2nd Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Motion (by Mr. Reid) agreed to -
That questions and general business be postponed until after the conclusion of the debate upon the motion of want of confidence in the Government.
Report (No. 6) presented by Mr. Fow ler, read by the Clerk, and agreed to.
– Yesterday, while the honorable and learned member for Corio was speaking, the PostmasterGeneral, in reply to an interjection, suggested that I had not the courage, when occupying the office which he now fills, to deal with certain tenders giving preference to local manufacturers over foreign competitors. I do not think that it was right for him to charge me with want of courage in the matter.
– The honorable member ought to relate what led up to my remark.
– I have said that the PostmasterGeneral made the suggestion in reply to an interjection.
– An interjection made by the honorable member himself.
– Yes. Surely the PostmasterGeneral does not expect me to repeat every detail of the proceedings. I do not wish to occupy the time of the House unduly. I find also a very sarcastic reference to me in the policy speech of the Prime Minister.
– Surely sarcastic references should not be the subject of personal explanations.
– Perhaps the right honorable gentleman will allow me to make my explanation. I do not wish to refer either to him or to the Postmaster-General unnecessarily. This precious pair of political hypocrites may be left to the vengeance of their betrayed and outraged constituents.
– I ask the honorable member to withdraw the expression “ political hypocrites.”
– Regular Fenian language that.
– Is the Prime Minister in order in calling the honorable member for Coolgardie a Fenian ?
– I said that his language was Fenian language.
– If the right honorable gentleman used that expression, I ask him to withdraw it.
– I desire to apologise if I have said anything unparliamentary ; but I sat so long behind the right honorable gentleman when he was on this side of the Chamber that perhaps I am to some extent imitating the bad example which he then set.
– The honorable member’s head is sore all the time. He should never have taken office. It has been too much for him.
– I do not feel sore. I hope that the right honorable gentleman will feel his coming doom as little as I felt mine. However, I should like to proceed with my personal explanation. The PostmasterGeneral charged me with want of courage in connexion with the matter to which he referred. He, a professing freetrader, has, since he took office, given, in addition to the Tariff protection, as much as 15 per cent, preference to local manufacturers ; but in charging me with want of courage in the matter he was evidently in ignorance of a question which I answered in this House as far back as the 13th July. On that date I was asked by the honorable member for Bourke -
Whether fresh tenders are to be called for the supply of telegraph insulators?
Whether, other things being equal, or nearly equal, the Postmaster-General will be prepared to give a preference to the Australian-made insulator ?
If he will also be prepared to give a preference under similar conditions to Australian made insulator fittings?
The Department prepared a reply giving an affirmative answer to all three questions ; but when the paper came into my possession, I changed the answers, and I replied to No. 1 “Yes,” while in reply to Nos. 2 and 3 I said -
The quality and price being equal, I should be prepared 10 give preference to any article produced in Australia.
– That is a shady sort of preference. There is not much in that.
– The present PostmasterGeneral has stated that he is willing to give local manufacturers preference to the extent of 15 per cent, in addition to theTariff protection.
– He only says that he did so in certain instances. He does not say that he is going to do so.
– He has done so. He has given them 15 per cent, preference in addition to the protection which they obtain from the Tariff, which he has pronounced to be. a robbery of the people.
– Is the honorable member now making a personal explanation ?
– I am attempting to unravel the tangle in which these honorable gentlemen have sought to place my action. I would point out further that, when I declined to deal with those tenders, the Government were on the point of going out of office, and I had no opportunity to bring the matter before the Cabinet. Speaking from memory, when I refused to accept tenders giving a preference to local manufacturers, the matter had not been considered by the Cabinet, and there had been no opportunity to place it before my colleagues. In giving the answer which I did, I acted entirely upon my own initiative, and I think, as I said in the beginning, that the charge of want of courage is not merely unfounded, but comes with very bad grace from a gentleman like the Postmaster-General.
- Mr. Speaker-
– Does the honorable member propose to discuss the personal explanation just made by the honorable member for Coolgardie?
– I wish to make a personal explanation.
– It is quite impossible for me to allow debates to take place upon personal explanations. If I permitted a personal explanation made by one honorable member to ‘be replied to by another, there would be nothing to prevent every member of the House from entering into a debate under the cover of a personal explanation. The honorable member for Macquarie has not yet spoken to the motion of want of confidence, and it will be competent for him when he does so to deal with the matter to which reference has been made by the honorable member for Coolgardie. I do not think that’ I should allow him to discuss the personal explanation made by the honorable member for Coolgardie. If he wishes to explain anything in regard to which he has been misunderstood, without discussing the personal explanation just made, the House will be pleased to hear him; but I cannot allow anything in the shape of a discussion of the personal explanation made by the honorable member for Coolgardie.
– In regard to the explanation which I think it right to offer, I may state that my honorable friend, in making his explanation just now, omitted to say what led up to and gave reason for my interjection. He interjected something to enable an honorable member who was speaking’ from that side of the House to cast a reflection upon me, and I then interjected that he had not the courage to give a decision on this very important matter.
– What decision has the honorable member given?
– I will tell the honorable member presently. This matter came under my notice when I entered office, as a legacy left me by the honorable member for Coolgardie. I have not the papers before me, but I think that they were submitted to him on the 6th August, with a recommendation that he should accept certain tenders. The honorable member, not when the motion of censure debate was on, but on the 8th August-
– To what motion of censure debate does the Postmaster-General refer?
– I mean the debate on the clause in the Arbitration Bill which the Watson Government took as a censure debate. On the 8th August the honorable member for Coolgardie did not deal with the whole of the tenders, but made a minute to the effect that tenders where no preference is involved, “ are approved,” leaving the more important matter undealt with.
– Yes; for Cabinet consideration.
– The honorable member did not say for Cabinet consideration.
– It is not necessary to put down everything. I say it now.
– It is no. doubt very convenient to say it now. The honorable gentleman said just now that the reason why the matter was delayed was because a question affecting the fate of the Government was before Parliament. But the action to which I refer was taken on the 8th August ; before that matter was before the House.
– That’ was why he did not bring it before the Cabinet.
– Why should he bring a matter like that before the Cabinet?
– I did not submit the matter for the approval of the Cabinet in the! way suggested by the honorable member for Bland.
– It was brought before the Barton Cabinet.
– The honorable member has made his explanation. When this matter was submitted to me, I referred the papers back for information as to the practice of the Department at the time that the tenders were invited, and I received a report from mv Under-Secretary to the effect that the practice of the Department, under the administration of Senator Drake and the honorable member for Denison, was to give a .preference not exceeding 15 per cent.
– But they are both protectionists.
– This decision was communicated by order to the various Deputy Postmasters-General on the 22nd August, 1903.
– It was’ a bad thing to do. The honorable member should have done better.
– I am not going into that now. When the matter was submitted to me, I wrote this minute -
The practice in force under Ministerial decisions at the time of calling for tenders to be followed.
– Hear, hear ! The honorable member did the right thing
– I merely carried out the Ministerial decision which was in force at the time when tenders were invited, which had been communicated to the various Deputy Postmasters-General on the 22 nd August, .1903, and, I understand, made known to some of the contractors. The honorable member for Bourke, when I was referring to this matter, showed that he had learned all about it, either from the late Postmaster-General or from some one else, because he interjected, “Was not the decision of the PostmasterGeneral to be considered private and confidential ?” The honorable member must have seen the papers, or known all about the matter at the time the decision was given.
– It appears to me that these remarks are not of the nature of a personal explanation, but that the honorable member is debating the question. I ask him not to continue his present line of argument.
– I have nothing more to say.
– I must crave the indulgence of the House to make a personal explanation of a very different character. In a speech which I delivered yesterday I stated that I was strongly in favour of the alliance between the Liberal and the Labour Parties. In the report of that speech, which appears in the Argus this morning, I find’ that I am credited with having stated the very opposite at a meeting which was held in the Fitzroy Town Hall at the end of August last. That newspaper says that I warned the Labour Party against “ entangling alliances,” and placed those words between inverted commas in order to make it appear that they were an accurate extract from my speech. I have merely to say that I did not warn the Labour Party against alliances of any sort. I did not use the expression “entangling alliances.” I actually encouraged that party to form an alliance, and’ in the very fair report of my utterances which, appeared in the Same newspaper upon the following morning, I am represented as having done so. The exact words of that report are as follow : -
In conclusion, he said an honorable alliance of the Labour Party or any other party would no doubt be suitable, but he warned that party never to allow itself to be incorporated in any other.
In such an extreme case I feel justified in occupying the time of the House to make this explanation.
– I also desire to make a brief personal explanation. In referring to the position of members of the Labour Party during the course of my speech yesterday afternoon, I stated that no matter how ardently they might believe either in free-trade or protection, if a majority of the caucus decided against them, they must bow to the will of that majority. At the time I - made that statement I was under the impression that it was perfectly correct._ Subsequently, however, the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne read a copy of the labour pledge, from which it appears that I was mistaken. As I have no wish to say what is untrue, or intentionally to misstate facts, I avail myself of this early opportunity of making the correction.
Debate resumed from 21st September (vide page 4822), on motion by Mr. Watson -
That the present Administration does not possess the confidence of this House.
Mr. LONSDALE (New England).When I closed my remarks last evening, I had decided not to deal further with the financial matters to which I had directed attention. I wish, however, to recapitulate the position which I then took up in regard to the Prime Minister’s financial administration in New South Wales. As honorable members are aware, a charge of maladministration has been levelled against the right honorable gentleman by those newspapers which are opposed to the present coalition Government, and .has been repeated in this House. Briefly, I wish to state that, prior to his assumption of- the office of Treasurer in New South Wales, Sir John See had declared in his financial statement that there was a deficiency of £1,200,000, which he intended to cover by the issue of Treasury - bills. Shortly afterwards the Dibbs Government went to the country and was defeated, and in consequence of that defeat the present Prime Minister came into power. In his Budget speech the right honorable gentleman also reported that there was a deficiency of £1200, 000, which he intended ; - like his predecessors - to cover by the issue of Treasury-bills. That operation was carried out by the present Prime Minister, and as a result these charges of maladministration have been made. Formerly it was possible to deceive Parliament and the country as to the actual financial position. The right honorable gentleman, however, initiated a cash system of keeping the public accounts; but, of course, the amounts which had been voted for. works in previous years had to be paid. In order that his cash system should receive a fair start, the right honorable gentleman resolved to cover all the payments for previous years by the issue of Treasury-bills Effect was given to that proposal by the New South Wales Parliament, the members of which knew perfectly well what they were doing. Out of that operation, which was supported by the Labour Party, these charges of maladministration have originated, notwithstanding that everything was done openly and above ‘ board. Instead of the right honorable gentleman’s administration having been a failure, it was exactly the reverse. As a matter of fact he reduced the taxation of New South Wales by ^800,000, and succeeded in carrying on the government of the country without creating a deficiency such as had been the case in previous years. If we look at the revenue derived during his tenure of office we shall see that it was lower than that which had been collected in New South Wales for many years. After the right honorable gentleman vacated office, New South Wales collected a much larger revenue through the Customs, owing to the increased duties imposed by this Parliament. Last year the Government of that State received ^2,000,000 more than was collected when the present Prime Minister held office there, and yet it was unable to carry on without a deficit. The right honorable gentleman also very considerably reduced the loan expenditure of New South Wales, which, however, since his retirement from State politics, has again increased. If there is any man to whom New South Wales should feel grateful for having reduced its expenditure and conducted all its operations upon an- economical scale, it is the Prime; Minister.
– I do not think that I have said anything about Tasmania; if so, I apologise to that State. I was referring to the charges which have been levelled against the Prime Minister. The honorable member for Wide Bay may be a little facetious if he chooses, but that will not prevent me from saying what I desire to say.
– Does the honorable member think that it is possible to get away from old political squabbles in New South Wales ?
– It is only honorable members opposite who wish to revive those squabbles. Certain charges have been made against the Prime Minister, and I have p perfect right to make clear the character of his administration whilst occupying Ministerial office in New South Wales. Those charges have been made merely for the purpose of damaging the Government.
– Does not the honorable member think that the Prime Minister is capable of defending himself?
– I know all the circumstances of the case, and I should be recreant to every principle of honour if I allowed charges of maladministration to.be made for which there is not the slightest justification. I have no desire to labour this question. I merely wish to put honorable members in possession of accurate information so that if these charges are repeated it mustbe with a full knowledge of the facts.
– Is the honorable member a financial expert ?
– I am as good a financial expert as is the honorable member, and I hope that he will cease his insane ejaculations. Concerning the explanation which has been made by the honorable member for Coolgardie, I desire to say that I have every sympathy with the position taken up by him. As a free-trader I insist that no preference should be given to any manufacturer. No administrative act should be in- the direction of altering the policy of the country.’ That should foe altered by Parliament alone. The position taken up by the honorable member for Coolgardie is the correct one, and I am fair enough to commend him for it. During the course of this debate the statement has been made that the policy of the present Government is a colourless one. From what we have been told it appears that honorable members opposite are the men to save the country. They are going to uplift the masses, better their conditions, and give them larger opportunities for improving themselves. But when we come to analyse their proposals we find that these claims cannot be sustained. They declare that the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill in its present form is a fraud, and should not have been passed by this House. Yet they -were prepared to forward that measure to the Senate despite all its alleged blemishes. They were ready to transmit it to the other Chamber without making it what they wished that it should be. What is the difference between the Bill in its present form and that in which honorable members opposite desired it ? They were anxious that clause 48 should provide that if any union substantially represented those engaged in a particular industry it should be competent for the President of the Arbitration Court to grant a preference to unionists, whereas the Bill provides that such a preference shall be extended only when a union contains a majority of the workers engaged in the industry directly concerned. The distinction really lies between what constituted a “ majority “ and “ substantial representation.”
– That is not the clause at all.
– I may not have quoted the exact provision in the clause, but what I have stated constitutes the sole difference between us. I claim that that difference is a very slight one. The honorable member for Bland admitted that the Court would expect a substantial representation to include a majority, and if that be so, there was no difference in the Bill as sent- up to the Senate by the present Ministerial party, and as it would have been sent up by the party which has recently retired from office.
– If that is so, why did honorable members opposite vote against the proposal of - the late Ministry ?
– Simply because we determined that the reference to a majorityshould remain in the Bill. In order that the Court might not have any difference of opinion or difficulty in the matter, we proposed to declare in the Bill that there must be a majority in order to secure preference. I say that we’ were justified in determining that the provision should remain in that form. We are told that honorable members opposite now represent a Liberal Protectionist Alliance. I do not know how they define “Liberalism”; but it sounds strange to me to call men “ Liberals “ who are prepared to put restrictions upon people in every direction. If honorable members opposite, instead of calling themselves “ Liberal Protectionists,” were to call themselves “Liberal Restrictionists,” I could understand it.
– That is one for some honorable members on the Government side.’
– I do not care whom it hits; I stand here in support of the principles I have advocated. If I support the present Ministerial party, it is because I think there is less danger to what I believe to be right to be expected from this side than from honorable members opposite, and because I. think we are more likely to get good legislation in the interests of the whole of the people from this side, than from honorable members opposite. I am here to defend my own personal views, and I shall not allow any one to control me in that direction. I should not be surprised if honorable members opposite called themselves “ Liberal Restrictionists,” although I cannot understand how a “ restrictionist “ can in any circumstances be called a “ Liberal.” The terms are opposed to each other. I believe in giving men freedom.
– Is factory legislation restriction ?
– Yes, it is, to some extent.
– We know that the Liberals in England were in favour of that.
– I believe in giving every man the fullest freedom compatible with the freedom of every other man. I refuse to be a party to restricting a man in doing what does no injury to other men. I believe in giving every man the fullest individual freedom it is possible to give him. The nation to which we belong has been developed by following those lines. The honorable member for Perth, in speaking last night referred to Socialism as being the best thing for the community. If J understand the honorable member aright, what he believes in is that public utilities shall be controlled by the public.
– Hear, hear ; that is Socialism.
– If that is all the honorable member’s Socialism amounts to, I am prepared to go so far with him. I am a Socialist to that extent. I wish to make my position perfectly clear. I believe in public utilities being controlled by the public. And I believe that as strongly as does any honorable member of this House. But I do not believe in the tobacco industry being controlled by the public.
– The honorable member is not a smoker.
– At all events. I am not a Socialist of that brand. I believe in the Melbourne trams belonging to the Melbourne people, if honorable members please. But the honorable member for Bland, speaking at Wagga, and also in this House, I will not say misrepresented, but did not put this matter quite correctly.
– I believe I put it quite correctly. I saw the honorable member’s letter, and it was absolutely incorrect.
– I propose to put the case as I have it. In order to show the difference between public control and Socialism, the honorable member made the statement that the fare on the Melbourne trams was 3d., whilst the fare on the Sydney trams was id. That was correct so far as t went, but it was still a misrepresentation of the facts, because if you pay a fare of 3d. at one end of a line here in Melbourne, you can go right through for that fare.
– I ask the honorable member whether he believes that the subject of fares upon the Melbourne tramways has anything to do with the motion?
– I may point out that the late Prime Minister, as a proof that Socialism was better than private enterprise, gave this illustration of the. tram systems in Sydney and Melbourne. I believe that the honorable member did not state the illustration correctly. If he was in order in making the statement to which I refer, I am surely in order in making a reply to it.
– Does the honorable member propose to connect the matter with the question under discussion ?
– I propose to connect my remarks on the subject with the motion under discussion, in the way I have stated. 1 desire to show that the illustration, as stated by the ex-Prime Minister, was not correct. If you pay a 3d. fare at the Spencer-street station, it will run you through to the terminus of a line, and if you desire it, you can get a transfer which will carry you beyond the terminus.
– You cannot get those transfers free.
– If you pay 3d. you can get a transfer.
– The honorable member is wrong.
– I know that you can get a transfer, because I have made inquiries.
– I am sure the honorable member is wrong.
– The honorable member can speak in reply. I have made inquiries on the subject, and though I cannot speak from actual experience, as I have not received a transfer, I am told that transfers are given. I know that, entering a tram at Spencer-street, you can go to the end of your journey for 3d., whilst on the Sydney trams you pay for one’ section, on any road, id. Again, under the Melbourne system, you can buy six tickets for is., which will take you right through the journey on each line.
– It will take you from the Spencer-street station to the end of the Fitzroy terminus.
– I have travelled the journey with a ticket.
– The honorable member has “ had “ the company.
– It is half-an-hour’s ride. You can also get eight tickets for 1s., which will carry you within the city.
– That is only for a mile.
– It does not matter what the distance is; I am simply showing that the honorable member’s contention is not borne out by facts. It should be remembered also that at the end of twelve years from now the Melbourne Tramway Company must hand over the whole of the property with the exception of the cars and carriages.
– But the road was built for them. They did not have to pay for the road.
– I do not know what they paid for. The business is done in the way in which I have stated, and that does not bear out the illustration, as the ex-Prime Minister stated it. I tell honorable members at once that I am. not in favour of public utilities being controlled by private enterprise. I have held, and advocated these views for years. I suppose that there are but very few men to be found in the States who do not hold the view that public utilities should be controlled by the public. But there is a vast difference between the opinion of those holding that view and the opinion of men who advocate that all implements, materials, and methods of production shall be controlled by the people.
– It is only a question of time.
– The honorable member would be called a wild, raging Socialist in Adelaide at the present time.
– The honorable member for Perth pointed out that under the system of Socialism in which he believes, there would be differences in the reward of labour ; that in the case of a public tramway system, for instance, the manager would get a larger payment than a gripman. The honorable member admitted that there would be these gradations’ of payment, but I do not know how he squares his views with those of the honorable member for Barrier, who does not believe in wages at all. When I was speaking the other night, the honorable member interjected that what we wanted was to get rid of the wage system; and I suppose the honorable member’s idea is that we should all receive a dole from some Government office. The Socialism being taught to people outside is a Socialism which is going to improve the position of every man, and give him greater advantages than he enjoys at present. It is strange that we should not have this Socialism in connexion with our railways. In the past, we got rid of State control, because it was found that it was not in the interests of the public to carry on the railway systemsin that way.
– When did we get rid of State control of the railways?
– We got rid of State control by putting them under Commissioners.
– That is still State control.
– I understand that; I know just what I am talking about ; and I know that the Labour Party would like to get rid of the Commissioners.
– No, they would not; that is a misstatetnent.
– They would like to get control of the whole thing, so that they might crowd the service as it was crowded in the past.
– Who supported the Public Service Act?
– I know that it is the desire! of the men at the head of the Labour Party to get rid of the Railway Commissioners.
– That is not true; I say that it is incorrect.
– It is true.
– Order. I must ask the honorable member for Bland to withdraw that statement.
– I withdraw any apparent reflection upon the honorable member’s personal veracity. But I must be allowed to say that the honorable member’s, statement is absolutely incorrect.
An Honorable Member. - The honorable member knows it.
– I do not know it.
– Then it is time the honorable member did.
– While I was a member of the State Parliament of New South Wales, the Labour Party time after time attacked the Railways Commissioners, and tried covert influence with Ministers. If that is not trying to get rid of the Railways Commissioners, what is? What is the good of Railways Commissioners, if vou exert upon the Ministers behind them all the force of political power, in order to secure anything that is desired ? That is only another way of getting rid of them. That is what has been done time after time, and the honorable member for Bland knows it.
– I know nothing of the sort.
– The very fact that we have had to put all these institutions under Commissioners shows distinctly that they cannot be controlled where political influence is allowed to come in.
– Hear, hear; I am with the honorable member in that.
– If honorable members opposite are satisfied with the Railways Commissioners, why did they propose to put the Commissioners’ employes under the Arbitration Court?
– Because the Commissioners, in the same way as every one else, should be subject to the law.
– The members of a railway league in my district, wrote to me, asking me to vote for the inclusion of railway servants in the Arbitration Bill ; but I wrote back and told them that I should do nothing of the kind. In their own interests, as well as in the interests of the State, I refused to be a party to putting them under the control of the Federal Arbitration Court. That is the attitude which I have taken up on that matter. Honorable members on the other side say .that they are going to help the masses ; but what are they going to do? They are going to have a national tobacco- monopoly. They are going to give better conditions to the poor of Melbourne and all the States by a national tobacco monopoly. Will any honorable member on the other side tell me what this national tobacco monopoly is going to do for the poor people of the State? Is it going to increase their wages ?
– It will put ^600,000 per annum into the public purse.
– It will do nothing of the kind, unless we increase the price of tobacco.
– No; we shall lower it.
– The late Prime Minister told us that the people would not get a cheaper smoke as a result of the nationalization of the industry. They were not to have even that advantage, because tobacco would continue to be sold at the same prices.
– I said it would make no difference in that respect.
– This proposal for a national tobacco monopoly is only a farce. Though honorable members opposite stand upon platforms outside and speak of -these things as in the interests of the people, they know that they will have but little effect upon the condition of the masses.
– If the honorable member will but ask the retail tobacconists, he will find that the monopoly in force is a very real thing at the present time.
– That may be, but if the industry is put under State control the conditions will be very much worse than they are to-day.
– It will be under Commonwealth control.
– It is the control of the nation to which I refer. The members of the Labour Party object to borrowing money, but they wish to have a forced loan from the banks. Like myself, I suppose they would like to get it on the cheap. They do not object to a loan, but they object to paying interest upon it, and they propose,’ in accordance with their Socialistic ideas, to take gold from the banks and give them paper in place of it. They will have to be a little smart to do that, because the gold would not be left long in the banks of Australia if they got an inkling that that was going to be carried out. We should find that it would soon be making its way over to New Zealand.
– Why New Zealand?
– The honorable member knows a .lot about it when he talks like that.
