2nd Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– I wish to make a personal explanation with reference to a statement made in this House last evening as to my conduct in connexion with the case of some potters under the Immigration Restriction Act. Honorable members will recollect that the honorable and learned member for West Sydney stated last night that I had taken certain proceedings with reference to either the employer or the men themselves. In one of the newspaper accounts published this morning he is reported to have said that I had taken proceedings against the men.
– He said “ against the employer.”
– I think that he did. In the other and fuller account - that which appears in the Melbourne Age - he is reported to have said that I had taken the proceedings against the employer. .1 should have liked to. refer to an advance proof of Hansard, to set the matter at rest ; but we are not entitled to see proof copies of other member’s speeches until they have been corrected, unless with the permission of the member concerned, and, as the honorable and learned member for West Sydney was not here, I could not get his authority. I have therefore had to fall back on the newspaper reports. The Age report of the honorable and learned member’s remarks reads as follows : -
The Prime Minister stated his intention of altering the law-.
That is the law with reference to this contract, arrangement- as soon as he got into power; but what has he done? Listen : Six English potters landed in this country - men of our own flesh and blood - and are now here as citizens; but instructions are being given -
Honorable members will notice that the present tense -is- employed - to the Solicitor-General to file, in New South Wales, an information against the man who brought them here, and under the very section of the Act under which it was sought to prevent the six hatters landing. (Sensation, and loud Opposition cheers).
Since the rising of the House I have had an opportunity to get full information on the subject from the Secretary to the Department, and I am now in a position to state to the House that I have never, from the time I entered office until this moment, had any papers submitted to me in connexion with any incident of the kind, nor have I ever given any instructions of any kind with reference either to the potters themselves or to their employer. I knew that something had occurred in reference to this matter since I came into office, and that made me reticent until I could satisfy myself of the facts, because it is always best to wait until one is sure. This is what has occurred: When I came into office .the Secretary to the Department asked me if I wished to disturb any of the actions of my predecessors, especially with reference to this Immigration Restriction Act. Honorable members who have been in office knew what the universal rule is - that no Minister who comes in disturbs the decisions of his predecessors except under some very special circumstances. That is an unwritten law, pf which every man of experience is aware. The Secretary asked me whether I had any intention to undo or to unsettle the actions of my predecessors under this Act, and I said, as I think any other Minister in the world would have said, that I had not. As a matter of fact, the instructions to prosecute were issued by the honorable and learned member for West Sydney himself some days before I took office. I am sorry that he is not here now. I asked that word should be sent to him of my intention to make this explanation, but unfortunately he is not here. I am making a statement of my own now, but it will be more satisfactory if I presently read the report of the Secretary to the Department. I am stating now what I think is the worst feature of this matter, that the honorable and learned member, standing at this table, put that imputation upon me, to be printed in the records of the national Parliament, and to be circulated against me all through Australia, and, a few minutes afterwards, went out of the Chamber, and made another statement to the representative of the Melbourne Age, which was absolutely at variance with it, and in which he acknowledged that he had given the instructions himself, though he said that I could have undone them.
– Hear, hear.
– Of course I could. Who requires to be told that? I could have undone the administration of the law ; but is that what honorable members wish a Minister to do? Just fancy the denunciations which would have been levelled against me if I had undone the work of my predecessor under that Act without either rhyme or reason. Honorable members surely see the distinction between fair political fighting and the making of statements to be reported in our proceedings which are absolutely untrue. Surely there is a distinction between those two things !
– I do not think the honorable and learned member wished it to be implied that the right honorable gentleman should have undone his work.
– So far from implying it here, he stated that I had done what was really done by himself ; but outside he admitted that I had not done it, though I could undo his work. Yet, notwithstanding that admission, there is left on the pages of Hansard his statement that I did the work.
– The right honorable member would have carried out the law, would he not?
– I hope that the honorable and learned member will allow me to make this explanation. I know that he is generous enough for that small favour. On my arrival at my office this morning, I addressed this minute to the Secretary to the Department -
The alleged prosecution of six potters.
My impression at the time was that the honorable and learned member for West Sydnev had stated that the six potters had been prosecuted. That is the statement reported in one of the newspapers; but in the Age report it is stated that it is the employer who was prosecuted. However, that is an immaterial, point.
-The honorable and learned member for West Sydney said that it was the employer who had been prosecuted.
– My minute continues -
Perhaps the Secretary will be good enough to furnish me with a report on this subject. Is there any truth in the suggestion that I put the provisions, of the Immigration Restriction Act in force in connexion with any such case?
The Secretary replied -
The papers in this matter are in Sydney. The order of . Mr. Hughes to initiate proceedings was communicated to the Collector of Customs, Sydney, in a letter dated 13th August -
That was before I came into office - instructing him to lay the papers before the Crown Solicitor, with a view to prosecuting the firm under section 12 of the Act, which provides that- “ Any person who makes or authorizes any contract or agreement, the performance of which would be a contravention of the Act, shall be guilty of an offence.”
No instructions were given to take proceedings against the men.
– The 13th August is the day upon which my motion was carried against the Watson Administration.
– The decision may have been arrived at earlier than that.
– I am not making any point of that.
– But one of- the honorable member’s colleagues did.
– I have no complaint of any kind to make upon that point. I was so anxious to carry out the ordinary rules that when I found a recommendation of my honorable predecessor with regard to the ‘appointment of a judicial officer for New Guinea, I accepted it, although the appointment had not actually been made. I wished to show proper respect for the decisions of my predecessor, although they might not have been formally ratified. The memorandum proceeds -
On Mr. Reid taking over the administration of this Department, I had a conversation with him about the more important cases then current, and informed him briefly what had been done in this matter. Mr. Reid said that he did not propose to interfere with any directions given by his predecessor.
I never even saw the papers upon the subject, because they were in Sydney when I came into office. Mr. Hunt proceeds as follows : -
Recently I wrote to the Collector of Customs, Sydney, asking how the matter stood, and was informed, in reply, that the Crown Solicitor had asked for further particulars, which were then being obtained.
Then I asked the following question : -
Since our conversation, when I took office, above referred to, has the case been submitted to me in any shape or form?
Mr. Hunt’s reply was “No.”
Honorable Members. - Hear, hear.
Debate resumed from 20th September, (vide page 4758), on motion by Mr. Watson -
That the present Administration does not possess the confidence of this House.
– The statement which has just been made by the Prime Minister, with reference to the attack upon him as the head of the Government, in connexion with the six potters, shows the unscrupulous character of the opposition which is being directed against the present Ministry, not, I admit, by the whole of the members of the Opposition, but, certainly by some of the prominent members of that party. I have every liking for a fair, straight-out fight, no matter how hard the hitting may be, but I entirely disapprove of tactics which savour of gross unfairness.
– Then why did the honorable member take part in the sand-bagging of the last Ministry.
– I never took part in any sand-bagging. In my attitude towards the Opposition I have throughout been guided by principle. I have endeavoured at all times to refrain from personalities or attacks upon individuals.
– Is the honorable and learned member for West Sydney a prominent member of the Opposition?
– He is an ex-Minister. I have never descended, and I trust I never shall, to pursue such despicable tactics as have unfortunately been practised by some honorable members opposite. The newfound zeal for fiscal war on the part of honorable members who were returned to promote fiscal peace, is certainly most peculiar, in view of the death-like silence they have maintained with regard to that question during the last few months. We are entitled to believe that some sinister influence has been at work, rather than that their action is prompted by a desire to promote the public interest. We have been told by the honorable and learned member for Indi that the alliance entered into between his followers and the Labour Party is a perfectly natural one, because the
Labour Party have always helped “ the protectionists to impose the heaviest burdens upon the backs of the people.
– The honorable member should not attack his friends.
– I am not doing so. I am speaking of those honorable members who wish to raise the Customs duties still higher. The desire of the honorable and learned member for Indi is to secure the assistance of the members of the Labour Party in imposing still further burdens upon the people whose interests they are supposed to have specially in their care. The honorable and learned member, who, by the way, is playing the part of the spider in the fable of the. “ Spider and the Fly,” when speaking <a few days ago, said -
But for the assistance of the protectionist majority in the Labour Party, the Tariff would not have been as protective as it was.
The honorable member for Melbourne Ports stated -
The alliance is purely on a protectionist basis.
The honorable member for Darling said -
The only true protectionists are on this side of the House.
The desire on the part of honorable members for an increase of duties is in strange contrast to the attitude they assumed when they were before the electors recently. Among those honorable members who subscribed to the principle of a fiscal truce was the honorable member for Melbourne Ports. His utterances are specially interesting in view of the present action of the Labour Party, because in his speech reported in the Age of 24th November last, the honorable member not only defined his position with regard to the Tariff, but also expressed his opinion very strongly with regard to the Labour Party. He said -
He had no intention, however, of re-opening the Tariff fiscal question. (Cheers.) In answer to a question Mr. Mauger said he had been asked to “-nominally “ sign the platform of the P.L.C. A Voice - “ Then the Council is a failure.” (Cheers).
– “ I say it is not only a failure - it is an absolute fraud.”
Now we find the honorable member, who described the Labour Party with which he is in alliance as a fraud-
– That is not correct.
– I am reading from the report published’ in the Age.
– The honorable member is placing his own construction ‘upon it.
– I have not seen any contradiction in the same paper.
– No, because it did not suit the honorable member to look for a contradiction.
– I have looked through the files, and I have not seen any contradiction. If the honorable member assures me that he did not make the statement attributed to him, I am prepared to accept his denial. His position on the Tariff question has, however, been clearly defined. He was one of those who supported the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, who was appealing to the country on the issue of fiscal peace. Notwithstanding that during all these months he has never opened his lips in an attempt to raise the Tariff question, he now wishes to deny that the verdict of the electors of the “ Commonwealth was - as his erstwhile leader, the honorable and learned member for Ballarat declared - in favour of. fiscal peace.,.
– I was the first to- open the matter, and to point out what I thought was necessary.
– I cannot help contrasting the utterances which I have just quoted with the attitude of the honorable member at the present time. How can he reconcile ‘ his appeal to the electors to return him-to assist in promoting fiscal peace, and his tacit acceptance of the result as a verdict for fiscal peace, with his action in denying, months afterwards, that the verdict of the people was in favour of a Tariff truce?
– That, was a mere incidentin the elections.
– It was the main issue at the general elections. As I pointed out last night, it was the issue set forth bv the organ of the Protectionist Party - I refer to the Age - day. after day, and it was also that which was put before the electors by the honorable and learned, member for Ballarat in his opening speech of the campaign, and the issue put to the electors of Melbourne’ Ports by the honorable member himself. ‘’ How, then can the honorable member for Melbourne Ports justifiably urge that it” constituted merely a minor incident in’ the elections ? It was the main issue, I repeat, and that” upon which the battle was fought in Victoria and the other States: The verdict of the electors of New South Wales was overwhelmingly in favour of freetrade, but that of a majority ‘of those of Victoria and the Commonwealth was in favour of the’ maintenance of. fiscal peace, as the honorable member for Melbourne Ports is very well aware.
– The verdict of the electors of Victoria is always in favour of adequately’ protecting industries.
– How can the honorable member reconcile his present attitude with the speeches which were delivered by himself and others in this House at a very early stage of the present session? Both the present Prime Minister and the leader of the Labour Party admitted in the debate which took place upon the AddressinReply that the people had declared for the maintenance of fiscal peace. Since then they have emphasized that fact time after time.
– That is twelve months ago. Look what has happened since then.
– What was the verdict of the electors of New South Wales ?
– It was in flavour of the adoption of a free-trade policy. I am just as ardent a free-trader now as I was when I appeared before the electors. I am also an advocate of temperance and other reforms. Does the mere fact that I cannot achieve my desire in respect of these matters, because the numbers are against me, constitute an abandonment of principle? The idea will not hold water. Honorable members upon the Ministerial side of the House are perfectlv free to express their individual opinions. I stand here to-day as absolute a free-trader as I ever was, and with full power to exercise my own judgment as to how I shall vote. Honorable members opposite cannot lay claim to the same measure of freedom, because no matter how ardently they may believe either in free-trade or protection, if a majority of the caucus decide against them they have to bow their heads in submission.
– That is not correct.
– That is the position, and honorable members know it. If the adpntion of a certain course is declared to be in the interests of the party, the minority have to, vote in a certain way.
– Nonsense; that was the pledge’ which the honorable member signed in New South Wales.
– Not at all. The leader of the Opposition forgets that the first fighting platform of the Labour Party was an absolutely free-trade platform. It contained these words - “ We will raise revenue by the taxation of land values, irrespective of improvements.”
– It did not say that.
– I have the platform here.
– Read it.
– I have already quoted from it in this House. I read the extract in question when addressing honorable members from the Opposition side of the Chamber at an early stage of our existence as a new Parliament. As a matter of fact, I have copies of all the platforms which have since been adopted by th£ Labour Party. With each succeeding year that platform has retrograded from democratic ideals more and more. I repeat that the original platform of that party partook more of a free-trade character than did the platform of the Free-trade Party itself, and when I ran under the auspices of that party, it was on that democratic free-trade platform, and with the express stipulation that if I were ever called upon to give a vote which would involve the sacrifice of my free-trade principles, I would resign any seat in Parlia-. ment rather than consent to such a proceeding.
– Was that stipulation in writing ?
– We have every reason to believe that there is in the LabourLiberal alliance something which has been kept very much in the background. There is a compact which has not yet been revealed, but upon which some light has already been thrown. The somewhat blunt, and, perhaps, incautious remarks of the honorable member for Hume shed a little light upon this matter. He informed us that the Labour Party has pledged itself to support the Manufactures Encouragement Bill. Where do free-trade members of the Labour Party come in when they sell themselves body and soul to a body which wishes to introduce that measure of protection? When they charge Ministerial supporters with having abandoned their principles, how can they reconcile their own free-trade tenets with a pledge to support a Bill which is admittedly of a severely protectionist character ?
– Who said that?
– The honorable member for Hume gave us an insight into the basis of the alliance.
– He is not one of the leaders.
– I understand that at the time of which I speak he was one of the leaders. I do not know what position he occupies at present, but it seems to me that the superior generalship, and perhaps cunning, of another ambitious individual in the person of the honorable member for Indi has unfortunately paled the lustrous radiance of his political light.
– The honorable member is entirely wrong. The honorable membei for Hume is as much a leader now as he ever was.
– Then we are to understand that the Opposition has three leaders. I repeat that the honorable member for Hume has declared that the Labour Party has entered into a compact to support the Manufactures Encouragement Bill. That measure, as honorable members are aware, was made, the subject, of an inquiry by a Select Committee, which was subsequently converted into a Royal Commission. That Commission con sisted of twelve members, and opinion was evenly divided upon the merits of the proposal. Amongst those who disagreed with the principle embodied in the Bill were the honorable member for Bland and the honorable and learned member for West Sydney, who subscribed to the following paragraphs in the report : -
These are not my words, but those used in the report itself-
There can be no guarantee that the bonuses proposed would permanently establish the industry, though it is probable the inducements offered might be instrumental in forming speculative companies.
One of the witnesses, Mr. Sandford, managing director of the Eskbank Iron Works, New South Wales, stated that he had made an agreement with an English syndicate to spend£250,000 in extending the Lithgow works if the Bill passed. In answer to another question, Mr. Sandiford said that to make pig-iron he wanted a plant involving an expenditure of from£100,000 to £125,000. This estimate is less than half the sum proposed to be paid in bonuses.
These are very strong statements, to which the leader of the Opposition and the honorable and learned member for West Sydney subscribed, in the report of the Commission. Yet we are now told, in the face of these damaging assertions, that the Labour Party, of which these honorable members are shining lights, have pledged themselves to support the very Bill against which they reported in such unmeasured terms of condemnation.
– Why not quote all that I said? In addition to the statement which the honorable member has attributed to me, I said that in Committee the members of the party would be free to vote as they pleased* on the question whether the industry should be owned by the State or taken up by private enterprise.
– That is the whole point.
– I quoted the exact words used by the honorable member.
– But the honorable member suppressed the context.
– The statement just made by the honorable member for Hume does not alter the position.
– The position may remain the same, in the opinion of the honorable member, but not in the view of any one else.
– These honorable members show clearly in the report to which they subscribed that it is proposed to put an immense sum of public money into the pockets of private individuals.
– And some of the members of the present Ministry also agreed to the payment of the proposed bonuses.
– Is it not the purpose of the honorable and learned member for Indi and the. . honorable member for Hume to secure the passing of the Bill in the interests not of a State industry, but of private enterprise?
– Should not the honorable member be very glad of that?
– I am merely showing the position taken up by the honorable and learned member. I desire to put before the House the inconsistency of the position now occupied by him as compared with that which he took up when he signed the report to which I have referred. If it be true that the alliance has been established on such a basis, I can only say that it is’ an unholy one, and will not commend itself to the respect of the people.
– The honorable member should now iustifv the coalition.
– The honorable and learned member will have ah opportunity later on to deal with that matter, but I intend on this occasion to hoe my own row, and will’ come to that point presently. I wish now to refer to the claim made by the leader pf the . Labour Party - one of . the leaders of a party which has three heads - that the particular section to which he belongs is the representative not of a class, but of all classes. That assertion, however, has been denied, not only by honorable members on this side of the House, but by members of the Labour Party. It is true that when it suits their own purpose members of the Labour Party claim to represent all classes. For example, when they were speaking on the motion for the second reading of the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, some of them - and the honorable member for Darling was among the number - were careful to state, that they came into this House to represent no particular class, but all sections of the community.
– We could not be returned if that were not so.
– In the face of that assertion the honorable member for Darling and other members of the party, when called upon to deal, in Committee, with certain clauses of the Bill conferring special privileges upon a particular class - and that only the section of a class - sang a very different tune.
– That is not correct.
– I desired fair play for them, that was all.
– On that occasion the honorable member for Darling said, among other things, that -
Non-unionists are the most miserably mean, selfish, and narrow-minded men in the community, and why should they be considered.
– Many of them undoubtedly are selfish.
– Notwithstanding this statement the honorable member for Darling insists that he represents non-unionists. At a later stage he. said - .
Non-unionists are largely men of a criminal type - a criminal class.
– Hear, hear.
– Does the honorable member represent men of a criminal type ? Mr. Mauger. - No; criminals have not a vote
– Does the honorable member represent every man in his constituency ?
– I represent men of all shades of opinion.
– Including criminals?
– There may be some lurking unknown in my electorate-
– No; I live in thedistrict. There- are no criminals there.
– I am not prepared to say that I do represent any criminals. My constituency is an eminently respectable one. Although the portion in which 1 reside possesses a police station, it has no police court within its boundaries. I have every reason to believe that even the lock-up rarely has an occupant, so that I think I may fairly claim that I do not represent any criminal class. I am not prepared to dispute with the honorable member for Darlincr the honour of representing a criminal class. I am quite satisfied to represent those who do not belong to that type.
– I am not a champion of the non-unionists. I do not want the support of some of them whom I know.
– Just so. Yet but a short time since the “ honorable member claimed to represent them equally with unionists. I come now to the honorable member for Kennedy, who, in the course of a speech delivered recently by the right honorable member for East Sydney, interjected that non-unionists were “ scabs and blacklegs.” If the honorable member is a representative of scabs and blacklegs, I do not think that such a declaration comes very well from him. It certainly is not creditable to him, and his constituents will not consider that it is at all complimentary.
– He never said that herepresented scabs and blacklegs.
– The statement which! I made can be found in Hansard.
– But he did not say that his own constituents were scabs and black-, legs. The honorable member has placed his own interpretation upon the statement.
– I made the reference in only a jocular vein, but it cannot be denied that the expression to which I havereferred was used by the honorable member. Notwithstanding the assertion madeduring the second-reading debate by members, of the Labour Party that they represent all classes, . many of them in discussing the provisions of the Conciliation, and Arbitration Bill in Committee declared that they were sent. here to represent not all classes, but certain special interests, and to’ legislate for those interests.
– To secure class legislation.
– Exactly. Many of them admitted that they were here to secure- the passing of legislation in the interests of a certain section of the community ; although others denied that that was so. This is only another evidence of the want of unanimity which exists among members of the Opposition. I hold that the members of the Labour Party do not truly represent labour. Those who are associated with other parties in the House more truly, represent labour than do the members of that party, who claim to be the representatives of special classes. Honorable mem- ‘ bers on this side of the House represent labour in the broadest and fullest sense of the term - in that sense which recognises 1 as a labourer every man who by the exercise of his brain or muscle uses ‘the energies with which the Creator has endowed him to carry out his allotted work on this planet. Those who justify their existence by the application of mind or physical energy in any avenue of employment are labourers in the truest sense of the word, and in that sense I represent labour far more truly than does the leader of the Labour Party. The basis of the alliance opposite is an absolutely un-democratic one. It is absolutely opposed to every principle of democracy. The alliance is based upon an effort to secure for certain classes special privileges at the expense of the remainder of the community. The Labour Party desired to obtain special privileges for a certain class by means of a certain clause in the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, which we, in the interests of the whole of the workers, thought it to be our duty to oppose. They sought to establish minority rule. We asserted that democratic .principles demand that the rule of the majority should be respected, that we should endeavour to legislate in the interests of all, and that where a difference of opinion existed we should always allow the majority to decide. But that is a principle which the Labour Party through their legislation have denied. They have sought to turn what was intended to be a beneficent and useful piece of legislation for settling industrial disputes into an engine of political tyranny and oppression - a machine for the creation of industrial disputes. The fight on this side of the House has been against that principle which has been the guiding principle of the Labour Party in engineering the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill.
– Some honorable member’s opposite were against the principle of the’ Bill, and I think that the honorable member was one of them.
– No; I was not antagonistic to the principle of the Bill. The view which I expressed was this - and if the honorable member looks up Hansard he will see that I am right in stating it. I had no great faith in measures of this kind as being measures which would permanently ameliorate the condition of the workers. Bin I was willing to give them a trial - to make an experiment. They could only be palliatives at the best. I was prepared to accept the Bill as a temporary expedient. I expressed my opinion perfectly frankly and clearly, that such measures would not permanently improve the industrial condition of the workers of this or any .other community : and that, whilst we were wasting time over such palliatives, we were neglecting to deal with the root of the evils which we” sought to correct, and which would continue to grow in spite of our temporary remedial legislation.
– What, in the honorable member’s opinion, is the root of the evil ?
– If the honorable member will go to the Library and look up some of the interesting books on political economy to be found there, he will get rid of a great many- of those cobwebs of superstition which at present obscure his intellect, and at the same time obtain some useful light on this great subject and I can assure the honorable member, he is in sad need of enlightenment on economic laws.
– Does the honorable member think that no one reads but himself ?
– I do not intend to occupy the time of the House by giving a dissertation of that kind when there are so many means of getting information to the honorable member’s hand.
– The honorable member for Lang will know, when he has been here a little longer, that No. 66 Bourkestreet knows it all !
– I shall learn, I suppose, provided I outlive the age of Methuselah. In regard to the coalition, I wish to make my position perfectly clear. I have never been an enthusiastic advocate of coalitions, nor do I view the present coalition with anything like ecstatic admiration. I should prefer, as a matter of fact, to be without it. So would other honorable members who are also parties to it, and who dissent from me in regard to mv fiscal views. I am perfectly sure that I express their views equally with my own when I say that if the country had returned a verdict which would have enabled us to come to a straight-out vote on the fiscal issue, a more satisfactory condition of things would have obtained. But the country returned a verdict which made that impossible, but which at the same time did make it possible for the representatives of a small class in this Chamber to dominate legislation in such a way as was, in our opinion, against the interests of the country at large. It became evident at an early stage of our proceedings, that it would be necessary, if we were to combat that tendency, for some sort of alliance to be formed for the purpose of carrying on responsible government, and to check the mischievous legislation with which we were threatened. The only possible way to do that was to recognise for the time being, so far as the life of this Parliament was concerned, that the Tariff issue was at rest, and on that understanding, to allow honorable members holding similar views to come together, temporarily sinking their differences, though adhering to their opinions on the fiscal question. That is the basic principle of this alliance. I saw that I had three courses open to me. As a free man I had a choice of those courses. First I could be a party unto myself. In that aase I should have been absolutely useless for any practical purpose, though as an independent member I should have been very useful to honorable members opposite in enabling them »as a minority to go on with legislation which I believed to ba disastrous. Then I had a second course open to me - to be one of the party of Socialists and protectionists seeking class legislation and endeavouring ,to impose new Tariff burdens. I, as an anti-Socialist - as one who all my life has fought against Socialism and for individual freedom - could not possibly take up that position. I was antagonistic both to the principle of Socialism, and to the principle of extreme protection sought to be imposed by the Labour Party through the instrumentality of the alliance. Then I had a third course - to support an alliance of two parties, who, although differing on the fiscal question, had come together to respect the verdict of the country, and to resist demands for imposing further burdens on the people. There has been no bond - no formal agreement - not even a joint consultation between these two parties, but merely a natural spontaneous co-operation against class legislation and minority rule, and in supporting such a party in present circumstances I am sacrificing no principle.
In fact, I am rendering the very best service which I, as an individualist, as a free man, as an anti-Socialist, and a free-trader could render to the country, to the cause which I advocate, and to the party to which I belong. That is my position to-day. I stand for equal rights for all, and for special privileges to none; in contra-distinction to the attitude of honorable members opposite, who deny equal rights, and stand for privileges for a certain class of the community. How could I for a moment support honorable members who took up that attitude ? The position that I have assumed I am perfectly prepared to justify before my constituents. I am perfectly satisfied that the verdict of my constituents will indorse my attitude on the question. They realize as clearly as I do that the pressure of political circumstances has rendered a combination necessary to preserve the best interests of the country from .falling under the’ baneful influence of legislation which would destroy industry, stop progress, and make for stagnation - which would ultimately be such a retrogression as to hold up this country in the eyes of the world as one from which those with energy, capital, and enterprise ought to keep away. That is the position I take. It is a. position which I have fought for ever since I entered the House, and which I have since avowed in explaining my attitude to some of my constituents. And that is an attitude which has received their unqualified indorsement so far, and one which I am prepared to continue, and to further justify when the proper time comes.
– I regret very much that the Prime Minister is not present. .
– Send for him ; he ought to be here.
