2nd Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
Debate resumed from zznd September (vide page 4882), on motion by Mr. Watson -
That the present Administration does not possess the confidence of this House.
– One of the issues raised in connexion with this motion of censure is that, although the fiscal question has been sunk by the people, a movement is being made to raise it again, and I wish to present to the House a few of . the reasons why there is an objection on the part of the Government to the raising of it. To show what kind of friends the farmers and pastoralists will have in the present Administration if they get their way, I would like to refer to what happened in my own electorate just prior to the last elections. I was opposed by a single-taxer, a gentleman of the school to which the honorable members for Lang and New England, and some others, belong. He took the trouble to go all the way from Mudgee to Sydney to hear the right honorable member for East Sydney state the policy of the Free-trade Party, and, in presenting his case to the electors, no doubt carefully followed the right honorable gentleman and the official organs of the party, the Sydney Daily Telegraph and the Sydney Morning Herald- The occupations of the people in my electorate, although somewhat varied, come chiefly under the three heads - pastoral, farming, and mining pursuits, and in appealing to these people for support, he denounced taxation through the Custom House as something wrong. But, as revenue was necessary, he supported a revenue Tariff, such as has been advocated both here and on the hustings by . the leader of the Free-trade Party. He wished to levy the same rate of duties on all importations. What that rate would be does . not matter much for the purposes of my argument, but I think that Sir William McMillan has stated that it would require an average duty of about 15 per cent, to raise the amount of revenue necessary.. He would therefore have reduced those. duties which now have a protective incidence, -and would, on the other hand, have placed duties on articles which are now admitted free. It will be interesting to see what effect that would have upon the people in the country districts. Under our Tariff, only the articles which are specifically named are subject to duty. In addition to those articles there is a long list of articles specifically exempted from duty, while all other articles not mentioned are also admitted duty free. As a matter of fact, the Commonwealth Tariff has about the biggest free list possessed by any Tariff in the world, and contains over 1,100 items in its list of exemptions. I therefore followed my opponent round the electorate, and pointed out to the people what would be the effect of his proposal. I showed them that the articles which they mostly used are now admitted free. In connexion with pastoral work, shears, shearing machinery, woolpacks,, cornsacks, galvanized iron, fencing wire, and wire netting, are all admitted free ; while the farmers are allowed to import over twenty items of farming machinery free, in addition to .the articles which I have named, and which they use in common with the pastoralists. Furthermore, household commodities of which there is a large daily consumption, such as tea and kerosene, are admitted free, while cotton goods, which are so greatly used for the clothing of families, pay a duty of only 5 per cent. My opponent was actively supported by a canvasser for Messrs. Paling and Co., of Sydney, and he was urging upon the electors the desirability of adopting a freetrade policy, such as that advocated by the Prime Minister, under which the dutywould be taken off pianos, and the taxes upon the necessaries of life increased. The policy of the Prime Minister is to reduce the duty on the luxuries of the rich, and to levy imposts upon the necessaries of the poor. This would have been a very good policy for Messrs. Paling and Co., who at present have to compel e with a local manufacturer, who derives a certain amount of benefit from the protective Tariff. Very few of our struggling settlers are in a position to afford pianos, anr! these buy only ohe piano in a life-time. The Prime Minister is sinking the fiscal issue temporarily only, because he has made no secret of the fact that both sides are to keep their powder dry, and to hold themselves prepared to fight the fiscal question at the next election. Therefore, 8 g 2 after having obtained the co-operation of the alleged protectionists, the free-traders, will endeavour to secure the introduction of what is called free-trade, but which is a mere sham and a humbug. How could our settlers be benefited by the introduction of a system of free-trade which would require them to pay higher duties upon the necessaries of life? I am in favour of allowing the Tariff to stand for the present, because under it the people enjoy a certain measure of free-trade. As- a matter of fact, I have been more loyal to free-trade principles than have some of those honorable members who are now supporting the Government. In connexion with the question of preferential trade with Great Britain, the honorable, and learned member for Ballarat advocated the raising of the Tariff against the foreigner, whilst maintaining the present duties against Great Britain. The Prime Minister, on the other hand, favoured the lowering of the Tariff wall, so far as Great Britain was concerned, and maintaining it against the foreigner. Therefore, he advocates the adoption of a protectionist policy against the foreigners, and a half-and-half free-trade policy towards the old country. I would point out, however, that about one- fourth of our imports are upon the free list, and that in regard to the articles therein enumerated we might give Great Britain all the preference necessary if we were to impose duties upon imports from foreign countries. The free list embraces tools of trade and a number of other articles which can be manufactured in England as well as elsewhere, and it seems to me that the possibilities of adopting the preferential principle in connexion with this section of our Tariff might profitably engage the attention of our statesmen. The Prime Minister has boasted that in New South Wales he relieved the poor of some of their burdens, and placed them upon the shoulders of the rich ; and I think that he might proceed still further in the same direction in connexion with any contemplated alterations of the Federal Tariff. I do not see that any objection can be urged against the proposal to appoint a Tariff Commission. It is highly desirable that we should inquire into the working of the Tariff, with a view to remedying any defects, and removing anomalies. The appointment of such a Commission could not be regarded as committing us to the revival of the fiscal issue. So far as I am aware, the only person who lias proposed Tariff revision is the Prime Minister himself. He declared, some time ago, that he was desirous of lowering duties which have a protective incidence, with a view to imposing an equal duty all round.
– Has the honorable member read the terms of the alliance to which he has subscribed? Do not the words, “ Including Tariff revision,” appear there?
– It is merely a question of degree. If we deal with one item in the Tariff only, that may or may. not be called Tariff revision. The words to which the Prime Minister has drawn attention do not necessarily imply that we wish to reopen the whole of the Tariff issue. If the question’ of preferential trade were to ripen - I do not think that it will, within the life of the present Parliament, even if we avoid a dissolution - I claim that we should be able to enter into arrangements with the mother country without any interference with the existing Tariff. Both parties to the coalition subscribe to the idea that a preference should be extended to British goods. To assure our producers that they would be benefited by the imposition’ of an all-round duty of 15 per cent., is simply to attempt to deceive them. The endeavour to persuade them to regard the Labour Party as their enemies is also prompted by deceit and hypocrisy. Amongst honorable members who sit behind the Government, are some who believe that the single tax is a panacea for all evils. The honorable member for Ne.v England and others favour that doctrine, and it is most extraordinary, therefore, that they should join in a denunciation of Socialism. The adoption of the single-tax, which they regard as the solution of the labour problem, would mean that, for the purposes of the community, the- State would receive the whole economic rent of land. In other words, all the unearned increment would be appropriated by the State for the general good. Can we conceive of a more socialistic proposal than that ? I should like to ask the advocates of that doctrine who constitute a big section of the Ministerial supporters, and who are continually telling the farmers that the Labour Partywish to steal their land, what they would do with this vast revenue when it had been collected. Those who have bestowed most attention upon the matter admit that they would then give the community the benefit of free railways. Would not that be Socialism ? Where is the difference ? I repeat that those who denounce Socialism most loudly are themselves pronounced Socialists, only they choose to call things by different names. Personally, I have no faith in mere names - I desire to get at realities. The whole of the Government attack upon the Labour Party has centred around the term “ Socialism.” It is a bogy, but even bogies exert some influence. I think that I clearly demonstrated last night that the organizations to which the Government are appealing to fight their battle are of a most reactionary character, and that’ they represent merely a class - the smallest in the Commonwealth - which is constantly demanding from the Government concessions which it is not prepared to extend to others. It does not recognise equal rights to every section of the community. The members of the Labour Party receive the support of the wage-earning class chiefly, because their interests in the past have been neglected. We are here to definitely voice their requirements, and chiefly because the needs of other sections are very carefully studied by other honorable members. I do not intend to touch upon the destruction of industries which would follow the carrying out of the Government policy, further than to say that under their proposals we should not have either a freetrade Tariff or a protective one. A socalled revenue Tariff would be merely a sham. I wish to show what the Socialism that we advocate really means, and to appeal to honorable members opposite to give us fair play in view of the necessity to do something to improve the welfare of society, and I use the term in its broadest sense. I am pleased to think that we have at last entered upon the consideration of a question that certainly constitutes the one great issue of the present day - the question of how to improve the lot of all classes. The Socialism which we believe in recognises that the present social system is running more or less rapidly - rapidly, I think - in a direction in which it cannot be permitted to continue. Changes must be made. I shall endeavour to show that the developments taking place in all phases of industrial life among the civilized nations of the world are in the direction of collectivism. The whole industrial movement is in the direction of Socialism, and it is only because words convey different meanings to different minds that that fact is not recognised. This industrial’ movement towards Socialism is not a conscious one. It is- not being specially directed by Governments,
Labour Parties, or Socialists. The development of the socialistic movement, some phases of which have been touched on during the debate, is the result of an analysis on the part of the people of the conditions that are being created by the commercial classes and by others who are antagonistic to labour ideals. Just as we find strong evidence of approval of socialistic movements, in the practical sense of the term, on the part of the present Government, so we find an evolution in the same way taking place throughout the industrial life of the civilized world. It is too late for honorable members opposite now to attempt to stem the flood. We call upon them to recognise the movement, and to join with members of the Labour Party who, perhaps, have obtained a fuller insight into, the wretchedness and misery of life, in endeavouring, so far as possible by legislation, to secure better conditions for all who work, whether by muscle or by brain. The basis of modern trade and production is simply that of profit. A man canno’t employ labour unless he makes a profit on it. In the broad sense of the term there are only two economic -elements to be considered, land ‘ and labour. Labour is now being massed, and placed under captains of industry. The individualist is disappearing:, and it is therefore somewhat surprising to hear some honorable members talk so freely about the necessity to protect the rights of the individual, and to develop individual power. What the Socialists contend is that the existing social system is destructive of individuality. The masses recognise that the employment of labour depends upon whether the employer can make a profit on it, and that the measure of gain is affected by factory legislation imposing certain conditions on employers of labour, and bv conciliation and arbitration laws, which have a very important bearing in that respect upon them. They recognise that, as the result of these conditions, employers are interested in keeping men out of work. That is a most remarkable state of affairs. It is deplorable that men who control vast interests should be able to profit by the misery of their fellow beings - that workers should be kept out of employment in order that the cost of production may be kept down. But, if men remain out of employment, the demand for the output of those who are producing for a profit is lessened. If the workers form strong trade, unions, and become so powerful that they can make demands on employers for conditions which they are unable to meet, the employers may close down their works. They are able to stand out longer than their workmen, and in that way may practically starve them into submission. From the point of view of self-interest the workers recognise that this is not a desirable state of affairs, and they say that the only proper solution of the difficulty is for them to provide employment for themselves. . The socialistic movement, which has been referred to as having for its object a co-operative Commonwealth, has underlying it the great principle of -increased co-operation on the part of the people. In one sense we are a cooperative people. We are all dependent upon one another. No man can live by himself, and of all classes those who are called independent are in reality the most dependent. They could do nothing but for the labour of those whom they would not think of admitting into their drawingroom. Some of them would not even be able to cook a meal for themselves without the labour which they employ ; they would die of starvation without it, and yet it is said that they are independent. That is a misleading term. Notwithstanding all this talk of individualism on the part of certain persons, it is interesting to note the way in which men are forced to do things that they do not want to do. By way of illustration I would refer to an incident that occurred recently to a gentleman associated with an anti-socialistic organization operating more particularly in this State. We have heard of an organization called the Farmers’ and Property Owners’ League, which is giving its support to the present Government. That league has in its employment a gentleman named Sievwright, who has been carrying on the work of organization. I am not acquainted with him, but he seems to be an educated man. I am told that he is a solicitor, and yet such is our social system that this intelligent, educated man was brought before a court a week ago and cross-examined as to why he had neglected to support certain relatives. I regard that case as1 one of the saddest pictures and’ most striking parodies on our present social system. Here is a gentleman of education, with a profession by means of which he ought to be able to do well for his family ; and yet, in order to live, he has week by week to preach doctrines which he himself must feel are not true. Mr. Sievwright will be expected to organize the farmers and denounce the Labour Party as the enemy of the producer - to tell the farmers that there is no need for arbitration laws, and that there is1 plenty of work for everybody. Personally, I think it rather disgraceful that there should be such exposures in connexion with old-age pensions. We hear a great noise made about the inquisitorial character of an income tax, and yet this man is called upon to publicly declare the fact that his sisters are unable to obtain work, that his daughter has to give her services for half-a-crown a week, and that his brother works’ in a solicitor’s office for a wage of 30s. All this is an absolute travesty on our present social system. We hear much prating about individualism, but what do we observe, for instance, in connexion with our leading newspapers and the press generally? Some of the best brains are engaged in advocating in the columns of the newspapers doctrines and policies’ in which they do not believe. What chance is there to develop and’ maintain individualism when, in the mere struggle for bread and butter, a man is forced to do that which is revolting to him? I know reporters and others connected with the press who have to earn their crust by writing what to them is personally unpalatable, and who feel that what they do is not honest. Surely there is something in the idea of Socialism, if by that means such a state of things may be altered so that every one may have a chance to do the work for which he is most fitted, and thus lead’ to the better industrial organization of society. At present people have to select occupations, not from choice, but from force; every father of a family knows that in seeking openings for his sons and daughters, he cannot always find the industry or trade for which they are most suited. I should like to remind honorable members of the position in our great manufacturing industries where men and women become simply parts of the machinery. Where, under such circumstances, is the room for the development of individual liberty ? Where is there room for private enterprise ? “ Private enterprise “ is another favourite parrot cry of those who have no knowledge of its true meaning ; they cannot realize that for enterprise of the kind there is no opening when each mechanic is forcibly fitted into a groove. Where is the room for private enterprise in the case of the coal miner, who has to produce at so much .per ton, knowing that the harder he works the less chance there will be of continued employment? Such a man is forced and driven, and his position can only be described as one of wage slavery. In every industrial branch of life similar conditions prevail. Men know that the harder they work, and the more they produce, the more they are depriving their fellows of employment. There is a cry of denunciation if such men do not work hard enough; we hear complaints of what is called the “ Ca-Canny” system in English trade unionism. What is the object of this denunciation ? It is to allow some few persons to become rich. Where is the gain? Professor Warren tells us in his interesting study of the subject -
Insufficiently and poorly-paid employment is the greatest single cause of degeneracy.