– So far as the note issue in Canada is concerned, the position is altogether different. When thev carried this kind of legislation, they had a larger note issue in Canada than we have in Australia, and so far as token money is concerned, it was very scarce. Honorable members will also find that in Canada the banks issue the larger notes, and the Government issue the smaller notes. I do not think that we should be able to force small notes upon people here to take the place of our token money.
– Is the alliance in favour of that proposal ?
– I do not know; but I feel that no’ good would result from the adoption of it. The community would not be helped bv any system of enforced loans. What little benefit we should derive from its adoption would be represented in the saving of a certain amount of interest; but if the State took up the whole note issue the note tax would be lost, so that the Com- monwealth would not gain any material advantage. The alliance opposite has been formed on a very peculiar basis. One party to it has been actuated by a desire, we are told, to secure a greater measure of protection, and I have extracted from the alliance programme all that bears upon that question. The programme provides for -
Legislation (including Tariff legislation) shown to be necessary : -
That looks very well on paper; but these proposals are not in themselves sufficient for the combination. They have had to introduce three additional paragraphs, setting forth that -
As to any regulation arising under this paragraph only any member of either party may, as to any specific proposal -
In other words, any member of the alliance may either agree to be bound by the decision of his party, or exercise his own individual opinion, and vote as he pleases with regard to Tariff legislation. That is practically the meaning of this proposal, and yet it has been placed before the protectionists of Victoria as an indication that if this alliance comes into power they will secure a revival of protection. The whole thing is a farce.
– Why should the honorable member grumble about it?
– I am simply showing that these proposals are mere humbug. The two paragraphs which I have just read are marked “a” and “b” and if we assume that those letters stand for “ asinine humbug “ we fairly estimate their value. The members of the alliance have not for one moment anticipated that anything in the shape of a protectionist revival will result from the combination.
– Why should the honorable member object to that?
– I wish the public to know the real facts of the position. They are not always told the truth in regard to these matters, and it is time that it was put before them. We are told that increased protection is needed by Victorian industries, which have been protected almost for ages. Notwithstanding that they had had a large measure of protection for many years, the . moment a slight reduction in the Tariff was made they cried out that they could not exist.
– Does the honorable member call a reduction of 100 per cent, a slight one ?
– A reduction of a duty of 25 per cent, to 12½ per cent, is a very fair one. I am in favour of the appointment of a Tariff Commission, but it must be based on fair lines. It should be fairly representative of both the protectionist and free-trade party.
– We have no objection to that.
– Those who are agitating for the appointment of a Tariff Commission will find, if it be appointed, that its investigations will not bear out their assertion. They will’ show a different state of things from that which the protectionists opposite suggest. I am informed- thatthe Denton Hat Mills Company, of Melbourne, has refused orders, on the ground that they have already booked so far ahead that they would not be able to carry them out.
– That is not correct. I was at the mills this morning, and I know that business there is very dull.
– If the honorable member challenges my statement, I shall submit to him letters received in Sydney that bear out my assertion. I can place my hands on documentary proof of my statement. I have been promised those letters, which show that the Denton Hat Mills Company has refused orders, on the ground that it could not carry them out. We are told that a Victorian nail factory is being ruined, but, in July last, it had its record output.
– For barbed wire.
– The factory had a record output in that month-
– But not in nails.
– It was the factory’s record output in respect of manufactured goods, but I cannot say whether it related to nails.
– The honorable member has not made any inquiries.
– We are also told that the glass bottle works in this State need greater protection, but I know that they have been doing well.
– Have they?
– Two nail factories have been closed since the passing of the Tariff.
– In 1903 Victoria’s export of manufactured goods was , £1,000,000 in excess of that which she exported in 1900. That increase took place under the Federal Tariff.
– But what did she import ?
– Facts like these prove that the assertions of the Protectionist Party about the state of trade are utterly absurd.
– The increase to which the honorable member refers was not in manufactures.
– It was in goods of Victorian manufacture. I saw a statement in the press recently setting forth- that this increase had occurred, and on inquiry at the office of the Government Statist I learned that it was correct.
– In what newspaper was this statement published ?
– In a commercial journal. I do not put such statements before the House without first making inquiries, and it was. for this reason that I went to the Government Statist’s office. I wished to verify the report.
– Did not Senator Trenwith say much the same thing?
– I do not know what he said.
– We have lost a very large proportion of Victorian trade.
– I am dealing only with the attempt to bring about a protectionist revival. If a Tariff Commission be appointed, I am satisfied that its investigations will prove that local manufacturers have been benefited, rather than injured by the Federal Tariff.
– There are hundreds of men out of work in Victoria.
– There were hundreds of men out of work in this State, even when the protectionist Tariff was at its highest.
– But thev were not following the trades to which I refer.
– Protection has been a curse to Victoria. I am here, not to play anv game, but to tell the truth. If the workingmen of this State would onlv open their eyes they would see that protection has been a curse, rather than a bene fit to Victoria, and that they have been fooled by the men who call themselves their leaders.
– Is the honorable member speaking for the Ministry?
– I ‘am not.
– I desire to call the attention of the honorable member to the fact that he is turning round, and addres-. sing the galleries, andi that he ought to address himself to the Chair.
– I was addressing honorable members in the Opposition corner, who feel so keenly on this question.
– The honorable member will please address the Chair.
– I wish to impress upon these honorable members the truths that I am uttering. I desire them to look back at the position of Victoria at a time when the protectionist Tariff of this State was at its highest - to see for themselves how the working men have suffered under that policy, and to exercise their intelligence in determining where the real trouble lies. ‘Instead of seeking to bring about a protectionist revival, which would be only a greater curse to Victoria than it has ever had, they should support a policy that will improve the condition of the people.
– The honorable member should address these remarks to the Minister of Trade and Customs.
– I have nothing to do wilh the Minister. I am a supporter of the Government, but am opposed to any revival of protection. If the Minister of Trade and Customs attempts to revive that’ policy he will find in me a bitter opponent. We are promised a Federal system of old-age pensions. Honorable members opposite sneer at the proposal of the Ministry to confer with the States Governments in regard to this question. But we know that without the co-operation of the States such a system is impossible.
– We know full well that it is impossible for us to provide for a Federal system of old-age pensions by means of a tax on land values. When honorable members opposite tell the people that it can be provided for by a tax on land values they know that they are talking of something which is really impossible. The only way in which it is possible to secure Federal old-age pensions is by the Commonwealth Government conferring, as they propose to do, with the Governments of the States, and inducing them to agree-
– To a Federal land tax.
– No ; but to make provision for the payment of old-age pensions out of the Customs revenue. If a Federal system cost £1,500,000 per annum, it would be necessary, under our Constitution, to raise £6,000,000 in order to pay for it, so that we must make some arrangement with the States to utilize Customs revenue in that direction. If the Labour Party are so strongly in favour of oldage pensions, how is it that the Queensland Labour Government has not introduced the system there?
– They will do so.
– Their programme does not include such a proposal.
– Why does not the Labour Government in Western Australia do the same thing? I am opposed to the position taken up by the Labour Party, but I do not wish it to be understood for one moment that I am hostile to the cause of labour. Labour has my deepest sympathy, and I am prepared to assist in passing any legislation in its interests. But to attempt by means of a Conciliation and Arbitration Act to help the masses, is just as useless as it is to seek to quench a fire by spitting on it. No good would result from the passing of such a measure. How is it possible to keep up the standard of wages in a falling market? I have been opposed to conciliation and arbitration legislation, because at best it can be only a palliative. It cannot prevent the recurrence of such disputes and difficulties as have arisen in the past. I shall certainly do all I can in opposition to the passing of any restrictive legislation. I believe in developing the freedom of every individual, and in giving every man the fullest opportunity to use the powers with which he is endowed. By working in that direction alone shall, we secure the salvation of the people. We cannot hope to help them by restricting the use of individual power. We have seen the Conciliation and Arbitration Act of New South Wales working in such a way that, as the result of the section dealing with the limitation of apprentices, many lads have been prevented from obtaining work, and have been sent out into the streets. Instead of giving every man the fullest opportunity to do the best he can for himself, it is having the opposite effect. I am not one of those who believe that every worker should be paid the same wage. All men differ. Their capacity varies, and each man ought to receive only that which he himself earns. I feel that no man, whether engaged in manufacturing or other pursuits, should by law receive any special privilege over the rest of the people. If our States were to adopt a different system - if we were to make use of our unoccupied lands, under an intelligent land policy - the trouble” and difficulty which exist to-day in the Commonwealth would soon disappear, and instead of the poverty and misery which we see about us, we should have happy homes and much brighter conditions. But these attempts to establish a tobacco monopoly, and other proposals of that nature, to help the community, are silly and absurd, and so far as I am concerned will receive no assistance.
– The honorable member for Parramatta yesterday made a number of statements which may be left to look after themselves ; but there is one thing that he said which I shall take this opportunity to correct. He said - or is reported to have said - I am now quoting from the Age of to-day -
He knew that Mr. Hughes had gone to the Orange Association and asked to be put on the Orange bunch.
I wish’ to say that that is not correct ; that I have never, either at the last election, or any other election, gone to the officials, or to any person connected however remotely with the Orange institution or the Protestant Defence Association, or any religious body in New South Wales, or in
– Or any one connected with them?
– Or any one connected with them, and asked them to put me in the bunch, or asked to ‘be included as a nominee of theirs. I have asked to be taken out of their list, and that is the only communication I have ever made to them. I have always endeavoured to deprecate the introduction of sectarianism into politics ; I .have never been indebted in any way to such institutions for my return ; and I hope that I shall not be so indebted in the future.
– I desire to make a personal explanation in view of what has just fallen from the honorable and learned member for West Sydney. I wish to say, in reference to some remarks that were made yesterday, that I did not speak without having what I believed to be full warranty for my statement. I have proof here which satisfies me, and which, I believe, justified me in the statement which I made. Here is a wire signed by Mr. Packer, the editor of the Watchman, in Sydney. He says -
Hughes called on me at office - that is definite enough - during last Federal campaign in great concern. Said Roman ticket being used for all it was -worth for Warren against himself, and asked me to do what I could through Watchman, and privately, to stir up Protestant vote. He also gave me some tit-bits to use against Warren in paragraphs. Never asked to have name withdrawn from list. Said, left it to my judgment whether I would withdraw it or not, though he hoped to get some Roman votes unless they became alarmed.
There is justification for the statement I made yesterday.
– I desire again-
– Order ! It is not for me to determine finally - it is for the House to do that - but it does appear to me that the express prohibition of debate upon any personal explanation,’ precludes explanation after explanation being made, first of all, by way of attack, and then by way of reply. If the Honorable and learned member desires to explain any matter, which will not lead to a further explanation in the way of debate, I shall be pleased to hear him._ But I will ask him not to say anything in the nature of debate.
– There is not one word of truth in what the honorable member for Parramatta has read. What I asked of Packer on the only occasion when I called on him was to be good enough to take me out of their list.
– The honorable and learned member told me that months ago.
– But he said that he had put my name there with a view of doing me a good turn. I had known him as a member of the Daily Telegraph staff, on which he was a reporter. I told him that was the reverse of what he was doing, and asked him to be good enough to publish a letter of mine to that effect. He said, “ I will simply knock the name out, and there will be an end of it.”
– My statement can be further corroborated.
– We can now, I presume, get back to the subject under discussion. I have gathered from the remarks of the honorable member for New England that the Ministerialists at the present time have a serious objection to raise against the methods of the Opposition, whom they accuse of having resorted to unfair tactics. Coming as it does from the lips of those who have lately been engaged in actions which have won for them the unenviable distinction of being called “ a gang of political sand-baggers,” I think that if the honorable member was speaking on behalf of honorable members opposite his remarks might be described as similar to “ Satan sermonizing on sin.” I wish for a few moments to contrast the position of the members of the Opposition and the attitude they have adopted in this Parliament with those that have been adopted by those who are sitting on the Ministerial side of the House. The leader of the Opposition in expressing his dissatisfaction with the present Administration, did not resort to the methods that were adopted by the present Prime Minister when he was seeking office. The leader of the Opposition has come down with a definite want of confidence motion, and has given every honorable member an opportunity to express his opinions clearly, distinctly, and fully, so that there may be no doubt about the position in which we all stand. But what was the course adopted by the Prime Minister? He came to the House in March, when the Deakin Government was in office, and said that they were in a minority, and were depending for their political existence on the votes of those who were then sitting on the corner benches. There was a serious difference of opinion with regard to the inclusion in the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill of the public servants. The honorable and learned member for Ballarat was aware that the party to which I belong were pledged to the inclusion of those persons. Being defeated upon that question, he relinquished office. At that time the present Prime Minister voted with the Deakin Government. But from statements, which were made by him to the press, we were led to believe that he was very glad that the honorable and learned member for Ballarat had retired from office. Certainly, a number of his present supporters voted against the Deakin Government. When asked why he did not get his supporters to save the Deakin Government, the) Prime Minister stated, in justification, that he did not wish to coerce the votes of those who believed in the inclusion of the public servants in the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill. No one would ask him to do that. But what about the conduct of those gentlemen who have been proclaimed as wreckers? What, for instance, about the honorable member for New England, the honorable member for Lang, and the honorable member for Wil- mot? What influence did he use upon those members of his party ?
– The present Prime Minister used no influence in that direction.
– Absolutely none ! But there is reason to believe that the right honorable member was very well pleased at the defeat of the Deakin Administration. The Watson Government then assumed the responsibilities of office. At that time there was a serious difference of opinion between honorable members opposite. The honorable and learned member for Ballarat, leading one section of the Opposition, said that it was necessary that a majority should be secured. That was satisfactory. No one could find fault with his position. But the Prime Minister, speaking subsequently, said that if it were a question of majority rule, the Labour Party had as much right to sit upon the Government benches as had the Deakin Government during the previous three years. It is fair to assume horn that remark that the right honorable gentleman was anticipating a time when he might be sitting upon the Ministerial benches without having a majority. Subsequently the honorable and learned member for Ballarat stated that one thing which must be considered in .the matter of an agreement between two parties was that the members of those parties must not be found flying at each other’s throats at the next election. We heard quite a different expression of opinion from the .right honorable member for East Sydney, He stated that to make compacts with another party when an election was imminent was legitimate, but that a compact made now as to what was to happen at the next election merited the strongest condemnation. Consequently, the actions of the honorable and learned member for Ballarat at that time, in the opinion of the right honorable gentleman at the head of the Government, merited the strongest condemnation. Now, it is necessary to deal for a brief time with a few of the opinions which members of the two groups on the Government side of the House have held concerning one another at different periods during their political career. I do not wish to go back to ancient history, or to deal with what the Prime Minister did or said ten years ago in the New South Wales Parliament. I am prepared to content myself with his actions since he has been a member of this Parliament. Speaking at the Town Hall, Melbourne, on 30th October, concerning the Deakin
Administration, the right honorable gentleman used these words -
The Government introduced- the Electoral Bill in the Senate, with a provision for minority representation.. That was the main provision of the measure. The Senate knocked it out. Then the Senate put in a provision against plumping. The other House removed it, and the changes were running between the two Houses, in which several Ministers voted in several ways during the several stages of the Bill. Mr. Deakin said last night that that Bill gave manhood and womanhood suffrage to Australia. I say that this Government, to serve its political interests, robbed hundreds and thousands of electors of their just rights
I wonder how honorable members opposite like to have those matters brought under their notice at this particular time, when they are clasping one another to their bosoms, and think neither can do any wrong. The right honorable gentleman went on to say -
This nefarious act in the interests of one political party may be committed in the interests of another.
– Why re-open those old sores ?
– This is a sore which immediately concerns the present position in Parliament, and does not concern the position of certain gentlemen in New South Wales about ten years ago. With the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne, I am heartily sick of hearing about those old squabbles in New South Wales. Any stranger coming into the galleries of this House would believe that the Commonwealth consisted of New South Wales, and New South Wales only
– Why did the honorable member not make a protest when the subject was raised?
– I am making my protest now when I am in order, but the honorable member in interjecting is out of order. The speech, from which I am quoting, proceeded -
Let us, while we stand on the brink of the momentous developments of this Australian nation, try to keep it from the political corruption we see in other great democracies. My strongest charge against this Government is that -they have broken their duty to the people, and broken the laws of the country for a selfish motive, and they have defiled and debased the ballot-box of Australia.
I wonder how the head of the’ present Government, who, with his equal in all things, occupies the front Ministerial benches, feels now when he finds himself a partner with those who took a prominent part in debasing and defiling the ballot-box of Australia?
A similar question might be asked as to the right honorable and learned member for Balaclava. I wonder if that gentleman feels at peace with the head of the Government, by whom he was slandered on the public platform, and who has ridden on his back into prominence in this Parliament. We find, however, that, despite those serious differences of opinion - I am safe, I think, in thus referring to the position - the present Government, and their supporters have agreed on one point, viz., that the Labour Party of this country must be checked and “ downed.” One of the first reasons which honorable members opposite advance for their present stand is that we on this side obtain our political positions by the assistance of a machine which they intend to remove. I should like for a moment to refer to this so-called political machine, which honorable members on the other side take a particular delight in denouncing. The mode in which all honorable members on this side enter this Chamber may not be altogether the same, but is very nearly the same in all portions of Australia. Before a man is permitted to be a candidate under our flag he . must be a member of a trade union or a labour league; and in that matter there are no restrictions. There is no member in this House who, if he desires to join the leagues, may not do so. There is no clique; the party is not reserved for a few, but is open to all who desire to enter. When it is agreed that a labour man shall be nominated for a certain constituency, the candidate must possess the goodwill of a majority of those who know him best, and he must subscribe to the platform. But what is the course adopted by the Free-trade Party? As an illustration, I might point to my interjecting friend the honorable member for Wentworth. If he had not had the good grace of the honorable and learned member for East Sydney, and had not been placed on the free-trade ticket, what chance would he have had of being a member of this Parliament ? If the honorable member had not had behind him the influence of the great Sydney newspapers-
– I never met the honorable and learned member for East Sydney before I announced myself as a candidate.
– That is a vastly different matter. What chance would the honorable member have had had his name not appeared on the free-trade ticket? As I say, our candidates have to submit them selves to the goodwill of those who know them best. On the other side, the particular gentleman who is at the head of the free-trade organization obtains the assistance of the great daily newspapers, in Sydney, for instance, for certain candidates, with the result that these gentlemen are entirely at his mercy. As an illustration of the method adopted by the Labour Party, I may take the case’ of Senator de Largie in Western Australia. That gentleman was nominated by the Labour Party for the Senate, and a plebiscite was taken of trade unionists and members of labour organizations generally in Western Australia, with the result that at the preliminary poll Senator de Largie was selected as the candidate by about 8,500 votes. I ask the right honorable member for Swan, who selected the protectionist candidate’s for the Senate in Western Australia ?
– The right honorable member himself.
– The protectionist candidates were selected by the right honorable member for Swan and Dr. Hackett, the head of the West Australian newspaper.
– Dr. Hackett had nothing to do with the selection.
– Did the right honorable .member not select the candidates, if Dr. Hackett did not do so?
– I supported the candidates.
– On the one hand, we see that 8,500 electors, who knew Senator de Largie intimately, selected him as their candidate, while, on the other hand, candidates were selected by one man, and foisted on the electors.
– I did not select the candidates..
– We find that the democracy of Western Australia on that occasion, by an immense majority, returned labour senators at the head of the poll. It is said that the Labour Party are class representatives; but I do not think that a more striking exhibition of class representation could be witnessed than that afforded us by the honorable and learned member for Wannon last night. From start to finish the one question in that honorable and learned member’s mind was - “How is this going to affect the farmer? How are my constituents going to get on ?”
– Is it not his duty to consider his constituents?
– Yes, but not at the ex- pense of other portions of the Commonwealth, not when it means an injustice to thousands of others who do not happen to live in the constituency of Wannon. As to the Arbitration Bill and the inclusion of agricultural labourers, who are the class advocates in this Chamber? The object of the Labour Party is to make that Bill apply to the industries of the country as a whole, and we are met with the cry, “Oh, save the poor farmer and the poor fruit-grower !” The other day we had from the Minister of Trade and Customs a statement that the policy of the Labour Party is to tax the producer off the land. Am I correctly representing what the Minister said?
– The honorable member is quite right.
– If the Minister of Trade and Customs seriously entertains that opinion he is suffering from an unpardonable lack of knowledge as to the intentions of honorable members on this side. The policy that the party with which I am associated intend to adopt is one of the utmost consideration for the men who are producing wealth from the soil. The man we want to tax is he who is not producing, but is keeping the land locked up from those who want to produce. A few months ago it was Stated in the Tocsin, and the statement has not been disputed, because it is indisputable, that there are 2,560,000 acres of the most fertile land in Victoria which are locked up by great landlords,, and which support only 7869 persons. That is the sort of thing we desire to stop. We desire that those men shall be compelled to hand the land over to those who, under present conditions, are forced to go elsewhere in order to settle.
– Does the honorable member propose that the land shall be paid for ?
– Of course; our policy is not a policy of confiscation in regard to land or any other property. But when the welfare of the people is being seriously jeopardized owing to the fact that a few men have millions of acres locked up, it is time for State interference, in order to make them part with that land, whether they like to do so or not.
– How is the money to be raised for the purchase?
– I shall tell the honorable member about the financial proposals piesently.
– The present Minister of Trade and Customs was the first, as a State
Minister, to encourage settlement on a large scale in Victoria.
– Then it is a wonder that the honorable gentleman, at that time, allowed his gaze to miss this awful exhibition of a few people holding millions of acres of fertile land locked up.
– The State Government, of which I was the head, resumed and distributed amongst the people nearly all the estates that have been resumed for settlement in Victoria.
– If that be so, and I have no reason to doubt the honorable gentleman’s word, I can only say that he was on the right track, and that it is a pity he was not allowed to stay in the State Parliament and continue the good work. T should like to lay before honorable members the opinions which were expressed by the present head of the Government in regard to the farmers at a particular time. The right honorable gentleman, at Warragul and Kyneton, delivered brilliant addresses and aroused his audiences to a high pitch of enthusiasm. It would appear that of late his one mission in life is to remove any illfeeling which may have existed between the residents of Victoria and the residents of New South Wales, and to that end he is going to clasp the farmers to his bosom, At the present juncture, it is interesting to note - and I should like his understudy in the House to listen to this - what he said in the Melbourne Town Hall in December, 1899. On that occasion he said -
That door which was open in the mother colony always was going to be open in all Australia.
How does that suit the Minister of Trade and Customs?
With all these barriers down, the stock f fatteners and wheat farmers would feel the cold southerly wind of a world’s competition.
– The right honorable gentleman is of the same opinion still.
– If that be so, the right honorable gentleman is disguising or keeping that opinion in the background. When addressing them of late, he has not promised them “ cold, southerly winds,” but the warmth of his own bosom. Honorable members opposite denounce the political machine as a serious evil, when it is used by our party ; but they intend to bring into existence another machine. I do not say that the members of the Ministry . are sending organizers around, but their supporters, and also the merchants, and members of. the Employers’ Federation - those who are responsible for sweating young girls in Melbourne, by paying them 2s. 66. per week, and then deducting 2$d. for insurance - are organizing leagues throughout Victoria and the other States. They intend to go to extremes in their endeavour to defeat the Labour Party at the next election; and, peculiarly enough, they are calling in the assistance of the ladies. At the Masonic Hall, Collins-street, Melbourne, the other night, at a fullypacked meeting ready to cheer the Prime Minister when he cracked some of his familiar jokes, that gentleman when he had delivered his vigorous denunciation of the Labour Party, said : - “ In this hall, there must be no society distinctions. The ‘ missus ‘ must grasp to- her bosom the ‘ Mary ‘ that works the gridiron.” To the women of the Commonwealth he looked to save the country from the extremes of labour legislation. But if the right honorable gentleman had so much consideration for the interests of the females of this country, if he was so anxious that they should exercise the franchise, and should make their influence felt upon the policv of the Commonwealth, how it is that, during the five years that he was in office in New South Wales, he refused to give the women of that State the right to vote ?