– Last night I was subjected to a bitter personal attack at the hands of the Prime Minister. Of course, I feel that since the right honorable member for East Sydney has taken the position of Prime Minister, certain good traditions of decency, fair play, and proper conduct have been practically relegated to the background. It was only last week, if I remember rightly, that the Prime Minister used, in regard to myself, an expression so indecent that Mr. Speaker, I believe, has directed that it shall be struck out of the Hansard reports. And yesterday he1 used another, expression of an equally dirty nature. If the Prime Minister continues to indulge in such ex- pressions it will be just as well that ladies should know when he is going to spe-ak, so that they may realize that it is quite impossible for them to. attend.
– That is a bad construction to place on an innocent remark.
– The traditions of this House have remained unsullied in the hands of decent men until the Prime Minister assumed office. It is a common saying that if we scratch a Russian we find the Tartar, and I venture to say that if we scratch the right honorable member for East Sydney we find a larrikin. If I had no other ground for getting rid of the Ministry than the fact that a gentleman of his calibre - of his. manners and sense of_ decency - holds the high office of Prime” Minister, that of itself would certainly be some justification, and a great justification, for voting for their immediate dismissal. Since the right honorable gentleman came into office, this corner has been subjected to his bitter attacks, though previously all interjections from this portion of the House were received with smiles. The fact was, he wanted to cajole or get the support of the Labour Party, who then occupied the corner. Shortly after the right honorable member for Adelaide left the Government, the present Prime Minister approached the Labour Party and asked the latter to assist in removing the Government from office. He was only too eager to enter into coalition with the party he at present despises and condemns. But now anything from this corner is looked upon by the Prime Minister most severely. Honorable members who sit in the corner are personally attacked, and everything they say seems, in the mind of the Prime Minister, to have a personal meaning! I want to refer, in the first place, to the quotation which the Prime Minister made yesterday from a letter which appeared in the Melbourne Age of 9th September of this year, as follows: -
It is notorious that his accounts were publicly condemned as “ cooked “ ; and that a disinterested 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 doc- tored, and- balances wrongly applied.
The Prime Minister used that quotation and added -
I say that if that were true, I should not stand in any public assembly of honorable men.
I am glad the Prime Minister has taken up that position, because I venture to say that
I shall be able to show his brazen effrontery in attempting, not only to deny the existence of documents, but to use those who signed the report on which he apparently attempts to base his vindication, thus exhibiting his absolute disbelief in the existence of any intelligence in the House. He evidently thinks the public will not take the trouble to read the report for themselves.
– I beg to direct attention to the state of the House. This -is an important matter, and Ministers ought to be present to hear the debate. [Quorum formed.]
– In the first place, I want- to say that there is nothing in my attack which reflects on the Prime Minister’s personal honour. I am not charging him, as I suppose honorable members will understand, with putting his hands into the Treasury and taking out sovereigns - I am not charging him with paying public moneys into his private account. That, I presume, will be understood by anybody except the Prime Minister, who tried to place that interpretation upon my letter. But, at the same time, I charge the Prime Minister - and I think I can prove the charge - with lavish expenditure of borrowed money. I also make the charge that his accounts were publicly condemned as cooked, that a disinterested Committee, appointed bv the Government, supported that criticism by finding that the public funds had been misused, accounts doctored, and balances wrongly applied. I wish to deal with each one of those statements, in order to ascertain whether they cannot be justified.
– Who appointed the Committee? It was a partisan Committee.
– That is not correct ; two of ils members were recommended by the right honorable gentleman himself.
– I am asked, who appointed the committee. I was just going to ask, who had the selection of the members of it ? The Government of New South Wales appointed the committee, but the two banking members, Mr. T. A. Dibbs, the General Manager of the Commercial Banking Company of Sydney - an institution and a man of good repute - and Mr. J. Russell French, General Manager and Chairman of the Bank of New South Wales, were selected by the right honorable member for East Sydney himself to represent him upon the board. I know nothing about the other member of the Committee, Mr. Yarwood, except that he is a public accountant of repute, in Sydney, and he was appointed by :he Government.
– A political opponent of the right honorable member for East Sydney.
– Apparently honorable members on the other side do not like this. Yesterday these men were all first-class men. When, in order to get a certificate of character to present to the people of Australia, in reply to what he called “slanderous statements” concerning him, the right honorable gentleman read a letter from these gentlemen white- washing him, they were all first-class men, though now Ministerial supporters are doing their best! to discredit them. I take the Prime Minister on his own ground. In order to vindicate his position and his financial administration, the right honorable gentleman selected three men, and he yesterday placed before honorable members a document signed by them. As soon as it is clear that I. aim able to show who those men are, and the right honorable gentleman and those behind him become aware of the nature of the report of the Committee, and that it will justify every one of the statements made in my letter to the Age, Ministerialists say that “ these men are no good. They were appointed by a Government adverse to the present Prime Minister.” The honorable member for Hume informs me that two of the members of the Committee were nominated by the right honorable member for East Sydney to represent himself. That is to say, he had the nomination of two out of the three members forming it. The right honorable gentleman yesterday brought to this House what he called a .justification, signed by the three members of the Committee. In the first place, we do not know the terms of the letter the right honorable gentleman wrote to those gentlemen. We may gather something of it from the statement made by Mr. Kirkpatrick,’ who says, “ There is nothing against your personal honour.” the letter from Mr. T. A. Dibbs, Mr. J. Russell French, and Mr. Yarwood is as follows : -
Dear Mr. Reid,
Referring to your note of the 10th inst. to Mr. 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.
Who alleged that they did ? No one made any statement with respect to the right honorable; gentleman’s personal honour, but only in regard to his action as Premier and Treasurer of New South Wales. The letter continues -
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.
This is the justification which the right honorable gentleman puts forward. He ‘first submitted a clean bill of health from Mr. Waddell, who says that he knows nothing bad of the present Prime Minister. I suppose the right honorable gentleman was very glad to get that recommendation. Mr. Waddell personally approves of him, and thinks that there is nothing materially wrong with him. That is all Mr. Waddell said; but we find Mr. J. Vernon, and Mr. Kirkpatrick - the Auditor-General of New South Wales, and the Under-Secretary of the State Treasury - are also called as witnesses. I have here the actual report of the Committee, and I find that the Prime Minister is appealing in * this question from the judges in the case, two of whom were selected bv himself,- to the very men who were the principal witnesses. The right honorable gentleman forgot to tell us yesterday, that what he submitted was the witnesses’ evidence brought up again. The three judges, whose remarks are really condemnatory, by their faint praise and attempt to save the right honorable gentleman from the results of his own .maladministration, had heard the evidence of the two men whose ‘certificates the right honorable gentleman submitted to this House, and they still decided against him.
– Is that all the evidence they heard?
– I say that they were amongst the witnesses heard.
– Where is the letter from Mr. Dibbs the honorable and learned member said he had ?
– My honorable friends will have the letter quickly enough - too quickly for those who desire to defend the character of the Prime Minister. I propose to deal with the matter in my own way. At present I am dealing with the report brought up by the Committee. Although the Prime Minister is not’ present, I trust that both the Melbourne daily newspapers will give me fair play, in the endeavour to show conclusively, as I think I can, that my statements that the right honorable gentleman’s accounts as Treasurer of New South Wales were cooked, that the funds were misappropriated, and the balance wrongly applied by him, are true. I shall then leave it to the Prime Minister himself to say if, in view of the facts, he feels that he can stand in any assembly of honorable men.
– I thought the honorable and learned member was not going to attack the character of the right honorable gentleman ?
– The right honorable gentleman attacks his own character. He has said that in certain circumstances he could not stand in any assembly of honorable men. I propose to mention the circumstances, and if, when they are mentioned, the right honorable gentleman chooses to stain his own character, I shall let him do so. I cannot read the whole of the evidence, which covers 263 pages, but I propose to read certain portions of the report -
As regards the division between the amount charged to “ Loan Expenditure “ and the ordinary and usual expenses of carrying on the Govern-‘ ment of the colony, we find that the appearance of a surplus at the end of the first year (30th June, 1896), was produced, to some extent, by changing the date of the financial year from January-December to July-June, whereby the inclusion of a considerable amount of the annual expenditure proper, to the accounts of 1895-6, was avoided. Some of the items we refer to are as under, viz. : -
That shows clearly that the Treasurer of New South Wales, the Premier of New South Wales, the present Prime Minister, in order to get a good balance-sheet to put before the people of that State, did not charge to its proper account each item of expenditure which should properly have been debited to a particular year, the object being to inflate his balance-sheet, and make it appear that he was a good financial administrator, when, as a matter of fact, he was not. The right honorable gentleman simply “cooked his accounts” - that is the plain way of putting it. The members of the Committee, as judges, proceeded with . judicial calmness, and expressed their view in judicial language ; but the man in the street, and honorable members here, on hearing the evidence, would say that the right honorable gentleman had “cooked his accounts.” The Committee further report -
In addition to the above, the principle of treating part of the expenditure on services paid in 1895-6 as liabilities of previous years, was not one which should have been adopted if it was intended (which we think ought to have been the case) to have shown a true and actual twelve months’ expenses against a twelve months’ revenue.
The first showed that the right honorable gentleman had included in his income amounts which should not have been so included, because they were not properly receivable in the year, and that he had omitted from his expenditure amounts which he should not have omitted from a true account of the actual revenue and expenditure for the twelve months. I ask the House whether that does not prove that the accounts were “cooked.”
– If the honorable and learned member’s statement gave the whole truth, it might prove that ; but we are getting from him a “ cooked “ account of the report of the Committee.
– I am quoting from the “Report of the Committee of Enquiry into the Public Accounts, together with the minutes of evidence, appendices, &c, appointed 2nd April, 1900, and printed under No. 7 report from Printing Committee, 2nd August, 1900.” That report is signed by every member of the Committee. Another statement which it contains is this -
It seems to us that while the full year’s revenue collected was put to the credit o’f 1895-6, the expenditure charged against the same was relieved to such an extent as to produce an alleged surplus of about £333,000 on the 30th June, 1896, whereas it is our unanimous opinion that, had the year 1895-6 been charged with a full ordinary twelve months’ expenditure, there would have been a considerable deficiency. We unanimously estimate the same at not less than £550,000.
The Prime Minister had stated , that he had a surplus of £333.000 on the 30th June, 1896, whereas the Committee, two of whom were appointed by himself, and one of whom is an experienced public accountant in New South Wales, said that there was a deficiency of ,£550,000. Am I justified, therefore, in saying that the Prime Minister “ cooked “ the accounts ?
– No. The honorable and learned member might perhaps explain the Contemporary Review incident.
– The honorable and learned member is referring - in my opinion, very improperly - to a statement which appeared in to-day’s Argus, and I ask him if he has any charge to make against me to do me the courtesy to state it. I cannot but be conscious of the interjections of himself and the honorable member for Wentworth. I strongly object to alleged gentlemen-
– This from the hero of the Albert Park incident !
– Perhaps these are Oxford manners, and must therefore be excused. When a man’s sole claim to breeding is that he has been in the same shop, and has been shaved by a barber who once shaved the Prince of Wales, there is no more to be said. The report continues -
The above figures are based on those of the Treasury itself, and are without taking into consideration the fact that on the expenditure side the full payments in redemption of old liabilities, which, it appears to’ us, should have been made during that period according to law (31 Vic, No. 11), have been omitted to be charged to the extent of ^’68,292 10s. ; while several small amounts have been put to the credit of “ revenue “ which ought rightly to have been considered as received in reduction of liabilities prior to the 30th June, 1S95, when the change in system took place.
That is clearly a case in which balances’ were wrongly applied, which is another criticism to which the right honorable gentleman objects. The third statement to which he objects is that he was guilty of lavish borrowing and expenditure; but the figures given by the Committee show that during the five years in which he was Premier of New South Wales the loan indebtedness of that State increased by over ;£.i 0,000,000. If that is not an instance of lavish borrowing and expenditure, to use the words of the charge, I do not know what further evidence. is necessary to convict the right honorable gentleman of it. The report continues -
During the whole of this branch of our inquiry we have invariably, where we could conscientiously do so, given the Administration of that time the benefit of any doubt in connexion with any matters which have arisen : but we cannot help coming to the conclusion that the accounts of 1S95-6 should have been submitted in such a manner as would have enabled the public to form a correct judgment of the effect of the change of system on that year’s accounts. We recognise that the accounts, as they were submitted, after the change of system to what has been termed the “ cash “ basis, conformed to the programme sanctioned by Parliament -
– Hear, hear. It is Parliament that is there being criticised, not the Minister.
– The honorable gentleman knows better than that.
– It is true, anyhow.
– The report continues-
The accounts, as so made up, brought out a surplus; but, from a business point of view, we cannot see that any such surplus really accrued to the period, but the contrary, as we have shown, and we think this should have been clearly set forth at the time the accounts were submitted. In other words, the result of our inquiry shows that, under all the circumstances of the case, the issue of Treasury Bills, to the net amount of £1,024,700, as covering liabilities of previous years, and representing an ascertained deficiency, at the 30th June, 1895, WAS unnecessary, and had the- effect of considerably and unduly lessening the expenditure charged to the next ensuing year, and was, therefore, in our opinion, misleading, inasmuch as thereby the subsequent real condition of the finances was not made apparent.
If any further evidence of my charges is required, there it is. The Committee say that the real condition of the finances was not made apparent. I admit that I am not reading the whole report, but I am reading everything that fairly bears upon the case. The Committee were asked to answer the question -
Whether the sum of ^1,500,000 was transferred from Trust Funds to the General Loan Account, as alleged, by the Auditor-General ?
To that question their reply was, “Yes.” I will not read the whole of the report, it is too long, but it shows, amongst other things, that the Savings Bank funds were applied to ordinary loan accounts. I think I have said sufficient to show that the Prime Minister not only misused the public moneys, but also cooked the public accounts. Now for the sequel. In January, 1903, I attended the opening of the Kalgoorlie Water Works. The Prime Minister was, at the time, engaged in making a tour of Western Australia in the free-trade interest. He was not then favorably disposed towards the Victorian protectionists, whom he has now got into his clutches, and he spoke as bitterly as he possibly could against them, and made strong attacks upon the Victorian manufacturers. I was representing a protectionist constituency, and I was glad enough to accede to the request of a Western Australian newspaper for an interview to defend them. I thought that the statements which the Prime Minister was making against the Victorian manufacturers and workers were absolutely unjustifiable, and that the sooner a direct denial was given to them the better. The statements I made in the course of that interview are not of any great importance,- so far as the present occasion is concerned. The Prime Minister answered my remarks at Kalgoorlie. He was then a great distance away from Sydney, and, as it was very unlikely- that the reports in the Kalgoorlie newspapers would’ be circulated in New South Wales, he. thought he could safely abuse the gentlemen who have now given him a certificate of character. This was not the first time that the right honorable gentleman ,had denied the statements made by the members of the Committee on Public Accounts in New South Wales, but his remarks were then stronger than ever before. He not only said that the report was of no good, but attacked the members of the Committee who were appointed by himself. I shall only quote a portion of his statement. He said -
When the charges .of unfair financial administration were investigated by a committee appointed by Sir William Lyne, that committee reported that I had kept the accounts of the Treasury according to law, and that the accounts, as so kept, showed a surplus. That finding completely exonerated me from all imputations which had been made. The questions, with regard to the legislation of Parliament, are open to differences of opinion. The only serious one for the public to determine was whether I had adhered to the legislation, that I had passed in managing the Treasury. This was found by Sir William Lyne’s appointed committee. I had no confidence in that committee.
The right honorable gentleman has no confidence in any one unless they are prepared to make him the Prime Minister. He proceeds - because one of its- members was a political opponent, and I had protested against his inclusion.
– Hear, hear !
– Might I ask ‘who was the political opponent of the right honorable gentleman?
– Mr. Yarwood.
– A great free-trader.
– He was nothing of the kind. He stood at the elections as a supporter of the honorable member for Hume.
– That is not a fact.
– Mr. Yarwood denounced the Prime Minister, up and down, at the previous election.
– That is not correct.
– Order. These conversations across the floor of the Chamber, especially when they so seriously interrupt an honorable member who is addressing the
Chair, are entirely out of order. Therefore, I would ask honorable members who wish to place their views before the House to wait until an opportunity is presented to them to speak in the ordinary course.
– In justice to the honorable member for Parramatta, I must say that I appealed to him for the name of the member of the Committee of Inquiry who was supposed to be a political opponent of the Prime Minister. I would now like to ask him whether it is not true that the two bankers who were members of the Commitee were appointed by the right honorable gentleman?
– Or selected by him?
– No. They were appointed by the’ honorable member for Hume.
– The Prime Minister took no exception to their appointment.
– The Prime Minister nominated them.
– The Prime Minister proceeded to say -
It transpired that another member, Mr. Dibbs, of the Commercial Bank, had judged the case before his appointment.
Of course, I knew my man, even though I had had only a few years’ experience of the right honorable . gentleman. I thought it very unfair to the members of the Committee that these statements should be made at a place like Kalgoorlie, far distant from Sydney, and I took care to communicate them to the chairman of the committee, Mr. T. A. Dibbs, the’ general manager of the Commercial Banking Company of Sydney, one of the principal financial institutions of Australia. The reply I received was dated 14th March, 1903, and read as follows: -
Most people do not attach much importance to what Mr. Reid, says when he in out on the stump. In your clipping he says the Committee exonerated him from blame; then what necessity to say that I was a political opponent? I read the other day that, in answer to a deputation, he said that if he got into power he would disturb the Tariff as little as possible, and in the next sentence he said that he would make drastic alterations, statements made to please both sides. The best answer I can give you . is to read the report of the Finance Committee, a copy of which you could get on application to the See Government. The committee were : - Mr. J. R. French, general manager of the Bank of New South Wales ; Mr. Yarwood, a very able accountant; and myself. Mr. Reid appointed the bankers, Sir William Lyne appointed Mr. Yarwood. Let me refer you to the last Sydney Bulletin; which is worth your perusal, on- Mr. Reid’s ever-changing attitude in politics.
I send you a clipping taken from it (28th February) referring to the particular subject of your inquiry.
P.S.- The finding of the committee was adverse to Mr. Reid.
I do riot know that it is necessary for me to proceed much further. It was said of George IV. that to the end of his days, he claimed to have been present at the Battle of Waterloo. He had told the lie so often that in the end he was persuaded that he was stating the truth. The Prime Minister has so frequently made misstatements and denials that I should not be surprised if he fully believed that the report of the Committee was favorable to him. When he stamped and screamed in this Chamber .yesterday, and pointed’ to me and others, and spoke of the slanderous’ statements that had been uttered, I have no doubt he thought he was a much’ maligned man. No doubt it is quite possible for him to work himself up into such a state that he will believe anything. The fact that he made the statement to which I have referred in Sydney, that he repeated it in a much stronger form at Kalgoorlie, and at last - under the impression that I was not in possession of the letters which I have read - attacked me in this House evidences an amount of moral obliquity which is surprising. Honorable members have heard the statements which I have quoted, and I invite them to again study the letter from the members of the Committee which was read by the Prime Minister yesterday in his endeavour to refute the accuracy of my charges. That letter states -
Dear Mr. Reid,
Referring to your note of 10th inst. to Mr. J. Russell French, covering extract of 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.
I think I had better repeat those words -
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 -
Evidently the Committee think that it is necessary to add something to be just to the right honorable gentleman, thereby implying that in itself their report cannot be favorable to him. The letter continues -
It is but just to you to state that we made no reflection whatever on -your personal honour or integrity -
Who did ? I was glad- that the honorable member for Wide Bay pointed out yesterday that no such reflection had been made. At the same time I hold that for his political trickery and maladministration as Treasurer of New South Wales, the right honorable gentleman is deserving of the severest censure.
– The report says that he kept the accounts according to law.
– The letter continues-
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.
I am very glad that the Prime Minister brought this matter forward, because now that he is at the head of the Commonwealth Government we know that he has a right to interfere in all Departments, and if he continues in office we need to be very careful indeed that he does not interfere with the Treasury.
– He would not send an article to two different newspapers and ask for cheques from both.
– I cannot say straight out that the interjection of the honorable and learned member for Wannon is a lie, because that would be unparliamentary, but when he declares that I sent an article to’ two newspapers and requested cheques from both, I ask him if he has any sense of fair play? If he has, he will father that statement outside the House, and I will soon teach him manners.
– The honorable and learned member runs away from a vote here, and he would run away outside.
– If the honorable and learned member will repeat the statement outside of the House I will give him some lessons in veracity which he very much needs. There are some men who have no manners, and who can be reached only through their, pockets. I regret this un-. fortunate digression. Perhaps I have devoted too much attention to a State matter, but I do not think that the time has’ been wasted in exposing the present Prime1 Minister and his methods. Immediately after his assumption of office, the right honorable gentleman issued a manifesto to the people of Australia, in which he declared - Ve thoroughly believe in progress, a fearless forward policy. ,
That declaration appeared in the newspapers of 22nd August last. I now wish to show the’ character of this “ fearless, forward policy.” Personally I regard the Ministerial policy as one of the most watery and colourless that has ever ‘ beenpresented to any ‘ deliberative Assembly; in the world. For example, the right honorable gentleman accepts all the amendments which have been made in the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill. He bids farewell to State rights, although he voted with the Deakin Administration to resist what he deemed to be an encroachment upon them. In spite of the position which he then took up, he now. says, “ We accept the Bill as it stands.” Although he came into power over a clause in that measure, and although the Deakin Ministry were defeated upon another provision in it, he says “ We accept the Bill as it stands.” Despite the injury which he declared would be done to State’ rights by making the measure applicable to the railway employes and public servants of the States, he is now content to accept it in its present form. That represents his “ fearless, forward policy.” Then upon the question of preferential trade and Tariff Revision, he says that the Government take up the same position as did the Watson Administration. That is another evidence of his “ fearless, forward policy.” There are three Bills, however, with which he will proceed, and in regard to which he will nail his colours to the mast. In such matters he is simply reckless in his bravery. He says that he will proceed with the Papua Bill, the Trades Marks Bill, and the Fraudulent Trade Marks Bill - all non-contentious measures. But upon measures of a party character, we find how weak and colourless is the ‘ policy of the Government. I do not know whether honorable members have heard of the man who entered a restaurant, and after being supplied with chicken broth which he had ordered, handed it back to the waiter with a request that the chicken should be allowed to run through it again. That storv remindsme of the “fearless, forward policy “’ which the Government have adopted. They had better let a little more courage run through it. This remark applies even to the High Commissioner Bill, which is absolutely a nonparty measure. Unfortunately, the terms of the Labour-Liberal Alliance were disclosed upon the very day that the Prime Minister was to make his statement of policy to the House. The alliance decided that the appointment of a High Commissioner should be subject to the approval of Parliament. That was sufficient to make this fearless, forward policy-monger immediately double back, and announce that in order that- there should be no interference with States’ rights, the Government had determined to allow the High Commissioner Bill to remain over until next session. If there is one thing more than another of which the Commonwealth Parliament has absolute control, it is the appointment of a High Commissioner; but the Prime Minister has determined to allow the Bill to stand over in order that he may, during the recess, consult the Premiers of the States in regard to the matter. On the one Bill, in regard to which there was the slightest possibility of opposition being shown, the right honorable gentleman backed down. Some of the protectionist supporters of the Ministry have fought well in the past, and I appeal to them to say whether this is the sort of craven leader that the fighting men of Victoria are going to accept in order that they, may remain in office. This is one of those occasions on which angels should we’ep.
– The honorable and learned member is himself a good mourner.
– The interjection made by the honorable member reminds me of another matter, to which no reference has been made during the debate. The Ministry is not entirely a free-trade one.- We have to remember that the Prime Minister was returned not merely as a free-trader, but as a free-trade and sectarian member.
– The honorable and learned member played the sectarian card fairly strongly at the last general election.
– Those are the two planks on which the Prime Minister was returned. He secured the vote’s, not merely of free-traders, but of others, because he promised Dr. Dill-Mackay that he would do certain things, and accepted the platform of a certain organization. The freetrade ticket was not solely responsible for the return of that solid phalanx of representatives from New South Wales, which we see on the Government side of the House. The cry related, not only to free-trade, but to the question whether there should be certain precedence given to ecclesiastics, and whether Roman Catholics should not be employed in the Public Service.
– That is all right; we do not object to that.
– Some persons may object to the introduction of this subject; but the distinct appeal which sectarian bodies made to the people of New South Wales, to almost entirely support freetrade candidates at the last elections, was outrageous and scandalous.’ I am told by those who are familiar with the conditions which prevailed in New South Wales - and the matter was mentioned during the Address-in-Reply - that one of the. ablest members of the protectionist, party in the last Parliament was defeated simply because of his religion, and because he would not subscribe-
– -I must ask the honorable and learned member, whether he proposes to connect the matter which he is at present discussing with the motion now before the Chair? Unless he can, he certainly ought not to proceed to debate the motion on these lines.
– I shall certainly connect my remarks ‘with the motion, Mr. Speaker. If. the Prime Minister was returned on certain grounds, and received the support of a certain following, because of promises which he made, he should be ready at once to fulfil those promises, rather than to sink them, as he has sunk everything else. If he intends to sink the particular pledges upon which, I contend, he was returned, he should inform the House of that intention. It seems to me little short of scandalous that at the last general election he largely used the influence to which I have referred. Perhaps it is not desirable to deal with this matter at greater length, but I strongly object to the combination of sectarianism and of free-trade, on which the Prime Minister was returned. It is a combination that should, at the very outset, be strongly reprobated.
