2nd Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
MILITARY BADGES AND ORNAMENTS.
Mr. HUME COOK. - I wish to know from the Minister of Defence whether it has yet been determined to have the badges and ornaments used by our Military Forces made in Australia? Some time ago it was proposed to import these articles, but several honorable members raised a protest against that procedure. The matter has been before the Department for some time, and I should, therefore, like to know from the Minister whether a determination has been come to on the subject.
Mr. McCAY. - I should have been -glad if the honorable member had let me know of his intention to ask this question, because then I should have been able to look at the papers bearing on the matter. So far as my memory serves me, the Department has been accepting contracts for the making of badges in Australia.
Mr. Mauger. - There is a big item still undecided.
Mr. McCAY. - I cannot carry the facts relating to all these matters in my memory, and I am not sure that I have seen all the papers referring to the subject of the honorable member’s inquiry; but if he will repeat his question next week, I hope to be able to give a definite answer.
Mr. AUSTIN CHAPMAN.- I wish to know from the Minister of External Affairs what is the policy of the Government as regards old-age pensions, and whether he will’ consent to the appointment of a Select Committee to inquire into the working of the Old-age Pensions Acts of Victoria and New South Wales, with the object of obtaining data on which to base a Commonwealth scheme of old-age pensions.
Mr. REID. - The Government considered that matter in dealing with their policy] for this session and afterwards, and, as stated by the Attorney-General in the Senate, the day before yesterday, the view we have taken in regard to it is that it is impossible for the Federal Parliament to bring into operation a Federal system of old-age pensions without the co-operation of the States, because, although the Constitution empowers us to deal with it, it would be necessary, if revenue were raised for the purpose through the Customs - and that has been the policy of taxation common to, I think, all Federal parties - to raise four times the amount actually required, . since 15s. in every £1 obtained through the Customs must be returned to the States. The Government, therefore, decided some days ago that they would make the subject one to be dealt with in a Conference with the Governments of the States, and we propose to use all the influence we possess to persuade those Governments to co-operate with us, so that we may be able to deal with the matter upon a national basis.
Mr. Thomas. - Is this another part of the programme for the recess?
Mr. REID. - The matter was referred to by the Attorney-General two’ days ago in making a Ministerial statement in another place.
Mr. Thomas. - Why was it not referred to here? Did the right honorable member forget to refer to it?
Mr. REID.- I did.
Mr. Thomas. - The right honorable member forgot to refer to so important a question as the establishment of Commonwealth old-age pensions !
Mr. REID. - I had made a note of the matter, and intended to refer to it; but I never look at my notes during the delivery of a speech, and consequently the subject escaped my memory, as I had to deal with a large number of questions’. In the . Senate, however, the Attorney-General referred to the subject in this way : -
There is also the great subject which must be considered in connexion with the States, as suggested by Senator Higgs, namely, old-age pensions. That must necessarily be the subject of conference, and some kind of basis for common action, even to a greater extent than that which I ventured to indicate desirable in so _ comparatively small a matter as the appointment of a High Commissioner.
That statement was made two days ago, and no miracle can be worked with the Hansard, report, although I hear that it is pretty freely revised at times. The subject was fully considered by the Government, and I regret that, having a large number of matters to deal with, I forgot to mention it when making my Ministerial statement.
Mr. Fisher. - The other Ministers might have advised the right honorable gentleman on the. subject.
Mr. REID. - That is perfectly true ; but I ask my honorable friends to show interest in the main subject, which is of more importance than an act of forgetfulness on my part. I plead guilty to the omission through want of recollection; but-, as a guarantee of good faith, I am happy to say that the subject was referred to by the AttorneyGeneral in another place while I was making my Ministerial statement. In reply to the question asked by the honorable member for Eden-Monaro, neither my colleagues nor I have any objection to the appointment of a Select Committee whose inquiries and report will help to pave the way for the proposed Conference. The subject in which he is interested has never been considered a party question, and I hope never will be so considered. It is a matter of too great importance for that. I shall, therefore,’ welcome any assistance from a Select Committee of this House preparatory to a meeting with the authorities of the States in Conference.
Mr. SPEAKER. - I have once or twice before called attention to the requirements of the Standing Orders in relation to questions. The rules in this regard are very strict, and I am bound to enforce them. I therefore ask honorable members who, during the making of any reply to a question, desire further information, not to indulge in running comment, which is quite disorderly ; but to afterwards ask, separately, supplementary questions upon the subjects upon which they desire additional information. To ask questions by way of interjection during the giving of answers to other questions is disorderly.
– It appears from the press reports that a number of Chinese, arriving by steamer from Singapore, have been detected in the act of trying to smuggle themselves into Fremantle. For some time past it has been strongly suspected in Western Australia that, in spite of the Aliens Restriction Act, Chinamen have been smuggled into that State in considerable numbers ; and in view of the fact that some thirteen of them have now been discovered on board one steamer, I ask the Minister of External Affairs if he will take special precautions to prevent the recurrence of this action. I should also like him to say what steps the Government intend to take in regard to the particular case to which I have referred.
– I should like to have fuller information on the- subject before making any announcement of the intentions of the Government, since correct information is the safe precursor of action. I have not yet received the papers, and I wish to satisfy myself of the facts before taking action. If my honorable friend will put a question on the notice paper for, say, Wednesday next, I hope then to be able to give him a satisfactory reply.
– I wish to ask the Postmaster-General, without notice, if it is a fact, as stated in this morning’s Age, that he has decided to continue a practice in connexion with the supplies required by his Department, inaugurated, I believe, by a previous Minister, of giving a preference of 1 5 per cent, to local tenderers ?
– I am sorry that my honorable friend has not given notice of the question. Some time ago tenders were invited for the .supply of materials for the Post and Telegraph Department. Tenders were afterwards received, and certain recommendations were made in regard to them by an officer of the Department, in accordance, I understand, with the decisions of previous Ministers. The matter was then submitted to my predecessor in office, the honorable member for Coolgardie, who determined to accept tenders where no preference was involved. Upon his leaving office it came again before me, and I sent for the papers to ascertain what was the practice in force at the time the tenders were invited. I found that both the honorable member for Denison and Senator Drake had laid down a certain rule in connexion with preference to tenderers.
– Was not that the result of a Cabinet decision?
– I presume it was ; the rule laid down by the Government for the time being was that certain preference should be given to local tenderers. That decision was communicated to the Deputy Postmasters-General in the various States, and it was in accordance with that decision that tenders were invited by my predecessors in office. The matter came under my notice for determination, because the honorable member for Coolgardie had determined that where no preference was involved the tender should be accepted, and had left me to deal with all other cases. “
– Did the tenderers know anything about the arrangement?
– All I know is that the Secretary to the PostmasterGeneral was directed to send the decision of my predecessors to the Deputy Postmasters, and. I concluded that a certain practice had been established, and that the tenderers had some knowledge of it. I made a minute to the following effect : - “ The practice in force under Ministerial decision at the time tenders were invited to be followed.”
– If it was understood by the tenderers that preference was to be given to local tenders, the Minister was only carrying out what amounted practically to a contract.
– Of course, I cannot say for certain whether the tenderers knew of the arrangement. All I know is that the decision of my predecessors was communicated by order to the Deputy Postmasters-General.
– I desire to know whether the Postmaster-General will, of his own motion, continue the very admirable practice which has been referred to?
– I shall deal with that question when it arises.
– I wish to ask whether the papers disclose any reason why the late Postmaster-General declined to deal with the very important question of allowing preference to local tenderers?
– No; the papers do not disclose that. The late Postmaster-General left a minute to the effect that tenders were to be accepted where no preference was involved.
– Then the matter of preference was hung up?
– It was left in abeyance.
– The late PostmasterGeneral very wisely shunted the responsibility.
– Is it not a fact that the reason why the late PostmasterGeneral did not deal with the question of preference to tenderers was that fresh tenders were called, and that he was therefore unable to arrive at a decision.?
– I do not think that that is the correct explanation. The papers were submitted to me, , and I asked the Secretary to give me some information bearing on the Question of preference. Then the decision arrived at by my predecessors was placed before me.
– The Minister has made an excellent start by trying to take a point upon the previous Minister.
– I wish to ask the Minister whether, in arriving at his decision, he did not assume that there was an understanding between the Department and the tenderers with’ regard to preference ?
– I did not make any inquiries with regard to the tenderers. All I saw was the decision of my predecessors, which it was directed should be communicated privately to the Deputy Postmasters-General, I did not inquire as to the action which they had taken ; but I arrived at the determination I have indicated.
– Is it not true that the papers sent to the Deputy PostmastersGeneral with respect -to the preference to be given to local tenderers were marked “ private and confidential,” and that no tenderers knew anything about them?
– This is curious. The hon.orable member must have been an understudy for the late Postmaster-General.
-I have already stated that it was ordered that the decision of my predecessors should be communicated privately to the Deputy Postmasters-General. It was that knowledge which made me hesitate to state that the tenderers were informed of the conditions. I determined the matter upon the papers submitted to me, and I am quite prepared to stand by my decision.
asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable and learned member’s questions are as follow : -
I may add that when I found that these two men, who were married, and had large families, and were expert at their work, were receiving only £90 per annum, I felt that I should be perfectly justified in paying them the minimum salary.
