thefr election pledges on this as well as on every other question.
– Is there, then, a free hand on preferential trade; is it an open question in the Cabinet?
– If is a question on which we shall all vote in accordance with our election pledges.
– That is to say, that the honorable gentleman will’ vote in one way, and the right honorable membei for East Sydney in another?
– Probably, if that question should come up. The honorable and learned member for West Sydney is aware that in that respectwe are a coalition Government in just the same way as the Government of which he was himself a member. Will he tell me that he would have voted in the late Government for preferential trade, and in favour of raising the duties against the foreigner?
– The late Government was not a coalition Government.
– My honorable and learned friend should be straight and candid. We know what he would do. He is too honorable to do otherwise than vote in accordance with his honest convictions. The honorable and learned gentleman knows very well that four mem- bers of the Cabinet to which he belonged held one fiscal belief, whilst another four held the opposite view.
– I do not know that at all.
– My honorable and learned friend must know that the Government of which he was a member included four free-traders and four protectionists.
– I am not aware of that, but it may have been so.
– The innocence of the honorable and learned gentleman is charming. Possibly he was not aware of it, but I may tell him that every other member of the House was. In that respect, on the Tariff question alone, and on questions arising under the Tariff, we admit that we are essentially a coalition Government - some of us hold one view and some another.
– Is that consonant with responsible government ?
– It is on all the matters we have in hand. If this matter should come before us by request from the Imperial Government, we shall deal with it in accordance with our election pledges.
– Who will deal with it? The present Government cannot deal with it.
– Every individual mem-: ber of th’e Government.
– But who will lead? The honorable gentleman or the other half of the head of the Government?
– Wait until it comes along; we shall then soon fell the honorable and learned member.
– When the matter comes before us by request from the Imperial Government we shall be prepared to deal with it.
– I do not know that the Government will then be able to deal with anything.
– Dealing with the’ speech of the leader of the Opposition, that honorable gentleman, in his opening remarks, complained bitterly of the action of honorable members now on this side of the House in taking the conduct of business out of the hands of the late Government. He argued that, under ordinary circumstances, we should have allowed the House to go into Committee, and to deal with the amendment of the honorable member for Corinella there. I admit that, under ordi-. ra.ry circumstances, that would have been a fair request to make, and I should have been one of the first to agree to it ; but my honorable friends know that the late Government stated openly the alternative which they had to propose.
– Not on the motion to recommit.
– They told us what they intended to do in Committee. If they had asked us to go into Committee to deal with the question on its merits, they would have been allowed to do so ; but they did not ask that. I believe that if we had gone into Committee, the majority against the Government would have been larger.
– There would not have been a majority against the Government in Committee.
– The honorable member for Barker, for one, would have voted against the Government in Committee.
– What about the honorable member for Dalley? How would he have voted, if we had moved to strike out the whole proviso?
– The amendment of the honorable member for Corinella was carried on its merits by five votes, whereas the Government were defeated on the proposal to recommit by a majority of two votes.
– On the one occasion there was not a full attendance, but on the other there was.
– For my own part, I was not aware that the amendment was to be moved by the honorable and learned member for Corinella.
– Nor was I.
– I do not think ‘that many of us knew of it until it was proposed. I voted in accordance with the views which I expressed during the second reading debate on the Bill introduced by the Barton Government, and I think that most honorable , members did likewise. On that occasion I stated what were the provisions to which I objected, and I voted all through in strict accordance with that statement. It was not our fault that the late Government chose to make clause 48 a vital question. That was a matter for themselves. But they could hardly expect us. who were not supporting them, to reverse the vote we had recorded a few days previously, simply because they were making the question a vital one.
– We expected fair play, and we were deceived.
– Poor little babies ! But honorable members were not deceived. They are too clever for that.
– The right honorable gentleman’s turn is coming.
– If we get the same amount of fair play as we extended to the late Government, we shall ‘not ask for anything more.
– The honorable member will get it.
– We do not wish for anything more. My honorable friend cannot point to a single instance in which the late Opposition attempted to obstruct business, or to thwart progress in any way. We dealt with each matter as it came up, purely and simply on its merits.
– Hear, hear ! There is no question about that.
– The ejection of the late Government from office was a matter for which they alone were responsible, since the situation was one of their own creation. Honorable members who voted against them did so in accordance with their previously expressed convictions. The leader of the Opposition referred in a sneeringtone this afternoon to the remark of the Prime Minister, that in one respect there is a strong resemblance between the members of the Opposition and the supporters of the Government, in thai both are democrats and liberals; and he proceeded to ridicule the assertion by referring to two or. three honorable members whom he regarded as conservatives. It is well known that I have never had any sympathy with conservatism, and that I have supported advanced liberalism throughout the whole of my political career. But in the matter- of exclusiveness, there is a very strong resemblance between the ultra-conservat’ive and the labour member. They are equally exclusive. Your ultra-conservative is in favour of class rule, and your labour member is also in favour of class rule. The only difference between them is this: Your ultra-conservative believes in entrusting political power to that class which, having acquired a stake in the country, has shown some capacity to manage its own affairs.
– Cannot the labour members do that?
– They nave not done it. Honorable members must remember that I do not sympathize with the conservatives, and have never sympathized with them. They contend that those who have shown their capacity to manage their own business by acquiring a stake’ in the country, in the shape of property-
– What does the honorable member call a stake in the country ?
– I am stating the argument from the conservative, not from my own point of view. Their contention is that the class for which they ask for what I consider an undue share of political power has given evidence of being able to manage its affairs intelligently.
– Is it not the man with a wife and family and no money who has the real stake in the country ?
– My honorable friend’s tent, if he had one, would be a good instance of what is meant by a stake in the country. Honorable members opposite also believe that the Government of the country should be in the hands of one class, the labour class.
– That is the honorable member’s mistake.
– I do not say that it is not just as capable as any other, but they desire to give exclusive power to a section of the community which has not yet given the same evidence of capacity to manage its own affairs.
– Does the honorable member mean that the labour members have not shown that they can manage their own business ?
– The labouring class has not shown that capacity to the same extent as other classes have done. If they had done so, (hey would not be under the necessity of working for wages.
– Many of the honorable members of the Labour Party do’ not work for wages, but manage businesses of their own.
– I have been opposed to both parties always. Both the Prime Minister and myself believe in making every section of the community equal in the eyes of the law, and in giving every section of the community the same voice in framing the laws of the country.
– That is the policy of the Labour Party.
– It is in that respect that we differ from our friends opposite. The honorable member for Hindmarsh cannot deny that he came into this Parliament bound by a very stringent pledge.
– What was the pledge ?
– Read it. We are proud of it.
– It is this-
I hereby pledge myself not to oppose the candidate selected by the recognised political organi- nation, and, if elected, to do my utmost to carry out the principles embodied in the Federal Labour Platform, and on all questions affecting the platform, to vote as a majority of the parliamentary party may decide at a duly constituted caucus meeting.
My honorable friends claim to represent the whole people ; but had the employers any voice in framing the programme, to which they have bound themselves body and soul ?
– Certainly. They can come into the unions if they like. We welcome them.
– My honorable friends know that they come into Parliament as the pledged advocates of one class.
– Not at all.
– I accept the correction to this extent. In using the word class, I was rather too comprehensive. I should have said section of a class. The recent action of imy honorable friends shows that they have come here as the pledged advocates of those who are enrolled in the trades unions, and not of the whole of the workers.
– Employers, lawyers, squatters, doctors, and other sections of the community belong to the Labour Party.
– That is a revelation to me. I am not surprised at lawyers belonging to the party, though I believe that the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbournehas not yet signed its platform.
– I think that the honorable member will admit that men of all classes and occupations are free to join the party.
– Just as any person is free to commit suicide. If they are willing to enter upon a career of confiscation, they can join the Labour Party.
– No one is free to commit suicide. The honorable member would be arrested if he attempted to do so.
– Perhaps I should nol have used that illustration.
– Have not the labour candidates to face the electors?
– Then whose fault is it that we are here?
– I am not blaming the honorable member for anything. He should not be ashamed of his position.
– I am not ashamed of it; I am proud of it.
– If I have misrepresented the platform of the Labour Party in any way, I am open to correction.
– Do not the electors accept our platform in choosing us to represent them?
– My honorable friends come here as the pledged advocates of the trade unions.
– That is not so.
– The trades unions are excellent electioneering organizations; there is no denying that. Every man in a trades union is a canvasser for a labour candidate, and they certainly select excellent representatives. I have never said anything against the labour members in this Chamber. They are a most reputable body of men, who are attentive to their duties, and conscientiously carry out their election pledges. But I object to the whole machine which creates class rule. My honorable friends know that I have always been opposed to that. I object to any man binding himself body and soul to an organization outside Parliament. I think that it is right for every man to place his own views before the electors. If those views are acceptable, he should be sent into Parliament. I do not believe in any man so moulding his views as to comply with a platform framed by a body of men outside of Parliament.
– Those views must be entertained by the majority of the electors, or they would not send us here.
– The honorable member must, of course, represent a majority of those who vote in his constituency.
– Yes, of those who vote.
-i secured a majority of 4,780 over the candidate who would have been supported by the right honorable gentleman.
– I am sorry to again have to call attention to the fact that interjections across the chamber - practically conversations carried on between honorable members - are highly disorderly, and render it almost impossible for the honorable member who is addressing the Chair to pursue a consistent line of argument. I must again ask honorable members to refrain from engaging in conversations across the chamber.
– The leader of the Opposition took exception to a remark made by the Prime Minister in a recent speech at Warragul, to the effect that the programme of the Labour Government was framed in the vaults. He contended that there was no truth in that statement, and, of course, I accept his denial. But what does that denial involve? It involves the abandonment of the election pledges of the members of the Labour Party, by which they engage to abide by the views of the caucus in every matter affecting their programme. Therefore, it is a poor compliment to pay to a Labour Government to say that they could act independently only by a violation of the pledge under which they entered Parliament.
– If the whole of the members of the Labour Party are of one opinion, how can their views be influenced by persons outside?
– I will answer that in the true Scotch fashion bv asking another question. If my honorable friends are of the one opinion before they go into the caucus, where is the necessity for the rule that has been laid down ?
– Because we have been tricked too often by people giving us pledges and promises.
– Then what the honor- . able and learned member for West Sydney says cannot be true. All the members of the Labour Party cannot be of the one mind before they go into the caucus.
– The honorable member stated that we had violated our pledge in regard to the Arbitration Bill ; I say that we were of one opinion, so far as that was concerned.
– How did the honorable and learned member know that ?
– We found it out first of all.
– That is what the leader of the Opposition denied. He said that the Government had framed their own programme in absolute independence of the party. Honorable members must have entered the caucus, either in order to make the minority bow to the will of the majority, and come in here as if they believed in it, or merely to perpetrate a farce. If they were all’ of the one opinion before they went into the caucus it would be absurd for them to enter into any conclave upon the matter. The leader of the Opposition told us that the policy of the late Government was known to the whole world. I would ask the honorable member whose policy it was. Was it the policy of the Government or of the labour organizations outside of Parliament?
– It was the policy of the Government.
– It was a policy framed by the organizations outside of Parliament, which the labour members were sent in here to carry out in obedience to their masters.
– It was the policy of the electors at the last general elections, which was confirmed by an overwhelming majority. It is so good a policy that the honorable member is not game to knock out one plank of’ it.
– The leader of the Opposition referred to the Free-trade League and compared it to the labour organizations outside of Parliament. Now, is there a single member of this House who comes in here with the brand of the Free-trade League upon him, and bound body and soul to carry out its behests? The’ Freetrade League will, no doubt, pledge itself outside of Parliament to vote for those candidates whose views are in consonance with its own, but it does not make its representatives its servile instruments.
– They have to sign a pledge in New South Wales.
– They can do without it just the same.
– The Free-trade League of New South Wales did not put their brand upon the Prime Minister. The leader of the Opposition referred also to the tobacco monopoly, and pointed out the injury that was being done to the community by that combination. I am not prepared to say that his assertions are not absolutely true, but I submit that there are other means of dealing with such a matter, besides nationalizing an industry and making it a State monopoly. Surely these monopolies can be prevented by legislation from doing any harm to the public. The present Government are just as much opposed as are my honorable friends opposite to any monopoly that imposes disabilities upon the general public. We may have a different method of dealing with it, but we have the same object in view, and honorable members will find that we are quite as earnest as they are in that respect.
– What is the honorable member’s method ?
– 7The honorable member is questioning me rather too soon. We have not yet had time to consider the whole of the details of the legislation by which we could deal with such matters.
– What has the honorable member been doing during the last three weeks ?
– What was the honorable and learned member doing for three months ?
– Combating the stratagems and tricks of honorable members opposite.
– The late Government during the three months they were in office passed only one Bill, namely, the Seat of Government Bill.
– That was something which the former Government did not succeed in achieving during the three years that it occupied office.
– That Bill was passed in a day or two, and the other portion of the term during which the late Government held office was fruitless. The leader of the Opposition also took exception to the proposal of the present Government to postpone the appointment of the High Commissioner. He said that we ought to make the appointment at once, and trust to public opinion to compel the States Governments to come into line. Is that the proper way to approach independent States Governments, who have just as clear rights as we have under the Constitution? We believe that it would be much more conducive to the best interests of the people whom we both represent if we met the States Governments in friendly conference, and came to some amicable agreement. We know that the members of the States Governments are as anxious as we are to promote the greatest good for the people at the least possible cost, and we believe that economy can best be served by entering into’ friendly conference with them. I would point out that the High Commissioner will have very important functions to discharge, and that, if he does his duty ably and conscientiously, he can accomplish a great deal. He will be in a position to promote the interests of our producers, by advertising our products, and resources in the old world, by opening up markets, by,1 making the best possible freight arrangements for the cheap transport of our exports to those markets, and by the collection and dissemination of useful information. In this connexion, perhaps, I may be permitted to digress a little from the speech of the leader of the Opposition, by saying that the Government are looking forward to accomplishing very useful work, in conjunction with the States Governments, during the recess. In the first place, the States have public debts, amounting to £2 22:000,000 One of the strongest arguments -in favour of the Federal Union was that increased facilities* would be given for borrowing money for public purposes on favourable terms, because the credit of the Commonwealth would stand very much higher thai* that of individual States; I think that that was a fair and reasonable view “to” take. If the credit of the Commonwealth stand’s higher than that of individual States to the extent of even a half per cent. - and I think that is a very modest assumption - we might by taking over the States’ debts, effect a saving upon bur annual interest bill of £1,110,000. That would surely be an advantage well worth gaining.
– Why delay the matter?
– There will be no delay in dealing with the matter, unless honorable members opposite unduly prolong the session. If we can go into recess within a reasonable time, we shall be able to deal with the matter promptly. If we do not succeed in reaching recess, the honorable member will not find us whining for office. We can leave office in as good a spirit as we came into it. Reverting to the subject of the appointment of a High Commissioner, I would point out that there are many directions in which that official may render great service. I would remind my honorable friends that the Federal Parliament has al-, ready devoted more than a year to the consideration of one question, the fiscal issue, and it seems to me, that by the time that the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill has been finally dealt with, we shall have devoted something like a similar period to the consideration of that measure. Surely it is fair that the great producing interests of Australia should receive some attention. The Federal Constitution has left the control of those interests in a somewhat divided state. The Governments of the States have charge of the various Departments of Agriculture; but the Government of the Commonwealth have the sole power to give direct encouragement to production or export. It is absolutely necessary, if we are to evolve a wise and intelligent policy in this direction, that we shall do so in conference with the States Governments, and that is a matter to which the Government intend to devote special attention. I believe that the Parliament and the Government of the Commonwealth may do more good for Australia by developing and expanding her natural resources than they can in any other direction. I would draw attention to the proposal which was submitted last session, as well’ as early this session, by the honorable and learned member for Bendigo, in regard to the creation of a Federal Bureau of Agriculture. It is the intention of the Government to take that proposal into their serious consideration. We are all in sympathy with the object which the honorable and learned member has in view, and it is the intention of the Government to do all that we can to come to such arrangements with the States as will enable us to give every reasonable encouragement to the expansion of the natural resources of the country.
– Have the Government any concrete suggestion to make?
– If we have a concrete proposal, there is good reason why it should not be made public. The matter is one that must be dealt with, as the honorable and learned member will admit, in conference with the States Governments. What position should we occupy if we first announced exactly what we proposed to do, and then proceeded to negotiate with the States Governments? My honorable and learned friend will surely see that it is only reasonable that we should not make any definite proposal until we have conferred with the States Governments. It is indeed due to the States Governments that that position should be taken up by us. But I am at liberty to point out the direction which these negotiations will take. The honorable and learned member for Ballarat has been long and honorably associated with such progressive movements as water conservation, immigration, and other important questions of public concern, and I may tell the House that in these respects the Government are in entire sympathy, and accord with him. These also are matters that will have to be dealt with in the first instance in conference with the States Governments.
– Does the honorable gentleman speak of irrigation?
– I am referring to water conservation and irrigation generally.
– We are entirely in accord with the Government programme, but what we wish to know is when it is to be proceeded with.
– We shall go on with it as rapidly as possible.
– Then why not go on with all these matters without any recess?
-r- Such a suggestion may impose on the occupants of .the galleries, but it can have no ‘such effect on old politicians like the honorable and learned mem ber himself. Did the Government, of which he was a member, attempt to do anything in the direction to which I am referring?