We hear honorable members speaking of paying men according to what they can earn ; and yet we already have conditions of life in which adults and children are insufficiently fed, and even then on adulterated food. And then because these poor people have no possible chance of developing physically or mentally, so- as to hold their own with the stronger, they are punished by being told that they shall receive only what they are able to earn. That is a great blot on the system which honorable members opposite favour, and desire to maintain. Have those honorable members ever really studied the matter. As Henschell says -
To allow a class of society to live in idleness and wax f<u on the degradation and demoralization of their fellow-men seems to me to be little less than a crime perpetuated by society, and an evil in the sight of God.
That is a statement _ by a great thinker ; and I have other quotations which I have been careful to make from the writings of those who are not associated with the Labour Party, but are observers and students, whose writings I commend to those concerned in the great attack on a movement which is undoubtedly coming, but which is very much misunderstood. The present system only tends to build up an idle rich class, with a sweated poor at the other end of society. One of the great evils, probably the greatest, is the moral degradation which inevitably follows. Then there has to be taken into account the further result of the destruction of human life, and also the class hatred bred of the class feeling inseparable from present conditions. I think there is a great deal of suggestiveness in a short quotation which I wish to make from Dr. Edward Caird, in his presidential address to the Ethical Society of England a short time ago. Dr. Caird said-
As a class, men of culture are not in much danger of being possessed by a frantic love of evil and hatred of good, but sometimes they are in danger of losing a belief in the greatness of the issues of existence which are hid under its littleness, and in the worth of every human life in spite of the triviality and meanness of its appearance.
That is the position of which the Labour Party complain - that there is not enough thought given to those numerous individuals who are, to some extent, lost sight of, and are treated, perhaps, as we are all, from want of thought, inclined to treat those with whom we are not brought in close contact. We read of thousands slain in a great battle, but we cannot bring ourselves into close enough sympathy with the afflicted to realize what that slaughter means to the many friends and relatives of the combatants. And so in the industrial struggle; the idle rich follow a butterfly existence, their wives often regarding it as rather desirable that they should have a chance of exercising charity, so that they may get credit as philanthropists amongst those unfortunate people through whom, and by whose work and energies, their wealth has been obtained. I should like to read another quotation on the same line of thought by Prince Krapotkin and in which I think he voices the feeling of the workers. He says -
Where, then, are these young people who have been taught at our expense? These youths whom we fed and clothed while they, studied? Where are those for whom, our backs bent double beneath our burdens and our bellies empty, we have built these houses, these colleges, these lecturerooms, these museums? Where are the men for whose benefit we, with our pale, worn faces, have printed these fine books, most of which we cannot even, read ? Where are they, these professors who claim to possess the science of mankind, and for whom humanity itself is not worth a rare caterpillar? Where are the men who are ever speaking in praise of liberty, and never think to champion our freedom, trampled as it is each day beneath their feet? Where are they, these writers and poets, these painters and sculptors? Where, in a word, is the whole gang of hypocrites who speak of the People with tears in their eyes, but never, by any chance, find themselves among us helping in our laborious work?
We say that that very fine quotation voices feelings of which we may not be always conscious, which are not always given utterance to so .clearly, but which are always present. Class feeling and hatred are expressed in those burning words. There is discontent and dissatisfaction, and it must find an outlet if no improvement is made. But in this more or less intelligent age we must have some improvement. In dealing with the relations of the capitalistic class with the worker, what is said by the organizer and mouth-piece of the Federated Employers’ Union? We have heard many quotations of what Tom Mann has said, and a great fuss has been made about his views. I am glad that people are taking a note of what Tom Mann has said. We on this side are charged with responsibility for every word he has uttered. I do not know whether every honorable member in this House would like to be held always responsible for every sentence he utters, it may be under some little excitement, but we are told that we must be responsible for all the sayings of Tom Mann. We are prepared to stand by him too, for that matter. But will honorable members on the other side stand by their organizer and take all responsibility for the utterances of Mr. Walpole, who is reported in the Lilydale Express of 18th April, 1902, to have said that-
Marriage was a luxury for the workers as were also “ long sleevers,” attending theatres and the like, and it was not fair to compel employers to pay for these things.
That is economically unsound, but it is the teaching of these people, and it is what they believe. They have not yet realized that they are not paying the workers. They do not pay any man unless they make a profit out of his labour. As a matter of fact, labour pays itself. Henry George, of whom there are some students on the other side, many years ago made it clear that labour pays its? own wages.
– Did not the honorable and learned member for Wannon read a letter from a clergyman saying that Mr. Walpole did not make the statement attributed to him?
– No; the honorable and learned member only said that he had such a letter; he did not read it.
– Who was it said that - Tom Mann ?
– No, Mr. Walpole, .a man who gets a very big salary for propagating doctrines of this kind. He is the mouth-piece of the Employers’ Union, the members of which are the backers of the present Government. The Government is, therefore, responsible in a sense for the utterances of Mr. Walpole. That is fair logic and good reasoning. If we are to be responsible for what Tom Mann says, and for the writings and sayings of the wildest and ! most extreme Socialists and anarchists in any part of the world, surely the Government can stand by Mr. Walpole?
– Is this the same Mr. Walpole who was on the platform with the Prime Minister a little time ago?
– The same gentleman. This is the Government mouth-piece. This is the agitator who, together with Mr. Sievwright and others, as the organizations are able to raise funds to pay them, is going round to educate the community. The most extreme labour man and the most extreme Socialist in Australia would not say anything resembling that which Mr. Walpole said. This man holds that marriage, as well as long-sleevers and theatres, is a luxury, and that working men should not have any of these things. Of course, they should not. They should not be other than slaves. We say that they are slaves. I believe that Aristotle gave expression to a ‘ great truth when he said that the working classes would always be slaves until machinery did the work.Our attitude, in contradistinction to that assumed by Mr. Walpole, may be stated in various ways, but I quote a few words used by Archdeacon Wilson, who states it very well -
We must press forward the popularization of the ideal of making human beings the supreme aim of our nation.
The members of the Federated Employers’ Union are opposed to that. They favour individualism, the development of private enterprise, non-interference by the State ; and profit-making is their sole consideration. The honorable member for Parramatta made reference to some great law. By interjection I asked the honorable gentleman what law he meant. He did not reply, but I presume that the great law to which he referred is one with which people of his school of thought have always associated themselves. They call it “ the law of supply and’ demand.” These people have a set of phrases which they have repeated for a century. I do not suppose that the honorable member for Parramatta is a. century old, but his are ideas which were held a century ago, and the honorable member has practically stopped there. It requires but five minutes” reflection to enable honorable members to perceive that private enterprise is interfered with in almost every way already, and that there is no such thing as persons being allowed to do as they like. If they were, the social state would be one of pure anarchy. I say that our one great aim is the development of the individual, the human being. The nation is a nation of men and women. I understand that the statement to which I have referred as having been made by Mr. Walpole was made in reply to a vote of thanks, moved by a clergyman. I presume the clergyman expressed some approval of what Mr. Walpole had said, and I suppose he now feels called upon to some extent to stand by what was said in reply to his vote of thanks. Mr. Walpole did but give expression to what others who think in the same way have not the courage to say. Men of this class believe in non-interference with the law of supply and demand, because if that law is not interfered with they will be able to secure very cheap slaves, and in their own short lives they may become very rich. I do not care to follow a certain line of argument at great length, or I might show that riches themselves take wings and fly when more powerful competitors succeed in crushing out those who possess them. A recent return of insolvencies in the United States of America show that insolvents in that country in one year had failed for ^17,000,900. But that is nothing at all compared with what we can do in Victoria. In this great progressive State insolvents in one year have failed f°r ;£3>000>°°°, £4,000,000, £5,000,000 and in the boom time for no less than £8,000,000. Against failures in the United States to the extent of ^17,000,000 in a population of 75,000,000, we have had failures in this State, with a population of 1,000,000, to the extent of .£8,000,000. It is . clear that we can beat the Americans at going insolvent. These figures show that private enterprise does not always result in success. Of ten people embarking in business, three may fail utterly, four or five may struggle along making a bare living, and one or two may make a fortune. A very wise and suggestive thing was said by Cicero -
One thing ought to be aimed at by men, and the interest of each individual and all collectively should be the same, for if each should grasp at his individual interests all human society would be dissolved.
That was said a long time ago, but the truth of it will be evident to every one. Unless we consider the interests of each and all, society must fail. The members of society must be studied entirely from the collective stand-point. Men and women must be continually considered from that standpoint. Only by so considering them, car* we afford an opportunity for individual development on the best lines. To do otherwise is to permit a system under which greed is allowed to work injury and injustice to the great mass of the community. Thomas Carlyle, the great thinker, said -
This that they call the organization of labour is the universal vital problem of the world. It is the problem of the whole future for all who will in future pretend to govern men.
I commend’ that saying of the old prophet to the present Government for their careful consideration - the organization of labour is the universal and vital problem. It is the one problem which is1 looming large in connexion with the foundation work of this great Commonwealth. But,, apparently, the supporters of this Government have something to learn as to what that organization means. Socialists say that the movement referred to is the organization of society as a whole, guided by Government ; that is to say, that the evils of industrial evolution, which become every day more and more apparent to every thoughtful and observing person, must be removed, and that certain changes must be introduced by legislation that will permit of social evolution on healthy lines. It is because we recognise the course of this evolution that the Socialist movement has arisen. It is because the founders’ of that movement have studied it, arid know the direction in which it is going, that they have become Socialists. They are the only body of people in the world who have a solution lo offer, which they claim to be practical in connexion with these great problems. I admit that there are Socialist’s - in New. South Wales, for instance, we have the Australian Socialists’ League - who wish to have great reforms brought about quickly. They wish to have them effected by Act of Parliament - in a day. But those are extremists. They are really against us. They make attacks upon the Labour Party. They oppose us at the elections. They run candidates who generally forfeit their deposits. But they are not discouraged by that, and run them again. I think that one Socialist candidate of this1 school in New South Wales received nine votes in a labour constituency, That fact shows what strength there is behind their proposals. That is the answer which I give to those who twit us with holding the extreme views of the Socialists to whom I have referred. Those honorable members take certain propositions enunciated by such Socialists, arid which agree to some extent with the principles of more moderate Socialists, who do not- want reforms to be effected quite so quickly, and accuse the moderates of holding the opinions of the extremists. The healthier class of Socialists, of whom there are many, recognise that the only trend of events which is likely to -lead to beneficial results is that which would allow matters to develop themselves steadily and slowly, making changes in our law which would at the same time afford an opening for further developments on right and healthy lines. I desire to make a few quotations to show that there is a justification for certain of the claims which we put forward in support of a position which will have to be faced very shortly. They will show that our views are not merely abstract, and will also indicate to what an extent advanced opinions have been uttered by leading men, great thinkers, who in their day were strongly denounced as being extremists, and as enunciating doctrines which were destructive of the rights of property. Let me show what extreme things have been said by some great writers even within a recent period. Henry George said -
This thing is absolutely certain : private property in land blocks the way of advancing civilization. The two cannot long co-exist. Either private property in land must be abolished, or, as has happened again and again in the history of mankind, civilization must turn back in anarchy and bloodshed.
One could hardly have a stronger statement than that. Professor F. W. Newman said -
To make away into mercenary hands as an article of trade the whole solid area on which a nation lives is astonishing as an idea of statesmanship.
That also is a very strong statement. In connexion with the principles of those who have fought against the private ownership of land, I might quote the old Mosaic law, which is to be found in the Book of Leviticus, and which should be remembered by every one of us -
The land shall not be sold for ever, for the land is mine ; for ye are strangers and sojourners with me.
That is true; we live upon this earth only for a short time, and it is a duty imposed upon us to endeavour to improve the conditions of the millions who will come after us. John Stuart Mill, who is a favorite author of even some of our Conservative friends, said -
The land of Ireland, the land of every country, belongs to the people of that country. No man made the land - it is the original inheritance of the whole species. Its appropriation is wholly a question oi general expediency. When private property in land is not expedient it is unjust.
Next let me quote a passage from the great W. E. Gladstone. He said-
Those persons who possess large portions of the earth’s surface are not altogether in the same position as the possessor of mere personalty. Personalty does not impose limitations on the actions and industry of man and the well-being of the community as possession of land does, and, therefore, I freely own that compulsory expropriation is admissible, and even sound in principle.
A great man in Gladstone’s position could scarcely have made a stronger statement than that the expropriation of land was sound in principle. What do my honorable friends opposite say to that? Herbert Spencer, who recently died, and who was a very great thinker, said -
It may be perceived that equity utters dictates to which we have not yet listened, and we may then learn that to deprive others of the use of the earth is to commit a crime inferior only in wickedness to the crime of taking away their lives or personal liberties.
Now, I d’o not wish, however, to deal with the land question. I may remark that privately-owned land in Great Britain yields to the owners of the parchments which signify their titles to their properties, a revenue of .£250,000,000 per annum, and represents a capital Value of £8.000,000,000. The use which I wish to make of that fact is this : The greatest problem of to-day perhaps arises from the changes which are made in industry by the introduction of machinery The position is very well put by an American writer, Daniel de Leon, who said -
The ladder up which mankind has been climbing toward civilization, the ever more powerful tool of production, is the stormy centre around which the modern social storm rages. The capitalist class seeks to keep it for its own exclusive use. The middle class seeks to break it down, thereby throwing civilization back. The proletariat seeks to preserve, it. and improve it, and open it to all.