Mr. REID laid upon the table the following papers :
Statutory rules made by the Justices of the High Court under the Commonwealth Electoral Act.
Statutory rules made by the Justices of the High Court under the High Court Procedure Act.
Debate .resumed from 8th September (vide page 4462), on motion by Mr. Reid -
That the despatch from the Secretary of State, with reference to the metric system, be printed.
– Like most other honorable members, I listened to the honorable and learned m’ember for Indi with considerable pleasure and interest. My interest was increased by the fact that his speech was of a character such as we are not accustomed to hear from him. It was palpably an address to the gallery, and to his constituents. I welcome the attitude which the honorable and learned member has taken up on this question, because it seems to me that if there is to be organized obstruction the sooner we face the music the better. For my part, I am quite prepared to abide by the consequences, although I know that many honorable members on the other side are not so ready to face the situation. The honorable and learned member for Indi, and the leader of the Opposition, dealt with the methods by which the late Government were defeated, and claimed that they were not ejected from office by fair and reasonable means- that the battle ground was not of their own choosing. I am of opinion that the battle ground was distinctly of their own choosing. The only way in which we could arrive at a fail and definite decision upon an important point was afforded, by the method adopted. What were the broad facts of the case? When the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill was previously in Committee it was proposed to delete the sub-clause providing for unconditional preference to unionists. That amendment was defeated. A further amendment was moved by the present Minister of Defence, with the object of limiting preference! to the members of organizations which could show that they represented a majority of the persons interested in the award. That amendment was carried. Notice of it had been given some days before the division took place, and more than ten speakers discussed it. After the amendment had been adopted the then Government announced, through the press, their intention to seek a dissolution or resign office if the House did not reverse its decision. The Government chose to regard the question as vital, and I contend that it was far better that the whole matter should be disposed of in the full House, where every vote would count, rather than in Committee. The object of the late Prime Minister in seeking to recommit the Bill was to give that champion bridgebuilder, the honorable and learned member for Indi, a further opportunity to display his powers. The intention undoubtedly was that, in the event of the Government amendment being defeated, the honorable and learned member should prepare some other amendment, or perhaps dozens and dozens of amendments if such should be necessary, with a view to enabling some slippery politicians to act contrary to their convictions. As it was, three honorable members changed their attitude upon the question of preference to unionists. Two of them were wise enough not to give reasons why they went over to the Government. Fortunately, most other honorable members had a sufficient amount of courage to stand by the votes they had given on a former occasion. What was desired by the Government was to revive bridge-building methods, which would enable weak-kneed politicians to evade giving a straight-out vote. The leader of the Opposition told us that the Government had made no effort to retain office. But I hold a very different view. There was a great deal of squealing and manoeuvring by Ministers before they left office. When it was proposed to amend the clause in the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill relating to the rules of the unions, which the late Prime Minister declared to be vital, one honorable member who was opposed to the ‘registration under the Bill of unions having anything in the nature of political objects, asked the Minister in a very meek tone if he would resign in the event of the Government being defeated upon the clause. A reply was given in the affirmative. That threat had the desired effect, and the honorable and gallant member referred to changed his attitude, save’d the Government, and ran home. The same tactics were employed on the last occasion.
– Is there anything dishonorable or improper in the Government saying that they will make a certain question a vital one?
– Pressure was applied to that honorable and learned member in the most open and flagrant manner. It was a matter of open comment. It was referred to in more than one speech delivered in this Chamber, and was the subject of many private conversations between honorable members. Honorable members on this side of the House take up a courageous attitude. They seek to check such practices, which bring Parliament into disrepute, and would have every man stand by his guns.
– The amendment was sprung on the House.
– That is not so.
– How many honorable members knew that it was to be moved ?
– If the honorable and learned member refers to the amendment against the recommittal of clause 48-
– I do.
– The honorable and learned member’s parliamentary experience should surely be sufficient to teach him that if a Government announces that it considers that a certain clause or sub-clause of a Bill is vital, and that it will gc out of office if it be’ defeated on it, it :s for the Opposition to take the first available means to .test the opinion of the House on that question. That is the course which we adopted, and, to my mind, the result was very satisfactory. The leader of the Opposition has told us that the Government party is composed of a number of incongruous elements. I frankly admit that there are wide divergencies of opinion, on certain questions, among honorable members on this side of the House, but I think that I shall be able to show that there are equally wide divergencies of opinion on the part of honorable members of the Opposition. We, ‘at all events, have one principle in common.
– What is it?
– I shall be able to show that some members of the Opposition and more particularly the honorable member for Bourke, have one principle very much in common with that which we favour. We object to caucus or machinebound Governments.
– And yet the Government use the machine.
– I object to a caucusbound Government- - a system under which a Government is a mere detail in the hands of a machine. Such a . system makes a man a mere puppet in the hands of wirepullers outside the House. It destroys an honorable member’s liberty and conscience, and reduces him to the position of a mere delegate. In order to show the House, and more particularly the honorable member for Bourke, the infamous nature of caucus or machine politics, I trust that I shall be permitted to quote from a speech made by that honorable member at the last general election. According to a report which appeared in the Age on 14th November, 1903, he took up a very vigorous attitude in opposition to the Labour Party. The report sets forth that he said -
Why was it the Labour Party was opposing him?….. He did object to sign the party’s constitution and pledge. Had he signed the pledge he would have put himself in the hands of twenty or thirty men who wanted his billet, and be compelled to support the candidate whom they selected, even if Be were a freetrader. He would also have lo give up 5 per cent, of his salary to the Political Labour Council ; but he did not intend to do that…..
The position was that some twenty or thirty persons - a little- clique at the Trades-hall - were to have the power to say whether they approved of a candidate, and if they did not approve of him he would have to stand down. Such things savoured of Tammany-hall and Russia -
That is the policy to which honorable members on this side of the House are opposed. Then he went on to say -
Any one who signed that pledge (i.e., labour pledge), agreed to support a candidate before they knew who the man was. The caucus did not allow any liberty ; they must vote for the majority. They clamoured for the liberty of minorities, but they did not allow any liberty to their own minority.
That constitutes the basic difference between the Opposition and the Government.
– Did they run the honorable member for Bourke verv closely?
– they did.
– He beat his opponent by over 700 votes.
– But he had to call upon the then Prime Minister, the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, to extricate him from his difficult position.
The honorable and learned member went to Essendon in support of the honorable member; and made a rallying speech against ma chine government. According to a report which appeared inthe Age on 25th November last, the honorable member for Bourke, in the course of another election speech, said -
The electors had to consider whether they would be represented by a person who was the nominee of a little clique called the Political Labour League, or whether they would sendback their present member, who represented, not one section, but all sections of the community.
I come now to the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, for whom I have the greatest respect. I find that at the last general election he took up a position similar to that adopted by the ‘honorable member for Bourke. Under the heading of “ Mr. Mauger on the Labour Party,” the Age, in its issue of 18th November, 1903, published the following report: -
If he were to be returned to the Federal Parliament it would be as a representative of the whole of the people, and not as a machine, to be worked at the dictation of a small portion. ….. If he did this-
That is, sign the labour pledge - he would be abrogating the fundamental principles of the Constitution by handing over to a few men and a small section of the electors the right to say whether or not he should be a candidate.
Then, again, according to the Age of 24th November, 1903, he said -
He had beea asked to ‘” nominally “ sign the platform of the Political Labour Council. (A Voice : Then the council is a failure).
– I say it is not only a failure - it is an absolute fraud.
I do not think that any words of mine could put the position more clearly than does the luminous exposition made by the two honorable members, whose utterances I have quoted.
– Did the Labour Party run the honorable member for Melbourne Ports very closely?
– They opposed him, but I am glad to say that his majority was not a small one. His popularity was so great that he was able to hold his own.
– Did the then Prime Minister have to go to his assistance?
– No. His popularity was so great that ‘he did not require such help. We agree with’ these honorable members with regard to the position of the Labour Party, but the distinction between us is that we are prepared to give effect to our opinions in a proper and legitimate way, while they, on the other hand, have sunk their views.
– It is the biggest case of “ yes-no “ of which I have ever heard.
– One reason why some of us object to the Opposition is because of the extreme, militant, aggressive Socialism preached by a very large section of that party. A most unfair attempt was made last night to foist on the Prime Minister the responsibility for the utterances of Mr. R. S. Walpole. I am fairly well acquainted with that gentleman, and think I can say that he would resent such an attempt.
– But he uttered the statement to which reference was ‘made.
– I repeat that he would resent the suggestion that he was giving expression, in any shape or form, to the views of the present Prime Minister. I do not wish to defend him, for he is well . able to take care of himself, but on one point he has been grossly misrepresented.
– The interjection made by the honorable member for Yarra-
– The statement in question was made by Mr. Walpole, when speaking at Lilydale, and I have a copy of the report, which has never been denied by him.
– He has shown me a letter from a clergyman, who heard the whole of his speech, and who, without concurring in his remarks, moved a vote of thanks to him for his lecture. That clergyman states that no such statement as that attributed to Mr. Walpole was ever made by him.
