2nd Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Mr. DUGALD THOMSON laid upon the table the following papers : -
Amendment of Regulations under the Public Service Act, Nos. 104, 144, 168, and 169.
– I desire to make a personal explanation. During the meeting of the House on Thursday last I drew attention to the action of the Prime Minister in not answering a question of which I had given notice, and I regret to say that the right honorable gentleman, speaking in reply on the motion for the adjournment, and in my absence from the chamber, so that I had no opportunity to defend myself, told honorable members that I had been “wildly inaccurate as usual,” and that I had not given notice of the question, although, as a matter of fact, that question has been on the notice-paper for nearly a month, and occupies the first place among the notices of questions on the business-paper for to-day.
– What I said was that the question had not been brought under my notice until the day when the House met after the recent three weeks’ adjournment, that is until the 7th September,
– I was not present when the Prime Minister madethe statement to which I take exception, so that I may not be correct in saying that the Prime Minister made the statement which I have attributed to him, but it is the statement which occurs in Hansard, and in the reports of the two metropolitan newspapers. That the impression that the right honorable gentleman stated that I was “wildly inaccurate as usual,” was conveyed to members of the House, is proved ‘by the fact that the honorable member for Bourke thought it necessary, in my absence, to defend my reputation. On the 18th August last, I gave notice of my intention to ask the Prime Minister the following question : -
On the 19th August copies of that question were distributed to the members of the Ministry and of the House, and to the press, and on the . 20th it was publashed in the newspapers. On the 7th September the Postmaster-General came to me, and informed me that the Prime Minister was not ready to answer it. He therefore asked me if I would postpone it.
– That is quite right. Having seen the notice of the question on the 7th, the day upon which the House reassembled,. I asked the Postmaster-General to request the honorable and learned member to postpone it, as I had not had time to prepare an answer to it.
– Unfortunately, ‘ the Hansard and newspaper reports state that the Prime Minister said that he did not see the question until the 8th September. In reply to the request of the PostmasterGeneral, I said that the Prime Minister had had three weeks in . which to prepare an answer, and that, as I had previously asked the’ question without notice, I thought he should be ready to answer it then. The Prime Minister said that on the 8th September I consented to its postponement, but on that day I was at the Geelong Agricultural Show, and did not enter the chamber until late in the evening, so’ that I could not have consented to its postponement then. On the 15th, when I asked for a ‘ reply to the question, I stated that it had “ appeared upon the business-paper for about a month,” but the House was nevertheless afterwards informed by the Prime Minister, in my absence, that I had been “ wildly inaccurate,” that I had asked it on the’ 8th, and had then consented to its postponement. I think that that was a very unfair statement to make. Six weeks ago I asked the Prime Minister, who was then leader of the Opposition, the same question. He made a laughing reply, but did not answer it. I do not understand why he has not answered it. Although he has said that I was “ wildly inaccurate, as usual,” I have shown that in this case I was not inaccurate. Whatever has been charged against me, I have not been charged with being an artful dodger.
MOTION OF WANT OF CONFIDENCE.
– I move-
That the present Administration does not possess the confidence of this House.
As is usual in such cases, perhaps, the Opposition has been charged with delaying public business by giving notice of this motion, and I admit that a certain amount of delay must inevitably ensue from its discussion. But on almost every occasion when a new Administration, has ‘ assumed office, it has been the right and legitimate practice for the Opposition, unless the fact that the Government was supported by a large majority had been clearly made known by some such process as a general election, or as the result of a vote in the House, to ascertain by the readiest means what its position really was. When the Administration of which I was at the head came into power a few months ago, the present Prime Minister, who was then leader of the Opposition, stated in this Chamber, on the night that we first met the House’, that he would take the earliest opportunity to test our . position, and he on several occasions repeated that statement in various parts of the country, and especially at Kyneton and at Warragul. On almost every occasion when he spoke in public he breathed fire and defiance against us.
– He only breathed it. though.
– I admit that his threatened motion of want of confidence did not materialize ; but he recognised that it was a proper thing to ask the House whether the then Government did or did not possess the confidence of its members. Curiously’ enough, however, the newspapers which are criticising the present Opposition for delaying the discussion . of matters of public importance, then used every, argument that could be brought to bear to force the right honorable gentleman to take similar action against us. The Sydney Daily Telegraph said that it was a disgrace to the right honorable gentleman, and to those associated with him, that they had allowed weeks to elapse without challenging the position of the then Government. Now that newspaper has suddenly become converted to the belief that the pressing need of the country is “ settled Government.” and that therefore no attempt should be made to interfere with the occupation of the Treasury benches by honorable gentlemen opposite. I contend that we have a right to ascertain what is the position of parties in this Chamber. The programme of the Government has been put before us, and it is a matter for our consideration whether it is to be held sufficient, both in regardto that portion which is to be carried out in the present session, and in regard to the remaining items which are to be carried into effect as part of the future policy of the Government. The Prime Minister, when speaking in Sydney, did not specifically complain of the action of the Opposition in challenging his position, but stated that there was nothing in the Government programme that called for opposition. So far as the Government programme relates to this session, so far as the actual list of Bill’s that are to be brought forward and pushed through, are concerned, I admit that there is nothing that calls for opposition on our part. Why? Because the right honorable gentleman and his colleagues have been at every pains to select absolutely non-contentious measures for this session.
– Measures taken from the programmes of previous Governments.
-Exactly. There is absolutely nothing to which exception can be taken. Of course, if a Government is prepared to do only those things which are. certain to be approved by a large majority of the people, very little exception can. be taken to its immediate programme. It is questionable, however, whether the country will benefit from a mark-time arrangement of that sort.
– The honorable member used to advocate one step at a time.
– So far as any large measure of public importance is concerned no step is proposed by the present Government
– Unless it be a step backwards.
– I shall deal with that aspect of the question presently. I think that there is a possibility of a considerable step backwards being ta1 en by the present Government in relation to some of the legislation we have passed. At present, however, I am speaking of the immediate programme which the Government have laid before the country, that they have deigned to outline for the consideration of the electors, and I say that it is such as to call for very little remark, and that it certainly will not constitute one step in advance, even if the whole of it be carried out. Take the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill. With the exception of the amendment adopted at the instance of the Minister of Defence, the Government have accepted the whole of the amendments proposed by the late Government.
– It is the Bill of the late Government, with the exception referred to.
– I admit that with that exception it is our Bill, but, as I have already stated, I regard that amendment as sufficient to vitiate the whole measure, so far as the prospect of its successful working is concerned. The Government have been content to take on trust the proposal that the railway servants of the States shall be included within the scope of the measure. That objectionable feature, from the stand-point of honorable members opposite has been ignored in their anxiety to get the measure out of the road. So far as that specific mattei is concerned I have no objection to urge, but I will pass on to the other proposals. The Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta Railway Survey Bill is a distinctly nonparty measure - one upon which the leading members of all parties are agreed so far as the survey is concerned. Then, again, the Electoral Bill is a non-party measure, containing, nothing of importance in the way of detail. The Papua Bill, the Fraudulent Trade Marks Bill, and the Trade Marks Bill proper are all measures of very little importance from the political point of view.
– They are necessary measures.
– Yes, but they have no important bearing from the point of view of controversial politics. Then, again, the Manufactures Encouragement Bill is to be treated as an open question. I am quite prepared to admit that it would have been altogether unreasonable to expect the Government to come down with a programme for this session as long as your arm. In such a case they might have been challenged upon the real hope of carrying out their programme. I do contend, however, that in view of the fact that we are nearing the end of the session, this House and the country - and more particularly the country - had a right to expect a declaration from the Government with regard to the course they intended to follow next ses- . sion.
– Oh, no. That is quite a new idea.
– Is the country not to be taken into the confidence of the Government? Are the electors to be regarded as having no interest in the legislation that is to engage our attention ? Is the country to be satisfied when the Ministry says, Micawber like, “Wait until something turns up, and then we shall be prepared to place our programme before you.”
– The honorable member is prepared to mark time until the next Parliament, according to the alliance programme.
– The honorable member will find that some very large questions are dealt with in the alliance programme.
– They are treated as open questions.
– There are many important questions that are not left- open. Our programme is not characterized by that mean spiritedness that displays itself in a readiness to defer in everything to the interests of those who are not specially charged with the administration of the affairs of the Commonwealth. So far as any -allusion is made to large measures by the Government, it is indicated that they are prepared to defer to the wishes of the States Governments. . That seems to be the keynote of the whole policy that the Government are putting forward. They are not standing on the constitutional powers handed over to the Federal Government. They are not declaring, “ We are prepared to carry these things through if we can obtain the 00- operation of the States Governments. If we can so adjust the proposals as to work harmoniously with the States authorities we are prepared to do so ; but in any case we intend to push them through.” They make no such statement, but in regard to the High Commissioner Bill, the old-age pensions question, and even in regard to that pet idea of the Minister of Trade and Customs - the encouragement of agriculture - they are doing nothing and are proposing nothing except to consult the States Governments. I say that that is not the position for Ministers in charge of the affairs of Australia to take up. As I have indicated, I have every desire that harmonious relations should exist between the States and the Federal authorities ; but there should be a straightout declaration of policy from the gentleman in charge of the Government as responsible Ministers as to their own ideas, and how far they are going to ask Parliament to give effect to them at the earliest opportunity. Take, for instance, the High Commissioner Bill. From my point of view there is very grave objection indeed to the continued postponement of that particular measure. When speaking on Thursday week, I alluded to the difficulties through which Australia had had to pass because of the absence from London of some person who could speak with authority as to the meaning, intention, and scope of the legislation passed by this Parliament.
– There is nothing spoiling on that account.
– With all due respect to the honorable member, I think that a good deal is spoiling. The Commonwealth is being misunderstood, and is being misrepresented, and I think that this is doing a great deal of harm indeed to the people of Australia, and that it will later on materially affect their interests. The Prime Minister a little while ago stated that in the estimation of people in the United Kingdom Australia was practically barred to immigrants because of the laws we had passed, and I say that such a view could not obtain if the people of England thoroughly understood the legislation which we have adopted.
– Perhaps they understand it only too well.
– If Ohe honorable member appeals to the honorable and learned member for .Ballarat upon that point he will find that he is mistaken. He will discover that there is no possibility, except by twisting the absolute intention of Parliament! out of its proper channel, of preventing any person free from shackles who desires to settle here from coming to Australia. There is every desire on the part of all parties to encourage those people to come here, and to assist them after their’ arrival. However, altogether apart from the question of diplomatic representations in the heart of the Empire, we have merely to look at what has been accomplished in Canada - even during the last year or so - by its High Commissioner to realize how far our producers could be assisted by having resident in London, with adequate staff, an officer charged with a proper sense of his responsibilities. I ask the Minister of Trade and Customs whether he is satisfied to sanction another year or so of delay in regard to the High Commissionership when he reflects upon the manner in which the Canadian High Commissoner has increased the demand for Canadian products in London, by reason of the steps which he has taken to place them before the people and to familiarize everybody with their quality and price?
– Have they any State Agents-General there ?
– That is the programme of the present Minister of Trade and Customs.
– Is it? If so, the honorable member is deeper in the secret than is the country, because I do not take it that the Minister of Trade and Customs has professed himself at all satisfied with the work which the State Agents-General are performing. I do not believe that any one will contend that it is possible for a number of gentlemen, however energetic and able they may be, to render exactly the same service as could be rendered by one well -equipped central office working upon a detailed plan for the benefit of all Australia. I do not think the Minister will urge that for a moment. . To my mind it is a serious thing, from thestandpoint of our producers, that weshould continue to neglect the magnificent market offered by the mother country, which imports annually ^236,000,000 worth of’ foodstuffs, of which Australia contributes: only a little more than ^3, 000,000 worth, by indefinitely delaying the appointment of a High Commissioner, because, forsooth, “ it is necessary to consult the States Governments.” While the last Administrationwas in office, I took steps, I admit, to consuit the States Governments as to how far they would be willing - if a High Commissioner were appointed - to take advantage of the facilities ‘which his office would” offer in conjunction with the various State
Agencies, and further, I inquired whether they were prepared to allow the High Commissioner to take charge of the various operations connected with the States debts. But whilst asking for an expression of their views, and intimating an anxiety to meet them in every possible way, I was not unwise enough to contemplate delaying for a moment the introduction of the High Commissioner Bill, or the appointment of the gentleman who should fill that position. Therefore, I feel that the Government have taken a wrong step in deferring the consideration of this most important question. Then, there is another matter to which I desire to direct attention - I refer to old-age pensions. Here, again, the Government are apparently prepared to allow the whole possibility of obtaining Federal old-age pensions to rest with the States Governments.
– What does the alliance programme mean upon that point?
– It means exactly what it; states, namely, that we should get an oldage pension scheme, which will be fair alike to the States and individuals - but we shall get it. It doe’s not mean that we intend to consult the States about it, and then defer to their decision, as to whether or not we are to have such a scheme. It means that we shall attempt to arrive at an understanding with them, but that ‘ failing that we shall still go for an old-age pension scheme. Are we to confess that the Commonwealth is so financially decrepit that it cannot undertake to provide for its aged’ poor, or that the provisions of the Constitution are not sufficiently elastic to allow of the whole of the old people of Australia being taken under the care of the Commonwealth? I, for one, say that, even in those States where old-age pensions are granted to-day - in Victoria and New South Wales - the existing administration, while it is, perhaps, all’ that is possible under a State Act, is not satisfactory from the stand-point of those who believe in the principle of old-age pensions. We know that many of the most deserving Australian pioneers, by reason of the very fact that they went from one State to another, helping to develop their resources - as the gold miners in the old days .followed the rush from Bendigo to Lambing Flat, and from Lambing’ Flat perhaps went to Queensland - are largely debarred from participating in the advantages which old-age pensions should offer to them. Yet, according to the dictum of the Government, we are to be content, in the case of New South Wales, and Victoria, to allow that condition of things to continue, whilst, so far as the other States are concerned, we have no indication thai the Government will make any sustained effort to secure pensions for the aged poor, if the States Governments cannot see their way to agree to the proposal.
– The Government almost entirely forgot to mention the matter.
– Yes. It is peculiar that, in regard to this matter, we received the Ministerial statement of policy by instalments. The Prime Minister outlined a portion of his programme in this House. That was supplemented on the same day, so far as the question of old-age pensions was concerned, by the statement of the AttorneyGeneral in another place, and on the following day it was still further supplemented by the other responsible gentleman in the Ministry, the Minister of Trade and Customs. It is rather unusual that we should receive a statement of policy by instalments in that fashion. Of course, if it were a good policy, it would not matter. I merely comment upon it as being an unusual proceeding. I contend, therefore, that it is not sufficient ‘for those who favour the payment of old-age pensions to be told that if the States are agreeable, effect will be given to such a scheme. What is the alternative? That we should wait, I am given to understand, until the expiration of the Braddon section of the Constitution. That is rather longer than I hope to wait before seeing such a scheme in existence. If we are to judge by the attitude taken up by the States Treasurers when in conference with the present Treasurer a little while ago, there is no prospect whatever of the States Governments agreeing to become responsible for an old-age pension scheme. I hope it is not so; but if we are to accept as a criterion the statements which they made a few months ago, there is very little prospect indeed of obtaining from that source any adequate scheme of old-age pensions. Having taken a brief glance at what the Government’ propose to do, we have to. consider what they have omitted from their, programme. I repeat that we look in vain, for any indication of policy which offers hope to the community. Whilst those measures of which I have spoken are. of ‘ importance in themselves, still they are only details. They do not largely affect the welfare of the people of Australia. The matters which the Government intend to press through during the current session are, comparatively speaking, of little importance, and we have the most eloquent silence as to their intentions in other respects. Take, for instance, the pressing question of irrigation and water conservation. The Prime Minister has made no reference to the intentions of the Government in that regard. He gave no indication of how far the Ministry are prepared to assist the States to come to an agreement, or to take action in the event of the States being willing to allow the Federal authorities to assume control of that question. There is no indication whatever as to the intentions of the Government in that connexion. I do not think that anybody to-day can overrate the importance of water conservation and efficient irrigation so far as the people of of Australia are concerned. I am not here to put forward anything in the nature of a policy, but I did expect-
– Give the people some hope.
– So far as I am concerned, when the late Government was in office, we submitted a policy, I admit, of comparatively small importance for the present session. We included in our statement of policy for the present session a very definite pronouncement on the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, and in regard to some contentious clauses in that, measure, while in our policy for next session we included proposals of such vast importance that they brought down upon us the anathemas of all - those who were opposed to the legislation that we’ had been putting forward.
– But those planks are not to be found in the alliance programme.
– Some of them are. Oldage pensions were certainly included in our programme for next session. The alliance programme does not necessarily cover all the proposals that will be put before the country if an opportunity offers ; there may be further agreement with respect to other matters. It deal’s merely with the preliminary proposals to which we have agreed, and the responsibility does not rest upon our shoulders at the present moment to take steps to inform the people as to the course ‘we propose to take. My complaint to-day is against the Government, and I assert that we look in vain for any expression of their intentions, once the, present session has closed, wit’h regard to any important or far-reaching proposal.
– The Opposition have not given the Government an opportunity to express their intentions in regard to next session.
– They will have an opportunity to-day.
– They had ample opportunity to do so a fortnight ago ; and in view of the complaint that has been made against them, they will probably be willing to take advantage of the further opportunity which this motion offers. The question arises whether the Government have any . policy, or whether the settlement of a policy awaits the long-deferred caucus meeting’ of the members of the Ministerial Party.
– We do not hold caucusmeetings.
– I understand that there is a difficulty in regard to certain matters, and that the only chance of their adjustment rests in the party coming to an arrangement in. caucus. It rs certainly rather interesting to speculate as to the results of that meeting, and as to whether, as the outcome of it, we shall be able to look forward to anything in the nature of a declaration of policy upon the larger and more important questions to which I have referred.
– -Some of us would like to know what those Questions are.
– I refer to the matters which have been omitted from the Government programme. The Prime Minister stated at Warragul, a little while ago. that it was his intention to challenge the positionof the Watson Government, and to compel every man to define his position. The necessity to compel every honorable member todefine his position still exists. We have” had from the Prime Minister a declaration of open war against, not only the Opposition, comprising members of the Labour Party, but every honorable member whodares to sympathize with the objects which animate that party, and the general principles which underlie their programme.
– That is not so.
– Only a few weeks agothe Prime Minister said that the war into which he and his party had thatnight entered against the Labour Party must be carried to a conclusion. Is it to be expected, therefore, that the right honorablegentleman and his colleagues, having proclaimed that warfare had commenced, weshall stand aside and allow them to use- the machinery of Government to defeat, whether by legislation or by administration, the very objects which we had in view in entering this Parliament? I for one cannot, conceive how any unprejudiced person could expect us to take up such a position. The Prime Minister states that the Labour Party represent a class ; but the, Minister of Trade and Customs goes a good deal further, and asserts that we represent only the section of a class. I am prepared to admit that the first revolt against the domination of those who were peculiarly class representatives - those who had looked to the interests of only a class, and -that one the moneyed class - the first note of rebellion against the domination of that class of politicians certainly came from only the section of a class. At its inception it came from the manual labourer and the artisan.
– From those who suffered.
– From those who had suffered most from the injustice of legislation which preceded the advent of the Labour Party into Parliament. But the Labour movement had scarcely taken shape - it had not been promulgated for more than a month or two - before there flocked to its standard men representing every section of the community, save those which had something to lose by the disturbance of the existing system. We are told that we have no right to arrogate to ourselves the term “ Labour P.arty.” It is because there is no broader term than the words “ Labour Party “ that we seek to describe ourselves in that way. It is because our platform shows a regard for the interests of all’ sections of the community that we are justified in calling ourselves the Labour Party. - I challenge those- who contend that we are representatives of only a class or the section of a class to point to one proposal in the platform of the Federal Labour Party, or in that of any of the Labour Parties off the States Parliaments, which is in the interest only of a class or of a section of a class.
– Preference for unionists.
– The honorable member suggests that preference for unionists is a proposal to which he objects. The granting of preference to unionists, however, would not have infringed, in the slightest degree, the rights of any person employed in any industry. - It would certainly have allowed the organization upon which the whole superstructure of compulsory arbitration is built to fulfil the mission set out for them by those who first conceived the principle. Beyond that, it would have dom nothing. I am convinced that many of those who object to preference to unionists do not understand the theory upon which compulsory arbitration is based. If the) did they would not be found in opposition to it.
– It is provided for in the Bill as it stands.
– Of course it is in the Bill.
– It was meekly accepted.
– Let me deal with the programme of the Federal Labour Party. The first plank in the platform is the maintenance of a white Australia. What is there in that proposal that is peculiarly helpful to a class? Surely it is the concern of the whole community that Australia should be kept free from the contamination which follows in the train of an influx of coloured peoples. Surely it is not a matter in which the workmen of Australia are alone interested. I submit that the whole of the people of Australia have a vital and direct interest in legislation dealing with that question.
– But the question is not one of which the Labour Party has a monopoly.
– I am free to admit that that is so; but the honorable member must recollect that that which I am seeking to do at the present moment is to disprove the assertion that the members of the Labour Party are here as the representatives of a class, and I am dealing with the items in our programme in support of my contention. Another plank in our platform is that of compulsory arbitration. Would any honorable member contend that compulsory arbitration is in the interests of manual labourers alone?
– No one who understands it would do so.
– Certainly not. Any one who has the faintest recollection of that which has frequently occurred in Australia - of the immense loss which has followed from strikes - will at least admit that the whole community has the keenest interest in the settlement of industrial troubles. Then we also make provision for old-age pensions. It may be said that here at last is something in our programme in which the workers are peculiarly interested. I admit that in the main such a proposal is likely to affect those who have to rely on manual labour for their daily bread. The manual labourer and the artisan, as conditions are throughout the world, have but little opportunity indeed to provide against old age. But there are many in this competitive world of ours who imagine themselves to be free from all possibility of want in the evening of their lives, but who, because of some untoward event, find to their surprise, that even they have to ask for an old-age pension. We find in New South Wales to-day that a very large percentage - all things considered - of those who are receiving pensions, are people who never did a stroke of manual labour in their lives, who were never artisans, but who occupied positions which one would have imagined would have preserved them against the possibility of having to come on the State in their old age. I say again that there is nothing peculiar to labouring people in this old-age pensions proposal. Then we have the nationalization of monopolies. I cannot see that the workers have any more to gain in that respect than have the rest of the community. That is to say, those who are ordinarily looked upon as the labouring class .have no greater interest than the rest of the community have in nationalizing monopolies.
– Than those who retail tobacco, for instance.
– Those who retail tobacco to-day are suffering from the operations of a monopolistic combine. They are suffering worse than the ordinary man in the street, because so far the combination has confined its kind attentions to the retailer. It has got rid of a number of commercial travellers, and it has raised the price of tobacco to the retailer, who has to be content with a smaller profit ; and in some cases the combination has cut him down to such an extent that there is not anything approaching a livelihood in the distribution of the product.
– If the honorable member is so certain of these facts, why refer the question of establishing a Government tobacco monopoly to a Royal Commission?
– The fact that I am certain, and require no further convincing, does not preclude an element of doubt in the minds of some other people. I am so certain of the strength of my position that I am prepared- to allow it -to rest on the investigations of such a body as the honorable member has mentioned.
– Is the honorable member sure with regard to the raising of the price ?
– Yes, quite sure. The price has been raised to the retailer. There is no doubt at all. Next, we have the proposal for a citizen defence force. Every member of the community has an equal interest in the defence of Australia, but, so far as property is concerned, the class whom we are so persistently alleged to represent peculiarly, bave no particular interest in the defence of the country. Those who have most to lose do not, generally speaking, belong to what are ordinarily known as the labouring classes. So that I contend that in seeking for an efficient defence for Australia, and in demonstrating - as the Labour Party did during the last Parliament time and again - that we were prepared to vote any reasonable sum for expenditure on armaments and munitions of war, we were taking an action which was not in the interests of the section of a class that we are alleged to represent, but in the interests of the whole people of Australia. Another plank in our platform is that of the restriction of public borrowing. Can it be said that that is an evidence of anxiety to push the interests of a class ? Who would gain most from the expenditure of borrowed money? If we were inclined to be extravagant, and to overlook the interests of the community as a whole, what would be more popular than to engage in an extravagant expenditure of money that is easily got, and which it would remain for “ the other person “ to repay ? Surely it is a patriotic object on the part of the Labour Party to seek to educate the ordinary worker outside to have some regard, not only for his own interests, but for the interests of those who follow us, who would otherwise be asked/ to pay more than their fair share, as has been the case in connexion with the borrowing policy on which the States have been engaged. I contend that that policy is of a most patriotic character, and that no allegation of class consideration will lie against us in regard to it. I do not wish to enter at length into other points, but I may remark that the Navigation Bill also is of interest to all Australia. The suggested Commonwealth bank of deposit and issue cannot be. said to be of interest to the class of manual labourers only.
– Who have nothing to deposit. ‘
– Who certainly have no large sums to deposit, and have no particular concern as to what the rate of interest is. Again, the proposal to establish a life and fire assurance department is really of interest to all sections of the community. There is no particular reference to workmen as apart from other sections of the community in the proposal to simplify and cheapen the patent law. In short, I contend, in regard to the programme of ‘ the Federal Labour Party, and equally in regard to the programmes of the Labour Parties of the States, that I have shown sufficient to prove that no object purely sectional can be urged in respect of them. The proposals of the State Labour Party of New South Wales include measures - and include only those measures - that are for the interest of the whole community directly or indirectly. And so I hurl back the accusation at those gentlemen who accuse us of being here to represent class interests, and say that it is -not the Labour Patty that supports class interests but those gentlemen who are determined to uphold the existing order of things where class interests have already acquired a supremacy with which it is not desired, by some, at any rate, that we should interfere. Another question of difference between the piesent Government and ourselves is as to what we are told is Socialism.
– Everything is Socialism now-a-davs.