The fact is that the next change, which is being clearly seen in connexion with this matter, is associated with the ownership and control of machinery. I would remind honorable members that in all our States we have by common consent recognised the right of interference with the ownership of land. Gladstone, in his great measure, took the question of rents out of the hands of private owners, and, in so doing, struck a blow at that which used to be called the divine right of owning land”. “ The sacred rights of property “ is one of the many phrases which are gradually becoming obsolete. Men do not talk so strongly now about that phase of the subject.- The great work which has been done in that connexion has led in Ireland and England, even in London itself, to the resuming of areas in municipalities, and the compelling of owners to pull down old buildings - things which we are also doing in Australia. The point I wish to establish is that we have gone beyond that stage when such proposals created alarm ; we have now reached a period when statements regarding the taking over of machinery and the control of production create alarm. Just as in the other case the State found that it had to interfere to carry out the view of Archdeacon Wilson, to give the people a chance to live and so insure the preservation of the race, so we contend that in regard to machinery the same need will have to be recognised. The position that every individual is in is put very well by Professor Moore in the following quota-, tion : -
The fate which befalls the individual in society is not the fate which he merits always, but is necessarily that which his group makes inevitable. Historic justice is not individual but social.
I shall now read a quotation to show what Socialism is not, and then endeavour to make clear to honorable members the reason for these references to the land question and other changes of ideas. Robert Blatchford, who is an English Socialist, and the editor of the Clarion, gives in his Merrie England an answer, which I shall quote in reply to the statements made by the leader of the Government and other random speakers about what Socialism is. Blatchford says -
Socialism does not consist in violently seizing upon the property of the rich and sharing it out amongst the poor. Socialists do not propose by a single Act of Parliament, or by a sudden revolution to put all men on an equality and compel them to remain so. Socialism is not a wild dream of a happy land where the apples drop off the trees into our open mouths, the fish come out of the rivers and fry themselves for dinner, and the looms turn out ready-made suits of velvet with golden buttons without the trouble of coaling the engine. Neither is ‘it a dream of stained-glass angels, who never say damn, who always love their neighbours better than themselves, and who never need to work unless they wish to.
No ; Socialism is none of these things. It is a scientific scheme of national government entirely wise, just, and practical.
– Who says that?
– That statement is made by Robert Blatchford in his Merrie England, which honorable members opposite should read. The book is written in a simple form for those who have a limited intelligence, and therefore is one from which honorable members opposite can learn the A B C of Socialism. A perusal of its pages would give them more correct ideas on the subject. Socialists understand, from close study, what they are aiming at. That they differ in opinion on details is a matter of no consequence, because that occurs in regard to all proposals. Probably the ideas of Louis Gronland who has gone largely into details of how to run a co-operative Commonwealth, would not suit the English or Australian people. The Germanic brand of Socialism is intended for a people who have grown up under a different system, under which every man can be located, and has to fit into a place. It would be natural for writers in that country to be tinged with bureaucratic ideas. But that is not the view generally adopted by English Socialists, and certainly not by the leaders of the movement here which is being termed Socialism. I propose to read a quotation to illustrate the spirit which underlies Socialism. It displays an earnestness which should be recognised, and which justifies us in calling upon our opponents to show that our proposals are wrong and impracticable. It is taken from a work by J. Bruce Glasier on the religion of Socialism, and it is submitted to the consideration of honorable members because statements have been made in this Chamber about the religion of Socialism. The writer says -
And by implying that Socialism has, or is, a religion - what must we be understood to mean? This and no more : that Socialism gives us our highest ideal of the conduct of life, and calls from us the highest service of thought, emotion, and deed - that it is our aim and prophecy, and to it is due the utmost and gladdest devotion of all our gifts and powers.
The next quotation I propose to read is ta,ken, not from one of the great writers, but from John Tamlyn, of Burnley, a propagandist and active worker in the movement, who is well acquainted with the every-day life of the people, and does not reason out his subject on abstract lines. Here is one view which he presents -
What is Socialism? I will give what commends itself to me as a practical working definition. Socialism is an attempt by State Organization of Labour to make every individual of the community perform some honest part of the labour of the community, and to prevent individuals becoming parasites, and shirking -behind the labour of their fellows. Socialism recognises the fact that man has the same selfish instincts as the other animals. Socialism recognises the further fact that when men are left to their own free will - to seek their own good in Society - their tendency is, obeying the lower instincts of their nature, to seek their own good at the expense of their fellows. Socialism declares that in spite of all the preaching to love their neighbour, at present this is the case : the common good has decayed, and a few heap up masses of wealth on the one hand, while thousands live in the direst poverty on the other. Socialism declares that such a state of things, which allows each individual to seek his own particular good at the expense of his fellows, is not Society but anarchy.
– Who said that?
– John Tamlyn, of Burnley. This quotation is taken from one of the propaganda tracts which are scattered broadcast among the masses of the people. And I challenge any honorable member on the other side to say that it is not i. reasonable answer to the statements made by the right honorable gentleman at the head of the Government that Socialism would make all men equal, destroy individuality of character, cause a dividing up, tempt the weak to live on the strong, and so on. But no Socialist advocates the dividing up or taking away of the property of other persons. Let honorable members refer to the writings of those who are authorities on the subject, and study those writings, and then let them discuss the problem on its merits. Only mischief is done by making political cries of words, instead of paying attention to the true meaning underlying those words. The leader of the Government is reported in the Sydney Daily Telegraph of the 1st September to have said -
His own belief contained two ideals : He believed it was a true ideal in politics to use the national power in every conceivable way to advance the welfare of the community. The other ideal he had was to leave individual power as free as he could, consistently with proper national legislation. The mistake of the Socialists was that they would destroy the one ideal so that they might push the other to extreme limits. Under the Socialist’s ideal the weaker man would be leaning on the stronger.
We accept the first two statements’. The ideals of the right honorable member, so far, are our ideals. But we deny that any Socialist holds the views that he sets forth in his third statement. To put such views forward as socialistic ideals is to misrepresent the Socialists, and it. shows . that the right honorable member, has, not . paid, proper attention . to the . subject. , Apparently he has been reading Lord Salisbury, from one of whose speeches I , will. quote a much stronger statement - one which honorable members might use in their propagandist work. Lord- Salisbury said -
There is Socialist legislation, and that is the most popular, which is pure robbery. When you hear people say that all the instruments of production ought to be taken into the hands of the State you know that you are in the presence of mere brigands. They are simply proposing to steal that which does not belong to them. Wilh them no kind of negotiation or terms is possible. They are the enemies of the human race. We must resist them with all the energy and organization in our power.
Later on in the same speech - I leave out a passage which has no relevancy to my present argument - he said -
There is a third proposal to which the term Socialism is freely applied, and that is where it is proposed to use the machinery of the State for the purpose of achieving objects in which the community generally is agreed. Now, in that Socialism in itself, I can see no harm whatever.
It is the kind of socialism there spoken of that we advocate; and that is the kind ofsocialism in which the leader of the Government has declared himself to be a believer. We claim that he occupies the same ground as we do, so far as those views are concerned. Although he calls himself an anti-Socialist, his own words show him to be a Socialist. The first passage which I. have read from Lord Salisbury’s remarks misrepresents the aims of Socialists. Nothing is proposed by them to which the term “ robbery “ could be rightly applied. What we really wish to do is to prevent robbery. But the term robbery, or exploitation, is not used in the ordinary sense; it does not refer to something illegal. In dealing with these questions it must be our endeavour to get behind mere legal ideas. If that was not done in connexion with all legislation, we should have no new laws. Our existence as a Parliament is an acknowledgment of the fact that existing conditions and existing laws require to be altered, and we are constantly amending old Acts. Therefore, the mere fact that something is legal does not justify it ; it may at the same time be immoral and injurious. A law may suit the conditions of society at the time of its passing, but later on its enforcement may create great injustice. Moreover, our aims are impersonal. Altogether there has been a great misinterpretation of terminology. It is manifest that if all exchanges between man and mau were on the lines of equivalent for equivalent, no one would become richer than another. It is only because men are able by means pf the law to take advantage of their fellows, that they succeed in becoming richer. It is claimed, of course, that superior ability should obtain its reward; and no doubt superior ability is sometimes a natural gift. At present, however, the poor cannot give their children the opportunities which the rich are able to give them, because the struggle for existence is so keen that ambition can play no part in their lives. I wish now to give one or two illustrations of the kind of socialism which we consider practical, which is now in operation, and which we think can be extended ; and I will afterwards show the justification for extending it. In the old country there is a vast amount of voluntary co-operation, and millions of pounds are invested in co-operative concerns. In some cases co-operative societies grow their own grain, carry it to their own ships, while their own people bake it. All concerned are shareholders, and the middleman has entirely disappeared. Such systems would prevent what we have recently read of in Victoria - the monopolization by middlemen, to the extent of thousands of pounds, of butter bonuses granted to assist the unfortunate farmers. In Kilmarnock, in Scotland, 86 per cent, of the community are shareholders in co-operative societies, while in several places in England, 60 per cent., and in many other places 10 per cent, of the people are shareholders in co-operative societies. This co-operation is voluntary, and has been organized, not by great statesmen, but by the despised trade unionists. It is doing away with middlemen as unnecessary. In seventeen of the towns and municipalities of the United Kingdom, the profits on electric lighting last year amounted to between ,£300,000 and ,£400,000, while five municipalities which manage their own tramway systems obtained profits amounting to £400,000. Glasgow, which was included in the five, obtained a profit of over ,£200,000. Those are instances of the success of municipal socialism. We do not propose that everything shall be done by the State.. The term “State,” when used by socialistic writers, is understood to. mean the public, and the work I have spoken of Kas been done by the people for the people.
– The honorable member wishes to make co-operation compulsory, whereas in the cases to which he has referred the people acted voluntarily.
– We cannot pass laws, except with the consent of the people.
– That is, the majority of the people.
– All our laws are passed with the consent of the majority of the people. There is no- question of the majority imposing upon the minority something to their detriment. In none of the cases to which I have referred has any desire been manifested to reverse what has been done.
– The enterprises mentioned were entered upon by the majority, whilst others stood out ; whereas under legislation such as that favoured by the honorable member all the members of the community would be compelled to stand in.
– In the case of Glasgow there are really no opponents of the socialistic movement, so far as it has been followed by the municipal authorities.
– There may be a few malcontents.
– Perhaps so; but practically there is no opposition, and it cannot reasonably be said that coercion is being applied. We desire to educate the people to such a point that they will appreciate the benefits of voluntary action upon socialistic lines. Adam Smith said that it was impossible to legislate beyond the aggregate intelligence of the community. In other words, the community must agree to observe the law. Laws are made to compel small minorities to do that which the community voluntarily does. All laws are based upon the customs of the people, upon their voluntary observances. No laws can be enforced except by the voluntary obedience of the majority of the people. Of course, there will always be a few people who will not obey the law voluntarily, and they have to be compelled. Laws are required even in connexion with voluntary co-operative enterprises, for the registration of companies, for defining the duties of the directors, and for otherwise providing for the proper management of such concerns. We cannot do anything of a voluntary character except under the law which protects the individual. The State-owned tramways in Sydney notably illustrate the advantages to be derived from the application of the socialistic principle to that branch of enterprise. They provide facilities much superior to those afforded by the Melbourne tramways, and the fares charged are among the lowest in the world. Much the same could be said about the Glasgow tramways. In Glasgow public washhouses have been established to which housewives can repair and perform in an hour or two work which under ordinary conditions would occupy a whole day. I desire to bring under the notice of honorable members the extent, to which the socialistic principle is applied in our midst. I am sorry that the honorable member for Wannon is not present, because I wish to direct attention to one or two cases in his electorate. In Hamilton, the largest town in the Western district of Victoria, sometimes called the Chicago of the West’, gas is supplied by a private company at the rate of 13s. per 1,000 feet. _ At Port Fairy, a very much smaller town, the gas works are owned by the municipality, which supplies gas at the rate of 10s. per 1,000 feet.
– -Is Hamilton as well situated as Port Fairy so far as the coal supply is concerned ?
– No; but Port Fairy is only a fishing village, and cannot be compared to Hamilton. At Port Fairy, the baths are owned by the municipal council, which- provides hot sea-water baths for 66., whereas the charge made at the privatelyowned baths in Melbourne is is. 6d.
– Does it pay the municipality to provide hot salt water baths for 6d. ?
– Yes. ‘The municipality cannot afford to run its institutions for nothing. Now, returning to Hamilton. Some years ago the cattle sale-yards were in the middle of the town, and were in a disgracefully insanitary condition. They were privately owned, and the two auctioneers who conducted most of the sales had to pay half their commission for the right to use the yards. Eventually the municipal authorities woke up and established yards outside the town, which are kept in splendid order;, and are under the charge of an inspector. There are now eight salesmen in Hamilton, all of whom use the yards, and the revenue derived by the municipality ranges from £500 to /”.Soo per annum.. I have compiled from memory a list of the various operations which are performed amongst us upon a collective basis. I do not say that in all cases the State exercises control, but in every instance the collective system is in operation. In fact, most people would consider it very difficult to eliminate that element. In the first place, we run our Defence Forces upon the collective system. Our Police Force, the administration of justice, and the collection of debts are under State control. Then our Post and Telegraph services are conducted by the State. Not only are letters conveyed through the Post, but also parcels up to 11 lbs. in weight. Our mercantile firms send large parcels of goods into the country through the Postal Department, and the tendency is to extend rather than do away with this system. Our railways and tramways are also run by the State. We control the currency system, and, to a certain extent - although it may not be generally known - we undertake banking business. ‘We regulate weights and measures, and we construct roads. All these things are undertaken either by the municipalities or by the State. Similarly, certain municipal bodies are responsible for the lighting of towns. The State also conducts a scheme of life assurance and controls our educational system. I ask honorable members if they are prepared to revert to the system of “ private enterprise “ in the education of our children? Do we not realize that it is absolutely necessary to see that they do not grow up in ignorance ? My own idea is that we ought? to expend more money in perfecting our educational system, I would further point out that the State undertakes vaccination, and has established a system of pensions in connexion with the retirement of our Judges. It conducts museums, libraries, and art galleries, and we encourage art by purchasing pictures collectively. We provide pilots for the safety of our shipping, and the harbors, wharfs, jetties, and, indeed, some steam-tugs, are State-owned. As a matter of fact, we undertake advertising collectively. We provide parks and gardens for the public benefit, and hotels are conducted very successfully by the State. Indeed, the idea is gaining ground that it would be a good thing if the people owned all the hotels.
– .Does the honorable member know where the honorable member for Melbourne Ports can get a cheap hotel ?