– Is not the fact equally a reflection upon the party by which he was kept in power?
– The right honorable member for Swan, who is another of those who are foremost now in addressing meetings of females, was at the head of a Ministry for ten years without giving them a vote. I believe that the honorable member for Gippsland stands in a similar position.
– I advocated woman’s suffrage before the honorable member was born.
– Yet the honorable member left me in want of a seconder when I first proposed it.
– The honorable member for Gippsland may have stated on the hustings his belief in woman’s franchise, but, although he was Premier of Victoria for a considerable time, he did not introduce a Bill to give effect to that belief.
– It was one of the principal planks in our platform.
– Then the honorable gentleman ought to have placed it upon the statute-book. It has been in the platform of the Labour Party as long as I remember, and if it had not been continually advocated by that party, the ladies of Aus tralia would never have obtained the right to vote. When honorable members opposite are addressing meetings of ladies, their auditors know that it is the Labour Party whom they have to thank for their right to vote, and I believe that their gratitude will cause them not to forget us when the time to vote comes. Another statement of the Prime Minister of which notice must be taken, because of the high position which he occupies, though it may be only temporarily, was that the Labour Party wish for the creation of an Arbitration Court in order to starve the wives and children of non-unionists. That is one of the greatest misrepresentations of our desires that has been put before the people of Australia.
– It is a slander.
– Yes. Our experience of existing arbitration legislation has enabled us to gauge pretty accurately what is required to make a Commonwealth arbitration measure successful. Arbitration Acts are in force in two of the States, but it has been found in Western Australia that a provision giving preference to unionists is necessary, and the Government of that State propose to amend the Act by the insertion of such a provision. We have always maintained that for the successful administration of an Arbitration Act, and to secure the industrial peace of Australia, it is necessary that those who are banded together in organizations should have some interest in supporting that legislation; that some return should be made to them for their action in foregoing the right to strike when dissatisfied with their conditions, and for undertaking the expense of conducting cases before the Arbitration Courts. We say that those who belong to unions should be placed in as good a position as those who ,are not members of unions, who are put to no expense, who do not give evidence before the Arbitration Courts, and yet who benefit by all their awards. To speak of “ preference to unionists “ is a misnomer. What we desire should be termed “ security to unionists.” It is the bitter experience of unionists in all parts of Australia that those who have taken a prominent part in conducting the affairs of unions, either by appearing before Courts of Arbitration, or in other ways, have often afterwards found that their positions have been filled by others, although they had hitherto done their work with entire satisfaction to their employers. We know that blackballing exists in connexion with the employers’ unions of Australia, and it is therefore necessary that there should be some legislation which will give security to those who are responsible for the conduct of the affairs of the Labour organizations. It is a slander to say that we wish to starve the wives and children of non-unionists. On the contrary, the Labour Party has, from its inception to the present time, consistently tried to bring about better conditions for the people of Australia. Our reputation, however, is such that we need not fear such slanders. Incidentally, I would point out that during the present debate we have had the expression of the views of only one-half of the head of the Government Apparently, the Ministry are reserving themselves for a final rush before the division bell rings; but probably the result will be like what is happening to the Japanese at Port Arthur, that when they make it, they will suffer very severely. The final objection of the Prime Minister to the Labour Party is that we are a pack of extremists. Honorable members opposite refer to themselves as a combination of - moderates, and I am very pleased to obtain from their own lips a name by which I mav refer to them. They are certainly very moderate in their attendance in this Chamber at the present time. I should like to know how far their moderation will carry them. Is the moderation of the honorable member for Gippsland the same thing as that of the honorable member for Kooyong, of the honorable member foi New England, and of the honorable member for Lang? Are the other members of the party prepared to go as far as the Prime Minister wishes to go, and to remove from the Immigration Restriction Act the provision relating to contract labour, and from the Post and Telegraph Act the provision relating to the employment of black labour on mail boats ? I think that their moderation is likely to carry them backwards in more senses than one. Not only will they be retrogressive in their legislation, but their policy will carry them back to this side of the Chamber with which they are more familiar. The Prime Minister was elected as a freetrader, but he declared, when speaking on the Address-in-Reply, that, so far as the fiscal situation was concerned, there was an armed truce. How long is that armed truce to last? Will it continue as long as the present- coalition remains in office ? Is it not rather a truce for the burial of the dead? Has not the right honorable member now got rid of the obstacle which for so long prevented him from obtaining office? There is nothing very contentious in the programme of the Government. Their chief plank is to get into recess as soon as possible.
– Does the honorable member blame them ?
– No; because it is their only hope of remaining in office. I would blame honorable members’ on this side, however, if they did not take the first opportunity to toss them out of office. Although honorable members opposite differ on many things ; but they are in absolute agreement upon the first plank of their platform.
– And the honorable member’s party are in agreement upon a second plank - that the Ministry shall not get into recess.
– Quite so. To show why they should not get into recess, I will refer to a few remarks which we have heard from them on other occasions, and to the methods which they adopted for obtaining office. Both the’ Prime Minister and his better-half declared that it would be unconstitutional to bring the public servants of the States and of the Commonwealth under the Arbitration Bill. If it were not unconstitutional, they declared that it was inexpedient - that it would cause considerable dissatisfaction amongst the State’s, and that it involved a very serious encroachment upon State rights. Indeed, the ‘honorable and learned member for Ballarat affirmed that it was the first step towards wrecking the Federation. But the present Government, since their advent to office, practically say, “We are quite prepared to ignore! the inclusion of the public servants of the States within the scope of the Bill, and to disregard the injury which will be done to State rights if we can only get into recess.”
– Could honorable members go back upon their votes?
– The Government could have declared, as did the honorable member for Bland, that they were prepared to adopt the Bill in a certain form, and that if the House declined to allow them to do so, they would relinquish office. Instead of taking up that attitude, they stand convicted of having passed a measure with which they absolutely disagree.
– I maintain that that is so. Let me briefly traverse ii few of the items which are contained hh what the
Government have been pleased to dub a “ policy.” The first matter to which I shall direct attention is the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta Railway Survey Bill. As a representative of Western Australia, I am not ungrateful to honorable members opposite for the votes which they cast in favour of obtaining the latest possible data, so that we may justify that great national project. . But when we find the Ministry filling their so-called programme with noncontentious measures, it is only right that we should criticise their action. I now wish to refer to a telegram which appears in the Argus this morning, and which was despatched to Western Australia by the right honorable member for Swan.
– I think that an important debate of this kind demands a better attendance of honorable members in the Chamber. [Quorum formed.]
– In the Argus of to-day I find the following telegram, which is headed “Trans-Australian Railway”: -
KALGOORLIE, Wednesday.- The secretary of the roads board sent a telegraphic message of congratulation to Sir John Forrest last Saturday, in the terms of the resolution passed at the meeting of the board, held on the previous evening, as to the Trans-Australian Railway Survey Bill. Yesterday Sir John despatched the following reply from Melbourne : - “ Very gratified at your earnest message. Owing to “the Labour Party precipitating a no-confidence motion, which would have been just as effective in a week’s time, the Bill is postponed indefinitely. Regret senseless tactics just when success was assured.”
According to the dictum of the right honorable member for Swan everything with which he does not agree is “senseless.” Upon the question of the construction of the Trans-Continental Railway I venture to say that no honorable member doubts the loyalty of the whole of the representatives of Western Australia, and nobody will seriously cavil at their earnestness in endeavouring to secure a majority in favour of that undertaking. But when I find the right honorable member for Swan urging that the Labour Party have precipitated a crisis which imperils the passage of the Bill relating to the survey of that line, it is only right that I should call attention to his own attitude upon that measure. As is well known the last three Administrations have placed that Bill in the very forefront of their programmes. Had the honorable member for Bland not been hurled from office in a most unceremonious and undignified manner by the present Ministerial supporters, it is practically certain that that measure would have been passed by this House immediately the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill had been disposed of. I need scarcely remind honorable members that the right honorable member for Swan voted against the Watson Administration. He did not pay any attention to the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta Railway Survey Bill, when the honorable and learned member for Corinella submitted his memorable amendment. No. There was to be a re-shuffJe of the political cards, and the passage of that measure was not so urgent then. When the right honorable member blames the Labour Party for delaying the passage of that Bill, I would remind him that only four out of the twenty-two honorable members who opposed the motion having reference to the survey of the proposed route, are members of the Labour Party.
– How many, members of the Ministerial Party opposed it?
– I did not carefully analyze the figures.
– About ten.
– As is well known, it is customary for the Senate to adjourn immediately notice of a no-confidence motion is given in this House. Consequently, even if the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta Railway Survey Bill had been passed by this Chamber its passage would have been delayed elsewhere by the motion which is now under consideration. I think I have shown conclusively that there is no justification whatever for the charge which has been mads against the Labour Party by the right honorable member for Swan, and which is calculated to create in the minds of a small minority in Western Australia, the impression that we desire to shelve that Bill’. Regarding the other items in the Government programme, the Prime Minister has declared his intention to proceed with the Papua Bill, which contains no contentious matter; but he proposes to defer the introduction of the High Commissioner Bill, until the various States Governments have been consulted. I say that, in view of the charges which have been levelled against the Commonwealth in London, the appointment of a High Commissioner who is familiar with our legislation, and in. sympathy with the aspirations of the Australian people, is absolutely urgent. The expenditure which his appointment would involve is infinitesimal, as compared with the good which would result to this country.. I admit that it is advisable, after the Central Office has been established to make every provision for effecting economies in the States Departments. The policy of the Government, however, is, to continue to allow our legislation to he misunderstood by people abroad. In regard to the Manufactures Encouragement Bill, the Government propose; to pursue the good old policy of regarding nothing in it as vital.
– Did the Watson Government , make it vital?
– No, because it was not included in the platform upon which we were elected. It is a very significant circumstance that, in making his declaration of policy, the Prime Minister entirely forgot to mention the matter of old-age pensions. The desire to alleviate the sufferings of our aged poor was of such vital concern to him that he completely overlooked the question. From a second instalment of the Ministerial policy, delivered at a subsequent sitting, we. learned that he proposes to consult the States Governments in regard to it. I admit that it is desirable that the Commonwealth should work amicably with the States, but when the Prime Minister proposes ‘ to make the comfort of the declining years of the aged poor dependent upon the decision of the States Governments, I must cross swords with him. A vast majority of honorable members are pledged to old-age pensions, and must accept responsibility foi imposing any extra taxation which the carrying out of such a scheme may render necessary. So far as the electors represented by the Labour Party are concerned, we are prepared to pledge them to that additional taxation, in order to bring about an improvement in the condition of our aged poor. I, for one, will never sanction the welfare of these persons being intrusted, say, to the decision of the Premier of Victoria - to give a specific instance.
– What does the alliance say upon that question ?
– It says that it will introduce a measure providing for old-age pensions, as soon as possible.
– The alliance does not say that, but it might mean it.
– I beg the Minister’s pardon. The alliance programme contains the following plank: - “Old-age pensions, on a basis fair and equitable to the States.” Do honorable members opposite anticipate that we are prepared to enact legislation which is not fair and equitable? Do they imagine that we are willing to sanction a scheme which will starve one man and feed another? The difference between the programme of the alliance and that of honorable members opposite is, that whilst we are determined to place upon the statute-book a measure providing foi the payment of oldage pensions, they wish to shelve the question.
– They will promise it.
– They would promise anything to enable them to get into recess. We have been urged by some honorable members to state our objections to the present Administration and the present Prime Minister.
– Hear, hear.
– I think that if the right honorable member for Swan had been here he would not have urged that upon me. I have stated my reasons as emphatically as I know how. The reason I do not like the present Prime Minister of Australia is because I do not trust him politically.
– What is the difference between politically and privately; if the honorable member does not trust a man politically I suppose he would not trust him privately ?
An Honorable Member. - The right honorable member for Swan would not trust the Prime Minister politically a little time ago.
– I should not like to say that I think the Prime Minister would try to steal anything from my pocket. I certainly do not wish to convey that impression to any one. but I do say that, politically, in the administration of the public departments, and in a position of responsibility for the preparation of legislation for the welfare of the people of the country I have no trust whatever in the right honorable gentleman. There are specific reasons why we can have no trust in him. The right honorable gentleman has said, “ When I get into a position to do so I shall remove from the Immigration Restriction Act that obnoxious clause which prevents the introduction of contract labour to Australia.”
– Is it not much better that a man should say straightforwardly what be will do?
– Quite so. It is infinitely better that a man should say what he proposes to do when he gets into a position of power, but in the case of the Prime Minister we find that, instead of endeavouring to do what he has pledged himself to do, he is careful to say nothing about it at the present time.
– The Prime Minister said that it was not the policy of the present Ministry to do that.
– Are we to understand that the right honorable gentleman has withdrawn the pledge he gave to the people in that connexion?
– The right honorable gentleman has not got the numbers; that is the trouble.
– No, and the right honorable gentleman does not propose to go on with that or any other contentious matter until he knows that he has the numbers behind him. That is a fine manly and open programme. The right honorable gentleman, at the close of his political career in Australia, says, “ I have adopted a policy which will get me into recess, and which will give me the numbers behind me, and until I have them I shall not make any attempt to interfere with existing legislation.”
– You cannot go at a thing like a bull at a gate. That would never do.
– The Prime Minister stated publicly that he would remove the section of the Immigrants Restriction Act, to which I have referred, when he was in a position to do so. If he is ever to be in such a position, surely now, when he is at the head of the Federal Government should be the time ? If he is not prepared to endeavour to remove that section of the Immigration Restriction Act and the section of the Post and Telegraph Act prohibiting the employment of lascars on mail boats subsidized by the Commonwealth, the right honorable gentleman, having betrayed the pledges he has given to the people of the country, is not a fit person to be administering its legislation.
– The right honorable gentleman said that the electors at the last election did not give him the numbers to carry out his own desire.
– If the honorable gentleman is beaten on one occasion, does he turn his back upon proposals of which he has previously expressed approval. and offer to fight no more, or does he fight on ?
– It depends upon the tactics of the time.
– At the present time it depends upon whether a recess is in view. Dealing with the tobacco monopoly, the right honorable gentleman has stated thai a proposal has been introduced by the Labour Party, which would have the effect of taking that industry out of the control of private enterprise, and placing it in the hands of the Commonwealth Government, and he is against such a proposal. I regret very sincerely that a notice of motion on the business-paper, of business yet to come before the House, prevents me from going as exhaustively as I intended into the question of the tobacco monopoly, and its effects on the people of the Commonwealth. I must, however, say in connexion with that matter, that I hope to have the privilege a little later on of proving to the members of this House that the net profit which is likely to come into! the hands of the people of the State, as the result of nationalizing this one monopoly, is estimated on the most reliable figures which it is possible to obtain at the present time at no less than .£673,454 per annum.
– Is that allowing for Excise’?
– That is allowing for everything in connexion with the payment of Excise, and the manufacture and preparation of the tobacco, cigars, and cigarettes consumed in the Commonwealth. I candidly confess that I leave the discussion of this subject to-day with very considerable regret. This amount of £673,454 added to. the £600,000, or about that sum, at present returned as surplus revenue to the States, would amount to the tidy sum of about £1,300,000. On the statistics supplied by Mr. Coghlan, the most reliable it is possible to secure at the present time, such a sum would go far to make up the amount which would be required for a Commonwealth scheme of oldage pensions. The Labour Party expect very considerable assistance from this source in finding the money necessary to give effect to that most laudable proposal. In connexion with the constitution of the Cabinet, a matter in connexion with which I could exert no influence when it was formed. I remind honorable members that I expressed by way of interjection my opinion that in the formation of the Ministry the right honorable member for East Sydney was up to his old games, and would probably do what would amount almost to an insult to the people of Australia. I do not wish to be misunderstood in this matter. I say that in the appointment of the honorable member for Gippsland as a member of the Cabinet, and by the announcement that he was a good protectionist, and was being appointed to preside over the Customs administration, there was almost an admission on the part of the Prime Minister that he did not think the citizens of Australia would trust him. if he placed a free-trader in that position. We had from the honorable member for Parramatta last night the statement that he does not think that a protectionist should have been placed in the position. That would make it appear that that honorable member also believes that the people of Australia would be justified! in coming to the conclusion to which I have referred. I have just a word to say with regard to the right honorable member for Swan. From a Western Australian point of view, another serious question arises in connexion with the formation of the present Ministry. I am again placed in a most unfortunate position, because, as is usual when an honorable member desires to say anything to the right honorable member for East Sydney, he happens to be out of the Chamber. That appears to be a chronic complaint.
– The right honorable gentleman was always accusing Sir Edmund Barton of the same thing when he was Prime Minister.
– In forming his Cabinet the Prime Minister stated that he proposed to select its members irrespective of the States from which they came, and to select only the most competent men for the vacant positions. In doing so, the right honorable gentleman has established a precedent which is not likely to develop a patriotic sentiment in all portions of Australia. But, if we accept the right honorable gentleman’s statement, and consider the Cabinet he has formed, it does not pay a very high compliment to the right honorable member for Swan. It is a most remarkable thing that that right honorable gentleman should have been left out of the present Ministerial combination. I cannot read the thoughts of the right Honorable member for East Sydney, and I am, therefore, unable to say whyhe has not included a representative of Western Australia in his Cabinet ; but if its members were selected on the ground of ability, knowledge of the various public Departments, and a strong hand to administer, the right honorable member for Swan has not much for which to thank the present Prime Minister.
– Especially when the right honorable gentleman has dropped the High Commissioner Bill.
– Western Australia is cut off from representation in the present Cabinet. Though there is a prospect of communication in the future which will bring us closer-together, we are now in that State far from the stir of eastern life. The Prime Minister has treated us as though we were at a great distance, and as though he had not much to expect from our State. Not only has the right honorable gentleman left us without a representative in this Government, but when he was delivering his addresses to the people of Australia, he forgot all about us, and it was only after he had written his letter that it occurred to him to mention us in the postscript. . The right honorable gentleman said’ that Western Australia had no representative in the Cabinet, but he asked the people of that State to accept him as their representative. I expect that the Prime Minister intended that to be regarded as a joke. Politically, he has been a joker all his life. When he went over to Western Australia at the beginning of last year, to be present at the opening of the Coolgardie water scheme, he made a number of speeches in that State, and these were followed by the result that every man who stood upon his ticket after he had been over to the State to assist the party went down with a sickening thud. I say that we have but little to thank the right honorable gentleman for. Politically, I distrust him, and I think Western Australia distrusts him. We have not been well treated in the formation of his Cabinet. The vast majority of the representatives of that State are on this side of the House, and so far as I am concerned I shall take advantage of every opportunity and every legitimate political means to have the right honorable gentleman removed from his present office, and to secure the removal from positions of power and responsibility in this country of other Ministers who are, I believe, the enemies of progress.
– There seems a probability of the debate being a very prolonged one, and there is apparently a disinclination on the part of some honorable members to rush into the fray ; but I see no reason to delay my remarks on the subject. I have been struck by the fact that this motion has been submitted by the honorable member for Bland, in whose Ministry the House practically expressed its want of confidence a few days ago. I do not know what may be said by other honorable members as to the constitutional position, but it seems to me that an honorable member whose Ministry has been defeated, either on a direct motion of want of confidence or on a division which it was well known involved the fate of the Government, has no right a few days later to . move a motion of want of confidence in the succeeding Administration. The House practically said a few days ago that it had no confidence in the Ministry of which the present leader of the Opposition was the head.
– It has never said so.
– It has practically said so. Every one knew that if the late Government were defeatedon the motion relating to the recommittal of clause 48 it would retire from office.
– What about the honorable arid learned member for Bendigo?
– I do not know anything about his position, and if I did, I should not discuss it; but I know that the division in question was followed by the retirement of the late Ministry. The members of a Ministry which has been defeated and has resigned, should not immediately come back to the same House with the samepersonnel, and ask for a renewal of its confidence.
– I have seen it done.
– Perhaps in some State Parliament, but, in my opinion, it ought not to be done.
– What about the dissolution of the Queensland Parliament which took place a little while ago?
– A dissolution is a very different matter.
– But the same Ministry came back.
– They had not resigned, and the other side could not form a Government. Honorable members know very well that the resignation of a Ministry is never accepted by a Governor until another has been formed, or practically formed. I hold certain views on this aspect of the question; but honorable members are, of course, free to differ from me. I repeat that an honorable member whose Government has been defeated, and has resigned, is not the right man to move a want of confidence motion in the succeeding Government a few days later.
– Will the right honorable member quote an authority for his assertion ?
– I do not know of any case in which a different course has been pursued, except, perhaps in one of the States Parliaments of Australia, where they create precedents for themselves.
– It has been done in South Australia.
– An honorable member who adopts such a course flouts the House, unless he gives a full and satisfactory reason for his exceptional action. The House has said that it has no confidence in the late Ministry.
– The right honorable member has never had any experience in this connexion ; he never had any opposition in Western Australia.
– The speech delivered by the leader of the Opposition, in support of the motion, showed that his heart was not in his task. It lacked that fire which usually characterizes his utterances, and, as a matter of fact, he did not place before us any good ground for refusing to give the Government a trial in the same way as his Ministry was given a four months’ trial to prove its worth.
– But the right honorable member would not have given the late Government a week’s trial.
An Honorable Member. - Or a day’s trial.
– I should not have given them a week’s trial if I had had my own way, but that was due to only one teason; that, in my opinion, they had not a majority in this House. During the course of this debate we have heard a great deal of the ancient political history of New South Wales. I agree with the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne that it is time that we set aside such matters, and confined our attention to that which has taken place in this Parliament. We should deal with that which has been said and done here, and refrain from basing our arguments on something which has been done or said years ago by some honorable member in one of the States Parliaments.. I rejoice that honorable members of what is called the Labour Party - and as I have already defined the meaning of the term, I need not do so again - are in Opposition. I prefer to see them there, or in possession of the Treasury benches, rather than directing the Government from the cross-benches.
– Can the right honorable member give us one instance in which we directed the Government of which he was a member ?
– Yes; the great pressure which was exerted resulted in, section t.6 of the Postal Act being inserted in the Bill, and the previous action of the Government in the Senate being reversed. The Labour Party, as members of the Opposition, have now a responsibility which they never felt while they sat on the cross benches. They are no longer a power in the back-ground, felt, but not seen. The party have now a burden to carry. lt rests upon them either to introduce measures for the welfare and advancement of the Commonwealth, or to oppose them, and to take the full responsibility for their actions. My remarks might not be so’ apropos if the party were a small one, but as it is as large as, if not larger than, any other party in the House, it must be recognised that it now has a responsibility which, except when the Labour Government held office, was not apparently cast upon it. We shall now have their physic direct from their own hands. We shall not have to take physic from a third party, as has been the custom, not only in this Parliament, but in all the States Parliaments of Australia, in which there is aLabour Party. Hitherto they have not been so numerically strong as they are, but they have occupied the position of a third party, with the balance of power, and have wielded that enormous power that all third parties similarly situated exercise in the administration of the affairs of a country.
– Does not the right honorable member think that we gave the Government, of which he was a member, ‘ a good innings ?
– The honorable member for Bland no longer occupies that commanding position of real power which he held for the three years, during which his party sat on the cross benches. It is no longer “ Yes, Mr. Watson.” The honorable member is now a humble suppliant for an alliance, in order that he may regain the power that he has lost, and which, of course, he d’esires again to exercise.
– It is now “ Yes, Mr. Cameron.”
– It is at any rate no longer “ Yes, Mr. Watson.” It is, in my opinion, a very good thing that we now have no party sitting on the cross benches, dominating the affairs of the Commonwealth, and accepting no responsibility. It is highly desirable that those who have the real power should also bear the responsibility. My honorable friends opposite and their leader must have realized long ago how foolish they were to disturb the Deakin Government.