– Everything that is proposed by the “ other fellow “ is Socialism. Everything that will benefit the “ other fellow “ is Socialism. But when a proposal is brought forward that will benefit, at the expense of the State, or with the assistance of the State, the farmers, for instance, who are so ably represented by’ the Minister of Trade and Customs, then we hear nothing of this cry about Socialism. The ‘ Prime Minister made a declaration about Socialism which, so far’ as I have been able to glean, is rather cryptic. He stated the other evening, in the House -
I place side by side with the ideal of using to the furthest extent the national power to promote the national good, the ideal of leaving _ every human being in a free country as free in the exercise of his individual rights and in the carrying on of his individual enterprise, as is consistent with the legitimate use of the national power for national ends.
What does it mean ? There is not one member of the Labour Party who cannot subscribe to that proposition. Every one of us believes in allowing as much liberty to the individual as is consistent with the conservation of national ends. Not one iota do we differ from the general proposition that the right honorable gentleman puts forward. But he appears to have gone a great deal further in the statement he has been putting before the country - before, for instance, the farmers at Kyneton. There he declared an anti-socialistic crusade - that was to be the mission in life to which he would devote . himself. The right honorable gentleman has been distinguished by a steady adhesion to the principles of freetrade for many years ; and, finding that those principles are not exactly in popular favour at the present time, he now proposes to devote the rest of his political career to fighting Socialism. It would be interesting to know just where the limitations are in respect of his policy. When will the national ends refuse to be served? How soon will he draw the line between the interests of the nation and individual freedom of action? It is a truism that it should hardly be necessary to . repeat that every form and attribute of government is an interfeience in some degree with the liberty of the individual. We cannot have government at all without impinging in some manner on the right of an individual to do as he likes. And, therefore, it is idle to talk about the “ liberty of the subject” - about the desirability of allowing free play to the individualistic enterprise of each person. We know exactly where private enterprise will take people if we allow free scope, so far as the law is concerned. We know what advantage private enterprise took of the poor, the needy, the weak, and the young in the older land of England one hundred years ago or more. We know what advantage private enterprise is taking in the Southern States of America of the children in factories where there is no factory legislation.
We know what private enterprise has accomplished in the way of sweating in this fair city of Melbourne, and the neighbouring city of Sydney, within the -last few years, when there was freedom from any interference with the right of the individual to conduct his enterprise in his own way. It is absolutely essential that we should curb the greedy disposition which seems to come to so many of us. I do not say that any of us are so free from the ‘possibility of falling into temptation- that it would be safe to allow us to go without some curb or some direction on behalf of the community as to what our conduct in life is to be. It Ls utter moonshine to talk about allowing freedom to the individualistic enterprise of the people. As I have said, it is rather interesting to attempt to ascertain exactly what the propositions of the right honorable gentleman are in this regard.
– The honorable member for Bland keeps explaining what those proposals are.
– I do not pretend to do that - it is beyond my power. I am not sufficient of a seer to accomplish anything of that description. But we had a statement from the honorable member for Echuca which seems to explain the proposal. I was commenting last Thursday week on this aspect of affairs, and the honorable member for Echuca then stated that, in regard to the Prime Minister’s speech at Kyneton, “ the farmers knew what he meant.” What did the Prime Minister mean?’ Is there some esoteric interpretation that is known only to the initiated? And, if so, what is that interpretation? Is it proposed by the right honorable gentleman, as indicated by the Postmaster-General the other day at Numurkah, that socialistic concessions are to be made to one class of the community only? Is that the proposal that is coming from the present Government? Are they to resist sternly every idea of the extension of socialistic enterprise - every idea of expanding the functions of government - except when the proposal is in the interests of the farmers or some other particular section of the community? The farmers at Kyneton, we are told, understood what the Prime Minister meant ? Did they understand that the right honorable gentleman would offer no opposition to the socialistic proposals which were being put before the country at that particular conference ?
– The Prime Minister has said that he himself has no fault to find with the theory of Socialism.
– I am afraid the legal interpretation of my actual words by the honorable and learned member is not quite correct.
– I can give chapter and verse.
– At Kyneton, where tha Prime Minister spoke so eloquently about the evils of Socialism, we find the farmers in conference passing a resolution ^ to form a political organization. Political organizations seem to be duplicating themselves everywhere. The farmers founded one at Kyneton, and the exPrime Minister, the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, formed another at the latter place, and I dare say that, as a result of the coalition, it will be necessary to found yet another in order to give expression to the aims of this twoparty Government. But at the Kyneton conference, the farmers not only decided to form an organization - called, I think, the Farmers and Producers’ League - but declared that its main feature in all cases should be its opposition to socialistic candidates. Then, having done that much, they proceeded to ask the State Government for a Manure Protection Bill, so that private enterprise might not rob them, or be allowed to rob them, as they allege they have been robbed in the past. The conference also asked for reduced grain freights, and for wire netting on deferred payment. If the farmers do not believe in Socialism, why should they not provide their own wire netting? If every man is to stand on his own feet and rely on his own enterprise - if we are not to be “ coddled by a paternal Government “ - why do not the farmers find their own wire netting? The Kyneton conference also asked for a bonus on foxes’ scalps,. starving stock rates, cold storage for produce, agricultural colleges, grants for shows, the opening! of new markets for fruits, lessons in tobacco manufacture, and an extension of the Credit Foncier system of loans. And later there was a deputation from the same gentlemen, who asked Mr. Bent to find £r,000-
– Under another name.
– That is so. They asked Mr. Bent for ^1,000 to be devoted to the finding of new markets for compressed hay. Those are all proposals with which, so far as I aim personally concerned, I heartily agree. I believe that producers in Australia have a hard row to hoe. We are such’ a distance from the markets of the world that it is wise to give every encouragement possible, so far . as the central powers of the Government are concerned, in order that producers may successfully occupy the land. I have assisted in’ New South wales men like the Prime Minister, the Postmaster-General, the honorable member for Parramatta, and the honorable member for Hume/ tb provide facilities for the producing population at the expense, and under the control of the State. But it comes with a very peculiar grace from those who are continually crying for State Socialism in the form of Government assistance to enter upon a campaign of antiSocialism. I ask the Minister of Trade and Customs whether his anti-socialistic ideas carry him to the extent of refusing to establish agencies for the’ disposal of agricultural products abroad?
– Or the growth of (beetroot here.
– Or to encourage the growth of beet-root here, as has just been suggested? I ask whether the honorable gentleman is prepared to refuse all requests for Government assistance of this kind as purely socialistic, or whether he proposes to extend socialistic help to one class only? That is the position I put before the present Ministry, and the Munster of Trade and Customs in particular. In my own opinion a great deal of what is said to-day about Socialism is quite beside the mark. Modern industrial conditions, as has been pointed out frequently, inevitably tend towards monopoly. The power of capital was never greater, as such, than it is to-day, and in every country in the world we find statesmen agreeing that there must be some curb put upon the power that capital is wielding.’ Everywhere that feeling is finding expression in legislation of one kind and another. While that is so, while in America we have anti-trust legislation - which is partially successful, but in regard to which it may be found necessary even there to go much further - and while in other parts of the world also we find just the same complaint being made about the power of combined capital and its effect, not only upon the smaller capitalists, but upon the general community - when we see that condition of affairs existing, it is idle .to seek to frighten the people by raising the bogy of Socialism. We were told the other evening by the Prime Minister that the Labour Party were sharpening wedges to be driven right into the heart of human and industrial liberty. Well, we have been at that game in Australia for very many years, if the people would only recognise what they have been doing. Long before the Labour ‘Party came into existence, and before’ there was any suggestion of a Labour Party, there were wise men in the land who found it necessary to prevent private enterprise from securing control of those great national sources of wealth which might be converted into monopolies against the interests of the people. We had, years ago, I am glad to say, men of sufficient prescience to realize that our railways should not be handed over to private enterprise. We had men like the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, who saw that, so far. as his own Colony was concerned, at any rate, the great natural water resources were not handed over to private individuals. I honour the honorable and learned gentleman, and shall continue to do so if he has nothing, else to his credit but the one fact that he so roused the people of Victoria that they conserved these facilities for the use of the people generally. Even if advantage were- not taken of his legislation immediately upon strict business ‘ principles, the great fact is there that Victoria has shown the lead in socialistic enterprise so far as ‘ water conservation is concerned in Australia.
– It is a pity the Melbourne tram system is not in the same category.
– It is indeed, and not merely for the sake of the labouring me:who work the trams, but for the sake of citizens of Melbourne who cannot afford a threepenny ride, and are, in consequence, compelled to walk-
– Compare the Melbourne system with that in operation in Sydney.
– People in the neighbouring city are enabled for one-third of the price to travel, in many instances, quite’ as far as they travel in Melbourne for threepence. We are told by an organizer of the Employers’ Union - the body now standing behind the present Government with all its power and force - that the success of the trams in Sydney or Glasgow when owned on behalf of the people- cannot be taken as a criterion, because, as he said, there is no competition. I ask what competition is there in Melbourne, where a private syndicate controls the tram system? There is no competition here, and yet the people do not benefit as the result. It is worthy of remark that the trams in Sydney, notwithstanding the fact that they are carrying a huge amount of dead capital owing to the transfer from steam to electric traction, during last year paid more than tha interest and other charges, and, in addition to that, carried the population of the city many times over at an average rate of about Jd. per mile.
– I wonder how much the Melbourne tram system pays?
– We have no means of ascertaining accurately what the Melbourne trams pay, but it is certain that they do not afford the same measure of convenience to the people at the same cost that is afforded by the tram system in operation in Sydney. So far as the complaint about Socialism is concerned, it seems to me that the proper policy for the people of Australia is to weigh fairly and honestly every proposal to extend the benefits of government.
– Hear, hear; to consider it on its merits.
– On its merits. If proposals are clearly laid down first as to the necessity for governmental action, and if that is conceded, then every care should be taken to put the management of the Government, municipal or other socialistic works on such a basis as- will reasonably insure their working in the interests of the community at large. I am free to confess that if I had to choose between having a Government institution worked under a system of political patronage, where every Member of Parliament would be free to use his influence in the direction of having concessions made to himself or his friends - if I had to choose between that form of government or municipal enterprise and private enterprise, I’ should quickly choose private enterprise. Unless we have a patriotic determination on the part of Parliament to provide proper safeguards for the management of these concerns, to conduct them on business principles, so far as is consistent with a due regard for the interests of those employed - applying humanitarian principles, we shall not be justified in extending the sphere of governmental interference. But I say that, with these safeguards, and assuming, as we have a right to assume, that the people of Australia will continue to send into Parliament men who are honest, patriotic, and desirous of forwarding the interests of the people as a whole, we have nothing to fear as the result of this governmental interference. What is the contrary position? That we are to pursue a policy of stagnation or of retrogression. That is to say, we must be pre- ‘ pared to extend only a callous hearing to those who come to us and complain of the conditions in which they have to live. If we take up the attitude of the coldblooded Spencerian doctrinaire, that we should have regard only to the survival of the fittest, that every person must battle for himself in the struggle of life, and that no effort is to be put forward, so far as. Government is concerned, to save the weak from the power of the strong, then indeed1 the state of things cannot be other than one of hopelessness and despair, so far as the great bulk of the population is concerned. I ask what there is to-day before the ordinary labouring man in Australia, though perhaps he is better off here than in many, other parts of the world? It is true that occasionally the newspapers will mention the fact that one or other individual has” managed after great efforts to emerge from’ the ruck, and he is pointed to as an example of what is possible for all others. They say : “ Brown, Jones, or Robinson has succeeded ; why not others “ ? But very often when the individual succeeds, he does so at the expense of others, so that the blood and tears of the many have contributed to the success of the few. But even if that were not the result of the success of those individuals who have managed to struggle through, it is evident that all’ cannot be successful under the conditions which now obtain. Yet, unless we hold out tq our people some hope for the future, unless we instil into them the belief that there is inherent in the power of Governments the possibility to achieve something for them and to lighten their load in some measure, they, instead of advancing, will go back, because nothing so much tends to lower a man’s self-respect and to lessen his struggles for advancement as does hopelessness. What is there of hope in the declaration that we must resist, as the Prime Minister has said, every attempt to extend Socialism in the shape of governmental interference ? I can understand that the honorable and learned members for Parkes and Wannon, and one or two other honorable members of- the same way of thinking, should take up that position because it is the logical outcome of the doctrines which they hold. They believe that it is better to let the weakest fail or go to the wall, because those who survive will be better than those who have gone before, and the net result will be an improved race; that, even though evil may ensue in the meantime, the end justifies the means. Those views are, I think, out of harmony with the doctrines which a Christian nation should hold. It is out of place in a country like Australia to say that the Government’ should stand idly- by and allow those who have the power, to use every opportunity for self-advancement, regardless of the interests of their fellows. That, to my mind, is a doctrine which will not be approved by the people of Australia, if they are asked to express an opinion upon it. While the members of the Opposition differ on some points, we are in agreement upon the general principle that it is our duty, when we. see that the power of the State can be used beneficially, efficiently, and safely, to so use it. I contend that that principle can be applied in all the avenues of public affairs ; and it will be the guiding principle of those who sit on this side of the Chamber in regard to all matters that come up for public decision. The question is not whether, from the stand-point of the doctrinaire, we should interfere, but how far, when interference ‘ has been proved necessary in the interests of the great mass of the community, we can safely go. We, therefore, accept the challenge which the right honorable gentleman has put forward. He stands to-day for those who believe in marking time, and for those who believe iu going back; for stagnation, and for retrogression. In respect to the principle of governmental interference, he stands for marking time ; in respect to the past legislation of this Parliament, he stands for retrogression, because he has informed us that it is his intention, so scon as he shall have the power, to take steps to repeal some of the provisions which are so obnoxious to him.
– That is not in the programme of the Government.
– No, but that is the intention declared by the right honorable gentleman on the hustings, and the announcement was supplemented by a statement to the same effect made in this Chamber last week. Therefore, there is a clear-cut issue between the present Government and those in Opposition, quite apart from the immediate programme which has been put forward. The question is not whether the Papuan Bill; the Trade Marks Bill, or an amending Electoral Bill should be carried, nor is it whether honorable gentlemen opposite, for whom personally I have the highest respect, shall continue, to occupy the Treasury Benches. It is whether the people of Australia sympathize with the declaration of policy which has been made by the Government, whether they are prepared to go back upon that which their .representatives in Parliament have done, and whether they are prepared to indorse the idea that private enterprise should be allowed full sway, and that interference on behalf of the community as a whole should be refused. I believe that the people are opposed to that idea, and that they will on ‘a future occasion declare themselves to be opposed to it. That being so, I think it is my duty, in common with other honorable members who sit on this side of the Chamber, to try to ascertain whether the Government represent the majority of the House. I have been moved to my present action primarily by the considerations which I have put forward; but, in addition, by the desire to clear the political atmosphere, to make sure of how honorable members stand. I feel that the Prime Minister has no right to complain of a straightforward, open attack of this character, against which he has an opportunity to defend himself, the people being asked in the last resort to judge between the two parties.
– I do not at all question the right of honorable gentlemen sitting opposite to table the motion which the leader of the Opposition has just moved ; but there is a marked difference between the motion involving the existence of , the then Government which I moved some three years ago, and that which the leader of the Opposition has just moved. On the occasion to which I refer, I stated, in my motion, the grounds of principle upon which I asked the House to censure the then Administration; but my honorable friend has taken a different course. He has made a speech which amounts to the raising of an issue of vast national importance somewhere else. His closing sentences could have no meaning at all if applied to the position of honorable members who are now sitting in this Chamber. They point to a decision upon vital matters of national importance, which cannot be made by us. Although the honorable gentleman has framed his motion as if this were a mere domestic squabble between the “ ins “ and the “ outs,” he might well have framed it in such a way as to bring to the service of this party fight the declaration of some large principles, in respect to which the two sides of the House are, at issue. We find it necessary, however, to interpret the motion by the way in which it has been supported. The leader of the Opposition has no serious fault to find with our proposed procedure for the present session.
But he complains that the Ministry which has just come into office is not sufficiently foolhardy to regard itself as fit to work out a deliberate matured policy for a session which cannot possibly begin for the next six or eight months. We are not heavenborn statesmen like those gentlemen who recently sat on these benches. We have had sufficient experience to know that whilst it is easy to make speeches in this House, especially from the other side, the position is different when one assumes vast responsibilities, and when the welfare of a great Commonwealth’ is intrusted to a Ministry, with reference to its policy. I think I can claim that I am supported in this Ministry by men of experience who have held high positions in the Governments of the States, who are men of affairs, and who know the difficulties of such a position ; and we have had too much sense to profess to introduce, out of season, and six months before the time, anything like a declaration of policy upon large measures of national concern. Surely it is not a ground of censure that we do not come down now with the policy which we shall have to submit to Parliament, if Parliament continues to exist, somewhere about the middle of next year. My honorable friend the leader of the Opposition did pursue that course in a mild way.
– The right honorable gentleman asked him to do so.
– Surely my innocent friend, the honorable member for Grey, does not consider that because I ask a Minister to do anything, he need do it? The leader of the Opposition is not a puppet. I do not pull him with a string. If I allowed my honorable friends to pull me with a string, it would not be quite so well for me.
– The right honorable gentleman could not pull the leader of the Opposition with a string.
– I am glad to have the certificate of the honorable member. I am merely alluding to important facts. I presume that the leader of the Opposition spoke as the result of studied intention. I am sure that my honorable friend did not make that announcement with regard to the tobacco monopoly and the banks’ reserves because I asked him to do so.
– He made the announcement because he was not ashamed to state his intentions.
– My honorable friend said something else just now. He said that I had asked the leader of the Opposition to make that announcement. My honorable friend, the leader of the Opposition, did project himself into the future with reference to some measures for a future session’.-
– Even then we were told that our programme was a crawling one.
– I suppose we all have to hear a number of epithets. We all have to put up with them. Probably no man in Australia has had to go to bed with more epithets than I “have, but I have never grumbled. I never meet honorable members with a scowl merely because I know them to be utterly wrong. I wish to say on the present occasion that, whilst in my opinion the leader of the Opposition may justify projecting his mind forward to a distant session - so far as the practical business of Parliament is concerned, the House wants to know what it has to do during the session it is in, and wants to know that clearly. It likes to leave Ministers - especially those who have just come into office - some reasonable time for consultation and investigation before they commit themselves to definite measures of large importance. Our policy was to close this session with all reasonable expedition after certain work had been done. I hope that honorable members will recollect the simple fact that we did not come into office as soon as we should have done. I ought to have been here years ago; but, as a matter of fact, the present Ministry has just come into existence. As another matter of fact, the session was six months’ old when it came into existence, and, as a further matter of fact, we all hope, apart from party fights, to adjourn at a reasonable time before the end of the year, as the House has always endeavoured to do. Therefore, honorable members will see that to talk of the Ministry elaborating, within two or three months, a great national policy, which is to be announced nine months hence, is to make a demand of the kind that is only urged by a leader of the Opposition when moving a vote of censure. There was a singular omission from the statement made by the leader. of the Opposition. We have heard nothing from him about, the alliance - not a single word about the gigantic mountain which has brought forth two mice.
– We shall tell the right honorable gentleman ail about that.
– No doubt; but does not my honorable friend think that when he enters into an alliance with bodies of public men who have the fate of the Common- wealth in their hands, this House should be the medium through which the public are made acquainted with the arrangements of the alliance?
– Did the right honorable gentleman do that in respect of the coalition?
– I did everything in the most public way.
– So did we.
– May I. suggest to my honorable friend that there was no coalition; that there was a memorandum drawn up by my friend the honorable and learned member for Ballarat and myself-
– And agreed to.
– Will the honorable and learned member listen? That memorandum was submitted to the two parties, who did not agree to it. Surely, in the stress of this vote of censure- motion we are not going to emasculate our memories. Surely I am not called upon to inform my honorable and learned friend of accurate judgment that, as a matter of fact, the party led by the honorable and learned, member for Ballarat did not accept that proposal.
– But the right honorable gentleman agreed to it.
– I am glad I am making my honorable friends lively. It was quite beyond the efforts of- the leader of the Opposition to stir up honorable members; on this side of the House. I hope, however, that the clamour which sometimes prevails in public meetings will not characterize our proceedings.
– Would not that help the right honorable gentleman?
– Not if it assumed the form pf unseemly noise. The basis upon which the alliance was. proposed was set downin black and white and published in all the newspapers, but that alliance was never consummated. There was neither an alliance nor a coalition, because one party refused to join on the basis suggested. Nothing came of that proposal. In the meantime the late Ministry deliberately dug a pit for themselves, and buried themselves.
– And the right honorable gentleman knocked them on the head.
– I do not mind a certain amount of interruption, but when I am just beginning a sentence I do not wish to be interfered with. I have a great deal to say on the present occasion,’ and I would remind honorable members opposite that the leader of the Opposition was not greatly interrupted when he was speaking.
– He never gave cause.
– Is this a hall for free discussion? Must I speak with bated breath here, before the representatives of the only real democracy? Now, the leader of the Opposition, when he sat in the more serene position which he occupied in the Opposition corner, said that there had been a great deal of talk about alliances. Of course, to the honorable member, at that time, alliances were anathema maranatha. He was at the- head of a solid party which was steadily marching, within its own highly disciplined ranks, to dominate the policy of Australia. The honorable member never thought then that he would have to embrace the honorable and learned member for Indi. When I heard my honorable friend’s discreet and studied utterances this afternoon I could not help remembering - with a slight alteration - the language of old Abraham -
The voice was the voice of Esau.
Honorable Members. - Oh, oh !
– I announced, Mr. Speaker, that I intended to alter the quotation -
But the hands were the hands of Isaac.
The leader of the Opposition said, “ There has been a good deal of talk about alliances, but we “ - that is the solid party - “ have no serious intentions of our own until we have a majority who subscribe to our platform.” Have these gentlemen subscribed to the platform? If so, it has been done in the Parliamentary vaults.
– From where did the right honorable member obtain that quotation ?
– I am speaking from memory, but it is contained in the speech which the honorable member delivered upon the Address-in-RepIy, at the opening of this House.
– Years have elapsed since then.
– I know that very much has happened. It is a new Mr. Watson that we have now. When the honorable member for Bland was the leader of the elect, with no strangers admitted, he practically affirmed that until the Labour Party had a majority of members who would subscribe to its platform, it did not hope to exercise any position of authority in this House. Now, I ask, “ Has that subscription been made ?” Have those honorable and industrious gentlemen really got an alliance at all. Because I accept the. declarations made by duly admitted members of the Labour
Party. I know that no member of that party, when he refers to the proceedings of the caucus, speaks wide of the truth. There is no member of the Labour Party in whose accuracy I have more sublime confidence than- in that of the honorable member for Perth. He is a genuine member of the Labour Party - a man who has stood his ground against every opponent in a fair and honorable way - and this is what he is reported to have said at a “ Pleasant Sunday Afternoon “ meeting which was held an Sunday last -
Where was the necessity or advantage of an alliance ? He, for one, would never indorse any attempt of that kind.
– That is correct.
– The leader of the Opposition has not got a majority now. His majority has gone.
– The honorable member for Perth cannot be “ trapped “ in that way.
– My honorable friend will do what he deems to be right, and I do not care which way he votes, because he will still inspire my respect.
– Let us be thankful for small mercies.
– The honorable member for Perth is not a small mercy, and the Labour Party ought to be proud of him. Continuing, the honorable member is reported to have said -
The labour movement was liberal enough for any one wishing to associate with it, and, so far from there being any advantages in an alliance, there were very grave disadvantages. Was it not a tendency on the part of many supporters of the movement to be enticed away by some red herring across the trail?
Does that refer to the honorable and learned member for Indi?
It might be protection, or it might be freetrade. The so-called alliance never had any vitality, and was doomed from the outset to disruption.
What an unhappy pair of political twins. This is a . pronouncement by one who has been in the nursery.
– That applies to the Ministerial coalition.
– If I were quoting the honorable member for Darling he might say that, but I am quoting a gentleman of a different stamp. The report continues -
It was resorted to onjy as a very temporary expedient -
That is where I do not come in. What is the temporary expedient of this alliance? It is not a matter of public policy. It is a sort of uneasy movement on the part of my honorable friends opposite, for which I have no word of censure, because every man has a right to better himself.
– That is worthy of the right honorable gentleman.
– Surely political ambition is not a thing of which we ought to be ashamed ?
– The right honorable member insinuated more than that.
– My honorable friend does me an injustice when he says so. Surely political ambition is not a dishonorable thing. I have never been ashamed to avow it myself. I have been criticised because I did so, but I despise such criticism. A man in public life who has no ambition has no right to be there.
– There can be such a thing as dishonorable ambition.
– I am not attributing that sort of ambition to honorable members opposite. The honorable member for Perth continued -
It was resorted to only as a very temporary expedient, but there were always within the ranks of the party those who regarded it as contrary to the principles of the labour movement.
Have we not always been told that office as compared with the principles of the labour movement was as dust? Could we deflect these pure unselfish patriots from the path of loyalty to the labour movement for the sake of a vote upon a motion of censure ? Never ! But the voice from within has been heard, at last. Hitherto we have been unable to learn what the caucus really did, but we have always been told what it did not do. Whenever anybody made a statement as to what was done at the caucus meetings of the Labour Party, we were always assured that nothing of the kind ever occurred. Nobody has ever told us what did occur. Now, however, we have a gleam of daylight.
– It must be interesting to the right honorable . member to know that principles exist.
– Continuing, the honorable member for Perth is reported to have said -
Those members felt it was unnecessary and objectionable, and their ideas had at least received the assent of a majority of their colleagues.
– That is incorrectly reported.
– I wanted my honorable friend to follow the quotation. Does he repudiate any other portion pf it ?
– I do not.
– That is a straightforward statement. Now we can understand why the alliance has not been talked about.
– It will be loyally adhered to.
– If the masters of the Labour Party in this Parliament will allow it to be adhered to. I should like to refer to the language of the overtures which were made to the honorable and learned member for Ballarat. We have a letter in the handwriting of the honorable member for Bland dealing with the subject, and I hope ‘that the honorable member for Grey will agree that it is correct.
