2nd Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
ORDER OF BUSINESS.
Motion (by Mr. Reid) agreed to -
That Orders of the Day, Government business,
Nos. 1 and 3, have precedence over all other business this day.
Sir JOHN FORREST (Swan). - I rise to a point of privilege. In the Age newspaper of Saturday last the following passage occurs in a report of a speech of the honorable, member for Southern Melbourne : -
Last night Sir John Forrest had boasted of having introduced conciliation and arbitration ‘ into Western Australia, and had said that preference to unionism was the basic principle of his Bill. And yet this was the man who was opposing preference to unionism at the present time, with the desire to make the Bill null and void. Such unmitigated humbugging of the people whilst* professing to be actuated by a regard for their welfare was shameful. The honorable” member’s statement that I had said that “ preference to unionism was the basic principle of my Bill “ is incorrect, as my remarks were the very opposite of those attributed to me. They are reported at page 4857 of Hansard, as follows: -
I was the first man in Australia to introduce and pass a Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, brought up to date with the provisions of the Act then in force in New Zealand, with one or two exceptions.
Mr. Groom. - With preference to unionists?
Sir JOHN FORREST. - No. That was not in the measure. I am opposed to preference to unionists, as being unnecessary and unfair. I do not think it was in the New Zealand Act at that time.
Mr. GROOM. - It was held to be.
Sir JOHN FORREST.- I did not know that at the time. I do not think the State Parliament of Western Australia would have passed a Conciliation and Arbitration Bill giving one man an undue preference over another.
Mr. Groom. - Has it passed it since?
Sir JOHN FORREST. - I may tell the honorable and learned member that even now, though the measure I passed has been amended, with the assistance of the Labour Party, which was not in existence in my day, and has been liberalized in some directions and brought up to date with the New Zealand Act, there is no preference to unionists in it, and the Court in Western Australia has refused to give preference to unionists.
Mr. Frazer. - That is why they are amending the Bill again now.
Sir JOHN FORREST. -I am not speaking of what is to be done, but of what has been done. I wrote to the honorable member for Southern Melbourne, pointing out to him -
Mr. McDonald. - I rise to a point of order. The right honorable member commenced by saying that he wished to state a question of privilege; but he has not told the House whether he intends to conclude his speech with a motion. I do not know if it is his intention to conclude with a motion, but I ask if he will be in order in not doing so ? If he continues his criticisms, and does not conclude with a motion, the honorable member for Southern Melbourne will be prevented from replying to him, and other honorable members will be debarred from taking part in the- discussion of the subject.
Mr. SPEAKER.- There are two or three courses, any one of which may be taken on a question of privilege. The right honorable member for Swan is well within his rights in stating to the House in such manner as he may desire, but at not too great a length - and he certainly has not yet occupied very much time- what the question of privilege is. It will be competent for him then to leave the honorable member for Southern Melbourne to make any rejoinder which he may desire to make, or the right honorable member may conclude with a motion. He is, however, entitled to state to the House, first of all, for its information what the question of privilege is which he desires to bring under its notice.
Sir JOHN FORREST.- I wrote to the honorable member for Southern Melbourne, pointing out the error which he had made in attributing to me the statement that “ preference to unionism was the basic principle of my Bill “ ; but, instead of replying that he had made an error, or had misunderstood my remarks, the answer which I received from him this morning states that he is surprised at my objection to his words,as he does not disclaim the report. The whole point of his remarks was that I had said that “ preference to unionism was the basic principle of my Bill,” and that notwithstanding what I had said, I had, in this Chamber, opposed preference to unionism, the inference being, to use his own words, that I have been “ humbugging the people, and that my conduct is shameful.” There is only one way in which the honorable member for Southern Melbourne can now act, and that is to express his regret at having altogether misrepresented me. When an honorable member misrepresents another, the only proper course for him to take is to say at once that he misunderstood him, or unknowingly and unintentionally misrepresented him. No one who has read the Hansard report of or listened to my remarks can doubt that I have been absolutely misrepresented by the honorable member. Such conduct is unworthy of a member of this House, and if the honorable member allows it to stand against him it will be simply scandalous.
Mr. SPEAKER.- The question raised by the right honorable member for Swan is not one of privilege, nor is any further step necessary in connexion with it. -The right honorable gentleman was perfectly entitled to make a personal explanation-
Sir JOHN FORREST.- That is what I intended to do. I should have said “ personal explanation “ instead of “ point of privilege.”
Mr. SPEAKER. - If the honorable member for Southern Melbourne desires to make a rejoinder he is at liberty to do so.
Mr. RONALD (Southern Melbourne).I received the right honorable member’s communication, in the form of a note containing a quotation from a newspaper report, which, I may say, was not a verbatim report of what I said. It must have been known to the right honorable gentleman that the West Australian Bill was based upon the New Zealand Act, and that at the time the measure was passed, the Legislature had before it not only the New Zealand Act, which contained a provision for preference to unionists, but also the decisions of the Courts in support of such preference. Therefore, if the right honorable gentleman had desired to oppose the granting of preference, he should have indicated it upon the face of the Bill.
Sir John Forrest. - I believed that all references to preference had been omitted from my Bill.
Mr. RONALD. - I have looked up the decisions of the Courts-
Mr. SPEAKER.- I would remind the honorable member that the one point for explanation, and the only one, is in regard to the complaint of the right honorable member for Swan that the honorable member stated that he said a certain thing which the right honorable gentleman denies having uttered. We are not concerned with what was included in the Bill, or what was accomplished by that measure. The sole question is whether the honorable member did, or did not, make the statement attributed to him, and I should be glad if the honorable member would confine himself to that.
Mr. RONALD. - It is my intention to reply to the right honorable gentleman in my speech upon the motion of want of confidence. I shall content myself at present by stating that the report that I said that the right honorable member for Swan made preference to unionists the basic principle of the Bill is not correct. What I said was that preference to unionists was the . basic principle of the Bill.
Sir John Forrest. - If the honorable member had stated to the House at once that the newspaper report was incorrect the matter would have been ended.
Postal, Telegraphic, and Telephonic Services : Brewers’ Licences : Supply of Rifles to Clubs : Surplus Revenue Payable to States: Duty on Advertising Matter.
Mr. SPEAKER reported the receipt of a message from His Excellency the GovernorGeneral, recommending that an appropriation be made from the consolidated revenue for the purposes of this Bill.
In Committee of Supply: ,
– I move -
That a sum not exceeding £430,421 be granted to His Majesty for or towards defraying the services of the year ending 30th June, 1905.
I had proposed to make the Budget statement last Tuesday, but other business intervened, and I was not in a position to carry out my original intention. Whatever our differences may be, the public servants and the public creditors must be paid, and, therefore, whilst it may seem a little extraordinary to interrupt the course of a noconfidence debate in order to ask for Supply, we must have the grant of Parliament to provide us with the money necessary to meet the payments which fall due at the end of the present month. Our present supply is exhausted, and we must have a further grant before the end of the month.
– Will the Senate be able to pass the Bill?
– I am anxious to pass the Bill through this Chamber today, in order that the Senate may have an opportunity to deal with it to-morrow. Honorable members will see that even if the Bill be passed to-morrow, a very short time will be left for carrying out the necessary arrangements1. Our practice is as soon as the Royal Assent is given to the Supply Bill to send telegrams to the various officers, so that they may make all the necessary payments during the last two days of the month. The items in the schedule of the Bill are of the ordinary character. They do not comprise any debatable items, and the passing of the measure will not in any way deprive Parliament of an opportunity to discuss the balances of the votes. I regret that it is necessary to ask for further supply. Owing to circumstances over which he had no control, my predecessor was unable to make the Budget statement at the end of
July, and, therefore,- it has been necessary to pass more monthly Supply Bills than has been altogether desirable. In my view, the Estimates should be brought down at the earliest possible moment. I do not know, however, that it is wise to begin their discussion very early in the session. I tried that plan once in Victoria, and it seemed almost as if we should have time for nothing else but the discussion of the Estimates during that session. At the same time, it is only right that honorable members should have an opportunity to peruse the Estimates at an early stage. I have satisfied myself, after consultation with the responsible officers, that nothing is now being asked for that cannot safely be granted by Parliament.
– I admit that it is unusual to interrupt debate upon a motion of want of confidence with a proposal of this character, but I do not see any escape from the situation. We must meet the engagements of the Commonwealth, and in view of the assurance of the Treasurer that the Bill contains no items beyond those usually included in such measures, I think that we may safely agree to pass it.
– Honorable members have not had an opportunity of looking through the Bill.
– It was circulated on Friday night.
– At any rate, I have not had an opportunity of examining it. I presume, however, that the schedule includes items providing for ordinary expenditure such as salaries, and payments in connexion with works that are proceeding.
– Not payments in connexion with new works.
– No, but payments in connexion with works that are completed or are proceeding. I desire to refer to one or two works, in respect of which payments should have been made some time since. A number of works have been practically completed, and the contractors still remain unpaid.
– Those works are not included in the schedule of the Bill ; they are dealt with in a separate Bill. Any payments that may be necessary under such contracts can be made out of the Treasurer’s advance vote; there is plenty of money available.
– Certain works have been carried out at Tumut, Cootamundra, and Albury, for which the contractors have not jet been paid. I have endeavoured, during the past two or three months, but without success, to induce the Department of Home Affairs to take action in the matter.
– If the honorable member will submit the particulars to me, I shall have the cases investigated.
– I have brought them under the notice of the Minister of Home Affairs. It is not fair to the contractors they should be kept out of the money to which they are entitled. Then, again, in connexion with the telephone service, I presume that there is money available to pay for those services and the salaries of the telephone attendants, and I wish to bring under notice an - apparent absurdity in connexion with the arrangements in New South Wales. I rang up a country telephone office the other day from Sydney, and was informed that I could not be connected with the subscriber with whom I wished to communicate because the instrument which I was using was not registered. As a result I was compelled to walk three-quarters of a mile to the central office, where I was first required to pay is. 3d. for the transmission of the telephone message. I was then shown into a little bureau where I was called upon to drop threepence into a slot machine.
– With which station did the honorable member communicate when he was required to pay is. 3d.?
– That was the fee which I had to pay for communicating with Katoomba. The demand was made that I should place threepence in the slot as payment for the use of the bureau, making a total charge of is. 6d. I need scarcely remind honorable members that I could have despatched a telegram for ninepence. Personally, I should not complain of this, but the .public complain of it very seriously. Some change must be made in the existing arrangement. It seems absurd that I should be required to payis. 6d. for the transmission of a telephone message after being called upon to walk three-quarters of a mile to despatch it, instead of being permitted to use the nearest available instrument. If the Postal Department will not remedy the evil, this House should consider it, and deal with the Minister and officers who refuse to alter the present system.. Not only is the Department at fault in this particular, but the service throughout’ is deficient. The method adopted in connexion with the erection of telephones and the junction of branch lines with the main lines throughout New South Wales is monstrous. I have always conceived it to be the duty of the Government and the officers of the Department to accommodate the public as far as possible. Surely in the outlying and sparsely-populated districts where the telephone is a great convenience to the residents, we ought not to throw obstacles in the way of the erection of telephone lines, and then charge a high fee when persons wish to use them. In my own electorate, ear Cootamundra, I know of one case where a telephone has been erected to within seventeen chains of a post-office. Great trouble was experienced by the residents - owing to the objections urged by the Department - in getting the line carried across an adjacent reserve. Now it cannot be used in consequence of the charges of the postal officials acting under instructions from the head office. I have no desire to deal with these instances in detail at the present stage, because I intend, within a very short time, to bring forward a number of specific cases in support of my statements. There is another matter which is a source of considerable inconvenience to residents in New South Wales. If a letter be posted in Melbourne, and only a penny stamp be affixed to it, the recipient in New South Wales is required to pay not only the additional postage required, but also a fine.
– That is the true Federal spirit.
– I do not think so. Business people and others in Victoria frequently post letters addressed to New South Wales upon which they affix a penny stamp. Upon their delivery, not only is the extra penny charged for postage, but a fine is exacted from the individual who receives them.
– The Government in which the honorable member was a Minister passed the Act under which that charge is made.
– I do not know that we did, but I think we adopted the system which had previously operated in Victoria - the penny postage system. The present practice affects a large’ number of people, and causes a great deal of friction. This condition of affairs should be speedily remedied. There is still another question to which I desire to direct attention, and concerning which the Minister of Trade and Customs may know something. I wish to inquire whether anything has been done in the way of reimbursing Mr. Sandford the large sum of money which he was required to pay as duty upon old iron which, when crossing into New South Wales, was charged for as steel rails. This matter has been under consideration for a long time.
– Yes, whilst the honorable member himself was a Minister.
– If my colleagues chose to divulge what took place in Cabinet, honorable members would know that I brought this matter forward upon six occasions.
– Cabinet secrets.
– It is not a Cabinet secret, because the statement has been made openly.
– Is not the case being tested ? At the time we left office it was. .
– I was not aware of it. I recognise that it is a difficult matter to deal with. If I had had the power to do . so, I should have dealt with it in a very summary fashion by remitting the amount of the duty. There was an entirely technical offence. These rails were imported to be, and were smelted down as old iron, and Mr. Sandford was. charged duty upon them as if they were steel rails being imported into New South . Wales. Perhaps the Minister of Trade and Customs can give me some information as to what is to be done in the matter. There is still another practice which is responsible for a great deal of friction - especially at Albury- at the present time. It has reference to certain licences which are being issued. I am not sure whether these licences are issued by the Commonwealth Government, but I believe that some of them are. What I wish to point out is that when an attempt is made by persons resident in New South Wales to work under these licences in Victoria, they are prevented from doing so, and are made the subjects of a prosecution.
– To what licences does the honorable member refer?
– Licences in respect, of. beer, spirits, and wines.
– That is a State matter.
– I think there is a Federal licence issued in connexion with beer. I know that Messrs. T. H. Mate and Co., of -Albury, are -subject to very serious inconvenience on account of the action of the police in Victoria in refusing to allow them to sell their beer upon this side of the River Murray. Another question of very great importance has reference to the brewers’ licences. The other day I saw a reference to this subject by the Premier of Victoria. Under the Excise Act power is given to persons to brew beer, and a Federal licence-fee is charged. In New South Wales a licence-fee of ^30 annually is also charged in this connexion. The brewers of New South Wales are compelled to pay the two amounts, which aggregate either £45 or ^55 a year. A test case was recently heard by the police magistrate at Cootamundra, who decided in favour of the brewer; but on appeal to the High Court, it was held that the licence-fee charged by the Commonwealth Government only covered the right to brew, and that the issue of licences to sell was under the control of the State Government. Thus,- whereas, previously the one licensing fee enabled the brewers both to brew and to sell their beer, they are now called upon to pay a State as well as a Federal licence. The Premier of Victoria referred to this matter the other day-
– He said’ that he would make the brewers pay.
– It seems to me a very hard case indeed for the brewer. If the licence-fee which wai formerly charger) by the State was sufficient, I fail to see why the amount should be increased. I believe that the passing of the law in the form in which it at present stands was the result of an accident.
– Has not the High Court said that we cannot prevent the States Governments from imposing their charges?
– If Ave cannot do that, I say we should nor. impose another licence-fee. One charge or the other should not be levied.
– Why not come to some understanding with the States in the same way that is proposed by the Government in connexion with old-age pensions?
– This matter constitutes a very serious trouble in New South Wales. The brewers all through New South Wales feel that they have a grievance, and, as the Premier of Victoria says, this will very shortly be an acute question in Victoria. If the States Governments will not do anything in the matter, I suggest that, in the case of other States following the same practice, communications should be opened up with them in order to see whether some compromise or arrangement cannot be arrived at. If no arrangement can be made, it only remains to amend the law so that the charge made by the Federal Government may cease. There is another matter to which I desire to call attention. A few days ago I asked a question concerning a scheme submitted for the destruction of rabbits, which cause so much loss not only in New South Wales, but throughout Australia. On that occasion the Prime Minister said that any application in this connexion should be made to the States, and that he had received no communication on the subject. I urge the Prime Minister to make representations to the States, so that the matter may not be allowed to remain dormant. There is no doubt that a great deal of power may be exercised by the Commonwealth Prime Minister in the way of making representations to the States Governments; and there is no matter of greater importance to Australia than the destruction of the rabbits. If the Prime Minister were the representative of a country constituency in almost any part of Australia, he would know what a serious plague this is, especially in the western and northern areas of New South Wales and Victoria. Something effective should be done to remove a pest which has been devastating the colonies for very many years past. The question requires urgent attention, and while, in the absence of action by the States, I do not know whether the Federal Government can interfere, something ought to be done, and at once; and there is an opportunity’ at present. I hope the remarks I have made in regard to these two or three matters will not be allowed to go in at one ear -and out of the other, because they are important, and worthy of the most careful consideration. I urge on the Government not to allow these matters to drift, but to act with vigour in their settlement.
– I echo the hope which the honorable member for Hume expressed a moment or two ago, that the remarks he has made will not be allowed to go in at one ear and out at the other, as, apparently, similar remarks have been treated during the last three and a half years. There is, however, scarcely anything new in the complaints made by the honorable member, because time and again I brought those matters under the notice of the Government of which the honorable member was a member.