– I believe that the honorable member for Melbourne Ports would vote for any proposal in favour of the State owning all our hotels. I know that he believes in local option, and we should have full option then because the State would entirely control the liquor trade. Further, we construct railways and build bridges. We carry out irrigation works, manufacture rolling-stock for ou railways, and perform foundry work of all kinds. In the same way the State undertakes surveying, issues weather reports, and collects statistics. It owns public batteries and factories. In New South Wales the Government have established clothing and boot factories. The State has founded observatories, and already owns some of the ferries. It cares for the sick, the aged, and insane, and for children of tender years. Some honorable member has characterized the proposal of a German Socialist that the State should take charge of children as a “ mad “ one.
– He proposes to take them away from parental control.
– Honorable members opposite have a wonderful genius for imagining that other people are utterly devoid of sense. I wish them to recognise that they themselves are Socialists, and I desire to know whether or not they are prepared to draw the line of demarcation at what has already been accomplished?
– The Minister of Trade and Customs preserves a sphinx-like silence.
– The Minister will have an opportunity to speak next week. I am speaking nearly all Oris week. The result of the experiment of the State of South Australia taking care of children has proved a great success. They are so well looked after by the lady inspectors that the mortality rate amongst them is very much lower that it is where they are under the control of parents. In many cases the State, by force of law. has taken children from their parents and cared for them.
– Is it true that three men listened to the honorable member for two days’, and at the end of that period went home and died?
– I hope that some of my honorable friends opposite will die politically, after the division on the motion has taken place. I know that no members of my party will leave the House as the result of it.
– The honorable member appears to have frightened a good many of them out of the Chamber.
– We do not expect a large attendance of honorable members on Fridays’. I recognise that my remarks have been somewhat drawn out, but I shall not trespass much further on the time of the House.- I repeat that the care of children by the State has proved an excellent system. Then, again, I would pom: out, in support of my contention that we are a largely socialistic community, that the State carries on printing, lithography, photography, all branches of book-bird ing and engraving, -ship-building, and’ even dairying and poultry-farming.
– Is the honorable member referring to Mr. Tom Mann’s projected poultry-farm ?
– I am speaking of what the people of the States are doing collectively. I have mentioned only a few instances of State Socialism. Among other things, the State also deals with sanitation and other matters relating to health. Municipalities are required to attend to local sanitary arrangements; and when they neglect to do so they are brought to their bearings by a Central Board of Health. In this way the people are coerced by the State to do anything that is necessary in the interests of public health. In Sydney, the city of the beautiful harbor, the State Government found it necessary to step in and appoint men to clean up the back yards of persons who would not do this work for themselves. That step was rendered necessary owing to the outbreak of the plague. Aldermen of the city, . most of whom were property-owners, had appointed an inspector, who carefully shut his eyes when he visited premises owned by them. One lane which had been passed as clean was subsequently inspected by State officials, and 70 tons of filth were removed from it. The fact is that we cannot do without coercion. It is necessary for the State, in the interests of the community, to interfere from time to time with private enterprise. In spite of the adverse conditions surrounding almost the whole of our industrial system, the average length of life of persons engaged in industries has been increased by about two years since the State insisted upon the observance of sanitary laws.
– It has been increased by more than two years.
– Perhaps I have underestimated the average, but I would rather understate it than overstate it. I like to be moderate.
– The honorable member is a moderate Socialist.
– No; I am a practical Socialist. We exercise control over fisheries ; our municipal councils control public baths; and the State also controls banking, and lends money. The Minister of Trade and Customs, who is half a Prime Minister, is one of the strongest advocates of State money lending. He would build houses for all our industrious farmers.
– He is an old Socialist.
– An extreme Socialist. The Government of Ne,w Zealand own coal mines, and in ‘Australia the State carries on assaying and prospecting. The PostmasterGeneral is a strong Socialist, in the sense that he would give every possible assistance to those engaged in the mining industry. As a member of the State Parliament, he showed that he favoured Socialism, by supporting the erection of public batteries for the use of miners. A considerable sum of money has been spent by the States Governments of New South Wales and Victoria in prospecting, so that it may well be said that we, as a community, engage in mining. We interfere with private enterprise to such an extent that there is scarcely any branch of industrial life in which the State does not take a part. We also engage in the export trade, and the New South Wales Government has established a fund for the relief of those injured while following mining pursuits. That fund is maintained by contributions from the State, the mine-owners, and the workers, and the arrangement works admirably. I have given only a short list of those industries in which the States take a part. I have a list of about seventy-four of these industries.
– The honorable member, judging by his notes, is not yet half-way through his speech. Is he not getting tired ?
– 1 shall not inflict upon the House the whole of the subject-matter dealt willi in my notes. I always leave a few remarks unsaid.
– After that. I think that the honorable member is an Irish Socialist.
– I shall have to ask Hansard to put at the foot of my address the words, “ To be continued in our next.” The difficulty is that when I rise to speak on such a broad and general question as that now before us, so many subjects occur to my mind which I have not dealt with in. my notes, that my address is generally much longer than I intended at the outset it should be.
– Is the honorable member preparing a political romance.
– I am giving the House not a romance, but some of the hard facts of life. I wish to make a short quotation, which indicates the spirit in which we view the question of the classes, from a speech delivered by a Socialist member of the French Chamber of Deputies, M. Guesde. In answer to an interjection, “ What is Socialism?” he -made an impromptu statement with which I am sure we must aall agree. I have frequently given expression to similar views. ‘ He said -
Once more I bid you observe that I accuse no man. I arraign only institutions, not individuals. What distinguishes us Socialists whom you charge with incitements to class hatreds, is the knowledge and affirmation of the utter irresponsibility of men set against each other by interests which dominate and determine all their acts. As they stand, the capitalist is 119 more responsible for living on the backs of the proletariat than are these for being daily, hourly exploited. The situation is an economic historical fatality. Humanity only progresses, and only has progressed, ii the midst of pains, and through blood and ruins. It has always been compelled to climb its Calvary to the summit, and to pass by the agony of the cross to reach its redemption by science.
The proposals of the Labour Party - of the Socialistic Party - are on those lines. When we speak of exploitation and robbery we do not blame individuals, but we blame the system; we do not attack capitalists as men, ‘but attack the system which produces capitalists and poverty. Indeed, many capitalists are themselves Socialists, and we do not blame them for taking advantage of the present system in the struggle for life ; we can quite see that they are forced to . do so. When a man who has been taught a profession or has learned a business iin a mercantile house or workshop commences for himself, as he is justified in doing, he does not consider his competitors. He goes into a town and endeavours bv energy and advertising to draw custom, and thus secure a living and a competency, though he may be the means of driving others into insolvency- As I said before, under the present system men are compelled to go into occupations and do’ work which is repugnant to them - in some cases to be unjust to and sweat their fellows. That is the kind of thing we say that only Socialism can alter-
– In the socialistic State will all people be able to choose their own avocations ?
– I shall answer ‘ the honorable member by citing the case of a friend of mine - a working man and a labour agitator. This man was a contractor under the Shire Council of Penshurst, on the borders of the Wannon constituency. He was an excellent worker and manager of men, and in one year he cleared ^400. When the time came for tendering again, he called together the men who had worked for him, and said, “ I made ,£400 last year, but it was by your work, and not all by my own energy.” This man is most powerfully built, and, in a general way, might be said to be equal to two men. He continued, “ It is not my money ; I consider I have taken advantage of you, and I now propose that we should work co-operatively.”
– What would have happened if he had made a loss ?
– Wait a moment. I’ am about to relate a fact that will answer the honorable member. This man, who is now a selector in New South Wales, went on to say to his men that it was not he who had earned the money, and that he proposed in future they should work in cooperation. He said that he would tender for the work, and take care that the price was high enough to make it pay. Thereupon, one of his men, who was powerfully built, pointed out that another of the workmen was not so big as himself , and asked !why he should be called upon to share alike with him. That is exactly the position. The answer that my friends Jack Reid, made-
– Reid !
– A very good name. The -present Socialistic Government - this butty-gang Government, equal in all things -is following the same principle. The only difference is that the Government are not equal in talking, seeing that we cannot get any Minister except the Prime Minister, to speak. The answer that my friend made to the man was. “ That smaller man can drive the dray just as well as you can, though he may not be as good as you in your special work as a quarryman ; his special line is driving a dray, and he is just as necessary to the work as yourself.”
– Sheer, despotism ! To put one man in the quarry and the other in the dray ! ‘
– At any rate, ari arrangement was made which was satisfactorily carried out. Lest honorable members may draw a wrong inference from the case I have cited, which is a case of simple co-operation. I ought to say that Socialists do not advocate equality of pay.
– Some schools of Socialists do.
– I have already said that there ate different schools of Socialism ; but I am talking of the school to which we belong - the Australian school, if honorable members like.. We do not propose an impracticable socialism which would do away with wages. In the voluntary co-operative system in England trades union wages are paid, and the profits are divided; and it is not fair to saythat we advocate simple communism. A great deal of what has been said outside against Socialism applies to communism, and it only show’s that those who use the words have no knowledge of the subject. I am not saying that communism may not once more prevail. The early Christians were communists.
– Is it not a fact that some of the best Socialist philosophers say that communism is the only method?
– I am not saying that it is not so. What I am dealing with now is the living present, and I am justifying certain changes which are advocated. I do not propose to speculate as to the future - as to the possibility of communism. One of the most disgraceful facts in our present civilization, with our degree of widespread education, is that nearly all our worries and our work concern the buying and selling of food and clothing, of which nature supplies such an unlimited quantity that every living soul could, under another System, have all he could possibly consume. It is because of that fact that Socialism is advocated. I should like to quote from Mr. Sidney Webb, as showing the school of Socialism in which we believe. He said -
Advocates of social reconstruction have learnt the lesson of democracy, and know that it is through the slow and gradual turning of the popular mind to new principles that social reorganization bit by bit comes.
That’ is the position we take up.
– Where do honorable mem- bers propose to draw the line?
– We do not draw the line; it is the people who draw the line, according to their judgment of existing conditions. That statement by Mr. Sidney Webb marks the guiding line of our movement. I have mentioned that a certain school of Socialism - the Australian Socialistic League - want to accomplish a change by revolution - constitutional revolution, by Act of Parliament. We do not belong to this school, the members of which denounce us as anti-Socialists. We say that they are impractical, and that we must have the consent of the people for every step we take. The people have already done much, and will do still more in the direction of Socialism, and the movement is certain to advance. The con dition of affairs which may be eventually developed, may be considered communism, when, owing to the advance of science, it may be but mere exercise to supply the wants of all the people. It is estimated, even now, that if everybody did his share of work, the labour of all for two hours a day would produce all that could possibly be utilized. This may be considered only an estimate and calculation by mathematicians, but it shows that we have already reached’ a time when by the exercise of our powers we could remedy many of our difficulties and miseries. Sidney Webb further says there should be a- - close examination of materials composing the structure of society, their relations to each other, and their ideas regarding the moral rights of each and also -
Change comes by the will of the people, democratic, and slow enough to avoid bad effects morally.
We can only succeed by a proper recognition of these principles. This is an important phase of the matter with which I desire to deal, and I connect it with the references I have already made to the; changes which have taken place in the minds of a great many on the subject of land ownership. In this connexion I last night purposely .quoted some figures with respect to the Western District of Victoria. It is recognised and admitted that it is against the interests of the people as a whole that the land in that district, to which I referred, should not be put to its proper use. Th° equal ownership of land as the source of ali wealth is now very generally recognised as desirable. But Socialists recognise - and the opposition to the idea is now one of the biggest difficulties which they have to surmount - that machinery is in the same position, and its control must be taken in hand by the community. Machinery is being introduced very rapidly, and it is displacing men. When land -was occupied only by sheep the door was dosed on the natural opportunity, which all should have, of access to the source of all wealth. That is generally recognised and admitted, and we claim that the position is exactly the same with respect to machinery. When there is placed in the hands of an individual or group of individuals the control of machinery which displaces labour, where is labour to go? If all production is to be performed by machinery, what is to become of the labourer?
– Would the honorable member abolish all machinery?