– I hope that the Prime Minister can decipher the letter.
– It is in print. In the later alliance, which does not seem to have a very healthy existence-
– Does the Prime Minister
– The honorable and learned member is all right. After some years he is at last beginning to see daylight. I wish to quote certain remarks made in a letter written to the honorable and learned member for Ballarat by the present leader of the Opposition. The Labour Party, which pursued its lonely course above the mere adventitious transitions of ordinary politicians who form alliances, has suddenly developed, so far as ‘ politics go, a most amorous condition. There was an approach to the honorable and learned member for Ballarat-
– At his invitation.
– Hear, hear.
– I will take it as the honorable member pleases. There was an approach; but, although the young lady was willing, it did not come off, and now my honorable friend, the leader of the Opposition, finding no one else whom he can embrace, cultivates the melancholy personality of the honorable and learned member for Indi. Instead of this new alliance being greeted with delight by the whole family, there seems to be all the elements of a first class family quarrel.
– Not at all.
– My honorable friend is all right, and so is the honorable and learned member for Indi; but there are other persons who have to some extent to study these matters.
– Does the Prime Minister feel all right?
– The honorable and learned member will have an opportunity to speak later on, and, unfortunately, I shall not be able to reply to him. Let me quote one of the proposals contained in the letter written by the present leader of the Opposition to the honorable and learned member for Ballarat -
Members of the joint party to be supported at the elections after the manner usual in all parties during continuance of an alliance.
That suggested something like a free body of men. But something else has since happened. Let us compare that, which sounds perfectly fair and reasonable, with the humble tone of the arrangement made by the new alliance -
Each to use its influence individually and collectively -
This is where the legal intellect comes in! An ordinary member of the Labour Party could not resort to all these legal subtleties of expression, bred of keen suspicion - with its organizations and supporters, and secure support for and immunity from opposition to members of either party during the currency of the alliance.
The alliance betweeni the Labour Party and the followers of the honorable and learned member for Ballarat was to be free. In that case there was talk of equality, party with party - the usual alliance - and a promise that “ we shall give the usual support.” But even that assurance had to be repudiated. The honorable member for Bland, and the party of which he is leader, were to use their influence over their organizations, but that influence has failed.
– It has failed in that particular part of Australia that concerns the honorable and learned member for Indi.
– It is a “ Rock of’ Ages “ cleft for him.
– Does my honorable friend say that the Political Labour Council of Victoria has not passed a resolution refusing to use its influence in the way referred to?
– No; they say that they will make no promise ; but . that it rests with the branch leagues and not with the central executive to decide the matter.
– Exactly ; so that my honorable friends have still the blessing of areprieve. The fate which seemed to look so black is still subject to possible revision, if the principals do not repudiate the bargain made by the agents on their behalf. I wish to take a somewhat retrospective view, and to show what, in my opinion, makes this alliance - if it be a real alliance
– The right honorable member will find out that it is.
– I desire to criticise it if it be a real alliance ; but there are some who evidently do not believe that it is. I wish the House to look back to the history of the situation which has arisen in connexion with one matter which my honorable friends in the Opposition corner profess to be anxious about - a revision of the Tariff, in the way of helping some of the protectionist industries that are said to be in distress. That is the basis of the alliance which my honorable friends in the Opposition corner have put before the country.’ It is not love of the Labour Party, nor belief in its principles, that has caused them to ally themselves with that party- I do not deny that a large number of their views are in sympathy with those of the party, just as is the case with honorable members on this side.
– Not many Government supporters are in sympathy with us.
– But my honorable friends in the Opposition corner put themselves in the position I have mentioned. It is not ambition ; it is not a desire to injure an unfortunate individual who happens to be in the road - it is not anything of that sort that has led them to take this step. It is a great public necessity. There are protectionist industries in distress, they say, and in order to rescue them they have formed this alliance. Have honorable members of the Labour Party, who, I may say, all their lives long have’ stood loyally by the cause of freetrade, agreed to this compact?
– The right honorable gentleman has left them in the lurch.
– I ask that question, and I think that I am’ entitled to do so.
– Oh !
– The honorable and learned member for West Sydney came to me before the last general election, and I took advantage of our meeting to put some questions to him on a subject which I had to consider prior to the. election taking place. I then asked him, ‘as I was fairly entitled, in a humble way, to do, a certain question.Whatever the support of the Free-trade Party may be worth, we have always given it. to the honorable and learned member in his candidature for West Sydney.
– The Prime Minister knows that he opposed me tooth and nail at the first election at which I stood; but that I was returned in spite of that opposition.
– I did not know the honorable and learned member at that time.
– But I was returned.
– The honorable and learned member was then a perfect stranger to meHow many years ago was this?
– At the elections held in 1894, when the right honorable member himself was almost unknown.
– Cannot I bring my 1 honorable and learned friend closer to the facts of to-day than that? Is it necessary now to make, so to speak, a hurried expedition to the North Pole? I asked the honorable and learned member, as I was entitled to ask him, what was his position with reference to the labour pledges, and he gave me a perfectly fair explanation, saying, “ I am perfectly free on a vote of censure.”
– Touching the fiscal question.
– I understood that- the honorable and learned member meant that he was perfectly free to vote as he pleased on a motion of censure, whatever it might be.
– Oh, no !
– I may have been mistaken:
– The matter has been frequently explained. I told the right honorable gentleman that I was perfectly free, except in regard to a plank in our platform.
– I did not know that a vote of censure was a plank in the Labour Party’s platform.
– A vote of censure might involve a plank in the platform.
– Then the honorable and learned member thinks that the present motion of censure involves a plank in the labour platform?
– It involves the whole of them.
– It, perhaps, involves one of the Ministerial planks. The honorable and learned member very fairly gave, me the information that, on the fiscal question, he was perfectly free to vote according to his views. The honorable member for Canobolas was in the same position. I am not putting it that these honorable members ever asked us for our support ; but I say that they did run, on the fiscal question under the colours of the free-traders of New South Wales.
– They did not refuse that support.
– The statement is not quite accurate, but it is near enough. We could have so run had we wished to do so.
– They were bracketed day after day with our candidates, and I never received any complaints on the subject. That is all I will say. The honorable member for Canobolas was returned unopposed. I am not making any imputations. I feel sure that there is not one free-trader in the Labour Party who has sold himself on the Tariff revision question to the honorable gentlemen in the corner. That is all I say.
– That is funny !
– It is not a bit funny. If honorable members opposite had sold themselves - I do not believe it; I will not believe it for a moment - it would not be funny at all. Now, Mr. Speaker, I am only mentioning that in order to come back to what I consider an outrageous attempt to violate public faith. I say it is an outrageous attempt.
– Say that again !
– I do not think it is necessary ; I am going to prove it. I think it is a matter that concerns the public far more than the question who is to hold office. If people are to be allowed to betray their promises to their electors the electors had better know it. I suppose that the policy of the Deakin party may fairly be quoted from the lips of the then Prime Minister, the honorable and learned member for Ballarat. In the opening speech of his campaign, the honorable and learned member described my attitude by saying that I had greatly come down in my demands. He said that I had asked for a mild Tariff revision, and that “it was only a little one.” Then my honorable and learned friend went on to say that he knew that industries were being injured by the Tariff. So that this is no new discovery which has just been made. It is nothing new. The then Prime Minister said -
Some industries have been destroyed by this Tariff; some others have been injured, and many have not been assisted.
So that the then Prime Minister went before the people of Australia, telling them, “We do not like this Tariff; it has destroyed some industries; it has injured others ; it has not assisted some others ; but, nevertheless,. I say that the policy which I put before the people ‘ ‘-
– He had not the faintest idea of the extent of the injury.
– May I read what the honorable and learned member for Ballarat said before the election? He said -
The clean cut issue, then, in the contest now to be commenced, lies between those who hold with us that what we need is time to adjust ourselves to our new conditions without another Tariff campaign in Parliament. .
What is the Opposition corner trying to bring about? A new Tariff campaign in this Parliament. In the debate on the Address-in-Reply, the three leaders of the House declared the verdict recorded by the electors of Australia, in the following words : -
– The fiscal issue is dead and buried during this Parliament, at all events.
– I recognise that that is the verdict of the constituencies.
– I share the gratification of the Prime Minister that with the last election the issue, as between free-trade and protection, has disappeared for some time to come, at any rate, so far as the Tariff is concerned..
Practically the fiscal issue is dead, at any rate, so far as this Parliament is concerned.
Even Sir William Lyne, in returning thanks at Albury, said -
The fiscal question should never have been raised in this election, because, owing to the stringency of the financial clauses of the Constitution it was impossible to have either protection or free-trade. Whatever party was in power, the only possible Tariff must be very similar to that now in force, and until the expiration of the Braddon clause it was in vain for either party to dream of radical alterations.
I want to go a little further. I have here some quotations from the leading protectionist organ. One was published after the speech to which I have referred. It is contained in a leading article, published on the 30th October, 1903.
– In what newspaper?
– In the Age.
The first and foremost necessity of the time is a truce on the fiscal question.
The word “truce” is used. It was not recognised some months afterwards.
– The right honorable member would not recognise it then.
– I am referring to the attempt made in a certain quarter to deny that they ever used the word “ truce.”
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.
I now give a number of others - 6.11.1903. - The issue is clear enough - Preferential Trade, a White Australia, and Fiscal Peace.
But the issue on which the bulk of the community is divided is fiscal peace or fiscal war_
There can be no longer any doubt about the verdict of the people on this’ fiscal issue. The new Parliament will contain at least a majority of nine protectionists, and a majority of twentynine pledged to fiscal peace. 30.12.1903. - The free-traders, having fought and lost the late election as enemies of fiscal peace, are now putting out feelers for an alliance with the protectionists. . . ‘ . It is much more useful to recall to mind the. true division of parties as they came from the country on the issues fought there. These are -
When Mr. Reid says he does not think the fiscal question can be re-opened, he may be thanked for nothing.
As to the fiscal question, that will be at rest for a few ‘years at least; and for this respite every one will be thankful.
That was published this year ! Now I will pass on. We came out of this contest before the electors as representatives of the people. The then Prime Minister, the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, honorably acknowledged . the issue that he put to the people, and he was gratified, as he might well be, at the fact that an unmistakable majority had responded to his demand for a fiscal truce, and that there should be no Tariff campaign in the new Parliament. Whilst the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, the then Prime Minister, was making this statement, I interjected “ Yes, I must admit that was the decision of the constituencies.”
– Could I be beaten before? That interjection only shows the unhappyposition which a Prime Minister is placed in. I am blamed for having said after the election what could not have been said before !
– What I meant was, that the right honorable gentleman would not accept the truce before.
– Now, Mr. Speaker, I’ think that amid all our personal controversies, something is due in the way of information to the great mass of the people outside, in the light of two statements made by the leader of the Opposition - one at the opening of the House after the election, and the other at Wagga Wagga only a month or two ago. I think I am entitled to ask my honorable friend whether he has promised the honorable and learned member for Indi that he will consent to the re-opening of the Tariff in this Parliament in order to make it more protective.
– I am sticking to the alliance programme.
– There is a fearless public man who always says what he means ! He is sticking to a long document drawn up by a clever lawyer ! I will read what, fhe document says presently, if my honorable friend will resort to a lawyer’s subtleties.
– I will take advantage of my opportunity in reply to say a word or two.
– I shall not have an opportunity to reply then. The leader of the Opposition before the election, in a speech on 12th November, said -
He would not, under any circumstances, be a party to the disturbance of the fiscal peace now reached.
That was a statement made by the honorable member when he was addressing men whom he asked to vote for him on the faith of his honour as a public man. Are members to write out these promises that they intend to keep, and sign and seal them, so that there may be no mistake, as to the promises which they intend to keep, and the promises which they do not? Are not the electors entitled to accept such a statement from any honorable member, especially from a fearless, straightforward member such as my friend has always been? I am absolutely sure that the leader of the Opposition, in making that statement, honestly and honorably meant it; I am not throwing any doubt on that for one moment. When the House met, the leader of the Opposition again spoke, and though I am not quoting his exact words, honorable members will remember that he rejoiced that the fiscal question was dead, for this Parliament at any rate. On the 9th August, not much more than a month ago, the honorable member, as Prime Minister, spoke at the same place, Wagga, where he had given the promise to which I have referred. It is a double promise - a promise made by a man seeking the trust of the electors, and a promise by the Prime Minister of Australia, addressing the men who had trusted him. On that occasion the leader of the Opposition said -
I believe there is no probability of any appeal for the alteration of the Tariff being responded to during this present Parliament.
By the 9th August, we had heard wails of distress from the wailing member for Bourke, who, on a motion for the adjournment of the House, gave us a number of statements about the bad effects of the Tariff. I suppose the Prime Minister had heard that lengthy speech ; but, at any rate, if he was not present, he must have heard something about it, and, knowing of those statements from the corner, he went to his electors and said what I have just quoted. Now I come to this compact. The honorable member will not give me, or rather the public, an answer; I am not entitled to an answer, while the public are.
– The public will get an answer.
– Then I ask the honorable member not to wait too many days, because the public are entitled to the latest information.
– Yes, from those in authority.
– This compact in writing is what the public have got from the honorable member.
Legislation (including Tariff legislation)-
– Read it all.
– Do not hurry me too much. The honorable and learned member may have written this paragraph, and is listening with the pride of a parent. The paragraph is as follows: -
Legislation (including Tariff legislation), shown to be necessary -
– Then why worry over it?
– I am coming to something more important. I am not worrying; it is the honorable member who will worry before all is over. I am beginning the worry, that is all. Those are words which speak to the ear in a double sense. Freetraders champion low duties, because they believe - they may be wrong, but they honestly believe - that a system of low duties helps to stimulate the great industries of Australia. The protectionist takes an opposite view, and thinks that a high scale of duties is necessary to that end. And, as I have said, a free-trader and a protectionist can read that paragraph as having opposite meanings. This is a clever legal document - strictly legal - but it is not the sort of information the public desire. The public do not wish for legal subtleties in matters affecting their vital interests ; they want straightforward declarations. I am not saying that some honorable members have not publicly stated their position, so that there is no doubt where they are. They have made their statements openly to the House and to the country ; and I am speaking now in reference to some gentlemen who do not belong to the Protectionist Party, holding altogether a different political faith on the fiscal question. There is the provision later on in the document, that - ….. Any member of either party may, as to any specific proposals -
– Hear, hear !
– If the honorable member is satisfied with that-
– The right honorable member will be satisfied with the result all right.
– Has not the leader of the Labour Party distinctly told the honorable and learned member for Indi that that party will never vote for the revision of the Tariff in a protectionist sense? Will the honorable and learned member answer that? Has no free-trade member of the Labour Party told him that he will not vote for any alteration of the Tariff in a protectionist sense?
– Now we are in the position that the honorable and learned member has been led by the free-traders in the Labour Party to believe that they are prepared to destroy their principles. This matter may become the sport of these alliances ; but the people outside regard it pretty seriously, because it affects them. I have now the information that the honorable and learned member for Indi, and his friends, have had no sort of communication from the freetrade members of the Labour Party as to their supporting or opposing such an alteration of the Tariff.
– That is not what the right honorable member asked.
– Then I ask that question. I want the honorable and learned member to remember that I am not now troubling about protectionist members, with whom I have no concern, and who are entitled to say and do what they like.
– I shall give the right honorable gentlemen and the country a full statement by and by, but I can say that T understand there will be a loyal adhesion to the terms of the alliance.
– What is “loyal adhesion” to a rope of sand ? What does “ loyal adhesion “ to that compact matter, when honorable members may believe there is a necessity, or may believe there is no necessity, for an alteration?
– -Why call it a “ rope of sand “ ?
– I shall tell the honorable member why - because there is the pretence behind this alliance that it is to bring relief to distressed workers in the Melbourne factories. Surely we need not play with the miseries and distress of the workers in these compacts. Surely, if these compacts achieve the personal end at which they are aimed, there is something behind them as a guarantee that that mischief is going to be dealt with. Will it be dealt with by an agreement like this?
– We shall see whom the people will trust to deal with it.
– I want to know whether the honorable and learned member for West Sydney will trust the honorable member for Melbourne Ports to deal with the fiscal question ? I think he will probably assert his own individuality in the matter. There is another gentleman who is positive and clear in his enunciation - I allude to the honorable and learned member for Darling Downs. When this Parliament met that honorable and learned member, according to Hansard, said -
Another question which has been definitely settled, so far as Queensland is concerned, is that there shall be no alteration of the Tariff.
Here is a trusted representative of the public coming back from his constituents, and placing on the parliamentary records what his commission was, and stating that the decision of Queensland - not of himself, not of his corner - was that “ there shall be. no alteration of the Tariff.” The honorable and learned member further said -
I think the people have declared that it is desirable that until the bookkeeping period has closed we should adhere to the existing Tariff.
That is to say, until 1911. Here we have voices from Victoria, the Prime Minister of the time, of the Melbourne Age, of the late Prime Minister in New South Wales, and in this House, twice repeated; and the voice of the honorable and learned member for Darling Downs, all declaring this public trust and this public decision, arid yet the honorable and learned member for Darling Downs now busies himself with a movement which is either a ghastly deception or is a betrayal of the people of Queensland. Now I come to the honorable and learned member for Indi, who was in the happy position of being returned unopposed at the last election. I think that his good fortune in that respect is not likely to happen to him again. But he is very much to be congratulated upon it, because it is a source of honour to any man to be returned by his constituents unopposed.
I can.not quote an election speech of the honorable member’s, but he knows what it means to stand by and hear a number of men making public statements as to a fact, without- contradicting or correcting them. My honorable and learned friend has been marvellously conscientious and industrious during these four years. If an honorable member ever got up and was guilty of the slightest inaccuracy the honorable and learned member for Indi was swift to correct him.
– I must correct that inaccuracy.
– I shall not quarrel over a trifle of that sort, but I wish to say that the honorable and learned member did not get up in this House and say anything contrary to the declarations to which 1 have referred. I desire to say that while the alleged distresses in the factories were going on, the honorable and learned member for Indi sat on the Ministerial dove-cot like a little dove full of love and good nature. One Government went out and another Government came in, but the little dove was on the dove-cot all the time. Why did not the honorable and learned member tell the late Government, or the preceding Government, about this necessity for Tariff revision? He is not a marionette used by a great daily organ that writes up a number of alarming statements, after which he jumps into the arena. -We know he is not that. We know he is not worked in that way. All I say about the honorable and learned member is this- - and this will not be denied - that for four years he sat steadily in his place, nearly always accepting all the Government said or did, and that, after that period of time, when some one else has come into office, he is suddenly so active that a soldier ant on a gridiron is lazy compared to the honorable and learned member. All at once that dense, philosophic calm, and that dignified complacency which has made him the admiration even of the galleries, are completely gone. There is no more rest for the honorable and learned member for Indi. Everything this Government even thinks of is wrong. Everything it talks of is wrong; and there is no man in this Chamber to-day who is more full of stratagem, and fire, and fury - still somewhat concealedthan is that calm, philosophical follower of past Ministries. The honorable and learned* member has never been accused, even by his bitterest enemies, of an extravagance of rashness or impulse, and he is probably intent on this Tariff revision which he has put before the public- and I believe he is, I believe that that is his motive, however sudden it is, however mysterious it is, still it is there, though it sprang up in a night - I say that the honorable and learned member who stands before the people of Victoria particularly as a man who has formed an alliance in the interests of Tariff revision, and who . cannot tell them that those with whom he is allied are prepared to support him in it, is fooling the people of this State. How do we stand now? I do not think the honorable member for Wilmot is likely to be converted to protectionist doctrines, and I am, therefore, including the honorable member on this point with Ministerialists. We are, therefore, thirty-eight, whilst there are thirty-six on the other side. I presume that my honorable friends opposite, who hold principles absolutely opposed to those of the honorable and learned member for Indi, have not consented to forget them on this question of Tariff revision? There are on the other side, eight honorable members who are, I will not say free-traders, but revenue Tariffists, anti-protectionists, staunch men whom I need not name. They are members of the Labour Party with whom the honorable and learned member for Indi is in alliance, and if only one or two of those eight, or none of them, support him, he can never have his Tariff revision in this Parliament. Is there one honorable member who represents the protection.!ists under the loyal flag, under the flag raised before the elections-
– What colour is it?
– There was no party flag hung up when the chief of protection stood before the people of Victoria.
– He called the right honorable member and his supporters foreign traders in the same speech.
– I should like to know from the then Prime Minister, when he addresses the House, if he does, whether one of these gentlemen remonstrated with him .on the line of policy .he was taking?
– Did the right honorable gentleman remonstrate with him ?
– - If they did they are free. But I say that if any man allows his leader to make a manifesto to the people of Australia, and does not contradict what he says, as to what his course is going to be, he leaves himself in a false position to say the least of it. I wish to refer to this aspect of the question for another reason. Honorable members have heard the derisive cheers when I spoke of betraying a cause. These honorable members who sit so quietly opposite in fiscal peace with protectionists - the honorable member for Wide Bay for example-
– What about him?
– I say the honorable gentleman was sitting in a Ministry with four protectionists, and did any one accuse him of betraying his fiscal creed?
– I never in my life declared a fiscal creed to be greater than the labour movement.
– Then I leave the honorable gentleman out. The honorable and learned member for West Sydney also took his seat in a Ministry with four protectionists, and did any one ever accuse him of betraying his fiscal faith ?
– No, because, as the right honorable gentleman is aware, I am a labour man first, and everything else a long way afterwards.
– But always going straight on the fiscal question?
– The right honorable gentleman does not understand or appreciate what going straight means, on any question.
– I think that before I have done, I shall deal with that observation.
– I hope so. If the honorable gentleman does not, I shall.
– It must be very painful to the honorable and learned member, who sat behind me, with nothing but admiration for eight years of my public life.
– Eight years?
– Eight or ten years.
– I was one of those who took a chief part in throwing the right honorable gentleman out.
– That was afterwards.
– After what? After I had some experience of what the right honorable gentleman was.
– The honorable and learned member might, at least, be fair. Did I endeavour to shirk the fiscal question when we were before the electors? I did not accept the easy part then. I took up the fighting part, and went all round Australia endeavouring to convince the people that the Commonwealth Tariff should be lowered, and lowered in a revenue Tariff sense. But the verdict of the people was against me.
– And yet the right honor- . able gentleman says that there is a fiscal truce.
– The honorable member can see that the truce was not mine; it was a truce made between the protectionists and the people of Australia. I wished to carry on the fight. The electors heard us both, and declared a truce by returning a larger number of members who believed in a truce than were returned to follow me in making a fight. I ask any fair-minded man if, having done my best to carry out the principles for which I have fought all my life - principles which were put into practice in New South Wales when I had the power - if, having done my best to achieve the triumph of those principles throughout Australia, and the verdict of the people being unmistakably against me, I should be accused of treason ; if when I have been overwhelmingly defeated I should be charged with betraying my cause? I wish now to come to that calm and critical intellect, the honorable and learned member for Indi. He made no speeches during the elections, but fortunately he the other day committed himself to a definition of fiscal peace. I am grateful to him for that. I will read two passages from his speech, which occur within thirty lines of each other, and I will ask the House to reconcile them. Speaking of the electors, he said -
They declared that there should be a pause in the great struggle between the protectionists and the free-traders, and that the protectionist flag should still continue to wave.
That is quite true. The Tariff had been passed. It was a protectionist Tariff., and by decreeing a fiscal truce during this Parliament the electors decreed that tha protectionist Tariff should continue as it was, that, in that sense, the protectionist flag should continue to wave. The honorable and learned member in that passage said, not that the free-traders were finally defeated and annihilated, but that there was a pause, that the electors had declared that there should be a pause in the great struggle between the .protectionists and the free-traders. Did that mean annihilation and defeat? Yet fifteen lines above the passage which I have just, quoted the honorable and learned member is reported to have said -
I shall tell honorable members what that fiscal peace meant. It meant this, that the contest in Australia between the policy of free-trade on the one side, and the policy of protection on the other, was decided. There was to be no more struggling as to which policy was to be triumphant.
In the one breath the honorable and learned member spoke of there being a pause between the two great warring camps, and in the next he spoke of the final overthrow of free-trade. How can those statements be reconciled ? In the one breath he said that free-trade was finally vanquished, that it was dead, while in the next he declared that the verdict of the electors was that there should be a pause between the two great antagonists. The latter is the true description of the- circumstances.
– Will the right honorable gentleman kindly read the sentence immediately following the first quotation?
– I will read it all. I had a reason for not being too frank about my authority for the quotation, because I did not know that I should be in order in making it. However, I will read all that the honorable and learned member said about the fiscal peace.
– I do not ask the right honorable gentleman to do that ; it will be sufficient if he reads the sentence which follows the first quotation.
– The speech from which I am quoting will be found on page 4457 of the Hansard report. 1 s I have stated, the second sentence was uttered before the first, but I will now quote .the whole passage. It reads as follows : -
I shall tell honorable members what that fiscal peace meant. It meant this, that the contest in Australia between the policy of free-trade on the one side, and the policy of protection on the other, was decided. There was to be no more struggling as to which policy was to be triumphant. We had erected the standard of protection, and that flag was to fly all over Australia. When the Prime Minister, in Sydney, taunted the protectionists of Australia, and said that they had that “ tired feeling,” and that they dared not raise the protectionist flag before the people of Australia, we dared to do so, and the people supported us.
The honorable and learned member was unopposed. I do not know where he did it. :I did not hear of him speaking anywhere -
They declared that there should be a pause in the great struggle between the protectionists and the free-traders, and that the protectionist flag should still continue to wave.
That is the Tariff. We admit that the Tariff is to continue to wave.
– Will the right honorable member read the next sentence ?
– I ask my honorable and learned friend how can it be said that one army has been totally annihilated if, when the two great armies are face to face, there is a pause? How can one of the armies be destroyed when there is a pause, and no fighting is taking place? The sentence upon which the honorable and learned member relies is this -
But they never said that in this declaration of peace .between two warring camps any details of protection should remain unattended to.