–The bbeer tax ?
– That is the exception. I should welcome the honorable member as a most valuable ally on grievance day, were the position he takes not such a recent and sudden development on his part. However, the honorable member has told us that he was engaged in a death struggle with his colleagues while he was a member of the Government. We understand that, but for the fact that he was presiding over a Department as a member of that Government, he would have revolted concerning these matters long ago - that the Cabinet in which he sat presented one long course of grievance-mongering initiated bv him. The House will, I think, welcome this revelation of the unhappy state of the Government so recently deceased, and be glad that the train of events has put an end to the honorable member’s political misery in this regard. _ Mr. Watson. - We had similar revelations from the right honorable member for Swan.
– There is no doubt that we are only beginning to realize what an unhappy family that Government was.
– The right honorable member for Swan was always in a minority.
– We are only beginning to realize how much it is to be desired, in the interests of Cabinet solidarity, that those warring members should not be tied together again.
– What about the coalition Cabinet?
– I should imagine that differences in the coalition Government are very mild as compared with the fierce antagonism which prevailed throughout the whole period of the existence of the Government of which the honorable member was a member. I sincerely hope that no coalition Government, which may hereafter be formed, or may be in existence now, will witness this airing of individual grievances at the Cabinet table, and subsequently on the floor of the’ House. I make these remarks, because time after time, when a member of the Opposition, I belaboured honorable members on the Govern-, ment side in respect of many of the matters to which the honorable member for Hume has referred. Mr. Sandford’s rebate is, I believe, a matter three and a half years old, beginning, as it did, at the outset of the Commonwealth Government ; and whoever is responsible-
– I am not.
– Whoever is responsible, it reflects in the gravest way on the character of the Government that something has not been done to reach finality.
– The case’ has been sent to the Court now in order to get a decision on the facts.
– I was just about to refer to that matter. A week or two ago I saw Mr. Sandford, and he informed me the case was before the Court, and as it is sub judice I suppose we ought not to further discuss it.
– I did not know the case was before the Court.
– The honorable member apparently has had no communication with Mr. Sandford very recently. I understand, however, that Mr. Sandford is rather favorable to the present coalition Government.
– This is very amusing. I saw Mr. Sandford last week.
– Perhaps the honorable member has heard of the attitude of Mr. Sandford, and hence the honorable member’s mysterious development of intense sympathy with the interests of that gentleman. However, I shall say no more since the subject being before the Law Courts is taboo. I think there is a genuine grievance in the matter of the telephone service. In the case referred to by the honorable member for Hume, a man who goes into the postoffice at Sydney and desires to telephone to- Katoomba, Newcastle, Bathurst, Lithgow, or any place connected with a longdistance line, has to pay not only the schedule charge, but also an initial fee. A parallel case would be that of a man who was charged an initial fee for entering a store before he could either see or buy goods.
– How long has that regulation been in operation?
– It has been in operation ever since the wonderful postal administration of the Commonwealth Government commenced.
– And how long was it in operation previously ?
– The regulation is something new*
– I think the regulation caine into operation when the honorable member for Parramatta was PostmasterGeneral of New South Wales.
– The honorable member for Eden- Monaro is quite wrong. The honorable member has heard me refer to this matter on numerous occasions during the last three years, and it is very singular that he should only now hazard” that guess. But what does it matter how long the regulation has been in operation? The fact remains that before a person can take advantage of the telephone service he has to pay in order to be admitted into the telephone office; and such a regulation ought to be abolished at the earliest possible moment. We ought to remember that the conditions of the telephone and telegraph services have been completely altered since the reduction of the telegraph rates by this Parliament. State messages are now only 9d., while within certain defined districts messages may be sent for 6d. ; and that means that where previously it paid a man to send a telephone message it does not pay him to do so now. The efforts of the Department seam to be directed to reducing the competition between the telephone and telegraph services; and that ought not to be. So far as I can see, it is inevitable that telegraphy must be confined more and more to trunk and long dis.tance lines between the various States. Wherever the telephone is introduced and can compete successfully with the telegraph, the competition ought to be permitted; there ought to be no “ cutting “ between the two services. The present competition acts in a way which will be realized from an instance within my knowledge. Recently several fruit-growing centres in the county of Cumberland, New South Wales, were connected by telephone with the fruit markets in Sydney, but now they are not allowed to telephone unless they pay a fee of 9d. per message. Seeing that they can send a telegram for 6d. the telephone is of little use to them. This is a matter which ought to be looked into; and I urge the Postmaster-General to take some action in regard to this very real grievance.
– Do they not have three minutes’ conversation for 9d. ?
– Yes, they have. But when a fruit-grower uses the telephone he usually wishes to ascertain what is the price of fruit upon the market. If he can get that information for 6d. he prefers to use the telegraph rather than the telephone. The object of allowing the telephones to be used in this way was to give additional advantages. A person ought to be able to obtain the use of the telephone as cheaply as the telegraph. I hope that my honorable friend will look into the matter, and see if he cannot alter a state of things which has already continued too long.
– It has been stated on the best authority that the Treasurer has submitted to the States Treasurers an estimate of the revenue to be received by them from the Commonwealth for the current year. Seeing that this Bill is not to be treated formally, I wish to ask the right honorable gentleman whether he is in a position to state officially the probable amount of revenue for the year. I think that it is only fair, now that the information has been given unofficially, that we should know it from the Treasurer at the earliest possible moment. The right honorable gentleman will agree with me that we are here as representatives, and the sooner we know the facts the better it will be for the States Governments. It will also enable honorable members to make their arrangements accordingly.
– On the principle that honorable members should have their grievances redressed before we grant supply, I also desire to bring some facts under the notice of the PostmasterGeneral. In listening to the speeches of the honorable member for Parramatta and the honorable member for Hume, I, knowing them so well, could understand the reasons “which actuated them in the remarks they made. But there are other people who suffer under the present telephone arrangements, and who appear to me to have quite as great a grievance as the persons alluded to by the honorable members. The trouble is brought about by the fact that it has always been held that the Post Office should be run upon a commercial basis, and that before the Department could grant to persons in an isolated portion of New South Wales, or any other State, the telephone facilities that they asked for, there should be a guarantee that the revenue would be sufficient to cover the expenses. There are springing up in various parts of the countrynew mining settlements, as at Yambulla and Pericoe, where hotels have been erected, where butchers’ and bakers’ shops thrive, and where people are building dwellings. The fields promise well, but, although repeated applications for telephone facilities have been made, the people are told that unless it can be shown that a telephone will pay from a commercial stand-point, or unless they are prepared to give a guarantee against loss, the work cannot be carried out.
– An election is coming all right !
– I should judge that that is so when I observe how comfortable the honorable member appears to be. All that- 1 can say is, that while I have no desire to run the country to the cost of £50,000 for a general election, I am just as ready to face the people as is the honorable member who interjects. But, to make the grievance under which people in the back-blocks are suffering the sport of parties, ‘is unworthy of us.
– I rise to a point of order. * Is the honorable member for Eden-Monaro in order in referring to a general election when he knows how it hurts the feelings of honorable members?
– The honorable member must know that there is an easy way open to him to prevent the feelings of honorable members being outraged, and their purses being emptied in the manner suggested. I recommend him to take that course if he “feels bad” himself. Apart from that consideration, it is a remarkable circumstance that ex- Ministers who have had opportunities to remedy grievances should stand here and voice the grievances of their constituents. We have, for instance, the honorable member for Parramatta complaining of an arrangement, although he himself is responsible for a good deal of the resulting trouble, because it was inaugurated while he was Postmaster-General in New South Wales.
– I suppose the honorable member wishes to throw some blame on the honorable member for Macquarie, who ‘ is now Postmaster-General, but who has not yet had time to put his house in order. I will give the Postmaster-General this credit- that he has already intimated through the press that he is prepared to regard the matter of conferring telephone facilities from a different stand-point from that from which it was regarded by his predecessors. I believe that t’hat is an intimation which will commend itself to every honorable member. As regards the Sandford matter and the rails that have been mentioned, I think it is time that the whole business was cleared up. I have every hope that something definite will be done. It appears to me to be very ‘hard that a good citizen like Mr. Sandford should be told that he must go to the Court.
– To ascertain facts of the case; that was Mr. Sandford’s suggestion.
– The law of the case.
– It seems to me that people ought’ not to have to go to the Courts to ascertain the facts of a case. They go to Court to get justice; and we ought not to force good citizens like Mr. Sandford - who has established a very large industry, and gives a considerable amount of employment - to go to Court if we can possibly avoid it. We ought to be anxious to give a man of his type every possible encouragement; but instead of that we appear to be endeavouring to discourage him. In regard to matters that have been alluded to by the honorable member for Hume, I have not much to say. While I was a member of the late Cabinet we were very happy. I should not mind if we were back in office again. I do not think that it is a good thing in our public life that ex-Ministers should bring before this House, the worries and troubles that have occurred in Cabinet. If a Minister cannot stand by the acts of his colleagues the best thing he can do is to leave the Cabinet and fight the matter out upon the floor of the House. It is very hard that the people of this country, especially those resident in the back-blocks, should be made the sport of parties - and to a very large extent there can be no doubt that they are now in that position. I hope that when the present storm has blown over the Postmaster-General will take into consideration what ‘has been said with regard to the telephones. We have lately read something in the newspapers with regard to the Pacific cable. We are informed that it entails an annual loss of something like£100,000 a year. Where cables are concerned, there is no question about working them on a commercial basis. I see that the Secretary to the Postmaster-General defends what has been done in regard to the Pacific cable. He says that there is a good reason for incurring the loss of£1 00,000 a year. But the Department declines to lose£10 a year in extending telephone facilities to people in the back-blocks of Queensland, New South Wales, or Western Australia, and refuses them what they ask for unless it can be shown that it will pay. All that I can say is that that matter ought to be looked into . carefully. If the present Postmaster-General would but devote half the time to this matter which he devoted to watching me in this House a little time back, we should soon have an al teration. I trust that the honorable members for Maranoa and Coolgardie are false prophets, and that there is not going to be an election, and I hope that when this little storm is over the Postmaster-General will look into these matters, and will also see that the complaints I have made are dealt with.
– It is very amusing to hear ex-Ministers complaining of the neglect of the Departments over which they have had control. Their experience while in office should be of value to the House now that they are in the cool shade of opposition for a little time. Ever since the Federal authorities took over the control of the Post and Telegraph Department this has been a stock grievance. On ailmost every application for ways and means this has been the one subject of grievance under consideration. It is strange that the honorable gentlemen who have been ia charge of the Department were unable while they had control to rectify the grievances they discovered. Apparently during the time they had control of the Department they sat under them quite contented. 1 welcome their assistance in debating the subject from our side of the question, and I trust that it will result in the men on the land, and people int he country districts generally, getting some little consideration. I desire to ask the Treasurer whether any provision is made in the measure before us to meet the expenses of the Royal Commission which recently inquired into certain matters which occurred in New Guinea. If such provision is made in the Bill, I should be glad if the right honorable gentleman would inform the Committee as to what was the cost of the Commission. We should have some information upon the subject,- and even if the vote for the Commission is not included in this proposal, itwill be of some interest and value to the community if the right honorable gentleman will make a statement of its cost.
– Before the Bill passes, I hope the Ministry will be able to inform the House what is proposed to be done with the classification scheme of the Public Service Commissioner. In some cases the Public Service Commissioner has increased the salaries paid to officials, has transferred others from one grade to another, and in other cases removals are arranged for. I believe that, certain post-offices have also been classified into various grades. I should like to know how soon the recommendations will be given- effect to, and whether the Government propose to give the House an early opportunity to discuss the classification scheme. In Western Australia the post-offices have all been graded on some plan of which I have never been able to find the principle. I do not agree with the grading there, and I think we should have an early opportunity of considering the whole matter. I hope the Treasurer will tell the Committee whether it is proposed to pay salaries, where there are increases according to the Commissioner’s grading, from the date on which his report was laid on the table of the House. I believe it is the anticipation of a large number of public servants that they will receive the increases proposed from the time the report was tabled. I do not wish to say anything concerning the complaints as to telephone and postal facilities, except to express surprise at the remarks of the honorable member for Eden-Monaro, who was whip of the Government which passed the Post and Telegraph Act, and who advocated the section of the Act which compels the Postmaster-General to consider whether any new facilities asked for will pay their way.
– The honorable member was merely indulging in an exercise of Yes-No.
– I remember distinctly that the honorable member for Parramatta did question the wisdom of that provision when the Bill was going through Committee, but I have no recollection that the honorable member for Eden-Monaro ever said a word against it. The honorable member was the Government whip at the time, and did his utmost to carry the measure as submitted by the Ministry of the day. It is rather late now for the honorable member to come to this House and complain of the officials of the Department for carrying out the law as they find it. The honorable member has not been consistent, except in his inconsistencies, and possibly we may accept his action in this case as being consistent with what has gone before.
– Will the honorable member tell us about his threat about the galvanized iron, and what he was going to do?
– I did not catch what the honorable member said; but if he requires any information from me I shall be able to give him some about the number of futile and unreasonable applications which he has made to the Department since’ he has been a member of the Federal Parliament. I have some information for the honorable member on that subject ‘whenever he desires it, and in all friendliness I advise him to keep very quiet as to his transactions with the Postal Department. I hope the Government will be able to tell us something about the Public Service Commissioner’s classification scheme, the grading of the public servants, and also of various post offices.
– I also wish to say a little about telephones. It appears to me that the cry for economic reform which was taken up by the press and spread throughout Australia paralyzed not only this Government, but preceding Governments to such an extent that they have attempted to go to the other extreme, and have clone a great deal to injure the Post and Telegraph Department, which, perhaps more than any other in the Commonwealth, is closely connected with our social life. It is impossible to say on what grounds other than those of false economy this Department can be working. I have one or two instances to bring before the Committee. In one very important centre of a large wheatgrowing district for years past a telephone line has been asked for to connect the two towns of Daysdale and Oaklands, which are twelve or thirteen miles apart. The honorable gentleman at the head of the Department very properly says that there is no necessity to be at the expense of erecting telegraph poles where the natural timber as it grows can be utilized, but honorable members will be surprised to hear that the officer employed to prepare estimates for this particular line suggests an expenditure of between £200 and .£300. The people are perfectly willing to erect the line if they can only get the permission of the Department to do so, but Minister after Minister has absolutely refused to allow them to do this, except under impossible conditions. I am not blaming one Minister more than another, but the policy of the Department. All through New South Wales post and telegraph offices which have been in charge of efficient officers are being suddenly reduced in status and classed as non-official offices. The officer in charge of a post and telegraph office is withdrawn, an interested person in the town is put in charge of the telephone, and there is absolutely no secrecy for the messages which a trader or farmer or other person may send. Take, for instance, the town of Daysdale, which is situated between Corowa and Jerilderie. Although for very many years its post and telegraph office brought in a large amount of revenue, still a considerable time ago the Department determined that it should be placed in charge of a non-official person. The whole district, by petition and otherwise, has protested against this action. I have protested to the Ministers personally, whom I have also asked by letter to comply with the wishes of the residents, but the request has been absolutely refused. It is intended to place the office in this town in charge of a trader.
– Is it carried on at a loss?
– No ; and I sent to the Department a letter, intimating that the rental of the premises would be re’duced. The residents of a place meet the Department in every way they can in order that the post and telegraph office should be a paying concern; but the Department seems to have got into a groove from which it cannot be induced to depart. It is determined to establish nonofficial post and telegraph offices throughout the back portions of the States. I wish to know why certain advantages are being enjoyed by people resident in the cities at the cost of the people living in the back portions of the States; for the latter are being charged with the deficiency in the revenue. A telephone, for instance, was required to connect Warmatta with Berrigan. The residents of Warmatta, not acquainted with the intricacies of the bond drawn up by the Crown Law officers, willingly bound themselves to pay any deficiency on the line. There was an old-established post office at the place, and the Department absolutely came down on those persons, and demanded from them the deficiency on the working of not only the telephone but the post office. These grievances have been represented to the Department times without number. It almost makes one tired to go to the Department ; it cannot be persuaded to move. “
– Perhaps the Department is tired.