– I am not quite a fool. I do not object to reasonable interjections, but I am now dealing with a very important question, which I hope the honorable member for Wentworth will study, because I am unwilling to give up hope that the honorable member may some day become a democrat. It is only because honorable members have not studied the matter that they fail to recognise that the position with respect to land and machinery is the same. After all, what is machinery? We have taken many of the latent forces of nature from the land, which is the storehouse of nature. We have exploited nature to some extent, and have availed ourselves of some of its forces. We have made use of substances found in nature. Iron and steel have been placed in certain relations to each other, and, utilizing certain forces of nature, we have taken control of them. The principle is exactly the same as that involved in men taking control of land, and shutting other men off that- land. The man taking control of machinery which displaces labour, shuts that labour out from benefiting by the introduction of that machinery. So that, unless we have machinery under the control of the community, and unless production becomes production for use of the community, rather than for profit of the individual, we can have no hope that we shall be able to do away with the social evils and misery which now exist. I think honorable members must see that. They are aware of the alarm which was created by the proposal to nationalize land; but that that is a wise proposal is now recognised, and admitted even by the Premier of Victoria. That honorable gentleman has undertaken to give effect to the principle, and no one is likely to charge him with being a Socialist, or, at all events, a conscious Socialist. The other half of the Prime Minister has advocated the same principle, and I wish honorable members opposite to see that it is inconsistent on their part to abuse the nationalization of other things when, to a limited extent at all events, they agree to the nationalization of land. It need hardly be asserted that, no one proposes that we should take anything from anybody We propose to take land, but we do not propose to do so without compensating the owner of that land. As a matter of fact, we compensate him handsomely. We pay him for something he never produced at all. We pay him for more than his improvements, because he very often takes the unearned increment to which he is on no moral ground entitled. In connexion with the nationalization of machinery, we see no reason why it may not be gradually effected, by following on the lines which I have already indicated. We may gradually extend the number of factories managed and controlled by the State, or ‘it may be that when the ownership of machinery develops into a monopoly we may see fit to take over that monopoly. This is the present policy, in a practical way, of the Labour Party. The trend of the present industrial system is distinctly in the direction of trusts and monopolies. In America the whole telegraphic system of the country is in the -hands of two companies, bossed by a single syndicate. There is there also what is known as the “ TripleAlliance,” in the shape of the oil, sugar, and whisky trusts. We say that here we have already reached a condition of monopoly in one industry, the tobacco industry, and that other monopolies are coming. When industries have reached) that stage we say that the community should take them over. We do not say that they should all be taken over now. We are quite willing that the evolution should go on, and should in fact be conducted by the anti-Socialists, if honorable members please, who are at present working as hard as they can for Socialism. Those of us who have studied these questions know that we are proceeding in the right way, and we desire that others shall come to believe that if is the right thing that monopolies should be taken over by the State. All monopolies enormously cheapen the cost of production, and we shall be able to do away with a vast number of unnecessary middlemen who are now engaged in the general struggle for existence, and at the same time serve to increase the cost of the article to the consumer. We desire that all that should be wiped out altogether, and it is only by the adoption of Socialism that that can be done. I defy any man who gives any study to this question to propose any other means that is not a revolution. We cannot change men suddenly by Act of Parliament; the alteration can be effected only by a gradual change in the ideas by which they are governed. Unfortunately many persons go around with their mental eyes shut, and they fail to recognise these things. Thev are like a man in a dream, or like an individual known to myself, who is so absent-minded and absorbed in the solution) of problems that he has often passed his own wife on the .footpath, and she has had to bump him with an umbrella before he has recognised her. We desire that the minds of men shall be concentrated honestly on this subject, not for any party reasons at all, but because we believe that when they think the matter out. fully they will realize that the Labour Party, whose members have studied these questions, are not proposing drastic and extreme measures. We do not propose to put society on a right footing by means of Acts of Parliament. We do not propose to take anything from anybody, but we do propose to allow to the poor and down-trodden some chance of a reasonable living. What has been our work, so far, but to attempt to secure by means of trades unions proper conditions, and something like a living wage for working men, and by our factory laws Ito secure for them reasonable hours of labour? These measures are all palliatives of existing industrial conditions. The real and final solution of the question must come from every one having an equal opportunity to earn his living, and from having that opportunity assured to him. What impulse is there for a man to do his best when he knows that the harder he works the’ more the price of his labour will be cut down? What nonsense it is to talk of individuality being developed under such conditions ! We see now a fierce struggle for existence in which the workers are driven to work by the lash and by the fear of starvation staring them in the. face ; and, to make matters worse, their employers sneer at them. I know that the honorable member for Parramatta is an intelligent man and a student. He has worked amongst the coal-miners himself, and he knows that there are men in this country engaged in manual labour who are equal in ability to honorable members in this House. We who have worked amongst them, and know them as mates, are aware that the intelligence, and the brain power of this country is not concentrated in its Parliaments, and certainly not in the Commonwealth Parliament. These intelligent men have less class-feeling than some- honorable members would think. They have no hatred against the employing class. They are aware that it is the system that is at fault, not the individuals who benefit from the system. Personally, I am an admirer of the tyrant, wherever he may be found. He has his value. I have often said, and I say again, that if I had a hand din the erection of monuments to eminent people I would erect them to the tyrants of the world. I have no feeling of ‘hatred towards the most avaricious capitalist or sweater. He makes men realize that there are faults in the social system under which they live. He awakens them from apathy, and causes them to realize the necessity for bringing about a more healthy condition of affairs. Many of those who condemn the Socialist pro gramme clearly show that they have no knowledge of ,the subject. They merely appeal to the prejudice and the classfeeling of people. The preaching of reactionary doctrines never had any other . effect than to lead the masses in the direction of democracy. I had a number of other points to make, but I will not deal with them to-day. I should require a couple of hours more to complete my points, but I will leave them for another opportunity. I have made a remark about the constitutional position. I wish to repeat it. It is a fact which honorable members opposite must realize - that the people of Australia elect their Parliament on the broadest franchise, and that nothing in the way of legislation can be done except with their approval. We must demand that every candidate who submits himself to the people shall state definitely what he proposes to do. The people should set their facesagainst the independent- the man who hides what he intends) to do when he gets into Parliament, and who takes upon himself the privilege of declaring that he is to be the best judge of his actions as a representative. That is not how representative institutions should be conducted. It is not in accordance with the true principles of democratic government. I again ask this Government what they propose to do? They seem to have no policy except to appeal to class prejudices. The Government declare themselves to be antiSocialists; but I hope the people will realize that it is not safe, especially at the present juncture, to intrust the administration of affairs to men who have no’ definite programme. There is safety only in intrusting the government to men who know what they want to do; because when a man has studied a subject, and knows) what he wishes to achieve, he is less likely to fall into errors than are those who are driven along blindly. The Government having no policy in a concrete form, simply live on the vague misunderstanding of a word. They are supported iri the country by the ideas of men like Mr. Walpole, who’ has argued that marriage is a luxury, and who would deny to a working man the chance of going to a theatre or having a drink of beer perhaps to make him forget his miseries. Do the Government intend to appeal to the country on the policy that marriage is to be declared a luxury? They should declare what they mean, or it must be dragged out of them. I am sure that the honorable member for Wilmot, before he will consent to vote with the Government, will want to know what he is committing himself to. I do not think that he would be opposed to anything that could be shown to be for the general good. That is all that the party to which I belong is seeking. We have a right to be judged by our platform, and not by any prejudice created over the mere misunderstanding of a word. We have adopted the title of the Labour Party, not because it is a nice sounding term, but because it describes our aims. The very adoption of the word labour is a proof that we intend to use our powers in the interests of mankind - for the development of all that will promote the happiness of manhood and womanhood. That is the great aim which we have before us. We desire to so change the conditions under which society is governed, that men and women shall possess equally a good environment, to the end that we may be able to produce a race of whose qualities, physical and mental, we shall have just cause to be proud.
– I do not suppose that a motion of no-confidence in the Government can be discussed without the introduction of personalities. The honorable member for Darling lifted this debate from the region of personalities, and carried us into the clouds, and it is now time for us to descend to earth. There were one or two matters on which he touched in the same manner as he did in his electioneering campaign. He tried to make his constituents believe that if the free-traders had their way they would impose a duty on seven or eight hundred articles, which are now free. But he forgot to tell them that the Tariff, as introduced by the right honorable member for Adelaide, was considerably modified by the free-traders.
– That is pretty rough on the protectionist half of the Ministry.
– The honorable member for Darling has a perfect right to give freetraders credit for what they do. We are quite prepared to stand our ground. We have been able to defend our position. New South Wales has been dragged into this discussion a good deal, and very unnecessarily, I think. But she is quite able to look after her own finances. At the last general election, she showed the Labour Party that she intends to do without their aid, for she returned to power a party which is not at their domination. The Labour Party now comprise only a little over one-fourth of the Legislative Assembly, and therefore occupy a very different position from that which they used to hold. Their number has been increased at the expense of the then Ministerialists. The Opposition party at the time came back from the polls more powerful than ever, although they had lost several seats as the result of the splitting of votes.
– Do not let it happen again.
– Let us have a second ballot so that the majority may rule.
– It would be a very good thing if our Electoral Act provided for the holding of a second ballot. In this session very little legislation has been passed. We have had a debate on the Address-in-Reply and on two Ministerial statements, and now a vote of censure upon the Ministry is being discussed. The debate on the last Ministerial statement fizzled out because it awakened very little interest. The present debate is dragging itself wearily along. Personal explanations constitute its principal feature. ‘ Nearly every day an honorable member has to rise and make a personal explanation. That is a very peculiar way of carrying oh a debate on a no-confidence motion. The chief charge’ against the Ministry is that they are a coalition. For the first time the free-traders and protectionists have sunk their fiscal differences for the purpose of carrying on the Government in a constitutional manner. It was certainly a great concession for the free-traders, as well as the protectionists, . to agree to sink the fiscal issue.
– When knocked out.
– There has been no sacrifice of principle on the part of the free-traders. We have, however, decided to sink our fiscal differences, and carry on the Government of the Commonwealth, as far aspossible, in a constitutional manner.
– The free-traders in the Labour Party are all light.
– I believe they are. When thissession was opened, the House was divided’ as nearly as possible into three equal parties-
The then Prime Minister decided that such a state of things could not be allowed to. continue; that he would not hold power at the bidding of any party which was not loyal.
– Why did not the honorable member support him and keep him in office ?
– Why did not the Labour Party keep the honorable and learned member for Ballarat in office? At the earliest opportunity, the honorable and learned member made up his mind to test the feeling of the House, so that the Government of the Commonwealth could be carried on in a proper and constitutional manner. There is no act which reflects greater credit on that honorable and learned member than his’ decision not to hold office at the bidding of a party which was not loyal to him, and sitting behind him. The same position is taken up by the present Ministry, who do not wish to hold office without a majority at their back.
Opposition Members. - Hear, hear !
– My honorable friends on the other side will see when the time comes that the Government have a majority behind them.
– The honorable and learned member for Ballarat would not take office in the coalition Government.
– The honorable and learned member for Ballarat is the head of the Protectionist movement in Victoria. He considered that now that a truce had been declared, and a coalition formed, his duty was still to be ready to lead his forces if any great protectionist issue were raised.
– He is the watchdog of the protectionists.
– He is the watchdog of the Reid Ministry.
– The honorable and learned member for Ballarat is still leader of the Protectionist Party, and although a fiscal truce has been declared, there has not been one jot or tittle of principle given away by either party on this side.
– They had nothing to give away.
– Nothing to give away ! Why we have taken a leaf out of the book of the Labour Party. How have they been able to advance so much? Because the free-traders and the protectionists were continually fighting ohe another over the fiscal question. The Labour Party decided to sink the fiscal issue, and persuaded freetraders and protectionists to waive their fiscal differences and fight under the banner of labour. And novj because we have sunk the fiscal question-
– What an admission to make I The honorable member is the only man who has admitted that he has sunk the fiscal question.
– We have entered into a truce and the question of the Tariff is not to be raised during this Parliament. We have decided that, for the life of this Parliament, there shall be a coalition for the purpose of carrying on the Government in a constitutional manner. There were some honorable members who were not in favour of that proposal. The protectionist wing thought, after looking all round, that the wisest thing they could do would be to fall in with the Labour Party and form an alliance.
– It is a “fall in” all right.
– It is a “ fall in.”
– Mr. Anstey savs it is a “ fall in.”
– Who is he?
– The honorable member’s “ boss “ leader in Victoria.
– The protectionist wing considered that their wisest plan was not to invite the opposition of the Labour Party at the next general election, and therefore they decided to fall in with them as far as possible. I remember an alliance in New South Wales between the right honorable member for East Sydney and the Labour Party, who had been supporting his Government. At the general election he advised his free-trade supporters not to oppose labour candidates ; in fact, he went so far as to ask me to go and support a labour candidate, which I did. But the very men whom he supported then, whose return he helped to secure, afterwards put hiim out of power. Those honorable members who think that they will escape ‘ opposition from the Labour Party are very much mistaken. I am sure that they will not lower their flag to. save any man. They believe in their principles, and they have a right to insist that every man who receives their support shall sign their pledge. They have put their platform before’ the world, and every man who allies himself with the party should be ready to subscribe to their tenets. After the honorable and learned member for Ballarat retired from office the Labour Party took up the reins of Government, but existed as a Ministry on sufferance only.
– The present Government are in exactly the same position.
– We shall soon find out whether or not that is so.
– The Prime Minister has stated that the Government can do no business unless the Opposition give him their assistance.
– The honorable and learned member for Ballarat said that he was prepared to give the late Government fair play, and he kept his promise. No vote of censure was moved during the whole of the time they were in office.
– They were stabbed in the back.
– We amended the Arbitration Bill, and improved it in every possible way, but the Labour Party were not content. They wished to have clause 48 recommitted, so that the amendment restricting the power of the Court to grant preference to unionists might be modified. They told honorable members that, unless the previous vote was reversed, they would resign office; but, with one or two exceptions, those honorable members who had voted in favour of the amendment remained true to their principles. The late Government chose their own battle-ground, and suffered a well-merited defeat. The Arbitration Bill, which was brought prominently before the electors at the last general election, has involved the fate of two Ministries, and we have yet to see how the present Government will fare. The measure has been greatly improved by the modification of the provisions with regard to the common rule, by the restrictions placed upon the power of the Court to grant preference to unionists, and by the removal of the agricultural industry beyond the scope of the measure. The best interests of the community would have been menaced if the agricultural industry had been brought under the operation of the Bill. I do not see how the Labour Party can reasonably object to the coalition formed by members on this side of the House, who have, in accordance with the understanding arrived at at- the last election, sunk the fiscal issue.
– How did the honorable member secure his election?
Mi. LEE. - I stood as a straight-out free-trader.
– Then the honorable mem-, ber did not sink the fiscal issue.
– I have agreed to sink the fiscal issue for the present, because I realize that it is of no use to run one’s head against a wall. The Labour Party have sunk the fiscal issue.
– We have been told that it is intended to again raise that issue ; but I do not believe that the Labour Party will fight under the protectionist banner.
– The honorable member has sunk his electorate.
– I am not afraid to face the consequences of what I. have done.
– The honorable member for Gwydir will not have only Colonel Onslow to oppose him at the next election.
– Perhaps the honorable and learned member will come up and fight me.
– I am very sorry to again have to call attention to the remarks passing between honorable members across the Chamber. Such conversations are entirely out of order, and I shall have to mention the name of the next honorable member who offends. I should be extremely reluctant to take such an extreme course, and I hope that I shall not have occasion to do so.
– It has been stated during this debate that the free-traders have swallowed the protectionists, but I would point out that the Minister who holds the purse-strings is a protectionist, and that the Minister of Trade and Customs, and also the Minister who stands behind the guns, are of the same political faith. Therefore, I do not think that there is much swallowing in the case.
– Where do the free-traders come in?