What are the details of protection? The putting up of duties. Is not that the reopening of the Tariff contest? Coes it not strike across a free-trade principle? What did all our fighting over a 10, 12 J, or 1 5 per cent, duty on machinery mean ? Do honorable members recollect the conflict between the two Houses which resulted in a duty of 12 J per cent, being fixed upon as a compromise? What are the details of the Tariff but the determination of the question whether a duty is to be 16, 20, or 30 per cent. ? It does not matter what policy I put before the electors, but it matters what the verdict of the electors was. It matters what the candidates who went before them promised the people. If I had come back with a majority, I should have been bound to fight the battle to a finish ; but I was beaten at the polls, so that I could, not fight it. My honorable friends opposite have remained loyal to their obligations, and to the pledges which they made to the people ; but I do not think that my honorable friends on the corner benches have done the same.
– Before the right honorable member leaves the fiscal question, will he deal with the question of starch?
– That is included in the fiscal truce. But if there is one thing which the honorable and learned member needs, it is a little more starch. I shall probably be attacked for the next two or three weeks to come. That is a luxury of my position, which I must take with the honour attaching to it. But I wish to anticipate one or two of the most unfair attacks which may be repeated, attacks made on the ground of my abandonment of principle. It is so easy to charge a man with abandoning his principles. When I fought the free-trade fight, and was vanquished, I did not abandon my principles in accepting the verdict of the electors. What sensible man would ask honorable members to prove false to their convictions and to their pledge to the electors? That would be an infamous attempt, if I made it, and also an insane one. When I was before the electors I denounced, and I denounce still, that provision in the Post and Telegraph Act under which coloured crews cannot be employed upon the steamers carrying the mails to Australia.
– When is the right honorable member going to amend it?
– I shall give the honorable member my answer ; he will get no quibbling from me. I went all over Australia denouncing that clause. I said then, as I say now, that if the people returned a sufficient number of members to enable me to effect a change, I should bring it about.
– The right honorable gentleman should have made an effort in that direction.
– I have great duties to perform to the people of Australia. Am I to be debarred from public life, because the people of Australia differ from me upon that subject ?
– Or upon any other subject.
– I had run a fair course in public life when the honorable member was in knickerbockers - and, probably, he never could keep them clean.
– That is a statesman-like utterance.
– Little Turveydrop is always worrying. There is another matter that I denounced all over Australia, in regard to which I tried to secure a majority. I am quite in sympathy, as my whole life has shown, with the White Australia movement. Honorable members opposite should not talk about a White Australia policy as if they had invented it. The whole of the party to which I belong, in New South Wales, which was led” by Sir Henry Parkes, passed measures to secure a White Australia twenty years ago, and that party has stood steadily to that policy through all these years. I took a position as strong even as that assumed by the Labour Party with regard to that policy, and I went beyond the Government when the Bill was before us. With regard to employment upon the ocean, however, I say that we have no right to make the oceans of the world white. We should be guilty of the grossest tyranny and’ injustice if we did so.
– We cannot do it.
– We are trying as much as we can. Iri connexion with our mail services there is one little chance of trying to do it. By-the-bye, our friends who will not allow the British subjects of the Indian Empire to be employed on the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company’s steamers are proposing to amend the terms of our land mail contracts in order to permit of our own coloured people being employed in connexion with them. That is surely a very proper thing to do; but under the Post and Telegraph Act the men who owned Australia, or their children, are debarred from performing this work. That is a lovely extreme to push a great principle to. Upon the oceans of the world, which are as .much their property as ours, the coloured subjects of the great Indian Empire should occupy as good a position as any Australian. Now I come to She matter of contract labour. I am. absolutely in sympathy with the intention of the clause as expressed at the time it was adopted. We do not want any use made of contract labour at strike time, nor do we want any frauds or impositions to be practised upon people in distant countries with regard to terms of labour and wages. I am with honorable members opposite upon that point. But it is absurd to say that a man who, instead of coming out here as a pauper, without a prospect, secures a job before he starts, comes out here in shackles. Does that not sound like Tom Mann and Socialism ? The “shackles of wagedom.” These matters have stirred me to the greatest depths, and it has been a source of the greatest disappointment to me that I have not had an opportunity of dealing with them. I have, however, had to put up with the position, and now I have had to form an alliance with gentlemen who differ from me on that point, which I did not consider of sufficient importance - in view of the fact that the people had decided against me - to block the coalition. How can it be said that I have abandoned my principles ? Why is this abuse reserved for me ? ‘I have sat silent for years under a cloud of infamous abuse, involving my own personal honour. Only the other day, the honorable and learned member for Corio published, in the Melbourne Age. a letter addressed to the farmers of Victoria, in which he attacked me personally. He made some reference to my lavish expenditure. Upon that point I may say that during my last two years of office in New South’ Wales the expenditure was less by ^12,000,000 than during the two years following my retirement from office. I shall not, however, touch upon that point.
– The board appointed to inquire into the matter decided that the expenditure was not less.
– I am happy to say that 1 have in my hand a letter from that board, which I shall read to the House. I do not care about the imputation with regard to lavish expenditure, but I do care about the imputations cast upon my personal character.
– I have a letter from the chairman of the board, Mr. Dibbs, in which he says that the right honorable gentleman’s accounts were cooked.
– I only wish to say that tonight I am going to bring evidence before this House and Australia, both inside and outside. The accounts of a great State are not signed bv the Treasurer alone, but also by the higher officials in his Department, and if there has been some dishonest manipulation of the accounts, there is an accomplice in the Treasury.
– They need not necessarily be dishonest manipulations.
– I do not mind statements that do not convey that impression. I shall read the letter of the honorable and learned member, and I shall ask whether any honorable member would remain silent under such imputations.
– Why bother about them ?
– Because other people behind the honorable and learned member have been doing the same thing ; because this poison has been circulated in Victoria with the deliberate object of crippling my usefulness in the great public fight in which I am engaged. In New South Wales, where I am known, where I have lived nearly all my life, and where I have stood before the public all my life, I need not waste my time, because I never stood stronger in the public estimation in that State than I* do to-day. These miserable slanders outside of my own country may run their wicked course, but, in my own State. I am happy to say that I have received marks of the confidence and the respect of the people which I think no other public man in Australia ever received. I shall pass by the matter of lavish expenditure referred to by the honorable and learned member for Corio. I do not care about that, because it does not involve any personal imputation. The honorable and learned member says in his letter -
It is notorious that his accounts were publicly condemned as cooked ; and that a disinterested 8 b board, appointed by the Government, consisting of the general managers of the leading banks in Sydney, supported this criticism by finding that public moneys had been misused, accounts doctored, and balances wrongly applied.
I say that if that were true, I should have no right to stand in any public assembly of honorable men. I have had these things, in a milder form, hurled at me, but never in that form. In view of the use that is being made of these slanders, which are being employed, not to defame me as a man, but to injure me as a public man, I have felt it to be my duty to bring evidence to bear on the subject. I shall first read a letter from the gentleman who was accountant to the Treasury during the whole term of my office. In order to show the standing of this gentleman, I may tell’ honorable members that my successors - I do not know whether it was the Administration of the honorable member for Hume or that of Sir John See - promoted him to the high position of AuditorGeneral of New South Wales. That shows he was a man of high standing.
– Why does not the right honorable gentleman read the finding of the board ?
– I propose to read a letter from the board, with regard to these slanders. I submitted them to the board, and I have their letter signed by ever)’ member. The honorable and learned member’s letter appeared in the Age of the 9th September. The first letter in reply to my inquiries, which I will read, is dated the 13th September, and reads - -
Sydney, 13th September, 1904.
My Dear Sir,
In reply to your favour received this morning, I am pleased to express my opinion, which is formed on my own personal knowledge, that at no time during your occupancy of the Treasury in this State was there any interference on your part, or on the part of any member of your Ministry, with the preparation of the public accounts of this State, and that the balances as published and used by you were as prepared and presented to you by the officers of the Treasury, and were in all respects statutorily correct ; and no suggestion as to any alteration thereof, with a view of showing different results, was at any time ever made to me as accountant for the Treasury -
And I ask honorable members to listen to what follows, because it constitutes the most absolute vindication of all - and also, that the accounts, as subsequently published, exhibited in all and every respect the same figures and results as when they were first laid before you by me, acting as accountant to the Treasury.
That officer was the accountant, who signed every statement which I submitted to Parliament. I shall now read a letter from the Under-Secretary to the Treasury, a gentleman who has occupied that position for many years, and who still fills it. He says -
Treasury, New South Wales,
Sydney, 13th September, 1904.
Dear Mr. Reid,
I am in receipt of your note of 10th inst., and regret very much to hear of the baseless charges levelled against you in respect of your administration of the finances of New South Wales -
I sent a copy of the charges to each of these gentlemen.
– I sent them.
– Surely the honorable and learned member might begin to be ashamed of himself.
The charges could only have been made by persons utterly ignorant of the facts, and also of the terms of the report furnished by the committee appointed by your successor at the Treasury. To your inquiry as to whether you ever suggested, or- endeavoured to do anything at variance with the highest standard of political honour and integrity, I can only answer, emphatically, “No.”
Trusting that you are well, with kindest regards,
Yours, very truly,
Those gentlemen are no longer under my control. They are absolutely outside my sphere of influence. The next letter which I propose to read to the House is from the gentleman who became Colonial Treasurer of New South Wales when the honorable member for Hume quitted State politics and who continued in that office for four years. I vacated the position in 1899, and Mr. Waddell became Colonial Treasurer in 1900, and retained office until 1904. Mr. Waddell says - 14th September, 1904.
Dear Mr. Reid,
Owing to pressure of work, I have got behind in my correspondence, and only just opened your letter, and read the extract which it contains, which you say appeared in a letter in the Melbourne Age of the 9th inst. When you ask my opinion of the statements or charges contained in the extract, I feel bound, in fairness to you, to say that no one is justified in making such charges, and I feel sure that whoever has made them, will, in his calmer moments, withdraw them unreservedly.
Further, as the Under-Secretary to the Treasury tells us, the statement that the report of the committee of leading bankers, which was appointed by the Government, arrived at findings which supported these infamous charges is absolutely opposed to the truth. I wrote to Mr. French, being under the impression that he was chairman of the committee in question.
– Mr. Dibbs was the chairman.
– One would think that the honorable and learned member for Corio was making this explanation. I repeat that I wrote to Mr. French personally, thinking that he acted as chairman of the committee. He informed me, however, that he did not so act, but that Mr. Dibbs was the chairman. He interviewed Mr. Dibbs and Mr. Yarwood, the other members of the committee. Mr. Dibbs, I may add, was the general manager of the Commercial Bank ; Mr. Russell French, the general manager of the Bank of New South Wales ; and Mr. Yarwood was an accountant. These three gentlemen have written me the following letter : -
Sydney, 17th September, 1904.
Dear Mr. Reid,
Referring to your note of 10th inst. to Mr. J. Russell French, covering extract from a letter published in the Melbourne Age, our report, which is referred to, speaks for itself, and should not have given rise to any misapprehension.
In view, however, of the remarks in the extract in question, it is but just to you to state that we made no reflection whatever on your personal honour or integrity, nor did we intend to suggest any improper manipulation of the Treasury accounts by yourself or the Treasury officials, as would seem to be implied by the terms “ cooked “ or “ doctored “ - which appear in the letter.
– Can the honorable and learned member for Corio produce Mr. Dibbs’ letter stating that the accounts were “ cooked “ ?
– I have simply to ask the House to pardon me for introducing this personal matter. I think that every honorable member in the Chamber will feel sufficient sympathy with me - after the infamous slanders which have been circulated against me for so many years - to admit that I should at last take notice of them, not because I need to clear my reputation in New South Wales, or perhaps even in Australia, but because I have the interests of Australia in my hands now, and I do not wish to see any man occupying this position against whom such accusations can be justly uttered. Passing from that matter I should like to point out that there is a statement due to the public of Australia, which I hope will be made by the honorable and learned member for Indi, if not by the leader of the Opposition, as to whether this alliance is a mere piece pf legal network, from which any honorable member can escape, or whether it has a solid business meaning. We are all entitled to know that.
– The right honorable member is very much interested.
– Are we not all interested? Is it not a fair subject for criticism ?
– Is not the right honorable member criticising it?
Mr.REID. - Yes, and I am entitled to do so. If honorable members opposite complain as little as I do, they will not complain very much. I have been accused of engaging in all sorts of intrigues to bring about the defeat of the late Administration in connexion with the Arbitration Bill. There are a number of my supporters here who know exactly the position which I assumed upon that matter. I have been quoted as saying that nobody would receive any black looks from me, if they voted against the Deakin Administration upon that Bill. I wish to explain exactly how that statement came to be made, because it is so easy to quote an isolated utterance without giving the context of it. In a leading article which appeared in one of the great journals of Sydney I was called upon to exercise my authority to coerce my supporters-
– Which the right honorable member would not attempt to do.
– When the right honorable member came to Victoria to enter into an alliance with the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, he said that he would answer for every one of them.
– Because they had accepted it. I must now lift the curtain to explain that matter. I do not in the least mind lifting it. Before I entered upon those negotiations I had sounded the members of my party as to whether they were in favour of my doing so.
– To what coalition does the right honorable member refer?
– To the coalition with the honorable and learned member for Ballarat. I sounded my followers as to whether they were in favour of the adoption of that course. I suppose that was a fair thing to do. They are not cattle, to be bought and sold at Smithfield. When I learned that they were thoroughly in favour of a move of that sort, I felt very great confidence in my dealings with the honorable and learned member for Ballarat.
– Were they unanimous?
– I do not know. They were unanimous at the meeting which was held, with the exception of the honorable member for Dalley, who . did not express any objection to the negptiations.
– I was not in favour of the coalition, but I would not join the Labour Party.
– With the exception of the honorable member for Dalley, all my supporters were unreservedly in favour of the coalition. The night that the article in question appeared, I happened to be addressing a public audience, and I said that I would not influence my supporters in connexion with the Arbitration Bill either one way or the other. Many, including my honorable friend, had pledged themselves to the electors on the question of the inclusion of the railway servants of the States. I said, “ I am not going; to use any such influence at all.” I naturally said, “ If any member is to be deflected from his principles in order to save the Government, why should I be picked out? Why should I be selected to save the Government?” I thought that if anything was to be done in that way my honorable friend ought to set to work among his own followers. ‘ It was foolish to ask me to do such a thing.
– The right honorable gentleman certainly did not attempt to influence the members of his party.
– One or two honorable members of my party asked my opinion ; but I declined to advise them in the slightest degree, either in one way or the other. I can quote one instance of this, which the honorable member for Grey will be able to corroborate. When the party held a meeting at the opening of the present Parliament, I spoke so strongly in support of the stand taken by the then Prime Minister, that the honorable member for Grey rose after I had resumed my seat and Said he wished it to be distinctly understood that honorable members of the party were to have a free hand.
– Was that a caucus meeting?
– It was not, because I am able to tell the House what occurred at it, while a member of tlie Labour Party is never in a position to say what transpires at a meeting of their caucus.
– I told the right honorable gentleman that I could not follow him in his public utterances.
– That is quite true, and no one expected the honorable member to do so. I am sure the honorable member is perfectly fair, and he will do me the justice to corroborate that which I have said - that I expressed my own individual view as being strongly in favour of the position taken up by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat.
– That is so.
– Therefore, so far from there being any of this miserable intriguing, I left my honorable friends - the members of my party- - absolutely free. At a meeting of the party, I earnestly expressed my view in favour of the course taken by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat. How is it that I am singled out for these attacks? I do not think that any other man is picked out in the same way. I merely mention the matter now, because it has been imputed to me that I have been manipulating the votes of honorable members in every possible way. I defy any man to single out one honorable member of’ this House whom I have ever approached since this Parliament met with a view to induce him to vote in any other way than he wished to do.
– How many members of the right honorable gentleman’s party knew that the present Minister of Defence had his support in moving the amendment in regard to’ clause 48 ?
– There was no bond of secrecy associated with the moving of that amendment. This is another pitiable complaint, and it seems to me to be utterly childish. Is this House so constructed that when important matters are to be decided, the proper course is to go into Committee, where a representative of the people is deprived of his vote ? Is it a democratic idea that a vital matter shall be decided when one honorable member is necessarily prevented from casting his vote?
– Does not that frequently occur?
– It is not a democratic idea. This explains the true soreness of honorable members opposite. The true soreness associated with the vote in question was due to the fact that honorable members opposite could not prevent one honorable member from expressing his. honest convictions by putting him in the chair in Committee.
– The least said about that matter the better. Honorable members on the Treasury benches know that that is so.
– The least said the better in the interests of the Opposition.
– I do not complain of it. I think I may fairly say that the present leader of the Opposition took up the position that under our party and parliamentary systems we pushed to its extreme the practice of making questions vital. I believe that has been the objection raised by the honorable member. He has urged that there is too much of this system of party government, and of the lives of Governments depending on questions that come before the House.
– The right honorable gentleman will make nothing vital to the life of his Government.
– May I ask the ex-Minister to allow me, an actual Minister, to make a little Ministerial statement? It is a sore business, but I had to submit to it for four years, and now the Opposition have to undergo the same experience. I merely desire a few months, that is all. The present leader ‘of the Opposition, in referring in the course of his Ministerial statement to the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, made the following remarks, which are to be found at page 1268 of Hansard: -
In September last, when the Bill introduced last session was dropped by the late Administration, I took the stand that they had no right to make a matter of detail a Government question.
In other words, he urged that the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, in standing by, as a vital matter, the position that the extension of the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill to States servants was unconstitutional, and a gross interference with the rights of the States, did wrong, because it was after all only a matter of detail. We see the difference sometimes in the views held by men when they hold positions of responsibility as compared with those which they express when they do not. An honorable member had asked the then Prime Minister, the honorable member for Bland, if he would regard a vote against the extension of the provisions of the Bill to States servants as vital, and, in reply, the honorable gentleman made the statement which I have just read. A little later on, he said -
For my own part, I expressed the view as far back as six or seven months ago that the matter was one of detail, and, therefore, if occasion arises, I shall be free to take any course without going back upon principles already enunciated.
That is my .point. The honorable member took a most liberal view of what was due to himslf . “ You have terrible objections to these clauses ; but they are to be taken as a matter of detail.” That was his advice to the honorable and learned member. for Ballarat. “Do not mind,” he said; “but go on with the Bill.” The scene changed. The honorable member, who advised the honorable and learned member for Ballarat to sink his views of political honour as a Prime Minister, came into office. He occupied the same responsible position, and-
– What did the right honorable gentleman say ?
– This matter has nothing to do with the honorable member, except in so far as he is a listener.
– It has a good deal to do with me.
– I trust that the honorable member will bear with me. I come now to the question on which the late Government shipwrecked themselves. The House will remember that the Committee decided by a majority of five to insert in the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill a provision that the Court, before granting preference to unionists, should be satisfied that a majority in the industry affected was favorable to the making of such an award. The Government said, “ We will ask the Committee to reconsider that decision.” But before they did that .they made the statement that if the Committee would not eat their own words, and go back from, their decision, as expressed in the Bill, the Government would take the view that their services were not required. That was done by the Prime Minister. Yet when we came to the recommittal, consider the view which the Prime Minister took of the difference between what was in the Bill and what was proposed to be put in tHe Bill. He did not think of resigning at first, and I do not blame him for that. If a decision is a close thing there is a tendency that way. Here is what the Prime Minister said when this proposal to recommit was challenged by the honorable and learned member for Corinella -
If anything approaching a majority apply for a preference, the Judge may reasonably hold that they substantially represent all engaged in the industry.
That is to say, if any number approaching a majority applied for preference, the Judge might reasonably know that they represented substantially all engaged in the industry. Then the honorable member went on - the remarks are reported in Hansard, page 4047 -
Under the proposal of the honorable and learned member, the Court could not dispense with rigid proof of the existence of a majority in favour of the granting of a preference, while, under our proposal, if they were reasonably assured of the fact, it would not have to be mathematically demonstrated to them. That is the only difference between the two proposals.
That means there is precious little difference between the two, and that the honorable member’s previous view was absolutely wrong. The Judge, in interpreting a measure of this sort, would not be required to have mathematical demonstration. That would be absolutely ridiculous. The provision must be read in reference to the subjectmatter. Mathematical demonstration would mean a plebiscite all over Australia - in every hamlet in Australia. The thing is absurd. The Judge to be “ satisfied.” meant that he was satisfied from information before him - reasonable information- - that such a majority existed.
– The words are, “ in the opinion of the Court.”
– That is much weaker still. The word “ satisfied “ is a much stronger word. I want to point out that the man who was so careless about the political honour and integrity and independence of his predecessor, was so scrupulously tender about his own as to stake his existence - on what ? Did the honorable and learned member for Ballarat ask the House to undo something which it had done, and state that if it would not undo it, he would resign? Nothing of the kind. He said, “ I cannot allow that to be put in the Bill “ -a very different thing.- His successor said, “It being in the Bill - the House having affirmed it, and decided it - you must stultify yourselves, or we will have nothing more to do with it. ‘ ‘ That is carrying matters, I do not say to an unfair extreme ; I do not, for a moment, say that the honorable member was not justified in doing that - I only say that his views have altered very much since he expressed an opinion on the action of the honorable and learned member for Ballarat.
– The point was a peculiar one. We came into office on this very Bill.
– I wish now to point out the extraordinary circumstance, that before the late Government resigned there was only this one thing upon which they were at issue with the House. But the moment they resigned and I took up the Bill as they left it, they called it a fraud. Well, then, they have been engineering a fraud.
– It is a fraud’ with the amendment of the honorable’ and learned member for Corinella in it.
– May. I take it that the fraud consisted in that? I want to put. it in the fairest way. We will say, then, that what made the Bill a fraud was that alteration. Now I will ask the House and the country to notice where the disinterestedness of these gentlemen comes in, the extent of their democratic principles, and whether their regard is for all the manhood of Australia, and not for a section of it branded “trade unionists.” Because what was this provision? It was a provision singling out a worthy lot of men - a grand lot of men - probably the elite of the working classes of Australia. No matter how good they are, I object just the same. It was picking them out for a judicial administration, favouring one worker at the expense of another. That is the great point on which we say that this is a selfish provision. Fight your battles as you will in the industrial sphere. There is room for all. But when you come to the administration of the public affairs of a nation, and of legislation for the benefit of the whole nation, and the equal administration of public justice, I say that to single out any man for preference is wrong. A number of my honorable friends have gone further than I would go in this matter, but I was defeated. They have taken up a position that, should have satisfied any reasonable trades unionist. My honorable friends said, “ Before this tremendous preference is given - this favour - this preference of one worker over another - we must be satisfied that there is a majority of the men who are agreeable to it.” That was a much milder position than mine. But even that, we are told, makes this Bill a fraud. That reveals the selfishness of the combination, and the power behind it. My honorable friend, the leader of the Opposition, stands here, and makes that speech of his, but does he represent the inner circle of the great labour movement ? He is a gentleman to whose! views we all listen with the greatest respect. From the manner in which he ‘expresses himself, he might just as well be the leader of my party as of the party opposite. But we must look deeper than that. We are not blind to the real operations of the great labour bodies of Australia, Workers do not, as a rule, throw their money away on paid missionaries. They have little enough. They cannot throw their money about much. How is it that this gentleman, Mr. Tom Mann, who preaches rank Socialism and the destruction of private ownership and private industry^
– I say he does; how is it that he is being paid to go all round Australia preaching this extreme form of Socialism? My honorable friends opposite must know that there is a labour organ in Melbourne called the Toe sim. I have not got before me the particular extract to which I wish to refer, but it makes no secret of the policy of the party behind my honorable friend the leader of the Opposition. It means that the State must own all the factories, all the lands, and all the ships. I have here a newspaper, to which the late Prime Minister sent a congratulatory telegram, expressing his appreciation of the educative work which it was doing. That paper is the Brisbane Worker, which has a very large circulation, and of which, no doubt, .honorable members have heard.
– -A good Christian organ.
– I shall read a little of its Christianity. I got this extract in rather a round-about way. I do not happen to subscribe to the Brisbane Worker, but I get newspaper cuttings from the old country. Amongst those received was this, from the St. James’ Gazette, which- had extracted it from the Worker; and it shows how we are “ boomed “ at Home by these organs. This was published in the Worker just a month or two after the Federal election -
Political power has been won in the Federal domain….. The question now is, What next ? and the answer, Economic Revolution.
The wage system holds us as firmly as ever in its vampire clutch. . . . “Wage system!” “Vampire clutch!” No more wages ! All Government salaries.
The great work now awaiting us is the utilization of political power to economic advantages. The vote must be used as a bar to strike the shackles from our limbs.
What fearful slavery there must be in Queensland ! And a Labour Government, or very nearly a Labour Government, is in office ! What a fearful state of things the people of Queensland must have to contend against ! The extract goes on -
The Capitalist State must go. . . . There can be no peace, no happiness, whilst civilization continues to be based upon the system of barbarism - a Master-caste whipping slave-masses to labour for private gain.
That sounds all right, does it not? Just fancy the mild and conservative leader of the Opposition using language like that ! The leader of the Opposition is the right man in this Parliament, but that extract shows the work which is going on outside -
The Co-operative Commonweclth alone is worthy of this age of science and invention.