– Will- Mr. Walpole himself deny it?
– I believe that he will.
– What have we to do with Mr. Walpole?
– A great deal; the Government exist by his agencv.
– He represents one section of the community, which is entitled to adopt whatever constitutional means it pleases to secure the propagation of the views that it holds, but there is no justification whatever for the suggestion that the views of Mr. Walpole are shared by the present Government. The socialistic party object to Mr. Tom Mann being regarded as their mouthpiece. That is a most extraordinary position for them to take up. When I said last night that the Victorian labour members were partly responsible for the payment of the expenses of Mr. Tom Mann’s mission, the honorable and learned member for West Sydney indignantly denied the statement. I do not make such assertions without being able to prove them.
– The honorable and learned member was’ understood to refer to members of the Labour Party in this Parliament.
– I said that some members of the party in this House were responsible, and can prove my assertion. Let me quote from a. report which appeared in the issue of the Tocsin - the authorized political organ of the Trades Hall Council, of 30th June, 1904 -
A meeting of the Trades-hall and the Political Labour Councils, sitting as a combined body, was held in the Trades-hall on Friday night, Mr. Hannah, M.L.A. (President of the Trades-hall Council), presiding.
– Is that the Mr. Hannah who opposed the honorable member for Bourke ?
– .Cook. - And he was ‘defeated bv over 700 votes.
– The report proceeds -
A number of Federal and State labour members were present. The meeting was unanimously of opinion that Mr. Mann’s services should be retained, much of the success which had crowned the party’s efforts in the late State election being directly traceable to his splendid capacity for organization, and to his strikingly forcible platform exposition of labour’s aims and ideals.
In my opinion, Mr. Tom Mann is one of the best investments that the Labour Party have ever made, but I am surprised that they should have the effrontery to deny their association with him. The next paragraph in the report is as follows: -
The amount required to continue Mr. Mann’s services is ^40 per month, which includes salar)’, travelling expenses, hire of halls, and all other necessary outgoings.
That seems to me to be a remarkably small sum.
– Thev are sweating him.
– I shall read the next paragraph, because it absolutely bears out the statement which I made last night -
Of this monthly sum £aa is already assured,, four Federal and eighteen State Labour members having agreed to contribute £1 per month each to the. special’ organizing fund.. The balance1 of £iS is to be subscribed by the- unions.
We have here a clear and definite statement that the expenses of Mr. Tom Mann’s campaign are borne by the Political Labour Council, the various political unions,- and by’ various members of the Victorian Labour Party. It proves up to the hilt that the Victorian section of the Labour Party, at any rate, is responsible for Mr. Tom Mann’s utterances, because he is their duly accredited paid agent and representative.
– What about Mr. Walpole?
– I have already dealt with that gentleman’s position.
– Does the honorable and learned member belong to the union which that gentleman represents?
– I do not; I belong to only the parliamentary union. From the quotations I have made it will be recognised by the House that the Labour Party are re- sponsible for Mr. Mann’s utterances. I do not say, however, that because the Labour Party is supported by some anarchists it should therefore be branded as an anarchist organization. The Opposition have endeavoured to show that every grinding employer of labour is a supporter of the present Government. I do not think that is so, and it is just as improper for the Labour Party to make such a suggestion as it is for them to endeavour to avoid the just consequences of .the utterances of their duly accredited agent, Mr. Tom Mann. Let us hear what the Age newspaper, which is the organ of the new alliance opposite, that is going to attain office, and save the country at a break-neck rate, says about the Political Labour Council and Mr. Tom Mann. I find this in the issue of the Age for the 25th November, 1903 -
It is that a mischievous organization, calling itself a. political labour council, nominated by self -seeking parasites of the labour cause, has captured the control of the machine and foisted itself into the leadership of the scheme. It may be, of course, that some members of this council have indeed become the disciples of anarchism which one or two have’ not scrupled to avow. We cannot afford to forget the meeting recently held in the old Trades-hall, at which certain labour leaders gloried in comradeship with the foul assassin of President McKinley. Thev apotheosize the man who sneaked up to the late President and’ fired a revolver bullet into his stomach; and. they called upon their deluded followers to “ Remember our comrades who died for anarchy.” It is revolting to any one who cherishes a. sense of decency and pride in the grand old name of liberalism to think that any. section of that party - which in this State has gloried in the leadership of a Higinbotham, a Berry, and a Grant- can have- left the fair pastures of a clean progressive creed and policy to link itself with political leaders who uphold ‘ the cowardly doctrine of assassination.
That was a comment on a section of the Labour Party, and I am satisfied that it is so stringent as to be quite unfair. I do not believe that the members of the late Government should be charged with sympathizing with the cowardly attack on President McKinley in any shape or form. I have sufficient confidence in them to believe that they would reprobate it with all their hearts. But I do say that it is as justi-liable to charge the Labour Party with sympathy with these ideas, as it is to endeavour to foist some of the extreme ideas .given utterance to on the other side on the present Prime Minister and his associates. At the last election there was a free interchange of opinion on this question. I have already told honorable members what the honorable ‘members for Melbourne Ports and Bourke thought of the labour caucus and the labour pledge, and any honorable member who has a few minute’s to spare may turn up the records of the Tocsin newspaper for last November, to find some very interesting reading, and to learn how the’ labour organizations denounced the honorable members to whom I have referred as trimmers and traitors who sought to get into Parliament by cadging votes, that they might sell the Labour Party on the first opportunity. That was the opinion then held of those gentlemen bv the labour organizations, but now they come together in a close embrace, as though they were long-Jost brothers, who had met again - while each one is feeling to see that his knife is loose, in case of accidents. We have been told that an alliance has been completed between the Liberal Protectionist Party and the Labour Party, and the terms and conditions of the alliance have been published. The one thing which appears in the1 forefront of the terms of alliance; is the evidence that it is based upon a shameless and open departure from pledge’s gwen by honorable members at the last election. If there was one definite question at the last election, it was that there should be a fiscal peace. The honorable and learned member for Ballarat, who was then Prime Minister, stood for fiscal peace, and asked that the Tariff should not be disturbed during the currency of the present Parliament. I followed one of the staunchest free-traders who ever sat in this or in any other Parliament, and who voted for every free-trade motion, and T agreed with the honorable and learned member for Ballarat in his claim, dining the election campaign, that the. present was not the time at which to re-open the Tariff question, the people of Australia being sick and tired of it. I therefore took up the position of supporting fiscal peace, and I pledged myself to resist any attempt to reopen the tariff during this Parliament, even though the pledge might force me to vote against my esteemed leader the right honorable member for East Sydney. I propose to adhere to that position now, because I believe that a man who gives a definite pledge of that kind should adhere to it.
– In common honesty, I should think.
– Common honesty and common decency demand it. In order that there may be no misunderstanding as to the real’ question submitted to the electors at the last elections, I refer honorable members to what the Age newspaper had to say on the subject. I find in the issue for November 23, 1903, the following remarks in an article on the Tariff question : -
A reasonable public opinion recognises that this is not a fitting time for reopening the whole question, just after spending some seventeen months in dealing with it. Free-traders need not fear, but that after a few years, during which public opinion will have had time to ripen, protectionists will seek to do for Australia what they have done for America, Germany, France, and Russia. . . . But that time is not now. Public opinion claims a rest, and will have it. It is no more prepared outside Victoria to perfect protection than it is to return to free-trade. Protectionists have the insight to perceive this, free-traders have not, and they are doing to the Commonwealth the disservice of forcing a barren issue. . . . It is as vital to the protectionists to gain the battle for fiscal peace as it would be if their immediate object were further protective advances.
– Hear, hear; and now that they have gained it, they wish to stain the white flag.
– Having gained it, it is ours to do what we like with.
– To do what honorable members like with their pledges? That is the confidence trick.
– On the 27th November, the Age said -
The issue which will decide the election is that of Australian trade or foreign trade : Is the Federal Tariff to be ripped up or let alone?
On the 30th November this appeared -
The first and foremost necessity of the time is a truce on the fiscal question. As long as that struggle goes on it bars the way to any progressive legislation on other national and social questions The Opposition proposal for a new strife over the Tariff is directly opposed to the Deakin policy of fiscal peace . . There is a time to draw the sword, and a time to sheathe it. All the interests of trade, and industrial development demand for the present a cessation of fiscal hostility.
That was the view held by the Age newspaper.
– Yes, twelve months ago.
– That accounts for it.
– The issue which the honorable and learned member for Ballarat put before the electors was the issue of fiscal peace, and the ‘honorable and learned gentleman bound his party, so far as a leader can bind a party, to that platform. Though I differed from the honorable and learned gentleman on nearly every other point, I agreed with him that it was not desirable that the Tariff should be again ripped up during the currency of this Parliament. That policy was indorsed by all sections of the community. T’he honorable member for Bland, when this House met made the same kind of statement. On 4th March, 1904, I find he is reported on page 147 of Hansard, to have said -
There is another feature of the elections to which I should like to refer, namely, the fiscal question. I share the feeling of gratification which has been expressed by the Prime Minister, that with the last election, the issue, as between freetrade and protection, has disappeared, for some time to come.