– One stands at the top of the tree. I do not think there is any danger of the protectionist members of the Ministry being called upon to act contrary to their principles, or of their suffering from their association with the free-traders any more than the members of the Labour Party will suffer owing to their connexion with the protectionists. In the eye; of the Labour Party it is apparently almost a crime for free-traders and protectionists to form a coalition. We have, however, joined forces in the interests of constitutional government, and we intend to do our best to defeat the efforts of the Labour Party to force their socialistic ideas upon the community. I am very much surprised that the Labour Party have entered into an alliance with the
Protectionist Party. That alliance has been brought about by the parliamentary representatives who belong to the party, but I do not think that it will be approved of by the labour organizations outside Parliament. If it is, we shall have a new set of conditions, and I think that the Labour Party will be those who will suffer most by the change. So long as the party remains distinct from the other parties in its aims and methods, it will be a power in the land ; but if it allies itself with other parties, it will lose influence. The alliance which has been made is. to last for this and the next Parliament; but honorable members have no right to make promises which will bind the members of next Parliament, because they do not know that they will be here then. Half of those who joined the alliance may not be returned. I do not pretend to be a prophet, but my word’s may nevertheless be true. We may have to go to the country very shortly.
– The honorable member will then have to consider his own chances of re-election.
– I consider .them very seriously. We have to look at all these matters straight in the face. The motion for the appointment of a Commission to inquire into the operation of the Commonwealth Tariff, of which the honorable and learned member for Indi gave notice just prior to the moving of this motion of censure, was merely an electioneering move. Almost all the talk about the necessity for revising the Tariff has come from two or three of the protectionist representatives of Victoria, We do not hear anything about it from the protectionists of the other States. The terms of the honorable and learned member’s motion, however, are so indefinite, that it might’ equally well have been brought forward by a free-trader. The freetraders are just as anxious as are the protectionists for a satisfactory Tariff.
– Then why does the honorable member say that the giving of notice of the motion was a political move?
– Because it was done immediately before the moving of this motion of want of confidence. Although the honorable and learned member for Indi could have given notice of his motion months ago, he deferred doing’ so until the present time, so that if there happens to be an election he will be able to tell the electors that he was ready to do something for them. In my opinion, there should be no alteration of the Tariff until the constituencies have spoken in regard to the matter. The honorable and learned member for Ballarat, who was at the time Prime Minister, let it be distinctly understood in Victoria prior to the late general elections that he declared for fiscal peace, and that position was afterwards accepted by the right honorable member for East Sydney and the honorable member for Bland. When the new House met, the three parties had agreed that in the interests of legislation the fiscal issue should be put on one side for a time. Now that there are only two parties in the House, the question is being brought forward again, so that if there is an appeal to the country, those who have given notices of motion may be able to profit toy their action. The Prime Minister Has been twitted for refraining from referring to the old-age pensions question when making his policy speech ; but we must accept his statement that he did so through an oversight, and we know that the policy of the Government in regard to the matter was declared by the AttorneyGeneral in another place, and subsequently by another Minister. The. leader of the Opposition has stated that it was the intention of his party to provide for a Commonwealth old-age pensions scheme during the present Parliament, whether the States were satisfied or not, to use his own words. The Government, however, propose first to consult the States’ in the matter, which is the more reasonable course to take. At the present time New South Wales and Victoria, which contain two-thirds of the population of the Commonwealth, have old-age pensions systems in force, and if there is anything in the boast of the Labour Party that Queensland and Western Australia are under Labour control, I ask why do they not bring old-age pensions laws into force in those States? The old-age pensions system is a very difficult one for the Commonwealth to provide for, because, in order to obtain through the Customs1 House the ^1,500,000 which would be necessary to establish it, ^6,000,000 would have to be raised, in order to comply with the provision of the Constitution which requires that three-fourths of the Customs revenue raised by the Commonwealth shall be returned to the States. It would be preposterous to propose the levying of so much additional taxation, and the fact shows that the Labour Party are not in earnest when they speak about providing for Commonwealth old-age pensions without making preliminary arrangements with the States.
The honorable member for Barrier interjected, when the subject was discussed before, “ Cannot we raise a land tax ? ‘ ‘ but I do not think that the Labour Party are prepared to go to the country in advocacy of the imposition of a land tax for the purpose of providing old-age pensions.
– I am.
– I think that the honorable member is the only one who would do so. It would be wrong to deprive the States of a means of revenue upon which they now so largely depend. The Commonwealth would’ have no right to’ step in and take from the States the right to impose taxation upon land. We hear a good deal about interference with States rights. If some persons had their way, there would be no States rights at all. The proposal of the Prime Minister to enter into an arrangement with the Treasurers .of the States before providing for any Commonwealth old-age pensions system is the right one, and I am sure will be carried into effect if the States are agreeable to the establishment of a Commonwealth old-age pensions system. The Ministry are certainly doing right in refusing to impose direct taxation to provide for a Commonwealth old-age pensions system, and it would be unfair to increase the heavy Customs burdens which the people bear. Then, the leader of the Opposition considers that the Commonwealth should at once appoint a High Commissioner to represent it in London, without first conferring with the States. It must be remembered, however, that each of the States now maintains an AgentGeneral, and it is necessary to confer with them, before appointing a High Commissioner, to see whether it is not possible to get him to discharge the duties now performed by these Agents-General, and thus save expense. I believe that the establishment of the proposed Department of Agriculture would prove very beneficial to the Commonwealth. Such a Department would be able to impart useful knowledge to those engaged upon the soil.
– Would not that be Socialism ?
– I do not think so. It would not take anything from the people, neither would it interfere with individual liberty. Instead of each State having a Department of Agriculture, and commercial agencies, I am of opinion that the Commonwealth should establish a central office, and control the whole business. The programme of the Government is a good one, and I believe that they are able to give effect to it. They have a perfect right to the support of honorable members, and I am satisfied that when they are called upon to face the country, they will be returned by a very large majority. When the present Parliament opened, there were three parties in this House. Now there are only two parties, though they are of very nearly equal strength. In that respect, I believe that an improvement has been effected. I repeat that when the electors are called upon to express their opinions through the ballotbox, they will clearly demonstrate that the Ministry possesses the confidence- of the country by adding to the strength of their supporters.
– I had no idea that the attack upon the Government would fall so flat at this early stage of the debate. If that attack is to terminate with what has been said by members of the Opposition who have already addressed the House, it is one of the lamest that has ever been levelled against any Administration. Even the supporters of the honorable member for Bland have acknowledged that his speech was absolutely without vim- and force. It has been urged that inasmuch as the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne, and the honorable and learned member for West Sydney - two exMinisters - had spoken, Ministers should have replied. But I would point out that there was nothing in their indictment for Ministers to reply to.
– Or defend?
– The honorable member for Newcastle will have an opportunity of stating his own views presently. When the Prime Minister replied to the attack of the leader of the Opposition, there was nothing to be added by Ministerial supporters. Nothing that was said by the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne and the honorable and learned member for West Sydney calls for any comment, if I except one of the most scurrilous and disgraceful attacks on the part of the latter that is to be found in parliamentary history. The honorable and learned member has made his explanation, and that explanation has gone forth to the whole of Australia. Personally, I feel satisfied that when the time comes, the wharf labourers of West Sydney, who have a scrupulous regard for honesty, and do not believe in trickery, will deal with the honorable and learned member who resorted to such disgraceful tactics in the manner that he deserves. The honorable and learned member for Corio also made a bitter personal attack upon the Prime Minister. Time after time during the course of his speech, I called upon him to produce the letter from Mr. T. A. Dibbs, the manager of the Commercial Bank, Sydney - one of the foremost financial institutions in New South Wales - in which the honorable and learned member declared it was stated that Mr. Reid had “ cooked “ the public accounts of that. State. It is true that he did produce a letter from Mr. Dibbs, but it contained no such statement as had been attributed to him. Evidently the sole object of the honorable and learned member was to besmirch the name of the Prime Minister as much as possible. When I asked him to produce the letter stating that the accounts had been “ cooked “ he was unable to do so.- These are the tactics to which Opposition members have resorted in supporting a motion of censure against the Government. In reality they have not attacked the present Administration. Their action has been animated by a paltry feeling of jealousy. They realize full well that they cannot rise to the heights of- statesmanship to which the present Prime Minister has attained. They recognise their weakness, and that the only way in which they can drag his name in the mire is by adopting these despicable tactics.
– Anybody would think that the honorable and learned member was serious.
– I am serious, but I am not so anxious concerning the result of this motion, as is the honorable member. I am perfectly willing to face my constituents, because I have always acted a straightforward part j but the manner in which the honorable member and the tail of the’ Protectionist Party have acted will call for a great deal of explanation. Despite all the promises which have been made, the socalled alliance between honorable members opposite has not been consummated in the way that some people imagine, and I venture to say that no agreement to the contrary will prevent ‘ selected labour candidates from opposing their allies at the next election. Experience has shown that those who assist the Labour Party to effect liberal reforms, in the interests of the masses, are the first whom they’ stab and put down. The honorable member for Bourke is playing a verv dangerous game. He is placing himself in the hands of a section which knows no party but its own. The whole history of the Labour Party in the New
South Wales Legislature shows that its members are always ready to support a Government in return for concessions. The Labour Party in this Parliament has no power to enter into an alliance with any other party. Any person who. allies himself with it must carry out its ideals. Members like the honorable member for Bourke will yet receive their just reward for deserting the party with which they were previously associated. Honorable members opposite wish to know why we have not had speeches from more members of the Ministry, but I should like to learn why some of the big guns of the tail of the Protectionist Party on the Opposition cross benches have not yet spoken. So -far, the honorable and learned member for Indi, the honorable member for Hume, and other members in the Opposition corner have remained silent as to their present position. I have not the slightest doubt that when some of these honorable members see fit to speak and to say whether they have become disciples of Tom Mann, members of the Ministry will be prepared to reply, and to put their position fairly before the people. We know that the disciple of Socialism to whom I have referred is at present being paid by a body, which was responsible for the return of the Labour Party, to lecture in various parts of Victoria and other States in support of Socialism. Honorable members in the Opposition corner who have joined the newly-formed alliance are in one of two positions : either they are disciples of the Socialism preached by Mr. Tom Mann - which was so prominently put before the House the other day by the honorable and learned member for Wannon - or they are not. The leader of the Opposition has publicly applauded the socialistic sentiments advocated by Mr. Mann, and by the Queensland Worker. He is the connecting link between Mr. Tom Mann and honorable members on the Opposition cross benches who have joined the alliance, and in the interests, not only of themselves, but of their constituents, these honorable members ought to declare their position in regard to the socialistic movement. The honorablemember for Bourke,, amongst others, should do so.
– According to the honorable and learned member’s argument the protectionists on the Government side must have become free-traders.
– I do not say anything of the sort. I am supporting the coalition because I believe that it was necessary for us to combine in the interests of constitutional and responsible government. I went before my constituents as a free-trader, and as such was returned to the State Parliament, as well as to the first Federal Parliament. But free-traders on entering the present Parliament recognised that they were in a minority, and had to consider the best position to take up, in view of the fact that they had been defeated on the fiscal issue. We have not given up our free-trade principles. Let not my honorable friend from Tasmania think that I, at any rate, have done so. We have entered upon this coalition for the life of the present Parliament, believing that it is necessary in order to secure responsible government in the interests of the people. The honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne, when speaking in this House shortly after the last general election, said that now that we had a fiscal truce there was practically no difference between honorable members sitting behind the Deakin Government and those of the then Opposition. An honorable alliance between those honorable members was the only way in which to secure a return to responsible government.
– If there be an alliance between the two sections supporting the Government, what are the terms on which it is based ?
– So far as I am concerned, the terms are- that as long as the Ministry carries on constitutional and responsible government in a proper way, without raising the fiscal issue during the life of this Parliament, it will receive my support. As soon as this Parliament has expired I shall be perfectly free to go to my own or to any other constituency, and to fight, as I have done in the past, for the free-trade and other principles in which I believe.
– Is that all?
– It is. The honorable member for Darling, in the course of his speech this morning, said that honorable members on this side of the House were only the sham friends of the farmers; their true friends being the members of the Labour Party, and those at present in alliance with them.
– The men who would give them a land tax.
– I think that honorable members will acknowledge that I have endeavoured to do my duty to the farmers, as well as other classes, of Australia ever since I entered this House. Where were those honorable members, who now profess so strong a desire to help the farmers and the pastoralists of Australia, when I appealed time after time to the House, a year or two ago, to secure a remission of the fodder duties, in order that the pastoralists and others in New South Wales and Queensland, who had suffered severely from the drought, and whose flocks were dying by thousands every day, might secure fodder with which to save the remnants of them? Where were the Labour Party, who now pose as the friends of the farmers, when I and the honorable member for Canobolas sought a revision of the fodder duties? Did they endeavour to assist us?
– One or two members of the Labour Party may have done so, but the party as a whole did not. At that time they were in possession of the Opposition cross-benches, and were driving the Barton Administration. They occupied a position of vast influence, but while they now pose as men who desire to pass legislation to assist the great farming and pastoral interests of Australia they never attempted then to exercise the great power they possessed to assist them. The assertion of the honorable member for Darling, that the Government and their supporters are sham friends of the farmers, reminds me that the party of which he is so strong a member has itself been guilty of a few shams. It will be remembered that ~when the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill was introduced by the Barton Government, the right honorable member for Adelaide, who was then Minister of Trade and Customs, resigned because the Cabinet refused to accept his view that it should also include certain navigation clauses. If the right honorable member was anything at all in that Administration, he was the spokesman of the Labour Party, and I think that the way in which that party subsequently stood by him redounds to its credit. Subsequently the Navigation Bill was introduced, and was submitted to a Royal Commission, but the Watson Administration proposed to insert these navigation clauses, which then formed part of that measure, in the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill. What was its object? The Government knew perfectly well that, as the labour representatives from Western Australia were strongly opposed to the inclusion of these clauses in the Bill, there was no hope of carrying them. Every one was. agreed that the proper course had been adopted in referring them to the Royal Commission on the Navigation Bill, but the Watson Government brought forward a proposal to embody them in the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, in order that it might be whitewashed, together with its supporters, in the labour constituencies of Australia. The whole proposal was an absolute sham. The late Government knew that there was no likelihood of securing the insertion of those clauses. There was a second sham perpetrated by the late Administration in connexion with the preference clause. I may here say that so strongly was I supported by the trade unions in my constituency at the last election - so true a representative of their interests did they regard me - that, notwithstanding the . great efforts made by the Labour Party, they gave me a “ walkover.” But in connexion with the preference clause, the unions desire to discard majority rule. The amendment of the honorable and learned member for Corinella, on which the late Government were defeated, simply provided that if a majority of those interested in common with the applicants, were in favour, preference could be granted ; and majority rule has been a strong democratic point for years past. It is the system adopted by the Labour Party all over Australia in their political unions, and it is the system adopted by the Labour Party caucus in the House. Even if there be only a majority of one in the caucus all the rest of the members of the Labour Party, no matter what mav be their individual opinions, must sink their convictions.