What does the “Co-operative Commonwealth’ ‘ mean? The destruction of private enterprise, and the destruction of individual liberty. That is the true inspiration of the power behind the labour representatives. There is an ingenious way of working this Socialism. It does not pay to prescribe it too suddenly. The first thing is, as the leader of the Opposition has done, to speak of the evil of monopolies and combines. In that I quite agree with him. We, on this side,’ are as willing as he and his Government were, to introduce legislation to suppress any abuses of that sort. But each individual abuse is made an excuse for the introduction of the thin end of the wedge for the nationalization of the private industries of the country. It is tobacco to-day ; it is something else to-morrow. Senator Pearce, speaking of the full socialistic programme at a public meeting, said, “ We cannot do all this at once; but there are some plums ready for plucking now, and one is the tobacco monopoly.” Those steps towards revolution we will oppose. There are other matters on which I could have spoken, but I shall confine myself to one before I sit down. Honorable members must understand, as was expressed in the basis of agreement drawn up between the honorable and learned member for Ballarat and myself, that our coming together was not under the precise terms of that memorandum. As I say, the honorable gentleman’s supporters did not, as a party, accept the understanding, and it was never subsequently submitted to any other body of members. The policy of the Government is, therefore, a policy which they themselves have put forward, but, of course, in view of the fact that I and the honorable and learned member for Balaclava are in the Government, and were parties to that agreement, and that we have colleagues who assented to it, the result is practically’ the same. But I want to say to the leader of the Opposition that it is absolutely unjust to put us before the people of Australia as if we were indifferent to the interests of the producers - as if we were idle about water conservation or about advertising the resources of Australia in the mother country.
– The right honorable gentleman is merely a different kind of Socialist.
– That is an expression which reveals the difficulty, which I admit, of arriving at a fine distinction. The honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne has evidently seen some reference of mine to Socialism, and it is perfectly true that I believe there are some aspects of what is called Socialism which are absolutely worthy of approval. But I can draw a line, and the difference between the Socialism of honorable members opposite and the view I hold is shown when one of the best principles in the world - when the principle of using the national power for ends of national good - is pushed so far as to convert the whole nation into an army of civil servants, destroying the initiative, the ability, the prospects, the property, and the opportunities of human beings with their intellects - their varying degrees of mental strength. There are some public services, such as those performed by our post-offices, which, we are all agreed, should be a national concern. By the way, some people, including myself, used to look on State railways as another phase of Socialism, but, on closer inquiry, State railways are shown to be an absolute negation of Socialism.
– The right honorable member will come round all right.
– Is the honorable member for Melbourne Ports an extreme Socialist?
– Never mind !
– We only want to know where to place the honorable member, who, after a bit of a fright, has since been out of the rain. I am afraid he will have to come out into the rain again. The taking of the railways from parliamentary control, and placing them under the control of business men, to be’ run as independent business enterprises, is a practical proof of the failure of Socialism as applied to great industrial concerns. There is no Socialism about the Commissioners of Railways. The Tocsins and the Brisbane Workers do not do much with such gentlemen, who work those great concerns on the strictest business principles, beyond the control of the national authority. I want to point out that in the memorandum which was drawn up some months ago between the honorable and learned member for Ballarat and imyself, my attitude and his, with regard to those matters, was stated with perfect clearness. I should like to read some extracts on the question of old-age pensions, for instance -
It is highly desirable that a uniform system of old-age pensions throughout Australia should be adopted as soon as possible, and that steps should be taken to accomplish this in co-operation with the States.
I do not know whether the leader of the Opposition has seriously thought this matter over. He says to the States, “ If you will not join us we shall go on without you.” Are we going to raise£4,000,000 through the Customs, in order to get £1, 000,000 for a national old-age pension system ?
– Why not a land tax?-
– Now we understand where the money is to come from. I am very glad to have this disclosure. I understand now where the millions are to come from.
– I am a free-trader.
– The honorable member is a very free trader. He will take anything he can lay his hands on.
– That is in accord with the free-trade system; we do not agree with it.
– There is no secrecy about the policy of the party to which the honorable and learned member for Indi belonged for many years. The honorable and learned member has not suddenly changed his coat on that policy ? Honorable members who followed the Barton Government and the Deakin Government for three or four years were pledged to the declared policy of the party, that, so far as the. Federation was concerned,we should raise taxation only through the Customs.
– Is that a free-trade idea?
– Indirect taxation - Customs and Excise.
– Just so, Customs and Excise. That policy was also, with equal publicity, announced by myself as the leader of the other party in the Commonwealth at that time.
– As leader of the Freetrade Party?
– Yes. The view I took was that in matters of land and other direct taxation every State should be left to work out its own policy as it pleased.
– The right honorable gentlemen could not expect every freetrader to subscribe to that.
– Perhaps the honorable member will permit me to answer one question before he asks another. What I desire to say in reference to that is that we all agree that the national taxing power should be used through the Customs House, and that all direct taxation should come through the powers of the States Parliaments. That would leave the people of each State to work out their own system of direct taxation for themselves, and if there were a majority in a State in favour of a land tax there would then be no obstacle in the way. But it was felt that it would lead to immense confusion if we were to attempt to raise direct taxation, and for many years to come. So far as I am concerned, I think it will always be better to leave to the States their individual freedom to work out their own destinies in this respect, and that the Federation should use the national power of taxation through the Customs only. But now we can understand the levity with which our honorable friends opposite look forward to flouting the States in reference to this question, which particularly affects two of them. There are two of the States in which already laws have been passed relating to old-age pensions.
– They are charity doles.
An Honorable Member. - They are rotten laws.
– Still they are laws, and that is all I said. I said that they were laws, but I did not say the precise condition of preservation which they are in. There are such laws in New South Wales and Victoria, whilst none of the other States have passed such’ legislation. Now, if we had a friendly conference with the Premiers of those States’ we could get their authority to bring this system in without raising£4,000,000 through the Customs when we require only£1,000,000.
– In that the right honorable gentleman agrees with us.
– I do not mind agreeing with the honorable and learned member sometimes, but I point out that I expressed that view years ago. I said that it could not be done through the Federation, but my honorable friend representing the Opposition now says, “ We do not care what the States say, we will have it.” The honorable member does not mean to oppress the people by raising ^4,000,000 when only _£:r, 000,000 will do. The honorable member has not become editor of the Tocsin yet, but he will get his .£1,000,000 out of direct taxation. I admit that we are getting daylight in connexion with this matter. The honorable, and learned member for Indi thought he had made a tremendous point in a criticism recently of the terms of the memorandum drawn up by the honorable and learned members for Ballarat and Balaclava, in conjunction with the honorable member for Macquarie and myself. We agreed on this -
The Tariff ,not to be altered in any respect during the present Parliament without the consent of both parties in the Ministry.
My honorable and learned friend professed to look upon that as an admission that we could alter the Tariff. But that is simply ratifying the truce which both admitted had been declared, instead of a provision giving liberty to break it. Just fancy our wing of the party agreeing to bringing in protective duties ! There was another understanding - concerning preferential trade. We took up a position which is most excellently expressed by the Melbourne Age, of 30th October, just after the speech delivered by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat. The Age said -
But on this point there is no need whatever for Australia to leap before she comes to the fence. Details at this stage are premature. Mr. Chamberlain may not succeed in his mission.
That looks very likely just now.
That is a matter which rests in the future. Should he carry the mind of England with him it cannot be done for the next twelve months. Therefore, any overtures from Australia would be completely out of place. . . .
One thing is certain, the protectionists will never permit the preferential Tariff to undermine the Federal policy of protection.
– Hear, hear.
– That is right; let the English people know that. That will be another encouragement ‘ to them to agree to a tax upon food.
– The English people do know that.
– The Age further said-
Mr. Chamberlain has distinctly stated he is satisfied to work on that basis. Mr. Deakin’ s preferential policy is crystallized in a sentence.
Everything is crystallized in an Age leader - “ Great Britain must make the first move.” That is the sound position to assume.
We all assume it; but because I agree with it I am the enemy of the Australian farmer ! Since that article was written another obstacle has occurred. The Imperial Government has categorically rejected the policy of taxation on food and on raw materials. The piesent Imperial Government has distinctly said that that is no part of its policy. Is not this new anxiety about preferential trade more an attempt to create mischief, than anything else? The fact is, that my strong objections to preferential trade are from the point of view, that it would be most seriously injurious to the Mother country herself. I believe that if the Mother country were to adopt that policy, she would be injuring herself in a most- serious way.
– Would it be beneficial to Australia?
– I expressed these views only the other day. Before I became Prime Minister, I was asked to send a contribution to a book which is coming out on Mr. Chamberlain’s life and projects, and in the article I contributed, I expressed in the strongest way my belief that it would not be a good thing for the people of England.
– Will it benefit Australia?
– If the people of England come to the conclusion that it will be a good thing for them - and I admit that they know a little more about the matter than I can pretend to know - and if they do come forward with proposals, as I have already said, their proposals will receive from this Government as fair consideration as they could receive from any Government. But if it comes to a point at which I have to choose between adhering to and surrendering my views on fiscal questions, only one thing can happen. If any emergency occurs, and we are unable to come to a reasonable view on any matter of moment which arises, we must be prepared to give our honorable friends opposite a chance. But we are not going to make troubles out of things that are in the future. We are not going, in an unbusinesslike way to create points of discord. Our enemies wish us to do that. ‘They wish us to muddle public affairs; to do everything at the wrong time, and in the wrong way. We are here, not to oblige them, but to do our best in the public interest. I think I fairly represent even honorable members who do not belong to the party, which I lead, when I say that if the fiscal question had remained for this Parliament to deal with, it would have been impossible for us to come together. The people, however, removed that question from this Parliament, and the main bond of union between us is this : We are absolutely opposed to the political methods of the Labour Party, and to the authority which their organizations have over members of Parliament, and we are absolutely opposed to their extreme socialistic designs. It is very easy for newspapers in Australia to publish articles, such as that which I have read, and which are republished in the great newspapers of the Empire; but I wish honorable gentlemen to recollect that these revolutions which undermine the security for property and enterprise, these threats of turning our industrial system upside down, come at a bad time. They help to aggravate the state of unrest and of want of confidence which is paralyzing the industrial expansion of Australia. Labour’ Socialists talk of a time to come, when the workers will all be happy, when they will all be employed in a Government factory ; but attempts to carry such views to a violent extreme - an extreme which makes the very basis upon which property, enterprise, and labour rest insecure - are the worst things that can happen for that great mass of the workers who have to live by the expansion of industry under conditions of confidence and trust.
– I wish to make a personal explanation. The Prime Minister read amongst other things., the following passage, from the report of an address which I delivered in Melbourne, on Sunday night : -
Those members felt it was unnecessary and objectionable, and their ideas had at least received the assent of a majority of their colleagues.
It is evident that the word “ majority “ slipped in’ accidentally. The passage should read -
Their ideas had at least received the assent of a minority of their colleagues.
Otherwise, the report is substantially correct.
– The Prime Minister, at very great length, essayed the task, that he himself declared at the outset to be ridiculously easy, of replying to the leader of the Opposition. So far as I was able to gather, the right honorable gentleman made a very ineffective reply. Even now, after having had an opportunity of going over in my mind what the right honorable gentleman said, I am at a loss to know his objective, or how nearly he approached it. He did, indeed, during one period of his address, declare the difference - or what he thought to be the difference - between his party, or that heterogeneous collection of gentlemen who now form his party, or permit themselves to be so called, and honorable members on this side of the Chamber. Beyond that his speech was a very general resume of those very fruitful and interesting criticisms to which he has treated the country for some months past.
– For some years past.
– Of course there comes with each succeeding address a certain amount of delicate adjustment to existing circumstances that serves to stamp the right honorable gentleman as an artist of the very first rank. He has not failed on this occasion to put on just that particular delicate shade of colouring which is perhaps necessary under the circumstances, and which marks the difference between the occasion of to-day and that of, say three weeks ago. He stated that the ‘ leader of the Opposition had made no definite complaint against the Government. I should like to know what he means by a definite complaint. He said we ought to have formulated in detail reasons for displacing him. Have we not, from the very inception of our movement, ten or twelve years back, formulated the reasons for dislodging such a Prime Minister as the right honorable gentleman? He stated also that he had received support from me for eight years, and of course he meant that he had also received support from other men who, like myself, have been members of the New South Wales Labour Party, and now sit in this House. Yes, he did receive - not for eight, but for five years - the unswerving support of men like myself, who gave him their assistanceso long as he was marching, no matter at what pace, along the broad high road of democracy. When at length, slumbering in the pleasant shades of the banyan tree of office, he was too long inactive, we put him out, and we sat behind another gentleman, upon whom I am sure the right honorable gentleman has never, during his life-time, passed one word of eulogy. In that, at least, the riight honorable gentleman has been consistent. We transferred to the honorable member for Hume the support that we had given to the right honorable gentleman. In detail then we object to the Government, because it stands for everything we detest and mortally hate. What more detail does the right honorable gentleman require? That is not a general charge - it is a specific charge. I see the right honorable member for Swan - all of whose ducks and geese are swans - assuming a content which I am sure he does not feel .
– How does the honorable and learned member know that ?
– In the adjustment of the political kaleidoscope, the right honorable gentlemarfs expectations have not been fully realized.
– That is nonsense.
– But it is not all, for the exigencies of political circumstance have compelled the Prime Minister even to throw obstacles in the way of other laudable ambitions of the right honorable gentleman. Honest ambition, we are told by the Prime Minister, is a most excellent quality in a politician, provided it is an ambition that suits the purpose of the right honorable gentleman; otherwise it is anathema, and is to be crowded out. For what does the right honorable gentleman, the member for Swan, stand, when he forgets that power to which he himself bent very readily indeed in Western Australia, and under which he subdued his fiery spirit for three years in this Parliament, never letting us know - except occasionally - that he was opposed to us ? For what does1 he stand when he comes out in his true colours ? I assume that when there is nothing further to be gained by dissimulation, the right honorable gentleman does come out in his true colours. Does he want to know why we are opposed to him? Does he want to know in detail why we object . to the Government? We object to the Government because of their abandonment of principle, and particularly because they stand for everything that we are here to oppose and denounce.
– The honorable and learned member is no doubt a great patriot. Doubtless he has shown, it. all his life, and has done some public good.
– I notice that the Prime Minister, since his recent elevation, has found it necessary to make a number of remarks about his high and responsible position. Well, it is a high and responsible position, but he has not been, so long in it that it need have altered his whole nature, and the recognition of his great responsibility should not relieve him from the. duty of explaining to the country why he is occupying his high and responsible position. Is the fact that he occupies that high and responsible position to be sufficient for the people of this country, and are they to accept that fact in lieu of a policy? A high and responsible position is an excellent thing; but what about his high, and responsible policy? What is his policy? The right honorable gentleman said that the honorable member for Bland had taken exception to the fact that he had not outlined his policy for the next session. I am astonished at the honorable member for Bland. The right honorable gentleman outlined the whole of his policy for this Parliament, and for as many other Parliaments as he shall lead. Briefly, his policy viewed from one aspect, is a movement, in rapidity excelling all the most uptodate engines of science. It is a movement towards recess, towards that beautiful oasis in the desert of politics that the right honorable gentleman appreciates so much, and which he does not hesitate to dangle before his own supporters, and also before the weary sojourners on this side of the Chamber for all it is worth. On the one hand he directs our gaze to the beauties of recess, and on the other points to the danger of doing anything to this Government, for he threatens us with a dissolution, if we attack them. Only last week, or the week before, he said . that he wished to intimate at once that any movement upon our part to upset this delectable Government before it had got its second wind, would bring about an appeal to the country. Here was his first exhibition of statesmanship. He came into office to restore responsible government, to bring about majority rule, and to exorcise from politics that condition of things which hampered the free expression of individual opinion. This was to be the battle-ground upon- which every man, without fear’ or favour, without any cracking of the party whip, or . blowing ‘of the party horn, was to be able to say wha’t he thought, and to vote as he pleased. Yet he was not in office twenty-four hours before he declared that if we dared to do anything hostile to the Government, there would be a dissolution of the House. He speaks of his consistency in regard to his beliefs. I wonder whether he really believes his own statement. He asserts that if we dare to attack the Ministry, we shall bring about a dissolution. What did he say in 1899? He may remember the occasion to which I refer, when the honorable member for Hume, I presume he will say, was permitted by a jaundiced Providence, to occupy that sphere which he himself had ornamented so magnificently. I will tell the House what the Sydney Daily Telegraph reports him as having said then, and surely it cannot be wrong. Upon the 13th of September, 1899, it published this statement -
After making all the illegitimate use of the dissolution whip that he possibly could while his own turn was to be served by it, Mr. Reid -
Can this really be the Sydney Daily Telegraph ? - now hastens to deprecate the possible resort to any such tactics on the part of Mr. Lyne in any future emergency. There is a somewhat comic suggestion of over-anxiety for constitutional rectitude in a protest of this kind addressed to an incoming Premier, with an almost two to one majority. “ There is,” says the ex-Premier, “ no sort of personal or inherent right to a dissolution on the part of any Government or any Ministry.”
I hope that he will take that advice to heart. It is the teaching of a constitutionalist, which he may well accept - Reid upon Reid. Now the right honorable gentleman wishes to know why we are opposed to the present Government - he who assumed office to restore freedom of debate and freedom of personal opinion. Why? Because in his very first act he threatens the House with a dissolution. That threat will not frighten honorable members upon this side of the Chamber, although it may intimidate some of those who sit behind him. He states that it is impossible to formulate a great national policy in a few minutes, and that he and his colleagues have too much sense to attempt anything of the kind. Certainly he has too much sense to do anything that will obstruct his smooth and easy path to recess. When once he got there all would be well. There he is. He stands for recess, and all that recess means, and with one solitary exception in his political career he always has stood for it. Again he declares that the leader of the Opposition did not supply him with’ any information in respect of the LabourLiberal alliance. He is very anxious to learn something about that alliance. His chief anxiety is to learn whether it is an alliance de facto or merely de jure. If it be an alliance which exists only in the mind of a certain constitutional lawyer - that alert intellect which he seems to dread a good deal - he will be very well satisfied, but if it be de facto an alliance, he will be very much annoyed. However, he may take heart. The explanation is abundantly simple. It is to be found merely by glancing at this side of the HouseHere is to be seen the Alliance. It is de facto - and de jure, if the right honorable member so chooses to regard it - an Alliance which, at any rate, will be effective, so far as he is concerned, upon all occasions. It has, amongst the other bonds which unite it, one invincible and ineradicable determination, and that is to remove him from the Treasury bench. The right honorable gentleman came into power to restore responsible government. To whom or. to what is he to be responsible ? He is not to be responsible to this ‘House, because almost the first announcement which he made, good, careful man that he is, was that he did not intend to be defeated by a flank attack. We could not come any of that sort of business with him. We should require a charge of dynamite to shift him.. Certainly nothing in the way of a mere detail of a Bill would move him. He said that he objected to the late Government resigning office upon a mere detail, and that he could not understand the chivalrous conduct of the honorable and learned member for Ballarat. It hurt the feelings of this; broad-minded gentleman, who, during his; term of office in New South Wales, never did sucH a thing. He continued in office for five years, and notwithstanding that details which other men might have regarded as principles went toppling about his ears, nothing happened. He remained as calm as possible. When the present leader of the Opposition moved in the New South Wales Legislature, in regard to the-. Local Government Bill, which the right honorable gentleman introduced, that one vote should be given to each elector, and not fourvotes to one elector, he took his stand uponthat measure like a man, and threw it under the table - he who came in with a garland: upon his brow - the chap to save the country -and whose cry upon one dramatic occasion, was “ Turn the fossils out,” referring- to members of the Legislative Council, whose only offence was that they adhered to their principles and were sold. From every balcony in New South Wales he frantically appealed to the people to give him an opportunity to wipe out of existence the Legislative Council of that State, or else to place him in the position of being able to shove down the throats of its members the principle of land values taxation. Although honorable members would never think it, the right honorable gentleman achieved what reputation he enjoys in New South Wales by an appeal to the people to take away the rights of private property. Can we imaginehim, the chosen champion of the Property Owners’ Association, actually desiring to put his sacrilegious and iconoclastic hand upon private property ? He went to the country for the purpose of obtaining a mandate to tax land values, and came back with an enormous majority made up, I may say, of the members of the Labour Party. He came back with that majority, and the ‘ Upper House insisted upon knocking out the exemptions which he had inserted in the Bill to capture the vote of the small man. Then my right honorable friend - this stickler for principle - backed down, obedient to the will of the Upper House, and absolutely ate his words, and swallowed the enormous mouthings of principle in which he indulged when before the people. Such is the record of the right honorable gentleman for responsible government and majority rule !
– And still the honorable and learned member and his party supported me all the time:
– We supported the right honorable gentleman simply because he was the only man we could find a’t the time to do anything at all for us. He’ derived what power and opportunity he had in New South Wales from our support.
– Surely not altogether?
– The right honorable gentleman never, in the whole course of his political career, held office in New South Wales for twenty-four hours, unless the Labour Party kept him there.
– Absolutely untrue.
– Will the Prime Minister please withdraw that statement?
– Certainly, Mr. Speaker. I shall say that the statement is absolutely incorrect.
– In the New South Wales Parliament of 1894 he had a majority which, as I have already mentioned, was made up of three members whose1 votes never went on his side during that Parliament - men who were his most bitter personal as well as political opponents.
– I have even now a number of such opponents.
– - Those men principally opposed the right honorable member .because the Labour Party supported him.
– What has that to do with the matter?
– If the honorable and learned member cannot see what bearing my remark has upon the subject he must be verv dense.
– The honorable member for Parramatta may as well attend to his own little shortcomings, and leave the right honorable gentleman to look after himself. He is well able to do so.
– I shall also attend to the honorable and learned member.
– The Prime Minister, who came into office to restore majority rule and responsible government, never held office, with the exception of a few months which I have mentioned without our support. Even during those few months he held office because we fought for the same principle. And yet he speaks of coming into power to establish majority rule ! He has come in with a majority of two, and he is afraid to-night that that majority has dwindled away to nothing. When one honorable member incautiously pinned’ his card to a seat on the Ministerial side of the House, the Prime Minister said, “ My majority has gone up 100 per cent.” How much has it now gone down ? Two hundred per cent. He wishes to know why we oppose his Government. Let me tell him. I hold that we have a right to oppose a Ministry that came into power to restore responsible government, and has evaded all responsibility by crawling on all fours ever since. We have a right to oppose a Ministry which came in to restore responsible government, but whose first public announcement is that it is not going to be put out of office until it is pulled out with a block and tackle. When I made an interjection a few nights ago about responsible government, the Prime Minister replied. “ There is no rule without an exception.” The right honor- able gentleman is made up of exceptions, and so is his Ministry. Yet he has come in to restore responsible government.! He came into office once before, in the Parliament of New South Wales, to take the burdens off the shoulders of the poor. He did a little in that direction, and has never done anything since. The right honorable gentleman is very anxious to know something about the new alliance. A complete statement of its principles, and the terms upon which it united, has been published, but I desire to say that it has something better even than that to recommend it. It is an alliance of men who, so far as principles, excepting fiscalism, are concerned, are absolutely united. The members of the alliance believe in the same principles, and what is more natural than that men who are agreed upon essentials should combine? The Prime Minister desires to know what sacrifice of principle is involved. Let me deal with that question. I take the honorable member for Melbourne Ports. He is a protectionist, and has never hesitated to declare that he is. I am a free-trader, and no one will deny that, when I have stood on the free-trade ticket, I have always done my part in the advocacy of free-trade. I am so much a better freetrader than is the right honorable gentleman that, unlike him and the honorable member for Lang, I am in favour of resorting to land values taxation. The honorable member for Lang is opposed to land values taxation.
– The honorable member for Lang will speak for himself.
– The honorable member surely cannot be the “ Mr. Johnson “ who spoke the other evening at the Henry George celebration. He cannot be the honorable member for Lang, who delivered an address on “ Henry George and land values taxation,” and the Prime Minister, who is opposed to land values taxation, surely cannot be the man who, in 1894, stumped New South Wales in favour of that principle.
– He is.
– These honorable members now talk of free-trade. My record, as a free-trader, will bear favorable comparison with that of the Prime Minister, and the record of the honorable member for Melbourne Ports as a protectionist will bear favorable comparison with that of the Minister of Trade and Customs.
– It is much better.
– On every point, except fiscalism, I venture to say that the honorable member for Melbourne Ports and I are perfectly in accord.
– Then why did the Labour Party oppose him at the last election?
– I am just about to deal with our methods. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports says that he does not approve of our pledge; but on the broad principles which underlie our platform he and I are agreed. There is, therefore, nothing more natural than that, in the face of these serried ranks of honorable members opposite who have abandoned every principle, we should join our forces. We have before us the honorable member for Parramatta, hand in glove with the honorable member for Kooyong, and the sworn brother of the honorable member for Flinders. The honorable member for Parramatta also finds a particular friend in the honorable member for Corangamite. And so the list goes on. What more natural in these circumstances than that we, who believe in the same principles, but are not quite agreed as to the method of attaining those principles, should now band ourselves together, stimulated, and, indeed, compelled to do so, by the combination that we see on the Ministerial benches, consisting of honorable teembers who have abandoned every principle of which they have for a long time declared themselves in favour, and who apparently have no set principles, except a desire to get into recess as quickly as possible, and to evade the consequences of their treachery and misdeeds. When we compare the alliance with the coalition we find in our ranks no such divergences of opinion as are represented by the honorable and learned member for Parkes, and the honorable member for Lang.
– The honorable and learned member for Parkes is a better judge of democracy than is the honorable and learned member.
– The honorable member’s idea of democracy is a remarkable one.