– In New South Wales the issue was not merely that of sectarianism and free-trade
– I cannot forget that the Prime Minister, when leader of the Opposition, wrote a letter to an organization in New South Wales, in which he stated that throughout his public career he had always been opposed by a certain religious body, and that he would never forget >hat fact. That assertion constitutes one reason why he should not be allowed to remain in office one hour longer than we can prevent. I wish now to deal with the position of the seceding protectionists who have left this side of the House to take refuge under the wing of a free-trade Prime Minister. I regret already to observe a desire on the part of the Prime Minister to depose the honorable and learned member for Ballarat from the leadership of the protectionist wing of his supporters. Up to the date on which he issued his manifesto to the electors of New South Wales, the Prime Minister had always referred to the honorable and learned member for Ballarat as “ the leader of. the protectionist party “ ; but in that manifesto he shifted his ground, and endeavoured to introduce other leaders. The honorable and learned member for Ballarat had refused to join his. Ministry, or to have anything to do with him.; he had declined under any circumstances to enter the coalition as a Minister,, and as the result of this the Prime Minister, in his manifesto to the electors of New South Wales, referred to “ Mr. Deakin and Sir George Turner, and their supporters.” Since then this free-trade Prime Minister has apparently taken up the position that he has a right to depose the honorable and learned member for Ballarat from the leadership of the protectionist wing of his supporters, and to appoint another leader. In accordance with this view, he now invariably refers to the Minister of Trade and Customs as “ the leader of the protectionist party on this side of the House.” I do not know what right the Prime Minister has to make a change in the leadership of his protectionist, wing. If I were in the position of the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, I should certainly object to his efforts in that direction ; but we find that the honorable and learned member is taking them very quietly. He is, so to speak, taking them “ lying down. ‘ ‘ I should like to know what the Minister of Trade and Customs has to say to the statement made last night bv the Prime Minister, that there is no longer any- coalition, and it would also ‘be interesting to learn, the views of the honorable member for Eden-Monaro.
– The Prime Minister said that the Deakin party had refused a coalition.
– And that there was no coalition on that side of the House. That statement, was distinctly made, by the right honorable gentleman.
– He said that it was now a voluntary association.
– The honorable and learned member should quote the next sentence.
– If the honorable member will supply me with it I shall be happy to read it. In his manifesto to the people of New South Wales, the Prime Minister said that the appearance in office of a caucus-tied Labour Administration, supported by a small minority in the House, raised constitutional and national questions which - i think fully justified the junction which has taken place between myself and my supporters, and Mr. Deakin and Sir George Turner and their supporters, a junction which leaves all our supporters free from any surrender of principle. ‘
Evidently, on the 22nd August, 1904 - the date of this manifesto - he did not think it necessary to endeavour to depose the honorable and learned member for Ballarat from the leadership of the protectionist wing on the Government side of the House ; but, judging by his present attitude, and from certain indications afforded us by the. speech made by him last night, I feel satisfied that he will do his best to gradually draw away from the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, and so to secure an entirely .undivided party. If his protectionist supporters cannot be absorbed by the free-trade wing he will endeavour to eject them. I can clearly read for them “the handwriting on the wall.” The Prime Minister is doing his best to induce the honorable and learned member for Ballarat to finally leave him. He certainly does not wish to lose his support at this stage, but if a dissolution occurs at an early date, the Prime Minister will take up an entirely different attitude in regard to the terms of the coalition than that which he assumes at the present “time, when he absolutely relies on the support of some of the protectionist members of this House.
– As soon as he gets into recess he will sell them.
– The Prime Minister, for some weeks past, has been touring the country, and talking of the restoration of responsible government ; but he knows that the honorable and learned member for Ballarat - and this is why he does not relish the position occupied by the honorable and learned member - has him completely in the hollow of his hand. If the honorable and learned member chooses to say to the Prime Minister, “ Do this,” pr “.Do that,” he must obey or leave office, and a dissolution would then at once take place. The right honorable member is seeking to undermine the. position of the honorable and learned member for Ballarat. He is never grateful for services rendered. That is his record, and I certainly think’ it ‘ will be his record, so far as the honorable and learned member for Ballarat is concerned. That he should be grateful to a man is his best excuse for disliking him. In regard to the protectionist position, I may say that at the last election I was in favour of fiscal peace. I was returned on the principle of fiscal peace. But then we had this condition and circumstance obtaining: that there was a protectionist Prime Minister in power. That altered the position very materially. As long as a protectionist Prime Minister was in power, I do not think I should have advocated any change in the Tariff without going to face my electors again. I made fiscal peace so prominent in my programme that I could not honorably have changed my vote in this House without resigning.
– Why, then, does not the honorable and learned member resign?
– The position is altogether changed. A free-trade Prime Minister is in power, who certainly was not chosen by the electors. In fact, the electors declared against him. At the last elections the contest was not between the present Prime Minister, the leader of the Opposition, and the honorable and learned member for Ballarat. It was distinctly between the honorable and learned member for Ballarat and the Prime Minister. So far as the electors of Australia could say that the present Prime Minister should not occupy that office, by an overwhelming majority they said it. It seems to me ro be a blot upon our democratic institutions that a man. whom the country so overwhelmingly condemned and rejected should have attained to the position of Prime Minister - in my opinion, by a long course of Juggling and trickery. In my belief the Prime Minister will take the earliest opportunity to sell the Protectionist Party. Indeed, he has already given indications in that direction. On the last Thursday in August - I cannot give the exact date - he spoke to a Farmers’ Conference in Melbourne, and he then made use of this statement - i was Premier for- five year’s in New South
Wales, during which the Labour Party had me in the hollow of their hand. And what was the result? i got my free-trade policy passed by protectionist labour men. You can always come upon me with a deal of that kind.
Here was this Prime Minister, having consummated a coalition with certain seceding protectionists, /stating about a fortnight after the coalition was formed, and after he had got certain protectionists in his Ministry, that he passed his free-trade policy in New South Wales with the assistance of protectionists, and that “ You can always come upon me with a deal of that kind.” If that is not a statement which should make those honorable members, who were previously with us in the Protectionist Party, pause in their career - if they are really protectionists - and prevent themselves being used by the present free-trade Prime Minister, as he used the protectionists in New South Wales, I do not know that any more public warning could be given.
– It was not the Protectionist Party, but the Labour Party in New South Wales that the Prime Minister used.
– The right honorable gentleman said, “I got my free-trade policy passed by protectionist labour men.”
– Yes; labour men.
– If, after a warning of that sort, the protectionists who are supporting the Prime Minister can continue honestly and honorably to do so, I am very much surprised. A little while ago, I asked the Prime Minister what his position would be in reference to giving a preference to local contractors. He refused to answer, but made some sort of a joke. I should like to point out to those protectionists who have seceded from the Protectionist Party, that the Prime Minister said that he would never rest until the policy of the Protectionist Party was stamped out. It was not so long ago since the Prime Minister called the protectionists cowards. During the Tariff debates, he accused the honorable member for Mernda, in this House, of discreditable actions in trade. The right honorable gentleman continually interjected remarks about starch during the speeches of the honorable member. After his references to the weight of the packages sold bv the honorable member’s firm, after his statement that the honorable member was really making his money out -of the poverty of the people who used his starch, and after the series of accusations which the Prime Minister made against him during the Tariff discussions, it seems to me that the honorable member for Mernda is a very funny protectionist if he is prepared to follow, as’ he seems to do, the right honorable gentleman. There is one other position which the’ Prime Minister takes up in his manifesto. He says that he is strongly against Socialism. Since the issue of that manifesto, he has addressed several meetings against Socialism. He thinks that Socialism is one of the worst things in the world. He defines.it as the nationalization of industries. Unfortunately, we have the honorable member for Wilmot stating that, although the leader of the Opposition is a Socialist, he finds that the Prime Minister is also a Socialist. Yet the Prime Minister goes up and down the country denouncing Socialism. That is the ground upon which he endeavours to retain his position. History does not pass away from our memories so soon. We have had only four years of Federal parliamentary life. Statements have been made in this House by the Prime Minister, which are reported in Hansard, and which show that he was formerly very anxious to get the Labour Party to vote with him. The Prime Minister was going a good way in the direction of Socialism then. On the 21st May, 1901, when this Parliament met for the first time, and we were discussing the Address-in-Reply - and he was not then indulging in any funnyisms but ‘seriously placing his political intentions before the country - he said -
We say - “ If you will encourage new forms of industry, make Government industries of them. If you believe that you can fashion industries, try a few experiments - Government experiments, and let us see how they get on. Then, if there is failure, no one else can be blamed, and the experiments can be dropped.”
On the 15th October, 1901, when he knew he could not carry a vote of want of confidence without the support of the Labour Party, he said -
I have always been one who would like to see the iron industry firmly established, but my method of effecting this would be by giving it direct encouragement from the national exchequer. My reason for so doing would be that as if is a national industry the nation should pay the expense of encouraging it.
I do not go so far as the Prime Minister as a Socialist ; but I object to his going around the country speaking against Socialism when we remember that only two or three years ago he was ready enough to agree to almost any nationalizing of industries if he could only get the support of certain persons. Then what do we find this antiSocialist, to the horror of some of his supporters, and certainly ‘to the horror of the conservative group in the Government corner, saying in regard to the Papua Bill, in which there was. a most Socialistic experiment
– Clause” 20.
– That is so. To the surprise and horror of those I have mentioned, the present Prime Minister said that that clause was accepted by a large majority of the House, and he did not think he ought to disturb it. There was a fearless policy ! There was anti-Socialism ! This clause was actually moved and agreed to by the present Prime Minister, and it stands to-day in the Papua Bill, as I hope it will stand for some time, though it gives up a principle which the right honorable gentleman outside the House is only too ready to advocate. I do not wish to speak at any length on the question of preference to unionists. When that question was discussed I was, to a certain extent, “ sand-bagged,” and could not say all I desired ; but it is just as well that the people of the country should recognise where the difference is. Both sides of the House were agreed that there should be preference to unionists, and the only difference between _ honorable members on this side and the Ministerialists was that we held that the preference should be unencumbered by any proviso which would make it unworkable. The desire was to recommit the Bill, in order to pass a really workable clause; and there is not the slightest question that those who voted against the recommittal of clause 48 desired that preference should bet given to unionists. That provision was in the original Bill, introduced by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, and the principle is supported absolutely and completely by the present Prime Minister, and even by those five representatives of the Victorian Employers’ Federation who sit in the Government corner. But it ought to be distinctly understood that the difference between the Ministry and the Opposition is not as to whether there shall be preference, but only as to whether the provision giving preference shall be workable or combined with conditions which will make it practically impossible. I have already referred to the Deakin party, who are still following the Prime Minister. In his manifesto the right honorable gentleman stated that he would adhere to the position he assumed in the negotiations with the honorable and learned member for Ballarat. But, in the first announcement he made to the House, the Prime Minister went back on that position, and said that so far as preferential trade was concerned - and this was certainly the most important plank of the Deakin party at the last election - he was going’ to take up exactly the position of the Watson Government, who, until approached by England, were not going to do anything in the matter. What was the plat form agreed to at the meeting at which the joint proposals were considered ? It was that the question of preferential trade should wait until the British Government had spoken, as is shown by the following:
It is recognised that no proposals affecting trade relations within the Empire can be looked for from the mother country during the life of the present Commonwealth Parliament, but the maintenance of .1 truce for that period is not to prevent the acceptance of statutory concessions offered to us by any other part of the Empire.
The Prime Minister has confined his opposition entirely to refusing to do anything in regard to preferential trade until the United Kingdom makes approaches ; he neglected altogether the latter part of the paragraph - but the maintenance of a truce for that period is not to prevent the acceptance of statutory concessions offered to us by any other part of the Empire.
Already the Deakin party are in process of being “ sold,” and this they will find out , and be sorry for. They are dealing with a very astute man ; and they will recognise that it is impossible to follow a free-trade Minister and expect him to endeavour to conserve a protectionist policy. The sooner they get into office a man whom they can trust as a thoroughly honest man, who regards his political engagements as binding on him, the better it will be for them; and unless they can achieve that end they had far better sit in Opposition, and endeavour to remove the present Government from office. The Ministry has been christened the “sand-bagging” Ministry, though I do not know that that is a good description. It might really be properly called the “Yes-No” Ministry, simply because on the fiscal question we have four members Qf the Government saying “ Yes “ and four members saying “ No.” Or it might be called a “ black-white “ Ministry, because we have five saying “ black “ and three saying “ white.”
– What about the free-trade Minister who gives protectionist preference in the Post Office?
– The Minister is going to consider that matter on its merits.
– 1 was “ game “ to give a decision, and the late PostmasterGeneral was not.
– I do not want to call the Ministry by any of the names - 1 have suggested, because it will sufficiently condemn them as unreliable and incompetent in the eyes of the people of Australia if it be simply called the Reid Ministrv.
– I desire to make one or two remarks concerning a matter to which the honorable and learned member for Corio has alluded, and which relates to the keeping of the accounts of New South Wales by the present Prime Minister. I venture to say that the honorable and learned member for Corio, by the statements which he has made to-day, has altogether disproved his allegations made outside this Chamber. Instead of showing that there had been any “cooking” or “doctoring” in connexion with the accounts of New South Wales, the honorable and learned member, out of his own mouth, has proved that everything was done with the sanction of the New South Wales Parliament, and at the behest of that Parliament, and’ done in a legal and orderly way. What was the matter about which ali the controversy has arisen? It has been stated that the honorable member for Hume appointed an impartial and disinterested Committee. The whole matter has reference to the administration of the Dibbs-Lyne Government, and to an old deficiency which they left, and to which the Reid Government succeeded on coming into office in New South Wales. It relates to a deficiency which had accumulated under the previous Administration, and which amounted to , £1,500,000. The present Prime Minister, before proceeding to deal with the deficiency in the way to which objection has been taken, actually reduced it from £1,500,000 to £1,100,000. I propose to quote a few sentences from a speech made by the Colonial Treasurer of the day, Sir John See, bearing upon this very matter. That honorable gentleman, in his Budget Speech, a’dmitted that this deficiency had arisen under the administration of the Government of which he was a member, and he said -
So far as can now be ascertained the deficiency is about £1,200,000, and I propose to ask authority to issue Treasury Bills to cover this deficiency. The then Premier estimated that the deficiency for 1893, and previous years, was £1,500,000 and this he considered would be the amount to be so dealt with.
When we took office, one of the first things the present Prime Minister did, was to re-arrange the whole system of public accounts. Instead of perpetuating the old credit system, bv which accounts of years’ standing were carried over to succeeding years, so that no one could tell what was the condition of the public accounts; the right honorable gentleman introduced what is now known as the cash system. He altered the close of the financial year from December, to June, and in doing that, he. said that, instead of taking over this deficiency of previous Governments into his accounts, he would do as Sir John See had proposed to do, and wipe it off by funding it. The whole controversy that has arisen, as between the bankers and the right honorable member for East Sydney, and as between the honorable member for Hume and the right honorable gentleman, is as to whether he ought to have funded the accumulated deficiency, or whether he’ ought to have loaded his new cash system with it. The right honorable gentleman said, “ I have quite enough to do. I am- taking , £800,000 a year in taxation off the people of this country, and I cannot afford to take over this old liability into my new accounts.” Furthermore, he said, “ I do not think it would be fair to the new system if I were to do so. We have a new cash system. Let us have a fair start, so that the system may stand on its merits.” With that object in view, the right honorable gentleman funded the accumulated deficiency. The whole controversy which was waged, and which has been waged ever since, and all these charges of “doctoring” and “cooking” accounts, have arisen, because the right honorable member for East Sydney came in a straightforward way to the Parliament, and asked it to give him authoritv to fund the deficiency, and so wipe it off his accounts altogether. I have here the New South Wales Act authorizing the whole transaction. It is entitled “ An Act to authorize the issue of Treasury Bills, to cover the deficiency debt up to 30th June, 1895.” That amounted to £1,100,000.
– Who introduced that mea- . sure?
– It was introduced by the right honorable member for East Sydney, and the New South Wales Parliament unanimously passed it. I think there were one or two criticisms only, but there was no question at all as to whether the measure proposed a proper way of dealing with this very difficult matter. That was done by the right honorable gentleman.
– Nobody has disputed- that. The honorablemember is dealing with something which is altogether outside the question.
– I am afraid the honorable and learned member has not read the report which he has quoted so extensively. If he had he would know that that is the whole point of the controversy.
– The Committee found against the right honorable member for East Sydney.
– Of course they found against the right honorable gentleman. They simply said that he should have brought over the old deficiency into his accounts.
– They said much more than that.
– This is what they said, and * it is the whole point of the controversy between the bankers and the present Prime Minister. That right honorable gentleman said, “ I do not think that it is fair to load the new cash system with this old deficiency, for which I am not responsible, but which Sir William Lyne and Sir George Dibbs have accumulated. In starting a new system I desire to begin with a clean sheet.” The bankers said that this old deficiency should still have been carried forward, and should have been liquidated from succeeding revenues. That was the whole question in dispute.
– You cannot say that you begin with a clean sheet bv merely wiping off your books a debt which has not been paid.
- Sir John See and Sir William Lyne proposed the same thing.
– To pass it on to posterity.
– Precisely. That is what was done, and that is precisely what other Governments had done before. I am not justifying it, but pointing out that the criticism is not a criticism of the right honorable member for East Sydney, but in effect of the Parliament that sanctioned what he proposed.
– Who took the lead in the matter ?
– I have already told the honorable member that the right honorable member for East Sydney took the lead, but he was simply carrying out the intention of the previous Government, as I have already shown by the quotation I have made from the New South Wales Hansard.
– Sir William Lyne first suggested it.
– There never was any question about the legality of the transaction. The New South Wales Parliament gave its consent to the whole proceedings, and, therefore, what the honorable and learned member for. Corio has quoted is not a condemnation of the right honorable member for East Sydney, but of the whole Parliament of New South Wales. Honorable members have only to look up the New South Wales Hansard of the time to learn how the Parliament of New South Wales regarded that criticism. Although the report was tabled with a flourish of trumpets by Sir William Lyne, no report was ever more flat and stale, or fell more unprofitably on the table of any Parliament House than did that report, notwithstanding all the trouble which had been taken to produce it. Now, as to the genesis of the Committee : We have heard much about its being a disinterested Committee. Do honorable members know the genesis of the whole matter ? When the present honorable member for Hume was in Opposition he was attacking the Reid Government, week in and week out, upon these financial matters. He was being fed up at the time by a public servant, who afterwards became an adverse witness before, the expert Committee appointed, and also became its secretary. The very man who had engineered the whole thing was made secretary to the Committee. This was the same Mr. Martin whom the honorable member for Hume wished to foist upon the Federal service, and the honorable gentleman would have been successful in doing so, only that his then colleagues declined to make the appointment he wished to have made. Of course the honorable gentleman wished to reward Mr. Martin for his political services. This was the man who engineered the whole thing, and he became secretary to the Committee, and gave adverse evidence when the Committee was considering the matter. Now, as to the composition of the Committee itself : Mr. Yarwood was one of the gentlemen selected by the honorable member for Hume. Only just previously Mr. Yarwood had run in a constituency as a supporter of that honorable gentleman, and as a straight-out opponent of the present Prime Minister and his land and income taxation. It is amusing to me to hear members of the Labour Party cheering references to Mr. Yarwood, whose chief object was to discredit the only man who had been game to stand up and fight the big property-owners of New South Wales.
– Who is the right honorable gentleman fighting now?
– I am fighting for fair play just now, and I am putting this matter in its proper light. I challenge honorable members to contradict what I am saying. I have nothing to say against the two bankers who were members of the Committee. There is no doubt that they were smarting at the time for the very same reason. The did not like the income tax, and they did not like the land tax. They were probably at the time the bitter political enemies of the right honorable gentleman, and he was warned by some of his supporters that it was not wise to appoint such gentlemen, one of whom it has since been proved had expressed opinions adverse to his system of finance. It is well known, for instance, that, long before his appointment to the Committee, Mr. Dibbs had told the present Minister of Home Affairs, in no unmistakable terms, his opinion of the finance of the right honorable gentleman, and we know that when he enterd upon the inquiry, he was as much biased as a man could be against both the right honorable gentleman and his system of accounts. When the honorable and learned member for Corio says that these gentlemen were appointed by the Prime Minister-
– He said “ nominated. “
– I think that the right honorable gentleman simply agreed to them over the table of the House. Every one who knows him must be aware that he is not the most suspicious man in the community; that he is always disposed to put the best construction upon the actions of those with whom he comes into contact.
– It is well to hear that.
– If the honorable and learned member does not know that that is a fact, he does not know the Prime Minister very well. I doubt if there was another man in the Ministry who would have consented to the appointment of those two bankers, in view of all the1 political circumstances. It only came out afterwards that Mr. Dibbs, who has written to the honorable and learned member for Corio in such an impartial strain, had said beforehand, that he was opposed to the right honorable gentleman’s system of accounts. Let honorable members read that letter, and see if it is the letter of an impartial man. It is rather the letter of an opponent, and of a bitter one at that.
When these facts came out in the New South Wales Legislative Assembly, the right honorable gentleman determined that he would be judged fairly, and another board was appointed, to which the honorable and learned member for Corio made, no reference. Although he has boasted so much of his fairness, he was careful to quote only from the report which suited him, ‘ and to ignore another report which exonerates the Prime Minister.
– I ask the honorable member to believe that I did not know of the second report.
– That is a fair answer to make. The Prime Minister determined that the second board should be one in regard to whose composition there could be no cavilling ; and he therefore asked the president of the Institute of Accountants to name an accountant, and the acting president of the Incorporated Accountants of Australia to name a second accountant; and he then asked these two accountants to name a third. No more honorable .course than that could have been taken. Mr. J. E. Bowes was named by the president of the Institute of Accountants, and Mr. Thomas Davis by the acting president of the Incorporated Accountants of Australia ; while Messrs. Bowes and Davis named Mr., Richard Teece, the general manager of the Australian Mutual Provident Society. The directors of that society, however, withdrew Mr. Teece from the inquiry after he had begun His work, thinking, I suppose, that the manager of a public company like theirs should not be concerned in the squabble. Messrs. Bowes and Davis then selected Mr. Vane, of the firm of Miles’ and Vane. All three gentlemen stand at the head of their profes-sion. The Prime Minister did not appear before them, but he gave them the free run of the accounts of the Treasury and of the Auditor-General, and put the various Treasurers’ Statements before them. In their report they admit that on the first six months’ financing there was a deficiency of £151,000, but taking the four years’ revenue and expenditure, including all extraneous items, they report that the surplus was £261,000. The Prime Minister had stated that he had a surplus of £147,000 on the four years’ working; but the accountants make up the difference in this way. During the period under review, he had advanced £188,000, repayments of which were made during the term of office of his successor. A fair review of. the financing for the whole four years, however, showed him to have a surplus of £261,000. Honorable ‘ members will recollect, in addition, that during those four years his Government had remitted to the people of New South Wales £3,000,000 worth of taxation. The honorable ‘ and learned member for Corio has. also spoken of the loan expenditure during the right honorable gentleman’s term of office ; but all these matters were brought under the cognizance of the people of the State, and the strongest argument that could be used to defend our system of finance from the public platforms- was to show the difference between the financing of the right honorable gentleman and that of the honorable member for Hume, and of Sir John See. It was sufficient to read the bare figures, to convince the people of that State that the Reid Government carefully husbanded their resources, while succeeding Governments recklessly squandered the public money in the most extravagant way.
– The honorable and learned member for Corio has similar material to fire off against the honorable member for Hume. He loaded both his barrels.
– I hope that on the next occasion when the honorable and learned member makes an attack of this kind, he! will first read all the information on the subject available to him, and not content himself with a jaundiced and prejudiced report to prove that the accounts of New South Wales were “cooked” and “doctored” by the Prime Minister. The honorable and’ learned member himself “cooked” and “doctored” the report of the Committee by the way in which he quoted it. The whole question at issue was whether the Prime Minister should carry , on the deficiency of his predecessors, to be liquidated out of future revenue, or do as the honorable member for Hume and Sir John See proposed to do, fund it, and make a fresh start with a new system.
– That was- a very ready way of getting rid of. the difficulty.
– I do not say that it was the’ right way, but to begin with, the Prime Minister was carrying out the intention of his predecessors, and there is a great deal to be said for his determination when creating an entirely new cash system, to give it a fair start, ‘instead of loading it with previous deficiencies. Although he funded those, deficiencies, he instituted a . sinking ‘ fund, . and during the four years, paid off over £1,000,000. The honorable member might have quoted that fact, but he conveniently forgot it. The first thing that the next Administration did was to suspend payments into the sinking fund, and none have been made since. That was done by the men who instituted the inquiry.
– The Reid Administration starved the roads of the country, and their successors had to make up the leeway.
– The answer to that statement is that there is less money being spent upon the roads of New South Wales to-day than when we left office.
– That is no reply ; two wrongs do not make a right.
– More New South Wales politics.
– This time the subject was introduced by a Victorian representative.
– Cheered on by the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne.
– Any one taking an impartial view of matters as they affect this Parliament must, I am sure, be very much disappointed - I make no secret of my disappointment - with the position of Federal affairs. We have had three crises during this year. Three times we have had a political stocktaking, and here we are at it again.
– And likely to be so, too.
– Then all I can say is that we had better surrender the political estate to the liquidator outside as quickly as possible. The course now being pursued is paralyzing the whole industrial and political life of Australia, and is certainly doing us no good in the eyes of people abroad.
– The old “gag.”
– The honorable member and the other members of his party helped to put out two Governments.
– Did not the honorable member help to put out any Government ?
– The honorable imember was as eager as any one, to put out the Deakin Government.
– I was not eager to put out the Government, but I was anxious to secure the insertion of a certain provision in the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill.
– So were we.
– The present position seems to be a curious commentary on the popular idea that all our political troubles would be ended if we only adopted a system by which Ministers would be personally responsible to the House. All I have to say is that the present position of affairs represents upon a miniature scale the conditions which would obtain under that system. The House is full of parties - full of coalitions, and that is precisely what would happen under a system of non-party government. We have too many parties now, and they are too inextricably mixed up to do anything of a permanent character so far as this Parliament is concerned. Honorable members opposite have referred to the coalition on the Government side as an unholy combination which embraces men of widely divergent opinions, and I wish to place .my position very clearly before the House. I hope that honorable members will believe me when I say that I do not care very much for the present coalition. I hope that is plain. At the same time I like it a little better than the arrangement which has been entered into by honorable members opposite.
– That is quite natural.
– -It may be, but I shall give my reasons for taking that view. One of my objections to the coalition is that it is only half a coalition.
– My objection is that there is not enough of it.
– The- honorable member has hit it off exactly. The coalition does not embrace a sufficient number of honorable members. It is not the combination that we expected. As a matter of fact, the Protectionist Party has been split in two and the wriggling that has been going on between the two rent parts has been very amusing. What we anticipated was that it would be a genuine coalition, and that, as the whole of the freetraders joined it, the whole of the protectionists would come in on the basis of that fiscal peace which I believe was promised by every protectionist on the platform at the last election.