– We undoubtedly did; but we were throttled by the attacks of honorable members like the’ Minister of Trade and Customs.
– Then the Government kept the matter a very close secret.
– We had to do so. Mr. Isaacs. - The Minister does not mean to say that the Government will not do anything for the producers, except that which the States Governments agree to do?
– Certainly not. This is not the time to make such a declaration. If we desired to flout the States Governments, to defy them, and to have them arraigned in opposition to us, that is the course which we should follow. We commence by saying that we shall endeavour by friendly negotiations and conference with the States Governments to come to amicable arrangements that will be conducive to the best interests of the people of the Commonwealth. We surely should not, on the other hand, hold out a threat to the States Governments, and say to them, “ If you do not agree with what we propose, we shall carry it out in spite of your opposition.”
– It is surely our duty to help the producers.
– We shall not be found shirking our duty in regard to the producers. I trust that my honorable and learned friend is doing his duty to his constituents.
– I hope so. Mr. McLEAN. - I trust that my honorable and learned friend feels that he is discharging his duty to his constituents, the producers, by doing all that he can to bring into power an organization which would proceed to tax them off their holdings. Is that the way in which he desires to do his duty to them ? I have fought with the honorable and learned member in the past, and I hope to fight with him again, and the remark which I made a moment ago was drawn from me only by his interjection. It relates to a matter which his constituents will have to determine.
– I do not object to the remark; but T say that the policy of taxing the people off the land is the policy of the free-trade democratic association, with which the honorable gentleman is now allied.
– The honorable and learned member knows that that is the ultimate goal of the party which he is now supporting. He knows that it supports the nationalization of Land, Capital and industry. How are they to be nationalized ?
– By the method which is favoured by the honorable member for Lang, who is a Government supporter.
– By means of taxation imposed not for the legitimate purposes of revenue, but to reduce the value of holdings, in order that they may be ultimately acquired by the money wrung in this way from the holders.
– Who imposed the Land Values Taxation in New South Wales?
– My honorable and learned friend knows that the doctrine to which I have referred is preached by the paid agitators of the Labour Party, and is advocated by their press. I presume that they will not repudiate their utterances on these questions? The leader of the Opposition was very candid in his statement that it was the intention of his party to turn the Government out of office at the first opportunity. The Government do not complain of that attitude. If the Opposition proceed fairly the Government will be quite prepared to meet any legitimate attack as soon as it may be desired to launch it. I give the leader of the Opposition every credit for his statement, and do not feel less friendly towards him, or to any member of his party, because of the attitude which he and they have taken up towards the Ministry. I recognise that they differ from our views just as we honestly differ from those which they hold. We can fight fairly, and if we are members of the defeated party we shall be able to take our defeat like men. I can only say in conclusion that I trust that the Government during their term of office, whether it be long or short - and I am not particularly concerned about the duration of its life - will acquit themselves in a manner that will be creditable to the Commonwealth, and conducive to the best interests of its people.
– I have listened with some degree of interest to the statement of the policy of the peculiar Government that now controls the destinies of the Commonwealth.
– It is not more peculiar than is the Opposition.
– It is the most peculiar Government that has ever been brought into power.
– There are some peculiar combinations in the Opposition.
– We are peculiarly solid. We all should, doubtless, have liked to hear the opinion of the late Sir Henry Parkes, who was a high constitutional authority, on the position of the present Government. I have some recollection of a speech in which he dealt with the principles of constitutional government in the sense that the head of a Government should be responsible to the King’s adviser., and have the right to act as the mouthpiece of his Ministry. In that respect we find that the present Government occupy a most extraordinary position. It is a double-headed Government. We have two Prime Ministers, each of them speaking according to the dictates of his own conscience.
– Only one Prime Minister.
– I think I shall be able to show, from statements made by the respective leaders of the coalition, that there are two gentlemen at the head of the Government who are “ equal in all things. ‘ ‘ It is known as the “ Reid-McLean Government,” which means that it has two heads. I expected to hear from the first spokesman on behalf of the Government some declaration as to the methods which they will adopt in proceeding to work, but no such statement was given. The Prime Minister occupied much time in dealing with the one question on which the Ministry - and presumably their supporters - appear to be somewhat solid - the policy of anti- labour.
– That is not so.
– The Government programme is the most miserable, threadbare policy of which I have ever heard.
– They have none.
– The Prime Minister is said to have referred to the programme of a certain Government as a “crawling “ one, but the policy which he has put forward cannot be described even in that way, except in the sense that the one dominant idea in the minds of the Government is to crawl into recess. The Prime Minister occupied considerable time in dealing with the alleged tactics of the Labour Party, and statements have been made by him, as well as by the other head of the Government, that are not correct. I am somewhat surprised that these honorable members who have occupied high and important positions for many years, and who have been more or less in close touch with the Labour Party, should have made such assertions in regard to the methods of the party. They have either been asleep, so far as the Labour Party and its work are concerned, or they have designedly misrepresented the true position of affairs. I should be sorry to say that they would wilfully misrepresent the methods of the party, but I have no hesitation in asserting that those methods have been misrepresented, both inside and outside this House, with the deliberate intention, if possible, to discount the influence, and to check the growing power of the great labour movement. It is worthy of note that the Prime Minister occupied more time in dealing with the planks in the Government platform, with which they do not propose to do anything this session, than with those on which” they are solid. They may be said to be solid so far as the introduction of t’he Papua Bill and the Trades Marks Bill - both measures left over by previous Governments - are concerned ; but there appears to be nothing else on which they are united. We are told that Parliament is to go into recess before dealing with the High Commissioner Bill, and that the members of the Government are to be allowed to vote as they please in regard to the Manufactures Encouragement Bill. We are not told how it will be possible to secure the passing of that measure, unless some one takes charge of it. Is it to be left, with the consent of this double-barrelled Government, in the care of a private member, or is some member of the Ministry to have a free hand in introducing that contentious measure? Almost every question of importance is in the same position. We tried to induce the Minister of Trade and Customs to say how it was possible to carry on business in connexion with matters about which he was speaking, such as preferential trade, but the honorable gentleman declined to reply. The Prime Minister also declines to say how it is possible for Parliament to deal with those questions, unless the Cabinet ‘lias some definite opinion upon them, and provides some method for dealing with them. If the members of the present Administration have any hope that they will last, and if they are to be the great Government they are claiming to be, which is going to set up the constitutional system, restore responsible government, and give effect to all the .ideals put before us by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, as a justification for bringing about a coalition, they must expect to retain a sufficient majority to enable them to carry on until the Imperial Government sends out some proposal in connexion with preferential trade. But they decline to tell us what they will do when it comes. They decline to say whether the question will be dealt with on free-trade or protectionist lines?. What has been disclosed shows that the coalition on the other side has been formed for certain objects, ulterior to the questions now before the country ; and that the principal object has been to put out the Labour Government and to keep them out, because they were a Labour Government, and not because of anything they had done, or of anything they proposed to do. The chief object was to take their places - in whose interests I shall presently show. Apart from that object, they do not seem to care whether they have a programme or not. They do not propose to make any issue vital except that of holding on to the Treasury benches. That has been the one issue in their minds, and for which they have been scrambling in a way which, to say the least of it, has been a little bit tricky.
– The honorable member is very rough.
– I am not as rough as I feel inclined to be, nor as I think the circumstances warrant; but I am not given to saying extremely strong or hard things, because I have some sensitiveness with respect to people’s feelings. Considering the general interests of the community, I take up the position that an unholy combination now holds office, that it is a menace to the welfare of the Commonwealth, and should not be permitted to remain in power a day longer than we can help. That is a somewhat new position for members of the Labour Party to take up.
– What about the unholy combination on the other side?
– Hitherto in the various States we have been satisfied that legislation of which we approved should be passed by other parties. We have endeavoured to take a hand in the moulding of legislation, that it might be fair to al! classes of the community. We have here, however, a Government in power who are go]ng to represent the minority, who areorganizing deliberately outside to secure as a power behind them ‘all the most reactionary influences that exist. It is therefore not in the interests of the Commonwealth that this Administration should exist at all - that it should be tolerated for even a day. I propose in a few words to show what has led up to the present situation, and I desire particularly to deal with the right honorable gentleman at the head of the Government.
– The honorable member now admits that the right honorable member for East Sydney is the head of the Government.
– During the last contest in New South Wales the right honorable member for East Sydney is reported to have made these remarks -
It is. my proud boast that when I got power in New South Wales I compelled the men of wealth to pay their share of the taxation of the country. There had been some at the head of the liberal and free-trade parties for fifty years who shirked .their plain duty, but the moment I got power I used it to take £800,000 worth of burdens off the masses of the people, and to shift them on to the land-owners and wealthy people of the country.
– And yet the Labour Party turned the right honorable gentleman out of office.
– In doing that, the right honorable gentleman was -helped by the members of the Labour Party. He has quite recognised, that, and has always borne testimony to the fact. But what does the right honorable gentleman who made that boast do now ? Does he propose now to relieve the masses of taxation which he said it was his proud boast to have done in New South Wales? Now the Commonwealth Government has charge of taxation, of the raising of revenue for the States, yet we hear no word from the light honorable gentleman about lifting any burdens from the masses of the people.
– Some honorable members opposite claim now that more should be put on.
– The honorable member supports those who insist upon increasing the burdens.
– I am aware that the honorable members for Lang and Parramatta are very uncomfortable, and I do not wonder at it, when I find the honorable member for Lang sitting behind a protectionist.
– The honorable member is himself sitting behind one now.
– I was not returned on a fiscal policy. I am carrying out my pledges whilst the right honorable gentleman is not carrying out his pledges.
– I did my, best.
– The right honorable gentleman said that it was his proud boast that he was able to take £800,000 worth of burdens off the masses of the people, and whilst he certainly did so, I wish to know from him whether the present Minister of Trade and Customs has agreed to join him in relieving the masses of the people of the burdens of customs taxation? Has that honorable gentleman agreed to do so by introducing the same method of taxation on land values as that adopted by the Prime Minister, or has the right honorable member for East Sydney given up his policy and deserted his principles in that respect? I desire to direct the attention of honorable members and of the people outside to the change in the attitude of the right honorable member for East Sydney. In New South Wales he was a straightout free-trader, who believed- in an absolutely; free port, and in raising revenue by direct taxation.
– What does the honorable member for Darling propose to do?
– What are the honorable member’s fiscal opinions? He has been here four years, and we do not know what . they are.
– If the honorable member for Parramatta expects to throw me off the track by his interjections he makes a mistake. If the honorable member does not keep quiet I shall have a shot at him presently.
– I do not mind a bit. The honorable member’s little pea-rifle will not hurt anybody.
– The honorable member for Parramatta knows that what I am stating is correct. He is aware that the present Prime Minister was in New South Wales a believer in absolute free-trade, apart from duties upon stimulants and narcotics.
– What has the honorable member to do with fiscalism?
– I should like some degree of attention from the honorable member who, although he has now become a chronic interjector, sat very quiet while a member of the Reid Ministry in New South Wales. The honorable member, while in that position, never said a word for five years.
– The position in which the honorable member is now requires a lot of explanation.
– The honorable member was a member of the Government who, in New South Wales, took the action to which I have referred. I am proposing to show what kind of a Government we have now in the Federal Parliament, and to show that the present Prime Minister is not a man who should be intrusted with the welfare of the Commonwealth. When he carried direct taxation in New South Wales, the right honorable gentleman was a believer in absolute free-trade, but when he entered Federal politics, he became from the very start associated with those who in Victoria have been recognised as the most conservative body in the1 politics of the State. The honorable and learned member for Ballarat is aware that the revenue tariffists of Victoria, the men who used to be called the “Flinders-lane crowd,” were dead opposed to land value taxation, or any other form of direct taxation. The right honorable member for East Sydney, who did such noble and creditable work in New South Wales, has become associated in Federal politics with those who have been notoriously the class of men who have formed the Legislative. Council of Victoria, and who have consistently blocked every m democratic measure that came before them.” In New South Wales, the men with whom the right honorable gentleman was associated, were real free-traders, men of the Single Tax League, and of the school to which the honorable member for Lang belongs, and I recognise that there are democrats amongst them. I am aware, from the active part I have taken in political life, that the class of men with whom the right honorable gentleman has been associated in Federal politics are amongst the most ultraconservative politicians to be found in Victoria. He has been associated with them in connexion with the fiscal faith he set up as the only policy upon which the country should be run. From my point of view, it is but natural that the .bad company which he has kept should have led him away from the progressive and liberal faith disclosed bv his political action in his State.
– The right honorable gentleman is on a missionary tour.
– I shall be able to show from quotations from the public prints what his missionary tour is. I wish to show the peculiar combination which is now ranged behind the right honorable gentleman. In speaking in Sydney he prefaced one of his addresses by some remarks applied to the honorable and learned member for Bal larat, which I think would be more appropriate if applied to himself. He is reported by the Daily Telegraph to have said -
Mr. Deakin, who was all things one time or another, and nothing very long, except an eloquent and courteous gentleman, had given them a few ingenious catch-cries with which it would be interesting to deal.
– Who said that?
– The present Prime Minister. That shows the kind of friendly feeling there was between the two honorable gentlemen. The reference to being all things at one time and another is, in my opinion, much more applicable to the Prime Minister than to the honorable and learned member for Ballarat.
– From what is the honorable member quoting?
– From the official organ of the right honorable gentleman’s party - the Daily Telegraph of 3rd September, 1903 - during the recent electoral contest.
– Will the honorable member vouch for the ‘accuracy of the report ?
– I vouch for the fact that the report appeared in the Sydney Daily Telegraph, but I never vouch for the accuracy of anything that is published in the press. I shall not deal very lengthily with the changes of opinion, and the various arguments which have been expressed in regard to fiscal peace, but I think that it is important to know what sort of Government we have in power. Before we support the Government, we should be satisfied that we can place faith in them. Now, the Sydney Daily Telegraph reports the right honorable member for East Sydney as saying, prior to the elections -
Regarding the question of fiscal peace and free-trade, the protectionists had all the fight taken out of them. He had challenged Mr: Deakin and his colleagues to fight the battle of free-trade and protection to .a finish, and, although they had accepted his challenge, they now came along ‘with the flag of fiscal peace. Well, they would get no fiscal peace from him until he pulled them out:
Can honorable members recollect any occasion when the right honorable gentleman tested the question in this chamber, and tried to find out how many others held his views? As1 a matter of fact, he has left the question untested. Then the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, speaking of th’e present Prime Minister, was reported to have said -
He has played round the question of contract labour and employment of white seamen upon mail boats, but has formulated no distinct policy in these regards. Of course, foreign traders fight for foreign ships as well as the goods they bring. The Government prefers a preference to British ships. Foreign traders would leave our coasting trade open to all commerce without conditions. The Government aim at protection of Australian seamen; but on none of these points does the Opposition challenge us.
The right honorable member for East Sydney, in every spe’ech on the subject that I remember to have read’, has raised great objection to the provisions of our laws which prohibit the immigration of labour under contract and the employment of coloured labour on mail boats, as well as to fiscal peace and preferential trade unless it meant a lowering of the fiscal barriers in; favour of England, even if they were left up against the foreigner ; but his keynote has always been the treatment meted out to the six hatters. I am therefore astonished that, now that he has had an opportunity to present a policy to this Parliament, he has not asserted his intention to alter the law which affected them. If the matter was so important as to warrant the fighting of an election upon it, surely it might be expected to appear in the Government programme. The right honorable member, however, said not a” word > about it. Then I should like to know how the .honorable member for Eden-Monaro squares his present position with the following statement to the electors of Surrey Hills :-
When they talked about free-trade, -and the socalled glorious change that would be wrought by putting Mr. Reid into power, they must have sufficient common sense to look at Mr. Reid’s political past. The elector who did not support the present Government was simply working against Australia, and proposed to send all the money to the foreigner.
I wish to know if the honorable member has lost his common sense. Surely he should follow his own advice, and not support in power a dangerous man who will send all the money to the foreigner. No doubt he at the time believed what he said, and I should like to know what has influenced him to change his position. These are the surprises, the unique circumstances of the present state of affairs, and I should like to know how government is to be carried on under them. The combination which has been brought about has been arrived at in a somewhat peculiar way. Both the origi nal parties - that led by the right honorable member for East Sydney, and that lead by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat - were holding secret meetings and attending caucuses day after day. Then we saw some proposals put into black and white. Very nice complimentary letters passed from one party to another, and we were given to understand that the party led by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat declined to join a coalition unless their leader was made leader of the coalition. The moment this Parliament met, the honorable and learned member for Ballarat stated that one of his aims was to bring about a union of parties, so -that there would be only: two parties in the House. To carry that out, the secret meetings to which I have referred, were held. I do not know that they took place in the vaults. I have been told that they were held in one of the suburbs. At any rate, Ave read interesting stories about the honorable member for Macquarie taking out children for a walk to mislead the general public, and even the kind of hat in which the right honorable member for Balaclava Avas going away was mentioned. Other statements were made which were calculated to bring both parties into ridicule. Then, notwithstanding the manner in which honorable members opposite have denounced the caucus as a wicked thing, both parties sat in caucus daily. I would like to be informed by the supporters of the honorable and learned member for Ballarat how the decision of their caucus, that there should be no coalition Avith the Reid party, stands now.
– Why not tell us about the negotiations of parties opposite ?