– The honorable member is utterly incorrect.
– If I am wrong, I am only saying what has been stated in this House time after time.
– By whom ?
– By numerous honorable members.
– By men who know nothing about the matter.
– Am I to understand that the majority do not rule in the labour caucus ?
– In the caucus a member has a free hand when his principles are at stake.
– A free hand as to a vote of censure?
– I thought my adhesion to the great democratic principle of majority rule’ would bring me into favour, and not disfavour, with the more democratic of my constituents. But the services of the honorable and learned member for Darling Downs were brought into requisition, and an amendment was accepted by the late Prime Minister, which meant that a union with any political “trimmings” or character would not be able to take advantage of the Arbitration Court. Now we are told by the honorable member for Darling and others that, in consequence of the amend-, ment of the honorable and learned member for Corinella having been accepted by the House in preference to the amendment of the late Prime Minister, trade unions will refuse to register under the Bill. But I say that the late Prime Minister and the late Government emasculated the Bill, from a trade union point of view, when they accepted the amendment of the honorable and learned member for Darling Downs. That, in my opinion, is sham No. 2. There is also another sham which was perpetrated by the Watson Government, supported by the Labour Party. That is in connexion with the employment of lawyers in the Arbitration Court. Those of us who have had close communication with the trade unions of Australia, as I. have had in my constituency, know that one point insisted upon was that no lawyers should be employed in the Arbitration Court.
– It is the second item on the Labour Party’s programme.
– I think that is so.
– The late Government gave way to the honorable ‘ and learned member for Indi.
– And sunk their principles.
– But what was done by honorable members who are supposed to represent the labour political unions throughout Australia? The honorable and learned member for Darling Downs has shown himself to be a champion “bridge builder,” not only in this but in other matters which have come before Parliament. The services of that honorable and learned member were again brought into requisition, with the result that the Prime Minister accepted a disgraceful suggestion that lawyers should be allowed to appear in the Arbitration Court with the consent of the President. That is. a nice position in which to put the President of a high judicial Court, which we trust will have the respect of the whole community.
– We have no power to do away with the States Agents-General.
– Then there is all the more reason for consultation with the States Premiers. One or two hon
Mi. Watson. - We had’ not the power to do very much until quite recently.
– When the honorable member, as leader of the Labour Party, sat on the Opposition cross-benches, he had a power which he did not possess as Prime Minister, and which he does not now possess as leader of the Opposition. The honorable gentleman was then in a position to drive the Ministry of the day in almost any direction he wished, and indeed he did so drive it.
– The honorable member for Darwin had a motion dealing with the subject on the notice-paper all that time.
– I believe that is so. I contend that this subject should not be dealt with without the consent of the States, because honorable members are aware that until the Braddon section of the Constitution is removed, ,£4 will have to be raised through the Customs for every £1 devoted to the payment of old-age pensions. The matter is for this reason not within the range of practical politics at the present time. However, the honorable member for Barrier has suggested a way out of the difficulty. The honorable member has said that the proper way in which to raise money to provide for old-age pensions is by a Federal land tax. I presume that the members of the Labour Party would not be bound by a suggestion from the honorable member for Barrier ; but I believe he has expressed the opinion of the whole of the members of the party. I know it is the opinion of the leader of the party, because, speaking at Young, on 28th November, 1903, on the subject of old-age pensions, the honorable member for Bland said -
The funds for such a purpose could be raised by the imposition of a tax on absentee landlords and direct taxation.
We shall, therefore, be justified in assuming that in connexion with this matter of oldage pensions, honorable members opposite, including the honorable members for Bourke, Hume, Indi, and others, are now in agreement with their leader, the honorable member for Bland, and are agreed that the proper way in which to raise money to provide for old-age pensions is by a system of Federal land taxation.
– Where does the honorable and learned member get that?
– I think it is about time that the farmers of the Hume, Indi, and Corio districts, and other portions of Victoria and New South Wales were made aware that this is the proposal which honorable members opposite are supporting in connexion with the establishment of oldage pensions.
– Are there none on the other side?
– I do not know whether I should contradict the honorable and learned member or not, because his word is of such little value in this House at the present time that, so far as I am personally concerned, I do not propose to take any notice of his statements. After the explanations which the honorable and learned gentleman has been called upon to make within the last two or three days, I shall be very doubtful concerning any statement which he may make in the future.
– I thank the honorable and learned member.
– On this subject of oldage pensions, I find that the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne, speaking on the’ Address-in-Reply at the opening of this Parliament, is reported, at page 297 of Hansard, to have made these remarks -
In connexion with this matter of old-age pensions, it does not need much logic to come to the conclusion that old-age pensions is not within the pale of practical politics at the present time.
– Was that said this year?
– Yes, this year. The honorable and learned member expressed himself so strongly on the subject, as to say that it was “ not within the pale of practical politics “ ; and it appears to me that the Prime Minister was right in stating, as he has done time after time, that the matter has been put forward by honorable members opposite merely to gull the old people of Australia.
– To what party does the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne belong? He does’ not belong to the caucus, and he does not belong to the honorable and learned member for Indi.
– I think that the honorable and learned member occupies a very peculiar position in this House at the present time.
– All we can get out of the honorable and learned member is that it is his business.
– At public meetings held in Melbourne, the honorable and learned member has praised the caucus and the labour pledge; he was a member of the Labour Administration, and though he has such an admiration for the labour pledge, when asked whether he had signed it or not, he said, “That is my business.”
– The honorable and learned gentleman said “ No.”
– He said “ No,” and when I asked him why, the honorable and learned member said, “ That is my business. ‘ ‘
– The leader of the Opposition made use of these remarks -
Unless we hold out some hope to the people that there is something inherent in the Government to lighten their load, the people, instead of advancing, will go back.
The men who have developed Australia, and brought it to its present condition, have been the men who have gone on the land, the men who have opened up the country, and who have worked and developed our mines. These pioneers have struggled in many vicissitudes, in the midst of great privations and difficulties, in the work of developing the country. What prospect is held out to farmers, pastoralists, and others in this country by the views held by honorable gentlemen opposite in connexion with the socialistic principles which have been put forward, the proposal for a Federal land tax to meet old-age pensions, and the various disabilities, in connexion with the arbitration law in particular, which have been suggested?
– The honorable and learned member’s leader promised them the cold southerly winds of the world’s competition a little time ago, and he now offers them the warmth of his bosom.
– I am very glad to have heard that nice little quotation from the honorable member for Kalgoorlie. I sincerely trust that now that the honorable member has left the cold strong winds of a bachelor life, he will shortly arrive at a better frame of mind. These are the hopes held out to pastoralists, farmers, and others, men who have to struggle, not in the market of Australia, but in the markets’ of the world. Our pastoralists, wheat-growers, dairy farmers, and others to-day are producing far more than we can consume, and we have to depend for the price of our produce on what it brings in the London market. We are handicapped by heavy freights; we have competitors within a few days’ sail of that market, and we now have suggested additional disabilities, in the form of Federal’ land taxation, in addition to the States land taxes in operation at the present time.
– Where does the honorable and learned member get that from?
– Although I lost my seat in the New South Wales Parliament, partly by advocating a land and income tax in that State, because I believed, and still believe, in such a tax for State purposes, I am of opinion that the whole power of direct taxation should be left in the hands of the various States Governments, and that for Federal and national purposes we should raise money only through the Customs, on a revenue Tariff basis. I shall resist to the utmost of my power any attempt to subject the people of Australia to a Federal land tax, especially for the purpose for which it has been suggested by, honorable members opposite. The honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne said that the sooner a dissolution came the better it would be, so that the country could determine whether there was to be a sham or a real Arbitration Bill.
– That was said after the Political Labour League had decided not to oppose him at the next election.
– That, as the honorable member for Wentworth reminds me, was said after the honorable and learned member had an assurance that he would not be opposed by the Political Labour League. ‘ As far as I can judge, according to a very great many honorable members’, including the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne, a sham Arbitration Bill, from his point of view, would be one which would deal fairly and honestly by all sections of the community who would come under its jurisdiction; whilst a real Arbitration Bill, from his point of view, would be one which would operate specifically in the interests of a special section of the community, and hand over greater power to the political labour leagues. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports shakes his head at that statement. What is his position now ? The other day he was a protectionist revivalist. Now he acknowledges himself to be a Socialist. I should like to know whether other honorable members associated with him are Socialists also. I have a few more words to say about the Arbitration Bill, because I have been brought rather prominently forward in connexion with it by reason of the action which has been taken in my constituency by one of the largest unions in Australia. In consequence of my vote in connexion with the preference clauses, the delegates of that union have unanimously condemned me. I feel sure that those delegates and the members of the union generally, when they come to consider the question and the circumstances surrounding it, and when they know how my vote was given, and what was done by the Government, and understand that the late Prime Minister himself said, that there was practically no difference between his own proposal and the amendment of the present Minister of .Trade and Customs, will hold a different opinion.
– I said that there was so great a difference that I would retire from office sooner than accept the amendment of the Minister of Defence.
– I shall point out what the honorable member said directly. If I say anything that is not correct, I feel sure that he will give me credit for not attempting to misrepresent him, and I shall be very glad to be corrected. It has been wrongly represented to the unions of Australia that the question between the leader of the Opposition and the present Minister of Defence was one of the granting of preference to unionists. The question never came into the dispute in connexion with either of the proposals then before the Committee. The only question was that of the terms and conditions under which the Court - to which power had already been given to grant preference to unionists - was to grant that preference. The honorable and learned member for Corinella, and practically all members, including the leader of the Opposition, thought that those terms and conditions should be set out on the face of the Bill. The amendment, which was adopted, read as follows : -
And provided further that no such preference should be directed to be given unless the application for such preference is, in the opinion of the Court, approved by a majority of those affected by the award who have interests in common with the applicants.
The present leader of the Opposition proposed to substitute for that amendment the following : -
The Court, before directing that preference shall be given to the members of an organization, shall be satisfied that the organization substantially represents the industry ‘ affected in point of numbers and competence of its members.
The honorable member for Darling is. perhaps, the most experienced trade unionist in this; House, having, I understand, been president of the union which he represents for some fifteen years. He has said that in consequence of the amendment which was carried, his union will refuse to register. But he acknowledges that what applies to his union does not apply to all the unions in Australia. Knowing how numbers of shearers join that union from time to time, then cease to be members, and go back to their homes, and subsequently join again. I can, myself, see that there would be some difficulty in their case. The honorable member said there would be great difficulty, and I am quite prepared to accept his statement, because he is a man who has had great experience. But he admits that that difficulty would not apply to other unions. What difficulty would there be in the application of the amendment of the Minister of Defence to the coal-mining industry? What difficulty would there be in finding out whether there was a majority of the workers in favour of giving preference to unionists ? There would be none whatever. Take the great coal-mining industry of Illawarra and Newcastle. Practically the whole, of the men engaged in the trade belong to the union. If a dispute should occur in that trade, which extended beyond the limits of one State- and that would be the only kind of dispute to which this Bill could apply - there would be no difficulty in ascertaining the opinion of the majority of .the men engaged in the industry.
But there is a further point. There are a large .number of workers who think that their whole welfare depends upon the passage of the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill. We have an Arbitration Act in force in New South Wales which deals with all State disputes, and will continue to deal with them whether the Federal Bill be passed or not. The Federal measure is intended to deal with disputes of magnitude extending beyond the limits of a State. In the great coalmining industry in which, as I have said, a large number of persons in my constituency are engaged, if a dispute should occur and should extend beyond the limits of the State, there would be no difficulty in proving the opinion of the majority of the workers. There would, indeed, be less difficulty in proving the opinion of the majority than in proving what was provided for in the proposal of the ex-Prime Minister - that the applicants “ substantially represent “ the majority. A majority is a simple clear thing that the smallest child in a public school could understand. All that the representatives of any industry would have to prove to the Court would be that they had the vote of a simple majority.
– They would have to prove first of all that they were likely to be affected by an award.
– But substantial representation as provided for in the honorable member’s amendment would have to be argued about in every case that came before the Judge in every possible connexion. It would be a matter for judicial interpretation. It would be a matter of Judge-made law in each case brought before the Court. I should like to ask those honorable members who represent labour interests and labour constituencies^ whether they want to put the workers - more particularly in the case of the workers in the coal fields of Australia who have to work in the bowels of the earth - in the position of having to take money out of their hard earnings, which are required for the benefit of their wires and children, in order to put it into the pockets of the lawyers ? Do the representatives of labour constituencies wish that to be done.
– We would trust the Court where we would not trust the present Ministerialists.
– I should be willing to trust the Court a good deal if it were properly constituted. I know of no reason why, after our experience of judicial appointments in New South Wales, we should not have absolute trust in the Court.
– Does the honorable and learned member insinuate that the Court would not have been properly constituted had the Watson Government remained in power ?
– I never made that suggestion for a moment.
– Then, why did the honorable and learned member use the words “ if it were properly constituted “ ?
– That phrase casts no reflection on the late Government. Being a member of the legal profession, and having the privilege of knowing a good many of our judicial officers, I should be the last man in the world to suggest such a thing. In the debate on this question, the leader of the Opposition made these remarks, which may be found on page 4045 of Hansard -
The practice in nearly every case, in all the Arbitration Courts, has been to grant a preference only when the majority, reasonably ascertained, is in favour of such a preference. I am not so foolish as to anticipate that the practice laid down by the Arbitration Courts of New Zealand and New South Wales will be departed from by the Judge appointed to the Federal tribunal. Any one who imagines that the Judge in the Federal Court would lay down a new line of procedure - that he would grant preferences to unions which manifestly represented only a minority of those employed in the industry or in the district in respect of which the preference was asked - cannot have paid any attention to the general procedure under legislation of this kind.