– If, as I understand, the honorable member for Lang regards the honorable and learned member for Parkes as an ideal democrat, it would ill become me to disturb such a pleasing belief. All that i have to say is that, as the honorable and learned member for Parkes has been throughout his political life bitterly opposed to everything that the honorable member for Lang has permitted a longsuffering country to believe he insisted on, either one or the other cannot be a democrat. They cannot both be democrats, and I shall leave them to settle the delicate question as to which of the two is. The right honorable gentleman at the head of the Government is not a Socialist, or at any rate he is only a kind of “ so-so Socialist.” He is in favour of Socialism as long as it does not interfere with the exercise of individual freedom. He does not mind how far the Government and the nation go in restricting individual liberty. That is to say, so far as a straight line is a straight line, and can be made straight without curves he is in favour of straight lines, but when it comes to corkscrews - when it comes to circles - he altogether objects to straight lines. When we have a clear, definite, and unambiguous statement of that kind, no man can be under any misapprehension any longer. My right honorable and learned friend at the head of the Government, says he is opposed to Socialism. He says, “Restrict human liberty only so far as is necessary ; but I will go no further “ ; and he does not even go so far ! But what is the position of the honorable and learned member for Parkes? He, at any rate, is logical. His position requires no defence. By right of his opinions, he takes his position on the Government side of the House. He is opposed to our party, because he is a Spencerian, who believes to the very uttermost in individual effort, as opposed to State aid, or governmental effort. He believes in the “ survival of the fittest ‘ ‘ without qualification. He believes in no public libraries, no State-owned tramways, no public baths or washhouses, no municipal effort. He stands as a clear individualist, without any sort of kink or reservation. Mv right honorable friend, the leader of the Government, has never dared to oppose State railways or State tramways. He is in favour of doing anything that he can do towards assisting individual effort, when it can be done without affecting individual liberty - and above all, can be done without risking his position upon the Treasury bench. Here, then, is a combination - the right honorable gentleman at the head of the Government, the honorable and learned member for Parkes, and the honorable member for Flinders, who stands, I suppose, as the living embodiment of individual effort. He, however, is at least not so consistent as the honorable and learned member for
Parkes. As the leader of the Opposition said this afternoon, he is not one of those anti-Socialists who want everything done for them by the State, but refuse to allow the State to do anything for anybody else. The head of the Government says that one of the reasons why he is opposed to us is, that we stand for class legislation. I would ask the honorable member for Flinders, when he has time to get this idea thoroughly into him. I should like him to tell the House what he calls class legislation. Is it not class legislation to give to one section of the community aids in the direction of butter bonuses, assistance in the way of irrigation, and cheaper freights, and greater opportunities for displaying their goods in the markets of the world, and otherwise? Are not all these things advantages for a class? It is very necessary that they should be done - very desirable. And I stand by everything that the leader of the Opposition said on this subject. I desire that these people should get all these things, but not that they only should get them. I desire that some other sections of the community should get similar advantages. So that we are not for a class, as the head of the Government and the honorable member for Flinders and others are for ‘a class ; but we are for the whole nation. That is our position. We are opposed to this Government, that has come in, according to one of its leaders, to oppose Socialism, to restore responsible government, and to fight against class legislation, but which has behind it the Property Owners’ Association. What is a property owner? How does he differ from an ordinary man? We stand for men - for citizens - not for property owners. Every man and every woman is not asked whether he or she has any property, on wishing to join our associations. We do not ask whether they have “ a stake in the country.” It is sufficient for us that they are men and women. That is all that we want to know, and we are here to help them. If they are down-trodden and suffering an injustice we are ready to help them. So much for class legislation, and now for another matter. My right honorable friend came in to abolish third parties - or at all events, one of the heads of the combination did. I give the Prime Minister credit for this - that he does not stand here to abolish anything that will abolish him. It so happens that the abolition of third parties would destroy my right honorable friend. Therefore, he is opposed to their abolition.
– Honorable members opposite, of course, came in to abolish themselvespoor disinterested people !
– The right honorable member for five years in New South Wales lived by virtue of a third party. To-day he is quite consistent to his old belief and opinions. He is living by a third party, or, for aught I know, by a third and a fourth, party. There is one party who stand by themselves - that solid phalanx of men who represent people who have a “ stake in the country,” men of solid and prosperous appearance, who are so different from us wretched Cassiuses. We are not sleek, fat-headed men. I am sorry that we are not. The honorable members to whom I refer are such men as Caesar would have desired to have about him -
Let me have men about me that are fat, sleekheaded men, and such as sleep o’ nights;
They sleep o’ nights, while other poor devils perhaps cannot sleep by virtue, it may be, of some of the laws which these gentlemen are going to oppose or introduce. We are asked why we oppose this combination. What is the position that the honorable and learned member for Ballarat occupies in this interesting coalition? Where is he? He does not believe in the policy of the coalition Government to the extent of joining it. He believes that the coalition is a jolly fine thing, but he will not become a member of it. His statement about it is very much like the advice given by certain people - “Go on the land; cultivate the soil”; b’ut who will not go on the land themselves, and who would never cultivate anything more than a geranium in a flower-pot. The h’onorable and learned member for Ballarat says that he is opposed to our party, because we are over-organized, because we are dominated by machine politics, and because we are controlled by caucuses of men outside Parliament. He desires to re-establish responsible government, and so he gives his support to a Ministry which comes in to restore responsible government. How gratified he must be at their early movements made in that direction ! I feel sure that he sheds tears of joy to see the herculean efforts of the Prime Minister towards that end. The honorable and learned member for Ballarat went out of office because he considered that third parties were obnoxious. He must be highly pleased with the result of his action. He is followed by a small and rapidly diminishing band of faithful men who will not go into the ordinary room which the followers of the Government use, but go into a little room of their own. If the fates are as kindly to them as they have been, the honorable and learned member will soon be able to put his party into a piano-box or a packingcase. He started out with a party of some fifteen or sixteen, or more. They are down to some six now. Some of them sit opposite; some of them are with us. None of them . are dead, I hope ; but at any rate there are very few left. Some have been seduced by the siren’s voice of the half-head of the MinistryThere they are - two of them - no, there are three, and they have accepted the advice of the right honor: able gentleman, and gone into the thing thoroughly. They have trampled on their scruples, and they have forgotten their little remarks to their electors. Some were not asked to join the Ministry, and the iron has entered into their, souls ; and with the faithful leader of the party, who believes in the abolition of third parties, they have. gone into a little room of their own. And if the honorable and learned member for Ballarat says to-morrow that black is white will the right honorable gentleman at the head of the Government say that it is not? The Government is absolutely at the mercy of that eloquent, inconsistent, and ingenious gentleman who set out to destroy a third party by the extraordinary expedient of establishing four, and who restored responsible government by putting in a Government which denounced the late Government because it had a “ crawling “ policy, and has substituted a policy of crawling away with tremendous energy and towards the lettuce of recess. The honorable and learned member for Ballarat .is in favour of the abolition of third parties ; arid I want to know what party he is leading now - the second party, the third party - or the fourth party? At. any rate, he will not acknowledge such men as the honorable member for Kooyong, the honorable member for Flinders, the honorable member for Corangamite, or the honorable and learned member for Wannon.
– Why not?
– Why not? Ask me not why not. Ask the honorable and learned member for Ballarat. I think that this refusal of recognition gives the honorable member for Corangamite a legitimate ground for complaint against the honorable! and learned member for Ballarat. Are those gentlemen- illegitimate followers of the honorable and learned member, that he will not acknowledge them. Why the honorable and learned member will not acknowledge them I do not know. Perhaps the room will not hold any more. A humorous effort was made by a newspaper a little while ago, when it said that only seven gentlemen attended the alliance meeting. How many followed the honorable and learned member for Ballarat into that little room? And who leads that other combination of righteous souls on the Government front cross bench? Is the honorable member for Moira in this, or that, or the other combination? Where does he sit? Where does he stand ? Where1 is his resting place ? We have a right to know. The Prime Minister says that the country wants to know all about the alliance on this side. What the country really wants to know all about, is what the present Government are doing in office ? The Government came in to do something that the previous Government were unable to do. The present Government came in to restore responsible government. When the Prime Minister sat in Opposition he said that not for twenty-four hours ought the Labour Government to be allowed to remain in power, for we were, as it were, cutting right into the heart of responsible government - cutting right into the heart of those representative institutions under which the Empire has reached its present imposing proportions. But the Prime Minister never did anything after that. ‘ Having counted noses, he found that while not a day should be lost, many days had to be lost owing, to the fact that he had’ no majority, and the time went on. Instead of challenging the late Government, as one would imagine such a man of principle would, he simply waited until the honorable and learned member for Corinella moved his ingenious little amendment. The honorable and learned member for Ballarat, whose speech about the Arbitration Bill would have moved even the angels to admiration, drafted, or assisted in drafting, that amendment.
– Who drafted the proposal of the Labour Party as to clause 48?
– By whom does the right honorable gentleman think the proposal was drafted?
– I have an idea it was not drafted in Melbourne.
– I trust the right honorable gentleman is not suggesting that we have any improper relations with any other place.
– None whatever - they are business relations.
– I thought the right honorable gentleman was going to suggest that it was not drafted on earth. The’ emanations from this part of the House are deemed so suspicious as to lead to the belief that they come from “ below.”
– They would be too clever down “ below “ to make the mess which the party of the honorable and learned member did.
– I did not smell any brimstone about the amendment ; but the brimstone may have been there all the same. Anyhow, it was an amendment which the right honorable member, while not believing in it, voted for. He was quite surprised when the late Government elected to make it a point on which they should resign if defeated.
– No. I was not; I never expressed any surprise of the kind.
– The right honorable member said that he could not understand the late Government resigning on a matter of detail. “
– I said I could not understand the honorable member, after making the statement he did in the debate on the Address-in-Reply, .in reference to the ‘action of the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, doing as he did.
– That is another exception. I notice that when the honorable member for Bland declared his intention to regard the amendment as serious, the present Prime Minister said, “ Quite right ! Quite right !”
– I should think so.
– There was an opportunity for the right honorable gentleman to attain the position he now occupies. We are opposed to this Government because it stands for a policy that dare not be enunciated. What is the Government policy? Why do those organizations outside, which stand for monopoly and reaction, pin their faith to the present Government? It is not because of any declaration of policy, or programme, because no declaration has been made. But they believe in the Tight honorable gentleman at the head of the Government, supported by the honorable member for Kooyong, and the Conservative corner, and by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, whose principles are hazy to a degree calculated to bring tears to the eyes of his friends, and joy to the hearts of his opponents. They believe that this Government is the only one that can help them, and that sooner or later, with, perhaps, a few recruits from this side, the Government will be able to put in force that policy for which the right honorable member, with as little reservation as is possible with him, says he stands. The Prime Minister stands for the policy of the abolition of a White Australia.
– The honorable and learned member will say anything after that, and he has been saying a good deal.
– The Prime Minister stands for the policy of the abolition of a White Australia.
– What rubbish!
– The right honorable gentleman said this afternoon that the section which permitted the six hatters to be detained-
– Are not our fellowcountrymen from England, Scotland, and Ireland white people? The honorable and learned member is a disgrace to the people from which he sprang, if he takes any other view.
– The Prime Minister has declared himself against the policy of a White Australia. But I ask him what he is going to do, not in the matter of the six hatters, but in the ‘ matter of six potters, whom he is now prosecuting in Sydney? Six potters were brought all the way from England and landed in this country. Although thev are here, citizens of our own flesh and blood, bone of our bone, sinew of our sinew, under the regime of the right honorable gentleman instructions have been given to the SolicitorGeneral of New South Wales to file against the man who brought them here an information under the section of the Act which did not permit of the six hatters coming in. Under the potters’ thumb the right honorable gentleman now stands ; the mark of the. beast is on him.
– What will the Argus say to-morrow?
– This is the right honorable gentleman of whom the Daily Telegraph on 17th November, 1903, said -
Mr. Reid has specifically announced that he would endeavour, if placed in office, to repeal two enactments specially dear to the Labour Party, and which were only carried by the cordial co-operation of that party with the Government.
– Hear, hear; I have not repealed them yet.
– The right honorable gentleman does not dare to propose it.
– The honorable and learned member knows that I am sworn to carry out the laws of the country, and if I did not do it, he would accuse me of treachery in breaking the law.
– Of what did the right honorable gentleman accuse Sir Edmund Barton ?
– The Daily Telegraph further said -
One of these enactments is the notorious section of the Immigration Restriction Act, by which it was sought to keep the six hatters out of the Commonwealth. The other is the equally notorious section of the Postal Act by which the Government seek to prohibit mail, steamers from carryinglascar seamen.
– I said it to-day again.
– It is a singular thing, and something more than a coincidence, that the right honorable gentleman should in the last few days have been compelled to bow down to these two enactments.
– To the law; that is what I bowed to.
– He has permitted an information to be laid against the men to whom I have referred. Proceedings have been directed to be taken, by the Department over which the right honorable gentleman presides against a man in Sydney for importing six potters into the State of New South Wales under contract.
– And in violation of the law, which I am sworn to administer.
– And the six hatters were introduced also in violation of the law.
– On the contrary, they were admitted, on the ground that their introduction was not a violation of the law. That is the answer to that. They are here now.
– The right honorable gentleman seeks now to evade the full responsibility of his action. I ask the honorable and learned member for Ballarat whether it is not a fact that the point in dispute between Sir Edmund Barton, as Prime Minister, and Mr. Anderson, was simply this: that Mr. Anderson had not sought that permission to land those per- sons which the Act required before persons introduced under contract could be admitted ?
– It was not that at all.
– The honorable and learned member for Ballarat acknowledges that I have stated the matter correctly, and that is the refutation of the statement of the Prime Minister.
– The question was whether they came under that section or not.
– They had to ask permission.
– They had to get a certificate of exemption.
– Persons who had contracted to perform manual labour came within the section.
– The question was whether those persons did come within the section. That took a week to find out.
– And this is the first time the right honorable . gentlemanhas said, in his denunciation of the proceedings relating to the six hatters, that this was the matter to which he took exception - the question whether they came within the sectjonj. What he said, according to the Daily Telegraph, is something very different. According to that newspaper, he objected to keep men of our own flesh and blood out of the Commonwealth - our own race, white men.
– I say that now.
– Yet the right honorable gentleman now proposes to deport these six unfortunate potters - at any rate that could be done under the section - and to imprison the unfortunate man who brought them here - to paralyze his industry, and to drive out our own flesh and blood. The right honorable gentleman is pledged on this question. “ If I have the opportunity,” he said, “ I will strike this iniquitous section out of the Act,” and the first thing he does when he has the opportunity is to give instructions for a prosecution under it.
– What would the honorable and learned member say of me if I deliberately broke the law of the land? Would he not denounce me?
– I am not here as a magistrate to declare what I should do with the right honorable gentleman if he broke the law; but, as a member of the House of Representatives, I call upon the right honorable gentleman to redeem his pledge, and strike that section out of the Act. The right honorable gentleman not only gives orders for a prosecution under the Act, but he says, “I am now with men who believe in this Act, and I am not going to say one word against it any more.”
To do a great right, do a little wrong;
And curb this cruel devil of his will.
The right honorable gentleman talks of breaking the law ; but if it suited him he would break the law and the prophets. He asks why we oppose the present Government coalition? I say, because it stands upon a policy which it dare not enunciate. It stands for a policy which, so far as it is enunciated, is entirely a policy of negation. What policy is the right honorable gentleman for? Is he for the policy of White Australia, or against it? He denounces it on one occasion, and yet orders a prosecution under the Act.
– The potters are white men, not blackfellows. What question of ‘ White Australia ‘ ‘ is raised by white men coming here.
– The right honorable gentleman said he was opposed to the section, until these potters came here. What sort of a White Australia would it be if the right honorable gentleman had his way ; or, rather, if the property-owners, the Employers’ Association, and the other nonclass institutions which stand behind him had their way? He has said that we on this side are responsible for every word that Tom Mann has said.
– A very good man, too.
– I do not know that I agree with everything that Tom Mann has said, but I know that I would much rather stand by what Mr. Mann has said than by what Mr. Walpole Has said. Let the Prime Minister stand by what Mr. Walpole has said. Let the right honorable gentleman go to his own electorate and advocate the policy put forward by Mr. Walpole. At any rate, that would be an honest course to take.
– I did not ask the honorable and learned member to advocate the cause of the disloyal men behind him - anarchists and republicans.
– Here is a statesman, a widely-read economic thinker, and he says that the anarchists are behind us. A man has only to go down to the Yarra Bank any Sunday he has an hour to spare, and he will hear the most unsparing denunciation of the Socialist Party by the Anarchists, and he can hear the most unsparing denunciation of the Labour Party by the Socialists, if he goes to Sydney.
– They will all vote for the honorable and learned member’s crowd against ours.
– The right honorable member either does not know what he is talking about, or is saying that which is not true. At the last elections the Socialist party declined to vote for our nominees, and put up several candidates of their own. I have been opposed on two occasions by Socialists, and other members of the party to which I belong have been similarly opposed. >We oppose the present Government because its policy, so far as we can understand it, is to do nothing, to delay, and to hurry into recess. The Government have not dared to enunciate their true policy, but, judging by the appearance of those who sit behind them, it is a policy of reaction, a policy that stands for monopoly and for class legislation, a policy that would paralyze industrial legislation, and aims at holding back the swee’ping tide of democracy. It is a policy which is supported in this House by men who have abandoned every principle for which they have stood. I am not now referring to fiscal principles, because, of course, there is a fiscal truce. We are opposed to the Government because its members and those who support it have nothing in common with each other. Take the honorable member for Hunter. What are his views? Has he anything in common with the honorable member for Flinders?
– Yes. We represent exactly the same kind of electorates - farming constituencies.
– And they do not believe in bringing the farming industries under the Arbitration Bill, as the honorable and learned member and his party do.
– I have only lately realized what a happy escape I have made. I used to sit with some of those honorable gentlemen, and I thought that they were fairly democratic. I now understand that the honorable member for Flinders, who is one of the bulwarks of the men with a stake in the country in this great State of Victoria, and the advanced democrat who took the place of the conservative Sir Edmund Barton, who passed the White Australia legislation in which the Prime Minister does not believe, but which he either voted for or did not oppose, have the same opinions. What those opinions are no one seems to know.
Directly one asks, “Are you in favour of this? “he is told, “No, not just now.” Judging by the men who sit behind it, the Government stands for the policy of reaction, of conservatism, of monopoly, and of class legislation. As such, I stigmatize them, and as such, I shall oppose them. The Prime Minister to-night said something about fiscalism, and contrived, in that way of which he is such a master, to make it appear that we are sacrificing something if we do not stand by our various fiscal opinions. I wish to say, first of all, that it is true that I stood with the right honorable gentleman as a freetrader in this Federal Parliament. I will not deny that I have always been a freetrader ; but I deny that for five years any man knew whether I was a protectionist or a free-trader. In New South Wales I sat behind the Government of which the right honorable member was at the head as a member of a party which had sunk the fiscal issue. One of the reasons why the honorable member for Parramatta left that party was that it sank the fiscal issue, which he regarded as of paramount importance.
– That is absolutely incorrect.
– I thank the honorable member for those words, for when he says that, I know that everything is right.
– The honorable and learned member is a good judge of what is right, and what is wrong. !
– I am indeed. ‘ I have seen the honorable member do so few right things, and so many wrong things, that I am an excellent judge. When he did right, I supported him ; but when he did wrong, I ceased to support him, and he went down, and has never been up since.
– The honorable and learned member never did any wrong in his life.
– I thank the honorable member. I shall get him to sign that statement, so that should I lose my present position, I may have a character which will take me anywhere.
– The honorable and learned member is a regular George Washington.
– I thank the honorable member again. The Prime Minister said to-night that we should stand by our fiscal opinions. For five years in New South Wales, the party to which I belong supported the Government which he led.
At that time, we were against having anything to do with, or to say upon, the fiscal question. I was elected on the first occasion in opposition . to a nominee of my right honorable friend; but afterwards) he did not oppose me, because he was afraid that, if he did, some one who would sit in opposition to his Government would be elected. There was, therefore, an alliance between himself and myself, and between himself and the party to which I belong. That alliance existed de facto for three elections. We went to the country together, and we worked together harmoniously. It was only in rare instances that a candidate of one party was opposed by a candidateof the other. During those four or five years, the right honorable gentleman did not say a word against our caucus methods or pledges. He was perfectly satisfied with the party, and was delighted with the way in which we supported him.
– The honorable and learned member is entirely wrong again. I publicly denounced the methods of the party during the elections of 1894. .
– The right honorable member, denounced us in 1894, before we supported him, but after we supported him he discontinued his denunciations until 1899, when we were again opposed to him, and he again denounced us.
– I would’ take support from any one who would vote with me.
– Even the section of the Labour Party which supported the right honorable gentleman after 1899 were not denounced. Only quite lately he said nice things of the honorable member for Canobolas and myself, and exempted us from the avalanche of criticism which he levelled against our party generally. We had done all that was right, and he gave us a character’ like that which the honorable member for Parramatta has just given to me. The Labour Party in New South Wales, for five years, supported a Ministry headed by the right honorable member, and went to the country practically in alliance with him. He cannot, and does not, deny that. We supported him, and he supported us. After five years we had to put the right honorable member out. and we put the honorable member for Hume in. The latter introduced legislation of which we approved, and a great deal more of it than the right honorable member had given to us. The Prime Minister said the other night that we had squeezed more out of’ the honorable member for Hume in two years than out of him in five years ; but the truth is that the honorable member for Hume proved himself so much the better democrat, that in two or three years he gave the people of New South Wales more and better democratic legislation than the right honorable member had given to them in five years. That is a fact.
– Legislation that he originally opposed.
– That is not so.
– I know that the honorable member for Dalley did not oppose that legislation.
– I supported certain legislation, but not the honorable member for Hume.
– We supported that legislation. The honorable member knows very well, because he is perfectly acquainted with all the circumstances of the case, that we supported legislation introduced by the honorable member for Hume, who proved himself to be at least as good a democrat and a statesman as the Prime Minister. We passed legislation under his leadership which stands on the statutebook of New South Wales to-day, and which has done for the people of that State much that is good. Very many people bless the name of the Government that introduced and passed such legislation. Now we are told that we must stand fast by our fiscal opinions. This admonition comes from a gentleman who, all his life, has been a free-trader. He is a free-trader first, last, and all the time. Now I am not a free-trader, first, last, and all the time. I am a member of the Federal Labour Party, a member of the Labour Party of Australia, and I believe the aims of that party to be infinitely more important than fiscalism. I have declared not once, but a hundred times, in the Parliament of New South Wales, that I was in favour of the labour platform as opposed to fiscalism. The Prime Minister never said a word when Mr. McGowen and Mr. Arthur Griffith and other men who were solid protectionists gave his Free-trade Administration for five years their consistent support. He never said that they were betraying their principles. He accepted from- Mr. McGowen, and Mr. Griffith, and others, their faithful and unswerving support, and he relied upon them. Now he says that we must not, at this stage, do what we did then. As to what I am going to do upon the fiscal question in this Parliament, my position is abundantly clear. I was returned to revise the Tariff, and to support the right honorable gentleman in doing it. My honorable friend, like the brave old warrior that he is, never tried to do it. I remember him saying - when we members of the late Labour Party in New South Wales said that Federation would kill free-tr.ade, and when be knew it - “ Let us have Federation, and I will fight like a tiger for free-trade.”
– And so I did - more than the honorable and learned member ever did. Not once did he stand upon the platform with me in. support of that policy.
– That is one thing that stands to my eternal credit.
– The honorable and learned member took my flag and my support, but did not back me up.
– I never had, in my electorate, any man outside of my own party who said one word in my favour. I never asked for it, and the greatest boon that they could confer upon me was to keep away.
– The greatest boon they could confer upon me’ was to keep away.
– Who are “they”?
– They are “ they ; “ ye are “ they.” I am not denying, and I have never denied that I was ready enough to accept the support of the Free-trade Party, and they have always been ready enough to accept mine.
– Did not the honorable and learned member ask for the support of the Free-trade Party?
– Undoubtedly I did.
– And received it to a verv material extent.
– When the storm was on the honorable and learned member was very good to me; we got on splendidly.
– I had a right, occupying the position that I did, to know whether or not the Free-trade Party proposed to supportmy candidature as a labour representative, and I asked the right honorable gentleman whether he proposed to sup- port me, and he said, “ Of course.” I had a right to expect that, because for four previous elections the right honorable gentleman had supported me.
– When the honorable and learned member explained that he was free on the fiscal question I was quite satisfied.
– On the fiscal question, I was returned to this Parliament to revise the Tariff, and I followed my right honorable friend, because he was the reviser.
– And now the honorable and learned member is following the honorable member for Indi.
– For two and a half hours I listened to the right honorable gentleman, and did not interject once, and I cannot go on if he persistently interrupts me.
– I shall not do so any further.
– The right honorable gentleman was returned here to revise the Tariff. Now, what did he say? He is reported in the Sydney Daily Telegraph of 1 8th August, 1903, as having spoken as follows : -
I want to tell . you frankly that, although all sorts of temptations have been addressed to me to sink the fiscal question, and although I believe I would be an infinitely stronger man, so far as the whole of Australia is concerned, if I would only sink this question, I cannot do it. My whole public career would be a fraud if I endeavoured to get political power by sacrificing the great principle of my political existence.
– Hear, hear !