– We have . no negotiations. We are not a secret party. All that
Ave do is done openly , and Ave are not ashamed of it. It is those who are associated Avith underground engineering who measure others’ corn with their own bushel. We are now told that those who have 1 broken away: from the resolution of their caucus not to support the Reid party are the only true protectionists, and that the others are secessionists. That is a most extraordinary statement. It appears to me that the protectionists who have remained loyal to their fiscal faith are those who sit on this side of the Chamber, not those who have been swallowed up by the right honorable member for East Sydney.
– That is Socialism. The Government ha’e half, and Ave have t the other half.
– I shall show presently what kind of Socialism it is that honorable members opposite are supporting. They are going in for minority rule red hot.
– The late Government left office as a protest against majority rule.
– There is no truth in that statement. They set an example which other Governments would do well to follow, but which this Government does not seem likely to follow. They walked out of office rather than abandon their principles, and they did not crawl into office, or take advantage of a side wind. I should like to see how the following paragraph from the election speech of the honorable and learned member for Ballarat fits in with the present position : -
A White- Australia goes further than the preservation of the complexion of the people whose homes are here. It means the multiplying of those homes, so that we shall be strong enough to use and defend the whole of this Commonwealth. It means the maintenance of conditions of life fit for a white man and a white woman. It means equal laws and equal opportunities for all, and protection against the under-paid labour of other lands. It means social justice, so far as we can establish it, and the payment of fair wages. A White Australia means a civilization whose foundations are built in healthy lives, lived in honest toil, under circumstances that do not imply degradation. A White Australia means protection. We protect ourselves from armed aggression. Why not protect ourselves from aggression by commercial means? (Cheers.) We protect ourselves against undesirable aliens; why not protect ourselves against the productions of the undesirable aliens’ labour? (Loud cheers.) Unless a White Australia is to have more than a surface complexion, it must represent a policy which goes down to the roots of the national life from which the whole of our social system and political organization must spring.
We know how strongly the honorable and learned member, and his predecessor Sn the office of Prime Minister, were in favour of a white Australia, and we know, further, that the first Parliament’ of the Commonwealth was almost unanimous on the subject. We have had from the honorable and learned member for Ballarat a definition of the meaning of a White Australia policy, and now we find that honorable and learned member allying himself with the Prime Minister, who has denounced the White Australia policy, and the measure passed into law to give effect to it. We may now pertinently ask whether the Prime Minister will remain true to his election pledges, and endeavour by means of his administra tion to defeat the object of the Immigration Restriction Act. Is contract labour to be admitted?
– The administration will be in accordance with the law.
– The Minister must know very well that the question of adhering to the law is very much a matter of opinion. When the Immigration Restriction Bill was before us, it was pointed out that the question whether it would prove effective or. otherwise would very largely depend. upon the administration, because so much reliance would have to be placed in the discretion of the Minister and the officers under him. Furthermore, we have had evidence that the object of the Act has been defeated to a large extent in Western Australia, because officers who were unfavourable to the law had winked at the admission of Chinese,
– I never heard of that before.
– It has been admitted, and certain officers have been removed in consequence.
– It is true t’hat officers have been removed, but the reasons for their removal have not been published or submitted to this House.
– The removals took place whilst the right honorable gentleman was in office.
– I am not making charges against the officials generally in connexion with the administration of the Act, but it is admitted that the effectiveness of the law depends very largely upon the wise exercise of their discretion. I have no faith’ in the present Government as administrators of such a law. The Prime Minister has turned somersaults upon nearly every subject upon which he has declared himself, and he may perform a similar acrobatic feat in this matter. I complain, however, that he has not sufficiently taken the House into his confidence as to his intentions with regard to the administration of the Immigration Restriction Act He has given us practically no information, but has contented himself with abusing and misrepresenting the Labour Party, and I think that I am fully justified in entertaining suspicions as to his intentions. The Government have no policy, except that of clinging to office. I leave it to honorable members now sitting on the Government benches, who believe in the earnestness and sincerity of the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, to explain how it is that they are supporting the Government, led by a declared opponent of the White Australia policy.
– The honorable member forgets that the Government which he supported proposed to alter the white mail service.
– In what way?
– In regard to the land service.
– That is a mare’s nest.
– I know nothing of any departure from the White Australia policy on the part of the late Government. Since the last election, the Prime Minister has been very active. He was never noted for his constant attendance at Parliament ; but he has been prompted to give very close attention to public business by his ambition to secure the position of Prime Minister of the Commonwealth. He has been active outside the House, as well as here, and has apparently been paving the way for the situation which he has at last succeeded in bringing about. When he addressed a meeting of farmers at Kyneton recently, he said- -
If they asked him what was the thing upon which the Labour Party was to be most heartily congratulated, he would say, it was that the members of that party, though they came from every State in the Commonwealth, found some bond of union strong enough to enable them to sink all their State and provincial jealousies and hatred, and to work together upon a broad basis of Australian brotherhood.
It would appear from this that the Labour Party was one which the right honorable gentleman might very well support, unless there was something very wrong with their policy. He said further -
He had never denounced the labour leagues. He cherished esteem for members of any organization which endeavoured to advance the intellectual and political welfare of the country in which they lived. The great labour agitation had its root in a sound cause. It aimed at bringing about a political ideal in which the manhood and womanhood of the land would have equal power; but. the time had come when it devolved upon him to stand right across the path of the Labour Party.
At a later stage he also said -
The Labour Party was a selfish, formidable organization, which strove to terrorize the workers of Australia into their ranks or drive them into the gutter.
In the first part of his speech the right honorable gentleman made the most kindly references to the Labour Party, but he ended by denouncing them. He stated what was absolutely untrue with regard to the aims and objects of the party. He advanced no arguments in support of his assertions, and has said nothing whatever to justify his statements that the party was a “ selfish, formidable organization which strove to terrorize the workers of Australia into their ranks, or drive them into the gutter.” No greater slander could have been uttered. The statement has no foundation in fact. If the Labour Party had any such aim as that which he has indicated, it should not have been spoken of in the terms used by the right honorable member at an earlier stage of his address. I do not propose to deal with the methods adopted to bring about the defeat of the Watson Government. I entertain very strong feelings with regard, not to the defeat of the Government, but to the way in which a measure of vast importance, involving very large interests, including those of the most valuable industry in the Commonwealth, has been sacrificed in order to gratify the ambition of those who wanted office. History tells us that the great Napoleon, as he was called, in order to gratify his ambition, sacrificed the lives of 2,000,000 persons who had no interest in his quarrels. So in the present case the interests of a very large and important section of the community were sacrificed in order to gratify the ambition of the Prime Minister, if the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill had first been launched on its way I should not have had any grave cause for complaint; but the course adopted by the right honorable gentleman and his supporters was such as to indicate that they had no regard whatever for the interests of the masses. They were actuated to a far greater extent by consideration for the classes who are behind them. After the defeat of the late Government some statements were made by different party leaders, and I desire to call special attention to some remarks which fell from the Prime Minister. He said -
I think this division marks a line of cleavage which will dominate the politics of the immediate future. The crisis which brought into line men like Mr. Deakin and myself points to some great national emergency. It cannot be said that this is one of those old time combinations in order to secure the distinctions of office. It is notorious .that Mr. Deakin’s one anxiety throughout the present crisis has been to avoid office. I think the public of Australia will give us credit for having in our minds some higher purpose.
The system of government under which we live has been outraged by this new form of caucus Cabinet and caucus Executive. Then we have the network which surrounds the present Government in relation to despotic outside bodies, which are Ihe masters of the Ministries, and all the time hold their political destinies in the hollow of their hands. All this has come to an end.
Then, again, the honorable member for Gippsland, speaking in reference to the caucus machine, said -
They were told that all parties had caucus meetings. He well knew that all parties went into caucus for the election of a Speaker or Chairman of Committees, but- they never heard of other parties going into caucus to compel a minority to change their views and support the views of the majority. That process, in his opinion, was destructive of the wholesome principle of government by majority. The Labour Party numbered twenty-five in the House of Representatives. Suppose on an important question, thirteen held one view and twelve another view. They went into caucus ; the twelve men might fight hard for their views and try to induce their comrades to accept them. If they were finally outvoted, they would have to come out of the caucus meeting a solid vote, and be prepared to vote against their own convictions. Twelve votes taken from one side and put on the other meant twenty-four votes in the House of Representatives, out of a total of seventyfive.
That statement was cheered. I do not say that the Minister of Trade and Customs would wilfully make an incorrect statement in regard to the Labour Party, and the fact that, unlike the Prime Minister, he has not been in close touch with the party and its methods, is some excuse for the mistake that he made in the speech which I have just quoted. No such practice is adopted as that to which he referred. We do not compel members of the party to change their views in caucus. The only questions that are discussed by the caucus are those dealt with in our platform, and even those are discussed only in relation to any Bill that is introduced, the desire being to see whether that Bill is designed to give effect to the principles which we favour. The reference made by the Minister of Trade and Customs to machine politics,’ is entirely incorrect.
– But the Labour Party can change their platform by conference?
– Misrepresentations of this kind- are undoubtedly made with some ulterior object in view. The Minister of Trade and Customs probably did not know better-
– He repeated the same statements after he had been put right in this House.
– -The same remark applies to that section of the press which is opposed to the Labour Party. If I mistake not, the copy of the pledge from which the
Minister of Trade and Customs quoted, was taken from the Argus. That newspaper, in setting the pledge before the people, deliberately caused an alteration to be made iii regard to one word, so that it would appear that we met in caucus to deal with every question. The position is entirely different. Our platform for the last election provided for the maintenance of a White Australia, compulsory arbitration, old-age pensions, the nationalization of monopolies, a citizen defence force, the restriction of public borrowing, and navigation laws. The caucus can deal only with those questions, and I repeat that the Argus deliberately misled its readers. The Minister of Trade and Customs was probably misled in this way, and he will find that the caucus deals only with questions relating to the platform of the party.
– That was stated in the pledge which I read.
– Then, how does the honorable gentleman justify the statement which he made? We have constantly to fight against misrepresentation of this kind from quarters whence it ought not to come Whatever difference of opinion there may be between honorable members, that difference should be honestly based on facts, and when a distinct statement is made, and is just as distinctly denied, it should not be repeated. If the Minister of Trade and Customs knew that the labour pledge was that which I have mentioned, he certainly misled the public by inferring that the Labour Party was bound, in regard to all matters, by the caucus. As a matter of fact, we meet every week and transact business. It is because we are an active, militant party that other sections view us with a jealous eye. We transact a great deal of business, but a reference to records of divisions taken in this House will show that on questions of detail the members of the party are frequently at variance. Our opponents do not seek to enlighten themselves by reference to such facts; they wish to continue to misrepresent our position. I can find no excuse for the misrepresentation of which the Prime Minister has been guilty, for he had the support of the State Labour Party of New South Wales for a period of five years: If after so intimate an acquaintance with the methods of the party as that support must have afforded him, he does not know what are the true facts in regard to the caucus, he certainly is not fit to hold office as Prime
Minister of the Commonwealth. The caucus of the Labour Party did not interfere in any way with” the late Government. I can support the statements made by the leader of the Opposition, that no attempt was made by the caucus to interfere with his Ministry, and that it had no hand in the framing of its policy. The Prime Minister appeared very anxious a little time ago to know what was transacted at the labour caucus, but now that I am prepared to enlighten him, I find that he is not in the chamber.
– The Labour Party, from first to last, supported the late Ministry.
– That was because the Government did not go beyond our platform.
– Let me refer to one incident which will show that the Labour Party, as a whole, was careful not to interfere in any way with the late Government. During the life of the Barton Administration the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill was referred to a sub-committee of the Labour Party, in order that it might be considered clause by clause, the desire being that it should be as perfect as possible. That work was carried out, and the sub-committee, in its report, which was adopted by the caucus, suggested certain slight alterations. One important principle - that relating to the appointment of permanent Judges, in addition to the Justices of the High Court - was discussed, and some members of the party held very decided views upon it. The caucus adopted the recommendation of the subcommittee, that that portion of the Bill which dealt with the matter should be allowed to pass as it stood ; but when the Labour Government came into power, it was found that its members held a different opinion. Without consulting the party, the Cabinet made an amendment, providing for assessors to be appointed in respect of each dispute that came before the Court. That action was taken contrary to the decision of the labour caucus, and yet no exception was taken to it by the party. Honorable members opposite praise the work performed by the late Government. They say that each Minister left an absolutely clean sheet behind him in his Department, and that no fault can be found with their administration. Nothing can be said against their policy, or in opposition to the planks on which the members of the Labour Party generally were elected.
We have nothing whatever to do with what some labour newspapers may advocate, or with that which Mr. Tom Mann may say. The present Government has snatched a temporary victory, and taken advantage of a Ministry which had the courage to stand by a principle in which it believed. The present Government find themselves in office, not because of any fault that could be discovered against the Administration which they displaced. They are unable to denounce the Labour Party because of anything which it has done, or proposes to do, but they set up a bogey, and appeal to the country by means of misrepresentation and slander. A Government which has at its head a right honorable gentleman who is capable of such tactics, is unworthy of the confidence of the Parliament. I have to make another quotation from a speech made by the Prime Minister, in which he said -
It is not for us to dictate to the electors of Australia what the issues of an election, on perhaps a distant date, should be. That is a matter entirely within their own province ; but I feel bound to say that the war with the Labour Party upon which we have entered to-night would lead to absolute disaster, to utter failure, if we were to begin by a division upon fiscal matters in this great fight before the people of Australia. The evils of split voting have been painfully in evidence in the Victorian and New South Wales State elections. We must not give a triumph to our opponents by divisions amongst ourselves.
I look upon the vote of to-night as one which must be followed up by determined organization, not only within the walls of Parliament, but throughout the whole of the Australian States. We must strive to emulate, if not the cast-iron and despotic methods of the Labour Party, their personal unselfishness and unflagging zeal. It is the absence of these characteristics, one or the other, which has brought upon Australia all the miseries of minority Government and minority rule. We must endeavour to adjust the difficulties of the great fight which is bound to come, so that the voice of the great majority of the people will be heard, and can be translated into the proper exercise of the powers of Government and of the Legislature.
The point I wish to emphasize very strongly is that when proposals for a coalition were first .submitted, a time limit was fixed to the life of that coalition. In speaking at a conference of farmers held recently at Kyneton, the right honorable member for East Sydney said that each party was to keep its powder dry, and that, although they were going to reduce the three parties in the Parliament to two, and to abolish minority rule - he did not explain how that was to be carried out - each party to the coalition was’ to maintain its separate organization until the next election. Honorable members will see from a later statement made by the Prime Minister that his present intention is that the coalition shall be a permanent one, and that the anti-Labour plank is to occupy a permanent place in its platform. The desire is to keep the Labour Party out of power. The original proposals made foi coalition between the followers of the right honorable member for East Sydney and the honorable and learned member for Ballarat failed only because some of the followers of the last-named honorable member declined to accept them. Those proposals have gone by the board ; and certain honorable members of the Protectionist Party, having been trapped into following the leadership of the right honorable member for East Sydney, are to continue to permanently occupy that position. ‘I am pleased that the House is now divided into two parties. We have at last the Conservatives on the one side - unfortunately they are in power - and the Democrats on the other.
– The only point is that the honorable member makes a mistake as to the sides on which the two parties are ranged.
– We have a Government “ by the grace of Watson.” I hope that the Ministry will have. such a heading printed on their note-paper. I have to make another quotation which, I think, is rather important as showing the position taken up by the Prime Minister, who apparently! admits that an apology is necessary for his coming into office. The speech made by him yesterday certainly seemed to me to be very much in the nature of an apology. Without consulting the other head of the Government, the Prime Minister issued three manifestoes, and thought that it would be quite sufficient to deal with Western Australia and Tasmania in a postscript. What has the right honorable member for Swan done that the great country from which he comes should be dealt with in that way? I certainly do not think that two States should be dealt with in a mere postscript to a Ministerial manifesto.
– The postscript is the best part of a love letter.
– It is considered the best part of a lady’s letter, and it generally has reference to something that has been forgotten. The Prime Minister was so absorber] in welding together the two great States of Victoria and New South
Wales that he altogether forgot there were other States in the Commonwealth. This postscript was written when he remembered that there was the State of Western Australia and the little island State of Tasmania. I propose now to quote something which the right honorable gentleman said in his official manifesto, which was ‘his first utterance to the public, and his apology for being the leader of the Commonwealth Government. He says -
Under the guise of a noble desire for “ industrial peace,” we are beginning to suspect the existence of a gigantic conspiring against the freedom of the general worker, and -an organized desire to make the trades unions, instead of a body of artisans concerning themselves, as they used to do, with their own industrial interests, a series of political agencies, forcing men to join their ranks, or forcing an Australian Court of Justice, known as a :: Conciliation and Arbitration Court,” to place a barrier between the non-unionist and his means of subsistence. The trades unions, the political labour leagues, the central executive’s, the “labour” members of Parliament, the “ labour “ caucus in Parliament, and the Judge of the Arbitration Court - these are the intended instruments of a dangerous and selfish movement, which seeks to assert political domination in order to trample under foot, not only political equality, but far more - the industrial equalities and opportunities of the working classes of Australia.
There is again a statement without any foundation. I challenge the right honorable gentleman to give any evidence that it is true. The whole of his statements are mere assertions. I challenge the honorable member for Gippsland to give one instance in support of his contention. Members of the present Government make statements for which there is no foundation, and they are repeated as a parrot repeats the lesson it is taught in a press which has always been antagonistic to the labour movement.