– The Department is not too tired to do wrong in these matters, or to apply to the residents in the back portions of the States a different policy from that which they apply to those who live under more favoured conditions in the cities of the States. Take again, the difference in the postage; and on this point the Premier of Victoria and the Premier of New South Wales may have something to say. Re venue is being lost to New South Wales, and credited to Victoria. The postage per half-ounce is one penny in Victoria, and twopence in New South Wales. Day after day, letters are sent from Melbourne to towns near the border of New South Wales, and every unfortunate addressee, before he can receive his letter, has to pay a deficient postage of one penny, in addition to a fine of another penny. That grievance ought to be redressed as rapidly as possible. I should think that it could be remedied by adopting a kind of zone system. Then, again, take the services. Although two trains leave Melbourne daily for Echuca, still the mails for Moama and Deniliquin, on the other side of the river, are held in the Echuca post office until about half past two o’clock next day. Under this new-born regulation, although Moama and Deniliquin are distant only 150 and 200 miles respectively from Melbourne, it takes three days before one can get a reply to a communication from Melbourne. Surely it does not need a heaven-born statesman or administrator to grapple with these things quickly, and give some relief to the people concerned. What is the consequence to the border towns ? The legitimate revenue of the various post-offices is decreasing, and the classification of the officers is being interfered with, simply because persons take letters across the river and lodge them in Victorian post-offices, in order to secure the benefit of the penny postage. That is not fair or just to the border towns of New South Wales, nor is it economical. This Department, I claim, should not be administered from the point of view of whether the revenue will defray the expenditure. It is intended to meet the convenience of the people of Australia, no matter where they live. I am quite sure that the residents in the cities are quite prepared to bear any little loss which may be incurred, in order to give the residents of the back blocks the convenience of communication, whether by telegram, letter, or telephone. I sincerely trust that the PostmasterGeneral will strike out a new policy, quite irrespective of departmental traditions, and see that justice is meted out to these people without further delay
– I had not an opportunity of hearing those honorable members who first discussed the question of telephonic communication, but I can thoroughly indorse the remarks made bv the honorable member for Eden-Monaro,’ and later speakers. I was glad to notice that the Postmaster-General had not b.een in office very long before he initiated a progressive policy, and proposes, among other changes, to utilize the trees and timber through the various districts where telephones are required by the residents. On different occasions I have had reason to complain of the administration of the post and telegraph office, more particularly in connexion with telephonic matters. I made a complaint once concerning the treatment of an application for telephonic communication to a place in the Camden district, called Yerranderie, at which there is now a fair-sized silver mine, employing a large number of men. It is absolutely necessary to the prosecution of the industry that quick communication should be had with the metropolis. I sincerely trust that the Postmaster- General will carry out his progressive policy in this instance. Hitherto the application has been blocked by reason of the large expense of erecting poles, and the requiring of a large guarantee, the order being that the line should pay from the start. Ever since the Federal Parliament first met I have repeatedly brought before the postal authorities proposals for the extension of telephonic communication to Illawarra, which is one of the most important industrial districts in Australia, containing as it does ten or a dozen coal mines in active work, some large smelting works, and a harbor at Port Kembla, where the State Government has spent thousands of pounds upon breakwaters, and where eventually about ,£750,000 is to be expended. But when I approached the first Federal PostmasterGeneral on the subject I was asked for a cash guarantee of £750. Now, what is everybody’s business is nobody’s business, and people will not put their hands in their pockets to pay these guarantees, although there were, and still are, men who are ready to carry out the work at their own expense if given the opportunity. The giving of telephonic communication to a district without first requiring a guarantee is not without precedent in New South Wales. The telephones from Sydney to Newcastle and from Sydney to Bathurst were erected without expense to the inhabitants of either of the towns named. The Illawarra district has to compete with the Newcastle district in the coal business, and as the Newcastle people were provided with telephonic facilities without guarantee or expense, I think that the Illawarra people should be similarly treated. I trust that the Postmaster-General will, in the interests of an important district, have it connected wilh the metropolis by telephone at as early a date as is possible.
– I am very sorry indeed that the honorable member for” Eden-Monaro has so repeatedly referred to the prospect of an early dissolution and a general election. I, for one, am not desirous of anything of the kind.
– There is no provision in the Bill for it.
– It is certainly a very strange thing for the Government to be asking for supply when a motion of want of confidence is before the House, though, no doubt, the Minister has no official knowledge of the likelihood of a dissolution. I wish to bring under the notice of the Minister, of Trade and Customs the following letter which I have received: -
Chamber of Commerce, Rockhampton, 22nd September, 1904.
I have the honour, by direction, to send you a copy of a resolution adopted by my chamber to-day, viz. : - “ That, in the opinion of this chamber, the imposition of duties on market reports, catalogues, price lists, &c, is inimical to the best interests of trade, and a serious obstruction to ! business, and the Government of the Commonwealth be respectfully asked to reconsider the regulation relating thereto, with a view to its immediate withdrawal.”
In transmitting this resolution, I am to say that the chamber find the regulation in its operation is proving a serious obstruction to business, and the resolution has been sent to the Minister of Trade anil Customs, Melbourne. I am also directed to ask your support towards securing the withdrawal of this regulation.
I have the honour to be, Dear Sir,
Your obedient servant, (Sgd.) Thomas Parker,
– I got that matter settled a fortnight ago.
– I should like to know from the Minister of Trade and Customs if the regulation which is complained of has been rescinded ?
– Circulars which are clearly in the nature of advertisements are now dutiable, while publications conveying information regarding the state of the Home markets are not.
– I am very pleased that that arrangement has been come to. Advertising matter no doubt should be dutiable, but trade and market reports and catalogues should be free; because it is necessary for our people to have them, in order that they may order what goods they require from the old country. I wish, also, to bring under the notice of the Postmaster-General the differences between the allowances granted to officers of his Department who are located in western Queensland. In one office which I ‘have in my mind, one officer receives less than .£100 a year, another £160 a year, and a third ,£200 a year, while the postmaster gets over £300 and a house to live in.
– Are there any official postmasters in the honorable member’s electorate who receive only £36 a year?
– No. If a man has been three years in the service of the Commonwealth, and has reached the age of twentyone years, he is entitled, under the Public Service Act, to a salary of ,£110 per annum.
– I know a case in which a person who has been seven years in the service is not paid that salary.
– Then the right honorable member is neglecting his duty as a representative of Western Australia in not bringing the matter before the House. If such a state of things existed in my electorate, honorable members would have heard about it three or four years ago.
– I have been trying for two years to get matters righted.
– The honorable member ought to have done something when he was in a Ministry. The system of which I complain affords another illustration of the proverb about greasing the fat sow. Three of the four men to whom I have referred stay at the same hotel, and pay 25s. a week each for their board, although the man whose salary is less than ^100 a year receives only a year in allowances, while the postmaster is given an allowance of ^30 a year. Then in another place in my electorate, the line repairer, who is paid less than any other officer in the local office, has a wife and four children, and receives an allowance of £11 a vear, while the postmaster, who is a single man, receives an allowance of £30 a year. What fairness is there in such an arrangement? The loaf of bread which the poor man buys costs him as much as is paid by the nian who is getting a higher salary. I do not know on what principle these allowances have been fixed, and, although I have repeatedly asked the Department for an explanation, all I can learn is that they have been fixed by regulation, and that when a man’s pay is increased his allowance will be mcI eased. But the man who needs a large allowance is the man who is receiving a small salary. I should like to give some of those who have framed the regulations a taste of their own physic. Let them take their wives and children to the back-blocks of Queensland^ where the only vegetables they would see would be those which they, if very lucky, grew themselves. Let them experience all the trouble and monotony of a pioneer’s life, day after day, month after month, and year after year, and see if they would then think that £1 1 a year is enough. At any rate, I do not see the fairness of giving one man an allowance of jf.11, and a fellow-officer an allowance of ,-£30. I am sorry, so far as the motion of want of confidence is concerned, that Mr. Speaker cannot accept the suggestion of the Argus, and take a secret ballot on it, instead of a division of the House. If that were done, there would be an overwhelming majority against it. If it is defeated, I intend to divide the House on the question whether the monstrous regulation to which I have referred should remain unaltered. I hope that the Minister of Home Affairs will bring this matter under the notice of the Public Service Commissioner. * It is of no use for me to go to the Commissioner. He would ask me to state a specific case, and then it would be a case of “good-bye” to the officer who made the complaint. Political influence is bad enough, but social influence is worse, and many public servants in western Queensland believe that social influence has brought about the results which are now the cause of complaint. As many honorable members know, the conditions of life up in the Gulf country are not of the most attractive character. The temperature ranges from 112 to 116 degrees in the shade for the greater part of four or five months in the year, and the means of communication are very far from perfect. At the best of times many people receive only one mail a week, and during the drought period they could not rely upon even a weekly service. The mail used to arrive once a fortnight, or once a month, or even less frequently. Men who have to submit to such conditions are deserving of some consideration, and the poorly-paid men are entitled to allowances on a more liberal scale than those granted to more highly-paid servants. I hope that the Minister will confer with the Commissioner with a view to framing regulations which will be more equitable in their operation than those now in force.
– I am constrained to swell the chorus of complaints with regard to the management of the Telephone Department. Our telephone arangements require to be brought uptodate. In other countries telephone facilities are being extended much more rapidly and at much smaller cost than in our case.
– We are better off than a good many people.
– There is plenty of room for improvement in Western Australia.
– Is not that the fault of the Act?
– No. I believe that the administration is at fault, and I shall endeavour to show honorable members that the regulations are sometimes of an undulyrigid character. In my electorate there is a town which has sprung into existence within the last few years, and is rapidly becoining an important business centre. About two miles away there is an older settlement, a quiet little village, to which telephone communication was extended in the good old days when money was abundant, and faithful electors were rewarded for their services by an obliging Administration.
– I do not think that was done.
– I do not think that I am overstating the case. The residents in the .smaller town possess all the advantages conferred by a telephone1 office, whilst the inhabitants of the larger and much more important centre are compelled to pay double rates because it is less than three miles distant from the older settlement. I believe that there is an absolutely rigid rule in the Department that no telephone office shall be established within less than three miles of an existing office. I wish to protest against any rule of this kind. The Department which relies upon such a rule confesses its inability to deal with every case on its merits. Local conditions should be taken into account. The honorable member for Maranoa referred to the question of allowance’s under the classification scheme of the Public Service Commissioner. I quite agree with his remarks. I would point out, further, that in Western Australia the Public Service Commissioner and his inspectors have totally ignored the local conditions. The scale of payments to public servants in Western Australia is upon practically the same basis as that adopted in the other States. In some respects, pperhaps, the Western Australian public servants are worse off in the matter of actual salary, and when local conditions are taken into account they are undoubtedly placed at a great disadvantage. Even under the most favorable conditions - such as obtain in the coastal settlements - the cost of living is at least 25 per cent, higher than in the centres of population in the eastern States. That is a matter which should receive consideration at the hands of the. Commissioner. I hope that if the Government survive the present crisis they will afford honorable members an early opportunity to criticise the proposals of the Commissioner, which require to be very closely examined. The officers of the various Departments are precluded from offering criticisms, but I have received a formidable number of complaints, which, for the most part, seem to be reasonable, and I hope that an opportunity will be given for their further consideration.
– I am glad that this discussion has taken place upon the question of the establishment of telephonic communication, even though it may, to some extent, anticipate debate upon a motion dealing with the same subject, which I had placed upon the business-paper. I have frequently had occasion to draw attention to the need which exists for providing telephonic facilities in my own electorate, and ever since I have been a member of this Parliament I have been endeavour!]-);! to secure the establishment of a telephone office at a place called Miranda. As evidencing the difficulties which are placed in the way of reasonable telephonic extension, I mav mention that Miranda is distant from Sydney only about thirteen miles. Under the ‘existing system, city and suburban rates are charged within a radius of ten miles of the metropolis. Beyond that distance a special charge is levied. ‘ In some instances, however, the ten-miles limit is exceeded without any extra charge being imposed. I know of one line which extends twelve and a half miles from Sydney, and upon which the city and suburban rates are charged. In the case of Miranda, an additional half-mile only would require to be covered. I obtained a guarantee of twenty subscribers from residents in the vicinity, provided that they could obtain telephonic communication at the city and suburban rates. Although the local post-office is situated within a few hundred yards of a private telephone wire, I have been unable to obtain that brief extension during the whole time that I have occupied a seat in this House. Unfortunately, it has been customary for previous Postmasters-General to rely too much upon the reports of the departmental officers without taking the trouble to personally investigate individual applications, and to deal with them upon their merits. The trouble with departmental officers is that, whenever they are called upon for reports, they base their estimates upon the most elaborate schemes imaginable. I am glad that in the present Postmaster-General, we have a practical man of keen common sense and business ability, who is prepared to disregard these elaborate reports, and to so utilize existing facilities as to provide cheap telephonic communication wherever it is possible to do so. In the case of Miranda, notwithstanding that I had obtained a guarantee of twenty subscribers, upon the basis of the city and suburban rates, the departmental officer reported, as the result of his investigation, that there would not be halfadozen calls a week there, although the locality is thickly populated. When I tell honorable members that it is a . place which is visited by hundreds of people every week, upon the very face of it his report is absurd. I trust that when the Estimates-in-Chief are under consideration, provision will be made for telephonic extension, and for giving effect to a cheaper system than that which has been hitherto adopted.
– I have received a resolution from the Rockhampton Chamber of Commerce, similar to that to which the honorable member for ‘Maranoa has directed attention. It reads -
That in the opinion of this Chamber the imposition of duties on market reports, catalogues, price lists, &c, is inimical to the best interests of trade, and a serious obstruction to business, and the Government of the Commonwealth should be respectfully asked to reconsider the regulation relating thereto, with a view to its immediate withdrawal.
In my opinion it is absolutely monstrous that any tax whatever should be imposed upon market reports and catalogues, which are intended to encourage trade in the country. I would urge the Minister of Trade and Customs to withdraw the particular regulation dealing with these publications.
– I desire to direct attention to what I conceive to be a gross injustice, resulting from the stringent manner in which the regulations of the Postal Department are administered. At Paddington, Brisbane, a telegraph employ^ was entitled to six months’ leave of absence on full pay. This leave was granted to him; but, owing to departmental requirements, he continued to discharge his duties, and in the interim was attacked with an illness to which he succumbed. His widow, very naturally, applied to the Department for the salary represented by his six months’ leave of absence. The Department, however, in its iron-bound way, replied, “ Oh he is not now a member of the service, and we cannot help you.” I claim that it will be an outrage if nothing is done for this poor woman.
– It seems to me a matter of regret that the PostmasterGeneral has not been longer in office, so that we might criticise him more severely in respect to many of these matters. It is a remarkable thing that, whenever a Government attempts to conduct its Departments upon commercial lines, it does so in the most cast-iron fashion. It seeks to make an absolute profit upon everything, whereas, whenever a business house wishes to expand its operations, it is usually content for a time to sustain a loss. I have even heard of a business in Melbourne, in which ^1,000 per annum was lost in one department, but made up in another department; and in departing from more elastic methods of this description, officers under Government control make a very great mistake. The justification for Government management is the opportunity it presents to develop the country. Conveniences given to people in country districts have the effect of gathering population; and in some of the later discovered wheat areas of Victoria, I know, from my own experience, that there is a considerable trouble in obtaining proper postal facilities. I frequently have applications made to me in this regard, but the conditions are so strict and strange that, in some cases, the people cannot understand them. In many cases there may be applications from places which are not likely to extend, but wherever there seems to be a likelihood of growth, ‘the system of guarantees might be done away with. Sums of £5 to £20 seem somewhat large to very small collections of people, but amount to little in the working of a big department; and if a great undertaking pays on the whole, it ought not to be expected to pay in every little detail. I merely voice the opinions expressed around me in this regard ; and I know that the present conditions, if they are not arousing great dissatisfaction, are regarded by the people as pin pricks, resulting from a penny- wise and pound-foolish method of business. Most of these matters we know will right themselves ; big rivers are made up by little rivulets, and we cannot expect a postal system in small outlying places to pay from the outset. But if, as I say, the whole system pays, we might very well be liberal to people who live1 far out in the country. That is the spirit in which the Post Office should be administered ; we should not wait until there is sufficient population to make a service pay. People could, under such conditions, see to the mail service for themselves. In my own young days I have had to carry the mails from station to station. I hope, however, we have got beyond those primitive conditions. Only to-day a case was brought under my notice in which people in an outlying district are asked for a guarantee of £20. and there are many similar instances. I arn glad to hear that the PostmasterGeneral is prepared to take a liberal view of the matter, and if he does so he will give great satisfaction to the people of the Continent.