– The protectionists would not agree to that.
– In my opinion the arrangements made by the Prime Minister might have been of a different character. For instance, although he has only a few protectionists among his supporters, he has taken five fiscal-sinkers into his Cabinet.
– That is a good name.
– In the Cabinet there are only three fiscal militants as against five Ministers who believe in sinking the fiscal issue. Again, if I had been in the position of the Prime Minister, as a freetrader, I should not have handed the Customs Department over to the control of a protectionist. I say that candidly and frankly.
– This is interesting.
– I think that the Minister of Home Affairs might very well have been placed in charge of the Department of Trade and Customs.
– What difference would that have made?
– I think it would make a great deal of difference.
– Would a free-trader f favour the importers ?
– Not at all. The difference is this: A protectionist would have a bias towards his own fiscal system, and a free-trader would have a bias towards his side of the question - call it an unconscious bias if you like. Take a case in point. A few days ago the Minister of Trade and Customs received a deputation with regard to the duty charged upon chocolates. He told the deputation that wherever there was a duty on the border-line he would give them the advantage of the higher duty. I suppose that the honorable gentleman did what he honestly believed to be right, and I do not quarrel with him upon that ground. I fancy, however, that if the Minister had been a free-trader he would not have stretched matters in that direction. I wish to say, further, that I do not agree, with the granting of preference to local tenderers. I thought that the question of preference had been crystallized in the Customs Tariff Act. The whole question was debated for two years, and whatever preference was to be given should have been embodied in the statute in the shape of Customs dutv. I earnestly hope that this question will be decided upon lines exactly opposite to those which are being adopted by some “Ministers at present.
– They have not the pluck to do that.
– No preference should be given beyond that provided for in the statute.
– It is so provided for.
– Recent decisions show the contrary. Ever since the Tariff has been in operation it appears to have been the rule in the Post and Telegraph Department to give local tenderers the benefit of a duty of 30 per cent, upon goods which the statute says shall carry only 15 per cent In my view a 15 per cent preference, added to a 15 per cent, duty, is equivalent to a 30 per cent. duty.
– No. A 15 per cent, preference is equivalent to a duty of 15 per cent.
– A 15 per cent, preference, plus a duty of 15 per cent., amounts to 30 per cent. I have a very decided objection to any Ministry increasing the Customs Tariff of the country bymere administrative acts.
– Is not the preference equivalent to a duty of 15 per cent. ?
– I do not understand the honorable member. But whilst I make these criticisms of the position of honorable members upon the Ministerial side of the Chamber, I certainly do not see any justification for the statements which have been made by honorable members opposite. When I view the ragged protectionist regiment which occupies the Opposition corner benches, and which has allied itself with the Labour Party and pledged itself to the programme which has been outlined. I am quite content to remain where I am. Only the other evening the honorable and learned member for Indi referred to Ministerial supporters as “a sexless combination.”’ That was his way of rounding off a peroration. He expressed the hope that an end would soon be put to this “ sexless combination.” I suppose that when he employed the word “ sexless” he referred to the fiscal complexion of honorable members upon this side of the House. I think that I do him no injustice in assuming that. I say that if he wants to view a “ sexless combination,” he had better look at home, and look as hard as he can in that direction. If he desires to gaze upon people who are fiscally . sexless, he had better turn to his own side of the Chamber. Take the honorable member for Darling as an example. He has occupied a seat in this House for four years, and was a member of the New South Wales Parliament for many years previously, but I defy anybody to say whether he is a protectionist or a free-trader.
– He is here all right.
– He is absolutely sexless so far as the fiscal question is concerned.
– Wait until it comes up.
– When it was’ under discussion, the honorable member was most irritatingly impartial in his votes. He was a protectionist to-day ‘and a free-trader to-morrow throughout the whole of the debates. I repeat that before levelling such a taunt the honorable and learned member for Indi had better look at home. I do not make these statements in derogation of honorable members opposite, because they have never made a fetish of the fiscal question. They say that they were returned as labour members, which is a straightforward declaration. At the same time, they must admit that, according to the dictum of _ the honorable and learned member for Indi, thev are fiscally sexless, and if he wishes to find a party which has no virility and no distinctive traits on this question, he had better look at the other side of the House. The honorable member for Wide Bay said last evening that nobody had ever known him to proclaim himself a free-trader. Yet this is the combination with which this great fiscal apostle is anxious to ally himself, in the hope of securing more protection.
– We are protectionists upon this side of the House by two to one, and the position is just the reverse upon the other side.
– Does the alliance intend to raise the fiscal question ?
– As soon as ever we can.
– I hope that the honorable member is speaking for the combination.
– We intend to appoint a Royal Commission to inquire into the operation of the Tariff, as soon as possible.
– The honorable member is speaking for himself.
– I thought he was. The other evening he said that the alliance had been formed upon a sound protectionist basis. I should like to hear the honorable member for Maranoa and others upon that point. I venture to say that they would sound a very different note indeed. What is the criticism which has been levelled against the Government by the leader of the Opposition? In the first place he referred to the postponement of the High Commissioner Bill. He said that that measure was desperately urgent, and that the sooner a High Commissioner was appointed the better it would be for Australia. I interjected that I did not believe that anything was spoiling in that regard. What 1 meant to convey was That action could be deferred whilst an.effort was being made to see that the people of Australia are not charged anything additional for the conduct of their affairs in London. I hold that opinion very strongly, and I will not vote for the appointment of a High Commissioner unless I can see some chance of saving the States the expenditure which would” be involved. “ But what,” I ask, “ is the policy of the combination upon this point?” They have a most definite declaration upon it. From it I learn that “ the selection of the High Commissioner is to be subject to the prior consent of Parliament, the economizing of existing State agencies, and the full utilization of the Federal staff for the benefit of the States.” How can these points be considered unless by. conference with the States ?
– Hear, hear !
– Then why do honorable members opposite object so fiercely to the proposal of the Government, which would give effect to the very letter of that arrangement?
– The Government propose to leave the decision of the matter entirely to the States.
– They propose no such thing. The Prime Minister distinctly stated that he would postpone the introduction of the Bill until he had consulted the States, with a view to ascertaining if a reduction could not be effected in their staffs.
– Suppose they do not consent.
– Suppose that they do.
– Perhaps “yes,” perhaps “no.”
– If the States act senselessly they will not consent, but if -as I . believe- they will - they act with an ordinary amount of prudence, . they will give their most cordial consent to any proposal of the kind.
– What is the policy of the Ministerial combination, if they do not consent ?
– I have already told the honorable member my policy in regard ‘ to the matter. I am not prepared to increase the expenses of the people of Australia in London at the present time. I now turn to another item in the programme of” the Opposition alliance, from which I learn that preferential trade is to be discussed by the joint parties at an early date. That is a very safe declaration.
There ought to be no trouble in regard to that matter. Personally, I am quite prepaied to join the alliance to discuss it. If they will inform me when it is to be considered, I shall be happy to take a hand with them. There is another matter, which goes to the very crux of the political combination opposite. The honorable and learned member for Indi is tirelessly proclaiming that his only object in seeking an alliance is to depose the Prime Minister, with a . view to securing more protection for the industries of Australia.
– A very laudable object.
– Let us see what definite provision is made for it.
Legislation (including Tariff legislation) shown to be necessary : (1) To develop Australian resources; (2) to preserve, encourage, and benefit Australian industries, primary and secondary -
That is a grand object with which everyone is in agreement -
That sounds very democratic, but it is also very indefinite. I do not know of any honorable member who is not prepared to subscribe to the item in the programme that I have just read, but the point is that the members of the alliance are not bound to anything. It is provided that when they are called upon to discuss that which will best advance the interests of the people, any member of the combination may -
Agree with the members of his own party to be bound by their joint determination, or
Decide how far the particular circumstances prove necessity, or the extent to which the proposal should be carried.
– That is to say, taking up the parable of honorable members opposite, that the honorable member for Flinders, to whom they are constantly alluding, I do not know with what justification, as the personification of conservatism
– The honorable member does not know him.
– Under the terms of the alliance the honorable member for Flinders and the honorable member for Kooyong would be at liberty to freely express their own individual views, and to vote according to those views and yet be members of the combination.
– We are the party of freedom.
– The honorable member is quite right. As a member of the partyhe is bound only in regard to one object. That object was made unmistakably clear last night by the honorable and learned member for West Sydney, when he said, “We are combined together for the purpose of removing the right honorable gentleman.”
– A very laudable object.
– The Opposition are solid on that question.
– It is a very laudable object.
– It would, if successful, create a vacancy.
– Then the position is this: That the members of the Labour Party in the Federal Parliament, who, from its inception, have been declaiming against the system of the “ ins and the outs,” declaring that they would not remove any Government merely for the sake of removing it, desire to oust the Ministry solely because of a feeling of revenge towards one member of it, although that right honorable member’s proposals are identical with their own.
– He said that he was in office to fight us.
– We heard all about that last night.
– Does the Labour Party shape its final course of. action on the mere statement of an individual?
– If it be a Ministerial declaration.
– If that be so, it seems that the members of the party have come down to the ruck of very ordinary politicians, and have lost those high political ideals with, which they set out.
– We lost them after the honorable member left us.
– The Government will not carry out our programme; if they would we might help them.
– Have they not been carrying it out? They have taken up the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill.
– They have, and they have also taken up the provisions in regard to the railway servants and public servants of the States.
– I shall have something to say later on in regard to that matter. I was glad to hear the admission made last night by the leader of the Opposition that, save in regard to the difference between two amendments, the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill was his own measure in every particular. That clears our course to a considerable extent. Another matter to which the Opposition take exception is the attitude of the Government on the question of old-age pensions. It may happen that when all the preliminary work has been done in connexion with a reform of this kind, those who did it will be put out, and some one - who never lifted a finger to assist the movement will be pitchforked into office and given all the credit attaching to the achievement of that reform. That has happened, and may occur again. The man who, for purely political purposes, jumped on the flood tide, now receives all the credit, while those who did the work and prepared the way for the reform are made’ to suffer for their actions.
– The Prime Minister said that he would not give us this reform for 200 years.
– I never said anything of the sort.
– Another mistake on the part of the newspapers?
– I was always in favour of old-age pensions, and was turned out of office for spending money in furtherance of the principle.
– There is only one other item in the programme of the.alliance to which I desire to refer, andi that is the paragraph providing for the appointment of a Tariff Commission. This is a troublesome questionIt has already given rise to difficulties among members of the party, and’ they have now agreed to send the whole question of Tariff revision downstairs to be buried in the vaults of the House. Should it ever emerge from the vaults, after investigation by the Royal Commission, members of the alliance will be perfectly free to split into a thousand fragments in dealing with it. To put such a programme seriously before the intelligent electors of Australia is, to my mind, to perpetrate a fraud upon them. It is a sham - a part which, at all events, a great many honorable members of the Opposition were not expected to play.
– We never anticipated that the honorable member for Gippsland and the right honorable member for East Sydney would sit side by side on the Treasury benches.
– We are not worried, and why should the honorable member worry about the matter.
– I desire to refer to some remarks made last night by the exMinister of External Affairs. The honorable and learned member has gone out of his way on two occasions to make a bitter personal attack upon myself, and I wish it to be understood that, what I am about to say to-night will be said in self-defence. The honorable and learned member’s vituperative speech has been scattered over the whole of the electorate which I represent, and I desire to send a little statement after it. I have never done anything to provoke the honorable and learned member. So far as I am aware, I have never crossed swords with him ; but he took care, two or three weeks ago, to make some bitter personal accusations against me, and repeated some imore last night. Here is what the honorable and learned member said on 12th ult-
The honorable member, with his wiles, and his turns, and his tricks, and his subterfuges, and his appeals for votes-
– Who said that?
– This is what the honorable and learned member’s late colleague, the honorable and learned member for West Sydney, said concerning my humble self.
– It is impossible.
– He also said of me -
The honorable member has never kept a solitary pledge made by him during his life.
– I did not understand the honorable and learned member to be referring to the honorable and learned member for Parramatta when he made that remark.
– The honorable member had better not begin to defend him. At a later stage he said -
At the same time, he will try to persuade those credulous and unhappy men in his district that he is still in favour of compulsory arbitration, and that he would give them preference. If he succeeds, he will achieve a great victory. If he stood alone and had not the advantages of a ticket and the press behind him,’ he would never do it.
There stands behind him a press, without whose aid he could never for a moment hope to come into Parliament again.
-When was this said ? Last night ?
– No, previously, but this is the first opportunity I have had to reply to it.
– The honorable member did not say it last night.
– I did npt say that he did.
– But the honorable member has said that the honorable and learned member for West Sydney repeated it last night.
– I say that he said some things last night that were equally bad. These will do for my purpose today. As to my being a creature of the press, I wish to say that honorable members in Melbourne know what a pet I am of tjhe press of this city. I have had the good fortune over here to be broadly and squarely opposed by one newspaper, the Age ; while the other newspaper, the Argus, is not for me at all. That is my position here; and I am bound to say this also - that much as the Age opposes me, it, on the whole, has treated me better than the Argus. Honorable members will judge from that how much of a pet I am of the press here. As to my own State, I merely wish to saythat there is no honorable member in the Federal Parliament, nor a politician out of it, who has been treated with so much con-‘ si deration and kindness by the press of Sydney, as the honorable and learned member for West Sydney has been. I challenge contradiction of that statement. No honorable member has been treated with anything like the consideration that he has been by the press of Sydney.
– Therefore, he knows how valuable it is to the honorable member.
– I confess that I do not know the value of it, as he does ; and’ I have never taken the steps that he has taken to get the press at my back. I havenever gone whining at election time into the editor’s room to get him to support me, as the honorable and learned member has done. At the last election, the honorable and learned’ member went into the editor’s room at the Sydney Daily Telegraph office, and asked to be given the support of that journal.
– Was the honorable member there?.
– No, I was not there. I say that I have never done that sort of thing yet.
– I dare sav the honorable and learned member for West Sydney has never done it either.
– It is well known that he has done it. I want to say something more.
– Did he not go into the office of the Sydney Morning Herald also?
– He tried to get the Herald to put him in the free-trade bunch, and when he found that he could not do it he ‘went and got the support of the man whom he has so bitterly denounced, and asked the right honorable gentleman to help him.
– And he rang me up on the telephone’ to tell me that they had not put him in the bunch.
– Has not the Prime Minister any more private conversations to record ?
– After last night, that is a fair thing,
– I want to say, Mr. Speaker, referring to the gibes of the honorable and learned member for West Sydney about a “ ticket,” that, .however much I have been on the ticket of the Free-trade Party, the Free-trade Party have never paid any of my election expenses. He cannot say that.
– My “crowd” pay all mine, and those of nearly every other labour man in Queensland.
– Did the honorable member ever get any one else to subscribe, apart from the labour people?
– That is the gravamen of my remarks. About this “ ticket “ : I do not know which -ticket the honorable and learned member for West Sydney referred to, but the honorable and learned member for Corio denounces the Prime Minister as toeing a sectarian Prime Minister. That is a nice thing for an honorable member to hurl across the Chamber.
– Does not the honorable member think it is true
– Do I think it is true ? I arn, going to say this : that I know honorable members opposite who are just as anxious to get on the ticket referred to as any man can be. The honorable member who fulminated in that way last night was equally anxious to get on, and asked to be put in the Protestant bunch.
– What kind of politics is this, anyway ? .
– I had that statement on the authority of a man whom I implicitly believe.
– It is more likely that the honorable member wrote to them, ; and asked them to leave the honorable and learned member for West Sydney out of their bunch. 8 d 2
– What? He wrote and begged of them to put him in it.
– I ought not to say “ wrote “ ; I understand he went. That is a statement made by a man whom I would as readily believe as I would believe any statement of the honorable member.
– The honorable member will not tell who he is.
– Let things develop a little further, and we will tell the honorable member who he is.
– Dill Mackay ?
– No; not Dill Mackay. The honorable member was wrong that time. But the information is absolutely authentic; honorable members may take that from me.
– The honorable member has no right to make a statement of that kind unless he is prepared to give the proof of it to the House.
– I admit that I have not. No one in this House has a monopoly of that kind of conduct but the honorable member who spoke last night. In the course of his speech he hardly said a single thing that was accurate.
– Did he say anything about the sectarian business
– He jibed at me about a “ ticket.” That is quite enough for my purpose, and I have given my answer to it. He is the m’r-1 wl 0 goes after “ tickets.” No man goes after them with the same vigour and fervency as he does.
– This is a scurvy kind of attack.
– What about the six potters’ statement last night?
– That was a denunciation of Government policy.
– It was a dishonorable statement.
– The honorable and learned member for West- Sydney stated that but for this kind of thing I should never be returned to Parliament. I have only to say that my political life will stand investigation alongside his, or that of any other man on the Opposition side of the House. There are honorable members on this side of the House who know that I did not desire to enter political life at all. I only reluctantly entered it at the last moment. 1 did not even wish to enter the Federal Parliament. I hope I am not egotistical in saying that I sacrificed a great deal in entering it, and would not have come except for the very earnest solicitations of ±he Prime Minister.
– And probably the honorable member would have been in the New South Wales Ministry to-day if he had not come here.
– The honorable and learned member for West Sydney went on to say that he wanted to know how it was possible for a man like the honorable member for Parramatta to be in the embraces of the honorable member for Kooyong and the honorable member for Flinders? All I have to say, in reply to that, is that however much honorable members on this side may differ in political opinion - and I admit that there is a difference; a very decided difference, in political opinions, as between some of my honorable friends and myself - I can take their word where I should decline to take the word of the traducer of last night. At any rate, if they made a statement to me, I should be sure it was a fact. I could not say the same of the honorable and learned member. And the honorable and learned member said that I left the Labour Party for fiscal reasons, whereas he knew, or ought to have known, better than that when he spoke. He knew that there was not a tittle of truth in the whole statement, or he ought to have known, for he was one who was most persistent on the deputation which tried to induce our party to sign the pledge. I shall tell honorable members why I left the Labour Party. I never did leave the Labour Party inside the House; my fault in the eyes of honorable members opposite was that I stuck to the party inside the House. But the party outside the House bundled the whole party over.
– And we regret that the honorable member left the party
– I never left the party in the House, and the only complaint was that I would not leave them and go with another party outside. And why would I not go with the party outside? It was because of a pledge which, in my opinion - and which honorable members themselves have admitted since - was not a fair and proper pledge to ask a man to sign. Honorable members who are strongest now in the present Labour Patty were most bitter and unrelenting in opposition to the pledge we were asked to sign. I objected to the pledge because I wanted some consideration given to my constituents as well as to myself. I did not believe in going into a caucus and being bound up by that caucus to action which might be in diametric opposition to the wishes and opinions of my constituents. “Oh, but,” said the leader of the Opposition, “ all we ask the honorable member to do in that case is to resign his seat and go to his constituents again.” But does it end there? If it did end there the transaction would be very simple. But if a man dares to differ in opinion from those honorable members, they pursue him relentlessly ever afterwards. They do not allow for differences ot opinion; they call a man who dares to differ from them in opinion - as I have been called in this Chamber - a “ renegade,” a “rat,” and all that kind of thing. That is the freedom these honorable members allow a man to think for himself.
– That is not peculiar to any partY
– And yet the honorable and learned member says that it is a simple matter of leaving the party and going to one’s constituents. If that ended the matter there would not be much objection. But it becomes not a matter of opinion, but a matter of which we have had only too much evidence in this debate from the lips of the ex-Minister of External Affairs - a matter of deep and abiding, bitter, personal rancour. What we wanted to do when the crisis took place was to make our platform broader instead of narrower. We wanted to merge the party into a democratic party - to get into our ranks many men in the House who wanted to join with us. But the Labour Party outside, while we inside wanted to make the platform a little broader - just as the Labour Party in this House ‘are doing now, in some respects - insisted on its being made ten times narrower, and so the difference of opinion took place. It was not a matte’r of the fiscal question at all, and the honorable member knew that when he said so.
– Is the honorable member referring to 1.894?
– Yes. The members of the deputation who had charge of the negotiations with the party outside included the honorable and learned member for West Sydney, the honorable member for Bland, and though I do not know that there were any more members of this House, there were five or six other Labour members. The favorite doctrine of the leader of the Opposition at that time, when he came to discuss the matter inside, was that we should vote together on every occasion, if possible - that the exception should ‘ be when we did not vote together - so as to preserve an attitude of solidarity and soldier-like precision. Of course, he and his supporters have got away from that position long ago, and are themselves forming an alliance of their own ; and I shall be very much surprised if that alliance is not repudiated by those outside. Now as to the attack on myself and others in connexion with the preference question. Some of the organizations in Sydney have trade records or newspapers which are run by the organizations, at the head of which, acting as secretaries, are the labour members in this House. . Week by week those honorable members are “ pilling “ us secretly, and we do not see what is said unless we happen to get hold of one of those trade newspapers. Now I want to send out something after the poison which the honorable and learned member has already sent out about this matter of preference. I say, again, that we on this side have every reason to be obliged to the leader of the Opposition for his frank statement yesterday, that the only difference between the position of the Government and his own is the difference between the amendment of the honorable and learned member for Corinella and the amendment which the Labour Party themselves submitted. The honorable and learned member for Corinella proposed that the matter should be decided by a mere majority, while the Opposition amendment was that there should be a substantial representation of those affected before preference should be given. The amendment of the honorable and learned member for Corinella was as follows : -
That the following words be added : - “ And provided further that no such preference shall be directed to be given unless the application for such preference is, in the opinion of the Court, approved by a majority of those affected by the award who have interests in common with the applicants.”
And the amendment, of which notice was given by the present leader of the Opposition, was as follows: -
Omit the whole proviso, insert - “ The Court, before directing that preference shall be given to the members of an organization, shall be satisfied that the organization substantially represents the industry affected in point of the numbers and competence of its members.”
The leader of the Opposition admits, in most unmistakable terms, that no Judge would read his amendment as meaning any other than a majority requirement. Here is what the honorable member said, and I wish to have it recorded in Hansard -
The practice in nearly every case, in all the Arbitration Courts, has been to grant a preference only when the majority, reasonably ascertained, is in favour of such preference.
– The impossible was achieved then.
– It means the majority of those working.
– The honorable member for Darling is Wrong. The quotation proceeds -
I am not so foolish as to anticipate that the practice laid down by the Arbitration Courts of New Zealand and New South Wales will be departed from by the Judge appointed to the Federal tribunal. Any one who imagines that the Judge in the Federal Court would lay down a new line of procedure - that he would grant preferences to unions which manifestly represented only a minority of those employed in the industry or the district in respect of which the preference was asked - cannot have paid any attention to the general procedure under legislation of this kind.
– The honorable member is afraid of that, and so he wants to “gag” the Judge.
– I am not at all afraid.
– The honorable and learned member for Corinella was.
– What I have said prov.es up to the hilt the soundness of my position. I shall have the greatest pleasure in quoting the leader of the Opposition in the interpretation of our position. He said -
The Government do not desire that preferences shall be granted to minorities.
Nothing could be clearer or more emphatic than that. The Hansard report goes on -
– The amendment contains the words “ substantially in numbers.”
– In numbers and competency - not numbers or competency. Both requirements are insisted on. The Court, if it followed the precedents which have been created in New South Wales and New Zealand, would be bound to interpret the words as implying a majority. In New Zealand it has been insisted that a majority, so far as that can be reasonably ascertained, shall be shown to be in favour of the granting of a preference before it can be given.
– That is exactly what my amendment means.
– Put the two amendments side by side before any impartial man. For the leader of the Opposition to say that the difference between the amendments makes the Bill -worthless to unionists is distinctly wrong; and the honorable member ought to know, if he ‘does not, that what he says is so much dust thrown in the eyes of the unionists of the country - that it is not a fair statement of the position.
– The unionists take a different view.
– I dare say they do, and the reason is, that they have only , had the honorable member’s version.
– No, they have not.
– They have had the version which the honorable member and other labour members have so industriously driven into them. They have not heard the other version of the matter yet. I shall take care that the opposite view is given to them also.
– If they are similar why should the honorable member object to the first amendment ?
– The first amendment was that moved by the honorable and learned member for Corinella.
– And approved of by a majority of the Committee.
– That was not the first but the last amendment.
– Now I come to the statement of the leader of the Opposition last night in justifying the Socialism of the Labour Party. My position in public life on this matter has always been the same. In common with honorable members who differ from me on this economic question, I have been striving, as I believed, and still believe, honestly to try to do something which shall be for the uplifting and elevation of the working classes. I have, therefore, never taken public exception to their economic theories, but I wish to say now that the more I look into this question of Socialism the more I am convinced that it could not be for the benefit of the workers in particular, and that it could not be for the benefit of the community as a whole.
– Is the honorable member speaking of Socialism as a political science or as an abstract matter?
– I am speaking of it as a political science - as a political system.
– Can the honorable member give us some definition of it?
– I propose to do so if honorable members will wait. Unfortunately I cannot give honorable members any Australian definition of Socialism, because we cannot get honorable members to bind themselves down to any accepted definition.
– They are “ Everything by turns, and nothing long.”
– What is the honorable member’s leader’s definition of it ?
– The. honorable member for Kennedy is the only man 1 know of in the Labour Party who says, “ We are Socialists, and we are going for Socialism all the time.”
– We respect the honorable member for it, too.
– The leader of the Opposition confines himself to finesse upon this basic fact of the whole situation. This is what the honorable gentleman said last night. Referring to farmers and their requirements, he said that they asked for reduced grain freights. I should like to know if asking for a reduction of freights is Socialism. Farmers ask for a reduction of freights all over the world. They are asking for that every week in the Old Country, where the railways are not owned by the States.
– Through Parliament?
– If the people as a whole have to meet the deficiency, it is Socialism.
– I have yet to learn that this can be accounted Socialism.
– It depends on one’s stand-point entirely.
– I admit that.
– I thought that the honor- ‘ able member was himself a Socialist.
– 1 am very sorry that the honorable member should think so.
– I still think that the honorable member is a Socialist.
– Let the honorable member try to induce the honorable member for Parramatta to share his money with him.
– Then the honorable gentleman says that the farmers ask for wire netting to enclose their holdings in order to keep out vermin. Why do they do that? If the States cleared their own lands of vermin the farmers would never have to ask for wire netting from ‘the States. It is because the farmers are afflicted with vermin, bred on the uncultivated lands owned by the States, that in sheer self-defence they ask the States to repair the damage due to their neglect.