– Having no policy, they must abuse their opponents.
– I have already said that they have no policy but that of opposition to the Labour Party. They have termed the labour platform a socialistic platform, and I shall show honorable members what kind of Socialists they are. I make one other quotation, in which the right honorable gentleman speaks strongly of organizations, because I have an object in doing so. The right honorable gentleman is reported to have said at a meeting of the Farmers’, Property -owners’, and Producers’ Association -
As men of intelligence, you must have noticed how a minority has for years exercised a tremendous unconstitutional influence upon the Parliaments of Australia. How is it that twentythree or twenty-five men in a House of 100, or a House of seventy-five, should have absolute power? It is that, although their avocations are humble, yet they all learned one or two lessons well. The first is organization. The organization of the Labour Party would do credit to the most intelligent body of political wire-pullers that ever existed in any country. If you would break that down, you must show yourself loyal and unselfish too. They do this in the labour ranks, can’t we do it too? I had five years experience of the Labour Party in the New South Wales Parliament. During most of the time I was practically in the hollow of their hands. They will tell you that the result was I got my free-trade tariff passed with the help of protectionist labour men. They can always call on me in a deal of that sort. “ I may not admire the principles of your caucus,” I say to them, “ but the direction of your vote meets with my entire approval.” To those who say I have just discovered the wrong position which the labour leagues occupy, I will say, “Look at the Sydney newspapers of 1894 and you will find as strong a denunciation of the principle of the labour caucus as if I spoke for twenty years.” It is no new thing with me. They gave me what I wanted, and then I was too slow for them, so they cried to Sir William Lyne, and they got more out of him in twelve months than they would have got out of me in 200 years.
Then he went on to speak of their tyranny, but I need not quote his references to that. I Wish to show that the right honorable gentleman has been doing something outside of Parliament which he has given us no account of in this chamber. He has been attending the meetings of the various bodies which are not labour organizations, and what I “have quoted is an instance of the kind of thing he tells them. I invite honorable members to consider the extraordinary logic of the right honorable gentleman. It was quite right for the Labour Party to support him. He said that they had him in the ‘hollow of their hands. That was all right, so long as he got their votes, but it suddenly becomes a .wonderfully wicked thing that they should support some body else. If their support was bad, why did the right honorable gentleman put up with it for five years, in order that he might ‘hold office? If it was the wicked thing which he is now inviting the country to believe, what honorable man would have availed himself of its support, and would have thus shared in the wickedness? The right honorable gentleman contends that the power of the Labour Party is a wicked thing in Federal politics, because we do not now hold the balance of power in his favour, as we did in the State Parliament of New South Wales. It is true that we got more out of the honorable member for Hume than we should have got out of t’he right honorable gentleman in 200 years. What did we get from the honorable member for Hume? We got measures abolishing sweating and giving the employes in the work shops some chance of a life worth living, by securing for them reasonable hours of labour.
– With the assistance of the votes of Reid supporters.
– We secured the Arbitration Act and Female Suffrage. We are now told at this late stage, because the right honorable gentleman desires to please the Federated Employers’ Union, t’hat we should not have got these things from him in 200 years. That is an extraordinary confession for a right honorable gentleman to make, who has posed as a democrat, who talks democracy, and who calls himself a liberal. I am astonished that the honorable member for Dalley, who is a democrat, should sit for an hour behind a -leader who has so evidently surrendered all his democratic principles. The right honorable gentleman hit the right nail on the head when he said that we got more from the honorable member, for Hume than we should have got from him in 200 years. He admits now that we should never have had the four or five important measures, including Female Suffrage, to which I have referred if he had remained in power. The right honorable gentleman has by his own confession shown that the Labour Party in New South Wales did the right thing when they exercised their votes to turn him out of office, and I say that they will be even more decidedly right if they now turn him OUt of office in the Federal Parliament, because he is adopting principles which he did not profess to hold Phen. A number of meetings of the Farmers, PropertyOwners, and Producers Association, and the Victorian Reform League have recently been held. I suppose that the Victorian Reform League can hardly be called a democratic body. We have never looked upon it in that light. I have not heard that its special interest is to look after the masses who most need protection. At the meetings of these bodies the chairmen and all the speakers have joined iri denouncing Socialism. It would appear that their whole object now is antisocialistic. These meetings have been addressed not only by the Prime Minister, but also by Senator Drake, the Vice-President of the Executive Council, who said at one meeting -
The new Government, for the first time in the history of the Commonwealth, was supported by a majority of members of the House. It was a small majority, it was true, but it would be carefully looked after, and he hoped that it would continue.
It is very suggestive to say that the majority would be carefully looked after. I have underStood that honorable members now occupying the Government benches are so unanimous in their desire for majority rule, and in getting a coalition to secure responsible Government, that they would not need to be carefully looked after, as though they were a number of sheep who might stray away. It appears that the Vice-President of. the Executive Council is satisfied that they require to be carefully looked after. He continued -
What they wanted was unity. It was a feature of the opposing force that they were always in their places in Parliament.
A Mr. Felstead interjected “They have nothing else to do,” and the report announces that there was laughter at the suggestion. To these people to whom the Government are looking for support, it would appear to be some sort of offence that members of Parliament should attend to their duties. It is a somewhat new feature, I admit. The old political idea was that politics were something to which a man might give the fag end of his brains, after he had attended to his private business. People who have so much to say about private enterprise, are astonished that members of Parliament should stick to their work. One of the best characteristics of the Labour Party is, that its members have always done that. I take it as a high compliment to them, and I believe that the electors generally look at the matter in the same light. One reason why the Party is gaining ground at . every State and every Federal’ election is, that the electors have found that the members of the party consider the welfare of the country, and devote themselves to carrying out the duties they are elected to perform. The Farmers, Property Owners, and Producers Association held a convention quite recently, and over the report of the proceedings, there are a number of cross headings, “ Fighting the Trades Hall,” “ Proposed National Organization,” and so on. No less than 120 delegates were present, and it was stated that they represented 100 branches. Thev passed some very decided resolutions, all strongly anti-labour. This body, and representatives of the Reform League subsequently met together.
– They are only free-trade organizations under another name.
– No, these bodies are not free-trade organizations. I wish now to read a portion of a newspaper report of a meeting of the Farmers’, Property Owners’, and Producers’ Association. The first paragraph will make the honorable member for Gippsland feel comfortable -
The secretary read a report in which it was stated that, although the association had only been in existence a few months, it had already made it impossible for a socialistic labour candidate to be elected for a Gippsland constituency.
After debate, it was resolved - “ That it is advisable to take steps to confer with the Chamber of Agriculture, with a view to settling a modus vivendi, whereby the sympathy and cooperation of the chamber may be secured without any sinking of our individuality, or alteration of our constitution.”
The following motion was then moved by a delegate : -
That, in the opinion of this meeting of delegates, it is desirable that each and all now assembled do unite with the Farmers’, Property Owners’, and Producers’ Association, thus forming a strong organization to oppose to the utmost all socialistic or aggressive legislation affecting country interests, and to uphold the rights of property owners and producers of all kinds.
He said that the -
Convention should take a leaf out of the book of the Labour Party and fight them with their own weapons. (Applause.)
Mr. J. Willis (Geelong), in seconding the motion, read the pledge of labour candidates for Parliament, and said that a man who allowed such a chain to be put around his neck should have something else put round his neck, and be strung up to the yardarm of a ship.
I suppose that loud cheers would have followed that proposition if there had been any chance of carrying it into effect. I shall now quote again from the newspaper which so strongly supports the movement - the Sydney Daily Telegraph. This is a portion of a report, which shows how the work is going on in New South Wales -
Movement in New South Wales. - Conference to be Held. - A Wide Basis of Representation.
Something has been done in New South Wales with a view to the ranging of forces into line against a menacing Socialism, but it has not been of a very definite character. Mr. Deakin’s now famous speech helped to stir people up to the necessity for some action, and now Mr. Reid’s speech to the Farmers’ League of Victoria will give a further stimulus to the movement. The initiative has been taken by the Employers’ Federation, and at a meeting of the council of that body yesterday it was decided to take definite steps to organize a conference, or large public’ meeting, representative of the stable interests of . the country generally, to consider a plan of organization. To this end every agricultural, horticultural, ‘ and pastoral body, every creamery and butter factory, the Farmers’ and Settlers’ Association, every country municipal council - in short, every country interest, is to be asked to send delegates to meet those representing town interests. Provision will also be made for th’e extensive representation of all wage-earners who are not in sympathy with the socialistic party’s platform. The date of the meeting or conference has yet to be settled. It is desired that the time fixed should be as widely convenient as possible to the country people. The co-operation of women will very probably also be invited.
I think that I have now produced evidence sufficient to show the work which is being done by the Government and those upon whom they are depending for support. If the organizations which have been created do what it is said that the labour organizations do, the Government will be controlled and dictated to by a body outside Parliament. Active work is now going on to bring about the organization of what we term the reactionary forces - forces that no one can term democratic, their whole object being antisocialistic and anti-labour. The Government represents such organizations, an- the Prime Minister is taking an active part in their creation. He is assisting their paid organizers. I am not finding fault with these bodies for organizing, because I have always been a preacher of unionism and have advocated the organizing of all classes of the community. But it cannot be denied that this Government represents a particular section of the community, which it is assisting to organize. No doubt we all of us share the desire for a reasonable recess ; but, in my opinion,*the real object of the long recess which has been advocated, on a plea of peace, is, not to bring about harmony, because no other Federation has been established with so little friction between the federating States and the Federal Government, but to organize forces. The object of the organization which the Government support is declared and open. I find no fault with that, because it is of advantage to us. We have always looked upon Mr. Walpole as a helper, since his statements have been so candid at times that people have been prevented by them from joining his organizations. It is impossible for those who have heard him speak to be foolish enough to imagine that the class amongst whom sweaters have been found, and whose members do not consider it their business to pav decent wages if they can get employes to work for less, is to be regarded as representative of the workers, or as likely to advance the interests of labour. The first and chief plank in the platform of the Farmers’, Property Owners’, and Producers’ Association is this -
That at all elections, whether Federal or State, where a socialistic candidate nominates for a constituency, the members of this association sink all political differences and go solidly in support of a candidate to be selected by the association in opposition to such socialistic candidate.
We have heard the Prime Minister denounce the labour method of selecting candidates ; but he is assisting in the creation of an association whose first plank is to follow labour methods. He has, indeed, advised them to follow the methods of the labour leagues. The first plank of their platform is to sink all political differences. The Government, too, have done that. Nothing is vital to them, but to continue in office, to get into recess, and then to vigorously organize.
– To keep in the tart shop at all hazards.
– The honorable member for Parramatta knows what hard work is. He knows the sufferings which strikes entail, because he has been in close touch with them, and he has represented men who have, had to work in coal mines. Now he is assisting to organize the Federated Employers.
– The honorable member is talking at random.
– The honorable member for Parramatta has followed his chief in every movement, erratic or otherwise, and must follow him again. It is a new thing to find one of whose conduct I have not previously had cause to complain, associating with a movement which is so distinctly opposed to his past history. I have no fault to find with those who have always belonged to the class of whom I am speaking ; but those whose associations and professions have been different should open their eyes to what this movement means. Plank 3 of the Association is-
To watch over all measures proposed by the Federal or State Parliaments affecting the association, and guarding the interests of the same.
I have nothing to say against that plank; but I find that those who are opposed to anything socialistic, who believe in the indi vidual fighting his own battle and would put no restriction upon private enterprise, are asking for a good many things from the State. Here are a few of their requests : They want the State Government to give them water conservation, land on deferred payments, a Manure Protection Bill, reduced grain freights, wire netting on deferred payments, a bonus on foxes’ scalps, help in time of bush fires, starving stock rates, cold storage for produce, a credit foncier, to enable them to borrow money ; grants for. shows, a market for fruit, instructors in the growing of tobacco, and subsidies for agricultural colleges. They also seriously discussed the advisability of asking the Government for assistance to pay for reapers and binders, though, I believe, that they did not finally agree to do so. Yet these are the antiSocialists, the persons who are opposed to State interference. Iri reality, they wish to get all they can out of the Government. They are the chief scramblers for Government aid. The Kyabram district, from which the movement originated, has borrowed large sums from the State, which it has not paid back, and is now asking for another ^1,000. Their impudence is beyond description.
– The honorable member does not mean to say that. the farmers are asking for those things?
– Yes, I do. I have mentioned fourteen items ; but those are not all. This association, which the Prime Minister is organizing upon declared antisocialistic lines, is asking for these concessions. I should like to know whether any honorable member can point to an instance in which the labour organizations have sent deputations to the Government asking for subsidies, or for concessions such as these I have indicated ?
– They have asked for a lot more than that.
– Honorable members cannot point to any case in which the labour organizations have gone to the Government and asked for favours of any kind, or in which they have sought to dip their hands into the public Treasury.
An Honorable Member. - What about relief works?
– Surely a man is entitled to ask for work? If a man works, he produces more in value than that which is paid for his labour. It is the man who lives on rentals, and who draws interest; without giving, anything in return who is a burden upon the community. Would not the honorable member apply for work if his wife and family were starving ? The organization to which I have referred is one for political purposes which have been openly declared, and I have indicated how its members propose to protect their interests. I am not condemning their proposals as such. The Labour Party have supported many of them, and are still in favour of granting certain concessions to farmers. I desire, however, to direct attention to the political hypocrisy of these people who, whilst stating that they are opposed to Socialism, declare themselves by their policy to be equally as socialistic in their ideas as any section in the community. They say that they are opposed to State interference, and yet they want the State to do. more for them than has ever been asked for by the wage-earning class. We have heard a great deal about minority rule, and I wish to show the direction in which the Government is now trending. I will confine my attention to the condition of affairs in the1 two larger States, because Western Australia and Tasmania are now apparently regarded as mere postscripts. The only two States in the Commonwealth that are worthy of consideration, according to the view of the Prime Minister, are Victoria and New South Wales, and the mission of the Government is to establish brotherly feelings between those States. In New South Wales there are 110,000 land-owners, of whom 66,000 hold under 1,000 acres each, embracing a total of 1.0,800,000 acres in the country districts. There are 1,314 land-owners who hold 27,000,000 acre’s in the country districts, and there are 738 owners who hold half of the total area of private lands in New South Wales. I am quoting from Coghlan.
– Is the honorable member quoting figures as to value or as to area ?
– I am dealing now with acres.
– Those afford no criterion.
– My object is to show the small number of persons who would be represented in organizations such as those now being formed. The’se persons would * represent a very small minority of the people in the State. The employers number 53.000 in New South Wales, and 48,006 in Victoria; whereas the wage-earners in New South Wales number 362,000, and in Victoria 321,000. Those who are working on their own account in New South Wales number 82,000, and in Victoria 94,600. Assuming for the sake of argument that the statement of the Minister of Trade and Customs is correct, and that the Labour Party represents only .the wage-earning classes-
– The Labour Party represents only a section of the wageearning classes.
– I am assuming for the sake of argument that we represent the wage-earning ‘classes of the community only. I contend that we represent others as well. We should still represent a majority of the electors, whereas the Prime Minister, and those who are organizing the employers, would represent a minority. It is idle for honorable members to prate about the representation of minorities when they are actively organizing for political purposes a section which constitutes a very small minority, and are hoping for a long recess in order that they may bring together in one association the most conservative classes in the community. These people are the best able to assist themselves, and I should be ashamed to assist in organizing them. I should give them fair play, and fair play only. Notwithstanding all that has been said with regard to the organization of the Labour Party, we can come here only through the same door as that which is available to other honorable members. We, like them, are dependent upon the will of the electors. Many labour members in the States Parliaments, and more than one in the Federal Parliament, have been elected by constituencies in which there has been no labour league, or other organization of that kind. Why should our organizations be objected to because thev insist upon shunting out of political life those who fail to adhere to their principles? Does the Prime Minister defend traitors? If a man breaks his pledges, is he to be lauded to the skies? When a mam dishonorably breaks his pledges, is he entitled to be trusted again? Our organizations have been denounced because they have discarded men who have been recreant to their trust. The labour movement has not been built up by traitors, but by those who have worked zealously and unselfishly, in order to forward the cause of labour, men who have not gone to the Government to ask for any favour, but who have always been prepared to work for their living under reasonable conditions. The Minister of Trade and Customs has stated that members of the Labour Party are under the necessity of passing through the ordeal of selection by the Labour leagues. That is not correct, so far as New South Wales is concerned. I was not asked to submit myself for selection at the last election. I had the right, according to our rules, to offer myself for re-election, unless I had misconducted myself by breaking- my pledges.