– I desire to bring under the notice of the Treasurer the fact that, in answer to a deputation a short time ago, a distinct promise was given by the Premier of Victoria, and by the Prime Minister, that overtime would be abolished in the Government Printing Office. I understand that, so far as the State Government are concerned, overtime has been stopped, but that under the Federal Government men are working twelve and fourteen hours a day. In view of the dearth of employment amongst compositors, whose calling has almost been removed from the category of trades, owing to the invention of .the linotype, such a system is all the more unjustifiable. I ask the Treasurer to, as far as possible, see that no overtime is worked, at all events in “Victoria, where the register of the Government Labour Bureau shows that many people are in want of employment. I should like to take an early opportunity to say that, when the Military Estimates are under consideration, I shall give my vote for such an increase of expenditure as will make the coal resources of the sister State of New South Wales absolutely secure. In military matters, when nation fights nation, coal is almost more valuable than powder and shot. We know how helpless Australia would be if our coal resources ever got into the hands of an enemy, and with the “ yellow peril “ - that terrible evil which threatens Australia more than it can any European country - we ought to take early steps in order to make ourselves secure in this regard. I am sorry to say that, in the Postal Department, one of the most infamous systems of sweating was brought under the notice of the House, but, thanks to the late Postmaster-General, the subletting of contracts has, I believe, been permanently stopped. In order that there may be no doubt about the matter, I trust the Treasurer will represent to his colleague, the Postmaster-General, that it is absolutelynecessary that the men who do the work of carrying the mails of Australia shall be adequately paid, and not robbed, as they have been in too many cases in the past. In the case of the mail from Yarra Glen to Torlangi, the pittance which was offered to the contractor was an insult to an intelligent man. As to the telephones, I do not think the expressions used by honorable members can fail to influence the PostmasterGeneral in making some change in the management. With a nationalized system of telephones, such large sums ought not to be demanded. In Sweden and Norway telephones of the highest type are supplied at a cost immeasurably less than that charged in any of the Australian capitals. Another ground of complaint worthy of attention is that the officers who look after the compilation of the rolls - and this may be most interesting to us all in a few short weeks - are at the beck and call of their superiors in the Postal Department. An officer may be in the midst of the work of making up a roll, and yet he may be transferred to another place; and I have heard of a case in which such an officer, who, I may say, is unknown to me personally, was shifted without rhyme or reason by a superior official, who, I am credibly informed, has an animus against myself. In this case wrong information was given in three separate instances - as, for instance, the date the officer left - but I do not desire to refer further to the matter or to get any one into trouble. I do not know what may be taking place in the other States, but I know that in Victoria officers engaged in compiling the rolls may, at the behest of a superior officer in the Department, be compelled to leave the work half finished. I need say no more, because I believe the Minister is devoting some attention to this matter, and I hope that the result will prove more beneficial in the matter of the rolls than has the administration in the past.
– I do not rise for the purpose of merely re-echoing the sentiments which have been given expression to by various country representatives in connexion with the troubles of the people who have to eke out an existence on the arid lands of a large portion of the Commonwealth. Unless we give some postal conveniences to people who are building up this country for those who are to follow: - unless we, in the initiatory stages, give them some encouragement, so that they may successfully settle on the soil - we shall’ be lacking in our duty to those who are engaged in this valuable work”. The postal, telegraphic,- and telephonic system is practically the nerve centre of our commercial and social life; there is no doubt it has more to do with bringing men together in all the affairs of life than has any other convenience, either of the State or of the Commonwealth. And because so much depends upon the expedition with which this service is rendered, consideration should be given to the people who live in the country districts. As to the system which the PostmasterGeneral now proposes to extend, I have very grave doubts whether his idea will be successful in practice. I fear that the life of the wires would be very much shortened by bush fires and other destructive agencies which prevail in the country districts if they were put upon trees through the bush. Apart from that consideration, it is absolutely essential that the regulations which appertain to the extension of telephones in the sparsely-populated portions of Australia should be liberalized. But it is generally known that the right honorable gentleman who at present occupies the office of Treasurer insists upon, conducting affairs of this kind on a strictly financial basis. I do not blame him altogether. But still, it is idle to talk of liberalizing the telephone system while we have at the Treasury a gentleman who is well known to be so tight fisted. Whilst his policy may be beneficially applied to most of the services of the Commonwealth, there are cases such as ‘that with which we are now dealing to which reasonable consideration should be applied, having in view the fact that the extension of facilities would benefit not only the people concerned, but also, indirectly, the Commonwealth as a whole. The present system of administration has surprised ‘ people in the country districts. Before the establishment of the Common wealth, they had not the same difficulty in obtaining consideration to their requests, simply because the people who administered the law in the States understood the difficulties, and knew the advantages that would accrue to the State from a liberal administration. It has been stated that in other countries the telephone service has been cheapened. That is a fact. No one can deny that in England, in Germany, and in Sweden, the people get cheaper telephonic communication than we have in Australia. But the reason for that has not been given. It has been found, from experience, that the system which prevails in Australia today is not a sound one. In the countries F have mentioned, what is called the toll system has been inaugurated. .A person having a telephone is allowed to make so many calls per annum at a given price, but for every call over and above the specified number a toll is charged, equivalent, we will say, to a penny for each call. By that means, those who use the telephone very largely are made to pay for the use which they get from the instrument, and the authorities are thereby enabled to grant concessions to those who do not require to use the instrument to such an extent. At the present time, I am authoritatively informed, a great expenditure is necessitated by the large number of frivolous messages that are passed along the telephone wires by gossiping persons - either men or women - who happen to have telephones on their premises, which they use for the purpose of arranging visits, sending invitations, and chatting with their friends. Under the toll system, such persons would! get the full value for their money ; but for every message that they sent along the wires, over and above the specified number, they would be required to make a payment at a very low toll. By the adoption of that system, a great deal of the timeof the switch operators that is now occupied in attending to persons who desire to send frivolous messages would be saved. At the present time we have Mrs. Jones sending a telephone message to Mrs. Kilpatrick, who lives in the same street, telling her that her daughter is coming along byandby. Messages of that kind ‘increase the cost of administration by reason of the time of the switch attendants being takenup, . and inconvenience persons who desire to use the telephone for what may be regarded as more useful purposes. The present system prevents the use of thetelephone expeditiously by business people- for business purposes. I am perfectly well aware that a system such as I recommend would not be viewed with favour by the large business houses, but it must be remembered that every message that a business man sends across the telephone probably saves him what he would otherwise have to spend upon a telegram sent at the price stipulated by the regulations. When- they get the telephone they consider they are entitled to unlimited use of it at a minimum of cost. I say that the same principle should be applied by the Department; there should be a liberal concession ‘with regard to the number of messages which might be sent for a given sum, but for all above that number a toll should be imposed, if it is to be possible for us to give effect to the desire expressed by honorable members who have already spoken to extend to the people in remote parts of the Commonwealth these conveniences of civilization. The honorable members for Hume and Riverina have spoken of the irritation arising under the penny postage system existing in Victoria, in connexion with letters transmitted to people just over the border. I see no immediate remedy for that. I think that of all the Departments ‘of the State the Post and Telegraph Department is the one that should not be run on a commercial basis. ‘ It should be administered on a practical business-like basis, due regard being paid to the service whicli is to be rendered to the people. I am of opinion that the time is not far distant when we should adopt an Inter-State penny postage system. That will be the only cure for the disabilities existing as between Victoria and the other States.
– Where are we going to raise the. revenue from?
– That is a question which I did not expect my honorable friend to trouble about. I have no doubt that the Treasurer will provide the money if honorable members will pass the necessary measure to give effect to Inter- State penny postage. I think that this is a concession which might well be expected from the Commonwealth Government in addition to cheaper telephonic communication. I am aware that the adoption of such a system would result in a loss’ of revenue if the matter is considered from the point of view of £, s. d. But if considered from the stand-point of the settlement of people upon the land, and the providing of - facilities which will tend to build up the great Commonwealth we all desire to see established, there can be no doubt that the adoption of such a system would result in distinct advantage. The Prime Minister who met this Parliament, the honorable gentleman who succeeded him, and, I believe, also the present Prime Minister, are agreed that the States Governments should bring in some kind of land , legislation which would better attain the settlement of the people on the land than past legislation has done. I direct the attention of the present Prime Minister to the fact that a new Government has recently assumed office in New South Wales, and since they are anxious to bring about reform and an amendment of the law, we might advantageously make an appeal to them in the interests of closer settlement and the populating of the Commonwealth. I therefore ask the right honorable gentleman to enter into correspondence with the Premier of New South Wales, asking him to induce his land Minister to adopt a rational progressive system in place of the retrogressive system he has formulated and placed before the people of that State. If the system at present proposed by the Government of New South Wales is carried out all our talk on this subject will be of no avail. I hope that the present Postmaster-General, of whom so much is expected, will take into consideration the whole question of telephonic communication. I hope that the honorable gentleman will consider the report which has been formulated by a conference of the officers of his Department, indicating a proper commercial method of administering the telephone service. I do not desire now to delay honorable members by making quotations from the report, but at some later period I shall go into the matter more fully, believing, as I do, that what is suggested would be the means of relieving the Minister of numerous applications which it is impossible for him to grant, and also of relieving honorable members generally of persistent applications by constituents to secure telegraphic and telephonic extensions.
– I have no desire to delay the passage of the motion, but there are one or two little matters to which I should like to direct attention. I do not think that this is either the time or the place in which to ventilate individual grievances. I suppose that almost every member of the Committee could refer to a number of such grievances, but I have always found Ministers and the Public Service Commissioner also ready to listen to matters of that kind, and the departmental offices are the places in which to ventilate such matters, unless they affect large bodies “of men, when I think an honorable member is justified in directing the attention of the House as well as of the Minister to them. I must pay my tribute of commendation to what I think is a step in the right direction, taken by the honorable gentleman now at the head of the Post and Telegraph Department, in making a legitimate endeavour to cheapen the means “of communication in the country districts by a modern system. I sometimes think that we attach too much importance to the £ s. d. aspect of the question, and lose sight of the indirect advantages to be gained by making life in the country districts more attractive. It has become customary for politicians to speak of “ settling people on the land,” but one of the effects of the policy which has obtained in nearly all of the States in the past has been to settle people in the land. Those who have, in the first instance, gone out into the country districts to develop them have worked themselves to death, with but very little return for their labour. It is the people who come after them who reap the benefits of their pioneering efforts. Although there may be some little direct loss on the working of the great Departments which tend to make the conditions of life in the country better, there is an indirect gain which more than counterbalances that loss. If we make the conditions of life of people who go into isolated and remote districts better and more comfortable than they have been made in the past, there will be inducements to the rising generation to go into those districts, and we shall not find so many of them desiring to secure appointments in the Railway Department, the Police Force, and the other public Departments. I suppose that one of the greatest hardships of a member of the Commonwealth, or of a State Parliament, is to have to deal with the number of applications which are made to him to secure employment for some person in the State or Commonwealth Departments. The reverse of that should be the case. The greater attraction should be in the direction of country occupation. The rule that applies in business should be applied in dealing with this matter. If a man has a small business, and a mono- poly of a certain line, he may demand what profit he likes, but if he wishes to build up a business with a large number of customers, he will be guided by the old adage, of “ small profits and quick returns.” Once the spirit of travelling is induced, persons who otherwise would not travel, will be tempted to make many journeys. Introduce a country youth or maiden to the attractions of Melbourne or some other city, and the visit will be repeated. If conveniences for the people are provided, and they are accustomed to the use of them, they will command an increasing number of patrons. And so I think it will be with the telephone- system. The Postmaster-General is considering a very wise proposal, namely, to connect various centres by cheap lines with remote districts. When an application is made for telephonic or telegraphic communication from a centre to an outlying district, a guarantee is asked from those persons who reside in the immediate neighbourhood of the proposed convenience, although they are not the only persons who will benefit from its establishment. Supposing that, on its own application, Roma, say, situated at a distance of 300 miles to the westward, is connected with Brisbane ; it is not Roma alone which benefits from the connexion, because Brisbane also benefits. Yet a guarantee is asked from only the persons who are located immediately round the centre from which the application is received. Railway communication with a country district benefits not only that country district, but also the terminus with which it has been connected. If a line connects several parts which are benefited by it, why should not the residents of those places be asked to join with the applicants in the guarantee ? That result can be achieved by making the expense of the line a tax upon the whole community, instead of upon the very few persons who ask for the convenience. Once the convenience has been used, an ever-increasing number of users will be found, and although the return from each subscriber may be smaller than it is, still in the aggregate the return will be very much larger. That is, I think, the way to make the Department pay. Several honorable: members have referred to the difference between the charge for a telephonic message, and the charge for a telegraphic message. They have lost sight of the fact that when a man pays a fee of ninepence for speaking through the telephone for three minutes, he pays for the reply as well as the message1, so that a fair comparison cannot be made without include ing the sum of sixpence for the reply to a telegram. The charges for telephonic communication are too high. By lowering them the volume of business would be increased to a very great extent, and in the aggregate a larger revenue would be derived from that branch. In some country districts, especially across the great plains, where a tree is not to be seen for perhaps fifty or sixty mile’s, wooden or iron posts are necessary. But in the coastal districts of Queensland, and, I believe, of New South Wales, the ide!a of the Postmaster-General could be carried out very well. It has been urged that a considerable amount of supervision would be required, in consequence of bush fires occurring, and wild animals running against the wires, and breaking the circuit. As far as the eastern part of Australia is concerned, I do not think that there is very much in that objection. If the suggested plan is carried out, many places which under the guarantee system are cut off from communication with centres of population will be able to obtain these conveniences. I shall have another opportunity to discuss this question fully when we reach the Estimates if a dissolution does not take place in the meantime. I wish to bring a matter under the notice of the Minister of Defence. There is a misapprehension existing in the minds of a good many members of rifle clubs with regard to the issue of the new magazine rifles. A regulation has been made whereby a member of a rifle club may obtain one of these rifles as his own property. If a man. pays £1 annually for three years, and makes himself efficient, no’ further payment is required j but if he is not efficient he is required to pay a further sum of 15s. gd. I know that the supply of these rifles has been somewhat limited, but there is an impression in the minds of many men that only one rifle is available for purchase to each club. Three rifles have been sent to each club in Queensland, and in some cases have been supplied to the officers - the president, vice-president, and secretary. It is thought that because the rifles have been issued to the club, the officers are entitled to the use of them.. I take it that it was intended by the Department that any member of a rifle club should be allowed to use the rifles. Unless a rifle is in charge of one man, and is well taken care of, it will be worth little at the end of twelve months. In my opinion, the officers of a rifle club are wise in keeping these rifles under their own supervision rather than allowing any member of the club to use them at his own sweet will. I would point out to the Minister that if he would allow; the members of the rifle clubs to purchase their own rifles, a valuable Defence Force would be armed, not at the cost of the Department, but at the cost of private individuals, and ari immense sum would be saved. If a man does very much shooting, the barrel of ‘his rifle will be practically worn out at the end of three years, and I understand that a new barrel can be put on the old stock at a cost of from 15s. 6d. to £j is. If the rifle clubs were supplied with rifles, the barrels would require to be renewed at the end of three years, and that would create a further charge on the Department. But if every member of a rifle club were to own his own rifle, he would defray the cost of renewing the barrel. I should like the Minister to seriously consider what saving might be effected in that branch of the Defence Force. I think it will be an important part of the Defence Force when Australia’s hour of need arises.
– It has begun to cost a good deal of money, and that shows that it is getting on.
– If the Commonwealth has to supply every man who is willim? to go to its defence, with a rifle, it will cost a lot more. But if it is made possible for thousands of rifle club men to buy their own rifles, a saving will be effected, not only in the first instance, but when the time comes for renewing the barrels. Tens of thousands of men will be induced to buy their own rifles, and so reduce the cost of defending the Commonwealth.
– Will they do that ?
– I am satisfied that thousands of them are prepared to buy their own rifles. I have a few matters to bring under the Minister of Trade and Customs’ notice. I wish . to remove a misapprehension which has existed for a considerable time with regard to the reduction of the duty upon timber which is largely used in the manufacture of butter boxes. Some reflection has been cast on the honorable member for Maranoa, because of a vote which he gave when that item in the Tariff was under consideration. It is well known to a good many honorable members, that the imposition of a lower duty was carried against the Government by a majority of one vote, through a mistake on the part of the honorable member for Mernda. The honorable member for Maranoa has been blamed considerably for that decision ; but the fact is that the . lower duty was -carried through a mistaken vote of the honorable member for Mernda, who had intended to vote the other way. New Zealand has put an export duty upon timber such as has hitherto been used in Victoria for the manufacture of butter boxes, and the Victorians are therefore turning their attention to Queensland as a source of supply. The representatives of that State assured them when the Tariff was under consideration that in Queensland there is an unlimited supply of timber superior to that which has been obtained from New Zealand. The matter is now occupying the attention of the Government of Queensland, and I ask the Minister for Trade and Customs to meet sympathetically any proposal which they may make, with a view to bring about the use of Queensland pine for the manufacture of the butter boxes used in the Victorian export trade. It would be a big thing for the Commonwealth if that timber were so used, because there is an unlimited supply of it. At the present time all the butter which is exported from Queensland is packed in boxes made of Queensland pine, and although it is not bringing in the London market prices as high as are obtained for Victorian butter, that is due to the fact that Queensland needs a proper dairying Act, and a proper system of grading before exportation. I have corresponded with all of the leading Queensland butter manufacturers on the subject, and I have placed most of their replies on record in Hansard:. They say that, although in times of drought, when it has been impossible to bring timber to the mills, they have imported New Zealand timber, as soon as supplies of the local and northern New South Wales pine were available, they have used it again, a fact which shows that in their opinion it is more suitable than the imported pine. I am sufficiently a protectionist to believe that when we can give preference to a local natural product, or a product which is partly natural and partly artificial, we should do so. A very large business in Queensland pine could be developed if its use were encouraged, and in this way a good deal of the friction between the State and the Commonwealth which has been engendered during the last few years might be removed. Unfortunately the States are beginning to think that the legislation and administration of the Corner. Wilkinson. monwealth has been inimical to their interests, and it is about time that we showed them that the contrary is the case, and that we are more than willing to work hand in hand with them in the development of the resources of the Continent.