– We did not desire them to resign.
– The right honorable member was the disturbing element.
– They must realize that, although they were at one time a “ Samson ‘ ‘ in the House, they have since had their hair clipped, and that the strength, power and influence which they wielded for several years has now disappeared. They have had to make a humble alliance with protectionist members who have seceded from the Protectionist Party.
– The protectionists on the Government side are the seceders.
– The Opposition will see who are the seceders when we go before the people.
– Some one interjected a moment or two ago that I was not willing that honorable members opposite should remain in office for even a day. That is not quite accurate.
– The right honorable member said in this House that he was not willing that they should.
– I do not think I said that I would not give the Labour Government time to formulate a policy, but I assert most distinctly that the leader of the Labour Party, according to ordinary constitutional usage, had no right whatever to form a Government. I expressed that opinion when he first formed his Ministry, and I reiterate it. If the representative of the Sovereign sends for an honorable member to form a Government, that honorable member must be able to give his Excellency an assurance that he has reasonable grounds for the belief that he has a majority behind him.
– Did the present Prime Minister give that assurance?
– I know that the honorable member for Bland, when sent for by the Governor-General, had made no representations to either of the other two parties in the House. Knowing that he had no support except that coming from the members, of his own party, he accepted from the Governor-General the commission to form a Government to control the affairs of the Commonwealth, and he formed a Ministry when, so far as I know, he had the support of only a minority. He might have had great hopes, but those hopes should have had some tangible foundation.
– He had the suggestion of fair-play from this side of the House.
– Surely the honorable member did not expect those who had been defeated by him to keep his Government in office if it were in a minority ?
– It is because we believe that the present Government is in a minority that we wish to put it out of office.
– Honorable members have interjected again and again, that I desired to oust the Labour Government from office from the very first day that they met the House. The suggestion, apparently, is that I had some personal objection to the honorable member for Bland assuming office. That was not the case. The honorable member is just as good a man to hold office as is any other member of the House. My sole objection to his Government was based upon constitutional grounds, but if my contention in that respect be erroneous, then my argument, of course, falls to the ground.
– Did not the right honorable member and his party remain in office when they were in a minority ?
– No; I have already explained the difference between the position of the Barton and Deakin Governments and thar occupied by the Watson Government. We were there, and had to be displaced.
– And the other party got there.
– Yes, by accepting office contrary to constitutional usage.
-But, having got there, they had the same argument in support of their position as the right honorable gentleman’s party had.
– The honorable and learned member is too keen a lawyer not to see my point, and it is, therefore, useless for him to interrupt me in this way. We were in office before the first general election took place, and we remained in office until we were defeated on what we had made a vital question. That is altogether different from the position of a Government which assumes office without having a majority at its back. I will state a case to explain my contention. A Government is defeated, and an honorable member, who, perhaps, may be the weakest man in the House, is sent for by the GovernorGeneral ; he undertakes to form a Government, but gives no assurance to His Excellency that he has a majority ; he comes down to the House and asks for an adjournment of three or four weeks in order to formulate his policy, occupies the Government benches and controls the affairs of this country for a couple of months, and never had any chance whatever of commanding a majority. Now I am sure that honorable members do not desire to see such a state of things. I admit that the honorable member for Bland nearly had a majority, but he could not have commanded an absolute majority of the House if a no-confidence motion had been moved.
– I was assured that I had a majority in case a no-confidence motion was moved.
– Was the honorable member assured of that? -
– Yes. I was assured of that by honorable members whose word I accepted, and whom I have never reproached for taking their own course.
– My point is not that the honorable member might not have gained strength as he went along, but that at the time he undertook the formation of his Government he had not that assurance which was essential.
– How does the right honorable member know that?
– That is my whole point. If he had such an assurance, all my argument falls to the ground.
– Next’ week we will see whether the Prime Minister has a majority.
– That is a very different case. The point upon which the leader of the Opposition was turned out was equivalent to a no-confidence motion, and there was a majority in favour of it.
– Was not the amendment with regard to the railway servants equivalent to a no-confidence motion ?
– It was never made such.
– But the Deakin Government went out upon it.
– There were different combinations operating against the Deakin Government. I should like to assure my honorable friends opposite that any objection which at any time I have taken to the actions of the honorable’ member for Bland, and those who supported him, were not based upon any personal grounds whatever. I have no personal feeling against honorable members opposite.
– We all know that.
– Well, I am much obliged to the honorable member for saying so, because I am sometimes led to believe, from interjections and remarks which are made, that I am thought to be opposed to honorable members opposite, because they belong to the Labour Party. I have no such feeling.
– The right honorable member never called us “steerage passengers.”
– I am personally just as friendly with honorable members opposite as I am with honorable members who sit behind the Government. My objection to the policy of the Labour Party is not personal, but is based on public grounds.
– The right honorable member is the most popular man in the House.
– Honorable members opposite know perfectly well that I am opposed to them because of their programme, which I call socialistic, and because of their methods. But I must say that the members of the Labour Party in this House are far more moderate than those outside whom they represent - those who go haranguing and preaching all over the country, and whose views are represented in labour journals, like the Tocsin and the Worker, seem, to be different people altogether. But I cannot forget that the members of the Labour Party in this House are the representatives of those persons. I cannot forget that, moderate as they are, they are the representatives of people whose principles and political views are by no means moderate.
– The right honorable member merely practises Socialism ; he never preaches it.
– I do not believe in the programme of the Labour Party, nor do I approve of the position which they occupy in this House in relation to their constituents. I consider that that position is not one which representatives of the people ought to occupy. I do not see why the unions should treat their representatives as they do, hampering them in the exercise of their duties, and depriving them of their independence.
– They do not hamper us.
– It must be so. If they are continually passing resolutions, disapproving of what their representatives do in this House, those representatives cannot act as independently and as freely as they ought to do.
– The organizations in the constituency of the honorable and learned member for Ballarat are passing resolutions against him.
– He is not altogether dependent upon them for his position in this House. In my opinion, the position occupied by the members of the ‘ Labour Party, not only in the Federal Parliament, but in the Parliaments of the States, is not that of representatives. They are delegates of the unions. I trust that the time will soon come when a wider and more liberal view will be taken of representatives sent to Parliament than appears to be taken now. Every single action that honorable members opposite take, if they exercise their own judgment, is adversely criticised, /and the resolutions passed are scattered broadcast throughout the unions of Australia.
– The same thing happens outside the labour unions.
– Not to the same extent. At all events, other organizations do not seem to have the same power. They have not, for instance, the power of nomination, as is the case with the labour unions. That power appears to be most drastic. My honorable friend, the member for Perth, has to get the support of some sort of caucus before he can even be nominated as a candidate.
– I have every confidence that they will do the right thing.
– The honorable member’s confidence may yet receive a rude shaking.
– Would not the right honorable member like that?
– That doe’s not seem to me to be the position a representative ought to occupy. It is delegation, and not representation. Honorable members opposite1 represent the unions. They do not represent the people as a whole.
– Whom did the right honorable member’s nominees represent at the last election?
– If we nominate any persons they are at liberty to forget their nominators.
– What does the right honorable member do with them then?
– It is not as easy to do anything with them, as it seems to be with honorable members opposite. My honorable friend, the member for Perth, made a speech last night. He knows that I have a great respect for him as a man and as a member of this House. Therefore anything that I say concerning him will not be said from any but friendly motives. But I must say that it is open to those who are opposed to the honorable member to say that there never was a finer piece of acting than his in the apparently earnest speech which he made.
– There was no acting about it.
– It might have been regarded as a very fine piece of acting. The object of it was, I suppose, to show that the caucus could not bind him in the matter at issue, and that he was independent.
– It cannot bind any one.
– The speech, as I say, was intended to show that the honorable member for Perth was independent, and that he would let his party know that they could not bind him to support the new alliance. He made it clear that he thought that those who had formerly called the members of his party by opprobrious names - who had said that the Labour Party was a sham and a fraud - ought not to be accepted in alliance until -they had apologized. But when it came to the point, what did the honorable member do?
– The disappointing part of the speech was the end of it !
– I think I am justified in saying that the speech was, after all, only a little bit of “ fast and furious.” Notwithstanding all he had said, the honorable member for Perth declared that he would support the motion. He was bold enough to bark, but not bold enough to bite. If I did not know the honorable member as well as I do, I should say that if was a capital piece of acting, intended to show how independent he was, although it really showed that he did not intend to exercise his independence, even in respect to an alliance with persons who had called his party a sham and a fraud. I want to ask the honorable member this question - Suppose that the motion of the honorable member for Bland is successful, and that honorable members opposite form a coalition Government, including some of the persons who have called his party a fraud, and a sham ? Where will he be then ?
– Does not the right honorable member recollect that the present Prime Minister called him and .his party, plunderers, thieves, and brigands?
– I have never seen or heard that he has done so. The honorable member for Perth has said that those honorable members who have attacked his party ought to apologize. I ask him again - if this motion is successful, what will be his position in sitting behind a new Government, and voting with those whom he denounced last night?
– I will carry out my pledges, and that is all.
– But those pledges mean everything. The honorable member will do exactly what the party does. He will do what the unions tell him to do.
– It is not fair to say that. I have acted on my own responsibility oh several occasions in this House.
– I remember one, and I think that the honorable member had a good deal of trouble about it. I do not profess for a moment to be well grounded in the rules and regulations of the Labour Party ; but it seems to me to be rather inconsistent that the rules and regulations of that party affecting’ State elections, should be more stringent and farreaching than those affecting candidature for the Federal Parliament.
– The circumstances are different.
– I do not think the circumstances are very different, though, as the honorable member must have noticed, the conditions of candidature vary in each State.
– The conditions vary according to requirements.
– And yet, after all, the unions are composed of the same people. In Western Australia, for instance, the conditions of candidature of the Labour Party as regards the State Parliament, and the conditions of candidature of the Labour Party as regards the Federal Parliament may, or may not, be different; but it seems to me that the objects in each case are the same. Therefore, I do not think much of the argument that the conditions’ of the Federal Labour Party are less stringent than the conditions of the States Labour Party. The two seem to be so interwoven that the same conditions really apply in each case.
– Does the right honorable member not see that the programmes ‘ are different, because the members of the party are free men?
– But the same associations nominate the candidates for both Parliaments, and it seems to me that the principles which govern them cannot be very different - the objects they have in view are exactly the same.
– They are intelligent men, and know their own business best.
– However, I should like the conditions of candidature to appear in Hansard, and, therefore, I propose to read them to honorable members. There is a good deal of talk about these conditions, and I find them in a little publication from the north.
– Hear, hear; the Queensland Worker !
– The conditions are as follow : -
It is a “ big order “ to say a man shall not oppose a league candidate. The honorable member for Perth, after years of service, would not be able to become a candidate if he were not recognised by the local political labour organization.
– A man may be nominated on his own account without going before the organization for selection.
– But in that case he would be a “black-leg” - not a member of the Labour Party at all’. Doubtless the honorable member for Perth would come over to our side then. The pledge proceeds - and if elected, to do my utmost to carry out the principles embodied in the Federal Labour Platform, and on all questions affecting the platform -
It is difficult to say what this means - it might mean anything.
– We know the questions.
– “ All questions affecting the platform “ ! Who is to know what those questions are?
– The right honorable member has the platform before him.
– Further - to vote as a majority of the Parliamentary Party may decide at a duly constituted caucus meeting.
According to this, if there were twentyfive members1, thirteen could absolutely rule the other twelve.
– There will always be more than twenty-five members in a league.
– I am speaking of the Parliamentary Party ; that is, of the members of the Labour ‘Party, who are returned to Parliament.
– That is the “ cabinet “ of the Labour Party.
– Yes; and it is a “big order” to make all the members bow down to what the majority may decide.
– That was done in the Cabinet of which the right honorable member was a member.
– But that Cabinet was very much smaller.
– And the right honorable member was always in a minority.
– The document proceeds -
I should like to know where the Indi-Hume Party are in this matter. They have joined a party which has no fiscal faith ; and I shall have something to say about them presently.
-What is the right honorable member’s fiscal faith at present?
– I am a moderate protectionist, and always have been.
– What does the right honorable member mean by that?
– I could moreeasily explain what I mean than the honorable member could explain the meaning of the words “ and on al 1 questions affecting the platform.” A further condition is : -
It seems to me that the members of the Labour Party are bound hand and foot. One of them may not even accept office without obtaining the consent of the majority. It seems to me that the Labour Party is becoming, if it is not already, an absolute menace to Parliamentary Government in this country ; the members are a solid phalanx, and there is no room for individual views. In regard to a great many matters, which cover nearly the whole gamut of politics, they are a1 solid party ; a machine controlled inside1 by the caucus, and outside by the labour unions.
Mi. Frazer-. - The right honorable member would never do for a caucus, that is certain !
– It is clear that if the party is fifty strong, twenty-six members will rule absolutely the others. Those conditions of candidature might have been all very well in the early days when the party was fighting an uphill battle, and had no chance of obtaining control of the destinies of either a State or the Commonwealth. Such conditions were excellent then, because in a small party unity is necessary if they are to exercise that influence without which nothing can be done. But circumstances have now changed, and honorable members opposite have become, in some cases, almost the dominant party in the House. Conditions which were good enough in the early days, when the party were few in numbers, cannot apply to the altered circumstances; and’, as sure as I stand here, they must break down.
– The conditions are more necessary mow than ever they were.
– In my opinion that is not sq, and I am sure that the conditions will break down.
– Why is the right honorable gentleman so anxious» about us?
– Because I hopethe conditions will break, down. I consider that, a combination such as that the Labour Party presents, is an absolute danger to this country. Freedom of action is denied, and a large body of men are bound together on a platform embracing numerous matters of great importance, which come before Parliament. The conditions of the Labour Party are too stringent, and, as I say, are an absolute menace to the good government of the country. It places the absolute control of the minority of the party in the hands of the majority. Such a position .has never been known in any Parliament in a British country.
– Majorities always have, control.
– Not: the control that is exercised by the members of the Labour Party, because nolens volens they are bound, and if one breaks what I was going to call the almost sacred pledge, he must take the consequences.
– We consider the pledge sacred..
– Such conditions are all- very well, with a small party for the purposes of aggression,, but in my opinion they cannot last ; and I hope, that the Labour Party will, not: be able to apply them in the administration of the Government.
– The conditions were all right when the Labour Party were supporting the Government of which the right honorable gentleman was a member.
– I do not think that that remark is very apropos, seeing that the honorable and learned member himself supported that Government.
– I did, and I was very sorry to see that Government go’ out.
– The honorable and learned member: is not the first to use the jibe that the Labour Party supported for three years the Government of which I was a member. But why did the Labour Party support that Government? Because we were carrying- out legislation which they desired ; and there was some of that legislation which several members of that Government were not greatly in favour of, as- I shall show directly-.
– What happens to a man who votes against his- party in England, where there is- no Labour- Party in the sense understood here ? Such a man goes, out on his “pink ear.”
– I do not think, so. Liberal-Unionists in England did not come to grief when they separated from the Liberal Party.
– That was. because they were adopted by another party.
– The Unionists in England stood alone for years.
– At any rate,, the members of that union were free men - they were not bound as are the members of the Labour Party. The speech of the honorable member for Perth last night might- be described as a fine piece of acting.
– I rise. to. a point of order. I take exception to the continual assertion that I was guilty last night of a piece of acting. I was never more in earnest in my life, and the right honorable gentleman knows that.
– What is the point of order ?
Me. Fowler. - Is the right: honorable member in order in accusing, me of acting - in misrepresenting my statements?
– If the honorable member for Perth is displeased with the expression used, I am quite sure the right honorable member for Swan will withdraw it.
– Certainly, I withdraw it absolutely. I do not think that the honorable member was acting, but I say that his delivering the speech he did, and then declaring his intention to vote for the motion, might give people the idea that he was acting. I believe the honorable member to be incapable of anything dishonorable. I should now like to say . something about the alliance of the honorable members, led by the honorable and learned member for Indi, with the Labour Party.. The real reason which actuates the honorable and learned member for Indi, and those supporting him in joining the Labour Party, is their desire to have the Tariff revised ; but the honorable member for Bland, when submitting the motion before the House, never once mentioned the Tariff. Why ? Because the free-traders of his party would not allow him to do so.
– The caucus had forbidden it.
– The leader of the Opposition was not able to say one word about the Tariff in connexion with the alliance.
– It is said that there is a Tariff truce ; whv mention the matter ?
– I say that this alliance, so far as the main object which those who have seceded from the main body of protectionists have in view-
– The right honorable member left us after he had assisted in passing a resolution declaring he would not.
– Who is the honorable and learned member’s leader?
– The right honorable member’s leader is the Prime Minister.
– The honorable and learned member has deserted not only his partv, but also his leader.
– I keep to my principles.
– I should like to know where those- principles are ; perhaps the honorable and learned member will tell us where he keeps them.
– They would not be safe in the keeping of . the right honorable member.
– The main reason for this great alliance has . been treated by the leader of the Opposition with contemptuous silence, and has been repudiated by the honorable member for Perth, who will have nothing to do with seceders from the protectionist party who have referred to the Labour Party as a sham and a fraud, unless they apologize. The honorable member for Bourke had better set about . making an abject apology.
– I will correct a misstatement at the right time.
– I gave other reasons as well.
– I assume that the honorable and learned member for Indi and the other protectionists have joined the Labour Party in order that the Tariff may be reconsidered, but the honorable member for Bland has not promised to re-open the question if this motion be carried. Honorable members must think that the public are rather stupid df they suppose that they will be misled by their action in giving notice of motions for the appointment of a Royal Commission to consider the working of the Tariff, and to inquire into the tobacco trade, immediately before the moving of a motion of -want of confidence. We might have expected from the mover of this no-confidence motion a statement of the terms of the alliance between the Labour Party and the protectionist seceders, and he might have told us what he was going to do for them.
– There is plenty of time yet for : a statement of policy by me.
– What was the bunch of carrots which the right honorable member for East Sydney held out to the right honorable member for Swan to induce faim to join the coalition ?
– The right honorable gentleman has not offered me anything. He made no overtures to me.
– What did he offer the right honorable member’s party ?
– The Prime Minister has explained the terms upon which the Ministry was formed.
– He said that the terms placed before the public were not adopted, and that the proposed coalition went by the board, so that there has been no statement of the terms of the present coalition.
– Up to the present, it is a secret treaty.
– There is no secrecy so far as I am concerned. The party of which I am a member went to the country at the last general elections on a definite policy, which was announced at Ballarat by the then Prime Minister, in
October last, when I was present as a member of his Government. Referring to the existing Tariff, he said -
We are prepared to preserve that Tariff, because we believe that the best boon to this community that its public men can give it is fiscal peace.
Further on, he said -
We are willing to wait and trust to experience, to show our confidence in the working of the protectionist part of this Tariff.
That was the pith of the policy upon which we went to the country, and I believe that every member of the party adopted it. But what has been the action of the honorable and learned members for Indi, and Darling Downs, of the honorable members for Hume and Bourke, and others? This alliance with the Labour Party is founded on the repudiation of their public pledges to their constituents and to the people of Australia.
– The right honorable member should justify the statement that I gave any such pledge to my constituents.
– I hold. that the honorable and learned member who was a leading member of the Protectionist Party, by his silence, assented to the programme put forward by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat. He was returned as a supporter of the Deakin Administration, and it is idle for him to say now that he did not in the main support the policy of his leader in regard to fiscal peace. That policy was very clearly enunciated, and the Age newspaper, which supported the Deakin Government, declared in no uncertain terms for it. In its leading columns, of the 30th October, I find the following: -
The first and foremost necessity of the times is a truce on the fiscal question. As long as that struggle goes on, it bars the way to any progressive legislation on other national or social questions. There is a time to draw the sword and a time to sheath it. All the interests of trade and industrial development demand for the present a cessation of fiscal hostilities.
Therefore I ask why this falling off on the part of the honorable and learned member for Indi, and on the part of the honorable member for Bourke, and others, all of whom have now joined the Labour Party? Not only have honorable members seceded from the Protectionist Party, and repudiated the pledges which they made to their constituents, and to the people of Australia, but they have deserted their leader.
– -He deserted us.
– We would not follow him into the enemy’s camp.
– I do not believe in deserting -my leader, or in profiting by desertion, as the honorable and learned member for Indi will do if this motion succeeds.
– That is not true.
– He will be a member of any coalition Government.
– It is not so.
– Well, I withdraw the remark. The policy of fiscal peace, announced by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, was universally accepted by the Protectionist Party.
– I do not mean to say that every individual protectionist accepted it; but it was accepted by the party throughout Australia. I do not know what was said in Queensland and Tasmania, but in Victoria and in New South Wales, “ fiscal peace “ was the election cry of the Protectionist Party.
– What they declared for in Western Australia was labour.
– I am dealing now with the fiscal issue. What did the honorable member for Barker say upon this matter? He ds a protectionist, and was a member of the Protectionist Party. He said -
The Tariff was not by any means perfect, but he was for fiscal, peace during the next Parliament.
Surely that is a very clear pronouncement. What was my own position in Western Australia? .My pledge to the electors of Western Australia, which was printed in the press, reads -
I am in favour of the existing Tariff being given a fair trial. It was arrived at after much labour and controversy, and I recognise it would be unwise to disturb it, and to do so at the presenT time would be detrimental to trade and injurious all round. The verdict of Australia at the coming elections will, I feel sure, be in accord with the above views.
The verdict of Australia was in accord with those views. Speaking for myself and all who belonged to the Protectionist Party at that time. I ask “Where is the mandate from our constituents to alter the Tariff ?” We have none. The protectionists’ throughout Australia declared in unmistakable terms that they accepted the pronouncement of the honorable and learned member for Ballarat that there should be fiscal peace during the life of this Parliament. Where is the mandate of the honorable and learned member for Indi, or the honorable and learned member for Darling Downs, or the honorable member for Hume, or the honorable members for Bourke and Melbourne Ports, to ask for an alteration of the Tariff?
– That mandate comes from the exercise of common sense, and the knowledge that industries are being destroyed.
– We have the same mandate as has the right honorable member’ if he will only obey it.
– We received no mandate to place ourselves under the free-trade leader.
– In my opinion the protectionist supporters of the Government are as safe now as they were before. The honorable and learned member for Darling Downs will be absorbed, and will sign the- pledge of the Labour Party.
– I am quite prepared to run the risk.
– What have the seceders done? They have joined a party which .is very much stronger than is their own - a party which has no fiscal faith whatever.
– They have not joined the Labour Party. The two parties are quite distinct.
– It has Been stated that the agreement between the two parties has been confirmed.
– We have not been ““gobbled “ up by, the Free trade Party.
– The seceding protectionists have joined a party which has no fiscal faith whatever, and which helped to. defeat the protectionist Government in this House. No matter- what the members of the Labour Party may say to the contrary, the fact remains that they hurled the protectionist Ministry from power. Concerning the statement that I was not prepared to allow the Watson Administration, to continue in office for a single day, I wish to say that had it not been for the fact that it was a Labour Ministry, it would have received a very much shorter shrift than it did. There was a general feeling in the House that a party which had had no experience of Ministerial office, should be accorded very generous treatment. We had as much chance of deposing that Government when it first met the House, as honorable members opposite have of succeeding with the present motion.
– Not by a long way.
M;t. Carpenter. - Honorable members opposite were conspiring all the time to defeat the Watson Government, but could not do so.
– I repeat that there was a general desire that we should not act precipitately in regard to the La’ bour Party, which for the first time, had assumed the reins of Government. From the time when the Protectionist Party met in the ‘room upstairs, and decided not to enter .into an alliance with the Free-trade Party, no meeting has been held, and no agreement ratified in regard to the present coalition.