– Thev only ask for loans.
– If they asked for this assistance altogether as a gift it could not by any possibility be construed to be Socialism. The leader of the Opposition further said that farmers ask for cold storage, starving stock rates, and agricultural colleges, and he claims that all this is Socialism.
– What else is it? It is done bv the community
– I shall tell the honorable member what it is if he will but wait a moment. . The leader of the Opposition also said that the farmers ask the State for a grant for shows, and that that is Socialism. I may tell the honorable gentleman what he does not tell the farmers of Victoria, and I hope I shall make veryclear the position of those who profess to be Socialists. The leader of the Opposition, if he were honest with the farmers of Victoria and elsewhere would say, “ We agree to give you these concessions ; we believe in them. But remember that, while we are giving you wire netting _ to keep vermin off your land, it is only as a temporary expedient. What we aim at in the parliamentary arena is to try to acquire the lands to be owned by the State.”
– Does not the single-taxer desire that?
– I am putting the position fairly, I hope. The leader of the Opposition should also say to the farmers of Victoria and elsewhere, “ While we will help you to export your, produce, at the same’ time we are inaugurating a system and steadily pursuing it, as circumstances permit, which will acquire from you the ownership of your cows, and put them into the hands of the State.” That, I think, is a fair statement of the Socialists’ position.
– Make the farmers milkers at so much a day.
– Surely a cow is one of the “ means of production.”
– Do honorable members opposite deny that that is the Socialists’ position? I do not know that I could put it any more fairly than that.
– “All’ means of production, distribution, and exchange of wealth “ will express it.
– Here is the exposition of Socialism given in the German Erfurt Programme, given also in the Fabian Essays, and also by Mr. Webb.
– The honorable member has gone outside Tom Mann now.
– I do not know whether these authorities will be considered good enough, but I confess that I cannot find any more representative authorities on this question.
– The honorable member’s leader says that he is a Socialist.
– What has that to do with the point I am putting? I am not even saying that Socialism is wrong.
– The right honorable gentleman will define it for the honorable member. Is it “Yes” or “No” this time ?
– Does’ the honorable and learned member address that question personally to me?
– The answer is “ No.” Is that plain enough ?
– The honorable member says “ No,” and his leader says “ Yes.”
– Socialism, according to the authorities to whom I have referred, is the gradual abolition of private property in, and private control of, the instruments and materials of production, land, distribution, trade, loan, capital, and public debts.
– And cows.
– My honorable friend will find that cows are included in that. The honorable member, therefore, need not jibe, at cows. Therefore, I say that when the honorable member for Bland puts these things forward as the programme of Socialism he is putting forward what he knows very well to be an attenuated and tentative form of Socialism, and if he honestly told the farmers what the intentions of the socialistic party are, they would see that they are miles in advance of the statement which he made in his speech last night. The criticism of the Prime Minister was a right one. He told the honorable member for Bland that he did not represent the movement in favour of this collective ownership of the means of production, as it was crystallizing outside.
– A co-operative Commonwealth,!
– My position is this : Decry it though we may, the desire for private gain leads, in my opinion, to private enterprise, and is at the present moment the chief incentive of our people to effort and progress in the industrial arena.
– Does the honorable member really believe that?
– I do. I am afraid that if the strain were lifted off humanity we should lose a great deal of its embellishment, a great deal of its civilization.
– Then the honorable member knocks Christianity on the head.
– The honorable member is very wide of the mark in saying that. In any case, he is not an authority on the subject.
– Neither is the honorable member.
– I am merely humbly expressing my own opinion. It seems to me that if we removed the one we should remove the other also. My position differs from that of honorable members opposite in this : I want to apportion as fairly as I can the strain and the effort which go to build up the civilization of today, and the results which they accomplish. Honorable gentlemen opposite say, “ Merge the individuals, and treat them in the mass.” I, on the other hand, wish to preserve the individuality of the nations and of the people to the fullest extent. I admit readily that there are excrescences upon the individualistic system, which are like great warts or wens on the physical body, and my effort is to get rid of them, to purity the individuality of the people as applied to industrial pursuits in every way that I can. But I shall do nothing in the direction of endeavouring to destroy that individuality - to “ crib, cabin, and confine it.” That I believe would be the inevitable result of the socialistic doctrine. The honorable member for Barrier accuses me of throwing away Christianity. That is a nice thing for an honorable member to say in a House of Parliament. The other evening he said, during a discussion of this subject in a church in the suburbs, that as a system, Socialism has nothing to do with Christianity. But when I tell him that I am opposed to Socialism, he says that I am throwing away Christian principles.
– No, I did not. The honorable member said that the great motive power of the race was competition.
– I said that the element of private gain was the great industrial motive power. I am speaking of the economic system pure and simple. The honorable member must not read into my remarks a meaning which I did not give them. I believe that it is possible to gradually superimpose the moral ideal upon our purely economic systems, and I shall strive as earnestly for that as will my honorable friend. I do not see why there should necessarily be a divorcement between that great power which makes for righteousness, and that other great power by which we supply our human wants. I am earnestly with the honorable member, and will do my best for the uplifting of all who have to toil for their daily bread. It is because I believe that the socialistic system which has been preached from the hilltops would in the end lead to an intolerable tyranny with our present human nature, so that’ it would of itself break down, that I am not able to support it. It is a popular thing to paint dreams ; but these Arcadian projects always tumble down before the logic of facts. There are certain laws sweeping through the universe which will take no account of expedients of this kind, and that nation and those people will live the longest and fare the best-
– Who are most greedy !
– No sud- thing. I have never said anything; which leads to that conclusion.
– The inference from the honorable member’s remarks is that the only safety for humanity is in greed.
– I have said quite the contrary. The sweep of natural laws is a fact to be reckoned with, and all your Parliaments cannot ultimately defeat and overthrow them. If we can work with them, if we can harness and guide them, so that they will move our way, we shall be following the path to industrial peace and permanent prosperity ; but if we go in the teeth of them, and attempt to scotch them, we shall be courting disaster, disintegration, and decay.
Mr. HIGGINS (Northern Melbourne).I do not feel at all at home in these debates ; I hate them. I have never liked a debate upon a crisis, and I like this debate least of all. As a rule, I do not speak on these occasions, and I should not speak now, but for the fact that I feel it my duty to do so. I do not think that these discussions are made more agreeable by the perpetual dragging into this Parliament of New South Wales quarrels. I do not blame one party more than another ; “but if the representatives of New South Wales knew how heartily sick the representatives of the other States are of this perpetual dragging in of New South Wales squabbles of olden times, they would stop it.
– The honorable and learned member should read that lecture to the honorable and learned member for Corio.
– I have said that no one party is more to blame than another; but as an outsider I do not think that it adds to the dignity of our debates to have discussions between former leaders of parties in New South Wales as to who was right and who was wrong on some particular occasion. There is something which I feel bound to say at the ‘beginning of my remarks, because I find that there has been some misconception. Personally, I am strongly and intensely in favour of an alliance. I feel that anything which will tend to bring the progressive parties of Australia together is something which I should support, and one of the best means I see for bringing together the progressive parties of Australia is an alliance of this sort. There must be differences between men who think for themselves. When there is a general body of sentiment in favour of legislating for the benefit of the people, those who believe in State interference should be ranged on one side, whilst those who are opposed to it should be arrayed on the other. After a good deal of thought, trouble, and worry, I have come to a conclusion diametrically opposite to that indicated by the honorable member for Parramatta. He is subject to that unfortunate, and, to my mind, miserable, feeling that the only hope for humanity is to be found in following the dictates of greed.
– Nothing of the kind ; I repudiate that entirely.
– The honorable member apparently holds that the only way for humanity to be prosperous is to follow the lines of competition and to be submissive to the laws of greed- I stand amazed when I think that the best things which humanity has done have been accomplished, not under the impulse! of greed, but under influences operating in the opposite direction. It was not in any -spirit of competition that Isaac Newton made his discoveries; it was not in order to gain money that Faraday made his contributions to science, nor was it any such me’an motive that impelled John Howard to do as he did. I believe that the honorable member started out on his political career with a desire to help the people, and that that is still his object; but he has unfortunately strayed into the wrong path. I think, with all respect to him, that owing to those associations to which I need not refer, for fear that I should be called to order, he has diverged into a wrong course, and has adopted wrong principles. In justice to my late colleagues, and to the party who supported them so loyally, I feel impelled - without at all violating Cabinet secrets - to tell honorable members my experience of those with whom I was associated in office. The Prime Minister has several times alluded in the most pointed manner to the late Ministry as a caucus-tied Labour Administration. What he means by that, if he means anything, is that the Ministry as an Executive body, a Cabinet responsible to the country, deliberating for the benefit of the country, could not act freely without consulting the labour caucus. Now, if any one is in a position to say whether that is true or false, I think it is myself, because I was the only member of that Administration who was not a member of the caucus. I should have felt the position intolerable if I had been called upon to discuss with my colleagues matters in which T felt that they were not free agents.
– They submitted matters to the caucus before they discussed them in Cabinet,
– The honorable member is quite wrong. I do- not intend to use words similar to those employed by the Prime Minister, but content myself by saying that the honorable member is absolutely wrong. As tie knows, I cannot go further into detail, but I may say that there was never a case for discussion in which I did not feel that my colleagues were absolutely free agents - willing, ready, and able to listen to reason, and willing, ready, and able to be bound by it. Whatever may happen hereafter, I should be a coward and a poltroon if, having had that experience, I were not to say that the statements made and repeated, particularly on the platform, by the right honorable gentleman, are absolutely without foundation.
– The honorable and learned member was very fortunate, because his colleagues always followed him.
– The right honorable gentleman is quite wrong. I did not occupy a position similar to that which he filled in Western Australia, where the Parliament followed him abjectly for ten years, and no one dared to say him nay. My relations with the members of the Cabinet extended over only three or four months, and I can testify that there was perfect harmony, and complete independence and freedom of discussion amongst us. I think that this debate will do good in one respect, if in no other. Although it seems to wander a great deal,, and although from one point of view there is not very much discussion of principle, still, it is gradually forcing on public attention the nature of the labour pledge-; and the more that is emphasized, the better. Those who will not read the pledge have assumed that a labour member is bound by any decision of the caucus. I am free to speak independently upon this subject, and I ask any fair-minded man whether the pledge means what has been urged against it.
– Has the honorable and learned member signed the pledge?
– I have already stated_ that I have not signed it, and it is because” of that fact that I am the more free to speak regarding it.
– If the honorable and learned member has no objection to the pledge, why does he not sign it?
– That is my business.
– I admit that that is an answer.
– I decline to attach to ultimate theories the same amount of importance that I do to matters that are within the range of present action. If I. agree with every present purpose of a party I am ready to try to act with it. I do not mind if the members of that party happen to differ from me as to the ultimate goal to be attained. 1 believe that in practical politics it is ten times more important to see that one agrees with his comrades in their present proposals, rather than that he should assure himself that his ultimate ideas and theirs are upon all fours. The labour pledge, to which I have referred, reads as follows : -
I hereby pledge myself …. if elected to do my utmost to carry out the principles embodied in the Federal Labour Platform, and on all questions affecting the platform to vote as a majority of the parliamentary party may decide at a duly-constituted caucus meeting.
– Who is the judge as to what affects the labour platform?
– The labour platform contains, for instance, a plank relating to the “maintenance of a White Australia.” That is the first item that catches my eye. No man need sign the platform, of which that is a plank, unless he believes it is a proper thing; but if he signs it, the question of the machinery to be employed in order to effect the object is a mere matter of detail. So far as that plank is concerned, all that a member of the party binds himself to do is to act, as the majority of the caucus may decide, in regard to all questions affecting the maintenance of a White Australia. It is a mere question as to how the object is to be best attained, and a man must be pig-headed if, on a question of machinery, he is not willing to submit his judgment to that of the majority of his comrades. That has to be done in the Army, and in business, and in every other walk of life.
– The right honorable member for Swan had to do that in the Cabinet.
– The advantage in the case of the Labour Party is that they have a written as distinct from an unwritten platform, and I think that honorable members will agree that they have been wise in adopting a written platform. So far as I. have been able to watch the labour movement, it has been the only safeguard of the party.If they had not had a written platform, and had not compelled their selected candidates to sign it, they would have had a number of false friends, who would have edged round, and said, “ We did not mean this or that,” and who would have made all sorts of qualifications. As far as I can judge, the Labour Party internally is freer than is the party which is led by the Prime Minister. What do we find? Every one of the New South Wales representatives who came here to vote with the right honorable gentleman still votes with him, and when some of them attempted to speak upon the occasion of the recent crisis, they were not allowed to do so. They were pulled down by the tails of their coats. Upon the other hand, we find the honorable member for Perth differed from the late Administration upon the wisdom or otherwise of making the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill applicable to oversea shipping, and voted against the Government proposal. Upon the question of free-trade versus protection, the members of the Labour Party are at liberty to vote as they choose. Can the same be said of honorable members who,, with the Prime Minister, come from New South Wales ?
– It can.
– Can it be said of those honorable members who follow the honorable and learned member for Ballarat? They were pledged to fiscalism in that case-
– Does the honorable and learned member mean to say that, individually, those members always voted with their party ?
– No. I say that the only member from New South Wales who was kicking over the traces was brought into line by the framing of a motion which suited him. I refer to the honorable member for Dalley, who is now Government whip. He could not support the Prime Minister until a motion was framed for which he could vote.
– How often did the “ bridge-builders “ frame motions ?
– I have nothing to do with bridge-builders. I say that, if there is a party which is bound so tightly that it cannot move without the permission of its leader, it is the band of twenty-two or twenty-three members who have come into the House with the Prime Minister, as the representatives of New South Wales.
– Upon two occasions they saved the Barton Government from defeat on important questions.
– I am not discussing the doings of the Barton Administration at the present time. The Prime Minister - and I say this with all respect to him - has done a great deal to embitter debate in this House, and in the country. I never knew a more skilful coiner of phrases than he is, and I never knew of any case in which epithets were so virulently coined, with a design that they should sting. I have heard him speak of a body of honorable men as “ political puppets.” I have heard him say to the members of a Ministry, which consisted chiefly of men who had been wageearners, when their supporters were addressing the House - “Another day’s pay!” That remark was withdrawn, it is true, but only when it was too late. The wasp had put in his sting.
– Has the honorable and learned member never noticed what is said by honorable members opposite ?
– Nothing was so vulgar, mean, or contemptible as a taunt of that character, thrown across the floor of the House. That sort of thing will never be forgotten. Nothing in the way of retaliation bv honorable members upon this side of the Chamber could equal it. I will mention another kind of expression which the Prime Minister thinks will sweeten discussion in this House. I invite honorable members to notice how he concludes his manifesto to the electors of New South Wales. I presume that he thinks he can say to them what he would not say to the people of Australia. He declares -
I want to rescue Australian politics from the grasp of an arrogant minority which seeks to bend national power to selfish ends.
If that statement means anything at all, it means that the Labour Party is endeavouring to use the power of the Australian Government for the selfish ends of its members. If it does not mean that, the Prime Minister should speak more explicitly. When he describes these men as “selfish,” I wish to know what becomes of the grand theory advanced by the last speaker that the only motive power of industry is selfishness. As far as I understand, if there be anything at the root of the Labour Party, it is a desire to inculcate unselfishness. They may be right or they may be wrong, but to say that these men, who are as honorable as the Prime Minister himself - although they have not the title of “right” before their names - are simply working for selfish ends, is a grotesque parody upon veracity.
– He did not mean it personally.
– Then what does his statement mean? I have known clever twisters of phrases, but I have never met the equal of the Prime Minister in that respect.
An Honorable Member. - He is a perfect wriggler.
– The honorable member for Parramatta declared just now that it was characteristic of the Prime Minister to put the best construction upon everything that everybody else did. It was for that reason, I suppose, that he spoke of the members of the late Administration as working for “ another day’s pay,” as being “political puppets “ - which means that they can be pulled in any way the strings may be pulled - and as “ an arrogant minority working for selfish ends.” The Prime Minister, for the purposes of this debate, and of obtaining the vote of the most reactionary party in Australia, has accused the Labour Party and the late Government of being Socialists.
– What is that ?
– May I say that it scarcely lies in the mouth of the right honorable gentleman to abuse this thing called
Socialism? I have never gone so far in my expressions in regard to Socialism as he has. What did he say recently?
My quarrel is not with the theory of Socialism.
Let honorable members reflect upon the meaning of those words. . The Prime Minister acted as chairman of a meeting at the Athenaeum Hall at which Mr. Max Hirsch delivered a lecture. In the course of his remarks the right honorable gentleman said -
He admitted that there were socialistic things which were among the best things in Australia to-day. Such were their post and telegraph offices and railways.
I suppose that the control of these Departments by the State will be admitted to be socialistic in character by all honorable members save the honorable member for Parramatta. The Prime Minister affirms that his quarrel is not with the theory of Socialism. That means that he is open to be convinced as to this or that method of improving the condition of the people by means of State initiative. The statement that he has no quarrel with the theory of Socialism was made in one of those speeches in which the right honorable member has sought so unfairly to reflect upon the Labour Party and its friends, and to gather round himself certain anti-progressive sympathies. I trust that he will be fixed to it. It is veryhard to pin him down to anything, but at least let us fix him to that assertion. Veryfew of us have gone so far as he did in making it. The right honorable gentleman went on to say at this meeting that -
He was open to be convinced as to this or that method of improving the condition of the people by means of State initiative.
Let us compare the two statements - that he has no quarrel with the theory of Socialism and that he is open to conviction. Open to conviction by what or by whom? Does he mean that he is open to conviction by votes or by reason? If he means that he is open to conviction by the number of votes he can obtain, I have only to say that a person who can employ language of that sort is the most dangerous kind of politician that Australia could have. He went on to say, in answer to the Question, “ Why don’t you join the Labour Party ? “ that -
He wanted to be satisfied, in each case, that the change proposed would be a good one.
I have never known even the most extreme member of the Labour Party - and I have watched their doings very closely for a long time - to go further than that. The right honorable gentleman is open to fee convinced, but he desires to be convinced that in each case the change proposed would be a good one. Although in this speech he pro- nounced so strongly in favour of Socialism, the whole tenor of his attack - and it was a bitter attack - on the Labour Party last night was that the members of it were socialistic. In which speech was he really giving us his mind ? Is the right honorable gentleman a Doctor Jekyll and a Mr. Hyde? Has he two personalities, so that when speaking in the Athenaeum he is socialistic, and when speaking in this Chamber, in an attack on the Labour Party, he is antisocialistic? He says that Socialism means the-
Destruction of private enterprise, destruction of individual liberty.
He said himself that he approved of the Post and Telegraph Department being administered by the State, and also of the railways being administered by the State, and he admits that they are socialistic enterprises.
– He also said that the Railway Commissioners were emblematic of individualism.
– I am not going to mention everything that the right honorable gentleman has said. It is difficult to pin him down to anything in particular, but here we have a clear statement made by him.
– He said that the railways should be conducted by Railway Commissioners on business lines.
– I am not going to be diverted by the honorable member from the point with which I arn dealing. The Prime Minister approves of the railways and the Post and Telegraph Department being administered by the State, and admits that they are socialistic enterprises. Notwithstanding this admission, he condemned Socialism as being destructive of private enterprise, and destructive of individual liberty. If he meant destructive of private enterprise, so far as private enterprise is injurious !’to the public, I should be socialistic ; if he meant destructive of individual liberty, so. far as individual liberty means anarchy or injury to the public interest I, too, should be socialistic. But what is the use of this mere phrasing ? Not only is the leader of the Government socialistic in principle according to his own statement, but I have heard the Minister of Defence say, in this Chamber, “lama collectivism sir.”
– I know what the honorable and learned member is referring to, but he is not quite correct.
– I am sure that the honorable and learned member will not contradict my statement.
– It is not quite accurate.
– I was sitting on the same bench as the honorable and learned member on the occasion in question, and was startled to hear him say, “I am a collectivism sir.” I have never known him publicly to renounce that principle. The main difference that I have been able to discover between the Prime Minister and the leader of the Opposition is that when the latter is beaten upon a proposal he continues to fight on upon the same lines to attain his object; but when the Prime Minister is beaten he takes up the proposals of the other side and fights for them. Let us take, for instance, the insertion of the provision in the oversea mail contracts that the steamers engaged in the service shall employ only white labour. Let us also take the matter of the six hatters and the fiscal issue. If there was anything which characterized the right honorable gentleman’s utterances before the elections it was his aversion from protection, his hatred of the clause in the mail contracts providing for the employment of only white labour, and his hatred also of the prohibition against the introduction of contract labour into Australia. According to the Argus of 10th December last, he said that -
He was not going to have any fiscal peace until he had pulled down the present high duties.
He now whines for fiscal peace. Then, again, on 14th December last, he spoke against the provision for the employment of only white labour on mail steamers and against the way in which the six hatters had been treated. I particularly desire to support this motion, in order to relieve the right honorable gentleman from a very painful position. He is expected, as Minister of External Affairs, to carry out a law of which he disapproves. I do not think that it is fair to place him in such a position ; his conscience is “too tender to let him rightly administer that law. I listened to-day to the explanation which he made with a show of much indignation, and the sum and substance of it was, “ I did not carry out the law with regard to the six potters; it was carried out by the late Minister of External Affairs.” If he did not carry out the law he ought to have done, and he must do it. ‘ And it is because we do not trust the right honorable gentleman to act against his conscience in this matter that we1 want to remove him from office. I was very careful to ask the right honorable gentleman on the 3rd September a question as to wha’t he would do in a case like! that of the six hatters, and he said explicitly -
If I have the power to alter the Act in a certain direction -
Of course he was referring to the contract provision -
I will do so the moment I discover the fact.
The point is this : Are we safe in allowing a man to administer the Immigration Restriction Act against his own conscience?
– He said last night that he was not against the law at all.
– I say that he is against the section with regard to contract labour.
– Does the honorable and learned member think it is sa’fe to trust a free-trader to administer protectionist doctrines in the Customs Department?
– I shall leave that question to be answered by the honorable member, who put a similar question with regard to the present Minister of Trade and Customs. I say also that it is not right to allow a Ministry to hold office who deliberately permitted an ill-framed and illdrafted clause to remain in a Bill when conducting the business of the House. I refer of course to clause 48 of the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill. The present Ministry will go down to posterity as “the shortlived clause 48 Ministry.” The whole of their policy is a proviso to clause 48. They got into office by refusing to allow that clause to be recommitted so as to be amended. It is admitted by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, who is nothing if he is not frank, that that proviso is ill-drafted and difficult of interpretation. That statement is contained in Hansard of the 12th August, page 4233. Although the honorable and learned member admitted that the clause was likely to lead to difficulties of interpretation, he would not allow it to be brought into Committee to be amended.
– The Prime Minister said the same.
– That was the question upon which the recent crisis occurred. I cannot understand why any honorable member should have refused to allow the clause to be recommitted so as to improve it unless there was some other reason. The only reason for refusing to recommit the clause was in order to put out the Ministry.
– The late Prime Minister said that the clause as proposed to be amended was exactly the same as the clause as it previously stood.
– Yes, but the Committee were not bound to adopt the amendment tabled by the Government. That amendment might never have been moved. The point is that there was admittedly a faulty clause, which ought to have gone back into Committee so as to be amended. But honorable members opposite were afraid to do that, because - I say it with all respect - they knew that if that were done they could not get the vote of the honorable member for Dalley. Not only that, but the honorable member for Moira, who is a man of practical experience, and knows how these provisions would apply, say, amongst shearers and others, spoke with great thought and care upon the amendment of the present Minister of Defence. He said, as reported on page 2640 of Hansard, that he had looked into the amendment and thought it was unworkable.
– I said that I had not looked into it.
– No; with all respect, the honorable member said this : - i have said that I have not studied the amendment proposed by the honorable and learned member for Corinella, but, from what I have heard of it, it would be open to objection, inasmuch as it would make it necessary to obtain the opinion of the majority of the workers in any particular industry .
So far as the matter was vital the honorable member perfectly understood the proposal. He understood that it would mean that it would be necessary to ascertain the opinion of the majority of the workers in any particular industry ; but he said - ‘
If people are compelled to go beyond that to find out the absolute number of workers in any particular industry that they may be able to prove to the Court that they have a majority of those employed in the industry behind them, their task would appear to be an almost impossible one.
That is just what we have said right through. It is because we felt that the task would be impossible, and that the proviso would render the Bill a sham, that we said that we would insist upon taking it back into Committee. The point with regard to Ministers - and it has been put in various forms - is that they have no common principle. We sometimes hear of a rope of sand. I cannot find even a rope of sand in the case of the honorable gentlemen upon the Treasury bench.
– They have no principles.
– I will not say that they have no principles, but they have no distinctive principle. They have splendid principles - especially the Prime Minister - only their principles are upon opposite sides, and are exerted upon opposite occasions. There has been a great deal of talk with regard to fiscal peace. The honorable and learned member for Ballarat, in speaking to the electors as Prime Minister, put before them “very distinctly the policy of fiscal peace and preferential trade for a White Australia. The Prime Minister complains that he is not allowed to get fiscal peace. What right has he to complain? He was against fiscal peace. He only begins to complain that he has not got fiscal peace when he finds that he is beaten. What happened, so far as I understand it, was this : That the honorable and learned member for Ballarat put before the people of Australia the policy of fiscal peace. The Prime Minister said, “ Let us have no fiscal peace; let us fight.” Therefore, unfortunately for the repose of this House, and for its chance of doing good work, we had to look to a revival of the Tariff question. A number of members were elected in New South Wales upon issues quite different from those which prevailed in the rest of Australia. The country being, rightly or wrongly, mainly protectionist, sent to Parliament a majority of protectionists. Then when the Prime Minister found that there was a danger of the Tariff being disturbed from the protectionist side he said, “Let us have fiscal peace.”
– A great many of the fiscal peace advocates were free-traders.