– Most of the matters to which reference has been made by honorable members arose before I took office, but I shall give early attention to them. I shall have a summary made of the complaints which are recorded in Hansard, and cause full inquiries to be instituted in-regard to them. I am very, pleased that the proposal which I put forward the other day, to use fences and trees for the support of telephone wires, in order to give the people in the country districts cheaper telephonic communication, has received such favourable notice from honorable members. When I took office I found a large number of applications for telephonic .communication from country districts awaiting action ; but the cost of procuring and erecting poles would, in many districts, Be so large as to make it impossible for the Department to do what is asked. In some cases the erection of poles would cost as much as £20 a mile. Moreover, if it were found that the line did not pay, it would not be worth while to remove those poles to other places, so that the loss to the Department would be very heavy. If, however, the wire was supported on trees and fences, the expense qf erecting it would be very little, and should the line prove unprofitable the wire could be removed to another district without much loss to the Department. ‘I have, therefore, given directions in the cases which have come under my notice that they be referred back to ascertain the possibility of utilizing trees and fences for the carriage of the wire, and when they are again reported upon I shall do what I can, having regard to the public interest, to give communication to those who are asking for it. . I am fully aware of the disadvantages under which country people live. It is, for instance, impossible in many cases for them to procure a daily paper containing market reports and other information necessary for the proper carrying on of their business, while, should sickness occur, it is difficult for them to obtain the services of a medical man. Therefore, if cheaper means of providing telephonic communication can be devised, I shall do all I can to give outlying districts the advantage of them. I shall also endeavour to impress upon the residents of country districts the need of assisting the Department in the matter of supervision. If an inspector has to be sent some fifty miles from a centre of population to supervise the erection of telephone wires and their maintenance, the cost is considerable j but I feel sure that in many districts the residents themselves will be only too pleased to undertake this work and the erection of the wires at a cheap rate. It should also be possible for the Department to instruct them in the manner of repairing wires, so that if a circuit were broken by the fall of a tree through a bush fire, the trouble could easily be set right. With regard to other matters of administration, although the honorable member for Gwydir says that he expects great things from me, i do no.t profess to be any better than my predecessors, but I shall do the best I can to give every facility to people both in the country and’ in the cities in their dealings with the Department, so that its operations may be as beneficial as possible to the Commonwealth at large. I further promise that any matters which honorable members bring under my notice shall receive my personal attention. .
– The . honorable member for Moreton asked a question with regard to the magazine rifles issued to members of rifle clubs. Such weapons can be obtained in three ways. Last November authority was given for the sale of 750 magazine rifles to members of rifle clubs for cash at £3 15s. 9d. each, and of that number a proportion was allotted to Queensland. No great advantage was taken of the opportunities presented to acquire these weapons for cash. In March last authority was given for the sale of a further 1,000 magazine rifles to members of rifle clubs, upon the deferred payment system referred to by the honorable member for Moreton. Of this number 100 were allotted to Queensland. The opportunities thus presented have been availed of with a fair amount of freedom. I propose to inquire what number of rifles have been sold under the cash system, and if the circumstances justify the transfer I shall add the rifles for which cash purchasers are not forthcoming to those which are being offered under the deferred payment system, which is preferred for very obvious reasons. Perhaps we all have a sufficient element of the Micawber spirit in us to lead us to prefer paying twelve months hence rather than forthwith. Besides the rifles to which I have referred, 2,910 maga zine rifles are being issued to the rifle clubs on loan, the clubs finding guarantors that the rifles shall be properly looked after, and that any damage resulting from misuse or neglect shall be paid for. Of the 2,910 rifles 320 have been allotted to Queensland. The intention is that the rifles issued to the clubs on loan shall be available to all the members, notwithstanding the obvious objection that they will thereby become more liable to damage than if they were placed in charge of par.ticular individuals. It was never intended that the president, vice-president, and secretary of a club should, by virtue of their offices, appropriate the only thre’e rifles sent. Honorable members will see that we must retain a sufficient number of magazine rifles under the immediate control of the Department to provide for the equipment of our first line of defence upon a war footing. Five thousand additional rifles have been ordered, and will shortly be delivered. The first 1,000 are on their way out here now.
– Does the Minister know that the! Victorian Government was swindled in connexion with the rifles sent to them?
– The rifles on order are the new short barrelled magazine rifles now being used in the. British Army, and I do not think that there can be any swindle in connexion with them.
– But the Minister did not make any inquiry ?
– I think we may leave all matters of ancient history and mythology for discussion during the want-of-confidence debate. I am merely telling the honorable member of the existing circumstances. When these additional rifles come to hand, I shall - if I am on hand myself - probably be able to supply some more weapons for use by members of rifle clubs. I desire to offer them every facility. That is all the information which I have been able to obtain on the short notice given me this afternoon, and I trust that it will satisfy the honorable member.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Resolution reported and adopted.
Motion (by Sir George Turner) agreed to-
That, the Standing Orders be suspended in order to enable all steps to be taken to obtain Supply, and to pass a Supply Bill through all its stages without delay.
In Committee of Ways and Means: Motion (by Sir George Turner) proposed -
That towards making good the Supply granted to His .Majesty for the services ‘of the year ending 30th June, 1905, a sum not exceeding £430,421 be granted out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund.
Mr. FISHER (Wide Bay). - I should like to know if the Treasurer has any objection to furnish the House with the information for which I asked at an earlier stage?
Sir GEORGE TURNER (BalaclavaTreasurer). - I cannot possibly do as the honorable member desires. The only information I have given to the Treasurers, has been in regard to the approximate amount of surplus they are likely to receive during the current financial year.
– That is quite right.
– I thought that I could not do less, in view of the fact that the first three months of the year had practically elapsed, and that the Treasurers were pressing me to give them some idea as to what they might expect to receive back from the Commonwealth. If, however, I had given them any further information as to the anticipated receipts and expenditure, I should have supplied them with a forecast of the Budget statement, and I do not think that that would have been in order. The Treasurers have been told as nearly as possible the amounts that they are likely to receive from the Commonwealth, and upon that information they will be able to base their estimates for the year.
Mr. FISHER (Wide Bay). - I quite agree with the action of the Treasurer ; but I think that this is the proper place in which a public announcement should be made regarding the matter. The right honorable gentleman is to be congratulated upon having advised the Treasurers as soon as possible with regard to the approximate Tevenue they are likely to receive.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Resolution reported and adopted.
That Sir George Turner do prepare and bring in a Bill to carry out the foregoing resolutions.
Bill presented by Sir George Turner, and passed through all its stages.
Mr. DUGALD THOMSON laid upon the table the following paper : -
Return as to temporary employes in the Public Service during the year 1903-4.
Debate resumed from 23rd September (vide page 4916), on motion by Mr. Watson -
That the present Administration does not possess the confidence of this House.
Mr. RONALD (Southern Melbourne).I propose to first address myself to the question raised by the right honorable member for Swan, as to the principle of preference to unionists being embodied in the Conciliation, and Arbitration Acts passed by the States. The right honorable gentleman has affirmed that preference to unionists was not provided for in the Western Australian Act, and that, therefore, he is not guilty of any inconsistency in claiming to be the pioneer of conciliation and arbitration legislation in Western Australia, and at the present juncture opposing preference to unionists. I am sorry that the right honorable member is not present. That, however, is not my fault. I have taken the trouble to examine this matter very closely, so as to make sure of the ground upon which I stand. The position is that the Western Australian Arbitration Act is modelled upon the New Zealand Act. That was admitte’d by the right honorable member for Swan, when, as Premier of the Western State, he submitted his Bill to Parliament. In delivering judgment in an appeal by the plumbers of Christchurch, New Zealand, Chief Justice Stout said -
In construing this Act, the aim of the statute cannot be ignored. It does not, as I have said, propose to provide a means of settling disputes between employers and non-associated workmen.’
I am of opinion that the Court, having power to determine the status of workmen and the class of persons to be employed, has power to declare that trades unionists shall have a preference over workmen not belonging to a trades union.
The opinion therefore is clearly held - not only by Chief Justice Stout, but by his colleagues, whose judgments are recorded in the same volume from which I have quoted - that preference to unionists, by implication, is embodied in the New Zealand Act. There can, therefore, be no doubt whatever, that preference to unionists is contained by implication in the Western Australian Act. That conclusion has been acted upon by the New Zealand Court, a tribunal which is altogether above any bias of which we may be suspected. Upon the other hand, I must admit that the Western Australian Supreme Court has declared that preference to unionists is not contained in the Act. That decision, however, was arrived at subsequent to the judgment given by the New Zealand Court ; and when the right honorable member for Swan, as head of the Western Australian Government, submitted the first Conciliation and Arbitration Bill there, he did so under the impression that it contained the principle of preference to unionists. Again I say that he is grossly inconsistent, in that he attempted to make the Western Australian Bill workable by granting a preference to unionists, whereas he is now endeavouring to render the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Bill null and void by destroying, that very principle. If he objects to my deductions, I will point to parallels which confirm my argument that a principle to be contained in a Bill does not require to be definitely expressed upon its face. In support of that statement, I would cite one of the most inte’resting illustrations contained in history. I will illustrate what I mean by the great doctrine of the Christian theology. The doctrine of the Trinity, for example, is held by all Christian nations. It has been affirmed by all Courts of law to which an appeal has been made - and there have been many such cases - that that doctrine is embodied in Biblical theology. Yet we may search the Bible throughout, and we shall find no trace of it. It was first referred to in the time of Tertullian. It is implied in the teaching of the Scriptures. It has never been disputed that it is contained in the Scriptures, and yet it is never specifically mentioned there. Similarly, I contend, that in the New South Wales Arbitration Act, the principle of extending a preference to unionists is contained. The same remark is applicable to both the Western Australian and the New Zealand Acts; but in the latter the principle has been substantiated and made visible by the decision of the Supreme Court. The right honorable member for Swan must have known that, because the Bill which he introduced was a slavish copy of the New Zealand Act - a piece of political plagiarism. In following the New Zealand statute, he must have known that he was granting a preference to unionists, and, therefore, it ill becomes him, at this hour, to turn round and declare that we ate endeavouring to place him in a false position. He wishes to make it appear that he is a paragon of consistency, and that he is still the champion of Conciliation and Arbitration. We aire all pleased to know that he has been a pioneer of advanced socialistic legislation. I have simply to say facilis descensus averni - it is easy to descend. Evil communications corrupt good manners ; and, therefore. he has gone down very rapidly. If ever the right honorable member had any leaning towards labour, or any sympathy with the working classes, he seems now to have abandoned it, and to have abandoned it for ever. I maintain that what I stated outside the House was perfectly correct, and I repeat that statement without fear of contradiction. There was, it is true, a slight inaccuracy in the report, which represented me as saying that the right honorable member had declared that preference to unionists was the basic principle of the Arbitration Bill ; whereas, it was I who affirmed that preference to unionists1 was the basic principle of the Bill, and that the right honorable member, in following the New Zealand Act, ‘had wittingly, or unwittingly, incorporated that principle in the measure which he introduced into Western Australia. The right honorable member must know that I have treated him fairly, and have not taken advantage of any quibble. Again, I affirm, without fear of contradiction, that, by implication, preference is given in the New Zealand Act, and the Western Australian Act is a slavish imitation of the New Zealand Act. The New South Wales Act is exactly the same.
– That is so. While the New South Wales Act explicitly states that preference shall be given to unionists, the Western Australian Act copies the New Zealand Act by giving preference by implication. The New Zealand Court has held that the New Zealand Act does not seek to treat with unassociated employes or employers, but only with associated employers and associated employes, or. in other words, with unionists. That Act would be without purpose or reason for its existence unless it dealt with associated men ; and therefore it takes no cognizance of unassociated individuals.
– There was no intention to imply, what the honorable member suggests.
– But the decision by Chief Justice Stout was given before .the Western Australian Act was passed. It was before Parliament when the Bill, modelled on the New Zealand legislation, was passed. The right honorable member for Swan then had before him, not only the New Zealand Act, but the decision of the Court under that Act. Either the right honorable member was in absolute ignorance in regard to the decision in New Zealand, or he knew that that decision had been given; and if he knew of the decision he must have known that he was providing in that Bill for preference to unionists.
– The right honorable member has expressly disclaimed any such intention.
– The right honorable member for Swan is on the horns of a dilemma, and I cannot help him. The fact remains that that New Zealand decision was given before the Western Australian Bill was passed, and the right honorable member had not only the New Zealand Act, but the decision under that Act to guide him. If the right honorable member cannot read plain Anglo-Saxon, it is too late in life to begin to instruct him.- Preference to unionists is the very essence of the measure before this Parliament. Without preference, the Bill will never work ; it is a bundle of contradictions, illogical and absurd. I defy the wit and cunning of man to give us a workable Arbitration Bill which does not provide for preference to unionists.
-That means giving power to the Court to give preference.
– Yes ; that is a point I wish to make very clear and explicit, namely, that the Court must be empowered to give preference where there is a substantial majority of those concerned in favour of preference. “Unions must be recognised - we cannot treat with men as units. Moreover, I should like to point out to those who are so much opposed to preference, that employers are a united people. In p. mining company, there may be 1,000 shareholders represented by three directors and when dealing with the directors, we are dealing indirectly with the i ,000, or it may be 10,000 shareholders.
– Just as in the case of a brewing company.
– Yes, or any other company. There is unionism of employers, just as much as there is unionism of employes. We cannot get rid of unionism, and an Arbitration Bill is absolutely impossible , unless the principle of unionism is recognised. I marvel at’ men being so utterly illogical and unreasonable as not to see that companies - railway companies, mining companies, or any associations of men - are bound to be unions or otherwise they can have no locus standi under an Arbitration Bill. I am glad that preference to unionism has been made a vital principle - a principle for which we shall fight and insist on establishing. With preference- to unionists the Bill will be a workable measure and may be an instrument by the means of which disputes will be settled ; but it cannot be of the slightest value so long as there is not preference to unionists either explicit or implied. I am quite prepared to trust the Court in the matter knowing that individuals can have no locus standi - that they must appear as unions and trades unions at that. But I want to go further in discussing the question whether the present Government have the confidence of the House. In the first place I refer to the very strange circumstances in which we are assembled - the strange conflict of parties. The honorable and learned member for Ballarat, humorously and gracefully - for everything he does has grace in it - described the state of the House by a quotation from Gilbert’s Yarn of the Nancy Bell, in Bab Ballads. The honorable and learned member said that the position reminded him of a survivor of the Nancy Bell, the story of which begins as follows: -
Twas on the shores that round our coast
From Deal to Ramsgate span, That I found alone on a piece of stone
An elderly naval man.
His hair was weedy, his beard was long,
And needy and long was he, And I heard this wight on the shore recite,
In a singular minor key : “ Oh, I am cook and a captain bold,
And the mate of the Nancy brig, And a bo’sun “tight, and a midshipmite
And the crew of the captain’s gig.”
The honorable and learned member told how this old tar exhausted all his shipmates by eating them up, and only the cook and he were left. The delicate question arose as to which should eat the other. “ Then only the cook and me was left,
And the delicate question, ‘ Which Of us two goes to the kettle?’ arose.
And we argued it out as sich.”
The cook argued that whereas he could cook, and the surviving shipmate could not, the latter ought to go to the pot, and, finally, “ For I loved that cook as a brother, I did,
And the cook he worshipped me ; But we’d both be blowed if we’d either be stowed
In the other chap’s hold, you see.”
The difficult situation was humorously stated by the ex- Prime Minister, who proved himself not only poetic but prophetic.
– Which is the cook?
– The prophecy was fulfilled, because the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, though he objected to be “ stowed away in the other chap’s hold,” has been eaten up he is simply assimilated and consumed by the man with the larger capacity.
– Does the honorable member mean to say that the Prime Minister is a cannibal ?
– “Boa constrictor” would’ perhaps be a better term. But while that is all very good and very humorous, and expresses very happily the situation at the present time, and while we are all very sorry for the honorable and learned member for Ballarat - who thought that he was going to be’ the one survivor, but who finds himself consumed or swallowed up by others - we ate very anxious indeed to have in power a Government that shall possess the confidence of this House. And it should possess the confidence of the House in virtue of the measures which it brings before Parliament. I maintain that the present Government has not the confidence of the House, because it has nothing in its programme to justify the confidence of any one. The Government has simply filched and stolen its programme from its predecessors. It has not originated a single new idea to recommend it to the country or to the House.
– It is not very enterprising thieving, either.
– It is not enterprising thieving which the Government has done. There might have been some attempt to disguise the origin of their measures, but there is none. If the Government had wished to possess the confidence of the House, there are many burning questions that could have been taken up. There is, for instance, the question regarding which the honorable member for Hume has given notice of motion to-day. I allude to preferential trade. I cannot for a moment suppose that such a good protectionist as my honorable friend the Minister for Trade and Customs is, can acquiesce in ignoring this question. For years and years protection has had one of its best friends in him, and I cannot think that at this stage he will go back upon the convictions of years. One might have expected, seeing that this is a kind of eclectic Cabinet or combination of protectionists and free-traders, that out of deference to the presence of such a staunch good protectionist as the honorable gentleman in the Cabinet, there would have been some reference to the great doctrine of preferential trade in the Prime/ Minister’s speech and in the programme which he has put before the country. But what have we? Our idea of preferential trade is not the reduction of duties in the interests of the mother country, but the raising of duties against the foreigner. In that way we should give a preference to the mother country. There is all the difference in the world between our idea and that of the head of the Government.