– The meeting to which the right honorable member refers, decided that there should be no coalition.
– The honorable member should be ashamed to make any mention of that meeting. He attended with a determination to prevent any coalition being arranged. He was present only for the purpose of creating trouble and obstruction.
– And I succeeded.
– The honorable member temporarily succeeded, but I am satisfied that, within a brief period, we shall again have him in the fold. The alliance between the protectionists and freetrade members upon the Ministerial side of the House is not the result of any agreement arrived at by meetings called for the purpose. But we believe that Australia will be better governed by the present Administration than it would be by honorable members opposite!.
– That decision was not arrived at bv any meeting which was held.
– There are some agreements which are better than those made with pen and ink - I mean agreements which are arrived at by mutual consent in cases where people come together of their own accord.
– Four seats in the Cabinet represent good pie all the same.
– At any rate, I am not a member of the Government. I believe, however, that I can accomplish just as much good on behalf of Western Australia, and exert quite as much influence as a private member as I could if I filled a position in the Cabinet. I am not so foolish as to think that a coalition Government can find portfolios for everybody. Those who will not abstain from4 urging any claims which they may have reason to believe they possess, in a time of great difficulty, must be satisfied to be branded as self-seekers.
– Does the right honorable member think that he will get back next time ?
– Certainly. I may add that neither directly nor indirectly was I ever consulted by any member of the Ministry concerning the programme which they have submitted. I had confidence that they would do what was just to Western Australia, and if they had not I was free to express my dissent, and to act as I considered best.
– They did nothing.
– They have brought forward one measure in which I was specially interested - the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta Railway Survey Bill.
– Oh !
– At any rate it is to my credit that I never had any conversation with Ministers upon that subject.
– The motion relating to the survey of that line was carried with the aid of members of the Labour Party.
– I am very much obliged- to them for their assistance. Honorable ‘ members are aware how very interested I am in that project, and knowing the intimacy which exists between members of the Government and myself, may have been disposed to think that I requested them to include that measure in their programme. But neither directly nor indirectly did I ever mention the subject to them. Of course it would be idle for me to deny that I was aware of the compact which was made between the honorable and learned member for Ballarat and the present Prime Minister.
– What was that compact ?
– I refer to the compact into which they entered, subject to the approval of their respective parties. I knew that that compact would be the basis of any understanding which might be arrived at between those parties. I was in favour of it-
– The majority were opposed to it.
– I had every confidence that that compact would form the basis of any alliance which might be entered into.
– The right honorable member seceded from the Protectionist Party in order to get it.
– I mentioned the subject of the Transcontinental Railway for a purpose. The. Deakin and Wat son Administrations having approved of the Bill relating to the survey of that line, it was only reasonable to assume that the coalition Government would approve of it.
– Then there is no credit due to the right honorable member.
– But I wish to show the view which is entertained by a member of the other branch of the Legislature, who is at present upon a visit to Western Australia. In the “West Austro^lian of 6th September,. Senator Croft is reported to have said -
We have no idea as to what Mr. Reid’s policy is likely to be, but I am credibly informed that it will contain little or no reference to the TransAustralian Railway, and will not even provide for a survey in that connexion.
I should like to know by whom he was “credibly informed.” My idea is that he was not credibly informed, and it would take a lot of persuasion to induce me to think otherwise. Another paragraph appeared in the West Australian newspaper of the 8th September, quoting the right “honorable member for East Sydney as stating as a part of his policy-
We propose to deal with the Bill providing for a survey of the Transcontinental Railway line.
Yet Senator Croft said that he was credibly informed that nothing would be done- Does any honorable member in this House believe that the honorable senator was credibly informed to that effect? If no communication was made to me or to my friends, how could this wiseacre who went to the West have been “ credibly informed “ to that effect?
– Knowing the opponents of the railway who were in the Ministry, we were a little suspicious about it until we saw the policy stated.
– Do honorable members think that, in my position as a supporter of the Government, I would not have been informed if the Ministry did not propose to do anything?
Mr.- Spence. - -No: the right honorable member would not be consulted at all.
– All I can say is that if Senator Croft was “ credibly informed,” no one else was so informed. These pure-minded patriots go about the country trying to create ill-will and mischief by making statements which have no foundation.
– It is not so bad as sending telegrams.
– I am willing to stand by anything I have sent. - Mr.. Watson. - I suppose that Senator Croft is equally ready to stand by what he said.
– Then let the honorable senator say who “ credibly informed “ him.
– Considering the speech delivered by the honorable member for Gippsland, and the fact that the honorable member represented half the head of the Government, was it not a natural conclusion for Senator Croft to come to?
– I stated in the speech to which the honorable member refers that I hoped the Government would get the fullest possible information.
– But the honorable gentleman denounced the proposal in another speech, made in Gippsland.
– The other day when the honorable member for Bland gave notice of the motion .of want of confidence in the Government, I interjected that if the Western Australian members of the Labour Party had brought pressure to bear upon the honorable member he would never have precipitated his motion until the KalgoorliePort Augusta Railway Survey Bill had had a fair chance of being got out of the way. I said that ;f those honorable members had supported the proposals in the way they ought, the honorable member for Bland would not have done anything so detrimental to Western Australia. The honorable member for Coolgardie, when replying to me, said :
I am afraid that my idea of loyalty to my leader and colleagues must be different from that cherished by the right honorable member for Swan.
Loyalty to his leader and his colleagues ! What about loyalty to his constituency and his State?
– The right honorable member does not know what the honorable member for Coolgardie had done for his State that same morning.
– We do not know what the honorable member did, but we know what he said. The honorable member spoke of loyalty to his leader and his colleagues, but he said nothing whatever about his loyalty to his constituents and his State. It appears to me that, with the honorable member, they are a secondary consideration, and his first consideration is’ the Labour Party, to which he is bound hand and foot.
– That is very unfair.
– I say that it is absolutely true.
– The honorable member for Coolgardie had done everything for Western Australia that a man could that same morning.
– I do not know what the honorable member may have done in caucus,’ that is not reported here.
– I merely meant that I did not disclose Cabinet differences in this House.
– I have quoted the honorable gentleman’s statement, when 1 told him that I thought he should have brought more pressure to bear on the honorable member for Bland. Do honorable members think that I would have approved of such a thing being done, as the honorable member for Coolgardie allowed to be done, especially when there was no reason or advantage to be gained by doing it?
– No; the right honorable member would have smashed things.
– If the party were to be injured, or some great catastrophe were likely to happen, it might be justified. But to avoid a few hours? delay in giving notice of a motion, the honorable member for Coolgardie sacrificed his loyalty to his constituency and his State for loyalty tq his leader and his colleagues.
– It .was because of the conduct of honorable members opposite.
– It is not five minutes since th2 right, honorable gentleman placed loyalty or so-called loyalty to a leader before loyalty to a whole country.
– I absolutely deny that. Cannot the honorable and learned member for Indi allow other people to defend themselves? Must he always rush in? Is the honorable and learned member the only member with any sense in this House? Does he desire to be- the protector of everybody ?
– I wish to show, how very little consistency there is in the right honorable gentleman.
– Some honorable members opposite are good judges of consistency.
– The honorable and learned member for Indi is in a difficult position ; and I suppose one must make some allowance for him. The first .allegiance of members of the Labour Party is to the labour unions outside, and their constituents come second.
– That is a very foolish statement to make.
– I say that here, and I shall say it to the honorable member’s constituents when I have the opportunity.
– The right honorable gentleman says many foolish things.
– What is the shelving of that Bill, and the sacrificing of his own State to the honorable member for Coolgardie?
– The right honorable gentleman’s comrades on the other side sacrificed the Bill.
– Will the honorable member for Coolgardie deny that that Bill, which has been so longed for by the people of Western Australia, was shelved without any reason at all? I’ said at the time that the chief opponent of the Bill, the honorable member for Moira, had gone home. I was not then absolutely certain of the fact, but I find that I was correct. .Surely, with all the means at the disposal of the party opposite, they could have found out where the honorable member for Moira was? The honorable member was on his way to the North, and probably at that time he was half way to his home on the Murray.
– Did not the right honorable gentleman himself vote to shelve the Bill some time ago?
– I say that this Bill, which is of so much importance to the people of Western Australia, was shelved, and I say that the honorable mem* ber for Coolgardie temporarily sacrificed his own State, because, when I objected to what had been done, the honorable member” said that it had his full approval and indorsement-
– Hear, hear. I repeat that now.
– This shows how much the honorable member cares for his constituents and the people of Western Australia. Why should the honorable member care for Western Australia? He is a stranger there; he is scarcely known to the people there, though he is a representative of the State.
– Is . this an electioneering address?
– The honorable member for Coolgardie and I are personal friends, but that does not prevent me from telling the honorable gentleman the truth.
– The right honorable gentleman knows very different from what he is now stating.
– The honorable member did not look after his constituents the other day, or that wrong to the people of Western Australia would never have been perpetrated. There was no reason for it at all, unless it was to enable the honorable member for Bland and others to return to Sydney on Thursday instead of Friday. Was that a sufficient reason to justify the abandonment, of a Bill which was so eagerly longed for by the people of Western Australia ?
– And which the right honorable gentleman was three years in office without advancing a single stage.
– The honorable member has said that the . Government of which he was a member did more, but they did nothing.
– We did.
– The honorable gentleman and his Government found the resolution relating to the Governor-General’s message on the table when the Deakin Government went out of office, and it was still there when the right honorable member for East Sydney came into, office.
– The right honorable gentleman put the Labour Government out, and in doing so he helped to shelve the Bill.
– Though what I have said may be considered bv some honorable members to be ungenerous, it is not nearly so ungenerous as is the honorable gentleman’s statement that, although I was three years in office, I did nothing. In view of the facts, that is a most ungenerous statement. I did all that I possibly could do,- and I admit that the honorable gentleman helped me.
– The statement is quite as true as what the right honorable gentleman said just now.
– The honorable gentleman may have acted in a weak moment, or thoughtlessly-
– The right honorable gentleman had better withdraw the statement.
– I shall not withdraw it. I shall reiterate it in Western. Australia, unless the honorable member for Coolgardie explains why he allowed this; wrong to be perpetrated.
– I shall explain what the right honorable gentleman did also.
Sir JOHN (FORREST. - The people of Western Australia do not know the honorable member for Coolgardie, and would not listen to him. The honorable member is a stranger in Western Australia.
– They know the right honorable gentleman too well.
– Of what use is it for the honorable gentleman to talk about what he will do ? If he were to walk down the streets of any of the principal towns of Western Australia, the honorable gentleman would be unknown. He must know that, as well as I do.
– Thirty thousand of them would not chase me to the railway station.
– People who do nothing are never found fault with. People who are unknown, who have no public service to their credit, have never anything said against them. But the man who tries to do something for the benefit of his fellow-men, may depend upon it that he will tread upon the toes of a lot of people in doing so.
– Hear, hear. Let the right honorable gentleman send up one of his tools to Coolgardie, and see how he will get on.
– We shall do it. We shall try to secure that the place which knows the honorable gentleman shall know him no more.
– The right honorable gentleman is excited.
– It is not excitement ; it is only a little earnestness. During the last month or two, since I retired from office, and since I have been in a position to express myself freely, I have been misrepresented a good deal in this House. I wish the honorable member for Hume were present, because, although that honorable gentleman is an old colleague of mine, I desire to tell him that he was not correct in something that he said. The honorable gentleman has said that, because I voted against some of the extreme clauses of the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, I am, for that reason, opposed altogether to the Bill.
– Hear, hear.
– That might be used as an argument if I had no evidence t:> prove the contrary. But I was the first man in Australia to introduce and pass a compulsory Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, brought up to date with the provisions of the Act then in force in New Zealand, with one or’ two exceptions.
– With preference to unionists?
– No. That was not in the measure. I am opposed to preference to unionists, as being unnecessary and unfair. I do not think it was in the New Zealand Act at that time.
– It was held to be.
– I did not know that at the time. I do not think the State Parliament of Western Australia would have passed a Conciliation and Arbitration Bill giving one man an undue preference over another
– Has it passed it since?
– I may tell the honorable and learned member that even now, though the measure I passed has been amended, with the assistance of the Labour Party, which was not in existence in my day, and has been liberalized in some directions and brought up to date with theNew Zealand Act, there is no preference to unionists in it, and the Court in Western Australia has refused to give preference to unionists.
– Has the Court held that it has not the power?
– The Court has held that the law in Western Australia does not permit of preference to unionists.
– It does not direct the Court to give preference.
– The honorable member for Fremantle will admit that the Court has refused to give it. Mr. Carpenter. - I admit that ; the Court may not think it has the power.
– I am aware that there is a difference of opinion upon the point, but up to the present time, the Court has held that the law cannot be construed to mean that a preference shall be given to unionists. I repeat, that I was the first man in Australia to bring in a measure for compulsory arbitration. Whatever may be said against me, in respect of my action upon the extreme provisions upon which we divided - the inclusion of farmers, civil servants, and railway employes, and the giving of an undue preference to unionists - it is very unfair to say of me that I am opposed to the passing of any Conciliation and Arbitration Bill.
– But the provisions against which he voted were in the right honorable gentleman’s Bill’. As a member of the’ Government that introduced the Bill, the right honorable gentleman was responsible for it.
– The honorable member for Hume is in exactly the same position as myself in that respect. He voted against provisions appearing in the Bill as agreed to by the Deakin Cabinet, because he was opposed to them.
– The honorable member for Hume desired to liberalize the measure.
– I have understood that if as a Minister one does not agree with any provision in a measure proposed by the Government to which he belongs, when he is no longer a Minister he is free to exercise . his own judgment on such a provision. That is the understanding on which I have acted. It is, therefore, unfair to say that because I did not vote with the Labour Party on the few divisions that took place on extreme provisions in the Bill. I am opposed to the whole measure. The Bill I passed in Western Australia may not have been so up-to-date as present requirements demand, but circumstances change as the years roll on, and legislation has to be amended from time to time. When’ I introduced it in 1900, representatives of the labour organizations of Western Australia waited on me, and in the course of the interview said that my name would be always honored by the labour organizations of Australia as that of a man who had done good service in the cause for which they worked. Now I am told by the same persons that I am opposed to them.
– Not by the same persons.
– I voted against extreme provisions in the Federal Conciliation and Arbitration Bill because I had always been opposed to them.
– I do not think that any member of the Labour Party has said that the honorable member is opposed to the whole Bill.
– The honorable member for Hume has publicly said that I arn, and I think the honorable member for Bland said I- intended to destroy the Bill altogether.
– The honorable member for Hume is not a member of the Labour Parfv.
– In the courseof my previous remarks, I made an unfortunate observation concerning those whom I called’ the seceding- protectionists, who had deserted their leader and their party. I said, amongst other things, that they had done it because they hoped to make a profit out of it. I desire to say, before I go further, that that was a very improper observation on my part, which 1 very much regret, and I unreservedly withdraw it. I am informed that, when I was not in the House, the honorable member for Kalgoorlie referred to my having attended women’s meetings in Victoria, but said that I had never done anything for women. I desire to point out that I gave the franchise to women in Western Australia, and that the franchise
Gould not have been extended to them at that time without my assistance. Western Australia was the second State in Australia to extend the franchise to women. So that the honorable member was not correct if he said - as reported to me - that I had not done anything for the women of Australia.
– The honorable member referred to the Prime Minister, and not to the right honorable member.
– I understood that he referred to me, but if it is not so my remarks are not necessary.
– He referred to me, and to the right honorable member also.
– He certainly was in error in referring to me, because I stand second amongst the Premiers of the Australian States in this respect. The State of- South Australia, either during the. Premiership of the right honorable member for Adelaide, -or during your Premiership, Mr. Speaker, was the first, to extend the franchise ‘ to women. Western Australia, under my Premiership, was the second State to do so. I now wish to refer to a matter of very great importance to . mistralia and to all honorable members. It is the White Australia policy. What I have to say will be -in opposition to section- 16 of the Post and Telegraph . Act. I am opposed, and personally always have been opposed, to the terms of that section, which provides that no coji tract or arrangement shall be made for the carriage of our mails in ships unless, such ships are manned by white crews. I am very glad to have an opportunity to express my opinions on this subject. Every one must see that to mix up the question of coloured labour on mail, ships” with the question of a White Australia is ‘a mistake. But lest any one should think that I am opposed to the White Australia policy. I wish to point out that I was the’ first Premier in Aus- tralia to introduce and pass through Parliament a measure founded on the Natal Act, which is practically the same legislation as we have in existence in the. Commonwealth at the present time. I was in England at t;he Diamond Jubilee of her late Majesty in 1897, when the other Australian Premiers were there. . We all agreed to do our best to pass through our respective Legislatures Bills based upon the Natal Act, rather than a measure embodying prohibition. Honorable members know that a measure involving prohibition was passed by the Parliament of New South Wales, but the Royal Assent was withheld. I carried out the promise which I made in England. I believe that my right honorable f riend the Prime. Minister also carried out his promise, and that a similar measure was passed by the Legislature of New South Wales. In Victoria a similar Bill was introduced by my right honorable friend the Treasurer, but he was not able to pass it. In South. Australia it was introduced, I think, but afterwards withdrawn.
– In South Australia we refused to accept the Natal principle.
– The point which: I wish to make is that I was the first Australian Premier to carry such a measure, through . the Legislature. If honorable members like to read my speeches: in the Western Australian Parliament - I have quoted from them before in this House - they will see. that there was no lack of sympathy on my part concerning the White Australia policy. But while. I am in accord with the idea that we must do our utmost to keep Australia for the white race, I am altogether opposed to section 16 of the Post and Telegraph Act, and for many reasons. I may . also point out: that when I passed the Act to which I refer, and also when I passed the Conciliation and Arbitration Act, there was no payment of members and no Labour Party in Western Australia. Therefore, although there was plenty of pressure, and the conditions were difficult - as I suppose they are in all Parliaments - at the same time we had not a concrete body of members banded together to support their own platform such as we have in the Parliaments of Australia at the present time.
– The Opposition would have turned out the right honorable, member if he had not passed those Bills,
– They could not have.. turned nie out The” Opposition w-ere. very . weak. The only ; way in which I could have been turned out was by the secession of some of my own supporters ; and any honorable member who has . had experience of party government is aware that very often a Minister experiences more difficulty from within, than from without. The point is that there was no Labour Party in Western Australia at that time.
– Because the right honorable member would not give the people the franchise.
– I have already said that I not only extended the suffrage to men, but I also gave it to women.
– It was said that the right honorable gentleman extended the franchise to women, in order to dish the gold-fields.
– When one gives anything, it is rather ungenerous, if it is not worse than ungenerous, to turn round and say that ons gave it for. a wrong purpose, or had an ulterior motive.
– I am only imitating the right honorable member if I am ungenerous.
– I do not desire to be ungenerous. Nevertheless, the fact remains that there was no Labour Party and no’ payment of members at that time in Western Australia. Of course, the absence of payment of members restricted the. representation to some extent. There is no doubt, as every one will admit, that where there is no payment of members, many persons, who would otherwise be able to enter Parliament, cannot do so. My’ honorable friend, the member for Coolgardie, seems to be alert just now. Perhaps, I have made some point at his expense. But he must expect that. When members sit on different sides of the House, they are apt to be not so generous to one another as, perhaps, they would be if they were sitting on the same side. Hard hitting is not. unfriendliness. In passing, as the honorable member has referred to matters of days now long ago, I may say that I am quite willing to be criticised in regard to every action in my political career. The honorable member referred, to that ‘unfortunate incident when he said 30,000 people on the gold fields - there were not nearly so many - ‘ hooted and mobbed me at Kalgoorlie in 1898. Why did the honorable member refer to that ?
– I always condemned their conduct.
– But the honorable . member said something about it tonight. -I say that ‘ that incident is not to mytdiscredit, because I . was trying to’benefit those poor people. And I did it, too. I did help them. I was told by my opponents that I helped them because I was afraid, inasmuch as they had mobbed me, and treated me badly. I was then three hundred miles away - in Perth - and why should I have been afraid? I’ could have stopped that disturbance or riot if I had been a little more conciliatory than I was. All that they wanted me to do was to address them. But I would not do it, because I was not going to be coerced. I told them that I would give them their answer in a certain time, but that I was not going to make a speech then. I knew that I could not give a satisfactory answer at that moment, and so I refused to address them. That is why I received such treatment. There was no ill will towards me. Their conduct was simply prompted by the fact that I refused to be coerced. I was offended and hurt at their action; that is why I did not do what perhaps on another occasion I should have done. I do not know why the honorable member should have referred to that incident. He has never been hooted by ‘ 10,000 people. And why? Because he has never had to exercise great power and authority. It is by the exercise of power - it is by going out of the ordinary channels, by insisting upon doing things which one thinks will result in good, that one makes enemies. I never blamed those poor hard-working fellows at Kalgoorlie, nor did I in any way resent what they did.
– Hear hear ; that is quite true.
– They did not know they were hurting the feelings of one who had always tried to befriend them. I was working hard at that very time to bring them happiness and comfort; and I would trust my life to-day to the same men who mobbed and hooted me then.
– They did not hoot the right honorable member when he went up again to open the water scheme.
– In regard to this White Ocean policy, I wish to consider the matter calmly and clearly. I think that we have made a great mistake. I was not here when the subject first came before the House. I was in Western Australia. But I believe if the records of the House are searched, it will be found that, although I was always opposed to the clause. I did not vote or speak against it. Still I think we made a great mistake.” In . endeavouring to protect this country from an invasion of alien coloured people, we went further than there was any necessity to go; and, in fact, we acted very foolishly. What is the history of the matter? In the Senate the Government introduced the Post and Telegraph Bill, and it was sought by the Labour Party in that House to insert a clause providing that no mail contract should be let to a shipping company which employed coloured crews. The then Vice-President of the Executive Council, Mr. R. E. O’Connor,’ resisted that clause with all his might, on behalf of the Government, and was able to prevent its adoption. When the Bill came to the House of Representatives, however, the clause, the consideration of which was postponed again and again, was eventually adopted under great pressure from the Labour Party. Mr. O’Connor was abandoned by the Government, of, it may be, he acquiesced in what was done. At any rate, when the Bill was returned to the Senate, Mr. O’Connor had to argue in favour of the clause, which then became a part of the measure.
– How did the present Prime Minister vote on the clause?
– I do not know, but I should say the right honorable gentleman voted against the clause.
– I doubt it.
– I myself was always opposed to the provision, but I was not well at the time, and had great domestic trouble, and the extent of my action was to express to my colleagues my disapproval of its inclusion. There are members of the Labour Party, and also of the Free-trade and the Protectionist Parties, who have expressed to me the view that in this matter we went further than there was any occasion to go; and subsequent events have proved the correctness of that opinion. It may be said that if honorable members, including protectionists, free-traders, and labour representatives, overstepped the mark, we can easily retrace our steps ; but, though I sympathize with any desire there may be in that direction, it is not so very easy to adopt such a course, and especially is this so in the case of members of the Labour Party. Those who express disapproval of this section of the Post and Telegraph Act are exposed to much misrepresentation.’ They are told that they are not in sympathy with a “ White Australia “ policy, and that they are undoing legislation of a farreaching, character, and so forth, and I have not the slightest doubt that I shall be so misrepresented. I have previously tried to convince honorable members that that is not my attitude, as is shown by the fact that I was responsible for the adoption of the Natal’ Act by the Western Australian Parliament, and by the further fact that long previously the Government of the State, of which I was Premier, passed Chinese exclusion legislation nearly as stringent as that passed by the Commonwealth Parliament. In my opinion this section in the Post and Telegraph Act will cause us to be regarded as Quixotic, unpractical, and unbusinesslike. There is no doubt that this legislation will cost the Commonwealth a lot of money. I know that honorable members opposite say that the Orient Company have stated that this provision is not the main reason for the increase in the amount of their tender. A couple of years ago, both the Peninsular and Oriental and Orient Companies - I do not know whether this has been made public;, but it happened so long ago that I think I may state the fact to honorable members - through the Secretary of State for the Colonies, expressed their willingness to extend the present contract for two years, on the same terms. In the opinion of the Government, though not in my opinion, it was thought better to have a new contract under different conditions.