– That is not so in the case of Victoria, but in the case of New South Wales the vast bulk of the members elected were against fiscal peace, and for what is called free-trade, but what is really anti-protection. The position reminds me of nothing so much as of a little boy flicking a big boy with a whip. When the big hoy asks for peace and does not get it, he takes the whip and uses it. Then the small boy begins to whine for peace. So far as I am concerned, I do not feel in any way bound to leave the Tariff as it stands. If I find that injury is being done to any industry by the Tariff, I feel perfectly free to act in the direction which shall seem best for that industry. I am decidedly in favour of fiscal peace; but the difficulty ‘is that the other side would not give fiscal peace. The country had to send protectionists into this Parliament, and that having been done, the House is in a most disordered state in this respect. So far as I am concerned, I am perfectly free. If a man will not accept a compromise, I am in no way bound by it. In conclusion, I may say that I do not like these crisis debates; but one of the great objects I have in voting for the motion is to get a dissolution.
– Honorable members over there seem very “ struck “ on dissolutions.
– I am afraid that the honorable member for Dalley will have to look forward to a very early and peaceful dissolution, so far as regards his politics. The three parties in this House are nearly » even, and there is a most unstable equilibrium.
– There are five parties.
– If this Parliament lasts much longer we shall have five or six parties. The honorable and learned member for Ballarat, in his speech made early this year, said that the system of three parties would not do; but I’ venture to say, with all kindness and respect, that if he had chosen to accept the position as. it was, we could have got on very well. He could have continued to lead the Government^ with the support of a consistent and powerful body in the Corner. The honorable and learned member will, I think, bear me out in the statement that I deprecated his making the question of the inclusion of the public servants in the Concilia- tion and Arbitration Bill a vital one. I may be wrong, but I think that from his point of view he was of opinion that the clause, if inserted, would be invalid. But if so, what harm could there1 be? Why should the clause not have been left in the Bill? At all events, the’ position is as we find it. The honorable and learned member has been in this Parliament the King-maker - King-maker Deakin. He was able to oust the late Government, and he is able to oust this Government by throwing his weight in the scale. There are! no prophets so successful as those who can bring about the fulfilment of their own prophesies - those who arrange the inevitable ; and if the honorable and learned member adopts the principle for the rest of this Parliament of always voting against the1 Government in a crisis, he can show that his prophesies are right. But although the honorable and learned member had not a majority of absolute followers from the beginning of this Parliament, there were a number of men who would have assisted him in any reasonable progressive measures. For my part I feel that the honorable and learned member has the root in him - that he has good, progressive principles, and has always been a friend of progressive legislation. As one who has followed him on previous occasions, I should be only too happy to se’e him leading, as he ought to lead, a really progressive Ministry. I desire, so far as I can, to have parties rearranged into the progressive party and the retrogressive party - into the party who want to obtain good conditions of life for all - not merely for the workers - and the party who are at the present time timid with regard to State interference. The only thing now is for the electors to determine whom they will have. Let us get a good, healthy whiff from the country over this House of ours ; we want fresh air in several respects, but in nothing so much as in our proceedings. What amazes me is that in the veryfirst speech the present Prime Minister made after taking office, he admitted that a speedy dissolution was imperative - that the House could not be carried on without a dissolution. The only excuse for his taking office was that he could carry on the business of the country with this House; yet at the very first chance, when he met the House, he said that the business could not be carried on unless there was an appeal to the people.
– That was under certain conditions.
– Unless at the mercy of the Opposition, he could not carry on - that was the Prime Minister’s statement.
– Most honorable members, I think, have come to the conclusion that there must be a dissolution very soon, and the Prime Minister, in all fairness, ought to hand over the responsibilities of office before the dissolution takes place. The right honorable gentleman obtained office on the representation that he could carry on in the present House, and he has no right to get a dissolution and hold office, and “ call the tune “ to the country.
– The late Government held office without a majority.
– We had a majority on. the issue on which we got in.
– The late Government never had a majority.
– We had a majority on the issue on which we got office. What
I say is that it is the duty of the present Prime Minister, who got office on the distinct representation that he was able to carry on in the present House, to put this House into the same position as it was in before he took the responsibilities of office, and let the new Ministry say whether or mot there shall be a dissolution.
– Who will be the new Ministry?
– The right honorable member for Swan is, I think, hardly interjecting fairly- I have not the responsibility of saying who shall be the new Ministry ; and the right honorable member, with his ten years’ experience in Western Australia, ought to remember that it was not for him to say, nominally, who were to be the Ministry in that State. I only say that we should have a dissolution soon, so that the country may determine whether we are to have a sham Arbitration Bill or a real Arbitration Bill, and whether we are to have a sham White Australia or a real White Australia?
– I aim as glad as is the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne that this motion has been tabled. I think it will do much to declare the position of parties, and clear the political atmosphere. I also agree with the late Prime Minister, the honorable member for Bland, that the issue which will be put before the electors is: a clear-cut issue. If I may be permitted to give my statement of that issue, I. will say that, on the political side, it is a question of free versus machine politics.
– I think we have heard that before:
– No doubt ; and when the honorable member has heard it a thousand times possibly he may understand it. On the industrial side, it will be a question of enterprise and progress versus a Cooperative Commonwealth or Socialism. The honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne has told us that he believes the motion will result in a dissolution. I think it highly probable that it will, and I, personally, intend to act upon that assumption.
– The honorable and learned member had better do so.
– For the, socialistic party with which the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne is now allied, I should say that no time could be better chosen for the attack which has been made. The members of that party -know full well that an election, late in November or early in December, means the disfranchisement of thousands of farmers in the State of Victoria and in the southern part of New South Wales.
– This is a second edition of the Argus.
– I know from personal experience, gained in the last election, that many farmers and their wives were then unable to record their votes because they could not get away from their work at a time when, after passing through seven lean years, they had a good crop to garner. Honorable members who are1 acquainted with farming districts will know that that statement is correct, and that an election at that time of the year must involve the disfranchisement of many farmers. Nevertheless, I hope that the producers will respond to the call on them, and will do their duty and record their votes, even though it should mean, as I am sure it will, personal loss and inconvenience to them. The members of the late Government have formulated this attack upon the present Prime! Minister and his Government, and, so far, the “ ragged regiment” in the Opposition corner has not yet expressed its views. We are still waiting for an expression of the views of the corner party, which by interjection we have been told has formed an alliance with the Labour Party on a sound protectionist basis. I believe that before this debate concludes it will be seen that whatever alliance has been formed, it is not quite correct to say that it is on a sound protectionist basis. The honorable member for .Bland made a gentle but rather feeble attack upon the present Ministry. He was followed by the! honorable and learned member for West Sydney, in an attack which was as venomous and rancorous as the attack by his leader was weak and feeble. I am glad to know that the honorable and learned member for West Sydney did not go unpunished; that while he1 has made three bitter, malicious speeches in this House, directed mainly against the Prime Minister, from whom he has received many a favour, the honorable member for Parramatta dressed the honorable gentleman down to-day in a manner which I should think has been rarely equalled in any Parliament. After the exposure of the honorable and learned member’s tactics and practices, and after the explanation of the Prime Minister to-day, I think there will be a great many members of this House who in future will require proof by affidavit of any statement which the honorable and learned member may see fit to make. While I say this, I must admit that the late Government took office in a dignified and quiet manner. Nothing in their life became them so well as their assumption of office. They assumed office without any unnecessary boasting, and in a courteous and dignified fashion. But their manner of leaving office was very much the reverse. Although my acquaintance with politics has been remarkably short, I have had the privilege, if it can be called a privilege, of seeing four Governments go to their doom, but I have never yet seen a Government go out .of office with so much squealing and howling as we have heard from the late Labour Government. The honorable and learned member for Ballarat, I think, summed up the position to a nicety when he declared that the late Ministers were like a lot of little boys who were hauled out of a tart-shop before they were quite full.
– The honorable and learned member did not say that.
– I think that was a very happy expression, because a more undignified exhibition of puling and weeping over the loss of office I never witnessed, nor I .think did any other honorable member. What is the principle upon which the late Government were defeated? We were told that it was upon a question of principle - the question of preference to unionists. The actual facts of the case must not be forgotten, and as we are told that a dissolution is impending, I trust I may be permitted to restate them. I was one of tho’se who opposed preference to unionists in any shape or form. I did so because I believed then, as I believe now, that it is wicked and immoral to give the stronger a preference over the weaker, which is what the proposed provision for preference to unionists would do.
– Why did the honorable member for Bourke, who now interjects, change his vote on that question?
– I did not change my vote.
– The honorable member changed his vote. He voted, in the first instance, for the amendment moved by the honorable and learned member for Corinella. And he then went back upon it without a word of explanation.
– I did not change my vote. Why does not the honorable and learned member correct that statement?
– The statement is absolutely correct, and the honorable member knows it. The amendment then moved . by the honorable and learned member for Corinella was intended to assure the country that preference should be granted only to organizations which comprised the majority employed in a particular trade.
– I did not change my vote on that either.
– That was a distinctly democratic proposal, because it provided for majority rule. It is a proposal which the present leader of the Opposition has practically indorsed, for, if honorable members will refer to the honorable gentleman’s speeches upon the question, they will find on page 4046 of Hansard, that he is reported to have said -
The Government do not desire that preference shall be granted to minorities.
And on page 4047 he is reported to have said -
So far as I have been able to ascertain, the New South Wales Court has never granted preference to a union which did not appear to have a majority within the district to which it was to apply.
That shows how little attention the honorable gentleman could have paid to the doings of the New South Wales Arbitration Court, because nothing could be further from the facts. I have before me a series of letters which have appeared in the Sydney Daily Telegraph, forming a correspondence between certain writers, including Mr. George S. Beeby. Mr. George S. Beeby is a barrister of Sydney, who has been employed by the trade unions, and has appeared in more arbitration cases than all the other solicitors and barristers put together. He almost invariably acts for the trade unions in cases before the Arbitration Court, and in a letter he says - ‘
On looking through the records as closely as time will permit, I find that in no case has preference been refused. ‘
There is, therefore, not a single case on record in New South Wales in which it can be shown that preference .has been refused. Four instances are referred to in the correspondence in which preference was given to distinct minorities in a trade. In the case of the Painters and Decorators Association it was shown that the total number of painters on the books of the Association was 356, of which number 87 were unfinancial, leaving 269 financial unionists. The number of men in the trade, as stated by the president of the Painters Association was 1,200. That was the case in which one-fourth of the employe’s were given a preference over the majority engaged in the trade. Then there was the case which I have quoted in this House before, of the Saddlers’ employes, where it was shown that there were forty financial members in the union out of a total of from 1,200 to 1,600 employed in the trade, and these forty were given preference over the great hulk of the employes in the trade.
– That is the sort of democracy honorable members opposite are fighting for.
– That is the sort of democracy they desire, and would like to see brought about. When the honorable member for Bland stated that the New South Wales Court only gave preference to a majority, it is clear, as the records of the Court show, that he was absolutely incorrect.
– The honorable and learned member would not trust the Court, then?
– I desire that in the Bill itself we should direct the Judge to abide by majority rule. The honorable member is not prepared to abide by majority rule; he wishes for minority rule when it favours himself.
– Why do we not put that provision in every law?
– The honorable member for Bland told us in his attack upon the Government that they have no policy for the future. He said that they had a policy prepared, to see them into recess, but that they have no policy for next year and for the future. . I think we may spend a few minutes profitably in discussing the policy of the Labour Party for next year, and their socialistic proposals for next session. I think it will be of the greatest interest to the whole community, and particularly to that section of the community which earns its living on the soil. In the first place, the honorable member for Bland attacks the present Prime Minister because that right honorable gentleman adopts a conciliatory attitude towards the States. The honorable gentleman claims that the Federal Government should take up a definite attitude, and go through with their proposals, whether the States like them or not. For instance, on the question of the appointment of a High Commissioner, the honorable gentleman says that the Federal Government should bring in their measure, appoint the High Commissioner- straight away, and force the States Governments to retrench, whether it suits them to do so or not. The honorable gentleman did not propose to consult them in any shape or fora. The honorable gentleman said that his Government would bring in a measure to provide for old-age pensions, and that he would not consult the States on that question.
– I did not say that.
– The honorable gentleman need not be in a hurry; I have his speech before me.
– I did not say that we would not consult the States.
– The honorable gentleman said that his Government intended to introduce a measure next session to provide for old-age pensions, whether the States liked it or not. He said that the Navigation Bill . would be the first measure introduced next session by his Government, and that then an Old-Age Pensions Bill would be introduced, whether the States liked it or not.
– That is right.
– The first question with which we are confronted, in considering a provision for old-age pensions, is : Where is the money to come from? It cannot be got through the Customs, because, as has been stated over and over again, to raise ,£1,500,000 - which I think would be necessary to provide for old-age pensions - £6,000,000 would have to be collected through the Customs.
– What about direct taxation ?
– I am coming to that. I shall not leave that matter untouched, I can assure the honorable member. The honorable members for Barrier and Yarra have advocated a Federal land tax. The honorable member for Yarra told us last night that he would levy a Federal land tax to provide the money for old-age pensions.
– The honorable and learned member is himself a single-taxer.
– That is not correct.
– The honorable and learned member was at one time. Has he changed his coat?
– If it will do honorable members opposite any good, I shall make a declaration here which I have made elsewhere. Having been brought up, as some honorable members who know my circumstances are aware, in a rigid protectionist atmosphere, when I escaped from that atmosphere I naturally went to the other extreme. With years of discretion I have adopted what I believe to be a more reasonable and moderate course. I saw clearly that, under the Federal Constitution, the Customs must, be the source of revenue for the Federation, and that direct taxation must be left to the States, and the Federal Government must not impinge upon them in that respect.
-i suppose the honorable and learned member would like to see that in the Constitution.
– I think there is an implied bargain with the States that the Federal Government shall restrict itself to indirect taxation from Customs and Excise for Federal purposes. If ever there was any implied bargain in a contract, I think that bargain is’ implied in the Federal Constitution.
– Nothing of the kind.
– There can be no doubt that honorable members opposite advocate Federal direct taxation. They desire that there should be a Federal land tax. If we look at the speeches of candidates of the Labour Party at the last election, we shall find direct and definite statements to that effect. For instance, Senator Findley, who was one of the four labour candidates for the Senate at the last election, said -
The time had gone by for playing with the land question. What they wanted was a Federal land tax.
Mr. Robert Solly, who was also a labour candidate for the Senate at the last election, and is now a member of the State Parliament of Victoria, said -
They wanted to tax the whole of the land in the State. The Federal elections were a class fight, and the Labour Party must win, and must dominate everything, because labour produced everything.
Those are clear and definite statements from two candidates selected by the labour organizations, and they show that it is a part of their policy to bring about Federal direct taxation. That is a plank in the policy of the Labour Party for the future. Will it serve to reconcile the producing interests with government by the Labour Party ? In connexion with another proposal which has been foreshadowed we find the same desire to attack the States. It is proposed in the first place to override their wishes in regard to the appointment of a High Commissioner. It is proposed by the Labour Party to take away one of their sources of revenue from direct taxation, and in connexion with the proposal for a monopoly . of the tobacco industry exactly the same effect is intended. Honorable members must recollect that at the present time three-fourths of the revenue derived from Customs and Excise on tobacco is returnable to the States, whilst if the tobacco business is made a Federal monopoly, not one penny of revenue from this source will be returnable to the States. The members of the Labour Party, therefore, propose to take away an existing source! of taxation which the StatesGovernments have in respect of the direct taxation of land, and they also propose to take from the States Governments a great deal of the revenue which they at present receive from indirect taxation in the shape of Customs and Excise duties on tobacco. I should like to know whether the tobacco monopolyis the policy of the alliance on the other side. We were told that it was going to be considered in a few months. The honorable member for Bland told us that his Government would introduce a measure next session to take over the manufacture and sale of tobacco and make it a national monopoly. I ask the honorable and learned member for Indi, as I have asked him before, what is his attitude upon this question? What is the attitude of the “ ragged regiment “ upon it? Is the fragment of the Protectionist Party which is joined to the Labour Partygoing to swallow the proposal for a national monopoly in this or in any other trade? It is a matter upon which the people require and deserve enlightenment. There is a great deal more in it than the establishment of a national industry. It means a definite march forward on the road to Socialism. The leader of the Opposition has recently told us that the policy of his party was one step at a time. They are going to monopolize the wholesale trade first, and the retail trade afterwards, and thus gradually nationalize all industries. We therefore desire to know whether the seceding protectionists are in favour of the establishment of a Government monopoly in tobacco.
– Is not irrigation a step on the road to agricultural Socialism?
– I shall be able to show the honorable member, from an irrefutable source - the organizer paid by these gentlemen to go round the country, Mr. Thomas Mann - that that is not so. If the Commonwealth is going to impose a land tax, and to obtain the profits arising from the nationalization of the tobacco industry, its expenditure will go up by leaps and bounds, and prodigality and extravagance will result. We know what happened in New South Wales after the imposition of the Federal Tariff. There a prodigal Government, which lived solely by the breath of the Labour Party, in two or three years wasted millions of pounds of public money. The coffers of the Treasury were filled by the duties returned by the Federation, and in. addition money was recklessly borrowed and extravagantly spent. There was no remission of taxation; but the rate of borrowing which prevailed when the present Prims Minister was in office in that State was doubled or trebled, and the expenditure of the State went up by leaps and bounds. The Government then in power in New South Wales during its whole existence held office at the pleasure of the Labour Party, which could at any moment have stopped the borrowing. The members of the party in this Chamber prate about being opposed to borrowing ; but when in New South Wales the Labour Party had power to stop it, no party could have been more regardless of the profligate expenditure of borrowed money.
– The Labour Party in this Parliament is a different party from that in the New South Wales Parliament.
– It is the same political party. Its existence is due to the same political organizations, and to the same wire-pulling.
– The honorable member ought to know a little about wire-pulling.
– I have seen some wire pulling on the other side. I saw some of it in connexion with one honorable and gallant member, who challenged me to mortal combat this afternoon. In regard to that matter, if I am allowed the privilege of the challenged party, and have the right to chose the weapons, I shall defend myself against him with a squirt. Were there no wires pulled in connexion with the honorable and learned member’s vote upon the question of political unions? The majority of the late Government was reduced to one on that occasion.
– No wires were pulled.
– The Government needed all the wire-pulling that could pos sibly be indulged in then, and we saw Ministers of the Crown openly and flagrantly engaging in that occupation.
– The honorable member does not know anything about it.
– The honorable member ought to be the last to interject. In connexion with the debates upon the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, he made a number of interjections, which showed he was thoroughly in sympathy with’ the amendment proposed by the present Minister of Defence ; but at the last moment he cast his vote against it.
– The honorable and learned member has made that statement before, but it is not correct.
– It is correct.
– The honorable and learned member cannot find any record of it in Hansard.
– Another . point on which the electors require to be enlightened is the banking policy of the late Government. At page 1284 of Hansard, Mr. Watson is reported to have said -
We intend to introduce- during next session a Banking Bill, dealing particularly with the note issue, and containing, certainly, a section on the lines of the Canadian provision, that insists upon 40 per cent, of the cash reserves of the banks being held in Government notes.
That is a most important proposal, and one which we shall be entitled to discuss at the forthcoming election. It is also a subject upon which a great deal of light requires to be thrown. The proposal was that they should be empowered to go to the banks and take from their reserves £8,000,000 in sovereigns and bullion, and put down inconvertible and unpresentable notes in their place. In the Senate last week, Senator de Largie declared that that was a proper proposal to make.
– Has it ever been made anywhere else?
– The honorable member is referring to the precedent of Canada, which has absolutely no application to our circumstances. If he took the trouble to read the statistics showing the amount of banking reserves held in Canada at that time, and the condition of Canadian banking, and considered the possibilities of the Canadian banks holding their gold reserves a few miles away in New York, he would understand that the conditions there; and here are totally dissimilar.
– The banks gladly accepted the Government securities at the time of the banking crisis.
– I wish honorable members to consider this position. At the time of the banking crisis in 1893, about £2, 000,000 or , £3,000,000 was drawn from the banks within a very short time. Many of us know what that meant. It involved the closing of many of the banks and financial institutions, and resulted in the forced realization of many securities, the selling up of many a farmer in the country districts, the bankruptcy of many a storekeeper in the towns, and ruin and disaster all round. Does the honorable member for Bourke suppose that £8,000,000 could be forcibly extracted from the coffers of the banks without bringing about disaster? Does he think that the banks would part with £8,000,000 of coin and take I.O.U.’s in exchange!, without a run upon the banks resulting, and bringing disaster in its train? Does he imagine that the bank reserves are kept to look at. Can he not see that this large sum of money is kept in the coffers of the banks because it is absolutely essential for the purpose of carrying on banking and currency operations?
– The banks were ready enough to accept the Government I.O.U.’s at the time of the crisis.
– I am not aware that the Victorian banks received any assistance from the Government at that time.
– They got assistance from the New South Wales banks, which ha’d the Government’s I.O.U.
– Only to the extent that for a few months their notes were made inconvertible.
– More than that. The honorable and learned member is quite wrong.
– In Victoria the banks did not receive any support from the Government, beyond the fact that they were told that they could have a holiday extending over five days.
– And they were glad to have it.
– The honorable and learned member makes an interjection that is quite worthy of him, because it is so casuistical. The banks did not take advantage of the offer of the Government. The Union Bank, the Bank of Australasia, and the Bank of New South Wales did not want the holiday. They kept their doors open throughout”, and told the public that they could go on drawing till they were tired.
– Six of the leading banks did take advantage of the holiday.
– So far from the offer of the Government conferring any benefit upon the banks, it only increased the public distrust, and accentuated the run that was causing some institutions to totter.
– The banks accepted Government assistance in New South Wales.
– The assistance in that case took the form of making the bank notes inconvertible for a few months.
– The Government did more than that. What about the Treasury notes?
– Some Treasury notes were put out, and the issue of Treasury notes in the present case is to form the pretext for appropriating £8,000,000 of the bank reserves. The proposal involves a direct and unmitigated spoliation of the banks.
– The banks already pay for the privilege of issuing notes.
– Exactly; they pay a note tax that mops up from 90 per cent, to 95 per cent, of the profits arising from the issue.
– That has never been proved.
– It has been proved, and the fact could be demonstrated to the honorable member if he had the capacity to understand the statistics upon the question. When money could be obtained at 3 per cent., the banks were paying a note tax of 2 per cent., and, in addition, had to bear all the printing and other incidental expenses. It can be seen, therefore, that their margin of profit was a very small one. Now that money is a little dearer, their profit may be slightly higher. If it be desired to make the banks contribute’ a little more to the Treasury, the note tax could be increased by 1 per cent, or½ per cent. That would be a straightforward method of dealing, but it would not be fair to go to the banks and demand from them money, that belongs to the people of the Commonwealth. The States have a large number of loans to convert very shortly. Within the next six or seven years, loans, amounting to £20,000,000, will mature, and will have to be renewed. What prospect shall we have of a successful conversion of these loans in the markets of the old world if our financial institutions are made the subject of a policy of the kind proposed. Two or three of the large banks have their head offices in London, and we could scarcely expect the financiers of the old world to permit us to renew our indebtedness if we deliberately robbed our banks of their reserves. The renewal of our loans would be practically impossible. The States securities would be depreciated iti every shape and form, and the Treasurers would be confronted with enormous difficulties in their endeavours to arrange matters upon a sound footing.
– Who robbed the widows and orphans of Victoria?
– Perhaps the honorable member ‘knows ; I do not.
– It was the financial institutions.
– This, then, is the banking policy of the late Administration. I suppose we may gather, from the silence of the ‘”’ ragged regiment,” that they also are prepared to swallow the labour policy in regard to that matter, and to join in an attempt to take £8,000,000 in sovereigns or bullion from the coffers of the banks of the Commonwealth. Any such attempt must necessarily mean increased difficulty to the States Governments if they wish to convert their own loans, whilst on the other hand it must greatly hamper the efforts of the Federal Treasurer to consolidate and convert the States debts. A few days ago I asked a question which I desire to repeat on the present occasion, because it is most important to my constituency, and also to others. I desire to know what is the policy of the alliance in respect to the inclusion or otherwise of the farmers in the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill?
– To which alliance does the honorable and learned member refer?
– To that which is now endeavouring to dislodge the present Government. When I submitted my amendment in favour of exempting agriculturists from the operation of that Bill, the present leader of the Opposition, who was then Prime Minister, is reported in Hansard, page 19 1 7, to have said -
The Government will oppose the amendment by every means within their power.
They did oppose it in a straightforward way by every means in their power, because they believed, and still believe, that the agricultural industry should be brought within the scope of that measure. They believe in regulating the hours, wages, and the conditions of employment upon farms, just as they do in prescribing them for industries conducted in cities. On the other hand, I see a very wide difference between the huge aggregation of capital, and the employment of a large number of men under one roof in a city industry, and. the farming industry, which in the vast majority of cases is a family industry. But there were two or three seceding protectionists who voted with us. upon that occasion.
– “ Seceding protectionists ?”
– Yes. Perhaps if I say seceders from the leader of the Protectionist Party, I shall meet the views of the purist for Melbourne Ports. There were four or five protectionists, or at the very most seven, who voted with vis upon that particular amendment. Those honorable members, therefore, constitute only about one-fifth of the alliance party. Under such circumstances, what possible hope is there that the farmers of the Commonwealth will be exempted from the operation of the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, should the alliance come into power? We know perfectly well that the honorable member for Bland is not likely to deviate one iota from the policy which he has previously laid down in this respect. I should like to know whether that is not so?
– I shall be replying in a day or two, I suppose.
– I should like to know the views of the honorable and learned member for Indi, who was good enough to pair in favour of my amendment .
– The honorable and learned member should manufacture a policy for the Government, not for the Opposition.
– I think that I am in a position to sum up for the benefit of the producers, the socialistic policy of the Opposition.
– The producers are always asking for Socialism, so that they ought to be satisfied.
– I think that policy may be summed up under four headings. The first is, a Federal land tax; the second, decreased States revenues as the result of the establishment of a Government tobacco monopoly ; the third, bank spoliation ; and the fourth, the inclusion of farmers within the scope of the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill. These headings, I think, fairly and accurately represent the policy of the Socialist
Party, because I have already shown that their chosen representatives have advocated Federal land taxation, whilst we know from the honorable member for Bland himself that he is in favour of the establishment of a Government tobacco monopoly, of taking over £8,000,000 worth of reserves from the banks, and of bringing the farmers under the operation of the measure to which I have referred.