– Now the right honorable gentleman is a free-trader first, last, and all the time. I am not, and never have been, and do not want to be. I believe that free-trade is a better policy than protection, but I have declared, and I say again, that the planks of the labour platform are infinitely more important to me than any form of fiscalism. Does the right honorable gentleman say that a White Australia - or rather a Black Australia - is more important to him than fiscalism? No. He says free-trade is to him the beginning and end of everything; and yet there he sits in calm community with the Minister of . Trade and Customs, the Treasurer, and the Minister of Defence. These three protectionists and another leaven the lump. The right honorable gentleman has sunk his fiscal belief. He is in favour of amending the Immigration Restriction Act with a view to removing the present restrictions upon, the immigra tion of contract labourers, but he will not do that at this stage, because his friends in the Ministry do not agree with him. In fact, the right honorable gentleman is a seething volcano of convictions, but he cannot find an opportunity to carry them into effect. He says he will fight like a tiger for free-trade, and he will fight more like a hyena to carry out his other convictions ; but circumstances are not favorable, and he cannot go on. He asks us to formulate in detail our objections to the Government. Why, it is with difficulty that we can bring ourselves to consider the claims of such a combination to ordinary treatment. Consider the circumstances under which the late Government came into office, and the conditions under which they were thrown out. Consider the promise we got from the honorable and learned member for Ballarat that we should have fair play. Consider the circumstances connected with the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill. Consider the volume of opinion in this House that had led the country to believe it was in favour of the whole of that measure, and consider how it changed the moment that we assumed control of it. The head of the fourth party, or the third party in this Chamber - the honorable and learned member for Ballarat - wanted to give us fair play. He himself said so. He was in favour of entering into an alliance with us. That honorable and learned member who is opposed to the existence of third parties and to the methods of the Labour Party, made overtures to us some considerable time before the House met, that we should join with him. He did nonqualify those overtures with any objection to our methods, to those irresponsible persons outside of Parliament, to the caucus, to the pledge, or to anything else. He was willing to ally himself with our party, ignoring ,what he now professes to regard as blemishes in our movement and platform. The House met. He was still in favour of an alliance, so much in favour of an alliance as such, irrespective of the party with whom he allied himself, that he was also in favour of an alliance with the right honorable member for East Sydney. That was, indeed, putting the virtues of an alliance before anything else. He made overtures to the right honorable member for East Sydney, and to us. We were unable to agree to his overtures. The right honorable member for East Sydney was in a very different position. He had taken a very rapid bird’s eye view of the situation, and saw clearly enough that there was no hope from fiscal strife, or anything in that direction. . He knows when he is “ licked,” and says so. Anybody who has watched his career would know so much without his saying so. No man accepts defeat more readily, or declares it more readily, when it suits his purpose to do so. The honorable and learned member for Ballarat was negotiating with two parties at the same time. The right honorable member for East Sydney objected to that. The honorable and learned member for Ballarat said he was very sorry, but could not help it. It was one of the consequences of his insatiate desire for an alliance of some sort, and if there had been three or four parties in the House, doubtless he would have offered to ally himself with every one of them. That is why I cannot understand why the honorable member for Corangamite has not been admitted to the little room in which the Ministerial protectionists meet. Yet, although the honorable and learned’ member for Ballarat wanted to ally himself with the Labour Party, because he conceived it would be a natural alliance with the Liberal Party which hd was leading, he now stands behind the present Ministry, the head of which says he is glad to intimate that the honorable and learned member for Ballarat is his warmest friend, and that he has now only one mission in .life; namely, to bring the blessings of brotherly love to the people of Victoria from those of New South Wales. He declares that his one mission in life is to bear the olive branch. He desires to embrace al! the people of Victoria. He loves them so much that he wishes them to understand that those cruel things which he uttered a little time ago, were uttered in a frenzy, and must not be considered seriously. According to the Age of 17 th May, 1904-
There is really a good deal of humour in politics “ would men observingly distil it out.” One exquisite piece of it lies in* the tearful yearnings of the inventor of the Petriana Myth towards Mr. Deakin. Only a few months ago, when the local free-trade press was vainly trying to get the Victorian electors to accept Mr. Reid’s nominees and throw over those of Mr. Deakin, no abuse was too rabid, and no falsehood too foul, with which to bespatter the protectionist leader. He was held up to the odium of the world at large as a man who pushed shipwrecked sailors back into the sea, and denied them a foothold in Australia. When Mr. Deakin branded1 these fictions with the name of the “ Petriana Myth,” and proved by irrefragable documents that his accusers had deliberately invented their accusations, he was told that he was a mere tool of the Labour Party, ready to cling to office by any means, however grovelling.
That represents the attitude of the right honorable member for East Sydney towards the honorable and learned member for Ballarat a little time ago. Now all is changed.
– I never made such a statement, and only the Age, would, say so. It is an absolutely false statement.
– Anyhow, the Age does say so. When the late Government came into office, the1 honorable and learned member for Ballarat was still smarting under these gentle, amicable olive branch overtures on the part of the right honorable member for East Sydney, and he would not look at him. On the contrary, he declared that he1 was one of our warmest friends. According to the Age of 19th May, of the present year -
When Mr. Watson sat down yesterday, after making his statement to the House, of the Ministerial programme for the current session, Mr. Deakin rose and complimented him on having announced a policy almost identical with that which had been agreed upon between Mr. Reid and himself. .
The honorable and learned member for Ballarat promised that we should receive fair play. At that time he was not opposed to our party to the extent to which he has latterly betrayed himself, but he was still angling for a coalition with the supporters of the right honorable member for East Sydney. Upon 20th May last the Age said -
The liberal caucus has silenced the cry of conservative coalition.
The honorable and learned member for Ballarat did not begin to see the! vices which are inherent in the organization of the Labour Party until some time after. Possibly he thought that the Watson Government would fall into decrepitude and decay almost before it was out of its swaddling clothes. Possibly he hoped for’ the very best - that is, for the very worst. Perhaps he thought that we .should require his assistance - that we should run to’ him, as to a foster mother. At any rate, we were promised fair play at his hands, and we expected to receive it. He urged then, as the chief reason why he acted as he did, that three parties in the House were undesirable, and rendered constitutional government impossible. Upon 23rd May last the honorable and learned member had altered his opinions to such an extent that the Age made the following remarks -
Mr. Deakin is at great pains to emphasize the differences between himself and Mr. Watson, and to minimize the points of dissimilarity between himself and Mr. Reid. . . . Having admitted that the business programmes are identical, he flies off to something which Mr. Watson has outlined as possible work for another session ; and so, as there are no difficulties for to-day drags in possible differences of the future. That is not the attitude of a friendly critic, and shows a disposition of .mind which is anxious to cause a quarrel. But the singular thing is that the leader who thus strains after something to justify him in opposing men to whom he has promised a fair trial quite ignores the dangerous differences which ought to have guarded him against all present thought of coalition with the free-trade leader.
Here then, the honorable and learne’d member for Ballarat begins to evidence that objection to the Labour Party which latterly has become accentuated. Now he is not only opposed to third parties as such, but he is opposed to the Labour Party as such - the very party with which, a few weeks or a few months ago, he was perfectly willing to ally himself, upon almost any terms - at any rate upon equal terms. As to this coalition, to which my honorable and learned friend has lent his powerful aid, but to which’ he has not committed himself body and soul, I would remind the House that as formerly projected, it was dealt with by the Age in its issue of 26th May last! I understand that the present coalition is the lineal’ descendant of that first proposed. I presume that the basis which supported the one first proposed supports the present. May I ask the Prime Minister for an approving nod.
– The honorable and learned member will not allow me to interrupt.
– Jove sleeps. I presume that the present coalition is the same as that which formed the subject of the famous effort made by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat.
– He said some time ago that it was not the same ; therefore, there has been no public notice of the understanding.
– If it be not the old coalition, what is it? What guarantee has the honorable and learned member for Ballarat that it is going to do that which be’ said it would ? Where is the agreement for the maintenance of a White Australia? Has my honorable and learned friend not obtained it? I believe that he has. Can he’ rely on it? I believe that he cannot? Is he satisfied with a mere declaration? Does he not desire that it shall be in black arid white ? Will the honorable and learned member who does not believe in written pledges take the mere ipse dixit of my right honorable friend in this matter ? I do not think that he will. I think he betrays a weakness in this little matter for black and white. And the Prime Minister, who has nothing but scorn for the labour pledge, says of the terms of the alliance, ‘’ Let us see it in black and white.” Will he not take the word of an honorable member ? It is, nevertheless, very convenient apparently to have everything in black and white. Now, this is what the
Age said of the coalition as first proposed in its issue of 26th May last : -
It may be at once conceded that if a coalition were necessary to make a policy effective, or to avoid any great danger to the integrity of parties, a coalition between the Liberals and the Labour Government would be quite a natural one. It would be a coming together of the two great branches of the Liberal party - a union mostly of affinities as contrasted with a union of discords in the proposed coalition with the conservative free-traders.
Here, then, we find that the Age emphasized that coalition which it believed ought to have been effected. The honorable and learned member for Ballarat was in favour of that coalition, but it did not come about, and he has ever since consistently opposed the party to which I belong. I have merely a few more words to say on the attitude of the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, and I shall have done. The honorable and learned member was in office for nearly three years as a member of the Barton Government. During that time the Labour Party supported him, and he never said a word against it. Then he became Prime Minister, the Labour Party supported him, and he still was silent as to our organization and our methods. He next went to the country, and the verdict was so much in our favour that he thought it would be unwise to continue without our aid. He then requested us to join him. He made overtures of the most liberal character to us, and said not one word against our pledge, our methods, or our outside organizations. He did this publicly, in his Ballarat speech, and subsequently privately. We did not accept those overtures. He hoped by decisive action, possibly, to bring us to his way of thinking. Following that, he offered to coalesce with the right honorable member for East Sydney. He still hoped, I believe, during all this time, to coalesce with us. He never shut the door to a coalition with the Labour Party even while he was endeavouring to coalesce with the party led by the present Prime Minister. After that coalition had been consummated, however, he denounced our methods, although not to the extent he has since done. He denounced third-party Government, the methods of our selection, and everything in connexion with us. He demanded that the Labour Party, because of these things, should go out. At the very time that he was willing to coalesce with our party he had apparently some over whelming objection to us. As time went on his denunciations became more bitter, And so we come down to the present day. We find that for three years he accepted our support, and said nothing against us. We find him during all this time willing to accept the aid that we would give him, glorifying in it, and willing enough to join with us in preference to coalescing with the party led by the right honorable member for East Sydney. Having coalesced with that party, however, he gradually withdrew that fair-play treatment that he- had so liberally promised, and now we have not a more consistent opponent than is my honorable and learned friend. That is a very saddening reflection, and it is a matter which I should be glad to hear the honorable and learned member attempt to explain. On a previous occasion he smarted so much under some criticisms that I had offered, that he made some personal accusations against me - -accusations which perhaps would have come better from some other man - but I ask him now to endeavour to explain, if he can, not to me, but to the country, the attitude at present taken up by him. I call upon him to explain his opposition to third parties, when he himself leads such a third party; that little band of honorable members who go with him to the little room to which I have referred. I ask him to say whether the members of that little band owe allegiance first to him, or to .the Government. I ask him to say where he stands with the conservative phalanx on the front cross bench on the Government side, and also to state how he stands in regard to democracy in Australia, in regard to the policy of a White Australia, and to that reversal of such a policy which the Prime Minister has promised. The people of Australia have a right to receive an answer to these questions. If they be answered, we shall know something about majority rule ; we ‘ shall then learn who is ruling the country - whether the little band behind my honorable and learned friend control it, whether it is run by the conservative phalanx in the Government corner, or whether it is controlled by my right honorable friend who has placed himself in the hands of outside class organizations, employers’ unions, and property-owners’ associations to such an extent that he stands here to-day without a declared policy, except that of getting into recess. He has thrown over the High Commissioner Bill. Where is the right honor- able member whose last “Swan” song amused the late Government? He has been thrown over because the Government’s march to a speedy recess would not be expedited by the introduction of the High Commissioner Bill. The Prime Minister has inquired why we are opposed to him, and has requested us to formulate some reason for seeking to displace him. The late Government were butchered in the most cowardly and unprecedented fashion by honorable members who had not the courage to formulate in detail their reasons for displacing it, and were unable to deal with us as every other Government has been dealt with in this House, irrespective of from what section of the House it came. This Government, which comes into office with its hands stained with the last Government’s blood, composed of honorable members who have abandoned their principles, and have nothing in’ common save a desire to remain where they are, now ask for consideration. If the Government wish to know why we are opposed to it, let me say that it is because it stands for reaction, for monopoly, for class legislation, and for what it terms “ anti-Socialism.” I shall not deal with that phase of the question, for it has already been dealt with by the leader of the Opposition. The difference between the policy of our party and that of the Government, so far as it has been enunciated this afternoon by my right honorable friend, may be briefly stated. The Prime Minister says the difference between his party and ours, so far as Socialism is concerned, is that while we are prepared to gp to extremes - to socialize everything - he will only go a certain length in that direction^ I appeal to him to be specific in this matter, and to tell us at what particular point he will stop. Where will he stop? As for us, our policy is clear, and our methods are open to all men. We would socialize everything when, and only when, it became a monopoly. When it is necessary in the interests of the community to socialize anything, is when, in our opinion, it has become a monopoly, and, therefore, dangerous to human liberty. Let my right honorable friend dare to say what his masters outside wish him to say, that he stands against Socialism in that direction, and that he will not nationalize monopolies because the employers’ associations outside and other associations - class associations - that he stands for, are in favour of them. We are opposed to this Government, because it has no policy. We are opposed to it, because it threatens us with a dissolution if we dare to do anything against it. We are opposed to it because it is made up of men who have nothing in common. We are opposed to it because it crawls on all fours towards recess, and because it stands for nothing but reaction.
– Has the honorable gentleman got to the peroration yet ?
– Peroration, with an individual like the right honorable gentleman sitting in front of me ! He interrupts in such a way that Demosthenes himself would be unable to perorate under the circumstances. If I were to perorate as I should like to do, I should tell of a man who has shamefully betrayed his hustings pledges, as the right honorable gentleman has done, and it would be a peroration that would burn into his heart and mind, and be engraven there for ever. It would be a peroration that would penetrate even that pachydermatous hide of his that no ordinary criticism seems to be able to pierce. He would not then sneer about a peroration, but would betake himself to some quiet, secluded recess, where he could commune with himself and ask whether repentance was not possible. We have no confidence in this Government, we can have none, and, therefore, we oppose it. I believe that if an appeal were made to the country, the people of Australia would be only too ready to approve our opinions as to this Ministry. We believe that this Government does not occupy the Treasury bench by the will of the people of Australia. We say that it is there first of all by a trick, and secondly as the result of a combination of men who have abandoned their principles. Not all of them ; I do not say that for a moment. I do not say that men like the honorable member for Flinders have abandoned their principles; but I do say that the Government is composed of men who are so widely dissimilar in their opinions that if they have not abandoned their principles, some tremendous explanation or excuse is necessary to explain to the country how’ it comes to be that they are now united upon a policy which absolutely is so tenuous as not to bear examination, and which we, as an Opposition, do rightly challenge and denounce.
– I am but a young parliamentarian, and, therefore, I cannot speak from long experience ; but, as far as my knowledge goes, I believe that usually when a Government is challenged, it is challenged upon some question of public policy, or because of the nonfulfilment of pledges, or for some specific reason which can be clearly shown. But now we have the astonishing spectacle of a Government being challenged, not for acts of maladministration, not upon any ground of public policy, or of injury to the public weal, but simply because it has decided to go on with public business, and devote the tail end of the session to some useful public purpose. That is the sole ground, apparently, for challenging the existence of the present Government. There is no justification whatever for the action which has been taken by the leader of the Opposition. So far as his speech was concerned, not the slightest reason was advanced for the tabling of this motion. The speech to which we have just listened has added nothing further in that direction. On the contrary, it has simply been one long tirade of abuse, and of misrepresentation, and has been conspicuous for the amount of spitefulness and vindictiveness which have been imported into it. We have heard a great deal about a White Australia. But is it not a fact that the present Prime Minister “moved an amendment in the Alien Immigration Restriction Bill to substitute the colour line for the education test, and is it not a fact that he had the support of the leader of the Opposition in doing that?
– Not in this Parliament.
– So much has been made of this White Australia cry, that I am justified in saying that the use which has been made of it is altogether unjustified by the facts. I will quote what the Tocsin said in regard to certain members of the Opposition in reference to that matter. Speaking of two members of the Opposition, the Tocsin said- -
When it came to the vote, McMillan kept his promise, but Mauger did his little somersault.
That is in reference to the honorable member for Melbourne Ports. Then, in regard to the honorable member for Bourke, the Tocsin said -
When it came to the division, he, like Mauger, turned turtle. Hume Cook was one of the few citizens of the Commonwealth who, to use his own words, would not support the proposal for which he had spoken.
As to the honorable member’s attack upon the Prime Minister, in reference to his action with regard to the six potters, I should like to know what action the honorable and learned member himself would have taken, and what he would have said if the Prime Minister had adopted any other course. He would have said that honorable members ought to vote against the Government, because the Prime Minister had not the courage to carry the law of the land into effect. I ask honorable members opposite whether it is not the duty of the Prime Minister, or any responsible Minister, when he finds a law in existence of which, personally, he may disapprove, to carry out that law just as fully as if he was in favour of it ? Would it not be a dereliction of duty if a Ministry did not carry out the law ? That is an aspect which ought to be placed before the country in contra-distinction to the aspect already placed before us - an aspect which has been grossly distorted. Carrying out the law as it exists is not inconsistent with any promise which a Minister may make to alter that law if he gets the opportunity. Until that opportunity presents itself, and the Minister is able to repeal the law or its objectionable sections, it is his duty to see that it is carried into effect.
– A Minister is under oath to do so.
– That is so; and if he does not do so, he simply breaks the oath he’ takes on accepting office.
– But the Prime Minister denounced a previous Government for carrying out the law.
– In that case the men were not breaking the law, and they were liberated.
– It is unfair for the honorable and learned member for West Sydney to bring charges of this character against the Prime Minister. But what can we expect? The Opposition has absolutely no material on which to base an attack of a legitimate character, and they are driven to the necessity of resorting to those questionable and very unfair means to bolster up a motion which has no justification whatever so far as the public interest is concerned. I am surprised that an attack of the kind made on the Prime Minister should come from the honorable and learned member for West Sydney.
– He, of all others !
– Of all men in this Parliament, the honorable and learned member for West Sydney is the last who should say one unkind word of the present-
Prime Minister. No man has received more favours or greater kindness at the right honorable gentleman’s hands than has the honorable and learned member.
– What does the honorable member for Lang know about it?
– I happen to be in a position to know. While the honorable and learned member for West Sydney has been making attacks on honorable members on this side, because of an alliance with those who are of opposite fiscal faith, it is a fact within the knowledge of many besides myself that the honorable and learned member sought the support of the party in New South Wales, of which the present Prime Minister was the head.
– -The honorable and learned member for West Svdney does not deny that.
– The honorable and learned member for West Sydney had more support from that party than either myself or the honorable member for Lang.
– Unquestionably. The Prime Minister went out of his way to assist on the platform, and in other ways, the candidature of the honorable and learned member for West Sydney. That honorable and learned member himself, when he saw that his name did not appear on the list of approved candidates of the party led I>- the present Prime Minister, I am credibly informed, went to the newspapers and sought the support of the party. I hold in my hand a special issue of a leaflet sent out by the Free-trade Association of New South Wales at the request of the honorable and learned member for West Sydney.
– The honorable and learned member is a good free-trader.
– That leaflet asked the electors to vote for the honorable and learned member, not because he was a labour candidate, or because he was a member of any other party, but because he was a free-trader, and he desired the imprimatur of the Free-trade Association.
– When was that?
– At the last Federal election. The leaflet is headed, “ How to vote in the West Sydney electorate.” and there is a representation of a ballot-paper with the honorable and learned member’s name marked.
– Why labour the point? The honorable and learned member does not deny being a free-trader.
– But he sought the imprimatur of the Free-trade Association while running under the flag of the Labour Party.
– He does not dispute that.
– He was running in a dual capacity. It is all very well for the honorable and learned member to now come into the House, and say that free-trade is a secondary or tertiary matter - that the Labour Party is first. Free-trade was first when he was seeking election. And why ? Because he knew perfectly well that if the Free-trade Association had put another free-trader up against him he would not have been returned. Did not the honorable and learned member, through the present Prime Minister as the leader of the Freetrade Party, beg for the support of the association when he was in danger, knowing that without that support he- would probably lose his seat? If the honorable and learned member makes these disgraceful and unwarranted attacks on the Prime Minister it is right that something on the other side should be shown. I would be the last to say an unkind word of an opponent, and these words are said, not in any unkindness, but only with a desire, that honorable members and the public shall learn the truth as to the actual position the honorable and learned member for West Sydney occupies as a member of this House. I have a perfect right to show that the honorable and learned member was a candidate with the imprimatur of the Free-trade Association, from which a request was sent out that the electors of West Sydney should give him their votes.
– The honorable member has only proved what was admitted before’ he started.
– The honorable and learned member for West Sydney also went out of his way to attack my position in regard to certain principles which I hold - to charge me with abandoning those principles. But I have a better record than the honorable and learned member can show for holding true to the principles which I have advocated all my life. There is not the slightest abandonment of principles shown, in the fact that I am supporting the present Government. There is no alliance, so far as the two parties are concerned, other than one which is based on the perfect freedom of individuals - on an entirely voluntary principle. There is no attempt to subjugate principles, or to put a round peg into a square hole. Every honorable member in the alliance is left absolutely free to follow his own inclinations, according to his convictions ; there is no restriction in any direction. I defy any honorable member of this House, or any one - else, to coerce me into voting in a way I do not think proper. I am a free agent, and I am at liberty to hold opinions differing from the opinions of the leader of my party on other matters than the one vital principle which unites us as a party.
– -Why was the honorable member not here to vote against the third reading of the Arbitration Bill?
– I was laid up with influenza at the time, and I did not know that a division was to be taken. There is absolutely no justification whatever for the motion tabled by the leader of the Opposition. The half-hearted manner in which the honorable member for Bland advocated his cause, showed clearly, to my mind, at any rate, that he has no great confidence - that he feels there is no justification for the motion at the present time. . What good can possibly be done by the motion? If the Prime Minister had brought forward a larger programme for this session, knowing there was no possibility of carrying it into effect, there would have been just ground for a motion of noconfidence or of censure. Here we are, at this late season, without the Budget, which ought to have been before us long ago ; and this motion is only brought forward with the obvious object of. obstructing public business, and with no other object in the world. It was clearly seen that the Government were going on with some useful measures, and making progress with useful legislation. We had got so far with the Transcontinental Railway Survey Bill that honorable members opposite began to take alarm. Some of them were afraid that the Bill Would be carried, and that, by contrast with the work done by the late Government during a much longer period of office, there would have been too good a record for the present Government for the short time they have been in office.
– That was owing to the obstruction of honorable members opposite.
– Was not the Seat of Government Bill of more importance.
– If honorable members on this side treated the present Government as honorable members opposite treated the late Government the)’ would be able to do nothing.
– I now come to the real grounds for the opposition to the present Government. It is not opposed on the ground of public policy, because of . the non-fulfilment of promises, or on account of any maladministration of public affairs. It is opposed for two reasons only, the first of which is personal animus against the Prime’ Minister. That is the mainspring of the action of honorable members opposite, and it is. bolstered up by the second reason for opposition, which is the gratification of personal ambition by individual members on the opposite side. Not grounds of public policy, but private ambition and private hatred are the two worthy motives which are the basis of this motion of want of confidence.
– The honorable member is altogether wrong.
– We have only to look at the newspapers supporting honorable members opposite, and the utterances of their public mert, to know that there is no other reason. We know that the public, of Victoria especially, have, month after month, and year after year, had their minds inflamed with the sole object of defaming the Prime Minister in their eyes. I am glad to know that the right honorable gentleman’s residence in Victoria for some time, and his position as head of the pre-, sent Government, has given, and will give him opportunities of meeting the people of Victoria face to face, and thus by personal contact, ‘ destroying the baneful influence brought to bear unfairly on the people of Victoria, with a view to prejudicing him in their eyes. We have to go back to the recent elections, and ask ourselves what was the issue put before the public at that time. We know that the issue, so far as honorable members opposite who at that time supported the honorable and learned member for Ballarat are concerned, was fiscal peace. That cry was taken up by every member of that section of the Opposition that is. now clamouring for fiscal strife. In their election addresses and elsewhere, they supported the honorable and learned member for Ballarat in the demand for fiscal peace, which he raised as the chief issue of the general election. Those honorable members now break away from the agreement into which they entered with their chief, and, after the verdict of the country has been given in favour of fiscal peace, they desire to go back upon the verdict which they asked the people to give, and resort to fiscal strife. It is this betrayal of pledges which is the basis of the unholy alliance between those honorable members, and the members of the Labour Party. I say an “unholy” alliance advisedly, because it is an alliance which is based, not upon a recognition of the individual rights of free men, or on voluntary support, but on the subjugation of principles for private and party ends.
– What about the alliance which the party to which the honorable member belongs tried to make a couple of months ago?
– That was an alliance made in open daylight, and all the points of the proposed agreement were handed to the press, while no honorable member of either party to the alliance was pledged to stand to it unless he chose. There was nothing of the “caucus” in that case. There was in that case no violent disagreement on the matter amongst ourselves, no beargarden within our own ranks, owing to some, being for it and some against it, and those against it being compelled to vote for it afterwards. There was nothing of that sort. The agreement was simply put to members of either party individually and collectively, and they could accept or reject it at their pleasure. There was no power in either party to compel any single member to subscribe to the proposed agreement.
– The honorable member for Grey left the party, and he has not yet been denounced as a renegade.
– The honorable member for Grey left the party because he did not accept what was proposed. The honorable member went over to the Labour Party, and, as is usual with brand new converts, he is now one of the bitterest opponents of those with whom he” was formerly associated.’ I have just stated the issue put before the electors by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat as Prime Minister, and that issue was supported by the Age newspaper as the central cry upon which the campaign was based.
– Some of us were’ not in favour of that.
– Perhaps not, but as a party honorable members supported it, and after they were returned, though they might not have supported it prior to the election, they sat behind the Government that had declared that that was the policy on which they ha’d gone to the country, and upon which the verdict of the country had been given. On the 12th December, 1903, the Age said-
The watchword of the Deakin Ministry is fiscal peace, and all Australia at the present juncture should cry a truce ou the Tariff question while the great issue of Imperial preference is being fought out in England.
A truce not only up till now, but while that great issue was being fought out in England. That is what the Age said on this question.
– Who takes any notice of the Age?
– Speakers on the opposite side have quoted the Age all night.
– The Age newspaper was the organ of the party that went into the election campaign on that cry for fiscal peace. On the polling day, 16th December, the Age published a leader in which these words occurred -
To-day the electors will return their verdict. They are to-day most truly a jury in their country’s cause. In this State we know beforehand the overwhelming preponderance of the popular voice is for the Deakin Government and fiscal peace as against Reid and another fiscal war.