That was the definite platform of the Labour Party and of the Deakin party. Honorable members may recollect, as I do clearly, t’he account of an interview between the honorable member for Bland and the press soon after the present Prime Minister made a speech in Melbourne advocating the reopening of the Tariff. When the honorable member for Bland was interviewed on the subject, he said that he- was very much disappointed that the right honorable member for East Sydney should be trying to revive the Tariff question, because he thought it ought to be sunk until the end of the period fixed by the Braddon clause. That was the position which the parties opposite took up then, and it is, therefore, clear that the new alliance is based upon a shameless and open disregard of those pledges. The alliance has been formed, we are told, for the purpose of reviving the Tariff issue, which honorable gentlemen forming the alliance definitely pledged themselves to sink during the life-time of the present Parliament. It will be a matter of interest to us, who gave definite pledges not to re-open the Tariff, to see how those staunch free-traders, like my honorable friend the ex- Postmaster -General, and the honorable members for Maranoa, Perth, Canobolas, Barrier, and others will vote on the question. Is it true that they have sold themselves body and boots to the new alliance?
– No fear, they are too staunch on that subject.
– Do not indulge any hope in that quarter.
– If the honorable member for Coolgardie were to go over on a question of that kind, I do not know anybody in the world whose steadfastness I could trust on this or any other question. But the honorable member for Melbourne Ports also took up the same attitude. He was also a fiscal peace man at the last election. He is reported in the Age newspaper of 24th November, 1903, to have said -
The Tariff was by no means satisfactory to protectionists. He had no intention, however, of reopening the fiscal question.
– Who said that?
- Mr. Samuel Mauger, the honorable member for Melbourne Ports.
– No, a brother ; not “ 66 Bourke-street,” surely?
– The honorable member went on to say -
More was to be gained at present by fiscal rest than by resurrecting the Tariff.
– Quite right, that was twelve months ago.
– The honorable member is a regular body snatcher now.
– The honorable member for Bourke, who, I am sorry to say, has flinched from my castigation and run out of the chambe’r, said much the same thing. He is reported by the Age of 12th November, 1903, to have said -
He would support the Government as regards the maintenance of the present fiscal protection and fiscal peace.
So that those two honorable members, who are now battling to resurrect the Tariff issue were definitely pledged, so far as words can be definite, to prevent any reopening of the Tariff question during the present Parliament.
– No, I did not say a word about the present Parliament.
– It is extraordinary that honorable members who gave a pledge of that kind should have the effrontery now to advocate the reopening of the Tariff question. I have shown that the alliance existing between the extraordinary elements of the present Opposition is based upon a shameless disregard of pledges, and an open breach of faith with the public of Australia. We should look at the agreement which has been come to to see what are the conditions of the alliance. They are very amusing, and to those honorable members who are asked to contribute 5 per cent, of their salaries, they should be very interesting also. Article 3 of the conditions reads in this way -
Each party to use its influence individually and collectively with its organizations, and supporters to secure support for and- immunity from opposition to members of the other party during the currency of the alliance.
The honorable and learned members for Melbourne Ports and Bourke will not be assailed from the Labour side. They will not be asked to sign a pledge, or to hand over 5 per cent, of their salaries to assist the x Labour cause. For this Parliament and’ the next their positions will be safe from Labour attacks, and no levy will be made upon their purses so long as the alliance continues.
– Does the honorable and learned member say that any section of the Labour Party pays 5 per cent, of its salary to support the Labour cause?
– I quoted the remarks made by the honorable member for Bourke at the last election, when, I believe, the honorable member was absent from the chamber. At any rate, the proposition was made that every member of the party in the Federal Parliament should contribute 5 per cent, of his salary to assist the Labour cause.
– I guarantee that it was not approved of.
– I am informed that it was.
– It was at the time; but it has since been withdrawn.
– It is stated in the articles of alliance that the Arbitration Bill is to be put through as nearly as possible as originally introduced; but that members are at liberty to adhere to votes already given. What does that mean? Honorable members will recollect that on the very first division after the Watson Government took office an amendment was carried, on my motion, excepting farming and rural industries generally from the operation of the Bill. The present leader of the Opposition then stated that he would use all his efforts and influence to defeat that amendment, and that he and his party would do their best to bring those industries under the Bill. Is it the intention of the alliance to go back on that vote, or are honorable members opposite to have freedom of action on so important a question? If the combination is successful, and the honorable and learned member for Indi is able to oust the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne, how will he vote on the question ? He was one of those who originally vote’d to exclude the farming industries from the operation of the Bill. The honorable member for Hume voted in the same way. The first vote which- he gave after the Watson Government came into power was against the application of the Bill to the farming industries. What does he propose to do in the future?
– I shall do as I did before.
– I am very pleased to hear it, and to notice that my honorable friends are not unanimous on this important point. We are told, however, that in another place there are fourteen pledged labour members. If they insist on applying the Bill to the farming industries, will the members of the Opposition in this chamber accept this amendment? That is a point upon which the people in the country desire enlightenment. When the honorable member for Bland made his Ministerial statement some four or five months ago, he told us that his policy included the Government manufacture of tobacco. The making of provision for such a step was part of his programme for the session of next year; but, on looking at the platform of the alliance, I find that paragraph 10 reads as follows: -
Tobacco monopoly. Appointment of the present Select Committee as a Royal Commission, with addition of members from both Houses of Parliament.
I wish to know if the united Opposition is in favour of the manufacture and sale of tobacco by the Government.
– That will depend upon the report of the” Royal Commission.
– The Labour Party are definitely pledged in the matter. What then will become of the joints in the Labour tail ? Are they going to wag the dog, or will the dog wag the tail? I should like to know how the honorable and learned member for Indi is going to vote on the question, and a great many others would also like a definite pronouncement from him on the subject. In the last Parliament the honorable and learned member for Corio would work himself up into paroxysms of indignation whenever mention was made of the Government taking over a manufacture, and the proposal to establish a Government clothing factory nearly drove him out of his senses. I should like to know therefore whether he will vote for the Government manufacture of tobacco. This question is a very vital one, because the attitude of the alliance in regard to it will show to what extent the Socialism of the Labour Party is to be adopted by it. Are the members of the alliance ready to vote for the manufacture of articles in every case where a monopoly might be created under private enterprise ?
– Will not the honorable and learned member give us his views on the single tax question?
– I am at present giving my views on the Ministerial statement, and the programme of the Opposition. If my honorable friend wishes to hear me on another matter, I shall be prepared to give him my opinions in regard to it at some other time. I wish to know what is to be the attitude of the alliance in regard to the Iron Bonus Bill. Their platform in regard to it is as follows: -
Iron Bonus Bill. - Every member to have freedom of action as to method of control.
Does that mean that the whole party is pledged to the granting of bonuses for the manufacture of iron? If so, a number of the members of the Opposition are going back upon their written opinions. I have before me the report of the Iron Bonus Commission, which was presented to His Excellency the Governor-General in March last, and was signed by, amongst others, the ex-Prime Minister, and the exMinister of External Affairs. Both of those gentlemen signed a report which pronounces in the most vigorous terms against the granting of a bonus for the manufacture of iron. Are they going back on their opinions? Are they to have a free hand only in determining who is to get the spoil, or are they going to adhere to their pledges in the matter? The decision of the alliance on this question will throw further light upon their attitude in regard to State Socialism. Caustic reference was made last night bv the honorable and learned member for Indi to the question of preferential trade. He asked what was the attitude of the Government in regard to it, and stated that he would oppose any proposal which was not based on protectionist lines. But on looking at the programme, all I can find is, that preferential trade is to be discussed by the two parties at an early date. Prior to the last general elections, the honorable and learned member for Ballarat took up’ a definite attitude on this question, and I supported him in regard to it. He stated that we must wait for a request from the British Government before taking action, and the Age in a leading article published on the 30th October last, after the speech of the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, outlining the policy of his Government, said -
If the time for negotiations ever arrives in consequence of Great Britain accepting the new policy, then will be the occasion for saying in what particulars our Tariff shall be modified in favour of England….. Mr. Deakin’s preferential policy is crystallized in a sentence. “ Great Britain must make the first move.”