If there was any charge of that kind to be brought against me, I should have to be notified three months beforehand. In the absence of any such call, I was entitled to re-submit myself as a representative of the Labour Party for the constituency for which I was formerly returned. The labour organizations are not the only”, ones which discard their representatives. Mr. Hawthorne, who formerly represented Leichardt in the New South Wales Assembly, was “ bumped out “ by his party after having worked very hard for its leaders, including the present Prime Minister. No consideration was shown to him, and it does not lie in the mouths of those who were parties to the treatment accorded to Mr. Hawthorne to find fault with the methods adopted by the labour organizations. Honorable members talk about our representing a minority, but I would ask them how we could get here unless we could successfully appeal to the electors? How can that statement be made in the face of the experience of the last twelve years? The Labour Party has gained ground in every State, not because of its organization, but because of the proposals which it has put forward. We have submitted humanitarian and other proposals of importance to the community generally. None of our planks refer merely to the interests of the wage-earners. How is it that many of the country districts return labour representatives ? There are not a sufficient number of wage-earners in the district which I represent to return me without the assistance of others. I represent a district in which the pastoral and mining industries are very largely carried on, whereas the honorable member for Bland represents a purely farming district. If we are such enemies to the employers and to the land-owning class, how is it that we find such favour in their eyes? Is it because we carry out our platform, and because we do not, as the Prime Minister has done, surrender our policy for considerations of expediency ? He fought for free-trade, and the honorable and learned member for Ballarat opposed him. In the old days in Victoria many of us fought with the late Sir Graham Berry against the very forces which are now being brought into prominence by the Prime Minister. The honorable and learned member for Ballarat and the Minister of Trade and Customs have allied themselves with a party whose main design is to bring about class rule. The trades unions are naturally -formed for the purpose of protecting the interests of the trades with which they are connected ; but the membership of the labour leagues embraces many persons other than unionists or wageearners. We have a large number of employers in our ranks, who believe in our aims and principles. The Prime Minister has told honorable members that at one time the Labour Party held him in the hollow of its hand. Why did he submit to that? Because his platform and that of the Labour Party were brought into agreement. We had to accept some things which we did not like, because we knew that the alternative was worse. We supported the right honorable gentleman in fighting for free-trade- -for an absolutely free port. That was something very different from freetrade as it is understood in Federal politics. Will the representatives of the large landholders who sit in the Government corner support a tax on land values? Will the honorable (member for Corangamite and the honorable and learned member for Wannon support a tax on land values similar to that for which the right honorable member fought? He said that the members of the protectionist party gave him free-trade, but he overlooked the fact that they regarded a tax on land values and other forms of direct taxation as being of the utmost importance, and considered that even if a prohibitive Tariff were imposed it would still be necessary to resort to direct taxation. We were not satisfied that he would go fast enough to suit us, and we therefore put another honorable gentleman into office. That honorable gentleman gave us great measures, which conduced to the well-being of society. I am surprised to learn that the right honorable gentleman, who is now at the head of the Government, has said that he would not have given us these measures. That statement shows that we were right in turning him out of office. I have endeavoured to show that the Prime Minister is out of touch with the great mass of public feeling in the Commonwealth, that he is out of touch with democracy in any form, and that he is in league with all the reactionary forces that are now so militant. At the last general election he received the support of the Employers’ Union, which devotes its attention to the interests of employers, as employers only, and does not do or pretend to do anything for labour generally. That organization and many others of the same kind were behind the Prime Minister and his party.
– The honorable member is wrong ; they were behind the protectionist party.
– They were not behind the protectionists as a party. The Reform League and the Employers’ Federation of New South Wales have united ‘to denounce what they term “ Socialism.” They do not understand the true meaning of the word, and they know that many people are ready to adopt their definition of it. In the same way they are making use of the word “ reform,” and thus a party has been brought together to support what is distinctly a class movement. It has been created to protect the interests of a class that is strong enough to look after itself, and it is surprising to me that such a democratic assembly as the Federal Parliament is generally admitted to be, should be expected to allow a small minority to control the majority. I wish to show that the Government are opposed to democracy. I 3b riot know how far the remarks which I am about to make will apply to the second leader of the Ministry, and to that section of the Government supporters which follow him. I believe that they will apply mainly to the old freetrade section of the party. That party, so far as economic principles are concerned, are consistent in their support of antilabour movements.
– Then they are in favour of anarchy. They are in favour of the “ let-alone “ policy. They believe in a political economy that was in full play nearly 100 years ago. At that time the key-note of social reform was the cry of “natural rights,” while, so far as economics were concerned, we had the policy of laissez faire.
– Who was responsible for all the liberal legislation which is to-day in force in New South Wales?
– I am not now dealing with that point, although I should not hesitate to give credit to the man responsible for that legislation if he were present. The policy of the Government is not in keeping with the modern trend of public thought. We cannot expect such a Government to be in keeping -with it. To-day “ co-operation “ is the key-note of social reform, but it does not necessarily mean that we are ready to make every industry a State-owned one. The Labour Party have to be judged according to the direct proposals that we put forward. No one has a right to charge us with some supposititious policy which we have never advocated. In social reform we find that the watch-word is “co-operation,” while in economics it is “character.” In the .old days, a man was merely considered to be a moneymaking animal, but to-day we have regard to his all-round capacity. We consider the well-being of individuals as such ; we regard man not as a mere commodity to be bought and sold in the market, as is held by many in that economic school with which the Prime Minister has been associated. We consider man from the stand-point of everything that makes for his well-being. The reason why I quoted the very excellent remarks made recently by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat was because they showed a recognition of modern economic thought. Matthew Arnold defined civilization as -
The humanizing, the bringing into one harmonious and truly humane life the whole body of society.
Actions to-day are regarded as moral only when they contribute to the well-being of our fellow-men. The unionist movement and everything else that has an influence in developing human character, and in improving the race is of the right kind. Legislation with that object in view may be an interference with the liberty of the individual, but it is not the fact of interference, but the effect of interference, that we have to consider. Mazzini said long ago that every political question is becoming a social question, and every social question is rapidly becoming a religious question. That is the problem of to-day, which is responsible for the activity of the Labour Party. I may perhaps be pardoned for quoting Arnold Toynbee, who puts the exact position in the following words: -
Two conceptions are woven into every argument of the “wealth of nations” - the belief in the supremacy of individual liberty, and the conviction that man’s self love is God’s Providence, so that the individual in pursuit of his own interests is promoting the interests of all.
– Hear, hear.
Mir. SPENCE. - I hear an honorable member say, “Hear, hear.” If a man understood his true self-interest his pursuit of it would, make for the welfare of all. It is said that true self-interest lies in the recognition of the fact that we are dependent and inter-dependent one upon the other. The position from the point of view of wealth production has altered. The old idea was that the wealth of a nation was to be determined from the stand-point of its material production, man being considered as a mere producing animal, to be hired and treated as his employer might think fit. But that is not the position today. At the present time production, distribution, and the good of man, all receive consideration. I believe, with Ruskin, that-
Wealth means well living. Life is more than meat. Man should own property, not property own man.
I should like to quote a very clear and comprehensive statement made by Dr. Findlay, a barrister-at-law, who was formerly in partnership with Sir Robert Stout. In commenting recently on the New Zealand Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, Dr. Findlay said -
The tendency of the age is to make that compulsory which is desirable ; to discredit free contract, to foster fair contract, between employer and employ^; to fix the status of all workmen by regulation as far as possible, and to assess the worker’s share at the lowest resort on his needs rather than on the employer’s greeds It is all nonsense to talk of liberty and freedom of conscience in this connexion. As a matter of fact, social man has no natural inalienable and irrevocable .rights. He only owns those things with which society is content to clothe him, and no more.
That is the economic foundation on which Conciliation and Arbitration Bills, and other like measures, are based. The views of several members of the present Government are in opposition to all modern principles of political economy. Is it reasonable for us to expect democratic legislation from a Government, which, by a peculiar combination of circumstances, has secured the support of those who hold views contrary to those of the Prime Minister? It is difficult to understand how professed Liberals have allowed themselves to be associated with men who are opposed to interference in any way with freedom of action, who are opposed, to any form of restriction, and would allow every man to transact his business as he pleased. These men endeavour to justify their position by the mere use of words. We want to measure a Government, not by mere words, but by the effect of the legislation which it introduces upon the lives, the actions, and the character of men. I maintain that we are justified in fighting against a Government that holds such views as I have mentioned. There has been much misrepresentation in reference to the Labour Party, and but for this we should have achieved a still greater measure of success. It is always difficult to overtake slander, more particularly at election time, and the Labour Party may justly complain that it has been continually misrepresented., both by the press and by other means. There are honorable members of this House whom no one could accuse of desiring to deliberately misrepresent the Labour Party, yet they have been guilty of misrepresenting us. The increase in the membership of the Labour Party is due, in a large measure, to the effect of their propaganda and platform work, in correcting misrepresentations and supplying the electors with the truth, and also because our platform and aims appeal to the people. There are amongst the electors men and women who study economic questions, and who can recognise the difference between the lines of thought which characterize various parties. They recognise at once that their interest lies with those who are considering the well-being of the people as such, instead of mere material wealth-production, irrespective of any consideration as to who owns, controls, or secures the larger share of it. They are looking now to the distribution of wealth in such a way that the standard of living may be generally improved, and the mental standard may be improved side by side with the increased production of wealth. In connexion with the system of misrepresentation which has been followed, I think I shall be justified in quoting some remarks which Mr. Justice Cohen felt himself called upon to make in New South Wales a short time ago, in connexion with some misstatements respecting the- operation of a measure similar to one of great importance, which has been before the Federal Parliament, and which has wrecked a couple of Governments, and will probably wreck another.
– When it is found that they have swallowed the inclusion of the States servants.
– I may deal with that presently. Mr. Justice Cohen said recently in New South Wale’s, in dealing with certain misrepresentations concerning the effect of the clause in the New South Wales Arbitration Act, giving preference to unionists : -
I have no leaning one way or the other, but in the public interest it would be far better, if the preference clause is being unduly used as a means of oppressing or harassing employers, that the Court should be assisted by evidence of that. I am not saying in this particular case, because I do not know - but from general statements, I see in the press that this preference clause is the means of harassing the employer, and placing him in an unfair position of working his business. I say it would be much better if the Court were enlightened by evidence of these things. We read in the press of general statements being made - one person takes it up from another person at the corner of the street - and I see general assertions made with regard to what the Court has done, which will not bear any test - they are absolutely without foundation. Therefore, what I say’ is, in the public interest, in the interests of the Arbitration Act - which, after all, is a most important experiment - it would be much better if people, instead of expressing their grievances in the way in which I have stated, would come to the Court and point out preference has been given in certain cases, and the result is so and so. This is not done. I am not going to be guided in my decisions by what I see in the press. I am guided in my decisions by the sworn evidence in the Court, and that is the only evidence I will be guided by in arriving at my decisions ; we are sworn here to decide, in accordance with the evidence placed before us, and that is the only evidence by which I intend to be guided.
Mr. Wade. I would not for a moment pretend to suggest to the Court that they should be guided by outside opinions.
– I know, from my own knowledge what I read, time after time, of actions attributed to this Court which the Court has never performed. Almost daily in the press you see that. Mind you, I am not saying one way or the other, as to whether this preference clause is or is not worked duly. I have no evidence one way or the other. 1 will not be guided by what I see in the public press. These general statements are made, and if you put the statements to the proof, in almost all cases they will fail. I do not expect any clause we lay down will work with perfect harmony and satisfaction to every one. AH the wisdom of the legislature has not formulated a law to which some objection could not be taken.
A member of the Court said : I would like to say, to show there cannot be very much in these general statements, in every industrial agreement that has been filed in this Court preference has been given. We had an instance of it yesterday in the Shipwrights’ dispute, and, in fact, the Court pointed out, in making the common rule, they might have to make some slight qualification in that preference clause. I would like to encourage the parties to make agreements, and I have no hesitation in saying, if all the employers in the State made agreements, they would all grant preference as has been done in the past. I have no doubt, if the two parties in the catering dispute came together at a later stage, and tried to frame an agreement, the employers would grant preference.
That, coming from so high an authority, is a proof that statements were being made which were absolutely untrue, and it should be remembered that the statements were not brought before the Court in order that they might be inquired into with a view to ascertain whether injury had been done by the preference granted, which might be remedied. In view of the discussion which we have had here concerning the granting of preference to unionists, that statement by Mr. Justice Cohen will probably be considered important. In this connexion also, I desire to quote from a leading article appearing in a newspaper published in my electorate. The quotation will show the kind of men who are in some places educating the public mind - journalists, employers of labour, men engaged in the great reform movement now being backed up by the ReidMcLean Administration, the anti-labour, anti-union, and anti-socialistic movement.
– Not anti-labour.
– It is anti-labour straight out, and if the honorable and learned member for Illawarra does not believe in that, he has no right to sit behind the present Government. In any case, the honorable and learned member is not in his proper place behind the present Government, because I am aware that he has democratic ideas. In the recent State election in New South Wales, for an electorate which is included in my own, and which is also known as the Darling electorate, the electors did a terribly wicked thing, in the eyes of some persons by selecting a labour man by a majority more than equal to the votes polled by his two opponents.
– Who was he?
– Mr. J. C. Mehan, the secretary of the local branch of the Australian Workers’ Union. I may add that he defeated the retiring member, Mr. W. N. Willis, of whom some honorable members present have knowledge. This is the advice given in a leading article by the Bourke Banner, in dealing with the election: -
We now advise a course which may seem drastic, but which alone can be effective. No employer should give employment to a member of the Australian Workers’ Union……
Let the hundreds of union men, to whom the union is their God, look to the union and not to the capitalist for work and wages - for food and clothes for themselves and their families.
– That must be a black banner.
– Do they support the present Coalition Government?
– Of course they are of the party to which- the Coalition Government belongs. We know that the Prime Minister has quoted the remarks of Mr. Tom Mann, as reported in the press, and has charged them to the members of this party, and if I followed the right honorable gentleman’s example, I should be justified in charging him and his party with supporting the view of the Bourke Banner.
– The Victorian members of the Labour Party in this Parliament subscribe to Mr. Tom Mann’s salary, and the honorable member knows it.
– That is absolutely untrue.
– The question as to who pays Mr. Tom Mann’s salary has nothing to do with the matter.
– I desire, Mr. Speaker, to call your attention to an interjection made by the honorable and learned member for Wannon, in which ‘he declared that the members of the Labour Party-
– Victorian members.
– That the salary of some person outside was chargeable to the members of this party.
– I did not state what the honorable and learned member for West Sydnev has said. What I said was that the Victorian labour members contributed to the expenses of Mr. Tom Mann’s propaganda.
– - That also is absolutely wrong.
– I am sorry to have to call attention for the second time in one day to the fact that conversations carried on across the chamber, and especially in a loud tone of voice, are very disorderly and must be discontinued.
– If this is only one of those attempts to shunt an old hand off the track, honorable members opposite ought te know by this time that it cannot be sue cessful. I unhesitatingly say that-, adopting the same form of logic, I should be justified in charging honorable members, who are associated with the movement to which I have referred, and which is not a new movement, but is only specially active just now, with supporting the advice of the Bourke Banner - which I have quoted. I am sure that not one of them would do so.
– We never heard of it until the honorable member quoted it.
– The advice given is that, because a man has chosen to exercise the franchise in a certain way, he should be prevented from earning a living. I make the quotation that ‘honorable members opposite may know the company they are in. There is an old .Spanish proverb which says, “ Show me whom you are with, and I will tell you what you are.”
– What does the honorable member know about it.
– I have read the quotation to show honorable members the organizations which are behind them outside of Parliament, and what they are prepared to do.
– On a point of order, Mr. Speaker, the honorable member for New England spoke about Chinese, and I wish the honorable member to say what he meant by, it.
– An honorable member has a perfect right to make the remark “ Chinese,” and I do not know that any honorable member has any right to require that he should explain his meaning.
– I feel sure that no member of the House would advocate this on the public platform; but what is proposed has been done in that district. What is set out in black type was acted upon in Victoria in the last State election. I have had experience of the influence of employers. I have known them to try to coerce men to vote in certain directions.
– Every one has “had that experience more or less.
– Has similar influence ever been used by the Labour Party, or the labour organizations? Has it not always come from the class which is now being organized ? The views which are put forward are held by large numbers of these persons, though not by all of them. Why is it that the masses were denied voting power, and that the right to vote was given only to the classes? Why was preference given to the classes?
– That was wrong. Mr. SPENCE. - Honorable members who have opposed the granting of preference to unionists have been associated with those who have opposed the giving of a vote to every adult. The members of the Legislative Council of Victoria are the backbone of the Employers’ Union. They not only oppose the granting of the suffrage to women in the State elections, but tried to prevent the effective exercise of the women’s vote in the Federal elections. I have hitherto let the honorable and learned member for Ballarat off very lightly ; but I cannot help making a reference to some rather characteristic remarks in the speech with which he started the National Organization at Ballarat. Formerly there used to be a National Association, but as it used to be termed the National Ass. for short, it fell into disrepute. , Speaking at Ballarat, the honorable and learned member seemed to think that organi zation was a good thing so long as. it was not too effective. While it was only a half-and-half sort of measure, it appeared all right ; but immediately an organization became effective, it was to be denounced. That seems an illogical position. If it is good to have an organization, surely the more influential and perfect that organization can be made, the better it will be. In dealing with organizations, what has first to be considered is their objects, the class of people who control them, and what they are likely to do. I believe in organizations in the interests of all classes. But the organization of which I am speaking is one to weld together those who are antagonistic to a certain section of the community, not because of anything it has done or proposes to’ do, but because of something it is alleged to be likely to do. These persons belong to a class which is necessarily in a minority everywhere, yet they wish to take charge of public affairs, and to shut labour men out of Parliament. Still, honorable members who are helping the movement have the want of conscience to tell us that they are democrats, and to charge us with being class representatives. We could not obtain election as the representatives of a class. We can get here only by securing the votes of a majority of our constituents. There is no minority representation about us. Is it likely that the members of this or of any other Parliament would allow a small section to dictate to them, if they] did not believe in the principles of that section? The legislation which has been passed at the instance of the Labour Party has been passed because the members of the other parties in the House believed in it. The present Government, however, is reactionary. Its only object is to keep the Labour Party out, not for anything we have done, or are likely to do, but merely to retain possession of office. We hear a great deal about minority rule, but the majority of the present Government, if it exists at all, will have to be very tenderly nursed, to use the expression of Senator Drake. Even the supporters of the Government will hardly claim that the honorable and learned member for Parkes is an advanced radical, or an extreme democrat ; but the difference between the two parties in the House now is so small that he can control the destinies of this twoheaded Government. If he chooses to vote against them, where will they be? A section of the conglomerate party which sup ports the Ministry is totally opposed to certain important measures of which a majority is in favour. How can the Government carry out a programme under such circumstances? The House has fortunately been divided into two parties, the democrats on this side, and a mixed party on the other. For some of the supporters of the Government there may be salvation even yet. We have heard before of the open door. Well, the new party, the progressive, go-ahead radical coalition, has an open door.