– Do not the farmers believe in a Government Bank?
-I shall deal with that matter in a few moments. The programme of the present Administration, when contrasted with that of the Opposition, is good enough for me as a country representative. It is true that there may be points upbn which I should prefer the Ministry to act differently, but I have no hesitation in supporting their policy, and I believe that the electors of every country constituency will record their votes in favour of it, as opposed to the policy of the Labour Party. Upon the political side, I enter my emphatic protest against caucus, or machine politics. I do not wish to repeat the two apt quotations which I made on a former occasion from speeches by the honorable member for Bourke and the honorable member for Melbourne Ports. All I desire to say is that one of those gentleman has declared the policv of the labour caucus to be “ worthy of Tammanv Hall, or Russia,” whilst the other has described it as “a fraud.” As was pointed out by one of them, the successful candidates of that body are practically nominated by twenty or thirty wirepullers.
– Who pulled the wires in the case of the Wannon election?
-I do not know.
– I know something about it.
-I took it as the greatest compliment in my life when the former representative for Wannon personally waited upon me, and asked me to contest that election. I never felt so proud as when he came to my office and requested me to become a candidate.
– That was not the only wire which was pulled.
– There were better wires than that. Will the honorable and learned member tell us about them?
– Even Federal Ministers are not free agents in this House. Looking through that very interesting publication called the Tocsin, a copy of which
I endeavour to secure each week, I find a full statement of the labour pledge.
– The Tocsin! Is that a poison for rabbits?
– It is Rough on Rats !
-I find this clause in the labour pledge -
No member of the Federal Labour Party shall accept office in the Federal Government except with the consent of a duly constituted caucus meeting.
That is a proviso which, in my opinion, is directly subversive of Ministerial responsibility. It is directly subversive of the policy of responsible government, as we know it to exist in Great Britain and elsewhere, where the Prime Minister selects as his colleagues those who are best fitted to take office. The labour pledge provides that the membeis of the party shall not take office without the consent of the caucus, and therefore they are bound hand and foot in that respect.
– That is not correct.
– Give us the Reform League pledge.
-I have never signed a Reform League pledge, nor have I seen one. Like the honorable member for Bourke, I do not believe in pledges. That was the position which he took up at the last general election, but I do not know what will happen at the next. Judging by a statement that I saw in last week’s issue of the Tocsin, he will have to be in favour of pledges. A well known member of the Western Australian Parliament, Mr. Walter James, who was in this Chamber a little time ago, appropriately described the Labour Party platform, by saying that it consisted of 25 per cent/ of practical politics, and 75 per cent, of bird lime. The projected alliance is the bird lime which is going to snare the honorable member for Bourke, and one or two others on the Opposition side-
– The Government platform consists of 95 per cent, of bird lime, and 5 per cent, of theory.
– I ‘must ask my honorable friend, who has been silent during the last few hours, to restrain himself. I think it will be found that the alliance is after all merely bird lime, and that those honorable members who think by resorting to this little game to secure themselves from the opposition of labour candidates will sooner or later be very rudely disturbed. An article which appeared in the issue of the Tocsin - the selected organ, I believe, of the Political Labour Council of Victoria - of 19th May last, when there was a projected coalition between the’ Labour Party and some honorable members opposite, contained the following statement : -
Although the proffered terms -
– That was to be an alliance with the whole Protectionist Party.
– Well, I will say the! whole party.
– The honorable and learned member ought to be accurate.
– In this article it was stated that -
Although the proffered terms of coalition can only be surmised, we may safely assume that one condition would be the withdrawal of all opposition to Liberal candidates at the next general election, the self evident effect of which would be to prevent an increase of Labour representation. …
That was the surmise which the Tocsin formed as to the terms of the coalition projected in May last. There is a similar proviso in regard to freedom from opposition in the present alliance agreement. The article! from which I h’ave quoted went on to state with reference to the Watson Government that -
Their power to promote the nation’s interest and advance the people’s cause, would be ruinously discounted if associated with Ministers supported by members whose policy differed materially from, even if it did not directly conflict with, that unanimously indorsed by labourites.
In that case the Tocsin opposed the projected coalition or alliance, while in last week’s issue of that newspaper, which I unfortunately forgot to bring with me this evening, it was stated in the most definite and unmistakable terms that no alliance was going to prevent the labour leagues, if it was so desired, from opposing those who joined with the party. I also saw a report of a recent meeting, at which the honorable member for Yarra was present, and at which a resolution was carried stating, in effect, that the alliance did not mean that those who joined with the Labour Party for this particular purpose would be protected from a labour attack at the next election.
– The honorable and learned member will see when the next elections come round.
– Surely the honorable and learned member is not worrying about us.
– This is the bird lime, and those who are now allying themselves with the Labour Party will have to enter the labour cage and be chained, or their political necks will be wrung without the slightest compunction.
– Why worry about us? The honorable and learned member should look after himself.
– I am not worrying about the honorable member; I am merely showing what is the effect of machine politics. Machine politics must be detrimental in their effect, and I am sure that the honorable member for Melbourne Ports shares that view with me.
– Do not worry over us.
– I object to the industrial part of the Labour Party’s programme, because it is a policy of clear and distinct Socialism. In a would-be jocular strain, the honorable member for Bland and the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne have referred to the position of the farmer, saying that he and every one else who asks for Government interference in any shape or form is a Socialist. I propose to disprove that statement in the most conclusive fashion.
– The honorable and learned member is modest as usual.
– He must think that he is in Court.
– I have here a quotation from a book entitled The Labour Movement in Both Hemispheres. The author is Mr. Tom Mann, the accredited organizer of the Victorian Political Labour Council and of the Trades Hall.
– A mighty good man.
– But the Labour Party do not like him to be quoted in this House. He is all right on the Yarra bank.
– We like to hear of him here better than the right honorable member likes to hear of Mr. Walpole.
– I do not know him.
– It does not pay the right honorable gentleman sometimes to know him.
– Let me show how clearly and convincingly Mr. Mann deals with this question. He says - ‘
Let there be no mistake. I do not mean vague expressions of a desire to see the worker well cared for, or a willingness to municipalize gas, water, electricity, transit, &c, plus an occasional indorsement of State action in matters formerly confined to private enterprise. All this amounts to very little indeed unless such measures are used as so many steps towards the realization of the collectivist State. By a collectivist State I mean a State wherein there will be no room for any private receiver of rent, interest, or profit -
– Dr. Clifford says exactly the same thing.
– The writer proceeds - where the total work to be done will be rightly apportioned over the total number to do it ; and, therefore, a State where all able-bodied persons will be called upon to do a share of work.
– Charles Kingsley says the same thing.
– No rent to be paid for 66 Bourke-street.
– Order. I recognise that in a debate of this kind a little extra latitude must be allowed to honorable members. I have allowed that increased latitude throughout the debate, but it seems to me that since the honorable and learned member for Wannon has been addressing the Chair, and on one or two other occasions to-day, the liberty to interject has been abused. Honorable members interject again and again, and several have been interjecting at the one time, thus rendering it almost impossible for the honorable and learned member who has been addressing the Chair to give expression to his opinions. I ask honorable members in the first place to restrain themselves, and if for the moment they forget to do so, when I call the House to order, that immediate observance of the Standing Orders which is necessary must be rendered, otherwise I shall be driven to the very unpleasant duty of naming honorable members.
– Mr. Tom Mann gives a quotation from the Fabian Essays to make his meaning absolutely’ clear, and it absolutely touches the point that we are now debating -
Although Socialism involves State control, State control does not imply Socialism - at least in any modern meaning of the term. It is not so much to the . thing which the State does as to the end for which it does it that we must look before we can decide whether it is a Socialist State or not. Socialism is the common holding of the means of production and exchange, and the holding of them for the equal benefit of all. “ Equal benefit of all “ - of the skilful and the unskilful, of the industrious and the slothful. In the Tocsin of the 4th February last, Mr. Tom Mann published a signed article, in which he said -
The fight will be for labour all over the State; the goal, a “co-operative Commonwealth,” i.e., a Socialistic State. There must be no time wasted over those who “ are as good as labour men,” and the labour man who is not a collectivist had better be well advised and hurry up and learn his lesson correctly, as in a short time there will be no room in the Victorian Labour Party for any one unable to appreciate, indorse, and work for what is already known, and in every other country declared to be the workers’ hope, viz., Socialism, full fledged without equivocation, or deviation or minimizing from what has been clearly and definitely avowed by the more intelligent of the workers of the world any time this twenty years.
There is the doctrine of “that party - a doctrine of straight-out Socialism, a Socialism which seek”s to take over every industry in the Commonwealth, and to apportion the returns from those industries equally among all sections of the community.
– That doctrine was preached 1900 years ago.
– 2,000 years ago.
– I am sorry to have to name the honorable member for Darwin and the honorable member for Yarra, both having transgressed within a very few minutes the rule which I laid down just now. I hope that the breach of the rule will not be repeated.
– That proves conclusively out of the mouths of the Socialists themselves that they know the difference between State control or State interference in various matters, and a socialistic State. The Socialists want to take over the whole of the industries of the Commonwealth of Rvery shape and form and apportion the results from those industries equally between all sections of the people. How do they propose to attain that result ? My esteemed leader quoted last night from the Brisbane Worker. It was a very effective quotation, but there was another portion of that same paper, which, I think, he might have quoted, and if he will pardon me, I will do so.It is this: -
In the political manifesto formulated by the general council of the A.L.F. in 1890 it is declared “ That the present industrial system, commonly called the competitive system, is destructive, pernicious, and altogether evil, and must be replaced by a social system which will not leave it to the power of one man to take advantage of the necessities or disabilities of another, and which will provide for all workers opportunity to avail themselves of the bounties of nature, and to partake fully of the fruits of civilization, and fb receive the full benefit of their share of the common toil.” That declaration still points the way to labour’s goal . . . The ballot is in our hands . . . Extend the functions of collective effort, State and municipal ; narrow the domain of private enterprise and individual greed. By leaps and bounds, if possible, little by little, if it must be so, but somehow - all the time. Taking all we can for the people, and giving as little as we can - that is how the co-operative Commonwealth will finally be brought to pass.
Taking all and giving as little as possible- - paying as little as possible for what a man has justly acquired ! Then it goes on to say - and I would especially like to bring this passage under the notice of honorable members -
Unless, indeed, the robbers, made desperate by threatened dispossession, should provoke the sterner courses.
That is a threat of this party, that if those who are already in possession of wealth, by legal and moral means, should resort to other methods of resistance, repressive action is to be taken against them. Therefore I contend that there is between us a clear-cut. issue, which an honorable member upon this side of the House can accept with a light heart. It is an issue which sets us against a socialistic State, established by spoliation in every shape and form, a direct attack by spoliation on the banks, a-repression of State activities, with possibly an impoverishment of the States by taking away from them some of the sources of taxation which they now possess, and a bringing of the great producing interests - which have to face the competition of the world - under the hard and fast rule of an Arbitration Court. I say again that that issue is, to my mind, clear-cut, and it is an issue which I, for one, shall have no hesitation in facing. If we are to have an election, as has been promised, let us see that this question is put fully and clearly, before the people. Let not my honorable friends on the Opposition benches flinch from their proposals. Let them not flinch from proposing a Federal land tax, from taking £8,000,000 of money from the banks, from bringing the farmers into the Arbitration Court, from depriving the States of the revenue from the tobacco trade. Those four proposals alone are good enough for us to work on, and when we see that these particular proposals are only steps in the direction of a co-operative Commonwealth, or socialistic State, I do not think we have anything to’ fear from our electors. On that matter, I should like to read a remark which was made by the honorable member for Bland. Honorable members will’ recollect that we had a May Day demonstration in Victoria, and that certain resolutions were passed. The movers and supporters of those resolutions went to the honorable member for Bland, while he was Prime Minister, and presented them to him in the usual way. He made one of his tactful speeches to this deputation, who desired that all the instruments of industry should be owned and controlled by the whole of the people. He said -
We have ticked off certain definite proposals which we have recommended to the people, and each of these, being a step in advance of the last, is always carrying us forward, and clearing the way for still another step.
Clearing the way for yet another step - for that co-operative Commonwealth, that socialistic State, which these gentlemen advocated on May Day, and do advocate on the platform and in the press ! Therefore, the position which I must take up, as one who believes in individualism and enterprise, is clear. And I believe that Australia is one of the brightest examples of what individual effort can do - because without individual effort this country would never have been colonized at all, the pioneers would never have cleared the forests, the farms would never have been laid out, and tHe cities would never have been built. As one who believes in individual effort, I say that those who agree with me must be in diametrical opposition to the Socialist Party, and its programme, as outlined by its authorized leaders.
Mi. Hughes. - By way of personal explanation, T wish to say that I am informed that in the early part of to-day!s sitting the Prime Minister made ‘ a personal explanation in reference to the statement which I made last evening in relation to six potters who were employed by a man in Sydney, and who were brought here in contravention of certain of the provisions of the Immigration Restriction Act. I have had an opportunity afforded me by the right honorable gentleman to peruse his remarks, and I notice that he says that he sent word of his intention to make this explanation to me. I can only say that I never received any word from him.
– I left word with two honorable members, who said they would try to find the honorable and learned member. He was not here.
– What I intended to say last night, and what I think I did clearly say was this : I was quoting a statement made by the right honorable gentleman, at a public meeting, regarding the contract section of the Immigration Restriction Act, which, he said, allows a. respectable working man from England to be kept on board ship a prisoner on reaching the shores of Australia. He declared that he would take that section out of the Act, if he had the power. I was pointing out that the right honorable gentleman had an opportunity to do this, or something similar to this, immediately “on his coming into office, and that as a matter of fact there was now, under this particular section, a prosecution ordered. The right honorable gentleman says that I deliberately made a different statement outside to the press. But if I did, it shows clearly enough that I wanted to be perfectly fair in the matter, because I at once gave all the information in my possession to the press, and it appeared concurrently with the remarks I made in the House.
– There is a difference between the two statements. It would have been better to have had that information in the same document. Hansard is not the Age.
– The information I gave appeared to-day in a morning paper, side by side, I presume, with the right honorable gentleman’s remarks. I say most emphatically that my statement was clear - the reference was unambiguous. Whether the right honorable gentleman gave instructions to prosecute or not is quite immaterial. The fact was that on the 18th ‘August he came into power, and on the 2 1 st September he said he had not seen the papers. All I have to say is that that is not my fault, but his; he had ample opportunity to see the papers, and to take any steps he pleased to alter or undo anything that had been done. We are to assume that he came into power to restore responsible government ; but what the right honorable gentleman does now is to say that I did this, and that therefore he takes no responsibility. I think that under the circumstances, his explanation does not affect the situation at all, because he very well knows that, though he is endeavouring to show that, it was I, and not he, who took action, he, as Minister for External Affairs, has now to take the whole responsibility. The whole of the responsibility is on the shoulders of the Government of the day. The right honorable gentleman knows very well that it is possible” for him now to give instructions that would cause all this business under the section of the Act to cease. In the circumstances I am very much astonished at the right honorable gentleman taking exception to being saddled with responsibility for his action. He said most deliberately that if he had an opportunity he would take the section out of the Act, and that he wouldj administer the Act in his own way. And now he practically continues the administration of his predecessors, whom he denounced and declared to be dangerous to responsible government, and endeavours to crawl out of his responsibility by saying that he had not seen the papers.
– I should like to say that I did not complain of the words the honorable and learned member has just quoted, but I complained of the following words which are in Hansard, and which he has corrected : -
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.
I also wish to direct attention to the words - . . . under the regime of the right honorable gentleman, instructions have been given to the Solicitor-General of New South Wales to file against the man who brought them here an information. . . .
That is referring to an order given by the honorable and learned member himself. Further-
Yet the right honorable gentleman now proposes to deport these six unfortunate potters - at any rate- here is a slight recovery - that could be done under this section - and to imprison the unfortunate man who brought them here - to paralyze his industry, and drive out our own flesh and blood.
The honorable and learned member’s own action.
– Undoubtedly ; an action which the right honorable gentleman indorsed.
– Then further, there are the words -
The right honorable gentleman is pledged on this question. “ If I have an 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.
That is not true.
– It is true.
– Did not the right honorable gentleman indorse what I had done?
– I shall leave the matter at that ; the words are sufficient for the public
I want to add the following, which the honorable and learned member is reported in Hansard to have said : -
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.”
Does the honorable and learned member see that he represents me as having given orders for a prosecution under the Act ? . The honorable and learned member knows what; orders for a prosecution are. May I suggest that the honorable and learned member corrected the report in Hansard, in order to make it say that I prosecuted? I have the correction of the honorable and learned member. I could not see the proof until the honorable and learned member had corrected it ; but as in type at first it read :i -
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, against whom he is now levying an indictment in Sydney.
The honorable and learned member took out the words “ against ‘ ‘ and “ levying an indictment,” and put in the’ word “prosecuting.”
– I shall read standing order 60, which governs the matter of a personal explanation. It is as follows: -
A member who has spoken to a question may again be heard, to explain himself in regard to some material part of his speech which has been misquoted or misunderstood, but shall not introduce any new matter, or interrupt any member in possession of the chair, and no debatable matter shall be brought forward or debate arise upon such explanation.
It would ‘be quite impossible for me, under that standing order, to allow a debate to arise on the question. Whether the remarks which the right honorable the Prime Minister has made are in the nature of a debate I am not quite sure; I am not certain they are not. But whether .’they are or not, I am certain that arty further remarks, either by the honorable and learned member for West Sydney or any other honorable member, on the question would be in the nature of a debate, and therefore I cannot permit further remarks to be made.
– May I point out, Mr. Speaker, that you very properly allowed the Prime Minister to explain a second time, and if the honorable and learned member for West Sydney desires to make any further explanation in regard to the statement just made by the Prime Minister it would be only proper to allow him to do so.
– I am quite sure the Standing Orders would support me in permitting what is fair, but I point out that now each honorable member has had two opportunities to make a statement. The honorable and learned member for West Sydney made a statement yesterday, and’ another this evening ; and the Prime Minister made a statement shortly after halfpast two o’clock, and has now added some words to that. So that if I prevent any further debate, as the standing order requires me to do at this present stage, I shall not have dealt unfairly with either honorable member.
– I only wish to make a reference to the statement by the Prime Minister that I altered the unrevised proof by striking out the words “ levying an indictment “ and inserting “prosecuting.” I do not deny that I did so; but I ask the right honorable gentleman, as a lawyer, whether the alteration makes any real difference. I merely wish to say that in my opinion the alteration makes no difference - that the gravamen of “the whole question is whether he is responsible for the prosecution or indictment or not. Under the circumstances I can say no more.
– I rise to take part in this debate with a feeling, ‘ which I dare say is shared by many honorable members, that our methods of government are not by any means an unqualified success. Apart altogether from the regrettable bitterness which is now being introduced into our parliamentary debates, for the first time in the history of the Commonwealth, I think the fact that we shall shortly have had three Governments displaced in the course of a few months is an achievement of which none of us are in the least degree’ proud. It seems to indicate that, after all, this system of party government is very short of an ideal one, and I believe that the people of the Commonwealth have reason to cast about for some definite improvement. I have given some consideration to this aspect of the question, and have come to the conclusion that reform is very urgently needed. The most practical and advantageous reform would be to adopt the system of electing our Ministries. I know that to suggest the adoption of such a system to the old parliamentary hands, is to have it poohpoohed as impracticable, as leading to all sorts of intrigues, and as open to criticism in many other respects. But it is no new thing. It has been in operation in Switzerland for some considerable time, and I believe that it could with advantage be adopted in Australia. We adopt that system in the selection of our Speaker, and I feel sure that, if we used it in connexion with the selection of our Ministers, we should obtain equallvgood results. In making Ministers responsible for administration, and the Parliament as a whole responsible for policy, we should be adopting a system which would lead to the expedition of public business, and would do away with a goodmany of the objectionable features of the present method of Government. In connexion with this debate, I find myself in a very unpleasant position. I have the conviction that what is regarded as a minor issue, is more important than the general question which we are debating, and, to my mind, the minor issue involves the progress of the movement to which I belong. In discussing this matter, I am in antagonism to the majority of the members of my party, which is at all times an unpleasant situation, and I feel the position very keenly, because on every other occasion I have been able to act harmoniously with the majority. It is only because the particular matter at issue between us appears to me to be so veriy important that I am obliged to deal with it to-night as incidental to the larger question which we are discussing. It is, of course, well enough known that I have taken up a definite attitude on the questi on as to whether the Labour Party should or should not enter into an alliance with some other party, and, as generally follows when one who is in the minority takes up such an attitude, all sorts of objectionable and despicable reasons have been assigned for ray action. It has been said that I am a disappointed office-seeker, and that I am a free-trader first and a labour man afterwards ; hence my attitude on this matter. So far as the first charge is concerned, I do not intend to traverse it. I am satisfied to leave a contemptible slander of that kind to be dealt with by members of this House, and especially by those who have been longest associated with me. Although an insinuation of that kind is sometimes very useful to close the mouth of a guilty person or of a coward, I am determined, in spite of it, to perform to-night a duty which I feel I owe to my electors and to the labour voters throughout the Commonwealth. I feel confident that every member of the party with which I have had the honour to be associated since the inception of Federation will give the lie to the charge that I am a free-trader first and ‘ a labour man afterwards. No member of that party has more anxiously endeavoured to place the fiscal issue in its true relation to labour politics than I have, and I think that before I proceed much further I shall be able to show that I am still true to the position which I have hitherto occupied in relation to that much-vexed question which has caused so much trouble in the labour movement, and which we are now beginning to get past. I am glad to say that I do not stand alone in connexion with this particular matter. Protectionists and free-traders alike have united to do their best to oppose the so-called alliance. It has, therefore, nothing to do with the fiscal issue. A little while ago I felt obliged to enter my protest against the action of the party, and I shall read it now as an indication of the attitude1 which I took up, and also as giving the basis of my objections to the alliance : -
Melbourne, 10th September, 1904.
To the Hon. Secretary,
Federal Labour Party.
As I shall be unable to be present at the meeting on Wednesday, 1 desire to enter my protest in writing, against the alliance whichhas been entered into, with a section of so-called Liberals.
A few weeks ago, our party carried unanimously a refusal to entertain an alliance of a similar kind. None of the majority of the Labour Party, who have since voted for the present alliance, have shown any justification for this remarkable change of front.
As one of the minority, I contend that no majority, however large, has any right or power to force upon a single dissentient such a serious innovation, for which no authority exists either in the platform or in any resolutions of Conference.
In any case, such a new departure in policy should not have been made until the labour organizations and labour electors of the Commonwealth had been placed in possession of the proposals, and had been given reasonable time to consider them.
It has been a very general conviction, even outside labour ranks, that our movement contained within itself elements of popularity which, in conjunction with the democratic Federal Constitution, assured ultimate success. ‘ We have already arrived within easy reach of a straight out labour majority, and the movement should not at this juncture have been practicallyplaced in the hands of a few outsiders, some of whom have been amongst the bitterest critics and traducers of labour men and labour methods.
Therefore, holding, as I do, that the action of the majority of the Federal Labour Party in entering into this alliance is hasty, unauthorized, and contrary to the interests of the labour movement, I entirely repudiate the said action, and refuse allegiance to the Liberal-Labour alliance, or any section of it as such.
Finally, as the affairs of labour, in connexion with Federal politics have reached a stage when further public silence would only facilitate the ruin of- the movement, I propose to publish this protest, and also hold myself free to take any further action which the interests of the labour movement may require.
– A proper and independent stand to take.
– At any rate it throws a great deal of daylight upon the subject.
– I may be charged with playing into the hands of my political opponents. Necessarily I must abide by such a charge; but I feel sure that those who have the interests of the labour movement at heart will acquit me of any such intention, and will recognise with me the necessity for plain spe’aking at a serious crisis like the present.
– Hear, hear. We can appreciate honesty on any side.
– I feel sure that in doing this I am performing a duty which I owe to the labour movement, and as I have already indicated, I intend to conscientiously carry out the policy which I have deliberately adopted, and by every means in my power prevent even the appearance of an alliance which, I am sure, is fraught with no good to the movement in which I am interested. As regards the charge that I am a free-trader first, and a labour man afterwards, I have yet another indication to show that the charge is false. The honorable and learned member for Indi has placed on the business paper a notice of motion proposing the appointment of a Commission to investigate the fiscal issue. I am willing to vote for that motion, and I go even further. I tell the honorable and learned member, the House, and the country, that if the investigations of the Commission show that any particular trade is not parasitical, that it is not living on others, and that the workers in it are being unduly exploited by outside competition, and particularly by cheap labour, I shall concede to it’ and to them the utmost protection required. 1 .
– Will the1 Prime Minister indorse that?
– I think that the honorable member for Perth will exercise his judgment wisely on the facts, and I, like him., shall look at the facts.
– I think that I have shown conclusively that the fiscal issue plays no part in my objection to the proposed alliance.
– Has the honorable member pledged himself to a revision of the Tariff in a protectionist sense, before the Commission is appointed?
– Certainly not. I have pledged myself to a very definite line of action, and I am prepared to carry out that pledge. I have mentioned the matter as proof of my bona fides in connexion with my objection to an alliance which appears to me to be contrary to both the policy and tha [principles of the labour movement!, and especially of the Federal labour movement. I am willing enough to admit that in connexion with State politics, alliances of the kind suggested may be necessary, and even desirable. In some of the States the labour movement is confronted with what are at present insurmountable obstacles, and as the movement must progress if it cannot get over the obstacles, it is perfectly legitimate and proper to go round them. If the members of a State Labour Party find others, like themselves, anxious to get round a particular obstacle which they cannot surmount, I think that they will be acting wisely in uniting their forces, so that each may arrive at their common goal, and, having got there, proceed on their several ways. But in Federal politics there is no need for any alliance of the kind. We have an absolutely democratic franchise, and a Constitution which, if not absolutely democratic, at least gives us two Houses which are thoroughly amenable to popular influence. With those conditions we have the entire basis of any action which a Labour Party ought to take. We are, under these circumstances, in a position to win our way rapidly, so long as we adhere strictly to our principles. I take it that even at the present time we are well within reach .of that state of affairs which has been so anxiously hoped for and worked for - a straight-out labour majority in the Federal Parliament. It appears to me nothing short of fatuousness for the party to suddenly swerve at this particular juncture from the well defined policy, enunciated time and again by the leading members of the party in this House, and in another place, that there should be no alliance. It is to me incomprehensible that in view of those statements, which have been repeatedly made, and in view of the success which we all hope to attain within a very short space of time, we should join hands with a few gentlemen who, however amiable, are by no means going our way. So far as the motion is concerned I am quite at one with the honorable member for Bland, in my desire to fight Conservatism. I have always opposed Conservatism, and from the time I was able to form anything like an opinion upon political matters my mental trend has been in the direction of
Socialism. I am not afraid of the antisocialistic agitation. On the very first platform I occupied, when I entered upon the Federal campaign, I avowed myself a Socialist, and I have never concealed the fact that I believe in Socialism. On the other hand, I have done all in my power to advance that movement, which, I believe, makes for the betterment and happiness of mankind in general.