That was the policy of the Deakin Government, and I understand that it is the policy of the present Government. When Great Britain makes a move, the House will be given an opportunity to discuss the matter, and honorable members can then express their views on the question. The attitude taken up by the honorable member for Bland, when speaking on the motion for the Address-in-Reply, was that the Tariff should not be re-opened under any circumstances, “ unless proposals first come from the mother country.” There are three or four points- upon which we require information. We want to know to what extent the Socialism of the Labour Party is adopted by those allied with it. Have the stragglers from the Protectionist Party, who are allying themselves with the Labour Party, swallowed its socialistic principles, or have honorable members of the Labour Party abandoned their principles to please the stragglers from the Protectionist Party ? Although the platform of the alliance contains about seventeen paragraphs, and deals with nearly .every phase of legislation likely to be discussed during the next ten years, no reference is made to the proposal put forward by the honorable member foi: Bland to take .£8,000,000 of the gold in the reserves of the banks, and substitute for it the I.O.U. of the Commonwealth Government. . No reference is made to the banking policy of the Labour ‘Party, a policy of deliberate theft from the banks. Have the liberal malcontents succeeded in getting the Labour Party to drop that proposal, or is it to roe brought forward again later? It would be a matter of interest to us, and to the whole country, to know whether the Labour Party and members of the Opposition generally intend to institute a system of spoliation of the banks the moment that they have a sufficient majority at their back. Whatever incongruity there may be about the coalition of honorable members upon this side of the House - and I do not deny that differences of opinion exist upon vital questions - there is still more incongruity to be found in the combination upon the Opposition benches. Many honorable members, who previously stated that the Political Labour Council is a perfect fraud, and who refused to surrender their liberties by allying themselves with the Labour Party, are now prepared to work with, them. I do not think that any sacrifice of principles has been made by honorable members on this side, to compare with the abandonment of policy of which some honorable members opposite have been guilty. It will be interesting to watch how the present combination upon the Opposition benches works, and what strength the respective parties will be able to exert. When the leader of the Opposition approached the Protectionist Party with a view to effect a coalition, he offered to distribute portfolios in the Ministry in accordance with the number of members who allied themselves with the Labour Party. I should like to know if the same principle is to be followed in connexion with the present combination. Is one portfolio or more to be given to members outside the caucus, or are they to be equal in all things ? Not the least amusing development to which we shall look forward is the Homeric struggle which is bound to take place between the honorable any learned member for Indi and the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne, as to who is to occupy the position of legal adviser to the Government. Is it to be the honorable and learned member who has drafted amendments in the Ministerial room, or the bridge-builder who has drafted amendments to save the Government in this Chamber ? The struggle between these two honorable and learned members will be watched with the greatest amusement and the greatest zest. An honorable member has just placed in my hands an extract from a speech delivered by the honorable member for Hume upon the 15th March, 1904.
He is reported at page 535 of Hansard as having said -
The Government do not propose to raise the fiscal issue, but I intend to maintain my principles. At the same time, I shall adhere to the statement of the Prime Minister that fiscal peace is to be preserved.
– Hear, hear.
– I am very glad to have an opportunity of disinterring that statement of an honorable member who, until a few days ago, was the leader of the malcontent Liberals, and who has now given place to the honorable and learned member for Indi. I am glad that an alliance has been formed between the two parties sitting in Opposition, because their combination will tend to clear the political atmosphere. It will show ‘ the country that there are a number of honorable members who are quite prepared to play the part of the tail of the Labour Party - the tail of the caucus and socialistic party. We know now that we are fighting a party wedded to the system of machine politics, and to the methods of militant Socialism. If the threats that the Opposition will obstruct the business of the House to the best of their ability are carried out, I hope the Prime Minister will adopt a courageous attitude, and place a distinct, issue before the electors at once, so that the responsibility for the present political upset may be laid upon the right shoulders, namely, upon the shoulders of those who are wantonly obstructing public business. We do not fear to face the electors upon the issue of free versus machine politics, but I know that many honorable members opposite are praying night and day that a dissolution may be a long way off.
– The honorable and learned member who has just resumed his seat has had a great deal to say about the head and the tail of the Liberal Party, but I think I might very well ask- the honorable and learned member to tell me which is the head and which is the tail of the Government Party? At present it is difficult to ascertain which side’ is uppermost. The present ‘ situation is unique, and it behoves every honorable member to do his best to place the responsibility for this extraordinary condition of affairs upon the right shoulders. When the first Commonwealth election was held, a vigorous fight was carried on throughout Australia- at any rate, in New South Wales - upon the fiscal question. Although a majority of protectionists were returned to the
House, some of the members of the party did not, to my mind, support protectionist principles in connexion with the framing of the Tariff so strongly as might have been expected.” The Free-trade Party adopted obstructive tactics, and very largely contributed to make the Tariff what it is, and what it should not be. Upon the occasion of the last election, the cry was raised by the Prime Minister that there should be no fiscal peace, and that the free-traders should fight for their own cause, in order to remove from the Tariff its protectionist elements. It is astonishing that, after having sustained a great de’feat on the fiscal issue, the right honorable gentleman should be embraced by his political opponents, and permitted to enjoy those fruits of victory to which he is not entitled. When the right honorable gentleman was vigorously opposing me in my electorate, he said that he would ask his constituents to return him for this occasion only. He stated further that, whether by the result of the elections he was on the top or not, he would not remain in public life beyond the life of this Parliament. After being defeated upon the fiscal issue, he comes to this House, and by disgraceful intrigues and machinations, succeeds in usurping the position which he has no right to hold.
– That is really wicked.
– Honorable members may make light of the situation. The little man from Wentworth has more assertiveness than anything else, and is continually interjecting silly remarks.
– Order. Personal remarks with regard to an honorable member’s stature are not in order, and I must ask the honorable member not to continue in that strain.
– I was merely speaking of the littleness of the honorable member’s interjections. It is not right that the arch-enemy of the protectionist cause should hold the position of Prime Minister of the Commonwealth in a protectionist Parliament. How did he achieve that position ? In the first place he intrigued against the Deakin Government in a manner that was not reputable to himself, or to his followers. He publicly told his supporters to vote against that Government, whilst he saved his political skin by voting with them on the question of including public servants within the scope of the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill
– Can the honorable member show that the Prime Minister made the statement he has referred to?
– Yes, I read t’he statement in the public press. He said that he would vote with the Government, but that he was not going to bind his’ followers to adopt the same course; they could vote against the Government if they felt so disposed.
– That is very different from . what the honorable member st sited
– Two honorable members stated that they voted against their consciences simply with a view to destroy the Government.
An Honorable Member. - There were more than two who did that.
– There may have been a large number, but I heard two make that declaration. These were some of the tricks which the Prime Minister adopted to eject the Deakin Ministry from office. The late Government did not desire office. From the first, it was subjected to unfair treatment at the hands of the Prime Minister. The present PostmasterGeneral also was intriguing against it all the time.
– The honorable member endeavoured to secure my seat upon the direct Opposition benches.
– The Minister is not stating what is correct. I may have sat in his seat for a few minutes, but I have never been in direct Opposition to the late Government. The Deakin Government never received fair play at the hands of the Opposition, and the Tariff would have been very much worse had it not been for the support given to the Barton Government by the Labour Party.
– By the protectionist members of the Labour Party.
– Yes, of course. Seventy-five per cent, of the members of that party are protectionists, and they constituted our main support in passing the Tariff.
– Why should they not have supported the carrying out of the policy of which they approved ?
– I do not say that they should not have done so ; but the free-traders and some of the right honorable member’s bosom friends, whom he has been intriguing to bring into power, did not give us any assistance.
– I have never intrigued.
– There is no greater intriguer or- underground engineer in Australia than is the right honorable member. I was deceived for a time as to his capacity in that direction, but the scales have been removed from my eyes. There is a belief on the part of some honorable members that I occasionally resort to intrigue. Such a supposition is entirely a mistake.
– The honorable member is a pretty good hand at it.
– And the honorable member is a little better.
– I do not think so.
– It was manifest when the Deakin Government were defeated that there was no desire on the part of the Labour Party that they should be so. defeated. The party did not wish to take the place of the Deakin Government, and I know from statements made by many individual members of it that they had no desire to put that Government out of office. The Labour Party went to the country as advocates of the extension of the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill to the States railway servants. They were to a large extent returned on that issue, and were, therefore, perfectly justified in the course which they adopted in regard -to the clause in the Bill dealing with that question. Had they not adhered to the principle on which they were mainly returned, they would not have been worthy of the position which they occupied. They stood by that princiole, and the Deakin Government were turned out of office - not by the Labour Party,b ut. through the agency of the leader of the present Government.
– Does the honorable member think that an honorable member should keep his election pledges?
– I know that the honorable member does not keep them.
– I rise to a point of order. The honorable member for Hume, mistaking an interjection which I made, has charged me with having failed to keep election pledges. I think that such conduct would be unworthy of an honorable member, and I therefore ask, Mr. Speaker, that the honorable member be called upon either to prove his charge or to withdraw it.
– I scarcely think that the point of order is a good one. The honorable member made an interjection, and I simply replied to it.
– If the honorable member desires a statement to be withdrawn he is entitled to have his request complied with.
– I wish the honorable member to prove his statement or to withdraw it.
– If Mr. Speaker says that that statement must be withdrawn I shall withdraw it. I may say that I have closely watched the honorable member for Laanecoorie’s political career for some little time past. It had been so circuitous that I desired to see what would be the outcome of it.
– If it were circuitous, it would be quite natural to thehonorable member for Hume.
– The honorable member for Laanecoorie has been slightly wobbling. I ‘have referred to the position of the Labour Party, because I think that their opposition to the Deakin Government has been dealt with in an unfair way. The right honorable member for Swan, as soon as he went into opposition, began to make vigorous attacks on the party. It was the first time that tie had sat in opposition during a public career extending over twenty-one years. He informs me that he never had a contest during the whole of that time, and having held office for so many years, I think he might very well have sat quietly for -a little time in opposition, instead of attacking the Watson Government as he did. As a matter of fact, his attacks should have been made not on the Labour Party, but on the present Prime Minister.