– With a crimson carpet leading to it.
– If honorable members come to us we will give them liberty of speech, which they are now denied. The difference between the two parties is that the methods of the leader of the Government are the methods of the autocrats, while our methods are those of democracy.
– What is in a name ?
– There may not be much in a name, but there is something in actions. We have heard a denunciation of caucuses ; but honorable members opposite are ruled by one man. They must do what they are told. That accounts for their silence at the time of the crisis, when they could not be stirred up even by. the admittedly powerful invective of the honorable and learned member for West Sydney. All that they were allowed to do was 10 make personal explanations. They may boast of freedom, but they have no conception of what the word means. They do not enjoy freedom themselves, and will not give it to others. On the occasion to which I refer, the honorable and learned member for Werriwa got up to speak, and was pulled down by his coat-tails, while the honorable members for Parramatta and Robertson were allowed only to make personal observations. Although our party “is governed by caucus, we have proved that it did not interfere with the late Administration. We recognised the older methods, which are supposed to be constitutional ; but, even if we had Interfered, our action would have been more democratic than that of the leader of the Government, whom honorable members foi low so blindly. Now they are going to follow two leaders, and they have no policy upon which they are solid. How the Government could carry on legislation under existing circumstances is a mystery which will never be made known, because they will not remain long enough in office to pass any. Honorable members opposite, who speak of freedom and liberty are associated with men against whom I have been fighting for the last thirty-five years. The honorable and learned member for Ballarat will admit that the free-traders, the revenue tariffists of Victoria, were the Conservative body in the State, even in the days of Sir Graham Berry. Yet they are the men with whom the supporters of the Government have been associated ever since the right honorable member for East Sydney entered Federal politics. The men I speak of are not like the free-traders of the NewSouth Wales school. They believe in direct taxation. The honorable and learned member for Ballarat was associated with Sir Graham Berry in fighting these men ; but now he has led his followers into the meshes of an entanglement, so that they are associated with one who is the champion of those whom we have fought in the past, and who have “ cruelled “ Victoria. I have the greatest admiration for the honorable and learned gentleman, and I regret that he has not seen the danger of a coalition with reactionaries. The people of New South Wales do not fully understand what class of persons they are who in Victoria call themselves free-traders. What does the Minister of Trade and Customs expect from such a following? The honorable member for Moira is now supporting the construction of the Transcontinental Railway, although he at one time threatened to stone-wall all night the proposed authorization of a survey of the line..
– Did not the honorable member once serve under the present Prime Minister ?
– The honorable gentleman has now joined a party which is going, to carry out that railway.
– Who says so?
– If the honorable member does not say so, why is he sitting on that side of the chamber? What is this party? We had three parties in the House previously, but how many parties are there! now? I am inclined to think that every honorable member on the other side is a party in himself. The Government have introduced a condition of pure anarchy. We shall now have an opportunity of seeing how it will work. We have not yet had anything like anarchy in Australia, and it will be interesting to see how it will operate in Parliament. According to the statement of the Prime Minister, it would appear that every one of his supporters is free to introduce any Bill he likes, and to vote as he pleases. This is the grand result of the operations which have been proceeding for the last six months with the object of re-establishing constitutional government, and forming a solid party. Fortunately, there is one solid party in this House, and it is to be found on this side of the chamber. I hope that honorable members like the honorable member for Moira, the honorable member for Dalley, the honorable and learned member for Illawarra, and the honorable member for Eden-Monaro, whom we do not class with the Conservatives, will come to the conclusion that they are not in proper company. They must already be feeling very uncomfortable. They should leave the ultra- Conservatives to themselves, and take their proper positions in the House. We are going to do our best to bring about the truest form of responsible government - in fact, we shall insist upon it. We have not accomplished very much this session, but the Watson Government succeeded in settling within three months a question with which the previous Government could not successfully deal in three years. Wc may as well devote the rest of the session to an endeavour to place members in their proper positions in the House. I would commend that object to the veryserious consideration of honorable members opposite whom we still class as democrats. If present conditions are allowed to exist much longer the bad company in which they now find themselves may have an unfortunate effect upon them. There has been a great deal of misrepresentation and misunderstanding with regard to the pledge which labour representatives in this House are required to sign. I have here a copy of that document, and I may as well read it in order to show the Minister of Trade and Customs how the Argus sometimes misleads the people. That newspaper has made it appear that every question is dealt with by the caucus, whereas the only questions upon which we are pledged to our constituents are embraced within what is called the fighting platform. Many of the platforms that are adopted in the States differ materially from the fighting platform adopted for the purpose of the Federal election. The former embrace proposals, some of which are admittedly socialistic.
– Ours is a socialistic movement, anyhow.
– Yes; but what I wish to emphasize is that, in relation to the pledge signed by members of the Labour Party, we go to the country upon what is called a fighting platform. There were seven items in the last platform, and Ave were called upon to subscribe to those. Anything that may be done bv outside bodies can have no effect upon representatives in this Parliament, who are pledged to their constituents upon the basis of the fighting platform. The pledge signed by members of the Labour Party refers only to the matters included in that platform. The fate of the Ministry is not included in that pledge. We can vote as we like upon matters affecting the fate of a Government, and we are very careful to act according to our constitutional powers. The pledge is as follows : -
I hereby pledge myself not to oppose any selected labour candidate. I also pledge myself, if returned to the Commonwealth Parliament, to do my utmost to ensure the carrying out of the principles embodied in the Federal labour platform, and on all .such questions to vote as a majority of the Federal Labour Parly may decide at a duly constituted caucus meeting comprised of members signing this or a similar pledge.
– That is pretty wide.
– The pledge is confined wholly and solely to the questions upon the printed platform, upon which we run our elections, and we are not affected by anything which Tom Mann may say or which may appear in a labour newspaper.
– Will the honorable member say whether the fate of a Ministry would not be remitted to the caucus and decided there?
– It might or might not. Our meetings are held for the transaction of business, and we can discuss anything we like.
– What is wrong with that, anyhow ?
– There is nothing wrong about the caucus, so long as the truth is told. In fact, our system is so good that other sections of the community have been urged to adopt similar methods. I have been astonished to hear some men praise our methods in one breath, and denounce our organizations in another. We adhere strictly to our policy and principles. We are not like the Prime Minister, who did everything he could, at the last elections, to smash up the protectionist party, and afterwards gave way. Our party fights on - it never stops fighting. It does not matter whether we have one representative, or twenty, in Parliament, we stand or fall by our policy. The Labour Party in the New South Wales Parliament has not a majority. at present, but it has not given up its principles. It is because we have stood to our principles that we have gained ground. What is to be said in defence of parties like the protectionists and the free-traders who, under certain circumstances, do not carry on their fight. In cases where coalitions involve the giving up of principles, they must eventually result in the ruin of the parties concerned. The present Government will certainly go down before very long, and the reactionary forces behind them will fall to pieces, because public feeling will declare itself against them. The time has gone by for one-man rule, or class rule. As Harrison says, the day has come when the only class that is not a class is the working class. We are, in fact, all workers, and yet we are told that the Labour Party represents only a small section of the community. Many sneers have been directed against members of the Labour Party, but I would point out that those men who have received their practical training in connexion with trades organizations are called upon to exercise the highest abilities. They are required to work for others, and that in itself is calculated to widen their sympathies. The management of some of our organizations would tax the best abilities of some of those honorable members who apparently think little of our qualifications to take part in national affairs. Some of the most difficult problems of life have to be dealt with in the trades unions, questions involving the means of livelihood of thousands of men and women. The men who grapple with these subjects receive a training which fits them to deal with the larger questions of State in Parliament, and . we can afford to ignore the taunts and jeers of honorable members who have not by any means shown themselves to be heaven-born statesmen. It has been persistently represented that one of the effects of labour legislation has been to drive capital out of the country. The honorable and learned member for Parkes, and other supporters of the Government, are never tired of making assertions of this kind. I now wish to present some facts which bear upon this question, and as I always prefer to select an opponent as an authority, I propose to quote certain figures given by the financial editor of the Sydney Daily Telegraph, who is a recognised authority, and who, when he does not happen to think of labour, which is a bugbear to him, may be relied upon. The financial statistics for the year 1903 show 7 p that only three of the Australian banks were not on the dividend list. For the first time since 1892 the London Bank of Australia paid a dividend at the rate of z per cent. The Australian life offices did increased business to the extent 0^3,163,117. During the March quarter, the amounts held by the banks of New South Wales at current account increased by ,£950,000, and the coin and bullion by £675,060. There was a decrease in the advances of .£850,000, which showed that the public did not require to draw upon the banks as much as formerly. The June quarter showed some slight change. A considerable amount of money was transferred from current account to fixed deposit. The reports of the annual and half-yearly meetings of the various cornparties are also instructive. Tooth and Co. Ltd. declared a dividend of 8 per cent, the total amount being £61,942 for the halfyear. The North Coast Steam Navigation Company paid a dividend of 6 per cent, for the half-year. The Wellington Meat Export Co. paid a dividend of 8 per cent. ; the Australian Gaslight Co., 9s. per share. The A.A. Co. showed a profit for the year of £61,022, and paid a dividend of 25s. per share. The Hetton Coal Co. paid a dividend of 6 per cent, for the half-year ; and the Colonial Sugar Refining’ Co., about which we have heard a great deal, paid a dividend of 10 per cent. It is interesting to note that at the meeting of the last-named company the chairman could not resist having a fling at the Labour Party, and saying something about Socialism. He said that it was not proposed, in the present unsettled state of politics, to lay out any more money ; but when he came to give details with regard to the working of the company, he said that they had sufficient machinery for all their requirements. It therefore appeared that there was no necessity to spend any more money. Messrs. Elder, Smith and Co., of Adelaide, declared a dividend and bonus amounting to 9 per cent. The Australian Joint Stock Companies’ year-book for 1903 shows the amount of capital invested in New Zealand and the Commonwealth to be £585,000,000. This was a smaller amount than was invested two years ago by about £6,300,000. The reductions in mining investments amounted to £12,300, 000, in bank shares to £4,000,000, and in debenture issues of trading and other companies to £4,900,000, making a total of £21,000,000. The writing down of the
I capital of the Midland Company of
New Zealand, and the dulness in the mining industry, accounted for a great proportion of the reduction. The live capital of the whole’ of the investors of Australia increased by £3.900.000. Mr. Nash points out that it is very satisfactory to find that the dividends exceeded ,£23,000,000, irrespective of the £1,750,000 distributed by the banks on their interest-bearing deposits. The dividends paid were ,£1,267,000 more than those for the previous year, although they were declared in respect of a smaller capital. Apart from State debts, there is a clear average of 5 per cent. These figures show how ruinous progressive legislation must be to capital ! The figures relating to the transactions of the very class which make an outcry against democratic legislation are a sufficient answer to their allegations. They prove that, in spite of the abnormal drought from which we suffered in 1903, capitalists found in the Commonwealth the best investments in the world. Every one knows what a very low rate of interest is paid in other parts of the world, so that all the talk of industry being ruined by labour legislation - by such measures as a Conciliation and Arbitration Act - is without foundation. The position is much the same in regard to the outcry against the granting of preference to unionists. Mr. Justice Cohen has shown that there is no foundation for the statement made from time to time that the preference section in the Conciliation and Arbitration Act of New South Wales has worked injuriously ; and he has pointed out that in some of the agreements voluntarily arrived at between employers and employes, provision is actually made for preference to unionists. I do not intend to stop at this point. Let me give the House the following figures, showing the land tax and income tax returns for New South Wales-
If the people were not receiving dividends on their investments, and if land values were not increasing, there would be no such increase as is shown by these figures. Let me take another test, which is admittedly a very sound one, in determining the general prosperity of the community. I refer to the Savings Banks returns. I shall quote those relating to the Savings Banks of New South Wales, and I may add that a similar state of affairs is shown by the returns relating to the Savings Banks in other States. In 1893 there were 179,727 depositors in the Savings Banks of New South Wales, while the deposits amounted to .£6,535,758, or an average of £36 7s. 4d. per depositor. In 1902- the latest year for which a return is available - the number of depositors had increased to 323,3 r 2, and the deposits 10 £1 2^425, 464, or an average of .£38 8s.iod. per depositor. These figures do not show that those who . lodge deposits with the Savings Banks are being ruined by labour legislation.
– Was not thclimit to deposits increased between the periods named by the honorable member?
– That does not alter the facts.
– It certainly does.
– I recognise that it is a factor which must be considered ; but these figures show that the people of New South Wales have money to place on deposit. The figures which I have quoted have been taken by me either from Coghlan, or from artices written by Mr. Nash, of the Sydney Daily Telegraph, who is admittedly a sound financial authority.
– The increase of the limit allowed persons of larger means to become depositors.
– That does not alter the fact that this large sum of money exists in the country, and that the people are not being ruined, as has been urged, by democratic legislation. The number of dividendpaying banks has gradually increased, until there are now only three in Australia that are not on the dividend list.
– The fact that the limit as to the amount of deposit has been increased throws out the honorable member’s average per head.
– That is so; but I simply wish to get at the facts. The Labour Party has been constantly misrepresented purely because of political considerations, and I may say that Australia as a whole has been subjected to the same treatment. If we wish to ascertain one of the main reasons why many persons are not induced to come to Australia, we have only to turn to the lying statements published by the great daily newspapers of Australia, as well as the false statements made by members of their staffs, who act as correspondents for the English press. It is our duty to put forward any facts which controvert the false statements to which I have referred. I have been carefully noting Mr. ‘Nash’s recent comments on finance and trade, but have no desire to quote the increase which has taken place in land settlement, or the immense increase in the shipping trade of New South Wales.
– Or the big increase in the public debt, which has given us much of the capital to which the honorable member has referred.
– That increase is not, after all, so very great. In any case, it is included in the investments to which I have referred. Full details are to be found in the Investor’s Year Book. On referring to the Sydney Morning Herald’s review of the operations for the year 1903, I find that within a radius of fifteen miles of Sydney a total of £3,020,793 was expended on buildings. Let me give honorable members the items which make up that total. Private enterprise - which the present Government specially represents - accounted for a sum of £2,489,500; the Public Works Department spent £257,871; the Harbor Trust, £141,715; the Tramways Department, £60,646 ; the City Council, £42,482 ; the Public Schools Department, £27,759; and the Fire Brigades Board, £822. These figures are in themselves a sufficient indication of the extent to which private enterprise has been influenced by recent legislation, and show that the assertions which have been made from time to time against the Labour Party have no foundation. They certainly prove that remarkable progress has been made, within a fifteen miles radius of a long established city, during a time of exceptional drought, and notwithstanding the operation of a Conciliation and Arbitration Act. Fortunately, the people are beginning to realize that the statements made from time to time against the Labour Party are put forward only to serve political pur poses, and that they are not true. I cannot refrain, however, from quoting an article which appeared, some little time ago, in the Sydney Daily Telegraph. In one of those rare lapses from its ordinary line of policy, during which the truth’ slips into its columns, it published, in July, 1903, the following comments on a cablegram stating that capi tal had been frightened out of France by the socialistic tendency of legislation in that country : -
Owing to the socialistic tendency of legislation in France, the cable excitedly informs us that “ capital is leaving the country:” Parbleu ! As if we were likely to go into hysterics about it. We are not going to scare over the alleged migration of capital from any country. We have heard about it too often. Never in the memory of the oldest inhabitant has any rational legislative proposal been made in this State without capital girding up its fat loins and threatening to leave by the next boat. In England, in America, in France, everywhere, it is the same. Capital is perpetually on the wing. The mystery is where it goes to when it leaves the country. Should French capital go to England, if current stories are true, it will .meet on the way English capital in a similarly terror-stricken state fleeing from enfranchised democracy, which is suspected of lurking round the political corner waiting for a chance to bludgeon it with some objectionable law. Should it make for America, or Australia, or Germany, or Russia, it will be met by the same kind of outrush, due to the same cause. Of course it might go to one of the South American republics, which capital never seems to leave, it being all used up in the form of ammunition for the different parties who abstain from obnoxious legislation to shoot each other with. Capital, therefore, keeps away from those places, but, as it is always represented as bolting incontinently from everywhere else, where it goes to is quite impossible to guess. An equally perplexing conundrum is what it lives on “when it gets there.