I do not think the matter could have been put more clearly. There is the issue put on behalf of the Government by the Age newspaper, which was the organ of the Government, and was backing it up. The verdict, of the people was in favour of that issue, not in New South Wales, it is true, but that State is only one of six, and the verdict outside of New South Wales was admittedly ona of fiscal peace. On the same date, amongst the names printed in heavy black type, as supporters of that policy of fiscal peace, and as opponents of Socialism - because opposition to Socialism was another matter put prominently before the electors by the .party - I find those of the honorable member for Bourke, the honorable and learned member for Corio, and the honorable member for Melbourne Ports. The same paper cautions the public against voting for Reidites, amongst other reasons because he is the man who, “ by re-opening the Tariff, will disorganize Victorian trade and commerce.” Who is it who to-day wishes to re-open the Tariff, and to disorganize Victorian trade and commerce? The prime mover in that direction is one of those who subscribed to the speech delivered at Ballarat by the representative of that city, who was at the time Prime Minister. But although he subscribed to the declaration for fiscal peace which that speech contained, he is to-day endeavouring to promote fiscal warfare. Associated with the honorable member to whom I refer is the honorable member for Hume, who, by the way, has been supplanted in the leadership of the rebellious section of the Opposition. The honorable member for Hume is reporter! to have said at Albury -
The fiscal question should never have been raised at this election. Whatever party is in power, the only possible Tariff must be very similar to that now in force, and until the expiration of the Braddon sections of the Constitution Act, it would be vain for either party to try to frame a Tariff.
How does that statement tally with the present position of the honorable member? Amongst others who supported the declaration for fiscal peace were the honorable and learned members for Northern Melbourne and Indi, and the honorable member for Bourke. We, on this side, have been charged with having sunk our principles, because we have entered into a perfect^’ voluntary and open alliance with members of the protectionist party. But our alliance involved none of the elements of coercion such as were involved in that of honorable gentlemen opposite. It has been the result of political accident, and has been caused by political circumstances, and the necessity for restoring responsible government and saving the country from the threatening disasters of class legislation of a most pronounced character. The representatives of New South Wales found that, as the result of the verdict of the people, they were not in a position to challenge the Government of the day. The Free-trade Party comprised only one-third of the House, and were consequently in a minority. That being so, how could they give effect to their fiscal principles?
– We, on this side, have always kept our flag flying, no mattter how few- our numbers.
– There has been no hauling down of the flag on the part of either free-traders or protectionists ; but an informal and unofficial alliance has been come to between us, which is more powerful, and more likely to do useful work than the alliance of honorable members opposite.
– The honorable member agreed to a tied alliance.
– This is’ no tied alliance. Every member on this side of the Chamber is free to vote as he likes. No section and no clique can interpose between him and his constituents. He could, if he chose, vote against the Government. He is not bound by any pledge to an organization, and no ohe can come between him and his constituents. But what is the position of honorable members opposite ? Some of them belong to a party which is governed by the caucus, and it does not matter what pledges they may have given to their constituents, if the caucus decides that it is not in the interests of the party to keep them, they must break them. That is the machine against which we are fighting. It is admitted, too, that there is no full agreement among honorable members opposite as to their alliance. Even if it had not been admitted, the modifications of the proposals for an alliance which have been put forward from time to time, modifications which have practically amounted to the surrender of principles on both sides, show that there is no full agreement. The leaders of the Labour Party have given the assurance that every effort will be made to induce labour organizations to withhold opposition to the extreme protectionists who have joined the alliance on a basis of support in return for concessions. But as they are only part of a huge machine the controlling influence upon which is the organizations outside, it is seen that they have no power to bind those organizations. Do honorable members think that members of the Labour Party outside who aspire to political honours will submit to the thwarting of their aspirations because the seats upon which they have cast their eyes are occupied by protectionists? Is it to be supposed that these men, after working -for their organizations for years, subscribing to their funds, and, perhaps, suffering some privations, will consent to be calmly swept aside because the leader of the Labour Party in this House says that they are not to offer themselves for election to the positions to which they have been aspiring? Perhaps they may submit to such treatment, but unless human nature has undergone a great change within the last few weeks, I doubt very much whether we shall see any evidence of that unquestioning support by the Labour Party which has been promised to those honorable members who have entered into alliance with them.
– When did the Labour organizations ask for the advocacy of the honorable member?
– How long is this alliance to last ? We find that the agreement entered into is not intended to extend - as our alliance was - over the life of this Parliament only. Honorable members opposite have assumed a power they do not possess, namely, to bind the next Parliament. How ‘can they control’ the action of the next Parliament, of which they may not be members? It is certain that at least some of them will not be returned as members of the next Parliament. Their agreement can extend only for the life of this Parliament, and can affect only those parties who signed it.
– Let us go to the country. There is no need to prophesy as to the result.
– If we do go to the country, the party to suffer will be that which is now trying to obstruct public business and to secure special privileges for a certain class, at the expense of all others in the community. I think that there is a fair amount of evidence of fear on the part of some honorable members opposite, that they will lose their seats. When some humorist, on a recent journey to Sydney, sent a telegram, which seemed to indicate ‘the possibility of a dissolution, upon the defeat of the Watson Ministry, honorable members who had been very pot-valiant in this House, and who had talked in grandiloquent strains about appealing to our masters, the people, ceased their jubilations. A great change came over the scene, because some honorable member were not sincere, even as advocates of the rights of the Labour Party. They had posed as the champions of certain principles, which they themselves abandoned when they had an opportunity to carry them into effect. What did they do ? When the Deakin Ministry was in office, they went to the length of tabling a motion in favour of the inclusion within the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill of the public servants of the States. The then Prime Minister stated that the Government could not accept that proposal, because, in their view, it was unconstitutional.
– They have accepted it now.
– No; they have not. Let me relate the history of events which have been referred to, but not correctly, by honorable members opposite. The honorable member for Wide Bay was put up to move an amendment providing for the inclusion within the scope of the Bill, not of the railway servants, but of the whole of the public servants of the States, and of the Commonwealth. The honorable and learned member for Ballarat gave the Labour Party clearly to understand, that, if they pressed their proposal to a division, the Government would make it a vital matter, and, if defeated, would have to consider their position.
– That is the reason the honorable member voted for the amendment.
– That is one of the reasons, because’ I had pledged myself to get rid of the Deakin Government. Our object in New South Wales was to . reduce the Customs duties, and to get rid of all those who were responsible for the Tariff, or who were likely to seek to increase the imposts under it. So that I was. pledged, first of all, to get rid of the Deakin Government, and when the opportunity arose, I voted in order to put them put of office. But I had good reasons apart from, that consideration for voting as I did. Honorable members of the Labour Party spoke about the amendment proposed by the honorable member for Wide Bay as embodying a vital principle, without which the Arbitration Bill would be absolutely useless. Notwithstanding that, by reason of their numerical strength as a minority, they were in the position to coerce the Government into bringing in measures which they, when they took possession of the Treasury benches, dared not bring forward, they were willing to press their amendment to a division. They did so, not because they desired to displace the Government, but because, secure, as they thought, in the knowledge that their proposal would be defeated, they wished to pose as the champions of the civil servants. They knew that the present Prime Minister was practically bound to vote for the Government on the question, because he had spoken so strongly in support of the attitude they had assumed, and they also thought that all the members of his party would follow him. That is where they made a grave miscalculation. They had overlooked the’ fact that the members of that party were free men who had the right to vote as they thought fit upon such questions. They had measured the Freetrade Party by the conditions of their own caucus, and they made a great mistake. The result was that when they discovered that several honorable members of the Freetrade Party intended to vote with them, it was too late for them to retreat from the position which they had taken up. The honorable member for Gwydir waved his arms like a wind-mill, and threatened those honorable members who supported the amendment with what would happen to them when they went before the electors - as if the. Labour Party had not previously opposed them. Honorable members of the Labour Party, one after another, ‘expressed themselves in terms which showed how disappointed they were at the prospect of the amendment being carried. But their knowledge came too late, and their object in posing as champions of the public servants was defeated, because, when they came into office, and had an opportunity to carry into effect the principle they had advocated, they failed to do so.
– No, they did not fail.
– I say they did. They took into their Cabinet the .honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne, who had previously voted for that provision. I believe that he voted for it. At any rate, whilst the Labour Party occupied the cross-benches the honorable and learnedmember, in speaking upon the AddressinReply, attacked the Deakin Government upon their position in regard to this matter. He said - as will be seen by reference to Hansard, page 1037 -
The best argument that has been advanced by the Prime Minister is that at the inception of this Act it is inexpedient to overload it. I should be strongly impressed by that argument if this question were not involved in a greater one. We are asked to refuse to extend the operation of this Bill .to the public servants of the States, upon the ground that we do not possess the constitutional power to take such action. With me that consideration overweighs any question of expediency. If we believe that we have the necessary constitutional power, by all means let us exert it. Now is the only time for us to exercise it. We must speak now, or be for ever silent. When we are told by the Government that we do not possess this power, we must insist upon testing the question.
That declaration meant that the only way in which the matter could be tested before the High Court was by including that provision in the Bill. The honorable and learned member affirmed that that was the only opportunity which honorable members had of testing the question, and if they believed in the principle they should incorporate it in the Bill. He continued -
I would not be a party to including in the measure any provision which I thought would be nugatory and useless. At the same time, if we 8 c honestly believe that we possess this power, lel us exert it, and not abandon the trust which the people have reposed in us.
That language clearly indicates the attitude of the honorable and learned member upon this question. What happened sub sequently ? The Labour Government sueceeded the Deakin Administration. Hav ing defeated that Administration upon this very principle, which they had declared was absolutely necessary to the successful working of the Bill, one would naturally suppose that their first step would have been to include such a provision in that measure. Instead of doing so, however, they presented the Arbitration Bill with this clause excised from it, and that upon the advice of their Attorney-General, who had previously declared that they must seize this as the only opportunity which would present itself of including it in the Bill, so that the question might be tested.
– Can the honorable member name a public servant who is excluded from the operation of the Bill?
– All civil servants were covered by the amendment.
– So they are now.
– No; only the public servants of the States, and those who are engaged in industries.
– Would clerical employes have been covered by the amendment in its original form?
– Unquestionably. There was no invidious distinction thus contemplated. The contention ‘ was that, without the amendment of the honorable member for Wide Bay, the Bill would be absolutely useless. I should like to dwell for a moment upon the attempt which is now being made to reintroduce the Tariff question, with a view to raising the protective duties at present operating? The object of the Ministerial alliance is to abide by the verdict of the people during the life of this Parliament. That arrangement involves no sacrifice of principle, because protectionists are still free to advocate their Tariff theories, whilst free-traders possess absolutely the same. liberty. So far as the Free-trade Party are concerned, I hold that when they have not the power by force of numbers to effect any revision in the Tariff by way of lowering the existing duties, the next best thing for them to do is to attempt to prevent those duties from being increased.
– Then the honorable member admits that the protectionists who are associated with the Ministerial following are betraying the people.
– No ; because the appeal to the people, was not made on behalf of protection, but on behalf of fiscal peace. As evidencing that, I will read what honorable members said immediately this Parliament met. . According to Hansard, page 90, the present Prime Minister, in discussing the motion for the adoption of the AddressinReply, said -
I wish now to express my entire agreement with a remark made by the Prime Minister in a remarkable announcement which he made on the occasion of a great gathering in this city at the beginning of last month. I heartily agree with the Prime Minister that the only basis upon which a system of a responsible Executive, acting in a Parliament of this type, can be secured - the only possible condition under which that principle can be honorably and usefully worked - is when the Ministry in office commands the confidence of the full majority of the people’s representatives. If the Ministry do not command that confidence, they should make an alliance - provided that alliance can honorably be made.
That is precisely in keeping with what has since taken place. He continued -
I will at once admit that, provided an alliance can be honorably made between two parties in the House, it is the only way in which to adjust the balance. But as long as three independent parties live in the same House - the parties being more or less equally balanced- the basis of an honorable Government is, I will not say lost, but endangered. . . . There must be none of these underhand intrigues. I hope that the party to which I belong, and that the Labour Party too, whatever they may do in the public life of this country, will act up to the principle which the Prime Minister has announced.
The honorable and learned member for Ballarat said, as will be seen by reference to Hansard, page 91 -
The problem facing them now was how to conduct a Parliament which, instead of having a majority and a minority, had three practically equal parties taking part in the proceedings. It was a problem which had not yet been solved in any part of the world….. Administration and legislation had always been conducted 011 the principle of a majority and a minority. Now, however, they had practically three equal parties, and the position was unstable. It was absolutely impossible. It could not continue, and ought not to continue.
– That is the position which exists to-day.
– It was the position taken up by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, and the present Prime Minister, immediately after the assemblingofP arliament - so early, indeed, as the debate which took place on the Address-in-Reply. Their attitude indicated that two parties must find a common basis of agreement if the business of the country was to be successfully carried on. This statement was made by the honorable and learned member at a time when he was fresh from the elections. We may say that we are still fresh from the elections, for are we not in the first session of the new Parliament? Let me read what the honorable and learned member for Ballarat said on the question of the armed truce during the course of the same speech. At page 108 of Hansard he is reported as follows: -
When he spoke with a certain sympathy -
He was referring to the right honorable member for East Sydney - of the funeral obsequies of the Ministry, the apprehensions which I might otherwise have felt were calmed by the realization that he is wearing black crape upon his own arm in remembrance of obsequies far more important than those of a Ministry or party - the death and burial, during this Parliament, at all events, of the fiscal issue.
The honorable member for Bland, who at this time was the sole leader of the Labour Party-
– He is still the only leader of the party.
– Does the honorable member think that we now have more than one leader ?
– The Labour Party is now a triple-headed party. I understand that the honorable member for Hume is one of its leaders, that the honorable and learned member for Indi is another, and that it has yet another in the honorable member for Bland. Honorable members on this side of the House have been twitted with supporting a double-headed Ministry. That may be an undesirable state of affairs. I should be better pleased if it did not exist ; but, on the other hand, those who “ live in glass houses should not throw stones.” When we look at the composition of the Opposition, we find that they are in a worse plight than we are - that instead of having only a dualheaded leadership, they have a triple-headed one. It will perhaps in. time be only a dual-headed Opposition, for the head’ that happens to be between the other two will probably get crushed in the course of the battles that are sure to rage in the ranks of the party itself.
– It is only the honorable member’s imagination that we have a tripleheaded Opposition.
– We witnessed the spectacle of the honorable member for Hume leading the forlorn hope of the extreme protectionists, who are anxious to raise the fiscal issue, notwithstanding that they have subscribed to a Tariff truce, and honorable members on this side of the House commenced to look upon him as the actual leader, not only of the Labour Party, but of the whole Opposition. Suddenly, however, another leader sprang up, and the honorable member for Hume was apparently deposed. I should not like to say that he was, for it is only charitable to believe that he still holds the position which he was assumed to occupy.
– Who assumed that he occupied that position?
– Honorable members were entitled to assume that he held that position, in view of the very prominent part which he played on various occasions as spokesman for the whole party, and also by reason of the fact that several consulta-tions took place between him and other leading members of the Opposition. I shall not read any lengthy quotation from the speech made by the honorable member for Bland, during the course of the debate on the Address-in-Reply ; but I shall take extracts from it which show that when he met this House, he, in common with the leaders of the other parties, recognised that the country had declared for a truce on the fiscal issue. It was not the fault of the free-trade members of this House that such a declaration was made by the people. So far as New South Wales is concerned, the country declared for a revision of the Tariff in the direction of free-trade. But New South Wales is only one of six States in the Union. The remaining States were opposed to her in this matter, and declared not for a greater measure of protection, but for a Tariff truce. That is vouched for by the honorable member for Bland, who, at page 147 of Hansard, is reported 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 free-trade and protection has disappeared for some time to come….. At any rate, so far as the Tariff is concerned. Practically, the fiscal issue is dead, and the surest confirmation of that view is the neglect of the leader of the Opposition to test the feeling of this House upon the subject. That is an admission that the question is dead, at any rate, so far as this Parliament is concerned. I
There is no vague ambiguity about that declaration. How can the honorable member . reconcile the position which, he then took up, with his position at the present time, as a member of a party which, although it has declared the Tariff issue to be dead, is now anxious to raise it to .its highest possible point? How can he reconcile his position as an advocate of fiscal war, with the position which he then took up as an advocate of fiscal peace, declaring that he accepted the verdict of the country as being in favour of the adoption of that course?
– That is not correct.
– I have quoted from Hansard.
– I say, that the conclusions which the honorable member draws from the speech are not correct.
– I am not responsible for the accuracy of the report, but I presume that, had there been any inaccuracy, it would have been corrected. If the honorable member thinks that the Hansard report is incorrect, what has he to say to a further declaration which was made, on a subsequent occasion, by the honorable member in his capacity as Prime Minister?
– I am not doubting the accuracy of the Hansard report, but the conclusions which the honorable member draws from it.
– Let me first quote a statement made by the honorable member for Bland, when before the electors. On the 1 2th November, 1903, shortly prior to the general elections. He said that -
He would not, in any circumstances, be a party to disturbing the fiscal peace now reached.
That is a fairly comprehensive statement.
The Labour Party had been able to knock out a few taxes which pressed heavily on the people, and in this way had reduced the revenue by a large amount.
After making the speech during the debate on the Address-in-Reply, to which I have referred, trie honorable member, as Prime Minister, went to his own constituency, and, speaking at a public meeting at Wagga, on 9th of August last, said -
I believe there is no probability of any appeal for the alteration of the Tariff being responded to during this present Parliament. The people were assured at the last elections that it was desirable to have fiscal peace, at any rate, for this Parliament, and I must say that I agree that it is desirable to have some rest from the eternal fight on the fiscal question. If this were a country which had been united for many years, and the full effect of Inter-State free-trade could be 8 c 2 accurately gauged, and the whole records were available for years, then I should say that there might be grave reason to inquire again into the conditions brought about by the Tariff. But we have not had time since the passing of the Tariff to get any clear idea of what its incidence will be in the future.
We thus have the evidence of the leaders of the three different parties which were then in existence - the Deakin Party, the Reid Party, and the Watson Party - as c the verdict of the country. We have also the evidence of another honorable and learned member, who, strange -to say, is to be found to-day most actively assisting those who wish to fight against what they declared to be the verdict of the country. We find the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne among those who now wish for fisca’l war instead of the fiscal peace on which they appealed to the electors. Here is what the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne said in regard to that question -
Now that the Tariff has been disposed of, surely we must recognise that there is nothing between the Ministerial and the Opposition side of the House than the table. There are more differences’ of opinion between individual members of the Opposition than there are between members of the front Ministerial and front Opposition benches.
The honorable and learned member professed to recognise that there was practically no difference between those who were sitting in Opposition and those on the Ministerial benches.
Similarly there are more differences between Ministerial supporters themselves than there are between the political views of Ministerialists and Oppositionists.
I should like to know how the honorable and learned member reconciles that attitude with the attitude he takes up now, as one of the small party led by the honorable and learned member for Indi, who are anxious to raise the Tariff issue at the present time ? Some complaint has been made by the leader of the L-bour Party about the unfair tactics which have been pursued in arriving at the vote by which the late Government were ousted from office. But I would remind honorable members opposite that the battle ground was of their own choosing. The issue upon which the late -Government were defeated was not in itself necessarily a vital issue. Believing that they had means of escape at their disposal the late Government, with that appearance of courage which characterizes them when they think they are going to win, and that there is no possibility of defeat, made the question vital. But while they chose the battle ground, the members of the then Opposition chose the time for making their attack. This was what the Labour Party had not bargained for. It was a case of being out-generalled. The then Government had made provision for meeting a frontal attack. They had prepared bridges by which they could escape, and laid mines and made other preparations to repel an onslaught from the front. But they had not made provision for an attack on their flank. The members of the Opposition, whilst accepting the field of battle, chose the time when the issue should be fought, and by means of superior generalship a time was chosen which was inopportune for the occupants of the Treasury bench, whose sentinels were caught napping at their posts. It was a perfectly legitimate thing when the gauge of battle had been thrown down by the Ministry of the day, and they had declared that they would regard a certain proposal as vital, for the Opposition, accepting the situation, to choose their own time for making the attack. Their choice, of course, was made when it best suited them. That was perfectly fair tactics in political warfare. But there was no necessity to make a detail of a Bill in Committee vital, and the members of the Opposition are not to be held responsible because the late Government were foolish enough to do such a thing. But the charge of unfairness made against the Opposition is absolutely baseless. I now want to refer to something which was said by the honorable and learned member for Indi in reference to the Prime Minister. He quoted a passage from a speech by the Prime Minister, in which that right honorable gentleman said -
In the plenitude of time, when our millions have become tens of millions, we shall have a crop of misery which shall solve the difficulty in regard to cheap manufactures.
The object of that quotation was to indicate that the present Prime Minister meant that the question of cheap competition was to be solved when, men and women in Australia were starving and lacking even a crust of bread. But I charge the honorable and learned member for Indi with gross unfairness in separating that quotation from its context, which bore no such construction as he placed upon it. This is a sample of the kind of charges which are levelled against the Prime Minister and honorable members on this side.
– Let the honorable member read the context.
– This is the portion which the honorable and learned member for Indi did not read -
Will the erection of a fence solve it? Never ! We may run a ring round our own people, but we cannot bull-doze the markets of the world. When we come to compete with those markets, we shall have to do as all other nations do. That is why I have abhorred the policy of producing artificial industries which belong to -a period of human misery and’ over-population.
It will be seen that those words are not capable of the construction which the honorable and learned member for Indi sought most unfairly to put upon them. The Prime Minister was referring to the futility of attempting to improve human conditions, and to get rid of misery, starvation, and other evils which oppress humanity, by raising Tariff walls around industry - he was trying to prove the absolute futility of such means for bringing about an improvement in the social and industrial conditions of the people. The words are not capable of the construction which the honorable and learned member for Indi most cruelly attempted to put on them, and which went broadcast through the newspapers as the sentiments of the Prime Minister. I should like to say a word as to the position of the honorable and learned member for Indi, in regard to the fiscal truce. In the Melbourne Argus, of 14th September, there is reprinted an extract from a speech delivered by the honorable and learned member on fiscal matters, and as I have seen no contradiction I may assume that the report is correct.
– What is the date of the speech ?
– The date of the delivery of the speech is not given’, but it was before the last election, I think.
– The speech was delivered about ten years ago.
– The speech was quoted in the Argus a few days ago, and I presume that if anything had been wrong the honorable and learned member would have taken the very first opportunity to send a correction. - And the miner, how is he on a level with the workers in the town ? He has a weight round his neck.
Evidently, the honorable and learned member was a staunch free-trader at that time.
We are told that the miners patriotically stood by protection in the past. Are we to whip the willing horse to death? Is protection to go ‘on for ever to an unlimited extent, right on, as we arc mid ‘to prohibition? Are we never to stop taxing the miner? He is the man who goes through the most arduous labour, the .most dangerous pursuits, to win the wealth of the country ; and what does he get in return for it ? A promise that more burdens shall be laid upon- him. His pick is weighted with taxation, every article he wears is weighted with taxation, and when he goes home every article in his house, even his knife and fork, is taxed.
When we read that speech, can we conceive it possible that it was delivered by the same honorable and learned member for Indi, who is now seeking to place fresh burdens on the shoulders of the miner - to put fresh taxes on what the miner uses? Can we conceive it possible that the two are one and the same person ? I must confess’ that to me it seems a most strange and unaccountable metamorphosis. As to some other honorable members, it is inter:esting to see what they have said, in- regard to those matters. The honorable member for Bourke is reported in the Melbourne Age of. November 25, to have said at Northcote -
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 -
I wonder whether the honorable member meant any allusion to gentlemen now sitting on the other side of the House. See- - ing that he is in active association with those same gentlemen, I can hardly believe that to be the case. But still we have to go by what the honorable member himself.. has said. The speech proceeds - or whether they would send back their present member, who represented, not one section, but all sections of the constituency . . . leaving the ballot-box to decide whether the choice should rest with the domination of. the Political Labour League or the .individual judgment and liberty of the people.
How are we to reconcile those sentiments with the position of the honorable member at the present time in association with those ‘ whom he in November last, during thy itcent campaign, denounced in no unmeasured terms? In making a very violent attack on that party, he further said -
Their methods savoured of Tammany Hall and Russia - the caucus did not allow any liberty.
Those, are peculiar sentiments for an honorable member to hold who is now so closely associated with the very men whose methods he thus described in . November.
– Tell us what the Prime Minister said about the honorable and learned member for Ballarat.
– I leave that to other honorable members. Here is another remarkable speech, delivered at Brunswick Town Hall, and reported in the Age of November 1 2 th : -
It was a question of the domination of a party called the Political Labour Party or of the electors choosing a candidate of their own free right. He would deal with the constitution, the tactics and methods of the Political Labour Party at’ a future election meeting, and he would promise to make it very interesting indeed.
And he did, though I shall not quote the speech just now. Honorable members may look it up on the files for themselves.
He held their own declaration in his hand, on which were the names of Tom Mann, Messrs. White and Fleming, and other anarchists.
– Whose declaration?
– The declaration of the Political Labour League.
-I think the honorable member is misquoting the honorable member for Bourke.
– I am reading the speech as reported in the Melbourne Age, and if the honorable member had been . misreported, I take it that he would have -sent a correction. I looked in subsequent issues for a correction, but could find no trace of one, and, therefore, I think it is perfectly legitimate for me to accept the report as . an accurate statement of what the honorable member said. At this juncture of the honorable member’s speech, a voice interjected, “What has that to do with the Labour Party?” and the . reply of the honorable member for Bourke was: -
It had got this to do with it; that circular was issued as the result of a minute carried at the Trades Hall Council. . . . With reference to the future, he would support the Government as. regards the maintenance of the present fiscal protection and fiscal peace.
So that the honorable member for Bourke ‘ was a declared anti-Socialist ..at that time, and asserted that the Political Labour League was composed of anarchists and Socialists, because they had accepted as their creed a circular issued by those bodies. The honorable member’s name appears in the list published by the Age newspaper of those who were opposed’ to any interference with the Tariff and to Socialism, but we now find him amongst those who are raising the Tariff issue in order to bring forward measures of extreme protection, and who to do this have allied themselves with those very Socialists whose policy they have condemned in such vigorous language.. I have a good deal more to say upon the question, and possibly honorable members would agree to an adjournment of the debate at this hour.
House adjourned at 10.40 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 20 September 1904, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1904/19040920_reps_2_21/>.