– That does not touch the question the right honorable member is discussing.
– But the fact that the companies were willing to extend the contract on the same terms a couple of years ago, indicates that to a large extent the increased prices may be attributed to the new conditions, among which are the restrictions under section 16 of the Post and Telegraph Act.
– The company say not.
– That is so in regard to the Orient Company ; but the Peninsular and Oriental Company has refused to tender at all. As I have said, this section will cost us a great deal of money, and that is a consideration we should not altogether disregard. In my opinion, “ the provision will retard our progress, seeing that it will interfere to some extent with our means of communication, and, altogether, the measure, so far from being practical, seems to be very foolish. If we have passed legislation which is found to be adverse to our in terests, financially and generally, the onlycourse for us is to repeal’ it. The words used in the Act are “no contract or arrangement shall be made.” I appeal to honorable members who are accustomed to read plain English, to say what the meaning of those words is. The lawyers have been at work in order to find some way out of the difficulty, and their conclusion is that if we send our mails, and pay by poundage, we do not enter into an “arrangement “ - that it is not an arrangement to send by the pound and pay by the pound. If that be so, it is very fortunate, because otherwise the section would prove much more injurious. To my mind, however, a “ contract or arrangement “ means any contract or arrangement under which we pay for the carrying of our mails; and that I believe would be the definition arrived at by any ordinary man. Such a construction, however, would never suit us, because it would debar our sending mails by the Peninsular and Oriental’ steamers, and by the steamers running to Japan, China, Singapore, and elsewhere. There would be no communication by post with those places, and we should be in a very difficult position. However, as I say, the legal mind has come to our rescue, and we are told that “ arrangement” does not include paying for the carriage of our mails by the pound. The Peninsular and Oriental Company, under arrangement with the British Government, will bring the English letters out in ships, probably to some extent manned by coloured crews, and will carry our letters back to Europe, the latter, however, under the poundage system. Under such a method there would be no arrangement as to time-table, as to where the vessel should call, or how quickly they should travel, or where! they would land the mails. We should simply put our mails on board, and allow the companies to carry them over the ocean when and how they liked. Money would be paid out of the Treasury for the carriage of the mails in ships manned by coloured crews. If we are to send letters, let us send them in the most expeditious way. To take the step to which it appears we may be forced, appears to be hypocritical, and not honest. If we were to say that we would not use any steamers with coloured crews for the carriage of mails, either under contract or by poundage, we might be acting foolishly, or Quixotically ; but we should, at any rate, be acting like honest people, who were determined to adhere to their principles. The other plan means to deny an arrangement when, in my opinion, we have made an arrangement. I wonder we use the tea the. coloured man grows ; there is no doubt we pay the coloured man, though we may not do so in the first instance, for all the services he renders. I wonder that, farmers use the sacks, or squatters use the wool bales, which the people of India make, and for which we have to pay with the produce of. the country. In desiring that the British, or,, at any rate, the white race shall, as far as is possible, inhabit Australia, we. are. on safe ground. But when> we say that we will not use the coloured man to make particular articles, or to assist in conveying our mails under an arrangement, we are on unsafe ground, and become hypocrites. I do not know why we should tilt at windmills in this way, and act differently from any other com.munity in the world. No other country can afford to say that its mails shall not be carried out under a “ contract or arrangement,” except by a certain class of people. We must remember that there is not much difference between, the Government paying for the service and a private person paying for it. The. Government, in the first place, get the money from the people, and then pay it, while in the other case, the people, pay for themselves. Why should we not also say that no ship carrying a coloured crew shall convey our produce and general merchandize? Why should we not prohibit every one from making a contract under which cargo may be carried in ships manned by coloured crews ? Whether the Government or private persons pay, the money has to come out of the soil - Australia has to pay. What we desire is to have our mails carried expeditiously and safely. If we were to say that we would clear the ocean, and the world, of all coloured people, that would be consistent, though impracticable.. We remember, however, that we are not so large in number as are the coloured races, and therefore such an idea is not entertained. We subsidize the Pacific Cable, but I feel sure that .the board hp- a good many coloured people in its employment at Fanning Island and other places in the tropics. Similarly we subsidize mail services for the encouragement of trade with places like the New Hebrides and New Guinea, which are inhabited, by people of coloured races. Why is this done? Because we have to do it. It is a matter, not of inclination, but of necessity. . I think that we have acted very foolishly, therefore, in saying that we will not make a “ contract or arrangement “ with the English mail lines which ‘employ coloured crews on their steamers. But although we say that we will not enter into contracts or arrangements with such companies, we have had to twist the Act in order to allow the service of carrying our mails to be performed, and we have, had to decide that, to pay poundage is not an evasion of the law. If we have no contract with the companies, and simply pay so much per lb. for the carriage of our mails backwards and forwards, their vessels will not be compelled to call at Fremantle or at Adelaide; and will probably come on direct to Melbourne and Sydney. That would be a. great injury to Western- Australia, and to South Australia.
– The present English mail contract binds the vessels of the Peninsular and Oriental Company to call at Fremantle.
– So much the better for us. But are they bound to call at Fremantle on their way home? My point is that we shall be better off if we have definite contracts with the mail companies, stipulating where and when their steamers shall call, than if we have no contract and pay a poundage, which, in my opinion, is an unbusinesslike and foolish arrangement.
– By paying a poundage we get the same, service as before, but at a lower rate.
– We cannot obtain a regular service unless we have contracts with the companies concerned. Without contracts, their boats will not be bound to call regularly, according to a time-table, and might even be taken off for a week, or two. Of course, if we can get- as good a service for less money - by paying poundage than by paying a subsidy, the former arrangement is the better one ; but I do not think Ve can. I do not think that the companies will give us as good a service without a contract. If I were a director .of one of these companies, I would take good care that I did not give as much for lower rates as I gave when I was being paid a reasonable sum. It is essential to this country that we should have quick and regular ocean transit for our people, our produce, and our mails, and anything which interferes with that is prejudicial to’ our ‘interests. The whole thing requires exposure, because at present the public are being deluded into’ the belief, that what ‘ is ‘ being done is ‘ necessary to prevent Australia from ‘ being ‘ overrun by coloured people.’
– Is there not a patriotic as well as .a commercial aspect ?
– We are not the centre of the Empire. We are a handful of people on the outskirts of the Empire, requiring, above all things, speedy and regular transit. Surely the forty or fifty millions of people in the old country can safely be trusted to look after the main interests of the Empire. At the present time we are doing ourselves injury, and gaining no compensating advantage. We are made to appear as out of sympathy with the mother country in her difficulties in dealing with the various problems of the Empire. I am sure that Ave are all glad to help her ; but at the present time we are made to look as though we are unmindful of her obligations and her difficulties. If what we are doing resulted- in great material advantage, we might say to the mother country, “ We cannot afford to do otherwise “ ; but at the present time we are gaining nothing, and are exhibiting ourselves before the people of the Empire as arrogant, unbusinesslike faddists.
Mi. Fisher. - Is it not a good thing to train up British seamen? “Sir JOHN FORREST- Yes; but that is a matter which can be well left to the mother country, and in which, at any rate, she might lead the way.
– As we pay for the carriage of our mails, we are surely at liberty to take advantage of the opportunity to enforce a principle.
– But although we do not enter into contracts with the mail companies which employ coloured labour, we support them by paying poundage for the carriage of out letters, and by employing them for the transport of our wool, wheat, and other produce. I should like to see the matter reconsidered. It seems popular now-a-days to suggest the submission of questions like these to Royal Commissions, and it would certainly be a reasonable thing to have this question so investigated. The present law has done us a lot of harm. It has cost us a great deal of money, without doing us any good, materially or otherwise. It is useless to think that we can prevent the employment of coloured persons upon the ocean. Would any one suggest that we should not export our wool, our meat, our wheat, or our apples to the mother country in vessels employing coloured crews?
– No one has proposed it.
– Then, is it not foolish to make an exception in connexion with the carriage of our mails? Most of us are so afraid of being .-misrepresented in the matter, that we dare not express our real opinions ; but I, for my part, am willing to run the risk. I commenced by saying that I am for a “ White Australia,” and no one can urge that my remarks to-night have been directed against the policy of preserving Australia for a white race, so far as we reasonably and properly can. It is legislation like this which makes . people afraid of the Labour Party. I wish now to refer to another matter. It has’ been said that we, on this side of the ‘Chamber, have adopted a certain attitude in regard to honorable members opposite, because they axe members of the Labour Party, as though the Labour Party was something with a bad brand on it. At one time the members of. the Labour Parly were persons engaged in manual toil ; but its membership has gradually grown until now any one can become a member of it. No doubt I could join it to-morrow if I were willing to sign the pledge. No other party offers! such prospects of quick political advancement. On this side of the House a member must be in politics a long time, and make himself either very agreeable or very disagreeable, before he can obtain a portfolio. Then his position’ will probably be at the tail-end of a Ministry and he will have to work up from one office to another until perhaps at last he may become Prime Minister. Seven members of the Labour Party, the other day, however, reached the Treasury bench with a hop, skip, and a jump, none of whom had practically held Ministerial office before. Therefore,, the temptation from a mere selfish point of view would seem to be to join the Labour Party rather than to oppose them. I am supporting the present Government, because I believe that they are capable of doing useful and necessary work.
– The late Government were also capable1 of doing good work, but the right honorable member would not’ let them do it.
– The programme and methods of this Government are more in accord with my view than were the programme and methods of the late Government. Some honorable members opposite, having tasted the sweets of office, disliked relinquishing them. By the phrase “ sweets of office “ let me explain that I do not mean the emoluments of office ; but rather the power, authority, and honour which attach to the management of public affairs. Some persons seem to think that there is only one sweet - the pay. That is not so. As one who has enjoyed a long term of office, I say that it is the desire to exercise control, to satisfy one’s ambitions, and to do good for the community that is the chief incentive to office with good politicians.
– I am sure that the right honorable member never profited by being in office.
– I sometimes lost money by being in office. But I have certainly no ground for complaint, and I tried to do my best while there.
– Why did the right honorable member’s party charge the late Government with wishing for another day’s pav?
– I did not make any such statement, and I regret it if it was made. The honorable member, when trying to prevent the defeat of the Watson Government, urged that they had done good work, and that there was no fault to be found with their Administration. Do not these arguments apply now?
– I asked for fair play.
– I, too, ask for fair play on behalf of the Reid-McLean Administration. It is composed of experienced men, who are capable of doing good work. It is impossible for any Ministry to do very much in a short space of time. When Ministers take office, their first duty is to obtain a grasp of the questions which are awaiting their attention. The individual who, upon taking charge of a Department, immediately rushes matters, after the fashion of a bull at a gate, will not be likely to be successful. I do not blame the late Government for not having accomplished much, because they had not the opportunity to do so. They had to attend to their parliamentary duties, and consequentlv had very little chance to do anything of great importance. The same remark is applicable to the present Administration. Let us give them a trial, and let us put an end to this constant scrambling after office.
– Why did not the right honorable member entertain that view a month ago?
– We gave the late Government a trial extending over four months. Personally, I was very glad to see a coalition effected between the protectionist and free-trade members of this House.
– Does the right honorable member support the view which is entertained by the Prime Minister concerning the administration of the Immigration Restriction Act?
– I have not heard anything about that matter.
– What about the! six potters?
– Personally, I would prevent persons being brought to this country under contract for the purpose of interfering with the labour market, but I would not prohibit men from coming here under contract for a special purpose. A good man will not leave a position in the old country unless he can come to a certainty. How are we to excel in this country unless we obtain the services of experts? We must secure the best talent available. So long as the Act is not abused by bringing in persons to prevent strikes, I think that there is little cause for complaint. In my view, the existing law is too drastic. It might with advantage be amended in such a way as to effect all that the Labour Party desire, and yet not interfere with the importation of a few men for special purposes. I believe that the . clause in the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, upon which the Deakin Government were defeated, will receive a very short shrift indeed when it comes! before the High Court. All the trouble by which the secessionists have disorganized the Protectionist Party might have been averted had they listened to the voice of reason. But some of those who voted against the Deakin Administration attached much more importance to the insertion of that clause in the measure to which I have referred than they did to protection. ‘ That is the position of the honorable member for Melbourne Ports and the honorable and learned member for Corio. They were content to vote for a provision which, in the opinion of the best legal authorities, was unconstitutional, and by their votes destroy the Protectionist Party, which they were elected to support. They were willing to sacrifice protection . and the Deakin Government, which they loved so well, in order to vote for the inclusion of State servants in the Arbitration Bill. They seem to forget that they were responsible for deposing the protectionist Ministry from power. In his speech last night, the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne entirely overlooked the fact that he assisted to defeat the protectionist Govern- ment, and subsequently took office with those he had assisted to depose his leader. He has affirmed that he obtained the permission of the honorable and learned member for Ballarat to join the labour Government. Where is the correspondence relating to the matter? I think he should produce it. I have the authority of the honorable and learned member for Ballarat for saying that, so far as he is concerned, he has no objection. I am informed that the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne did not receive any such permission from the honorable and learned member for Ballarat. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports and others are doing their best to induce people to forget that they destroyed the Protectionist Party in this House by voting for a clause which they knew upon the authority of men possessed of great legal knowledge was unconstitutional. They appear not to have cared twopence for protection so long as they could do something which they .thought would enable them to gain the approval of a few of their electors.
– Some of them had to keep their pledges.
– There is a time when honorable members have to decide which pledge they will keep. The protectionist members were re turned to support a protective policy. They were elected under their leader, without whose assistance some of them would probably never have entered the portals of this House. Yet they were willing to forget that, and simply because they had given a pledge in regard to another matter not nearly so important, and which will prove to be unconstitutional, they deserted their leader and protection, and allied themselves with the enemies of the Government. I am opposed to the socialistic programme of the Labour Party, and to their caucus methods. In my opinion their policy is opposed to individual effort and individual ambition. I am aware that the individual views of many honorable members of the Labour Party do not differ very much from my own. But the organizations which are behind them do not share the opinions which they appear to entertain.
– Who is behind the right honorable member?
– My constituents.
– Our constituents are behind us.
– Does the honorable and learned member believe in all that the Tocsin or the Worker says, or in all. that Tom Mann preaches?
– No more than the right honorable member believes in all that Mr. Walpole says.
– I scarcely know Mr. Walpole), and I am in no way responsible for him. If the Labour Party were in power, I am satisfied that the crusade in which they are engaged would progress very slowly indeed, because they know that the Socialism which they preach is not in accord with the views of the electors. The idea of every person being equal in wealth, energy, and ability !
– Who. says that ?
– The press of the Labour Party says it. I shall fulfil my pledges as well as I can, but I will not be coerced by unions outside1 of Parliament, who wish to tell me how I should act in every emergency. If the theories advanced by honorable members opposite were sound they would have borne fruit long ago. The truth is that they are impracticable, and they will end now as they have always ended - in disaster. If they do not end in disaster, they will terminate in revolution.
– Will the Coolgardie water scheme end in disaster?
– I sincerely pray that it will not. I do not consider that a socialistic enterprise at all.
– What is Socialism ?
– The Labour Party desire to deprive people of their property and to nationalize the land. The time has arrived for plain speaking upon both sides. I read in the Tocsin and the Worker what the Labour Party intends to accomplish, and I must say that its aims differ materially from the programme submitted by the Watson Government. They adopted the policy of the Deakin Government with the exception of the proposal to establish a Government tobacco monopoly and to take possession of £8,000,000 worth of- the bank reserves, and these two planks of their future platform, and especially the latter, were put forward in my opinion without sufficient knowledge or consideration, and unmistakably show the trend of the socialistic legislation they desire to pass. I am sure that the responsibility of office will cause honorable members opposite to moderate their views. There is no necessity, in the interests of the country, to depose the present Government. If they are defeated, what will happen?
– There will be a general election.
– If there is not a dissolution, a coalition Government will be formed between members of the Labour Party and the seceding protectionists. Will such a Government be acceptable to or benefit Australia?
– Surely the right honorable member does not consider himself a protectionist any longer.
– I hold that the present Government is much better fitted to control the destinies of Australia than is any combination of honorable’ members opposite. At any rate, the Ministry should receive a fair trial, and be treated with some measure of generosity. No one can say that the present Government is not composed of experienced men. There is not a member of it who has not had long experience.
– Have they all had experience ?
– With one exception, the members of the present Government have had many years experience of office. It is said that a man should serve his .time to every trade, and I should be inclined to say, except for that of a Minister of the Crown- Ministers are all ready-made. I have now only to express a hope that those honorable members who have been so unwise as to desert, or to leave - perhaps that would be a more moderate word to use - the Protectionist Party and their leader-
– It is honorable members opposite who have done that.
– I hope that those honorable members who have seen fit to leave the Protectionist, Party and their leader, and who’ have thrown themselves into the arms of the Labour Party, will soon see the error of their ways. Personally, T feel convinced that if the Government is given a fair trial they will be able to do those things which will be found to be in the interests of Federation, and calculated to cement the various States more closely together. I believe, too, that they will bring forward measures which will be of permanent advantage to the people of .Australia.
– I am sure that the members of the Labour Party have listened with a great deal of interest to the right honorable member for Swan. I have no doubt that they will take into their careful consideration the hints which he has given them, so that they may be able to make their organization so perfect that the right honorable gentleman will himself be prepared to join it. Judging by his address I can see that he is uncomfortable in his present company, and already feels that the Labour Party is the party he ought to join. He has told us of a number of democratic measures which he has passed in the great State of the west, and I always like to give the right honorable gentleman credit for what he has done. If the measures he has carried are not as perfect as they might be, he should not be censured or blamed f ot that. I am very hopeful that he will shortly see his way to join the Labour Part)’. He has been studying the pledge and rules of the party, and all we ask of honorable members generally is that they should study them a little.more. We have been glad to hear that some of them have commenced to read the Tocsin and the Worker. I suppose that until quite recently they knew nothing of those intelligentlyconducted literary organs. Their education, political and social, has in consequence been very much neglected. Now that they have started to read that literature, they have no doubt learnt a great many things they were not aware of previously, and a continuance of the study will dissipate some of the foolish notions and prejudices that are, at all times, associated! with a lack of knowledge. The speech of the right honorable member for Swan was the usual straightforward, manly, breezy utterance which we all admire. There was some evidence in it of the influence of his present environment, because there was a good deal of “ yes-no J’ about it. In criticising our methods, the right honorable gentleman found fault with them as being too stringent, and expressed the opinion that they would break down. He does not believe in the Labour Party, and he hopes that its organization will break down. We were not aware that the right honorable gentleman was a prophet, but he said tonight that he was going to prophesy, and he did prophesy that the organization of the Labour Party would break down inevitably. If that be so, the danger he fears from the return of the party to power is non-existent. Why, therefore, should the right honorable gentleman be alarmed about, the advance of the labour movement ? Why should there be a gathering together of organizations outside, and a great fight put up, if within the Labour Party itself there, is such a condition of, affairs existing that it must break down of its own weight, owing to lack of efficiency ? From the attention which he gave to the subject, I think that the right honorable gentleman realizes, on the contrary, that there is a very great probability of labour politics and the Labour Party very shortly dominating Federal and State politics together. The methods which they have adopted, and which they understand,, and. which, the right: honorable gentleman, and those who. speak in opposition to them do not yet understand, have hitherto proved successful. I do not quarrel’ with the right honorable gentleman’s criticism, or with the statement he makes with regard to the changed conditions which the control of parliamentary affairs brings with it. It is self-evident that some changes will be made in the methods of working in the Labour Party, and labour organizations. I have said that there seemed to be a good deal of “ yes-no “ about the right honorable gentleman’s address. He found fault with the constitutional position. He said that a Government ought to be able to give the representatives of the Sovereign an assurance that they had a working majority. It was interjected that the Government of which the right honorable gentleman was a member had no such majority. He replied by saying, “ But we were there, and remained there until we were shifted,” as if that was a reply. If a Government is constitutionally bound to have a working majority, and otherwise should not continue to hold office, the right honorable gentleman stands selfcondemned, because he was a member of a Government that continued to hold office without a majority. He said, in reply to an interjection, that the Government of which he was a member were there, and remained there until they were shifted, but that might be said of any Government, and was no answer. Then the right honorable gentleman admitted that it was the support of the Labour Party which, because of its policy, gave the. Government of which he was a member, a working majority. That statement was quite correct, and exactly described the- ‘position. I shall not dwell upon the change- of Government ; we ‘ have heard of it sufficiently often to be familiar, with the-f acts.. But. there was an assumption on. the part of the right honorable member for Swan that the Watson Government did not have a majority. Honorable members need only look at the division list on the question on which they took office, to see that they had every reasonable assurance from the division and from the speeches of honorable members who took part in it, that they had a very substantial majority - a much bigger majority than the present Government secured by a catch vote. The honorable member for Bland, therefore, had ample authority for assuring the representative of the Sovereign, that he had a working, majority.. It was only when the measure on which the division took place came to be submitted to the House, in Committee that the steady pressure of the conservative elements outside and inside this House whittled away the majority. It was then found that our party had been deceived. Those, who professed to be in. favour of the Arbitration Bill, failed to carry out their pledges and promises, when an opportunity was given them to place the measure, on the statutebook. They do- as all conservatives do when they do not desire that it should appear to the people that they are opposed to a measure - they give something which is ineffective and worse than useless. In this case certain honorable members adopted that policy exactly. Speaking of the constitutional aspect, the Watson Government was really the only constitutional Government that this Federal Parliament has vet had.. It has yet. to be decided whether the present Government have a majority. . The right honorable member for Swan asserted that the Watson Government had not a majority, but we all know quite well that if the present Prime Minister considered that there was a majority against the Watson Government he would at once have moved the motion of censure, which he contented himself with talking about every day, in order to keep interest in the matter alive, and to find an excuse for asking honorable members to come with him. As leader of the Opposition the present. Prime Minister gave the Governor-General his personal assurance that he had a working majority, but we know that the very moment this eager office-seeker got his opportunity he would take it. If he. had had a majority behind him he would have taken advantage of the opportunity before he did.
– -Are there’ no- eager office.seekers on the honorable member’s side
– Not that I am aware of. I do not know of one office-seeker on this side of the House. Let me say here that a most unfair remark was made to-night insinuating that one member of the alliance on this side is there for self-seeking reasons. There is absolutely no foundation for that statement. There has been no indication of anything of the kind. The right honorable member for Swan has put this matter very fairly. He does not tell honorable members that it would be unreasonable for any of them to desire to acquire office. There can be no blame attaching to any one who secures office fairly. But when office is secured unfairly and by peculiar tactics, as it has been secured by the head of the present Government, the action taken is open to criticism. A good deal has been said about our methods and the labour pledges. I do not propose to deal extensively with those matters tonight. A short time ago I delivered a speech in which I made some very_ emphatic statements of my views regarding the Ministerial programme, and the reasons why, in my opinion, the present Government should be put out. I do not propose to repeat those statements. I ask the House to take them as read, and to assume that I still stand by them, only more so. Some reference, however, may be made to the way in which the Labour Party is pledged, as the matter is always being brought up. I remind honorable members that any man who desires to join the Conservative Party in England, must sign the platform of that party. A party pledge is, therefore, no new thing, and there is nothing uncommon and nothing wrong about it. The pledge of the Labour Party is complained of hecause our platform is so good and our aims so high and noble that the only objections which can be brought forward are in respect of little matters which will not bear consideration. I cannot refrain from saying a word or two in reply to the criticism of the alliance by the right honorable member for Swan. The alliance is a perfectly natural and fair one. When the Watson Government took office, certain honorable members who do not belong to the Labour Party, but hold liberal and democratic views, and have no other object to serve than that of securing the passing of good measures, openly announced, without any request from the Ministry, that they intended to support it. There was no scheming on the part of the Government to secure that support. During the course of this debate, not many honorable members have spoken, but the insinuation has been made more than once that there is a secret understanding among members of the alliance. These insinuations sugge’st that honorable members opposite are familiar with such practices, but the Opposition do not know of anything of the kind.