– The honorable member’s idea means more protection.
– Our idea means preference to the mother country, but the idea of honorable members opposite involves no preference whatever. If preference is to be logical, or if it is ever to commend itself to the people, it must be extended by increasing duties against the foreigner, and not by decreasing duties upon British commodities. Indeed, our Customs duties are so low that there is scarcely anything to decrease. We have almost reached the irreducible minimum. To reduce our duties lower than they are would be to reach a reduclio ad absurdum. There is only one system of preference possible, and this is to raise duties against the foreigner. That is a policy which, I believe, would commend itself to all rational logical protectionists. But from these protectionists who are ready to rush into an alliance with avowed free-traders, we can never expect any preferential trade that is worthy of the name. The presentGovernment never had, and therefore cannot forfeit, the confidence of this House. They have come into existence by a side wind-by a kind of political fluke - by taking advantage of an accident in our political history. I believe that those who desire to stand in favour with their constituents would do well to recognise that fact, and to tell the Government straight away that they do not possess the confidence of the House. If we have arrived at a cul-de-sac, and if affairs are unworkable by means of the present House, the sooner we go back to pur constituents, and say to them, “ You must decide ; we want an arbitrator inthis matter ; it is a form of arbitration which we ‘cannot settle for ourselves, and the country must settle it for us “ - the sooner we do that, the better it will be. I wish to say a word or two about the difference between a positive and a negative alliance. A positive alliance or association, in my opinion, is an alliance amongst men who differ in details, but who are agreed oh general principles; or, it is an alliance of men for the purpose of attaining a certain well-defined end. A political alliance of Members of Parliament can only be an alliance for the purpose of carrying out a determined, well-defined policy. That is the kind of positive alliance that has been formed between the members of the party with which I am associated - the Labour Party - and the Liberal Protectionists. Ours is a positive policy for the purpose of attaining a certain .well-defined end.
– What is the end?
– The end is to legislate for “the greatest happiness of the greatest number.”
– Does that apply when the greatest number are non-unionists?
– If the greatest number of workers are non-unionists, it only proves that the greatest number are fools; because their interests certainly lie in the direction of unionism. But I was proceeding to show that a negative alliance on the other hand is a combination of men who are simply brought together to “ down “ some other party, who have no defined end in view, and have nothing original of their own in the way of a policy. They simply have a negative or destructive purpose - that of “ downing “ some other party. That is the kind of combination which has brought the present Ministry together. The supporters of the Government have nothing in common. They cannot have. Take the Prime Minister. I grant that he has made a study of fiscalism from the freetrade stand-point..
– What principles have the members of the new alliance in common ?
– I am coming to that. The Prime Minister may be quoted as an authority on fiscalism from the free-trade stand-point. Whether he has gone to the best sources for information, and whether his conclusions are logical and valid, are other points. But that he is an authority on that subject I am prepared to grant. But take him away from fiscalism, and what does he know of politics? Where has he ever made a speech on any social or political subject’ that would commend itself to any one? He is a man of fourth or fifth or tenth rate order on any other topic than that. He is a man of one idea, and one idea only, and that is fiscalism. Therefore, when honorable members oppo site sink the fiscal issue, they sink the whole ship. It is a case of Hamlet with the Prince of Denmark left out. Then take those who have joined the right honorable gentleman as protectionists. They also are men of one idea. They have no general knowledge of politics, though they may have a knowledge of protection.
– If the Prime Minister is a third-rate man perhaps the honorable member will classify himself.
– I leave that to the honorable member for Parramatta to do, and I do not suppose that his opinion of me will have very much weight.
– I can assure the honorable member I should not put him in the same category with the Prime Minister, whether third or thirteenth.
– If the honorable member will permit me to proceed, I desire to say that the combination opposite is a negative combination. There is .nothing positive in its policy, and it exists entirely for the purpose of “ downing “ a third party, and to pose as anti- socialistic. The only way in which to successfully oppose any political party with which you do not agree is to supply an opposing force, the expulsive power of a new affection in the minds of the people. To defeat a party we must have first of all what I would call the expulsive power of a new political idea; We must bring forward some new idea calculated to drive out of the minds of the people some error which has found root there. If honorable members opposite believe that some kind of socialistic maggot has got into the craniums of the people who have sent us here to .give expression to our views by legislation, their only way to remedy that condition of affairs is to find this new expulsive power ; new ideas and a new policy that will take the place of what is erroneous in our policy. That being so, I ask where are the expulsive forces in the policy of the present Govern - ment. Is there an. original idea in anything they have put before us? Their policy speaks for itself in its baldness, bareness, and barrenness. It is bald, barren, and bare of any original ideas. So far as good legislation is concerned, we have nothing to hope for and nothing to expect from this combination. The predecessors of the present Government had a positive, well-defined policy. We knew where we were going and what we wanted. The only positive matter in the policy of the present Government is that which has been filched from their predecessors, and it is put forward merely as a subterfuge to enable them to hold office, without doing anything for the good of the country. Theirs is a laissez faire policy, or, as a friend of mine used to put it, a policy “more lazy than fair.” If honorable gentlemen opposite had any intention of doing anything good for the country, they would have brought in some measure which would have filled the blank, and would not have taken up the position of carrying through a Bill in which they do not believe. As I have said before, they have dealt with the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill in such a way that it is now like a ship sent to sea with an explosive in her hold, so that when she goes a certain distance it will blow her up and sink her. They have put a clause in. the Bill which will render it absolutely worthless, and what is worse, than all, they are perfectly conscious of what they are doing, and their object is only to betray the people that they may be able later on to turn round and tell them that a conciliation and arbitration law is of no use for the settlement of disputes, and that it only creates disputes and strikes. Preference to unionists is what I am arguing for. and it is the only point of difference between honorable members on either side. Still it is to be found in the models of an Arbitration and Conciliation Bill which we have in the Acts in force in Western Australia, New South Wales, and New Zealand. I say that without it our Bill is not worth the paper on which it is written. It is because we know what we have to expect from the present Government that we affirm that they have not the confidence of the House. Beyond all doubt, the great majority of honorable members on both sides were returned at the last election for the express purpose of carrying a Conciliation and Arbitration Bill. Here we have been wrangling over minor matters, and have not shown any earnestness or zeal for the welfare of the people by placing on the statutebook a measure calculated to settle the disputes which may arise between capital and labour. I do not know that I should try to anticipate any further action on the part of the Ministry. Whatever the subsequent fate of the Ministry may be, it need not enter into our calculations. We are here in the place in which it is required of us to speak what we believe, and I have no hesitation in reiterating that the present Ministry has demonstrated, and is still demonstrating that it has not the confidence of the House. It does not represent one-third of the mem bers of the House, and by its policy it has shown that it has no initiatory power. It. has had an opportunity to bring forward a positive policy that would commend itself to the intelligence of the people, and it has utterly failed to take advantage of that opportunity. It has simply adopted a part of the policy of its predecessors, and has in no way sought to improve upon it. Whatever the fate of the Government may be as the result of the coming division, I cannot say, but I earnestly hope that it will be speedily consigned to the shades of opposition, where it will be unable to make a farce of Commonwealth legislation and administration. We are at present seeking for legislation that will settle our industrial disputes, and bring about industrial peace. The very essence of our existence as a Parliament is the pledge to carry out a measure to that end. Instead of proceeding to enact such legislation, we are wrangling, and are not in earnest. I hope that the charge of want of sincerity which may be levelled against us, will shortly be removed by the advent of a Government, whether we have to go to the country for it, or can get it from this House, that will show that it is in earnest, and bent upon business, and that will not seek to make a sham of what is recognised to be the one method by means of which we can right what is wrong, make our country peaceful, and work out the greatest happiness to the greatest number. As the right honorable member for Swan- is now present, I repeat that the Bill of which he claimed to be the father, contains preference to unionists. I refer the right honorable gentleman to the decision of the Chief Justice of New Zealand. I maintain that he did not know what were the contents of his own Bill, or he would have known that by implication, as Chief Justice Stout put it, it is intended to be a means of settling disputes between employers and employes, and not ‘between employers and persons who are not associated with any union. I hope that Chief Justice Stout’s decision will be carefully read by the right honorable member for Swan, who will then see that he has made a mistake, and that he did not know what were the contents of his Bill. He gave to Western Australia a measure which is more far-reaching in its provisions than he has suspected. We intend to follow the good example of Western Australia, and New South Wales, and have preference to unionists implied, if not expressed, in our
Bill, otherwise it would be absolutely useless. T do not intend to detain the House much longer. I have referred to the cry of antiSocialists which has been raised here against us, and shown, I think, to the satisfaction of every thinking man, that, as His Majesty the King has said, we are all Socialists nowadays. That is not an idle passing remark, but an observation of one who sees the great forces at work. Inasmuch as men seek everywhere for legislative remedies against the evils which are upon us, to that extent they are Socialists. I have also referred to the combination which is positive in this House. I have spoken of the unholy alliance which has sprung up between men who have nothing in common, and everything at variance, between ultra protectionists, and ultra freetraders, who have sunk their personal convictions for the purpose of “ downing “ a third party. I hope that we shall have a speedy end to this alliance, and that we shall get into a rarer atmosphere with a positive policy. We have to call in a third party to determine the points at issue. We have to appeal to the electors, not because we differ, but because we are so much agreed. We have all professed to be in favour of conciliation and arbitration, and it is because we are in such close touch that there is no line of demarcation. I long to see the day when we shall have, on the one hand, a. straight, consistent, logical conservative policy, and, on the other hand, a straight, consistent, logical democratic policy. I long to see the day when we shall have a. clear line of demarcation, when men shall be divided by principle, and not by selfseeking or mercenary motives. Measures, and not men, I repeat, must be the determining factor. When a party is prepared to come forward with measures which will commend themselves to the intelligence, the conscience, and the reason of men, then we shall find the electors on their side. But while a party has no remedies for the ills around us, then they will always be in a chronic minority, as they ought to be. We require measures, not men, to determine who shall rule. Under the present system one class of men get into power by a side wind and by accident, when there are no clear issues before the country. There is no issue before the country at the present time. We are suffering here, not because we comprise three parties, but because we form one party. We are suffering here because we are al] agreed, or profess to be agreed, that conciliation and arbitration is a right and proper principle to enact. If men were logical they would see that once we start upon a course of conciliation and arbitration there can be no possible halting place until we land ourselves in unionism. The employers are in union. If a dispute were to arise on the railways of a State the Commissioners as a party would represent the State before the Court, and unless the railway men were in a union they would stand as units. Unions must in the very nature of things exist, and we cannot have a Conciliation and Arbitration Court without them. They are the prime requisite, the first step towards conciliation. Unless the Court is empowered, by implication, as in Western Australia, if not by express words, to grant preference to unionists-
– The right honorable member sets himself up against the collective wisdom of the Supreme Court of New Zealand.
– We have a decision to the contrary by the Supreme Court of Western Australia.
– The right honorable member has admitted that the Act of Western Australia was modelled on the lines of the New Zealand Act, and the New Zealand Court decided that the power to grant preference to unionists is conferred upon the Court, and yet he declares that no such power is contained in the Act of Western Australia.
Where ignorance is bliss, Tis folly to be wise.
– The Supreme Court of Western Australia has ruled against that view.
– The right honorable member will find that the power is contained in the Act, whenever an appeal is made to the High Court of Australia. All sane men and impartial Judges will affirm that the power to grant preference to unionists is possessed by the Arbitration Court of Western Australia, although the right honorable member does not seem to know that it is. We hail with delight the opportunity of putting an issue before the people, because it is utterly absurd to conceive of any negative alliance. Our industries are languishing, and our streets are crowded with the unemployed. I was not a party to any fiscal truce. In my constituency, perhaps more than in any other in the Commonwealth, employment is reduced by one-third through the operation of the-Tariff, which is “ neither fish, flesh, nor good red nerring.”
Fiscal truce or no fiscal truce, it is high time that Parliament set itself to see if something cannot be done to counteract the baneful influences which were at work when the Tariff was being framed. This will never be done so long as the present Government are in power. Their idea of preference is the reduction of duties in favour of the mother country, whereas our idea - and the sooner it is known the better - is the raising of duties against the foreigner. The latter is the only preference, which would be found to be of any value, and it is urgently needed. I believe that at the present time there is some indication that if that assurance were given to the mother country, it would help the cause there. We are very gratified that the honorable member for Hume has given notice of his motion. The division on it will show who are the protectionists and ‘ who are the free-traders in this House ; who are the friends of Australian industry, and who are the foreign traders. I shall be very much surprised if some of the very pronounced protectionists who now sit on the Treasury benches, having joined a free-trade Ministry, go back on their professions in favour of preferential duties. In any case, the debate will clear the air, and I hail with delight the prospect of a division on the question. It will settle!, once and for all, whether a man can sit with a free-trade Government and vote free-trade, and yet represent a protectionist constituency, which is an anomaly and a contradiction.
– Yet the honorable member voted to oust a protectionist Government.
– The right honorable member has said a great deal about our alliance. He’ has twitted the Labour Party with being a patchwork party, and has said that we have as many free-traders as protectionists in our ranks, which he maintains is as anomalous as the position of the present Ministerial party. But there is a gre!at difference between the alliance of the Labour Party and that of the Government Party. The members of the Labour alliance have many things in common ^ but honorable members opposite have nothing in’ common, except that they are opposed to the Labour Party. Take our friends who have come over to us, the Liberal Protectionists. They are the men who have been the pioneers of industrial legislation in Victoria.
– What about the honorable and learned member for Ballarat and the Treasurer ?
– The honorable and learned member for Ballarat has not come over to us. I was referring to the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, than whom no man in the country has been a closer student of the exact literature of industrialism and fiscalism. He is a man who would be a host in himself anywhere, so far as information is concerned, and he speaks as one having authority. We are glad- to find that a man of his convictions is in harmony with us. I told him years ago that he would ultimately find a resting place with the Labour Party, because their aims and objects were in harmony with his own. The honorable member foi Bourke also is a very active, energetic, progressive, up-to-date young man. We have weeded out some of the fossils. We did not expect that they would keep pace with the times, and join the new party. We have acquired the men whose future is before them, while we have left those whose future - to use an Irishism - is behind them. Our ideas are those of the young men, and the- flowing tide is with us, while honorable members opposite are being borne back by the ebb-tide. If our alliance goes to the country, and works unitedly, we shall show Australia that there are but two political parties - the Progressives and the Retrogressives, the Liberals and the Conservatives, or the Labour members and the Conservatives. I care not what terms may be adopted, so long as we are divided into parties by measures, without consideration of personnel. With us there is no craving for office, no thirsting for position. We are here in the place where we are required of conscience to speak the truth, to say what we think should be done in the interests of the community. We have no desire to displace Ministers merely for the sake of doing so. What we wish is to see measures placed on the statute-book which will redound to the credit of those who have framed them, and will benefit the people whom we represent. If such measures are to be passed, this House must naturally be divided into two parties - the progressives /and the retro.gressives. So far as the present Government are concerned, they have not yet had time to’ commit themselves to important acts of administration j but no doubt if: they are left in office long enough, their administration will be on a par with the- administration of some of the Ministers elsewhere. Although the policy of a White Australia has not met with any organized opposition in this Chamber, we know that some honorable members who had not the courage to denounce it, or to vote against it, nevertheless dislike it, and when legislation has not the sympathy of those intrusted with its administration, opportunities will be taken to make it null and void. I shall not enter into the case of the six hatters, or of the six potters, but I know that when a measure is administered by one who is not in sympathy with it, it is sure to be badly administered. I am glad that in this Administration we have a protectionist in charge of a protectionist Tariff. For twelve or fifteen years in Victoria, prior to Federation, although we had a farreaching protectionist Tariff, we had ultrafreetraders administering it. I am glad that to that extent the Government have shown a desire to harmonize the administration with the spirit of the law, although I do not know that their action has been strictly in accord with freetrade principles. I do not know how the Prime Minister can consent to have the Customs Department administered by a colleague of whose policy he does not approve. I trust that the good feeling hitherto exhibited during this debate will continue, and that honorable members will persevere in their efforts to maintain a high standard of debate. We live in a rarer atmosphere than do the politicians of the States, and we should leave old feuds behind us. The representatives of Victoria have had their differences, but have shown mutual respect, and have refrained from those personal recriminations which have been indulged in by representatives of New South Wales. I hope that the right honorable member for Swan’ will see the error of his ways, and that he will realize that, in order to be consistent, he must renounce his allegiance to the Government, and vote in favour of giving preference to unionists. The Labour Party have been bitterly attacked by the right honorable member for Swan for having thrown obstacles in the way of the passing of the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta Railway Survey Bill.