– My complaint was that the Watson Government had not a majority behind it.
– The right honorable member made an all-round attack on the late Government - an attack ‘which, I am afraid, was due to some soreness on his part.
– I hope not.
– I may be wrong, but that was the impression which I formed. After being in office for twenty-one years, the right honorable member should have been fairly well satisfied to remain for a time in opposition.
– In some respects it was ahappy release for me.
– And in others it was not. When the present Prime Minister andhis supporters had by means of intrigue secured the defeat of the Deakin Government, the Governor-General was advised to send for the honorable member for Bland - the leader of the Labour Party - and the present Prime Minister began to whine like a school boy, because the GovernorGeneral had not sent for him. He even went so far as to accuse His Excellency of having taken a wrong course. He practically charged him with having acted improperly. I was surprised to hear the right honorable member say in the course of the speech made by him a day or two ago that if anything happened to prevent the present Government carrying on the business of the country, he would dictate to the Governor-General the course to be taken by him. I have no doubt that when the right honorable gentleman called on the Governor on that celebrated Saturday afternoon, before he was officially sent for, he gave His Excellency an assurance that he could carry on the Government of the country, although he must have known that that assurance was not true. In that way I think, that the right honorable gentleman deliberately misled the GovernorGeneral, and when he says, in effect, as he did, the other day, that he is going to set aside the discretionary powers of His Excellency, and to do certain things himself, I think he assumes a power that is beyond his rights. I should not be surprised, however, at anything the right honorable member attempts. He sought on one occasion to deal in the same way with the Governor of New South Wales, but was well snubbed for his pains. He was told to mind his own business, and that the Governor would look after his own affairs.
– I had nothing to do with that, so that the honorable member need not look at me as he is doing.
– The right honorable member is such a striking figure in the House, and his characteristics are so attractive that I find it difficult to avoid turning towards him, more particularly as the Government benches are practically deserted.
– Government supporters ought to be present.
– The right honorable member for East Sydney lost no time in setting to work to get rid of the Watson Government. I should like, at this stage, to quote a few words from a speech made by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, which will live in history, and will, doubtless, be referred to on many oc-‘ casions. I refer to the speech in which he dealt with the attitude. which the Opposition would take up towards the Watson Government. I must say, without any feeling of wanmth, that, unless the honorable and learned member for Ballarat had intended to give support to the Watson Government, he should not have recommended the Governor-General to send for the honorable member for Bland. He knew, as well as did any one in this Chamber, that the Labour Party in itself did not constitute a majority of the House. In that respect they were in the same position as the Barton Government and the Deakin Government, and if the Governor-General was to be guided in arriving at a decision by the question of whether the Labour Party constituted a majority of the House, the honorable and learned member should not have advised him to send for the honorable mem ber for Bland, unless he intended to extend some measure of support to him. Unless he was prepared to support the leader of the Labour Party he was leading that honorable member into an absolutely false position. What did the honorable and learned member for Ballarat say on the first available opportunity, after taking up his position as one of the leaders of the Opposition? In speaking for the Opposition he said -
I am charged to extend to the Government the assurance that the Opposition propose to extend to them the utmost fair play.
That was the first statement which the hon- ‘ orable and learned member made in this House, after recommending the GovernorGeneral to send for the honorable member for Bland, and after that honorable member had formed a Ministry. Then he went on to say -
The secret history of Cabinets is not written, or to be written ; but once in my life-time I made the fatal mistake - and it was in connexion with a State coalition Government - of failing to insist on the acceptance of the resignation I had tendered. I saw plainly enough that what I believed to be mistakes in policy were about to be made. I was entirely opposed to the particular policy then suggested, but allowed myself to be persuaded that consideration for my party and my colleagues, in which I hope I have never failed, demanded that I should sacrifice my own views to those of others. I did sacrifice my own strong views to those of others. I did so on that occasion, but shall not do so again.
Even at the time that this speech, in which the honorable and learned member admitted that he had made a mistake in joining a Coalition Government, was made, he was advising his colleagues to join a coalition. The attempts to bring about such coalition were for some time unavailing, because it was considered to be a most unholy proposal. The final result was that several of his colleagues joined the present Prime Minister. I regret that the Coalition Government was ever brought into existence, not because of any personal considerations, but because of my regard for the Protectionist Party, and for those, calling themselves protectionists, who have given themselves away.
– The mistake to which I referred was not in joining a coalition, but in agreeing- to a policy to which I strongly objected.
– I thought that the honorable and learned me’mber was referring to the fact that he was a member of the Gillies-Deakin Coalition Government.
– I was.
– And I understood that the honorable and learned member was referring to that Government.
– I referred to the mistake made by me, not in joining the Coalition Government in question, but in allowing myself to be persuaded to remain in it in spite of the fact that I saw that what I believed to be mistakes were about to be made.
– I take it that the honorable and learned member said, in his concluding sentence, that he made a mistake in remaining in that Coalition Government, but that he was not going to make another mistake of the kind.
– The honorable and learned member will yet burst up the present Coalition Government.
– I desire to say that, although I have considered it necessary to make these quotations from a speech delivered by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, there is no one who holds him in higher estimation than I do, and that I trust that whatever may] be our differences in political life, our private friendship will always continue.
– Hear, hear !
– In another part of the same speech the honorable and learned member said -
I think that we must all agree that it can only be maintained -
That is, the Watson Government - even temporarily, by that honorable granting of fair play, to which I have already alluded ; by that extension of consideration from one side of the House to the other, which enables us to discharge our common duties to the public.
– Does the honorable member charge the honorable and learned member for Ballarat with having failed, so far as he was personally concerned, to carry out that promise?
– - I have not made any charge against him. I have simply made one or two quotations from his speech, but I intend to show that the essence of the promise made by him on the occasion in question was not carried out. I repeat the statement, because I think it is necessary that it should be emphasized that the Watson Government, after being placedin power as the result of the action of the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, should have received a greater measure of fair play than was vouchsafed to it by the. then Opposition. A large section of the community comprising the political enemies of the Labour Party feel keenly that it did not get fair play owing to the intrigues of honorable members led by the right honorable member for East Sydney.
– What did they expect ?
– They did not expect anything from the right honorable gentleman. I am quite sure of that.
– Why should they; they turned us out?
– They did not turn us out. I have shown that it was the right honorable member for East Sydney, and not the Labour Party, who turned us out. It was, in my humble opinion, an unwise thing for the honorable and learned member for Ballarat to have made the question of the inclusion of the railway servants in the Arbitration and Conciliation Bill a vital one. I fancied that I had felt the pulse of the people; I knew my own feeling on the subject, and I told the honorable and learned member for ‘Ballarat at the time, that if he did not include the railway servants some other Government would, and that the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill would never pass this House without their inclusion.
– And now honorable members opposite have swallowed the inclusion of the railway servants.
– I admit that it was a high minded course to adopt, but in my opinion it was Quixotic to make a stand as the honorable and learned member for Ballarat did. With regard to the action of the combined Opposition, or a portion of the combined Opposition to the Watson Government, I feel that the statement made by the Prime Minister, to the effect that the battle ground was selected by the leader of the Watson Government, is absolutely incorrect. I may tell honorable members that, knowing the right honorable member for East Sydney as I do, I should not have been caught in the trap - because unquestionably a trap was laid for the honorable member for Bland. I heard the right honorable member for East Sydney, in an insinuating question across the table, lay the trap, when the honorable member for Bland said that if clause 48 of the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill were amended as proposed, he would take it as a vital question.
– Was not that selecting the battle ground?
– No; that was a selection of the clause and not of the motion for its recommittal, there is a vast difference between the two positions. The division on the amendment, proposed by the honorable and learned member for Corinella, was taken at a late hour of the evening, and the amendment -was not debated. I am aware that some honorable members who voted for the amendment regretted that they had given such a vote, when they came to understand what it was. The honorable member for Bland desired that we should go back again to the consideration of the clause with a view to its further discussion, and to the substitution of another amendment for that agreed to on the motion of the honorable and learned number for Corinella.
– All the members : o whom the honorable gentleman has referred voted for the recommittal of the clause.
– But the point is that the recommittal was made a combined test vote against the Watson Government, in order that honorable members opposed to that Government might obtain the vote of the Chairman of Committees, the honorable member for Laanecoorie. That was not a very reputable thing for those concerned.
– There was no gain in that.
– There was the pain of the vote of the honorable member for Laanecorie.
– But there was the vote of the honorable member for Barker on the other side.
An Honorable Member. - The Opposition, did not know that at the time.
– Everbody knew of it.
– I desire to compare the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill as introduced by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat with that Bill, as it has been amended, that we may see if there is any reason why the honorable and learned member and other honorable members should take such great exception to it. As introduced by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, the Bill contained these words - but does not include a dispute relating to employment in the Public Service of the Commonwealth or of a State, or to employment by any public authority constituted under the Commonwealth or a State.
It was on the omission of these words involved in the amendment of the honorable member for Wide Bay that the Deakin Government went out, and not on the straight question of the inclusion of State public servants. In the Bill, as originally introduced by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, I find also that there were included persons engaged in agriculture, horticulture, and other industries connected with the soil.