– If the Opposition did they would not mention it.
– The basis of our alliance was put in black and white; but we cannot obtain any information as to the terms of the coalition. As soon as the Watson Government took office, they openly declared the relations between the Labour Party and those members of the Liberal Party who were supporting them, and, as the basis of the alliance, we have simply’ placed in black and white the agreement which was then publicly announced. The suggestion that there is some secret understanding between us, comes only from men who are naturally suspicious. We have sufficient common-sense . to know that the alliance could not succeed by crooked methods. It must succeed on its merits, or it will fail. If the Labour Party had been so foolish as to adopt the tactics attributed to us by our opponents, we should not have made that progress which has characterized the labour movement. Everyday we are gaining ground. The right honorable member for Swan has twitted honorable members of the Liberal Party with having deserted their leader, and while I know that they are well able to take care of themselves, I feel disposed, as one of those associated with them, to reply to his taunts. The right honorable member spoke of the lack of loyalty shown by these honorable members to their former leader. I confess that I have an admiration for loyalty, but it is not so much a question of loyalty to a leader as it is loyalty to the principles which bind a party. Nothing can be said against the man who stands by his principles. The right honorable member for Swan has charged honorable members of the Opposition corner with deserting their leader. What is his position? Who is his leader? Has he not deserted his true leader, the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, by placing himself under the leadership of the Prime Minister ? If he has not accepted the Prime Minister as his leader, what is his position? I’ think that we are justified in asking for further information as to whether there is any arrangement between the two parties now supporting the Government.
– No arrangement.
– So far we have not learned Of any. The Government whip - the honorable member for Dalley - has said that the Prime Minister is the “ star performer ‘ ‘ of the company Opposite, and I would add that the organizer is the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, who brought about the present situation. The company has . submitted such a poor programme that it will not have any attraction for the public. I feel satisfied that the people will demand something much better. The performers may be every good, and I am willing to admit that the company boasts of a star performer, but we wish to learn from the organizer himself what relation he, and those who speak of him constantly as their leader, bear to the rest of the company. We desire to know what he has secured for them by bringing about the peculiar combination which confronts us.
– He has not handcuffed us, and handed us over to another leader.
– He has ceased to lead his old followers, and has made them members of a scratch team. The honorable and learned member had a great deal to say a little while ago about a three-cornered political cricket match. I am. prepared to back the solid team on this side against the scratch team that has been raked up on the Government, side. The members of that team cannot play together, and never will.
– Has the honorable member ever attended our weekly caucus?
– It is useless for the honorable member to talk about caucus meetings, in view of the fact that members of the old Deakin party have been charging each other with disloyalty to the decision of their caucus. When proposals were made some time ago for a coalition. of the followers of the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, and those of the right honorable member for East Sydney, the proposed agreement was submitted to the caucus of the Liberal Party, but was rejected, the members of that party declining to support any coalition of which the honorable and learned member for Ballarat was not the leader. We wish to know what honorable members opposite have now to say in regard to that decision. A charge of disloyalty comes with a very ill-grace from an honorable member who has not respected the decision of the caucus, . ,
– To whom does the hon.orable member refer f
– To the right honorable member for Swan. It seems to me that those honorable members of the Liberal Party, who are now in alliance with us, are the only ones who have been loyal to the decision to which I have referred. There is an ominous silence on the part of the Ministry. We have heard from the star performer, and it is time that we had a speech from one of the stars of lesser magnitude. I am inclined to think that, as the result of the exposure of their manifold political sins, the Government feel their position so keenly that they are about to tender their resignation, and therefore do not think it worth while to put up a fight. Perhaps they propose to resign without going to a division on this motion.
– No fear.
– The honorable member is not in the secrets of the Cabinet. He finds fault with the combination ; he does not like the company in which he finds himself. It is, after all, a company of contradictions. The members of the coalition, with perhaps one or two exceptions, have only one aim in common. For the most part the coalition consists of men who have thrown their previous policy to the winds, and their one aim now is to “ down “ the Labour Party. The honorable member for Parramatta is, in that respect, solid with the coalition.
– Have I ever said that I wish to “ down “ the Labour Party ?
– The honorable member yesterday declared himself against the party. There can be no mistake about his utterances.
– I said nothing of the kind, but that does not matter.
– The honorable member declared himself an anti-socialist, and therefore, he must be against the Labour Party.
– But not against labour.
– That is an old Conservative cry. I never yet met a politician who was not, according to his statements, the best friend of labour. An employer may be the greatest sweater living - but he will declare that he is one of the best friends of labour. Although he may not even be paying his workmen a living wage, he will regard himself as a philanthropist, simply because he employs them, and suggest that, if he did not find the work, they would bs unable to live. I am astonished that the honorable member who lias, often denounced that cry, should now give utterance to it.
– The Labour Party never had so good a man for labour in its ranks.
– Let the honorable member for Parramatta speak for himself.
– He is too modest; but the (honorable member cannot contradict my statement.
– The honorable member for Parramatta modest !
– The honorable member has a crowd behind him who never did anything for labour in their lives.
– The honorable member says, that he is in sympathy with labour, but that is a claim which is made by every conservative politician. The masses are the best judges, and they have declared against the conservatives, who put forward that cry, by returning special representatives, so to speak, tq do that which men who professed to be their friends failed to do. Honorable members on this side of the House were returned tq Parliament, because those who professed tq, be the friends of labour had neglected its interests.
– Those who talk so loudly have done the least.
– I am quite prepared to have my record compared with that of anyother honorable member.
– I am not referring to the honorable member, but to some of those behind him.
– In view of the silence maintained by members of the Ministry, I arm inclined to- believe, that they are about to throw up the sponge-
– Where are the members of the Ministry ?
– Perhaps they are holding a Cabinet meeting, to consider whether they should not recognise the. situation, and gracefully retire.
– Whom should we put in their places?
– There would be no’ diffiCult. in. filling their places by men ‘who would do ‘ the work of the country much better than they are likely to da When the honorable member for Parramatta - who has a faculty for interjecting, and drawing, speakers away from the thread of their discourse - interrupted me,, I was about to point out that some of the secrets of the coalition would yet leak -out. Perhaps, after jill, I arn mistaken in supposing that the Cabinet are considering the wisdom of re-r tiring.- It raaf Ve ‘that the leader of ‘the
Government has imposed silence on his colleagues, lest they should, tell too much. One or two secrets have already been disclosed.. We have learned something about the way in which nominations are made by the Conservative Party ; we have learned that it indulges in practices for which the Labour Party has been denounced. We have heard something about the Sydney Morning Herald fixing up the freetrade bunch. We have also heard that in Western Australia the right honorable member for Swan, together with a newspaper editor, fixed up a bunch for election purposes. The lack of wisdom of those who fixed up those bundles was shown by the fact that the persons selected did not stand true to their parties. The right honorable I member for Swan is evidently not a good I hand at choosing candidates. I interjected I while he was speaking that those he se- Iected did not stand true, and the right honorable member admitted that he ; could not keep them true. We have only to look at the present situation in this Parliament, in regard to the Freetrade Party, to see that their method of j selection does not keep honorable members ; opposite to their pledges. Many of them, it is true, tried to be loyal, but when they could not get enough of their own way they gave, up the fight. That is not the way to win. The way to win in politics is to keep on fighting. If we on- this side of the House are beaten in connexion with our social reform and trade union movements we come again. We adopt some other tactics,, and keep on fighting. The right honorable gentleman at the head of the Government has never tested the question of free-trade in this House. He does not even know the fiscal opinions of a number of the Queensland members.
– He does not know the honorable member’s opinions.
– If the right honorable gentleman had any faith in his own views he would certainly have taken an opportunity to test the question. The method of selection by newspaper proprietors, or by a great leader like the right honorable member for Swan, has been proved to be a failure. If honorable members opposite wish for the success of their principles, they had better copy the methods of the only successful part)’ - the Labour Party. ‘ Instead of doing that, they twit us with not knowing how to manage our own business.. It seems to me that the evidence is all the other way. I say emphatically that we ought to hear from the Government something more about their policy. The discussion hitherto has centred around the policy of- the present Opposition. If my theory be correct, the Government intend to resign, or they know that if they go to the country, they will not return as a Government. I presume that, the tactics adopted by honorable members opposite are intended to save time, and that they think it expedient to discuss the policy of the party that will be in power after the appeal to the country. If that be the case, it is just as well that we should understand it; and we can regard the present debate as a discussion of the policy of the incoming Government, rather than as a criticism of the lack of policy of the present Government. We cannot, of course, discuss something which is non-existent. ‘It would hardly be interesting enough to discuss nothing. As the Government have no policy except to get into recess, they cannot give us the slightest indication of what they propose to do. When they get into recess, they will evolve a policy which they will be able to present to Parliament when we meet again. That in itself is enough to condemn them. It is only a fair thing that the example set by the Watson Government to have upon its programme something more than is sufficient for one session, should be followed by the present Government. But they criticise that as a foolish course to pursue. They have such a peculiar combination behind them that they find it impossible to evolve a policy. The honorable member for Parramatta tells us that he is not satisfied “with the coalition.
– Why does riot the honorable member leave me alone?
– I have not said anything unkind of the honorable member. He has a fight to know what the policy of the Government is. For many years he was a colleague 0f the Prime Minister, and he did his work as a Minister exceedingly well. Yet he does not know anything, and naturally he is not satisfied.
– I seem to be more satisfied than the honorable member foi Perth is.
-One question that has been mentioned this afternoon is that of the High Commissionership. I agree with the leader of the Opposition that a great deal more importance attaches to that question than ‘seems to be supposed by the Government They tell us that they intend to consult the States. ‘The Watson Government intended’ to ask the States whether they were willing to hand over to the High Commissioner some of the work that is now done by the Agents-General.
– Hear, hear.
– The honorable member for Parramatta agrees with that.. But if the States refuse to agree we ought to know what the Government intend to “do. Do they intend, to decline to carry out that part of their programme which is necessary in the interests of the Commonwealth, simply because one or two _ of the States may not agree with what they propose to do? That is a question that ought to be replied to. If amy member df trie Government has the courage to speak, or if their master, the honorable and learned member for- Ballarat intends to speak, we. ought to have an explanation in regard to this matter. It is not fair to deny us information.
– Has the honorable member read what the Premier of New South Wales said on the subject?
– He is only one. There are six States in this Federation, although the present Government appears to recognise only two. The others appear to be regarded merely as postscripts. The policy of the Government seems to be to listen to the representations of the two larger States, and not to mind the others. The right honorable member for’ Swan has criticised a portion of the White Australia policy, as laid down by the first Parliament of the Commonwealth - upon which I need hardly say that I hold strong opinions - and has asked that it should be altered. But the Prime Minister appears to be afraid to deal with the contract section of the Post and Telegraph Act, because some of the supporters of the coalition would decline to assist him in that direction. That seems to indicate that there is a kind of understanding on that matter. If there is such an understanding, we ought to know it. Whilst I am a member of a party that has always been prepared to support any Government that gave us the measures. which we desired, at the same time we intend to maintain what we have secured. We are naturally suspicious of those who are declared opponents of those measures that we believe in, and who, at the same time, refuse to give iis the measures for which we ask - such, for instance, as the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, in an effective form.
– The section to which the honorable member has referred has nothing to do with the White Australia policy.
– The right honorable member at the head of the Government previously said that he would alter that section; but he, cannot alter it because of the coalition. The right honorable member for Swan is a part of that coalition.
– I will vote for doing away with that section if I have the chance.
– I believe1 that the right honorable member will. But we want to know whether his leader has pledged him, amongst others, to support the maintenance of that section. The supporters of the Government appear to lack any cohesion of any kind, and to be without any sort of policy. How can a Government be sure! of a majority when its supporters have no bond to hold them together? The subject of old-age pensions has been dealt with by other speakers. The Government have no definite policy on that question. I remember an occasion when the right honorable gentleman at the head of the Government, speaking in the Sydney Town Hall, said that any Treasurer would be foolish - I forget his exact words - if he raised all the money required by the Commonwealth from Customs. He said that the Treasurer could raise a portion of the revenue by the direct taxation of land values. When the Barton Government introduced its programme, which contained a proposal for old-age pensions, we heard the right honorable gentleman stating that that proposal was simply a sham, which could not be carried out. But it is now to be found in his own programme. Does he still hold the same view as he held when he said that it was impossible to carry it out?
– He is going to try to carry it out bv an arrangement with the States.
– Yes, he is going to consult with the States. But suppose that the States will not do anything?
– Then he can do nothing; he admits that.
– The Government whip, who I presume is the mouthpiece of the Ministry, and appears to be the only one who knows anything about their policy, tells us that if the States decline to agree as to the matter of old-age pensions, the Government will not do anything. If they decline to do anything in relation to the High Commissionership, the Government will do nothing. Those unfortunate pioneers of Australia, whose hardi hood and whose grand work the Prime Minister and his followers praise so highly who have .been enterprising enough to live in more .than one State, may continue to starve, simply because we have not a Government with the necessary courage, ability, and energy, to pass the necessary legislation. Why did we have Federation? Are Ave to be governed by the States - to have a reversal of the Constitution? The Government, as I have said, is weak in every quarter - weak in its following, and weak in its alleged policy.
– During the four years of the Commonwealth, this is the first time the Labour Party have spoken of this question, and for three years, they supported a Government who did not intend to do anythink in the matter.
– The honorable member, who is the Government whip, knows that Parliament has worked very hard since the inauguration of the Commonwealth. It was necessary to pass many machinery Acts, and, surely to goodness, the sessions were long enough. The programme of the Barton Government was too comprehensive for any one Parliament ; and it is unfair to twit us with supporting a Government, who were eleven months dealing with the Tariff alone. The present Prime Minister said that it was simply a sham, and a humbug, for the Barton Government to place old-age pensions on their programme, because legislation in that direction could not be carried into effect, until the expiration of the bookkeeping period. Now, however, the Prime Minister places old-age pensions in his own programme, and we learn for the first time that its introduction depends on the consent of the States. But the States are selfgoverned, and have the power to fellow the example of the two States in which oldage pensions are established. It is a fair argument that, if we do not find the States moving in this direction now, they are not likely to co-operate with the Commonwealth. The weak policy of the Ministry is not the kind of policy we ought to expect from gentlemen who talk so glibly about responsible government.
– There is a Labour Government in Queensland, and there are no oldage pensions in that State.
– The Labour Government in Queensland are prepared to establish old-age pensions promptly, and they have the necesary knowledge and ability to carry out such legislation. The present Commonwealth Government knew that they could not establish old-age pensions when they put the proposal before us, and the Prime Minister is guilty of the same sham and humbug with which he charged the Barton Government. Although arbitration admittedly affects only a limited number of industries at present, no one can foresee how many may eventually come under the Federal Act ; and any legislation is desirable which will prevent strikes, with their disturbance of industrial life, and conditions. The fact that we cannot at present say how many industries may be affected, makes it all the more imperative that the measure should be an efficient and workable one. This Bill has wrecked Government after Government; and we now have a Government in power, who, 1 if they have a chance, will impose on the people of Australia, a measure which will be productive of much evil, suffering, and injustice - which will make the conditions of industry worse than they would be without a measure of the kind. I make that remark- advisedly, and am convinced of its truth. One particular clause will, in my opinion, not only do a great injustice to unions, but will prevent many registering under the Bill.
– When the honorable member says that, does he mean that unions will be prevented from registering, by reason of the difference between the two amendments ?
– Yes; I know that, because of the clause which has been adopted, ‘ unions which were waiting for the Bill will not register.
– They may not register, but it will not be because of the difference between the two amendments.
– The Watson Government when in charge of this measure in Committee, were in many instances forced, by the influence of those now on the Treasury bench, to accept certain amendments which rendered the Bill less efficient, and were not in the interest of those concerned. The clause on which the late Government were defeated, was not the only one to which, we objected, and it was not fair to twit the members of that Government, because they had to accept some amendments in which they did not fully believe. It was the duty of the Government to pass as good a measure as possible; and it was only when an amendment was reached, which rendered the measure unworkable, that the Government took their final stand.” One point is overlooked by those who have had no experience of the trade union movement, and who, like the
Minister of Defence and his colleagues, regard that movement from a theoretical point of view. Because certain things are possible under the measure, they suppose that those things are going to be done. We who are connected with trade unions, have practical experience of men as they are, and with us it is not a question of what men of a- different stamp might do, but what the men whom we know are likely to do. The great difference between the two amendments is particularly felt in the union of which I have been president for eighteen years, and about which I claim to know more than any other honorable member in the House. It would be impossible for that union to prove to a Judge that a majority of those affected were in favour of preference being given. The members of. the union are not working in the industry except at a certain period of the year, and no living soul could say where the members were, or who were affected by the award, and there is no machinery to secure the opinion of those affected. We could not give any evidence that would be accepted, and any lawyer, or even a layman, could break us down and prevent our getting an award which would give a preference. In some other industries, I admit that the whole position would.be different; but we are legislating for specific industries. The organization to which I refer is the largest in Australia, and is connected with the greatest industry and biggest export trade of the Commonwealth. The union has had a long existence, and the opinions of its representatives ought to have some weight. Let us suppose, for a moment, that a matter involving only legal questions was before the House, and let us further suppose a most unlikely thing, namely, that all the lawyers in the House were unanimous. What wouldthose lawyers say if a layman like myself were to deny the correctness of their assumptions and opinions? Such a denial would not have any weight. Those who have had experience of the trade union movement are, by reason of their practical knowledge, unanimously of opinion that the measure, as passed by this House, is unworkable, and I can only interpret our being ignored as showing a desire to make the Bill ineffective. I speak authoritatively on this matter, after consultation with those controlling the affairs of the union of which I am president, and I may say that I used no influence whatever in order to secure the opinion I express, namely, that the union will not register, and. thus will be shut out from any benefits under the measure. It may be asked why the union should not register and get an award. The answer is that an award, would be useless unless the Judge had power to protect, the interests of the organization. The measure will be absolutely inoperative unless it recognises and encourages the maintenance, of all such organizations. In the New Zealand Bill, when originally introduced, the preamble spoke of the encouragement of industrial unions, that measure being based on a desire to encourage the formation and registration of organizations, so that they might be used a’s’ machinery to bring about industrial peace. In this House the conservative element, with its influence operating on others who have practically no knowledge, has reversed the. position altogether. Each clause which recognised unions was attacked the moment it came before us,, and we had proposals for compulsory organizations, proposals which were intended to strike a blow at existing institutions, and render the measure nugatory. No one can say that I did not do my best each time to resist those attacks ; and though we were forced to accept some amendments, that is not a fact on which we ought to be taunted, because our acceptance does not mean approval. For myself I should not have accepted the amendments which the late Prime Minister consented to make in the Bill, but would have kept the debate going single-handed until all were tired out before I gave way. The remarks I have made apply to other organizations, but particularly to the organization with which I am connected. In industries where the men are constantly at work, it would be easy to ascertain the views of those directly concerned, but in. an industry where we do not have the same men working year by year, it would be impossible to prove to any Judge the consent of the majority of thoseaffected. In my opinion, the Arbitration Bill has been deliberately destroyed.. It was very plainly to be seen what influence was brought to bear on honorable members towards that end. That influence counts in the present movement, and. will, count in the coming election if we have the luck of a. dissolution1 - I mean that anti-labour influence, which is called anti-socialistic. Unless the Arbitration Bill is improved - as it must be, or I hope it will not become law - it will introduce tyranny, and take us back to a period from which we thought we had escaped. The measure as it stands would inflict a great deal of misery, and. take away from the industrial classes rights for which they have fought very hardly. Honorable members who prate a great deal about individual liberty, but who support a social system which does not give any liberty, claim that they are conserving the interests of the non-unionists. I have known it to be the rule within a district, with the. consent of the employers concerned, that no one should obtain work unless he was a member of a union. But under the Bill as it has been amended, it would be within the power of employers to weaken and to gradually destroy the unions, and the unions would be unable to compel their members to pay for the maintenance of the organization which obtained reasonable conditions for them. It would also be possible for employers to boycott the members of unions. Although the Bill contains the provision that no one is to be discharged from his employment because he is a unionist, we know that in practice that provision could not be enforced, because it could not be proved that the employe” was discharged for that reason. We cannot deny the employers the right to discharge workmen who do not suit them, and therefore they would be able to make excuses for the dismissal of unionists. In the electorate which I represent, it ‘ has been urged in the leading article of a. newspaper that the employers should refuse to engage any member of the Australian Workers’ Union.
– To what newspaper does the honorable member refer?
– To the Bourke Banner of the 10th August, 1904. The writer of the article says -
We now advise a course which may seem drastic, but which alone can be effectual. No employer should give employment to a member of the Australian, Workers’ Union. Let the hundreds of union men, to whom the union is their God, look to their union, and not to the capitalist, for work and wages, for food and clothes for themselves and their families.
Then follows a good deal more in the same tone. That was written just after the recent New South Wales elections, because the electors insisted on returning a labour member.
– Surely no one takes any notice of such statements !
– They are taken notice of, and the honorable member knows it. I think that he must have forgotten a great deal of his trade union experience, because these practices are not confined to any one class of industry. While I do not rank all employers alike, I know that the organization to which this newspaper appeals - the : Pastoralists’ Union - practices a systematic boycott. There have been produced in this Chamber the official papers of the Queensland branch of that Union, ‘ and we have in our possession other similar documents. I haw seen its official circulars, and the instructions to its agents and I know that a boycott is worked by means of a system of registration, which is made compulsory upon its members, with a view to weeding out union men.
– Does that member . believe that any member of this House is in’ sympathy with that sort of thing ?
– What is the use of sympathy, if honorable ‘members do not give effect to it in an Act of Parliament? What is the use of the honorable member talking of sympathy with labour, ‘when he prevents the passing of labour laws ?
– The honorable member is talking humbug now.
– I am stating an absolute fact.
– I did not dispute the honorable member’s statement ‘of fact, but I complained of his unfair criticism.
– I do not think that the honorable member understands the difference between a fact and an insinuation. The organization to which this newspaper appeals carries on a systematic boycott. Probably the majority of its members decline to put it into force ; but those who choose to do so use the machinery that is provided.
– And the honorable member wished to insinuate that I am in sympathy with that sort of thing.
– If the honorable member is not in sympathy with it, he should show that he is hot. I charge the honorable member with not doing so, and with voting in such a way that the workers cannot obtain a law which is necessary for their protection.
– What the honorable member says is pure nonsense. I am amazed at his unfairness.
– I am not generally charged with being unfair. The honorable member and others voted for an amendment -which will prevent the labour organizations from securing protection against unfair dealing and injustice. That is undeniable. Boycotting is no new method. It has been worked before by men of strong prejudices. All that we asked was that the Court should have power to grant preferences if it chose to do so. The phrase “ preference to unionists “ is really a misnomer. What is desired is protection to unionists, and protection to the Act, so that it may be’ effectively administered.