– What is the honorable member’s particular brand of Socialism?
– I can readily see that it is something different from that of the honorable member, which has been so much refined away that a microscope would have to be used to discover it. In Western Australia we are not afraid of Socialism. Even the right honorable member for Swan, who, in theory, is violently opposed to Socialism, is, like many other good men, better than his words, and has been a zealous worker in the cause, with the very happiest results to the State. Take, for instance, the Coolgardie waterworks scheme, which forms a notable instance of the success of Socialism, and. redounds to the honour and credit of the right ‘honorable gentleman. The success which has attended that undertaking has caused a later Premier of Western Australia to emulate the right honorable gentleman in giving the State still further instalments of Socialism. We now have State mining batteries and a State hotel, and I believe that it is intended to increase the number of hotels. Both the batteries and the hotel have been conducted with unqualified success.
– That is al better kind df Socialism. I can understand that hotel - equal shares in the cellar.
– The Prime Minister was, I think, particularly unfortunate in the remark he made a few nights ago with regard to certain kinds of Socialism. He said that he believed in Socialism that was applied in a business-like way. There is no such thing as genuine Socialism that is not applied in that manner. No wild, chimerical proposition can easily be branded as a socialistic scheme. As a matter of fact, Socialism means the bringing down of a workable proposal to a definite business-like basis. We have advanced far beyond the region of Utopianism, and Socialism, if anything, is eminently practicable. If any socalled socialistic scheme could not succeed in a business-like fashion, I am certain that most believers in the principle would drop it. Let me refer to a most striking instance of the application of the principle of Socialism, in connexion with municipal institutions. It is in the domain of municipal action that Socialism - at least in Englishspeaking communities - has achieved its greatest degree of success. ‘ I can remember that, when I was a young man in Glasgow, every now and then there was an outbreak of indignation in connexion with the way the tramway system was being conducted. The employes were worked for brutally long hours, they received shamefully low wages, the public were badly served, and apparently the only people who derived any benefit were the shareholders in the company. At last the Glasgow municipality took over the system. Within the first six months they reduced the working hours of the employes very considerably, and increased their pay ; they reduced the fares by exactly one-half, and at the end of the six months they had several thousands of pounds to the good, which went into the public Treasury. From that day on to the present time, the system has been conferring greater advantages on the public, and has been contributing more largely to the municipal treasury. I think that at present a clear profit of £80,000 per annum is being made.
– Does the manager of the trams receive no larger salary than the men who clean out the cars?
– That tramway system is managed upon business lines, and the right honorable gentleman has not acquired a knowledge of even the A B C of Socialism, if he pretends that the humblest worker and the business manager of a scheme of that kind’ receive the same remuneration.
– It depends upon the brand of Socialism of which the honorable member is talking.
– The honorable member might as well talk about a particular brand of private enterprise.
– Socialistic schemes, in order to confer advantage on the community, must be worked on business lines and ability, and brains must be paid for ; and for the right honorable gentleman to talk as he does about Socialism is to altogether mislead the people as to its meaning. I am surprised that he did not devote some attention to the well-worn topics of confiscation and free love. These matters are often hurled in the teeth of Socialists, and although they have been proved to be utterly inapplicable, I suppose that honorable members will continue to drag them forth for some time to come. I have indicated my belief in Socialism. I believe that the labour movement is essentially socialistic, and that it has no meaning if Socialism is not its basis.. I welcome the new line of cleavage which is dividing political parties in the Commonwealth. We have, on the one side, those who call themselves individualists, but who are in reality Socialists of a kind - Socialists who believe only in that Socialism that will operate to their own particular benefit, or the advantage of the class to which they belong. The Socialism of those connected with the Labour Party must be applied all round for the common benefit. That is the form of Socialism which I indorse, and for which I believe the. labour movement stands. It is because I see this new line of cleavage between the so-called individualists upon the one hand, and the socialists on the other, that I deplore exceedingly the position which has been taken up by a. majority of members of the Labour Party. It seems to me that in a very short time the trend of events would have driven into our ranks those who believe with us politically, and would have compelled those who do not believe with us to have joined the ranks of the opposite side. That is a consummation for which I have wished and fought in my own way. It seems to me that a magnificent opportunity has been missed, or almost missed, by the leaders of the labour movement by neglecting to adopt the attitude of welcoming to the ranks of the Labour Party those who are willing to join us, and of saying to those who refuse to do so, “If you are not with us, you must be against us.” . The door of admission “to the labour movement is still wide open, so tha’t anybody who cares to do so may enter. For us to leave our entrenchments, to advance into the open, and to Welcome those who will not come to us, leaving our distinctive weapons behind us, is to take a step which I venture to believe is very dangerous to the movement indeed. One inevitable result of the suggested alliance will be to make the Labour Party moderate. I believe that I have been branded in some of the newspapers as a moderate labour member, and with being almost conservative in instincts. But I repudiate emphatically any suggestion that “ moderation “ ought to be the watchword of the labour movement. When the leaders of that movement are praised for their moderation, the friends of labour will regard them with suspicion. I say, therefore, that those who are charged to a large extent with the responsibility of formulating a policy for the labour movement ought to be very careful indeed when they find themselves commended for their moderation. The labour movement is undoubtedly upon its trial at the present time. Those who ask us to be moderate will never give us a vote. Are those who believe in us as a party which will do honest work for the benefit of the masses likely to praise us for our moderation, when that moderation means leaving them in the slough in which they are wallowing at the present time? Is it not a fact that the great enemy which we have to fight is lack of faith in the bona fides of the labour movement on the part of the masses of the community ? Is not the trouble which we frequently experience with our own people a more or less indefinite suspicion that we are merely self-seekers - that we only desire to develop the Labour Party for our own good. If we in our moderation do nothing which will be of any particular advantage to those who send us here, I claim that that suspicion will be justified, and a very short shrift will be given to the labour movement by a majority of the community. We are told by way of justification for this alliance that the Labour Party remains unchanged, that its principles are unaltered, and that there has been no -departure from the old position. So far as the distinctive planks of the labour platform are concerned, I say that the hatchet of the trimmer’ is very much in evidence indeed. I contend that in this respect no parliamentary party has a right to allow any of the planks of the platform which has been formulated bv the various organizations in congress to be whittled away in the least degree. They have been carefully considered, they are essentially workable, and when we find significant modifications introduced into them as the basis of this alliance, what can we conclude but that those charged with responsibility have to some extent forgotten the duty which they owe to the electors who sent them here ? During the course of a recent speech one honorable member objected that the Government were solid on the Trade Marks Bill. I am. very- much afraid that this alleged alliance is not even solid upon that measure. I feel sure that there are some members of the alliance who will not be able to see eye for eye with members of the Labour Party upon the very important proposal submitted by Senator Pearce in another’ place in reference to registering a trade union brand. Similarly, in regard to other matters, very radical alterations indeed have been made. One of the distinctive planks of the labour platform, which I believe every member of the party regards as very important, and one that has the enthusiastic support of every man who votes for a labour representative, is that of oldage pensions. It stands in our platform in that form - “ old-age pensions “ - no more, no less. Those words are allsufficient - definite enough for anybody. What is the position when we come to consider the basis of the alliance? There I find that the old-age pensions proposal has something tacked on to it of a very significant character indeed. In the alliance programme it reads -
Old-age pensions on a basis fair and equitable to the several States and to individuals.
I ask any member of the Labour Party what that means. Is there a single member of the party who can explain that addition to the plank as it originally stood ?
– The honorable member does not desire a scheme for old-age pensions upon an inequitable basis?
– We did not propose to establish an old-age pension scheme upon an inequitable basis, but I say that when qualifying words are introduced in a particular way we must endeavour to discover the reason for their introduction. That reason does not exist within the ranks of the labour movement. It will probably be found to arise from the fear in the minds of our alleged allies that additional taxation will require to be levied to give effect to a proposal of that kind. As a result, it will probably be found to supply an easy hole through which any member of the alliance can crawl who is charged with attempting to saddle a certain portion of the community with taxation which he thinks it ought not to bear. That is the only meaning of it.’ It has really no meaning whatever to any member of the Labour Party ; it has no relevance to any action that we have taken or have proposed to take, and it certainly does not stand in the agreement at the instance of any member of the party. I have no doubt that the honorable and learned member for Indi can give us some explanation of this clause, and I challenge him to indicate to us what is his particular proposal in regard to old-age pensions.
– He is sound.
– The alteration was not made at the instance of any member of the
Labour Party, so that it must have been made at the instigation of our allies ; and as the honorable and learned member has taken a leading part in the formulation of these proposals, I take it that it is his duty to intimate to members of the Labour Party, and to labour electors generally, what is meant by this very interesting development of the three words, “old-age pensions,” thatcomprise a plank in the fighting platform of the Federal Labour Party. I come to another distinctive plank of the platform, and that is the “nationalization of monopolies.” It is a peculiarly socialistic proposal, which, while receiving some support outside our ranks, is essentially a labour proposition. The honorable member for Boothby has placed on the notice-paper a notice of motion which reads as follows: -
That, in the opinion of this House, a Royal Commission should be at once appointed to inquire into and report upon -
It is to be nationalized, if Parliament de- . cides that it is expedient to do so; but the honorable member suggests the regulation of the trade as a possible development of the. work of the Royal Commission. A littlewhile ago, in another place, Senator Pearceproposed, and succeeded in carrying, thef ollowing motion : -
That resolution contains no suggestion that the trade should be regulated. It is a frank proposal that it shall be nationalized, and it was carried in another place. In these circumstances, an honorable member of the Labour Party who comes down to this House with such a motion, as that of which notice has been given by the honorable member for Boothby, takes a distinctively retrogressive step, and one which is not in conformity with our present platform. Then, with regard to the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, I wish to know how far our allies will assist us to put back some of the essential features of the measure that were accidentally omitted while the Labour Government was in power.
– The’ honorable member found out on the recommittal of clause 62 how far they would go.
– But I wish to know what assistance we are going to receive In this direction from our allies.
– The alliance programme will show the honorable member.
– These are three important matters upon which I desire some information, but in regard to which no particulars have as yet been supplied. I take it that the labour electors throughout the Commonwealth are entitled to have this information, and in the long run it will either have to be supplied to them in a satisfactory form, or they will treat the alliance in a very unceremonious way. The fact of the matter is, that if the Labour Party, with the assistance of its allies, gains possession of the Treasury bench, we shall be able to hope for only the mildest milkandwater legislation, such as almost any party could give the country.
– But the Labour Party will obtain protection.
– I have already indicated the position that I shall take up on !he fiscal issue, and I do not think it is necessary for me to deal with that interjection. I hold that the labour electors will r.ot gain from this alliance anything that could not be obtained practically from almost any other section of the House. The labour movement was brought into existence, and continues to exist, because it goes further than mere Liberalism has yet suggested in remedying those social and economic evils under which the workers suffer at the. present time.
– The. Labour Party will not get from their allies the declared war against labour that has been announced by the other side.
– Perhaps not, but even a declared war from straight-out opponents is better for the labour movement than is assistance from those who will not enter our ranks, but carefully remain aloof, as if they would be contaminated by association with us.
– That is not the general opinion of the Labour Party.
– It is a very sensible one.
– It is the general opinion of labour supporters outside.
-There is another aspect of this agreement to which I take very strong exception. I refer to the promise of immunity from opposition which the Labour Party has given our so-called allies. No parliamentary party, or section of a parliamentary party, has any right to commit labour organizations to a pledge of that kind. I feel sure that the labour organizations will resent it.
– Most of them have agreed to it.
– Most of them have not done so, and I feel sure that as soon as they realize the situation, they will protest, even more strongly than they have done. The labour organization, as I have already indicated, is open to any one who chooses to enter it, to secure the benefit of it, to get the enthusiastic assistance of those who support us in the work which we have at heart. But we have gentlemen coming along now, who refuse to enter the movement, who will stand at the next election - or who are expecting that they will stand at the next election - on a liberal platform, but who will gain as many advantages from labour organizations as if they were right within the ranks. I say at once that, if they are expecting any material assistance from the labour organizations on that basis, their expectations are doomed to failure. Our organizations exist for the furtherance of the labour movement, for the increasing of our members within our own ranks, and not for the creation of an outside party, which will only lead to confusion, and will ultimately seriously damage the prospects pf the movement. We have always regarded those gentlemen who profess themselves labour men in all respects, except that they decline to take the pledge, as the most dangerous enemies to our movement that we have. We have justification for that attitude in view of the significant denunciations of the labour movement and labour principles when their own particular political interests required them to take that course. But they are no friends who would assist us only in fair weather conditions. We want men who will stick to us when the storm is raging. Who will give us their assistance through difficult and critical situations. And we have found from expexience that we cannot depend on any to do that for us, unless they are regularly constituted members of our ranks. I hope it will be understood that, in making those remarks in connexion with our alleged allies, I make no criticism of a good deal of the. excellent work they have done.I recognise that, in’ many respects, their opinions are identical with’ my own. But the weighty factor in the situation is, asI have already indicated, the fact that they still remain outside the labour movement, and that undoubtedly they have denounced labour methods, labour principles, and labour men in a way that, I think, ought to entitle us to expect some expressions of regret with regard to those statements before they profess to be our friends. We have the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, who is reported in the Melbourne Age as denouncing the Political Labour Council as “not only a failure; it is an absolute fraud.”
– Not the Council. Nothing of the kind.
– I am surprised that anything which appears in the Age should be repudiated by the honorable member.
– I denounced the political methods.
– I shall be glad to hear the honorable member’s correction as; to what he did say, because a charge of that kind is one that ought to stand in the way of any one who professes to come and join us in this form of alliance. Then, again, we, have the honorable member for Bourke referring to the Labour Party in this way-
To have the Labour Party in power would be as bad as letting loose the animals in the Zoological Gardens.
That kind of criticism ought, I think, in common decency, to be repudiated and regretted by those friends of ours who are now so anxious to assist us. I say that in the absence of any repudiation, we must regard them as still holding those criticisms as justified ; and if they still hold them, I do not see how it is possible for an alliance of any kind to be patched up on any basis. I am quite sure that so far as this alliance is concerned, the La bour Party will not take it in earnest, except to repudiate it in the most emphatic way possible. I think there is both safety and wisdom in numbers, that in this respect the instincts of the vast majority nf the labour electors will lead them right, and that no temporary aberration on the part of any portion of the party will have any influence upon their actions. If 1 thought that this alliance was likely tq be as successful as some of those who have sought it thought it would be, I am not sure that I should not have taken the extreme step of voting against any action that would place the allies on the benches opposite.
– I am not sure that the honorable member ought not to vote that, way now.
– That is a matter that I have the deciding of for myself. So far as I am concerned, I feel so strongly on this matter that if the labour organizations and the labour electors had not appeared to be sufficiently seized of the importance of the crisis, I should have voted to give them a further opportunity to be acquainted with the circumstances before they were committed irrevocably to the actions of the so-called alliance. But, sir, I believe that a very unpleasant step of that kind on my part is not necessary. I believe that this alliance is a mere pretence and no more - that is has never had any sound basis. The electors are likely to deal with the alliance, if there should be an election, in a way that I am certain will make it impossible for it to exist in the next Parliament. It is not to my mind an arrangement of which any labour man has any reason to be proud. I have exceedingly regretted the alliance, and have opposed it, and will continue to oppose it. In doing that, I believe that I am fulfilling a duty I owe to the electors who sent me here, and to the labour electors of the Commonwealth generally. As I have already said, I am entirely opposed to the coalition which sits on the Treasury bench. I shall vote in support of the motion submitted by; the leader of the Opposition, because I have no desire to see the present Government in power any longer than I can help. I am certain that if the labour organizations, and labour electors are true to their own best interests, the result of the election will be a straight-out labour majority in possession of the Treasury bench giving the labour electors of the Commonwealth and the people generally that kind of legislation for which they are hungering, and which they have every reason to expect from this democratic Parliament.
– I had no intention to speak this evening, but the opportunity has come to me, and I must take advantage of it. I realize that the honorable member for Perth at any. rate, has given the true history, and true view of the alliance on the other side. I am quite certain that the labour representatives themselves cannot believe that there is absolutely any bond of union between themselves and the party with which they have formed an alliance. One party is trying to make use of the other, and both are acting with the same desires, and from the same motives. Whenever there comes an election it will be shown that men outside connected with the Labour Party will not tolerate the kind of union that has apparently been entered into within this House.
– The electors will indorse the union right enough ; do not make any mistake !
– I am sure labour men outside will not indorse the union.
– The honorable member will regret that, I have no doubt.
– I shall take my own course, and let other parties take theirs. The idea of the liberal-protectionists, as they call themselves, going to the country to raise a fiscal agitation is absolutely absurd; and in their hearts they know that to be so. They know that it is only a game they are playing, and that there is no possibility of the Labour Party standing by them in their efforts to re-open the Tariff question.
– The honorable member will not help the protectionists, at any rate.
– I shall not help any coalition to raise the fiscal question. So far as I am concerned, I shall stand by the policy I have always advocated.
– What is that - land taxation?
– I shall stand by the policy of land taxation, but not in the way in which the honorable member would like. I have been, and I am still, a land-taxer, but I have no desire to pile on a land tax without giving some concessions in return. Nobody has ever found me advocating an increase in the burdens of the men on the land ; my desire is to decrease those burdens by changing the system of taxation from that at present adopted. As to old-age pensions being provided from a land tax, I am not likely to give an idea of that kind any support, because that would simply mean an increased burden.
– Then the Honorable member does not believe in old-age pensions?
– I do, but not in that form. I read with regret the reports of the speech delivered by the honorable and learned member for West’ Sydney last night, in which he made charges against the Prime Minister. When I first read the speech I thought there might be some truth in the charges, but to-night we have the honorable and learned member admitting that they are without foundation. It will be admitted by everybody that the honorable and learned member directly pointed to the Prime Minister as being the originator of the prosecution in connexion with the six potters. The words of the honorable and learned member were -
Six potters were brought all the way from England and landed in this country. Although they 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 Solicitor-General 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.
There we have a distinct statement that the Prime Minister gave instructions for this information to be filed, though it is well known that it was the honorable and learned member for West Sydney who, as Minister of External Affairs, took that action. Is that honorable or fair? Is that the kind of fighting we should have in this Parliament? If we do fight each other, let the fight be about principles, and let our weapon be truth, not falsehood. The honorable and learned member went on to say that the Prime Minister proposed to deport the six unfortunate potters, though he well knew that no proposal of the kind was ever made by the right honorable gentleman. That is a statement the honorable and learned member cannot back out of, because we have it here in the report of his speech, as corrected by himself. That is the kind of fighting we have had right through on the part of the honorable and learned member for West Sydney, and it certainly cannot be described as honorable. In dealing with this matter, one may be excused for getting rather warm when we remember that the honorable and learned member has received many kindnesses from, and been supported time after time by,, the present head of the Government.
– We shall have to find a little Parliament in which the New South Wales representatives may be by themselves.
– We do not want a separate Parliament for the New South Wales representatives; all we want is fair play. The honorable and learned member for West Sydney, after making his speech in the House last night, went outside and made a different or modified statement to the Melbourne press ; but that was after his original remarks had been telegraphed throughout the States. If the honorable and learned member has any conscience’ he will realize that he has deliberately done the Prime Minister a wrong. Another reference to the Prime Minister has been introduced in the course of the debate. I do not know why these masters should be brought up, but the Opposition corner is responsible for the one to which I am about to refer. There is no doubt that these references are made for the express purpose of, as far as possible, discrediting the Prime Minister in Victoria and the other States.
– It was the gentle Crouch.
– Those who know the honorable and learned member for Corio, and have seen his conduct, pay little attention to him.
– What has the honorable member against the honorable and learned member for Corio?
– I do not want to say anything in that direction, but every one must have noticed the honorable and learned member make a speech one night, and the next night make a speech exactly opposite - saying he is going to vote in one direction, and the next night voting directly opposite. We have seen that here repeatedly ; and everybody who does that kind of thing must be a little bit soft, I think. The charge has been made repeatedly against the present Prime Minister of maladministration of the ‘finances of New South Wales. I was a member of the State Parliament of New South Wales when the alleged maladministration is supposed to have taken place. The Treasurer of the Dibbs Government, in his last financial statement, previous to the defeat in the country of the Government of which he was a member, made use Of these words - I make this quotation, because I wish it to be perfectly clear how this difficulty arose -
So far as can now be ascertained, the deficiency is about £ 1,200,000, and I propose to ask authority to issue Treasury Bills to cover this deficiency.
The whole of this trouble arose out of that deficiency. The statement of the honorable member for Grafton, the Treasurer of the Dibbs Government at that time, must be taken as being correct.
– Are we really concerned in that matter?
– The honorable and learned member for Indi is not concerned in the matter. He is concerned to let the lie go forth, and let the Prime Minister suffer under this imputation. That is what the honorable and learned member is concerned about. . Honorable members opposite do not desire that this matter should be spoken of. It should never have been referred to here, and we should never have had anything to do with it, if a member of the honorable and learned gentleman’s little party had not brought’ it up. Now, the honorable and learned member does not desire that the Prime Minister shall be defended. That is the kind of conduct we have from the honorable and learned gentleman. We are not concerned about this matter, I admit, but we are concerned to defend an innocent man, to disclose the truth, and to brand a lie as a lie. In a speech, which I made in the New South Wales Parliament, in dealing with this matter, I made the quotation which I have just now made, and I then said - “ That statement is either true or untrue. If it is true, then the deficiency which the present Colonial Treasurer brings forward exists.” 1 hat was a reference ‘to the deficiency which the present Prime Minister brought forward, and I claimed that if the statement of the Treasurer in the previous Administration was correct, then that deficiency existed, because that honorable gentleman had said so. I went on to say -
If the statement is not true, what must we think of the honorable member for Grafton, who takes a course to establish a book deficiency. . . . When this deficiency was originated, the members of the Opposition party joined issue with the honorable gentleman and pointed out that no such deficiency existed.
When the Bill dealing with the matter was under discussion, the honorable gentleman, who had admitted the deficiency, came town to the House and stated that no such deficiency existed. I then said-
Now we have the same gentleman standing here and saying that no, such deficiency existed. Are we to believe the statement they made during this financial debate, or are we to believe the statement they made on previous occasions. I ask them to say which of the two statements is true.
I there referred to the gentlemen who had. been quoted as having accused the present Prime Minister of doing this wrong. First of all, they said that the deficiency did exist, and then when the present Prime Minister brought it forward they said that it did not exist, although one would imagine that if there had been a deficiency of £1,200,000 it should not have been difficult to discover it somewhere. These gentlemen were -opposed to the present Prime Minister, and when he proposed to do exactly what they had proposed to do themselves - issue Treasury bills to cover the deficiency - they said that the deficiency did not exist, and the whole of the charges against the present Prime Minister arose out of that. What did the right honorable gentleman do ? He carried the Bill through the House, and I believe that the present honorable member for Bland, and other members of the Labour Party in the State Parliament, supported him in doing so. We have had some quotations made from the report of the Committee appointed to inquire into this matter ; but if honorable members will read the report, they will find that the members of the Committee admit that the present Prime Minister carried on the accounts in conformity with the programme of Parliament.
– In conformity with the law.
– In conformity with the law which the State Parliament, the Labour Party assisting, passed with its eyes wide open. The members of with its eyes wide open. The members of the Committee admit that, and whatever may be the conclusions tq which they came, honorable members will at once realize that if anything wrong was done, it was the New South Wales Parliament, and not the right honorable member for East Sydney, that was guilty. I may explain that the deficiency to which I have referred, and which was covered by the Treasury bills authorized to be issued, arose from payments for works made in the previous years. The present Prime Minister altered the system of keeping the accounts, so that it should not be possible, in years to come, for the same thing to occur again. He desired that the revenue actually received during the. year, should be taken as the revenue for that year, and that the amount actually spent should be considered the actual expenditure for the year. He decided that the public accounts should be kept upon that system, and that in the case of every work not carried out, the amount voted for it should be written off at the close of the financial year, and should be re-voted when necessary. On 30th June, 1895, at the close of the first half-year during which the present Prime Minister was in office, the accounts showed a deficiency of £186,000.
– The Consolidated Revenue Account ?
– Yes, for the halfyear under the old system. The first full year under the cash system was from 1st July, 1895, to 30th June, 1896, and at the close of that year*, the New South Wales Auditor-General certified that there was a surplus of £349,000. Before dealing with a new matter, I should like to say that as it is half-past ten o’clock, the Prime Minister might consent to an adjournment of the debate, as I shall not have finished what I desire to say for some time.
Motion (by Mr. Reid) proposed^ -
That the resumption of the debate be an order of the day for to-morrow.
– If the honorable member for New England will not be too long-
– -Order. I have before called the attention of honorable members to the standing order which requires that there should be silence when Mr. Speaker is putting a question. Honorable members will see the importance of observing the standing order, because they may give votes under a misapprehension, unless when a question is put from the Chair they are enabled to hear it distinctly.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I move -
That the House do now adjourn.
I should like to point out that in the ordinary course of business, certain private business on the paper would to-morrow bc taken until 6.30 p.m. I think that it is the general wish of honorable members, in the present state of affairs, that the debate on the motion of the honorable member for Bland should be continued without interruption. I desire to mention that I propose to make the necessary motion, when the House meets to-morrow, to enable the House to take that course. Of course, it can only be done with concurrence.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 10.30 p.m. 1
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 21 September 1904, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1904/19040921_reps_2_21/>.