– We know all about that.
– I objected to that ; but I was only one in the Cabinet.
– I also objected to it.
– Probably the right honorable member did. The only persons excepted under the interpretation of “industry “ in the Bill as originally introduced were “ persons engaged in domestic service.” The amendment moved by the honorable member for Wide Bay included public servants of the States, and the amendment moved by the honorable and learned member for Wannon carried the exemption of agricultural, horticultural, and farm labourers generally. I voted for that amendment. It will therefore be seen that there were provisions in the Bill, as originally introduced by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, which were very much more stringent than those in the Bill as it now stands. Honorable members were supporting a Bill including farm labourers, and yet they afterwards combined to put out the Watson Government when farm labourers were no longer included in the measure.
– We have not to thank the Labour Party for that.
– With respect to the now notorious clause 48, as it appeared in the Bill as originally introduced, no attempt was to be made to decide by a ballot whether an application for preference or a common rule was approved by a majority of the persons engaged in the industry concerned. There was a hard and fast provision for preference in the Bill as introduced by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, and yet it was on an amendment which modified the stringency of that provision that the Watson Government were put out.
– It was upon a qualification of that clause that they were put out.
SirWILLIAM LYNE.- Both the qualifications of that clause submitted in the amendments proposed by the honorable and learned member for Corinella, and by the honorable member for Bland, made the clause less stringent than as it was introduced by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat.
– The clause did not matter at all - the Watson Government were to be “biffed “ out.
– I am showing the unfair attitude which was adopted by the Opposition after the promise of fair play made to the Watson Government.
– Those promises are always given.
– I do not know that they are, but I know that the right honorable member for Swan said that the honorable and learned member for Ballarat was too easv, and ought not to say those things.
– I said that the honorable and learned member was too complimentary.
– Let us consider for a moment the difference between the amendment agreed to at the instance of the honorable and learned member for Corinella, and that suggested by the honorable member for Bland. The clause, as it stood in the Bill originally, provided for a preference to unionists, without any proviso. The proviso, which was the cause of the trouble, reads as follows: -
And provided further, that no such preference shall be directed to be given, unless the application for preference is, in the opinion of the Court, approved by a majority of those affected by the award, who have interests in common with the applicants.
That is held to mean that in order to decide the question a ballot would require to be taken, probably from Port Darwin to the south ofTasmania.
– Who holds that?
– That is generally held, and I say that if discretion in the matter is taken out of the hands of the Court, there is no other way of arriving at a conclusion than by a ballot of those engaged in the industry, which may extend from Port Darwin to the south of Tasmania.
– That would be so in the case of seamen.
– It would be so in the case of seamen or wharf labourers, or of any industry having connecting links in various parts of the different States.
– It is not fair.
– I am aware that the right honorable member for Swan does not desire the provision at all.
– I think it is unfair.
– The right honorable member did not desire that the Bill should be passed at all.
– Why, I introduced and passed a Conciliation and Arbitration Bill mvself.
– The amendment which the honorable member for Bland proposed to substitute for that agreed to at the instance of the honorable and learned member for Corinella, read in this way -
The Court before directing that preference shall be given to the members of an organization, shall be satisfied that the organization substantially represents the industry affected in point of the numbers and competence of its members.
– What does “ substantially “ mean ?
– It means that a discretion is left to the Court, and after obtaining information in any way it thinks fit the Court would decide whether or not those words were complied with.
– “ Substantially “ is a word which the Judges themselves use.
– That is so. The amendment suggested by the honorable member for Bland in my humble opinion is safe, is practical, and is far and away a better amendment than that agreed to on the motion of the honorable and learned member for Corinella, if the desire be to tone the clause down.
– The question was whether Parliament or a Judge should make the law.
– Parliament must depute some one to administer a law of this kind, and the proposal was that it should be administered by a Judge of the High Court, who would be a man not brought up in the same way as those generally employed in any industry. His education would be different, his social surroundings would be different, and he would be likely, to deal in an absolutely fair way with those making an application under the clause, certainly not to unduly lean towards them.
– He would only be a human being after all.
– I should be prepared to trust the Judge. I can well understand the interjection coming from a right honorable member whose desire is to destroy the clause altogether.
– I do not believe in preference, and the honorable gentleman does - that is the difference.
– It is not preference, that is a misnomer. I remember that on the morning after the amendment moved by the honorable and learned member for Corinella was carried the Argus came out Avith a cross heading in large type, “Destruction of Preference to Unionists.” There is no doubt in my mind that the clause does not specially provide for a preference to unionists ; that was merely a misnomer suggested to please those who are opposed altogether to a Conciliation and Arbitration Bill. The right honorable member for Swan was opposed to the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill.
– I introduced and passed such a Bill, and the honorable gentleman knows it.
– Yes, and it was no good either! It was an Arbitration Bill without any force in it.
– The Labour Unions did not say so. They were very pleased with it, and they thanked me for it.
– At any rate it is not of very much use.
– Did the honorable gentleman ever do as much?
– I think T have done a little more. I was practically the instigator of the New South Wales Arbitration Act. The Government of which I was the Premier were the authors of the measure.
– Hear, hear ! An effective measure !
– Yes. There has been friction in connexion with the administration of that measure ; but whenever the old order of things is disturbed, there must be friction, until the public learn to understand the new order of things.
– The measure I introduced was a copy of the New Zealand legislation of the time.
– It may have been a copy of the New Zealand legislation of the time, but that legislation has since been seriously amended. Probably the New South Wales Arbitration Act requires some amendment. No one who frames a measure of legislation can say exactly how it will act until there has been practical experience of its working; but after the rough knots have been discovered and planed off, I think everything will go smoothly in New South Wales. At all events, I initiated the measure, and my Attorney-General passed it into law.
– It is the best Act in force in the States.
– I have quoted certain provisions from the Bill introduced by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat which are of a far more stringent character than those in the Bill as it now stands since it was passed through Committee by the honorable member for Bland. I think that both the House and the public have come to the conclusion that the honorable member for Bland was ai. most temperate leader, although he adhered to the policy which he was elected to support.
– He was more temperate while on the Treasury benches than while on the cross benches, because he was compelled to be so.
– Probably that was the case. When a man is in office he feels the responsibility of the position. That is one reason why I should have liked to see the honorable member for Bland and his colleagues remain in power for a longer time. Their sense of the responsibility attaching to office would have increased. I should like to know what there; was to complain, of in their attitude, since the Bill as they have passed it through Committee is a much less stringent measure than that originally introduced by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat. To my mind, the amendment proposed by the Watson Government, giving the power of decision to the President of the Arbitration Court, instead of creating an unworkable machine, was the better one of the two, and I think that the House acted most unfairly in putting the Government out of office in the way in which they did.
– How could it be unfair if it was in keeping with the rules of the House ?
– When the honorable member has been a little longer in Parliament, he will know that’ there are ways of doing things which are fair, and other ways which are unfair. For instance, the night before last the present Government could have been put out by a considerable majority if the Opposition had felt inclined to put them out.
– They would not have gone out on a snatch vote.
– My experience of some of the members of the Government is that it would take many teams of bullocks to haul them from the Treasury benches. On one occasion I heard it whispered, when an adverse vote had been given, that they would adopt what I think is the French system, of getting a friend to move a vote of confidence.
– We would move a motion affirming that we had no confidence in the Opposition.
– I had much more confidence in the honorable member before he joined his present leader than I have now, or than I can have again. The Watson Government did not cling to office.
– They chose their own battle-ground.
– No. They did not. An attempt was afterwards made to bring about a coalition. That coalition now contains a mutilated half of the old Protectionist Party.
– More than half.
– Very little more - only one or two.
– What does the Opposition coalition contain?
– Our coalition is in earnest, and it will be loyal.
– What about the Ballarat Labour League?
– I do not know about it ; but I dare say that there are a few malcontents in the honorable member’s electorate, and he will probably hear from them presently. I may be wrong in my ideas of consistency, but I have tried to be consistent during my political life. I cannot understand how those who have professed to be strong protectionists could join the leader of the Free-trade Party, who has many times expressed ‘his determination to destroy the Tariff if he gets the opportunity. Whilst they are reaping the fruits of office, what is taking place outside? What are the free-trade leagues doing? In New South Wales thev are making every preparation for a free-trade fight at the next elections. Has there not been a meeting of the Central League for that purpose, and are not its agents travelling all over the State at the present moment ?
– What are the protectionists doing in Victoria?
– The protectionists would be doing nothing if it were not for those who have stood loyal.
– Loyal to what?
– I have, the greatest regard for the honorable member, but I differ from him on this matter. He has allowed the Protectionist Party to be weakened and partially destroyed.
– What has the honorable member done to keep it together? He was the cause of the split.
– No; I have done my best to keep it together. The right honorable member for Swan was the chief cause of the split.
– I have done nothing.
– I may be wrong in my interpretation of loyalty, but I cannot understand how a loyal protectionist can join the arch free-trader of Australia, who has said times without number that his mission in this southern world is to bring about free-trade. The Free-trade Leagues are at present working as hard as they can in preparing to sweep the weakened Protectionist Party out of existence at the next general elections.