– That is an election squib.
– No doubt it is, and it will be assessed at its proper worth in Western Australia. I would remind the right honorable member for Swan that he was in office for three years, and yet did nothing to promote the survey of the proposed railway.
He has reproached the honorable member for Coolgardie with having failed to use’ his influence with the leader of the Opposition to induce him to stay his hand in regard to the want-of -confidence motion, until the measure referred to had been passed. If the matter was so urgent as represented, the right honorable gentleman should have taken action whilst he was a Minister. I venture to say that the present Government will not bestir themselves very much in the matter, because there is a great conflict of opinion amongst Ministers regarding the desirability of constructing the railway. I have no desire to prolong this debate. I am very anxious to know how the vote will go. I believe that noses have been counted, and that one honorable member holds the fate of this Parliament in his hands. We are all anxious to see how that honorable member will cast his vote, and I trust that we shall speedily obtain the desired information. The sooner we have a good thunderstorm to clear the political atmosphere, the sooner shall we get rid of the confusion which now exists; not because of our declared differences, but on account of our professed agreement. In my student days, I was told that if men were logical and could agree with regard to their definitions, it was quite impossible for them to differ; they were bound to come into agreement if they were logical. I would urgently appeal to honorable members to consider whether the interests of the community would be best served by permitting the present Government to remain in office. I have no hesitation in saying that they should not be allowed to remain there for one day longer, because they have given absolutely no indication that they are capable of initiating legislation calculated to improve the present condition of affairs.
– They are only a job lot.
– I am glad that that expression has fallen from the honorable member, because it conveys what I should like to say myself. No combination can be a sound one that contains such an out-and-out free-trader as the Prime Minister, and such a pronounced protectionist as the Minister of Trade and Customs.
– What about the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, and the honorable and learned member for West Sydney ?
– They have never been colleagues in a Ministry. Besides, those honorable members have many things in common. Apart from mere fiscalism, there are many points upon which democrats can agree. In the case of the Conservatives, however, the position is very different. There is nothing else upon which they can agree, except it be a mere negation of the platfprm of the Labour Party. The honorable and learned member for West Sydney and the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, are as far apart as the poles upon the fiscal issue, but are well able to agree upon most other matters. We have read in text books of extremes meeting. That is not a mere figure of speech - it is a fact.
– Will the honorable member produce his authority?
– I can point to many in stances in which extremes meet. I maintain that it is quite possible for men entertaining widely different views upon the question of free-trade versus protection to be perfectly at one in regard to working for the happiness of the greatest number. But I would remind honorable members opposite of the great radical distinction between the Labour Party and their own combination. In the Labour Party we are prepared to sink the fiscal issue. I am not prepared to sacrifice my deep-rooted protectionist principles, and the honorable and learned member for West Sydney is not willing to forego his own fiscal views. We can agree to differ upon questions of that kind. The free-trade members in the Labour Party are prepared to say to their protectionist friends, “You prove to us that any reduction of the existing Tariff will act disastrously to labour interests, and we are ready to look into the matter.”
– How does the honorable member intend to prove it?
– I think that the matter can be easily proved. The present state of established industries will soon demonstrate that the existing Tariff is working disastrously. There is only one remedy to apply, and that remedy is to be found in a return to a national protective policy. Those protectionistswho have allied themselves with the present Adminstration have no hope of improving existing conditions, by securing an increase in the Tariff duties, because they constitute a minority of the coalition, and roust continue to do so. The protectionists have some hope of salvation from us, but they have none from those who have gone over to the camp of the enemy. There is all the difference in the World between trying to take up a neutral position in any combination, and going straight over to the enemy. Our protectionist friends who have allied themselves with the Labour Party have done so to assist the protectionist cause, whereas those who have associated themselves with the free-traders opposite, have surrendered their protectionist principles. They can never hope for. a revision of the Tariff from the party which is at present in power. I am very sorry that such advocates of protection, as our highly - esteemed and respected Treasurer, and the’ Minister of Trade and Customs, should have gone back upon the convictions of a life-time. I am perfectly certain that, so far as any good which they can render to the protectionist cause is concerned, they will soon discover that they might just as well be avowed free-traders. I feel sorry that the old system which compelled men upon accepting Ministerial office, to go before their constituents no longer exists, because I am perfectly certain that had it been operative, protectionist constituencies would never have indorsed the action of these gentlemen in joining a Freetrade Ministry. I believe that, at the coming election, protectionist electors will once more assert themselves by declaring that they do not believe in a man attempting to serve two masters. I repeat that the present Administration does not possess the confidence of this House, and I do not believe that it possesses the confidence of the country. At any rate, I am prepared to take the responsibility of my action in voting against it. I believe that, as the result of a general election, we shall obtain the services of a Government which will give legislative effect to the desires and aspirations of the people.
– As you are’ aware, sir, I d’o not often trouble the House, and when I do speak I never detain honorable members at any great length. But this particular crisis is an occasion on which I feel it to be my duty, not only to myself, but to my constituents and to the. Commonwealth, to express my opinion. We have just listened to a very lengthy, clear, lucid, and terse speech from the honorable and reverend member for Southern Melbourne. I waited many hours this afternoon in the hope of finding some point in the honorable member’s remarks on which I might hang some observations of my own, but I must confess that, after listening to him from start to finish, I have failed, with’ one exception. The honorable member spoke of the honorable member for Bourke, and the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, as if they were his friends and brothers. Does the honorable member recollect the position those honorable members took up during the election? Does he remember how they then abused the Labour Party? And yet on this occasion we find honorable members opposite joining forces, and becoming as it were “ heavenly twins.”
– Can the honorable member remember the Minister of Customs abusing the Prime Minister?
– And vice versa.
– I shall deal with that matter later. Just now, only by chance, [ picked up a Hansard from the table, and’ at the first page I opened, I found the following remarks by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports : -
The idea in the mind of free-traders that we are only anxious to avail ourselves of this opportunity for the purpose of obtaining increased protection without making any concessions is altogether erroneous. We are prepared, after due and careful consideration, to make concessions to the old country, and I am sure that, by mutual concessions and mutual consideration, a great deal can be done to foster, not only the industries and agriculture of the Commonwealth, but also the industries and agriculture of the old country.
– Hear, hear ! I have nothing to withdraw.
– I ask the honorable member for Melbourne Ports how he can reconcile those remarks with the abuse that he heaped on the leader of this Government, because he was not satisfied with the attitude of the right honorable gentleman on the question of preferential trade? I wish to say that I have no objection, from a constitutional point of view, to the submission of the motion now before the House. The leader of the Opposition - the leader, of the Labour Party - has a perfect right to take up the attitude he has assumed, so far as constitutional usage is concerned. But I protest against the indecent haste with which that motion has been submitted. I protest against thi uselessness and the iniquity of the motion. I protest against its uselessness, because we know that the leader of the Opposition cannot possibly succeed. Do not the me mbers of the so-called Liberal -Labour alliance base their hopes on the vote of one single honorable member ? Do they imagine for one moment that that honorable member is going to vote with them?
– He might vote the other way.
– The honorable member publicly stated that he would not vote with the Labour Party.
– He said he would vote for a dissolution.
– I believe he said he would vote for a dissolution; but I do not care for. whom he votes, because I am satisfied that there are honorable members on the benches opposite who are particularlyanxious that there should not be a dissolution.
– Hear, hear ! And honorable members on these benches too.
– Honorable members opposite know that the success of the motion would sound the knell of their own political deaths. They know well that the dangerous weapons with which they seek to hurl us from these benches will but recoil on themselves- I am satisfied that whatever their interests, or the interests of their constituents may be, they will, if they are wise men, make an effort to avoid, by some means, the overthrow of the Govern-‘ ment. That is a duty they owe, not only to themselves, but to the country. The overthrow of this Government after so brief a term, led, as that Government is, by one of the greatest statesmen of our age, and representing, as it does, the majority of the people of Australia, would be little short of a national calamity. I believe that in making that statement I am voicing the thoughts and wishes of the majority of the people of Australia. But what I feel most is that this mixed marriage - this alliance between the Labour Party and the so-called Protectionist - Liberal Party - is simply an insult to public taste, against which I; must protest. Why one party to this alliance should give to themselves the name of “ Liberal “ I do not know, seeing that the honorable members on the Government side are the liberals in this Parliament. A great many honorable members on this side, including myself, are satisfied - and I know a great many. on the Opposition side are satisfied - that when the last elections were fought, the country decided that the Tariff question should be given a rest.
– Nonsense !
– I claim that what I say is not nonsense.
– The Labour Party always give the Tariff question a rest, for their own safety.
– I believe that the honorable member for Hume, the honorable and learned member for Darling Downs, and, further, the honorable member for
Melbourne Ports, have pronounced in favour of a rest from fiscal strife. In support of that statement, I ask honorable members to give me their attention for a few minutes while I quote from Hansard; and a better proof I do not think could be asked. I shall quote, first of all, from a speech by that grand old warrior, the honorable member for Hume, a gentleman on whose opinions and word we can all rely. The honorable member said -
The Government do not propose to raise the fiscal issue, but I intend to maintain my principles.
He said that in a manly way, and I admire him for his manliness.
At the same time, I shall adhere to the statement of the Prime Minister that fiscal peace is to be preserved.
That was the pronouncement of the honorable member for Hume. It is recorded in Hansard at page 535. The remark was made during his speech on the AddressinReply. Now let me turn to what was said by the honorable and learned member for Darling Downs. I will condemn him out of his own mouth. He said on the 15th March of this year, as reported in Hansard, page 538- ‘
Another question which has been definitely settled so far as Queensland is concerned - he spoke for the whole of his State - is that there shall be no alteration of the Tariff. What could be plainer than that ? He went on -
I believe that the whole of Australia regarded the issue as being whether the Tariff was to remain settled, at least during the book-keeping period.
Then the honorable and learned member said that the then leader of the Opposition - the present Prime Minister - asked - for the decision of the people, and he has obtained a decision which is clear., beyond all doubt. Could anything be plainer than that ? Further, he said -
I think that the people have declared that it is desirable that, until the book-keeping period has closed, we should adhere to the existing Tariff.
Now let me take the honorable member for Melbourne Ports. I will quote something which he said during his election campaign. I suppose he did not think that it would be brought up against him. After saying that the Federal Tariff had adversely affected some trades - he was probably alluding to- the hat trade - the honorable member continued - :
While recognising this, he also recognised there was infinitely more to be gained by a period of rest than by re-opening the Tariff question. The protectionists were anxious to give the new Tariff a five years’ trial, but that was what the free-traders were afraid of.
That was said in December last. One might travel through the length and breadth of New South Wales, and, although there is a small sprinkling of protectionists there, the almost universal opinion - although we have been, as it were, cheated out of our birthright and subjected to a high protectionist Tariff that we did not want - is that the Tariff question should be given a rest. The Sydney Chamber of Manufactures at a meeting of the Council, presided over by Mr. O. C. Beale, the High Priest of protection, discussed the possibility of the re-opening of the Tariff, and it is reported that he said -
The concensus of opinion, so far as the New South Wales Chamber is concerned, was in favour of leaving the Tariff alone for the present, in order to enable the Coalition Ministry to proceed with the legislation of the Commonwealth upon the terms outlined by the Reid-McLean Ministry.
– The same chamber, at a joint meeting in Brisbane, assented to a resolution in favour of the re-opening of the Tariff question, and Mr. Beale presided.
– I think I have conclusively proved by the quotations which I have made, and by my arguments, that it was practically agreed that we should have fiscal peace. I wish to know why the question has been re-opened?
– Because there is no peace.
– I do not ask for an answer from the Opposition benches, because I know that I should not get a correct one. But I will give the answer. I am perfectly satisfied that this question has been re-opened at this particular time by ambitious politicians who are anxious for place - who are fighting for place - who are determined to gain their ends by any legitimate means that may be open to them.
– Or otherwise.
– I ask honorable members opposite whether they have treated the people who sent them here fairly? I ask whether they are doing their duty? I do not think so. Not only is the small Tariff re-opening party at fault in my opinion, but I also think that the Labour Party are not doing their duty by the people whom they represent. Neither are they acting up to their principles. ‘ In proof of that statement, I will quote a remark made by the leader of the Opposition on the 4th March, as reported in Hansard, page 188. The honorable member said -
So far as the Labour Party are concerned we regard it as useless to think of taking a share of the responsibility of Government unless we have in this Chamber a majority of members who are prepared to abide by the programme which we have put before the country.
If that was the position, taken up by the leader of the Labour Party, then I ask him : Why do we find his party to-day forming an alliance with a few protectionists with the object of turning the present Government out of office? Furthermore, I object to the Labour Party on the ground that, instead of standing alone, they are constantly obliged to form alliances with other parties.
– What is the honorable member’s own leader doing at present?
– He is doing a service to the country. I consider that the Labour Party is, in this connexion, little better than a parasite.
– A parasite?
– Yes ; for the benefit of those who do not know what a parasite is, I will endeavour to explain. It is a plant which has not sufficient strength to grow by itself, and is therefore obliged to fasten on to some other plant, and bv that means raise itself above the level of the ground to ‘seek air and light. And, strange to say, the plant to which it clings is eventually crushed, and perishes by the action of the parasite. I can promise the protectionist members of this alliance - this unnatural and unholy alliance - that they will eventually be crushed by the Labour Party, which has allied itself with them.
– I suppose the honorable member is very sorry for that?
– I am sorry for my country. Let us hark back a little to see what really has been the action of the Labour Party, which boasts that it represents the working men of Australia, that its object is the greatest good of the greatest number, and that in its view the welfare of the people is the supreme law. The members of that party came into power by accident; they professed themselves reluctant to take office. They did not represent a majority in this Parliament, but a minority ; and, notwithstanding- that fact, they took office. Notwithstanding also the pronouncement of the leader of the party, that they would never dream of taking the responsibilities of office unless they had a majority, they took office.
– They were able to keep a quorum, and the present Government was not.
– What an interjection to come all the way from Tasmania !
– It came from so far away that unfortunately I did not catch it. They threw themselves upon the mercy of this House. They said they did not seek office, and that, in fact, they were very sorry to get there. I believe that they were very sorry to get there.
– -They were sorry to leave, there. ‘
– I believe they were sorry to get there, because in their old role of parasite they were very much happier leaning on the other members of the Opposition. Being forced into a position of power and responsibility, they were obliged to make the most of it. They have claimed that while in office they did everything they should have done, but now that they are out of office we are beginning to see that they did certain things which they had no right to do. I ask the members of this party who profess to legislate not for one class in particular but to secure the greatest good for the greatest number, why, in putting the law into action in the case of the six potters, they prosecuted the employer instead of prosecuting the men ? ;
– If it is not right, why does not the Prime’ Minister call his dogs off?
– Honorable members opposite said that the Prime Minister instituted the prosecution.
– I should like to notice one or two remarks which were made by the leader of the Opposition on Sunday night.
– Sunday night?
– For my part, I do not approve of these Sunday night political’ meetings. I do not think it is at all dignified for a member of this honorable House,1 holding the position of the honorable member for Bland, to address people politically on Sundays.
Mr.- Mauger. - Does the honorable member think it worse than Sunday dinners?
– I think it is almost worse than pleasant Sunday afternoons.
– Does the honorable member for Melbourne Ports believe in it?
– No, I do .not ; but I think there are a great many things worse.
– The honorable member for Hunter will please take his seat. On several occasions to-day I have called the
House to order on account of conversations carried on across the Chamber. Last week also I twice called the attention of the House to the same thing. I do trust that honorable members will not compel me to do, what I am most reluctant to do, and that is to name those who persist in transgressing the Standing Orders.
– I have alluded to the Labour Party as a parasite party. And I have warned the small Protectionist Party opposite that they will probably be crushed by the Labour Party. In view of my allusion, I ask honorable members to listen to these statements made by the leader of the Opposition. He ‘ said - 1 If we were to have got anything at all, the only possible method was by an alliance, whether tacit or expressed, with one or other of the older and more numerous parties.
There is the parasitic theory, as honorable members will see. The Labour Party cannot get on without support from some other party.
– Just as the Prime Minister cannot get on without the support of the honorable member for Gippsland.
– Thi ight honorable gentleman is very well abu. to get on as he is. The leader of the Opposition further said -
In a fight of this description, I am willing to accept the assistance of any man - the honorable gentleman does not care what man, or what party he belongs to, whether he is a free-trader or a protectionist, he is perfectly satisfied. He further said -
I am willing to accept the assistance of any man, inside or outside, who was against the common enemy.
I should like honorable members opposite to listen to this, because it will probably come home to them -
We are, it is true, bound to use our influence to prevent opposition by our party to those who are allied with us.
But hear this statesmanlike proposition?
But that does not prevent us using our influence in favour of any man whom the organizations may decide to bring forward.
On one hand, he promises his support to honorable members who are with him in this unholy alliance, while, on the other, he shows that it is not at all necessary for him to support them when the elections come on. Further on, he said -
With regard to the tobacco monopoly, a Royal Commission is to be proposed, and my own view is that the arguments for the nationalization of that monopoly are so overwhelming that I have no fear as to the finding of that Commission.