As the honorable member very properly pointed out, the practice in the Arbitration Courts has been to grant a preference only when the majority has been reasonably ascertained. He further said -
The Government do not desire that preference shall be granted to minorities.
Feeling perfectly satisfied that that was the wish of the honorable member, and, I presume, of other members of his Administration, I cannot understand why they took such strong exception to the amendment of the honorable and learned member for Corinella.
– Because it was unworkable.
– It will be remembered that on various matters in connexion with the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, the late Government had to back down. In fact, they had backed down on so many occasions, that they were tired of being defeated. They had to make a stand on some question, and the amendment of the honorable and learned member for Corinella appeared to afford a favorable opportunity for them to make a stand. I feel that I am quite safe in saying that a number of the followers of the late Ministry did not approve of the action of its head on that occasion. We know that the late Ministry climbed down in connexion with, first, the amendment of the honorable and learned member for Darling Downs, and then the political nature of the unions. We also know that they climbed down in connexion with the question of lawyers appearing in the Arbitration Court and agreed to allow them to appear only with the consent of its president. I felt, as any honorable man must have felt, that the late Prime Minister was tired of this continual climbing down. He felt that the- moving of this amendment by the honorable and learned member for Corinella furnished to him the opportunity to make a stand, which he did, although he practically said that there was very little difference between that amendment and his own. So far as I could see, there was about as much difference between the amendments as there is between Tweedledum and Tweedledee. When all these circumstances are pointed out in the various labour centres, where the unions have in some cases passed resolutions objecting to the action of their representatives here, in connexion with this Bill, it will not be a matter for the consideration of the delegates only, but also of the rank and file, who constitute those bodies. For example, the men who constitute the union in the Illawarra district - over 2,000 strong - are, as regards political and other matters, amongst the best informed class in the community. Many honorable members, if they went amongst those miners, would be surprised to find out what a grasp and knowledge they have of political matters. When I, who have hitherto enjoyed their confidence, and I believe their respect and esteem, point out to these Illawarra miners that the sole thing I did was not to vote against preference to unionists-
– But to vote the Labour Government out.
– Of course my vote had that result. When the Illawarra miners find that I voted on that occasion, not against preference to unionists, but as to the conditions on which it should be granted ; when they know that all sides of this House, including the late Ministry, were agreed that some conditions should be laid down, and that in the opinion of the late Prime Minister there was very little, if any, difference between the amendments
– That is not so.
– I am relying on the honorable member’s own words.
– If the honorable and learned member will read a few sentences further on, he will find that I said that there was no substantial difference in the object aimed at, and that while one amendment was unworkable ours was workable.
-I have not the report of the honorable member’s speech here, so that I am unable to refer to that passage. When these facts, I repeat, are pointed out to the men who constitute the unions, who are able to think for themselves, and who recognise that some of us have stood firmly and faithfully by our pledges to them in the past, they will not be led away by the promoters of any political movement, but, on the contrary, will stand firm and fast by those representatives who on that occasion stood firm and fast by the great principle of majority rule.
-These same coal-miners have been out-voted by a majority of “ blacklegs “ before.
– From Victoria.
– No; from Sydney.
– The only other matter to which I wish to refer is the protectionist revival by honorable members who sit on the cross benches. The mere mention of the subject makes the honorable member for Melbourne Ports wake up. I hope that in their interests there will be a little revival in connexion with the protectionist cause; but I fail to see how it is to be obtained from ; the allies with whom they are joined. If the honorable member for Barrier and other honorable members, after the pledges which they have given to their constituents, and the manner in which they stood by those of us who, during the consideration of the Tariff, fought so resolutely for the reduction of duties upon tools and implements used in the mining fields, and against the imposition of duties upon timber required for mining operations, help those honorable members, it will surprise me very much indeed.
– Well, the honorable and learned member will be surprised.
– The honorable member for Coolgardie tells me that I will get a surprise, and therefore I am justified in asking him if the Labour Party is in the future to be the Protectionist Party? Is that the surprise that we are going to get?
– The honorable and learned member will know when the time comes.
– Is the great Labour Party to cease to rule the destinies of Australia, and to become subservient to the honorable and learned member for Indi and the tail of the Protectionist Party ? Can any one credit that statement ? I do not, for a moment. I know what are the aims and the objects of the Labour Party. I know how they have progressed in the past, and what they are pressing . forward to in the future, and it would surprise me very much if the interjection of the honorable member for Coolgardie should turn out to be a true statement of fact, and the Labour Party became the Protectionist Party. So far as I am concerned, I will support the Government on this occasion. I . am not altogether enamoured of the alliance which has been come to, but I believe that it was necessary in the interests of good government, and the electors of Australia have declared in favour of a. fiscal truce, for the time being,, at any rate. Even the honorable member for Melbourne Ports went to the country pledged to the observance of a fiscal truce. Moreover, I represent a district whose people belong to two of the large producing interests of the Commonwealth - the dairying industry and the coalmining industry. It is the producers on whom Australia depends, not upon the great cities of Melbourne and Sydney, which are mere parasites upon the country. The wealth of Australia is earned by her pastoralists, her farmers, her miners, and her other producers, who are spread over the face of the land, not by the few manufacturing industries on the banks of the Yarra and the Parramatta. That is shown very clearly when we get a severe drought, and the pastoral industry, for example; suffers. Therefore, anything that would cripple our primary resources would be one of the worst things that could happen to us. I believe, however, that the legislation proposed, and the socialistic doctrines promulgated, by the Labour Party, and those who support them - and their supporters now include the honorable and learned member for Indi, and the honorable members for Bourke and Hume - would, if put into force, be inimical to the best interests of Australia, and I shall, therefore, fight against it as much asI can.
– The fact that the present Administration do not possess the confidence of the House has been demonstrated continually during the debate by the state of the benches on the Ministerial side of the Chamber. When the first Parliament assembled in Athens’, and on one side of the House were gathered the Prime Minister Necias and his supporters, and on the other side Alcibiades and his followers, we had, for the first time in history, two leaders of a political assembly sitting face to face, supported by the presence of their followers. But during the present debate the supporters of the ReidMcLean Administration might have been counted on the fingers of one hand. That state of things appears to me to make it unnecessary to try to prove that the Administration does not possess the confidence of the House. They are obviously at all times practically dependent on the Opposition to keep a House. There are, however, one or two other matters to which I wish to refer in the few minutes which remain before the adjournment - because I cannot be expected to finish my speech today. One of the facts that lie before us at the present time is that the three parties in this House are to all intents and purposes one party, and that that is why the present confusion exists. Every Government thai has been in power since the Parliament met - and this is the third Administration which we have had - has put the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill in the forefront of its programme. The honorable and learned member for Ballarat brought in the Bill, and professed to be in favour of its principles ; but if he had been true to those principles the measure would by this time have been placed on the statute-book. When he was defeated in Committee, however, on a question of detail, he resigned office in a pique, and the Watson Administration supplanted his own. That Government, in its turn, resigned because it was defeated on its proposal to grant preference to unionists, which it regarded of vital importance. Now we have the Reid-McLean Administration, and the question naturally suggests itself, “ Will *hey make anything vital?” It will not reflect credit on the intelligence of the House if the three parties find themselves so much in general agreement - and almost every member of the House has declared that the measure is urgently needed - and cannot agree as to details. We are told that there is no opposition to the principles embodied in the Bill, and that fact is borne out by the action of each party as it has come into power in turn, in declaring that the first measure on its programme would be the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill. What we really want to know is. are honorable members sincere in their professions of belief in the principle of conciliation and arbitration? Are they in , earnest in the desire to settle industrial disputes amicably and peaceably by judicial authority?
– I do not think so.
– I believe that the honorable member is right, and that beyond the shadow of a doubt what we have seen is sheer and unmitigated political hypocrisy. If honorable members are anxious for industrial conciliation and arbitration, why has there been all this waste of time over details? We have been here for many months, and have nothing to show as the result of our labours. The only point upon which we differ is as to who shall occupy the Treasury bench, and that fact is a reflection upon the earnestness and integrity of honorable members. . If we were earnest in our desire to legislate in the best interests of the country, we should put an end to the present unseemly and un-Godly scramble for office. I could understand the last two Governments being displaced, if they were succeeded by a new Administration which was prepared to declare its utter disbelief in socialistic legislation, but I cannot understand any section of honorable members pretending to be in favour of the measure that has been before us since the beginning of the session, and making a dispute with regard to petty details a pretext for ousting the Government from office. Conciliation or no conciliation should be the issue before us.
– I do not wish to be included amongst those who have been scrambling for office.
– The honorable member is like the Pharisee. He thanks God that he is not as other men are, and I might join him to that extent. I strongly deprecate the subversion of all other considerations to that of obtaining possession of the Treasury bench. The present Government is a sham. It came into office as the professed friend of the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, after having ousted the previous Government, which placed that measure in the forefront of its programme.
– The late Government insisted on going out of office.
– We may have our own opinions’ with regard to the wisdom, or unwisdom, of the course adopted by the late Government, but I do not wish to enter into that question. As a matter of fact, the present Government is an antisocialistic combination.
– What is Socialism?
– The question “What is truth?” has never yet been answered, and the question “What is Socialism?” is not likely to elicit a satisfactory reply until men are supplied with consciences, as well as with the power of reasoning, and are able to appreciate mental and moral truths. The root of the word “ Socialism “ is the Greek word socios, meaning a friend, an ally. Therefore, Socialism means nothing else than an alliance, a friendship, a brotherhood, an association or co-operation for . a given purpose. All Governments are in their very essence socialistic. If the words “Socialism” and “alliance” are to be regarded as synonymous, we should not seek for any special definition of the former term, because we are sufficiently familiar with the meaning of the latter. If honorable members in this House were divided into Socialists and anti-Socialists, the latter would eventually prove to be anarchists, because anti-Socialism and anarchy are practically identical. Those who are opposed to Socialism, or alliance for the purpose of maintaining law and order and . good government - and the term is capable of no other definition - must needs be anarchists. I must protest against the references which have been made to paid agitators in the Labour- Party, and to the engagement of Mr. Tom Mann as an organizer. We have been told that we have set a bad example, but we might be more reasonably charged with following a bad example. We have followed in the footsteps of the Employers’ Federation, and we claim that, whilst one side is using its wealth to hire agitators, the Labour ‘ Party, which has no press to support it, would be very foolish indeed if it failed to take advantage of the services of a man who is so well fitted for the work of organization. So long as one class in the community is permitted to employ agitators, the other side cannot be blamed for following its example. A great deal has been said during the course of this debate - in order that it may be scattered far and wide - against the morality of this proceeding. As to the morality of the teaching of our representative, I claim’ that it will compare very favorably indeed with the unseemly and dangerous instruction imparted by the paid agitator of the Employers’ Federation. At any rate, we never acknowledge or countenance! any attack upon the sanctity of the marriage tie. But the hired agitator of the Employers’ Federation has descended to the lowest depths of immorality by declaring that marriage, which is the foundation of our family life, and the one institution in our civilization that is worth preserving, isa luxury which should be placed in the same category as long beers. That is the teaching of this moralist, this instructor in the ethics of politics. He has proclaimed to the world that the Labour Party is to be re* probated for all that is vile, because it will not indorse that sentiment. To me it is manifest that the present Administration do not possess the confidence of this House, and if for no other reason than is supplied by the programme which they have presented, they should be deposed. So far as the members of the Government are concerned individually, there are no men in this House whom I should be more pleased to see upon the Treasury bench. They are gentlemen of whom this Parliament or any other Legislature might well be proud. I find no fault with the personnel of the Cabinet, but I claim that it is possible to respect them without in any way agreeing with their political views. I very much deplore the washing of dirty political linen which has taken place during the course of this debate. Whatever our differences may be, I trust that they will always be differences of principle, and that our respect -for each other will be maintained. In my opinion, the coalition between the avowed - protectionists and the declared free-traders in this House is an unholy one. On the other hand, the alliance between the Labour Party and the liberal protectionists is a natural alliance, because their members have many things in common. The liberal protectionists are democrats. Personally I hope to see the day when the term “ Labour Party “ will ‘ disappear. “ Democratic Party” would suit my taste far better. Nevertheless the word “labour” is associated with all that is honorable, and I have no objection to it. But there are those who do object to it, and I hope, as the result of this alliance, to see a new party spring into existence which will absorb both. We shall then have a clear line of demarcation between the democrats and the conservatives. Our alliance is not based upon a mere negation ; it is a positive alliance, whereas the coalition between honorable members opposite is based upon a pure negation. It is anti-labour. History demonstrates that no movement will ever make for the good of the community which is founded upon a mere negation. If we are to achieve any good, it must be by having something positive. What is there that is positive in the programme of the Government? Nothing but what has been taken out of the policy submitted by the Watson Administration. Some time ago, a very ludicrous advertisement was posted up all round Melbourne. It pictured a certain distinguished gentleman in a very unbecoming, not to say nude, state. Later on, his figure was obliterated, and the public were informed that he had gone to be clothed at a certain establishment in the city. The recollection of that advertisement leads me to say - speaking in a political sense - that he went to the bathing boxes of the Labour Party, stole their clothes, and came back dressed in arbitration breeches, a conciliation coat, a free-trade waistcoat, and a protectionist belltopper. The present Administration found the Labour Party bathing, .and stole their clothes; Such a grotesque figure is not likely to commend himself to the people as one who is properly clothed, and in such a state of mind as to warrant him being charged with the conduct of the political affairs of the Commonwealth. Because he is so grotesquely arrayed I think he should be arrested, and a speedy termination put to his Ministerial existence. If I am a prophet as well as a parson, we shall find upon an appeal to the electors that the Government do not possess their confidence. The Ministerial programme is a miserable piece of patch-work, which contains nothing but that which has been filched from their predecessors in office.
House. adjourned at 3.59 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 23 September 1904, viewed 6 July 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1904/19040923_reps_2_21/>.