– The honorable member is joined to a party - the Labour Party - which has no fiscal faith at all.
– When I was in Western Australia, the right honorable member had no fiscal faith. He, on one occasion, inquired what arguments ought to be used” by a protectionist.
– Was that at Kalgoorlie ?
– No; at Fremantle.
– I do not remember the occurrence to which the honorable member refers. Is he alluding to a private conversation ?
– Did the honorable member for Hume tell the right honorable member what arguments to use?
– I dare say that I did, though if -he listened to one of my speeches he would find there plenty of arguments. Let me quote one or two words which have been said in regard to this coalition by the Rev. Dr. Bevan -
I have no faith in coalitions. The working out of great principles is best done by means of the opposition of great parties. This is so, not only in politics, but also in the church.
That is the opinion of a man who does not keep his eyes shut to politics. Although he is a free-trader, he is an able, and, I think, an honorable and conscientious man. In the same paper is the following report of a speech made by that great free-trade propagandist, Mr. Max Hirsch: -
He admitted that the Federal crisis was touching free-trade principles most acutely. During the last three years, there had been an informal coalition between the Labour Party and the protectionists. Mr. Deakin practically said, “ Give me protection, and I will give you the socialistic measures you demand.” That alliance would continue unless another alliance took its place. “We have,” the speaker continued, “to choose between two evils, and we must choose the lesser.”
Mr. Max Hirsch is diametrically opposed to the views of the Labour Party. But when reference is made to the socialistic tendencies of that party, I would ask someone to say what Socialism is. Last night the honorable member for Darling quoted some dozen claims made by the Western farmers on the Government of Victoria.
– No, the North-eastern farmers.
– Our public life, and also our private life, is largely regulated by the operations of State Socialism. It is well known that I do not agree with the extreme socialistic doctrines preached by some individuals. In reference to the tobacco industry, I say unhesitatingly that I am not at present in a position to decide whether the monopoly is of such a character that State interference would be warranted.
– What does the honorable and learned member for Indi say about it?
– He may know more about it than I do. I am not sufficiently well acquainted with the circumstances to justify me in deciding that a State monopoly should be created, but certainly I think that the fullest possible inquiry should be made, and that a Royal Commission should be appointed with that object in view. A Parliamentary Select Committee would not suffice, because the fullest authority must be given to obtain information from all sources. If the present tobacco monopoly is operating to the injury of the general public, it must be prevented. Those honorable members who complain of the attitude of the Labour Party in regard to the tobacco industry are themselves in favour of introducing legislation for regulating the operations of trusts. Therefore I fail to recognise the consistency of their attitude. The Prime Minister has shown himself to be an opportunist of the most pronounced type. After having attacked the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, and having joined with others in expressing his disapproval of many of its provisions, he is now prepared to take it with all its alleged faults, and to adopt it as a Government measure. The right honorable gentleman is apparently prepared to swallow all his own statements, and to reverse the votes which he gave when he was sitting In opposition. He says that he is anxious to put an end to all friction between the Commonwealth Government and the States Governments, but at the same time he is prepared to adopt the Arbitration Bill with the provision relating to the railway servants which has, perhaps, caused more friction between the States and the Commonwealth than anything that has occurred in this Parliament. I voted for that provision, and I intend to remain firm in that attitude. I opposed the inclusion of farm labourers within the scope of the measure, and I shall act consistently in that regard also. The honorable and learned member for Wannon has ‘endeavoured to show that under the alliance which has been entered into with the Labour Party;, it will be necessary for some honorable members to reverse their former votes ; but if he had read the terms of the arrangement he would have seen that there was no necessity for anything of that kind. The Prime Minister tells us that he has determined to re-establish responsible government upon a firm basis ; but I would ask how his position in regard to the Manufactures Encouragement Bill can be regarded as consistent with that declaration. If I were the leader of a Government, and I believed in the Manufactures Encouragement Bill, I should adopt it as a Government measure at all costs. The right honorable gentleman sneered at the Labour Party because of their attitude towards that measure, but he . is pursuing a similar course. The leader of the Labour Party agreed to allow me as a private individual to take up the Bill, and to afford . me every opportunity for passing it through the House. I do not suppose that the present Prime Minister will extend to me a similar courtesy.
– Does the honorable member want it?
– Yes ; of course I do.
– I thought the honorable member said that he would not accept anything from the Prime Minister.
– I said that I would not accept any favour at his hands. I was speaking of personal favours. I regard the Manufactures Encouragement Bill as a most important one, and I am glad to say that the members of the Labour Party have taken up a commendable attitude with regard to the measure. ‘ Notwithstanding all the statements of the honorable and learned member for Wannop as to their insincerity, they are prepared to loyally support the Bill. When it reaches the Committee stage, . those who desire that the industry shall be nationalized, will have a prefect right to do their best to make provision to that effect. If, however, they do not succeed, thev will not seek to wreck the Bill.
– That is rather a change of front.
– I hope that I am not divulging any secret when I make that announcement.
– Will ihe Honorable member vote for the nationalization of the iron industry ?
– I shall vote for the matter to be dealt with by private enterprise, but I shall not attempt to destroy the Bill in the event of that proposal not being agreed to. I desire to see the Bill passed.
– Then the honorable member is prepared to swallow one plank of the socialistic platform?
– I dc not know that the proposal to nationalize the iron industry would commit us to any greater degree of Socialism than is involved in the nationalization of our railways, our tramways, and our waterworks. Fortunately the New South Wales tramways are in the hands of the Government.
– The honorable member was in favour of . selling the railways and tramways some time ago. .
– I was in favour of selling the railways about twentytwo years ago.
– It is not so long ago as that.
– Yes, it was; I know, because the party to which my honorable friend belongs was in power. I was a comparative novice in public life at that time, and, having watched developments since, I have come to the conclusion that it is a matter for great congratulation that the railways of Australia are in the hands of the States. In Melbourne the tramways are in the hands of a private company, and are not worked to the same public advantage as are those of Sydney, where the travelling public derive the benefit of the interest which would otherwise go into the pockets of the proprietors of the tramways. If we cannot secure the development of our iron industry by private enterprise, there is no reason why the State should not undertake the work, so that we may derive the benefit of our national resources in the shape of iron deposits. If we were involved in war at any time, and were unable to import war material from abroad, we should be absolutely helpless, because we should have’ no means of manufacturing our own arms.
– We cannot make, a- gun barrel yet.
– We cannot yet produce a sufficient amount of steel to manufacture even one gun barrel ; therefore I think it is highly desirable that we establish the manufacture, of iron and steel at the earliest possible opportunity. The Prime Minister has made a declaration of the policy of the Government with regard to the question of preferential trade. When I stated that I intended to propose a resolution with reference to preferential trade, the Postmaster-General dared me to bring it forward, arid threatened me that it. would be kicked out pf the House. The Prime Minister has also more than once expressed himself as entirely opposed to the idea of establishing preferential trade relations with the “old country. Now he has accepted the principle. His promise, however, is only a piece of political padding. If we are to deal with the subject of preferential trade upon practical ‘ lines, we must impose fresh duties upon foreign goods in order to enable us to give an appreciable preference to British manufactures. If I had been in a position to do so, I should have made an offer to Great Britain without waiting for her to approach us.
– That comes very well from the honorable member, who all his life has been in favour of imposing taxes upon British imports.
– I am a protectionist, and not a revenue-tariffist.
– How would the honorable member raise revenue?
– If revenue cannot be obtained in one way, it can be secured in another. If it be desired to encourage the industries of Australia, we must have an effective protectionist system. We cannot encourage our industries if we sweep away our Tariff walls. I do not believe in imposing duties upon small lines of imports, but upon goods which can be manufactured and consumed here upon a large scale. The present Tariff is more in the nature of a revenue than a protectionist Tariff. Honorable members have twitted me with having stated that I was in favour of fiscal peace. The fiscal question was raised not by the party to which I belong, but by the Prime Minister. I had to fight the right honorable member, and some of his principal supporters very bitterly in my own electorate, which was simply swarming with free-trade speakers during the last campaign. Sir William McMillan, the honorable and learned member for Parkes, the Prime Minister and others, did their best to secure my defeat.
– This honorable member said he would not raise the fiscal issue.
-I said that I did not wish to re-open the Tariff, because it had been in operation such a short time that we could scarcely judge of its practical working. Therefore, I was prepared to allow matters to rest for a time. Now, however, it has been proved that the Tariff is doing infinite harm to a large number of industries, particularly in Victoria. I have investigated the circumstances connected with from twelve to fourteen of our principal industries, and I find that imports are rapidly taking the place of locallymanufactured goods. The products of cheap and prison labour in other parts of the world, are being imported to the disadvantage of our own manufacturers, and workmen, and I have been informed by one large manufacturer that, unless some adjustment is made which will prevent the present large influx of imported goods, he will have to close his factory.
– I desire, Mr. Speaker, to call attention to the state of the House.
A quorum not being present,
Mr. Speaker adjourned the House at 2.4 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 9 September 1904, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1904/19040909_reps_2_21/>.