– The honorable member’s leader said that it was not intended to give this preference, except to majorities;
– The honorable member is slow to admit that he is in a false posi-tion. It was not a question of there being a majority, but of proving the existence of a majority. I have already explained that:; it is not my f ault if the honorable member cannot understand plain English.” In addition to the boycott, which the employers may use if they choose, and some of them do use it, there are other ways in which they can weaken the labour unions. It is a very common thing in America, and I can quote instances of it here, to make it a condition of obtaining employment that the applicants shall not join a trade union. A clause in the agreement of the South Australian Register office, for 1888, with compositors accepting a thirty-six months’ engagement, was this -
The employee shall not during the ‘service aforesaid be or become a member oB the’ South Australian Typographical Society, or any of a similar nature, or having similar objects.
If employers choose to insist upon such conditions, how can we prevent it, unless power is given to the Court to give preference to unionists - that is, to-see that the unionists get fair play? I need not dwell on this matter, because I have spoken upon it before, and I know that it is hopeless to convert honorable members opposite by force of logic.
– The honorable member’s statements are too unfair to convert any one.
– The position I am taking is, that the attitude of the Government in regard to the Arbitration Bill is sufficient to condemn them, apart’ from their want of a policy, and the other charges brought against them. Although honorable members opposite have pretended to desire the passing of a measure which will secure industrial peace, they voted for an amendment which defeats its object, merely to displace the then existing Government, and to obtain office themselves.
– The honorable mem. ber is in favour of the Bill as it stands, with the exception of the provision in dispute,
– No; I am not. There are other provisions to which I object. The late Government had forced upon it provisions which make some of the clauses of the Bill imperfect, and which I should not have accepted. Honorable members know that when a Bill is. in Committee, those in charge of it are sometimes forced to accept amendments in which they do not believe. The Watson Administration are not responsible for such amendments. The honorable member for Macquarie is one of those who sought every occasion to turn that Government out of office. I should have no fault to find with the present Administration, if its leader had defeated the Watson Government by a straight-out fight, on a motion of censure… If he had done so, the present discussion would have been saved. He, however, took advantage of a difficulty in connexion with a most important measure, which affects the well-being and the living of thousands of men and women, who have little enough to live on, and who have been waiting for a long time for a Bill which will allow of the peaceful settlement of industrial disputes by a Justice of the High Court, in order to defeat the Watson Government. It is our duty to ascertain whether the vote by which he came into power was not a catch vote. If it was given deliberately, in order ‘to displace the then Government, that fact will be seen when a division is taken on the motion now before the House. Upon a previous occasion I pointed out that the declared attitude of the present Government and their followers is antisocialistic. The extraordinary feature of the position is that whilst they profess to be strong opponents of Socialism, the only definitions which they offer of thai term refer to reforms, such as the establishment of a co-operative Commonwealth, which may possibly be accomplished in the far distant future.’ The Government and their supporters do- not attack anything which the Labour Party has done, or proposes to . do now, but they condemn something which, according to their own wild imaginings, may occur a hundred years hence. Constitutional government, as I understand the term, means that at certain fixed periods the people are called upon to choose their Parliament. We have a democratic form of government- in other words, Demos rules. The people elect their members of Parliament upon certain definite issues, and send them here to give effect to their mandate. ‘ Consequently, .the business of Parliament is really controlled by the erectors. For the Government to attack conditions which they say somebody is anxious to establish in the misty future, but which may never be established, seems to me a most extraordinary position to take up. They say that they intend to combat Socialism, and yet the very organizations to which they are appealing to fight their battle throughout Australia are themselves of a socialistic character
– The .honorable member has raised a nice little bogey, and now he should knock it down.
– The honorable member for Parramatta is chasing a mere shadow. The statement has been made that the Labour Party intend to rob everybody.
– Who said that? I am amazed at the honorable member’s unfairness. He is absolutely reckless.
Mi. SPENCE.- If the’ honorable member would remain silent he would not get so hopelessly mixed. The Socialism of which we have heard in this Chamber is a pure myth. The honorable and learned member for Wannon has declared that the Labour Party wish to rob the farmer - to confiscate his stock, and land, and, indeed, all his worldly possessions. I have no desire to misrepresent the honorable member for Parramatta.
– The honorable member is misrepresenting me all the time.
– I repeat that Socialism, as defined by the honorable and learned member for Wannon, means the confiscation of all the farmer’s property.
– Will the honorable member permit me to ask him one question ?
– The honorable member cannot ask a question at this stage.
– I recognise that the honorable member must be uncomfortable.
– I assure the honorable member that I am uncomfortable only when I hear him make such unfair statements.
– The so-called antisocialistic movement outside is merely an. attempt to defeat the Labour Party by branding its members as Socialists. The Federated Employers’ Union, the Property Defence League and other bodies are being associated for that purpose, and the Prime Minister has declared himself in sympathy with their objects. That fact connects every supporter of the Government with the movement in question. But I would point out that one of the meetings, which was held at’ Geelong, concluded by asking the
Government for a grant of £1,000 to enable the producers to buy compressed fodder and to find a market for their produce. These are the people who denounce Socialism. A similar gathering, which was held at Hay, wound up by adopting resolutions urging the Government to pass an- Irrigation Bill. At Adelaide, too, a meeting was recently held to form an organization to combat Socialism. Every other consideration is to be sunk in order to defeat the Labour Party. The extraordinary feature is that those who most violently denounce Socialism themselves practise it. In New South Wales, the followers of the Government, led bv Mr. Carruthers, have asked for nearly ,£8,000,000 from the Public Works Department and, strange to say, the gentleman who requested the biggest sum, namely, £1, 700, 000, was the honorablemember for New England who is a strong individualist. He desired that a railway should be constructed from Guyra to Grafton. As the brunt of the attack upon the Government has hitherto fallen upon the Prime Minister, I think it is about time that a little Victorian history was introduced into the debate. In this connexion, it is very singular that the Minister of Trade and Customs - who is “equal in all things” with the Prime Minister - was, when Premier of Victoria, a most astounding Socialist. In his address at Bairnsdale he submitted a very socialistic programme. He proposed to find money for housing the industrial classes, and advocated the granting of loans to the extent of 60 per cent, upon the value of the securities offered, at 6 per cent, intel est, with a fifteen years’ currency. He also proposed to establish old-age pensions, and a system of State-aided insurance. He wished to go one better than the Labour Party. He further advocated technical education for all branches of industry. Does he still believe in those principles? He favored the establishment of dairy farms, at which instruction could be imparted in the best methods of making butter. He also promised to provide the people with inferior land at 5s. per acre, and proposed to compulsorily resume it. He assured his hearers that he had resumed 90 acres within a two-penny tram section, and established a settlement.
– And a very good settlement it is.
– This is the programme that we are advocating, and yet the honorable gentleman has now decided that his special mission in life is to keep the Labour
Party out of power, in order to prevent these good things being brought about. If not,, why did honorable members opposite put us out of power ?
– Why does the honorable member wish to put the honorable member for Gippsland out of power when he is so pronounced a Socialist?
– Because the honorable gentleman does not propose to do those things now.
– I like something approaching decency and honesty in politics, and not sham, humbug, and hypocrisy. I object to men speaking in one way and acting in another. I object to their saying that these things are not socialistic, while some proposal which may never be introduced is Socialism. The co-operative Commonwealth and such things are not before us now, but the other measures to which I have referred are before us, and they are distinctly socialistic. The Minister of Trade and Customs now- has as his colleague the “ star “ of the company opposite, whose anti-socialistic proclivities lead him to support private enterprise pure and simple. But I have not yet exhausted the honorable gentleman’s programme He was also prepared to support grain elevators for loading the farmers’ grain, and water conservation for their benefit. All these excellent ideas are distinctly socialistic. I wish to know, and I think we are entitled to know, where honorable gentlemen opposite draw the line. The right honorable member for Swan has carried out an excellent socialistic scheme in Western Australia. It was a very big project indeed, and the right honorable gentleman deserves very great credit for having the courage .to enter upon it. But he says that that is not Socialism. It is time these honorable gentlemen had some teaching to enable them to know what Socialism is, and what it is not. We say that where the general community takes up an enterprise, or in a certain degree gives assistance to an enterprise, that is State Socialism. It may be limited according to circumstances, but it is all a form of State Socialism. The Minister of Trade and Customs was consistent with his advocacy of Socialism when he went in for protection, because the object of protection is to enable people to carry on industries here by giving them the assistance of protective duties. That is distinctly socialistic.
– Is the honorable member a protectionist or a free-trader? We are coming to it now.
– The honorable member for Parramatta need not bother himself about that. . I hope I am something better than either. I do not find any reference to the matter in the speech to which I have referred, but I have been told that the present Minister of Trade and Customs, although a federalist now, was in the past somewhat opposed to Federation, on the ground that it would probably do away with the Victorian Stock Tax. The honorable gentleman, it appears, would rather sacrifice Federation than d[o away with the Stock Tax. I hope that his association at the present time with the right honorable gentleman, who is going to bring about harmonious relations between the Federal and States Governments, has induced him to abandon his opposition to (Federation, and even to forget all about the Stock Tax. However, the honorable gentleman is, I think, in duty bound to tell the House exactly how far he is going, and how far the consent of his partner in this business, as the head of this peculiar Government, will be given to bring about complete Socialism.
– If the1 honorable member will support the Government, I shall be prepared to go as far as I said on the occasion to which he has referred.
– How can I support the honorable gentleman and the! Government of which he is a member, when he has declared that he will knock the Labour Party out of existence if he can, and when I know that that is the only party- which honestly and openly advocates these things? The members of the honorable gentleman’s party say one thing and do another, and they are being backed up by a party outside that wants everything socialistic for itself, whilst it denies tike’ advantages of Socialism to everybody else. The honorable gentleman speaks of the Labour Party as representing a section, of a class. I presume’ that the honorable gentleman means that the wage-earning class, the artizans who work for an employer, are not to have their share of Socialism. They are not to have any share in socialistic enterprises, which are only to be proposed for the benefit of the men on the land. I shall presently have something to say about the attitude of the Government to the men on the land. I have just a word or two to say about another anti-Socialist who stood for the Victorian State! Parliament at the same time as the honorable member for Gippsland, and who was a supporter of that honorable member. I refer ‘ to the” honorable and learned member for Wannon. I am sorry the honorable and learned member is not here, but I shall say nothing concerning him that is not perfectly fair. I desire merely -to show how much deception there is about some of these honorable gentlemen. In a speech delivered at Hamilton, when the honorable and learned member for Wannon stood for the Victorian State Parliament, after Federation had been accomplished, he was able to tell the electors that the fiscal issue had been transferred to Federal politics. As he dealt with the matter at the beginning of his address, I suppose I may conclude that it represented his first plank, and I find that the honorable and learned member complained that the retiring member had altogether neglected local requirements. He had not hid enough Government money spent in the district. The honorable and learned member for Wannon was going to see that more was spent in future. The other man had done nothing, and he knew that he would be able to do a great deal more. The position which he then took up was that it was justifiable to grab Government money for the constituency; but the honorable and learned member is now an anti-socialist, and he believes only in private enterprise. I need not refer to some other statements which must have been jocular, because the honorable and learned member claimed that he was a liberal, and a follower of “the Liberal Party. He told the electors that he had the support of Major Reay, with whose politics residents of Victoria are well acquainted. T find that he favoured a number- of things which were advocated by the honorable member for Gippsland. For instance, the honorable and learned member for Wannon on that occasion favoured the establishment of State dairies in agricultural districts as educational institutions in which the people might be taught to make good butter - equal to the Dutch butter, and so on. That is, no doubt, a very good idea, but it is distinctly and entirely socialistic. There can be no denying that.
– What is the use of denying it? Would the honorable member accept a denial if he got it?
– But the honorable and learned member for Wannon is now denouncing Socialism. He said, further, that he would support closer settlement, and advocated the resumption of the large estates around Hamilton. That is a social- istic proposal, which has- been advocated by the Labour Parties in the- States. T he honorable and learned member then favoured tine taking away of people’s land, and he is now denouncing, with all his powers of invective, the taking away of land from its owners. If further taxation was necessary, the honorable and learned member said, in reply to a question, that he would extend the land tax, so as to include cities, and towns. What about taxing the poor farmer t He also advocated old-age pensions, and that is decidedly socialistic. The honorable and learned member favoured the Factories Act, which is) a socialistic measure> interfering with private enterprise; He favoured an eight-hours’ day for railway employes, and he. said he would compel every public servant to insure his life.. That, again, is a dis.tinctly socialistic proposal. It involves interference with individual liberty, and the denial of the right of a man to do as he likes with his own. It: proposes an interference with men, by compelling them to pay a portion of their income or wages for the purpose of insuring their fives, whether they like it or not. These proposals are entirely socialistic. This only shows how ridiculous is the position of honorable members who claim to be anti-socialist, and who mouth about Socialism, when thev have themselves, professed to be supporters of it to the fullest extent to which it has. so far. been advocated by the Labour Party in any State. I have said before that we are entitled to claim to be judged upon, the proposals we put forward, and not upon something which some one may have proposed, and which, is not, and may never be,, before us. It. is most unfair for honorable membets to make these attacks upon, a growing political party- If they desire to attack the party, they should do so- in an honest way on its policy. Honorable members, who have professed to attack the Labour Party, because of its socialistic principles, when they have themselves advocated those principles, are guilty of cant and hypocrisy, when they talk in the way they do. The honorable and learned member for. Wannon, who now so strongly denounces all State interference, desires individual liberty, and believes all interference with private enterprise to be positively wrong, has favoured the resumption of land held by private owners in the district which he represents. In that district, there exists at the present time’, I Sup.pose, one of the most crying evils in existence in Australia, in the form of a monopoly of land. I propose to introduce here a little more detail than I had an opportunity of doing, when I spoke previously. If we take an area of 4,000 square miles, of the western portion of Victoria, we shall find that nine-tenths of it is owned by sixty families. The total number of. dwellings upon it, including tents, is 1,285 ; the total population of the area, men, women, and children, is 7,869. According to the logic of honorable members who do not believe in interference with private enterprise, we have no right to alter that state of affairs. The owners of the land secured it under the law, and according to the people who preach private enterprise, it is theirs to do as they like with. I want honorable members, to be aware of their inconsistency, when they at the same time claim, that that land should be resumed.. Three hundred and sixty -two miles of railway run through the area, and chiefly through properties in the .hands of forty owners. These railways cost £3,153>000-
– Is this in the electorate of Wannon?
– Some of the area traversed by the railway is in that electorate. It is in the Western, district where the good rich, land, is to be found. The taxpayers of Victoria have contributed no less than .£3,753,600’ to enhance the value of the property held by these, people. Is. not that Socialism? Are not railways a. socialistic institution in the hand’s of the State. Thev are constructed to open up country, and yet this country is monopolized. And if the policy of those who advocate non-interference with private enterprise be carried out fully., we cannot resume one of those estates in order that the land may be put to its proper use. We cannot do what the honorable and learned member, for Wannon said should be done, when as a candidate for the State Parliament of Victoria he advocated that these lands should be resumed, in order that men should be put upon them instead of sheepAs another illustration I take the Hampden and Mortlake Shires, an area of 1,845 square, miles, or II80,000 acres. In. this district, twenty families own over 800,000 acres. The shire value of the territory, with all improvements, amounts to £5,000,000. The towns of Terang, Camperdown, and Mortlake are included in this valuation. The rates amount to ,£12,406, or to about £d. in. the £ These shires have had ^4,112 from the State.
– What for?
– For the purpose of making roads to enable these rich land-owners to get their produce to market. There is, in this district, also an illustration of what every one in Victoria knows has been a crying evil in the State for many years. These land-owners have enclosed roads, covering “an area of 16,337 acres, for which they have paid nothing. Their fences include land which has been surveyed as roads, and they pay nothing for it. These persons all belong to the antisocialistic crowd. They are supporting the present Government.
– Does not the honorable member know that the Labour Party in Victoria has always opposed proposals to make these persons pay for the use of the roads. Such a proposition has been made on several occasions, but has always been opposed by members of the Labour Party.
– The Labour Party has never been strong enough in Victoria to accomplish any great reform.
– But they have always opposed such a proposal. I would vote to make these persons pay for the use of the roads.
– I know that the honorable member would, but I am anxious to learn whether he intends to stand by the policy which he formerly advocated. Leaving out towns, over three-fourths of this area has only one human habitation to every seven square miles, and only 6f per cent, of the land is used for dairying. These figures are, I think, of sufficient importance1 to be brought under public notice, and they may induce honorable members opposite to recognise the inconsistency of their position. In the counties of Dundas, Follet, Lowan, Normandy, Villiers, Heytesbury, Ripon, and Hampden, 2,960,000 acres are held by three companies, and 105 individuals or families.
– Does the honorable member think that this has anything to do with the motion?
– I think I shall be able to connect these statistics with the motion, by showing that the’y constitute a reply to those who say that Socialism is the one thing against which they are fighting.
– If the honorable member can connect these statistics with the motion there will be’ no complaint.
– I shall do so, sir. Oneeighth of all privately-owned land in western Victoria is held by 525 persons, 1,240,000 acres are held by eighteen per sons, and over 1,000,000 acres by eleven individuals. We have heard some honorable members opposite declare that they are individualists, and are opposed to interference with private enterprise. These figures should afford them food for reflection. It may be said that the Commonwealth has nothing to do with the lands of the States, but it has been urged again and again that the Labour Party in the Federal Parliament, and those in the Parliaments of the States are controlled by the same organization, and constitute a menace to the wellbeing of the Commonwealth. That being so, I think we are’ justified in showing the inconsistency of Government supporters in attacking us, when they themselves really support the policy of our party. When they say that the Labour Party is inimical to the1 interests of the Commonwealth, they are really attacking their own position. They declare that they are opposed to our methods of seeking to improve the conditions of the people; but they must definitely declare whether they are going to renounce for ever the principles which they advocated before they joined the coalition. They must say where they draw the line.
– We say that ‘we are going straight on.
– The leaders of the Government have stated that they are opposed to Socialism, but they do not say how far they will go. Every honorable member on the Government side who” has . yet spoken during this debate has intimated that he is opposed to the Labour Party because it consists of socialists. We do not .deny that we are socialists. We are proud to say that we! are, but we certainly deny that we have ever advocated the ridiculous proposals attributed to us and to socialistic writers about the equal division of property. No true socialist has ever suggested anything of the! kind. Statements of this character are purely mythical. They are sometimes made by the ignorant, and repeated as jokes, but they have never been seriously put before the people by the Labour Party. It is a very serious thing for honorable members to make such charge’s against us, without adducing any specific fact in support of their assertion. I desire to draw from the Government some definite statement as to what socialistic enterprises they favour or disfavour.
– Does the honorable member* deny that any socialistic writer has ever advocated the division of the product equally ?
– That is not the point. Honorable members have charged us with a desire to deprive men of their property, and to divide it amongst the people. The leader of the Government has intimated that his policy is an anti-socialistic one, and the Sydney Daily Telegraph, in its issue of 6th inst., puts the . position of the Governments very clearly, when it says -
The Government has not come to bring peace to Socialism, but a sword, and unless it makes itself felt in opposition to the aims of the Labour Party, its mission will totally fail. That is what the fiscal issue has been sunk for, and why a coalition between Mr. Reid and Mr. McLean has become tolerable.
That is a clear statement made by a leading newspaper, which champions the present Government. In these circumstances I hold- that we have not yet heard enoughin regard to the policy of the Ministry.
– They have no policy, and no remarks to offer.
– The members of an Opposition must naturally be opposed to a Government. We are opposed to the Government on certain . grounds, which we have had no hesitation in stating. The Government say that they are opposed to us on certain grounds. They say that we are . socialistic, but they do not give us any full. insight into their policy. We term ourselves the Labour Party, ‘ and put a definite programme before the people, and we say to the Government, “Tell us what are your objections to us.”
– We are not endeavouring to turn the Opposition out. If we were, we should state our objections to it.
– The mission of the Government is wholly against the Labour Party. According to the Sydney Daily Telegraph, thev wish to prevent any increase in the strength and power of the party. As a matter of fact, we have read of more Ministerial statements of policy made outside than we have been favoured with in the House. I have brought these statements before ‘the Government, and I ask for a reply. When I was discussing, a few days ago, the limited and shadowy programme outlined by the Prime Minister, in his declaration of policy, I challenged the Government to show that there was any desire on the part of the LabourParty to crush any section of the community, and to drive men, as was alleged, into the gutter. The Government may, or may not, have a majority, but they should make a straight-out honest statement, and deal fairly with us. Statements should not bc bandied about, for which there is no foundation .
– After this. I shall never say anything more.
– Before the honorable member leaves, I should like him to listen to one short quotation that I intend to read. He had something to say last night about Socialism, and I desire him to hear a short extract fr om a very excellent address delivered recently in Sydney by Dr. Mercer, Bishop of Tasmania, on the socialistic movement. I do not know whether the honorable member has1 read the report of that address.
– I have.
– Then he must see that the views of the Bishop - who certainly ought to be accepted as an authority oh questions of morals and ethics, and of the religious aspect of any social or political movement - are entirely at variance with those, which he has enunciated. Dr. Mercer, in dealing with the socialistic movement said that -
He believed that, while tbere might be bad motives in it, there were good ones at the bottom of the social movement, and there were a number of educated thinking men who were moved with compassion for the multitude, because of all the sweating and miseries, of slum life. He Lad had eight years’ experience in the slums of London, and if any man realized the enormous amount of suffering and degradation there was among members of the human, race at the present time, if he had any sympathy at all with the Saviour of mankind when he looked on the multitude in the wilderness, he must have compassion on them, and he believed that there was at the heart of the socialistic movement of the present day genuine compassion for the multitude, and a determination to raise the standard of life for the submerged mass of. the race. Then there was the sense df brotherhood to be found in the movement, and he believed in that brotherhood of humanity, and that they were increasingly realizing wha’t that brotherhood could be, because of some of the socialistic ideas. The people might be long in working them out, but he thought they were setting them ideals towards which they could work.
That is but a very short extract from a very excellent address, and I think that the sentiments expressed indicate that the Bishop has made a more coirect analysis of the socialistic movement than has the honorable member.
– Does the honorable member call that which he has read ari analysis of the socialistic system?
– I have merely said that the address was an excellent one. I have not said that it was an analysis of the socialistic system.
– The honorable member used the word “ analysis.”
– The honorable member must be opposed to Socialism, or he would not associate himself with the party which is now making an attack on something which it terms Socialism. The wild outcry against Socialism is simply a- bogy. lt has been ‘raised for party purposes. Either it is a case of ignorance appealing to ignorance - because the declamations against Socialism, which we hear, will have no weight with the intelligent, or with those who have paid any attention to the study of the social questions - or it is simply a cry raised for party gains. Having nothing else to urge against the Labour Party, our opponents must raise this bogey. Other persons have raised the cry of “ reform,” knowing that it is a good word and that many people have no time to study socialistic questions. The statement has also been mode by our opponents that we are going to rob the farmers of their land. They expect to create such an antagonist “against the Labour Party that they will be bound to win when a dissolution takes place. That is the plain object of the coalition. We rejoice that they have adopted these tactics. It is the best thing that could happen for our movement. The stronger the reactionary, parties outside Parliament fight, the more successful will the Labour Party be. We are on solid ground, and put forward measures which we contend are practical. It is not denied by the Government that they are practical. They have offered some criticism on the only proposal which we have put forward that seems to be debatable in a socialistic sense - the tobacco monopoly proposal. With this exception, thev advocate every one of our measures and adopt them as their own. Therefore, their present tactics are merely an attempt to appeal to the prejudice and the ignorance of the people. We are not afraid of that. When we can get the people to understand our proposals we have no fear that we shall secure their support. If, as honorable members opposite contend, they wish to prevent Socialism and promote private enterprise, let them advocate the selling of the Government railways and the putting of all enterprise of that description in the hands of private persons. As we have now reached the usual hour for adjournment, will the Government consent to my continuing my speech to-morrow?
– We have no objection.
House adjourned at 10.32 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 22 September 1904, viewed 6 July 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1904/19040922_reps_2_21/>.