This article neatly summarises the position in regard to the bogy, which is from time to time trotted out in Australia. I have not much’ more to say. I have urged that, in the interests of Australia, and having regard to the well-being of all classes, the present Government should not be allowed to remain in office. I have referred to the attitude taken up by it outside this chamber ; but we have not yet ‘heard members of the Government say in this chamber what they have said outside. No explanation has been made of the charges levelled against the Labour Party. Nothing has been said of the assertion that the Labour Party is a gigantic conspiracy against the welfare of the community. That was a very serious statement, coming, as it did, from the Prime Minister of United Australia, and as persons charged with conspiring against the common weal, we are entitled to have a fuller explanation than we have yet “had from him.” I have proved that the right honorable gentleman is associated with outside organizations which, as representing a class, are dangerous to the welfare of the community.
– That is where the real danger lies.
– Undoubtedly. I have shown that the Government are not in touch with the people, and that on these, among other grounds, we are justified in desiring to oust them from office. I might ‘have commented more fully on the fact that we have in the Prime Minister a right honorable gentleman who has made so many political somersaults that one is inclined to inquire whether, like one of the characters of which the late Robert Louis Stevenson wrote in so interesting a manner, he has a dual personality. One feels tempted to ask whether “ Dr. Jekyll “ or “ Mr. Hyde “ is to rule. Then we ought also to have some clear intimation as to who is to be the mouthpiece of the Government, in regard to all communications to His Excellency the Governor-General. I remember the late Sir Henry Parkes referring on more than one occasion to the importance of having but one head to a Government - one who will be the mouthpiece of the Cabinet, and consequently of Parliament, in all representations to the Governor, and through him to the British Crown. We ‘have here a Federation of all Australia. I could make a quotation showing that there was a certain sensitiveness on the part of the Minister of Trade and Customs as to what his colleague, in the leadership of the Government, should be saying or doing without his authority or consent. In the circumstances, we ought to know exactly what the members of the Government propose to do, and on what principles they ‘are going. They have told us that every one of their number is to do as he likes on everything but the Trades Marks Bill.
– They are solid on the Trades Marks Bill.
– They hope to gratify their ambition by putting the Trades Marks Bill through with their imprint - to show that they were in office for, at any rate, a short time. We have, however, yet to learn that they are solid on the Trades Marks Bill. I am prepared to prophecy that they are not solid on anything but what I have emphasized throughout my address, and that is on being antilabour. “ Socialism “ is only a bogy. There is no more in it than there is in the statement we often hear about driving out capital. What we have a right to be judged by is what we do, and what we propose to do in our platform, and not by what certain people choose to say we propose to do. We do not go to a man’s enemy to get his character, or to find out his views. If we desire to know what his views are, we go to him direct, and it is unfair to the Labour Party, as a party, as it would be unfair to the Government, to ask our opponents what are our views. All that the members of the present Government have done so far has been to set up a bogy and then throw stones at it. The speeches which have been made by both heads of the Government, whether they are called half, or double Prime” Ministers, have been devoted to an attack, not upon what the Labour Government had done, or proposed to do as a Government, but upon something founded upon misrepresentations which have been made outside Parliament, and, in some instances, in Parliament - something that has no existence, except in the imagination of some honorable gentlemen opposite, or of those outside who are attempting just now to prevent an accession to the numbers of the Labour Party in t’he event of a dissolution. They may as well attempt to stop the tide with a broom, as a celebrated character in fiction is supposed to have attempted to do, as to try to stem the tide of democracy in the Commonwealth. People are daily becoming more educated, and largely through the propaganda work of the Walpoles and Tom Manns, who are all doing some good.
– Tom Mann has been one of the best organizers we have ever had.
– That is so. We stand, however, on the economic basis, which I have quoted, and on that we shall score every time. Honorable members opposite are joined to the reactionary forces that are economically a hundred years behind the age - in the Imperialistic period, the period of the autocrat, of slavery, and of sweating. I by no means charge every honorable member opposite with being of these classes, but I speak of the organizations which are the. mouthpieces of these classes. Between a Government representing a minority and people who believe in Imperialism, the difference is only one of degree, and not of principle. Government by a second Chamber, elected by a minority of the community, is Imperialistic and autocratic. It is only a question of degree. We in this Parliament have laid down a broad franchise for both Chambers, and it is wrong that any Government favouring class representation should be in power in this Parliament for a day. Those who vote against labour men, honestly believing that they represent a class, do right; but we say that, since the Labour Party took an active part in politics, we have denounced class legislation, and we came into existence mainly because of class legislation, and for the purpose of abolishing it. We give intelligent and close study to these questions, and we are not likely to fall into the error of setting up something which we became organized to knock down. I may have spoken somewhat warmly, but honorable members will know that I have spoken politically, and that, personally, I have a great respect for all honorable members, and for all honest differences of opinion. I have felt that we have reached a time when serious developments external to this Chamber, and influencing the policy of Parliament within, are moving with great rapidity. I feel that the Labour Party are in duty bound now to make the departure which we are making, and that we should’ no longer say to the present Government, as we have said to past Governments - “If you put proper legislation through, it will be all right, and we shall not care by what name you are labelled 1.” We contend that the present is ar. altogether exceptional case. The manner by which the present Government secured office, as well as the work they are doing, the people with whom they are associated, and their whole surroundings, must be taken into consideration. In our opinion, it must be detrimental to the best interests of the Commonwealth to allow them to retain office for one day longer than we can help, and chiefly because they propose to set up class rule and class domination, and to bring us back to past ideals from which we hoped we had for ever escaped.
– According to all laws of compensation, after the very able and! exhaustive (speech delivered by the honorable member for Darling, covering. I suppose, nearly all the ground that could possibly be covered at the present juncture, it ought to be my duty to limit my remarks as much as possible. I shall not venture to traverse the very extensive field the honorable member has so ably covered. I shall endeavour to confine my observations to matters not less far-reaching perhaps in their eventual results, but perhaps a little closer to our present circumstances. I feel that we are standing at a point of momentous importance to the whole continent of Australia. Not so very long ago there was one man who, not out of any love for the Empire, and not out of any good-will towards its future, was yet, with a great amount of justice, said to be the man who did more to create and promote a manifestation of the sense of unity within it than any other man - I refer to the late President Kruger. In the same way, I think, the democracy of Australia can look in a certain sense with gratitude to the Prime Minister as being the man who has been indirectly at all events, the means of initiating a movement which I trust will eventually consolidate all the progressive forces of the Commonwealth. That right honorable gentleman told us yesterday that he claimed to have attained office legitimately. I venture to dispute that. I venture to repeat what I said not so long ago, when the amendment of the honorable and learned member for Corinella was before the Chamber, that there was no moral justification whatever for the way in which the late Government was turned out. I say, too, that the gloss that was put upon that transaction last evening by the Prime Minister is not justified by the circumstances as . they actually occurred in this House. We know perfectly well that the Watson Government assumed office, not by its own desire, and not of its own choice. We know well that the Labour Party, led by the honorable member for Bland, gave most effective assistance to the Government I had the honour to support, and which vas led bv the honorable and learned member for Ballarat. I say that, throughout the whole course of this Commonwealth Parliament, the Liberals of this House and of this country must have observed with gratitude the great assistance that the Labour Party gave to us time after time, when we sat on the other side, and when we faced the Opposition that now comprises most of the Ministerialists in th~eir antagonism, partly avowed and partly concealed, to ‘(Tie liberal measures we brought forward.
– Honorable members have got their quid fro quo now.
– They lost us our duties.
– Only on glue pots.
– From the laughter with which it has been received, I should say that that joke appears’ likely to stick. But on the merits of the observation, I do not agree with the honorable member for Echuca. I feel sure that my memory serves me aright when I say that without the assistance of the. Labour Party, we should never have been able to make the Tariff as protective as it is. I therefore say that on that question of the Tariff, as well as on other matters, we have a right to acknowledge with gratitude the assistance which the Labour Party gave to the Liberal Party in this House. I desire to say that shortly, because it leads to what I was saying before, that the amendment moved) not by the leader of the Labour Party, but by the honorable member for Wide Bay, and moved by that honorable gentleman so as to signify to the then Government that it was nol a hostile motion by the Labour Party, was moved and carried - and I voted against it - merely because there was a conscientious belief in it, and not because the Labour Party wished to displace the Deakin Government.
– We stated so at the time.
– The Government of the day, of course, had a perfect right to take the action they did take. The honorable and learned member for Ballarat, who was then leader of the Government, announced previously that he would retire if the amendment proposed by the honorable member for Wide Bay were carried, and the honorable and learned gentleman honorably kept his promise. I did not agree with him about the making of that promise, but, of course, we know that he always keeps his word, and he kept it honorably on that occasion. The honorable member for Bland was sent . for. He assumed office gallantly and well, and he and his Government ought to have been judged by their policy and their work. But they were not. The present Prime Minister has asked that he shall be judged by his policy and his work. By his policy, such as it is, he may be easily judged, and I intend to devote a few words to it a little later on. The Labour Government was riot fairly treated. They did not receive the fair opportunity which they were promised. They were not. faced with a direct motion of want of confidence. They were not defeated upon a motion upon which they were openly challenged, and upon which they and their defenders could place before the country their merits. They succumbed to a side thrust..
– They chose their own battle-ground.
– iA motion was moved which has been said to have been a challenge upon the battle-field selected by the Government, but it was not. I was not here to-day when the leader of the Opposition made his speech, but I understand that he has denied that assertion, and I venture to support what he said. The test of the matter is this : If he had never staked the official existence of his Government upon a particular question, the effect would have been the same. It is of no use to tell us, in the endeavour to throw dust in the eyes of the country, though’ that cannot be done successfully, that the late Government was defeated upon a battle-ground selected by the gentleman at the head of it. What he said was unmistakable : “ I will ask that this question be reconsidered by the House,” meaning, of course, that it should be dealt with in Committee on its merits. He did not for a moment anticipate, and we none of us anticipated, that a gross insult would be hurled at his Government, under which no Administration could maintain office. The late Government was defeated, not upon a field of battle selected by its Prime Minister, but upon a field of .battle selected by those who acted irrespective of the Government and of the merits of the question at issue, and were moved only by the determination to turn out of office men whom they thought were usurpers of the Treasury benches, and almost interlopers in this House.
– I do not think it troubled the honorable and learned member much.
– The Postmaster-General feels the prickings of conscience, and cannot keep quiet. His uneasiness shows the justice of what I am saying - that the Government was defeated because of the stern determination to eject at all hazards and at any cost what some honorable members contemptuously termed the Labour Government. That is unmistakably the whole truth . of the matter. It has not been proved that the present Government came into office in a legitimate fashion. I say more than that? When the right honorable gentleman for East Sydney asserted that his Government came into office in ordinary legitimate fashion, he immediately proceeded to recognise the weakness of his position. He had not then disclosed how weak the internal position of the Government was, but he recognised that the House is evenly divided, and he threatened it with a dissolution.
– He did not do anything of the kind.
– That was a very bad way to begin. Those on this side of the chamber do not fear a dissolution. The present leader of the Opposition asked for one, and we should have been only too pleased to allow the country to speak on the subject.
– We know better than that.
– I venture to say that it was a source of intense relief to many of my honorable friends -opposite when the Governor-General refused to grant a dissolution. Not only was the observation of the Prime Minister a weak one, but it may turn out to be a very fallacious one.
– What about the telegram which was produced in the train?
– I understand that my honorable friend was very glad that that telegram was not true. It was a great relief to him.
– So it was to the Labour members.
– And to the Liberal Protectionists.
– - I do not wish to interrupt the speeches of other honorable members ; but at the same time I should like to continue my own. Not only was the observation of the right honorable member for East Sydney a weak one, but it may prove to be a fallacious one, because I believe that before many days have passed it will be found that not only are there but two parties in the House, but that one of them has become much larger than it now is. I believe that before very long some of those with whom I have been proud to be associated will see that their proper place is on this side of the chamber, and will not longer remain away from those with whom they have worked for years. I have no word to say against them, but I believe they must feel, as was said by the honorable member who preceded me, that they are now in bad company, and are associated with a party against whom they have fought well and valiantly ever since the Federal Parliament came into existence. They must see that they cannot remain’ where they are without going back on their principles. I do not blame the Prime Minister for what he did. It was perfectly legitimate to him and for some of his colleagues, to attempt to gain office. From the moment that they first entered this Chamber, they have displayed in the most open and candid manner their intention to displace any Government exhibiting any tendency to liberal principles, and they have twice succeeded in doing so. I very much regret that they have been assisted by some of my friends.
– That is not a correct statement of the facts.
– It is a perfectly correct statement, and will be’ indorsed by the vast majority of the electors.
– Time will tell.
– If any proof is needed, we know the course which they adopted during the Tariff discussions, the attitude they assumed in regard to the lascars, and, lately, in spite of the extraordinary and almost impossible explanation of the Minister of Trade and Customs, in regard to the Chinamen.
– That is not worthy of the honorable and learned member.
– Does the honorable and learned member doubt the explanation given to-day ?
– No; I do not doubt it.
– He did not hear it.
– I understand that the explanation, was that nothing will be done without the approval of, and consultation with, the Queensland Government. Am I right in stating that that was the explanation ?
– Certainly not.
– The honorable and learned member is entirely wrong.
– I have stated what I understood to. be the explanation, and I say that it was improbable and almost impossible.
– Does not the honorable and. learned member know that the Commonwealth Government has nothing whatever to do with the movements of Chinese from one State to another ?
– I know that my honorable friend, who is a distinguished member of the present Government, made a very strong statement about the matter.
– This is small.
– I am anxious not to do an injustice to my honorable friend; but I asked an honorable member what the explanation was, and I was informed that it was that nothing would be done without consultation with, and the consent of, the Queensland Government.
– Whoever told the honorable and learned member that was playing with him.
– My observation was made on the basis of that statement being correct. But while I do not blame the right honorable member for East Sydney for his objects, I blame him for his methods. The mode by which he obtained office, as honorable members know well, is a matter of exultation to all the Tories in Australia. That in itself should be a sufficient indication to those of my liberal friends who are unfortunate enough to be sitting on the other side of the Chamber, of the need for mistrusting the right honorable gentleman. The explanation which he has given we do not and cannot believe to be the true one. We were told that this is to be a Government of equality, the Prime Minister and the Minister of Trade and Customs being equal ; but we do not and cannot understand it. If the fiscal question is dead and buried, what is the necessity for a double-headed Government ?
– Or a double-headed Opposition.
– There are more than two or three in the Opposition. If the fiscal question is dead and buried, why this selection of free-traders and protectionists as such, with an alleged equality? Why are the Prime Minister and the Minister of Trade and Customs acting like the two Dromios ?
– And why has a sop been thrown to the people of Australia by giving a protectionist the portfolio of Trade and Customs ?
– When we come to deal with this farce of a fiscal truce, we wish for an explanation of this supposed equality between two Ministers, an equality which we have evidence does not exist. Like the two Dromios, in the Comedy of Errors, they say -
We came into this world like brother and brother.
And now let’s go hand in hand, riot one before another.
And yet the first official act of one of these brothers was to issue a manifesto that the other brother -said he knew nothing .about. The least we could have had was a counter manifesto from the Minister of Trade and Customs. Why did we not have that ?
– Why did we not have three manifestoes from the three leaders opposite ?
– We have had one manifesto, which I think will suffice for the people of Australia. If the leaders of the Government are equal in all things, are they equal in their opinions? They are equal in one respect. My honorable friend, the Minister of Trade and Customs, referred tonight to the subject of land taxation. Let me remind him that his leader - no, his equal - the Prime Minister, introduced a land tax into the New South Wales Parliament, and that he, whilst a member of the Government, to which I had the honour to belong, and which was led by “the present Treasurer, made a very powerful and eloquent speech in favour of a land tax.
– A land tax may be justified for legitimate revenue purposes.
– Of course; undoubtedly.
– But not for confiscation.
– Certainly not. Orthodoxy is our doxy, heterodoxy is some one else’s. Undoubtedly. When I heard my honorable friend reproach the Labour Party with wanting to impose a land tax, it struck me as remarkable that he should be associated with a free-trade league, one of whose planks is to impose a single tax upon the people of this country - upon the landowners of this country. My surprise was the greater when I remembered also that my honorable friend almost electrified the Victorian Assembly in this very chamber by his eloquent support of the land tax-
– The honorable and learned member’s Government introduced a land tax into the Victorian Parliament.
– I have just said so; and I think my honorable friend supported it. The Prime Minister and the Minister of Trade and Customs are, therefore, equals in so far as land taxation is concerned. Are they equals in Socialism also ? I am not going to accuse my honorable friend, the Minister of Customs, of that. I propose to read the words of the Prime Minister with regard to Socialism. I quote from the Argus of a few days ago, 31st August, containing a report of a speech of the right honorable gentleman, addressed to farmers in the Assembly Hall in Collins-street. That was a typical “Yes-No” speech. But if he says he is opposed to Socialism I must refer him to this speech. This is what he said -
My belief contains two ideals. I believe that it is a true’ ideal of politics to use national power in every conceivable way to advance the happiness . and wealth of the community. What Socialist ever said more? That is ideal No. 1. Now I come to ideal No. 2, which is divided into two parts - Yes and No.
But I have another, and that is to- leave individual energies and powers of the community -
He did not say the word “ free.”
– That is what he meant, though.
– I shall read what he said -
To leave individual energies and powers of the community as free as you can consistent with proper national legislation.
I should like to ask if any member in this House has ever said anything worse, or anything better than that?
– Then why are the Tories jubilating, as the honorable and learned member said just now?
– I did not say they were jubilating over that. They may. be jubilating over the “ Yes ‘ ‘ part of it, but not over the “ No ‘ ‘ part of it. We were told by my honorable friend that the desire for national legislation marked the Labour Party, and I want to ask what on earth the Prime Minister meant when he addressed the farmers of the country in those terms. Having achieved his object by turning out the Government, v the Prime Minister in his anxiety to go on with the business, after having wasted the time of the country, asked for three weeks’ respite, which was granted, in order to enable him to frame a policy. And what a statesmanlike pronouncement we had yesterday. Surely, we expected something better. I venture to say that there was not a gleam of originality in it, and not a gleam of hope for this great continent.
– Except for a recess.
– Of course, we knew perfectly well beforehand that protection was sacrificed.
– The honorable and learned member has done that.
– We have done that? We have heard of the fable of the wolf and the lamb, and on the Government side of the chamber we see the exemplification of it. We know perfectly well that the one great principle for which the honorable member for Echuca has stood up in this House and outside of it ‘has been surrendered by him. We know perfectly well that the great principle which held the Liberal-Protectionist Party together was surrendered - to whom? To a defeated foe, to a leader, able, eloquent, and strategic - a man for whose power of overcoming difficult situations we must all have the greatest admiration. We all know perfectly well that he has acknowledged himself in this House to have been beaten on the fiscal question. Where was the necessity to enter into a truce with a beaten foe?
– The honorable and learned gentleman went to the country on the truce.
– And we came back triumphant.
– And then the honorable and learned member abandoned the question upon which he went to the country.
– I shall show my honorable friend who abandoned the question.
– Those who went to the country, and advocated fiscal peace, and came back and advocated fiscal strife.
– I should like to know in what way I ever pledged myself to fiscal peace or fiscal strife. I am perfectly willing, although I am in no way pledged on the subject, to stand by my honorable friends of the protectionist party, and say that there was a proposal of fiscal peace. But I want to know what is the meaning of fiscal . peace. I shall tell honorable members what that fiscal peace meant. It meant this, that the contest in Australia between the policy of free-trade on the one side, and the policy of protection on the other, was decided. There was to be no more struggling as to which, policy was to be triumphant. We had erected the standard ofprotection, and that flag was to fly all over Australia. When the Prime Minister,’ in Sydney, taunted the protectionists of Australia, and said that they had that “ tired feeling,” and that they dared not raise theprotectionist flag before the people of Australia, we dared to do so, and the people-, supported us. They declared that thereshould be a pause in the great strugglebetween the protectionists and the freetraders, and that the protectionist flag; should still continue to wave. But they never said that in this declaration of peace between two warring camps any details of protection should remain unattended to. They never said that in this protectionist domain if wrong were done in any case it should not be righted.
– The. honorable and learned member should turn, to the galleries, and not to the House, with that story.
– The Minister feels the pinch. He sees how thin is the covering over himself in this regard, and feels that this is cutting very close to him. I venture to say that in his calm moments he will admit that no one on the whole of this continent dreamt that any protectionist was sent here with a mandate to allow industries to bleed to death, machinery to remain idle and rust, and people to starve. There was no such mandate as that, and I am going to prove it out of the mouths of the Prime Minister and our esteemed friend - for he is esteemed wherever he may sit - the honorable and learned member for Ballarat. I propose to prove out of their joint mouths that there was no mandate such as we have heard 01
– The honorable and learned member’s name appears in the list, published” in the Age, of supporters of fiscal . peace.
– In the sense I have mentioned, I agree to that. We were told by the Prime Minister and the PostmasterGeneral - who, no doubt, helped to frame that famous suggested convention between the Prime Minister and the honorable and learned member for Ballarat - that there was a mandate from the country that the protectionists were to ground their arms, and I shall prove from their own words that there was nothing of the kind. I shall read the terms of the proposed alliance between the protectionist and free-trade palties. They will be found in the journals of May 19th. One of the terms was a proposal for two years’ fiscal truce. If the constituencies of Australia had ordered a fiscal truce, how could the two parties suggest an agreement for such a truce? How could the members of this House come forward and say, “ True it is that the constituencies have commanded peace, but we shall deliberate whether or not there shall be peace.” Now what was the proposal? It was -
The Tariff not to be altered in any respect during the present Parliament without the consent of both parties in the Ministry.
– What was the verdict in our room when this was announced?
– I shall answer that.
– The verdict was that the country had already decided the question.
– Order ! The Minister of Trade and Customs has already spoken. If he has been misrepresented he will have an opportunity’ to explain later on. I must ask him to refrain from interrupting the speaker in possession of the Chair.
– I shall answer the Minister’s question. The verdict was that the protectionists had nothing to gain by such an agreement - that we had won the day.
– Oh, no 1
– I say unhesitatingly, that it was pointed out that we should gain nothing by it, but that the free-traders would. .
– Because, the country had already decided that the Tariff should not be touched for three years. Every member at that party meeting said so.
– We said, undoubtedly, that we had nothing to gain, and that a beaten party was proposing terms. We refused to accept them.
– Some members said that, but not every one.
– The decision was that the protectionist party should stand together in its full integrity, that it should not ally itself with one side or the other. That was the decision that was arrived at unanimously, and which ought never to have been departed from. I have no doubt that the Minister of Trade and Customs has stated what was in his mind. I am only mentioning what was in mine. At a meeting such as that various views are expressed, and one can only give his own impression as to what took place. But I have here something in writing. It shows the views of the two leaders.
– Was it drawn up subsequently ?
– No, it was made at the time of the proposed compact. It is reTmarkable that the words “fiscal truce” appear in this as well as in the present programme. Before I part from this question, I should like to refer to one matter that was provided for in the proposed programme, but which is not mentioned in the programme of this Liberal Government. I refer to the paragraph stating’ that -
It is highly desirable that a uniform system of old-age pensions throughout Australia should be adopted as soon as possible, and .that steps should be taken to accomplish this in cooperation with the States.
It is remarkable that that very important question, which formed a prominent part of the proposed alliance, has been suddenly dropped.
– It was not even touched during the regime of the Labour Government.
– I should like to ask a question in’ regard to a matter on which the country is entitled to have a declaration from the Government, although up to the present time we have not had one. If there is to be a fiscal truce between the protectionists and the free-traders, how long is it to last? .Is it to last during the life of the present Parliament, or over the next Parliament? Is it to last for ever, or is it to last until the Ministry has been beaten? Are we then to find the two equal sections of the Cabinet flying, like tigers, at each other’s throats? Does this “fiscal truce” mean a truce to bury protection ?
– How long is the Liberal - Labour alliance to last?
– There appears on the face of our agreement a statement as to how long it is to last. There has been no concealment on our part. We have placed the whole matter fairly before the country. We wish to meet the Government openly. We ask the same frankness from the other side. The question I have put has been asked before, but we can obtain no answer. Language apparently is made to conceal thoughts; but we wish to know from the Government, and especially from my protectionist friends, for how long they have consented to stifle protection.
– The honorable and learned member assumes that he will be in the next Parliament.
– I should be sorry to assume that the honorable member will be a member of it. I repeat that the protectionists of Australia have a right to know from the protectionist members of the Government how long they have consented to bind themselves hand and foot, and to attempt to bind the people whom they represent, to the crushing down of protection. The freetrade baby was dead ; the protectionist baby was alive. There was no reason, therefore, why they should combine their forces. How long are they going to “ farm “ the protectionist baby ?
– The honorable and learned member is making a babyish speech.
– Then I have reached the level of the honorable member. Before proceeding to consider the two items, and the only two, apart from colourless matters, that the Government have deigned to put before the country, I wish to emphasize the fact that there is no mistaking the society in which the protectionist members of the Government find themselves. There is no mistaking the desire and the designs of the leader of the Government and of his free-trade friends. We know that Australia has a great future; we know that its resources are great. Every one dreams of Australia becoming a 7 Q 2 great country, and developing not merely as a sheep-walk or as the abode of herds and flocks, and not merely in the” matter of primary production, although we all should do our utmost to promote that end. While we desire that it shall develop in this way, we wish at the same time to see a diversification of employment in Australia. It ought to be one of the highest aims of this Parliament, and of .those who lead it, to make Australia an industrial country, and, if possible, an industrial centre of the world. We must have great manufactures here. We have all the materials to support them. We have been endowed with the fullest natural possessions necessary to build up these manufactures, and we have a right to look forward to a time when we shall be a great manufacturing community with a large output and a prosperous exchange between our primary and secondary producers. There is an outlook, according to the leader of the Government ; there is a panacea for the great manufactures of Australia. What is the remedy? Let me read the right honorable gentleman’s own words. In dealing with the matter, he himself asked a question. He said -
What is the hope of the great manufactures of Australia? How are we to manufacture cheaply, or to compete with the cheap labour of other countries ?
He then proceeded to point out that we could not have a monopoly of mechanical appliances; that we could not have better machinery than the British pr German manufacturers have. He pointed out, teo, that the manufacturers of Germany and England could buy raw material all over the world, and then he added this strange commentary on free-trade England, although he linked Germany with it -
How are we going to compete with these underpaid sweated countries until our own labour is underpaid and sweated too?
That was his answer to the great question of how and when Australia is to be raised to the position of a great manufacturing country, and the means by which we can attain that eminence. This is the panacea which he offers, and I commend it to my honorable friends opposite -
In .the plenitude of time, when our millions become tens of millions, we shall have a crop of misery which will solve the difficulty in regard to cheap manufactures.
In other words, when our men and women are reduced to starvation point, with no Tariff, no labour laws, no Conciliation and
Arbitration Acts, nothing which will conserve the interests of the worker - when we have a poverty-stricken race madly competing with each other to obtain a crust of bread - then, and then only, shall we solve the problem. We shall then have that “crop of misery” which will make Australia a great manufacturing country. That is the policy to which my honorable protectionist friends opposite have become linked, and from which, I trust, they will detach themselves.
– The honorable and learned member dare not read the context of the speech to which he has just referred.
– What is the context?
– Let the honorable and learned member read it.
– The honorable member makes what he considers a very wise assertion, but I ask him whether he knows what the context is.
– I know that it is something which the honorable and learned member dare not read.
– It is a long tirade against protection; and the remedy which I have mentioned is the only one the speaker could put forward as being consistent with free-trade.
– Will the honorable and learned member inform us what was the speech from which he has quoted?
– With pleasure. It is to be found in Vol. V. of Hansard, Session 1901-2, page, 6800. What is the great policy of this great Government ? They have told us that they are not going to bring in a Manufactures Encouragement Bill. The time has not arrived for the crop of misery that is to start Australian manufactures. The Government are not going to support preferential trade, or they are - I do not know what is the position they take up,
– They do not know themselves.
– Are they going to support a policy of preferential trade? If so, I presume they will provide for it on a free-trade basis.
– No; the Prime Minister stated yesterday that it would be on the basis proposed by the Deakin Government.
– Then it will be on a protectionist basis, or is one half of the Cabinet to have it on a free-trade basis, and the other half on a protectionist foundation ?
– They are to have it turn about ; six months each.
– Are the two sections to be equal in all things ? If the Prime Minister’s statement be correct, that the Government are going to provide for preferential trade on the basis proposed by the Deakin Government, it will be brought about by means of an increase of duties. If it is to be established on a free-trade basis, I wonder how my honorable friends - and especially the Minister of Trade and Customs - will be able to support it. I do not believe that the Minister of - Trade and Customs will do so. I honestly think that, he will revolt against it. But this is not a Government measure. The Prime Minister stated yesterday, in effect, that the Government is going to take up preferential trade - that is “ yes “ - provided the British Government asks for it - that is midway - “ but “ he added, “ we know the British Government never will “ - that means “no.” When I heard that statement I began to wonder what was the position of the Government.
– We should have had this speech from .the honorable and learned member when he was supporting the late Government. What was their attitude in regard to preferential trade?
– We never reached their attitude on that subject.
– We waited four months to reach it.
– But whatever Government were in office-
– The late Government were in office longer than we have been.
– If the’ question had arisen on a declaration of policy on the part of that Government I should have said the same if they had made the same statement as the present Administration have done. I believe that whatever the late Ministry might have said on the ^subject, it. would have said it plainly. Then, again, the Government have said nothing about the great question of old-age pensions.
– Has the honorable and learned member obtained a promise from the Labour Party on the question of preferential trade? He has sold himself ‘0 that party, and I wish to know whether he has obtained a pledge from them in regard to that question.
– I presume that my honorable friend reads the newspapers. He can read for himself in today’s newspapers what we have done on this question.
– I have not read the statement to which the honorable and learned member refers.
– There is nothing in it.
– Let me deal with the other items in the Government programme.
– All I have seen in the newspapers is a statement which shows that the honorable and learned member has been absorbed by the Labour Party.
– What about the Minister himself ?
– I am afraid that I prove a very indigestible morsel.
– I would not barter my principles for the sake of. not being opposed at the coming elections.
– Would the Minister do so for the sake of office ? The Government have three colourless proposals in their programme - and I speak of them as being colourless, because they are of a non-party character - a Bill to amend the Electoral Act, the two measure’s relating to Trades Marks, and the Papua Bill. They are common to all of us, and no difficulty is associated with them. But the Government have also come out with two magnificent items - the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, and a measure providing for the Transcontinental Railway survey. There are members of the present Government who were members of the Deakin Administration, which resigned rather than have anything to do with a Conciliation and Arbitration Bill that contained a clause extending its operations to States servants. Yet we now find them supporting that Bill, and taking all the responsibilities of the Government
– The present Prime Minister said that they were quite right in the attitude which they previously took up.
– That is so. Three members of the present Government have stultified themselves in regard to that measure. Although the Government say that they are going on with the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, they do not condescend to tell the House which of the proposed amendments they are going to accept, and which of them they intend to reject.
– The quotation which the honorable and learned member’ made a few minutes ago from a speech delivered by the Prime Minister is an outrageous one.. I say that with the full report of the’ speech before me.
– Then, my honorable friend is capable of saying anything.
– I do say it, emphatically.
– I say’ that it is a fair and honest quotation. It has been quoted by me before in public in the Melbourne Town Hall, and never contradicted.
– I say that it is an unfair and a dishonest quotation.
– It is torn from ils context.
– There is nothing in the context which qualifies it.
– The man who would make that quotation, would say anything.
– I might read the words again, but I shall be satisfied -if the honorable member for Parramatta will now read any words which he claims will show that I have not quoted the right honorable gentleman fairly. I challenge him to do it now, while I am here.
– It will be read later on.
-Then the honorable member refuses to do it.
– The honorable member cannot do such a thing as the honorable member for Indi has suggested. .
– Th’e honorable member was not aware of that, because he refused my challenge before you rose, Mr. Speaker. Now, with respect to the Transcontinental Railway. That is a project which the Minister for Trade and Customs has designated as the “ desert railway.” How did the honorable gentleman come to give his assent to that?
– To what?
– To the survey . of the Transcontinental Railway ?
– Is the honorable - and learned member opposed to ascertaining the facts ?
– They soon made a yes-no politician . of the honorable member for Gippsland.
– We have been trying to ascertain the facts for some considerable time, We have ascertained this fact, that the honorable member for Gippsland, who when sitting on this side strongly opposed the proposal, is now, as a member of the Government, as strongly supporting it j and having equal power with the Prime Minis,ter, the honorable gentleman ought certainly to have vetoed it.
– The honorable member for Moira stonewalled even the proposal to make the survey.
– I think that before very long there may be an opportunity to again address ourselves to this question. I have no doubt that the alliance which we all know has been happily consummated between two great bodies in this Parliament will have an effect, and a beneficial, effect, on the future of Australia. We have set up a standard under which 1 believe all the progressive forces of this continent may find a rallying point. I do not despair of some of my honorable friends opposite before very long agreeing with us to this extent. We have said as plainly as language can say it, that the door is open.
– Yes, honorable members opposite have said that plainly enough.
– If they agree to a platform, as to which they can find no reasonable objection; if they can agree to leave a coalition which is not a coalition; if they at any time find that it is to the best interests of this community that they should return to the pledges and principles which they came into this House to profess and support, I believe it will be well for this country - I do not bring their personal position into the matter. I invite, and we all invite them, to support in the future the principles which they have supported in the past But whatever they may do, it is our bounden duty to continue to adhere to the principles we were returned to support. As protectionists, we were -returned to. support protection, and we do not intend to desert that principle. We have resolved that, although no action can possibly be taken, this session, such action shall be taken next session, and I say that we desire, and we intend, by all legitimate means, to enforce our desire to have ah inquiry into such operations of the Tariff as we* see are not merely in danger of doing, but are actually doing, damage to the industries of Australia.
– That inquiry has already been suggested. It was suggested last weak.’
– Honorable members opposite will now claim that as their policy.
– Suggested with a view to- action?
– Then what has become of the fiscal truce?
– The inquiry will not disturb that,
– Either this fiscal truce is a farce, or it is not If there1 is a fiscal truce, all we have heard is simply humbug; if there is not a fiscal truce, what are honorable members opposite going to do? What we say is that, whether it is true or not, we intend to see that the verdict of the country is adhered to.
– Who are “we”?
– The Liberal Labour Party, and the people behind them. That is who “ we “ are. I say that we intend to see’ that no evasion of duty on the part of the Government, and no simulation of a fiscal truce, will avail them to disregard the duty they owe to Australia. I say this also, that I trust that before very long there will be such steps taken as will evince to the .people of this country that we cannot longer tolerate upon the Treasury benches such a politically sexless combination as we find there to-day.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Robinson) adjourned.
House adjourned at 10.25 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 8 September 1904, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1904/19040908_reps_2_21/>.