– Is the alliance in favour of that?
– The honorable member for Dalley is out of order.
– -This brings me to’ the discussion of one of the planks of the Labour Party, which is the nationalization of what are practically paying industries. The members of the Labour Party, when they get into power - if they ever do - propose to pick out some industry which men, by lifelong energy and the expenditure of their brains and capital, have worked up into a paying concern, and take it over for the purpose of assisting the State. Mark you, these are the men who are going to legislate for the whole people, and not for a particular class. And what do they propose to do in this particular instance? They actually propose to take over the whole tobacco industry, with the object of providing for old-age pensions. Who is it that old-age pensions are going to assist, if it is not the Labour Party ? If is the men who form the Labour Party who will ultimately require the most assistance, if legislation is allowed to go on in the course which they wish it to take. I believe that honorable members will admit that in Australia we are supplied by excellent firms with excellent tobacco. No better tobacco can be found in any part of the world than that which we are here privileged to smoke. I speak from experience, having tried tobacco in various other parts of the world. Honorable members will not find in any other part of the world that wages in the industry are higher than they are here.
– They are shockingly bad here; the honorable member cannot know what they are, or he would not say that.
– On the best authority I am in a position to say that the wages ‘ paid in the tobacco industry in Australia are exceedingly good.
– The employes are not getting a living wage.
– I can inform honorable members of a country where the wages in the industry are exceedingly bad, and where the industry is run by the Government.
– What are the rates of wages in the industry here?
– I may come to them by-and-by. We can get in Australia the best tobacco that can be obtained anywhere, and it can be purchased at a. reasonable price, whilst the men and women working in the trade are not sweated.
– Can the honorable member give us. the men’s wages? I shall be able to get them for him to-morrow.
– I have’ them all here, but it does not suit me to give them just now. Let us take the example of the monopoly of the tobacco industry in France. There the tobacco supplied is the worst to be found in the world ; it is almost unsmokeable. Not only that, but you have to pay a high price for it, and the people who are employed in its manufacture and sale are ground down, whilst the industry is used as a political weapon by the Government of the country. It was the idea of Napoleon I. to place the tobacco industry under the Government, so as to give the Minister of the Interior great power. Today the Minister has this power. He has the power to take over all shops giving a profit of over’ £40 a year. The prefects in various districts have the right to give licences for shops which make less than that ; but any shop making a profit of over £40 a year is placed in the gift of the Minister of the Interior. It is very easy to see. how the nationalization of such a trade as that places great power in the hands of politicians. Of- course, I shall be told that if the State runs this industry it will do away with all political influence. That has not proved to be the case in countries such as France and Italy. We have a very good example of the political influence which exists in the case of State-run industries. We were obliged to put our. railways in the hands of Commissioners, in order to avoid political interference. I claim that an industry which is nationalized and run by the Government is not managed with the same business ability as a private industry is, because so much depends upon personal effort. In the case of State-run industries the management is not so good as it ought to be. Take, for example, the railways and the Post and Telegraph Department. I claim’ that our railways are far from being uptodate, because, for one reason, no refreshment cars are attached to the trains. I am satisfied that if any private companies were running these railways, and there was anything like competition, such a state of things would not be allowed to exist. Again, before we undertake to build a .railway into any part of this country we require to be satisfied that it will pay when built. Private companies do not wait in order to find out whether rail ways are likely to pay, but they form an idea as to whether they will pay in the future, and by that means they open up new country. Furthermore, we should have a series of light railways, which would act as feeders to our trunk lines. Under private management they would have been constructed long ago. The Post and Telegraph Department is conducted in the same way. Only this afternoon, we had to listen for hours to an outpouring of complaints against the telephone system and the management of the Post Office. I am sure that if these Departments had been in the hands of private companies we should not have’ heard those complaints, because the grievances would have been redressed long ago.
– Were there no complaints against the telephones when they were privately-owned in Melbourne?
– In Melbourne we have an example of a tramway system, which is privately owned.
– But the honorable member was talking of telephones.
– We have heard a great many complaints against the tramway system here, and we have also heard it very highly praised.
– By whom ?
– In the House the other day we heard that system praised, as well as criticised. I think it proves that an industry which is run by the State is not so satisfactory as one which is run by a private company.
– Is the honorable member in favour of selling the railways ?
– No. In looking at the platform of the Labour Party - it is, of course, a very excellent one, and contains some very good planks - I notice that the first item is “ The’ maintenance of a White Australia.” I do not see why the Labour Party should particularly claim that as part of their platform, seeing that it is favoured throughout the length and breadth of this land. Another plank in their platform is “ Compulsory arbitration.” We have had an example of their compulsory arbitration. We know that it is their object, if possible, to compel all men to enter unions, and that if they once get men into unions they can compel them to vote just as they wish. That is the chief objection I have to the clause relating to preference to unionists. I have always been in favour of arbitration, but I had no idea that the Labour Party would seek to use the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill as they have done, and make it a weapon which would eventually destroy themselves. I notice that a plank in their fighting platform excludes lawyers -
Compulsory arbitration to settle industrial pursuits with provision for the exclusion of the legal profession. ,
I fail to understand that addition. If the legal profession is to be excluded, why should not the medical profession be excluded? Of course, I shall be met with the cry immediately that there is no greater union in the world than the medical profession.
Honorable Members. - Hear, hear.
– I thought so. I claim that the medical profession is not a close union in the sense in which the unions of working men are, because there is no law which will bind men to any particular action. We see every day. instances in which members of the medical profession please themselves, and nobody can stop them. Another plank in this platform is, “A citizen military force and an Australianowned navy.” I am in favour of a citizen military force, but I am not at all in favour of cutting down the Estimates as the Labour Party have attempted to do. I believe that every man in Australia should be taught to use a rifle. But it is of no advantage for a man to be able to use a rifle unless he is accustomed to some sort of control! And discipline cannot possibly be maintained unless we have a permanent standing force. The object of the Labour Party appears to be to do away with the permanent standing army, and to simply have a number of civilian rifle corps. I distinctly object to the action of the Labour Party in cutting down the Military Estimates, and endeavouring to destroy the cadet movement. I believe that their object was not to encourage cadets, but simply to encourage rifle clubs.
– Who did that ?
– I believe that the honorable member was in favour of cutting down that vote. I certainly think that the cadets should be encouraged, so that our youths when they arrive at manhood may be accustomed to use a weapon. I protest strongly against the domination of the Labour Party.
– And we protest against the domination of the honorable member’s party.
– We have now a representative Government, led by a man whose ability is undoubted, and who is a statesman.
– What was his opinion of the Minister of Trade and Customs during the general elections?
– The position of the honorable member for Gippsland shows the strength of the party on this side. We have here a party made up of- -
– Odds and ends. .
– We have here a party made up of both free-traders and protectionists. I protest most earnestly against this waste of public time and public money. We have been in session for many months. In the space of ten months we have had three Governments, and we are no further ahead now than we were at the beginning of that period. If we have a dissolution at the present moment it will cost the country a large sum, which, as trade is, cannot very well be spared. I think that nothing could be worse for the country at the present time than a dissolution of this House.
– I . wish to say a few words to the House on the subject of the Prime Minister’s policy. ‘ Hitherto very little has been said about it,- but I shall direct my attention immediately to it. It is a very simple policy, but it has been put forward by a complex Ministry. It is, too, a new policy for Australia as a whole, and a new policy also for this Federal Parliament, but it is nevertheless indorsed’ by the advanced members of the Prime Minister’s party, such as the honorable and learned member for Wannon, the honorable members for Flinders, New England, and Parramatta, and the right honorable member for Swan. We have not heard a word of indorsement from the . honorable and learned members for Ballarat and Bendigo, nor from the honorable members for EdenMonaro and Laanecoorie. Neither has the honorable member for Oxley indorsed it, though we may perhaps yet hear something from him in regard to it, because for eight years he lived in’ a State where a similar policy -was in force. He lived in Queensland from 1893 to 1 90 1, when he entered the Federal Parliament and came to Melbourne. Since then he has not had much to do with a policy of this kind, though about a month ago he went to Queensland and attended the funeral obsequies of the remnants of the party which had supported a similar policy in Queensland. He is, therefore, well fitted ‘ to assist the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth at the present time. I intend to place before the House the causes which impelled the adoption of a similar policy in Queensland in 1893. The Liberal Party, which was led by Sir Samuel Griffith, was, in 1888, opposed by Sir Thomas Mcllwraith, until something very like a dead-lock occurred. This was overcome by a coalition, which adopted a policy similar to that enunciated by the right honorable member for East Sydney. That policy was followed by what came to be known, as the continuous Government, from 1893 until its death from inanition in 1903. That ‘ continuous Government was in its youth lively enough, but it committed excesses from which the State of Queensland still suffers. The paltry sum of £333,000 which the honorable and learned member for Corio says that the right honorable member for East Sydney placed on the wrong side of his balance-sheet, is a trifle compared with the money which the continuous Government in Queensland played with and dissipated. Their conduct in that and other matters was responsible for bringing the Labour Party into existence in 1893. That party spared no effort to denounce the misapplication of public funds by the Government, and to cover up its sin and shame the Government adopted the policy which has been adopted by the right honorable member for East Sydney - “ Down the Labour Party.” The constituency which I have the honour to represent forms part of a State which has experienced sad results from the coalition of factors similar to the parties which have come together to support the present Government. My attention was first drawn to politics in Queensland in 1893. The then Government, which subsequently became known as the continuous’ Government, from the fact that, with variations, it continued in office from 1888 to 1903, was due to a compact between a former Government and the Opposition to combine and divide the spoils. There remained in existence, however, a remnant which did not bow the knee to Baal. A measure for the abolition of kanaka labour had been passed in Queensland in 1888, but it was repealed as soon as the continuous Government came into office. The most serious trouble which resulted to the State, however, was due to the financial operations of the Government. It had no difficulty in persuading Parliament that huge borrowing was necessary, the effect of which is the present heavy debt of the State. Whereas Victoria owes only £47- per head of her population, Queensland has a debt of nearly £80 per head. In 1. 88 1, before the continuous Government came into power, the debt of Queensland was only £13,250,000, whereas in 1891 it had increased to £29,500,000. Mr. SPEAKER.- Does the honorable member intend to connect these remarks with the motion before the Chair?
– I certainly do. I am about to show how the difference - over £16,000,000 - was spent, and why the Labour Party came into existence. Many honorable members think that the money was spent for the benefit of the people of Queensland. That is a mistake. It was not so spent, but was applied to a purpose of which the public had no idea. In 1891- the Government of Queensland received from loans and’ ordinary revenue £6,269,181, and spent only £5,836,847. Therefore, there was a surplus, somewhere, °f £432,344- In 1892 the Government received from loans and revenue £6,907,985, and spent only ,£5,306,276, leaving a surplus, somewhere, of ,£1,601,709. In 1893 and 1894 the same kind of thing went on, and during the four years mentioned, a cash surplus of £3,007,755 was accumulated. Honorable members may regard that as a satisfactory result, but in view of the purpose to which the money was applied, there was no cause for congratulation. The Government placed that money in the hands of the Queensland National Bank.
– Was that a coalition Government ?
– It was the continuous Government.
– But was it a coalition Government ?
– It was an alliance Government.
– It was a Government formed by the coalition of the Mcllwraith and Griffith parties. In 1892 the Queensland National Bank, held £1,403,000 of Government money.
-I would remind the honorable member that the question before the Chair is “ that the present Administra-r tion does not possess the confidence of this House.” I have waited for some time in order to discover a possible connexion between the state” of the finances of Queensland ten years ago and the question before “the Chair, but I have not been able to do so. I trust that the honorable member will confine his remarks to the subject of the motion.
– I believe that the honorable member wishes to connect his remarks with the motion by showing what was done by a coalition Government in Queensland and what is likely to result from our having a coalition Government in this Parliament.
– I have been listening to the honorable member for some minutes, with a view to discovering a connexion between his remarks and the subject of the motion, and I have not yet been able to perceive it.
– As I stated at the outset, my intention is to show that the object of the present Government is identical with that of the continuous Government in Queensland in 1893. It is possible that considerations similar to those which brought about the adoption of that policy by the Queensland Government may be actuating the present Government. As Ministers have declared that it is their policy to “down” the Labour Party, I think that I am justified in showing how the Queensland Government, which had a similar object, conducted its business. After having acted in such a manner as to bring the Labour Party into prominence, they afterwards tried to destroy it, but the Labour Party triumphed. I hope the same -result will follow here. We have a perfect, right to do our best to bring about the defeat of the present Government. Until the Labour Party in Queensland occupied the Opposition benches in sufficient force to make their influence felt, the Government continued to place their surplus funds in the hands of the Queensland National Bank. In 1892, the total liabilities of the bank amounted to £8,250,000, of which £1,250,000 was due to the Government. In 1893, the total liabilities stood at the same figure, but the cash deposited by the Government (represented £2,250,000. In 1894, the total liabilities still amounted to£8,000,000, whilst the indebtedness to the Government amounted to £3,125,000. In 1895 the total liabilities remained the same, but no less than £3,564,000 was owing to the Government. Just before the Labour Party came into prominence,, the Queensland Government sent home £600,000, which was placed in the Queensland National Bank in London for the purpose of paying’ interest on loans, but the bank retained it, and devoted it to other purposes.
– I am very reluctant to interfere with any honorable member whilst he is addressing the House, but I am bound by the rules which I have to administer to see that the subject-matter of honorable members’ speeches has some connexion with the question under discussion. I cannot discover any relationship between the subject which the honorable member is now discussing and the motion before the Chair.
– I had just about concluded my remarks upon that branch of my argument. I desire to point out that the policy of the present Government is identical with that which was adopted by the Queensland continuous Government, after it had pursued a most shameful course of conduct. When the Prime Minister outlined his policy, he also defined what he meant by the terms “ labour “ and “ worker.” It has frequently been asserted, as a reproach to the Labour Party, by persons who know better but who wish to appear ignorant, that it does not include professional men. As a matter of fact, that statement was recently made by the Daily Mail, a newspaper which is published in Brisbane, and which is gradually taking the place of the Brisbane Courier. It does not contain a particle of truth. Honorable members will perhaps pardon me if I refer to the definition of “ working classes “ which was given by the Prime Minister, because it is practically identical with that, which I gave to the Melbourne Herald on the nth July. He says -
The working classes include practically every class, because all, except idlers or parasites, are workers.
My definition of the term reads -
Exclude loafers, and you have a very simple problem. When you have cleared off the loafers and idlers, be they poor or wealthy, you have a mass who, in the main, are all working men. Starting with the Prime Minister, every member of Parliament who fulfils his parliamentary duties is a worker; but every man who, being elected to Parliament, evades . his duties on the plea that husiness elsewhere takes him away, is a loafer, as far as Parliament is concerned. The rich man loafing is a loafer, the rich man with an honest profession, honestly attending to it, is a worker.
It will be noted that while the two definitions begin in the same way, my definition makes, some progress. The Prime Minister does not belong to a progressive party, and consequently his definition makes no progress. The . right honorable gentleman again indulged in definitions in the manifesto which he issued to the people of East Sydney. He said -
With us the term “labour” and the term “worker” have a broad and generous meaning. They are not the badges of a class or section, but the designation of the whole community.
But the very >next quotation which I shall make from the utterances of the right honorable gentleman is strangely at variance with that sentiment. In addressing the Kyneton farmers he is reported to have said -
The time had come when it devolved upon him to stand right across the path of the Labour Party.
The continuous Government of Queensland said the same thing until it died. It was a person pf the same stamp as the honorable member for Parramatta, the honorable member for E Flinders, and the honorable member for Oxley, who asked George Stephenson what would happen to his locomotive if a cow were to stand right across the railway line? The answer of the inventor, it will be recollected, merely expressed fear for the cow. Similarly I think that in the present state of politics the locomotive will not wait for the cow. Then, again, the right honorable member for Swan declared that the Labour Parly is attempting to deprive people of their property. Who believes him? Nobody. I ask the honorable member for EdenMonaro, the honorable and learned member for Bendigo, and the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, whether they indorse his statement? Possibly it might be supported by as numerous a band as the defunct politicians whose funeral the honorable member for Oxley attended. In the Queensland parliament, of seventy-two members, a remnant of seventeen supporters of the late continuous Government, remains. In reference to this question, I wish to quote the following passage from the Age :-
The two parties of liberalism and labour, which formerly invariably went to defeat under their divided flags, have achieved, in union, a notable victory. The Ministerialists have gained eight seats, having increased in numbers from thirteen to twenty-one ; while the labour members in the new Parliament are thirty-five, as against twenty - three in the old House. Thus has come to an abrupt end one of the longest periods of Tory class domination of which Australian history furnishes any record. The old conservative party, which favours the policy of a black Queensland, and advocates the selling of vast tracts of land for nominal sums to large capitalistic syndicates; whose favorite plan of adjusting the finances is to impose what is virtually a heavy poll tax upon the working men, in order to keep up an extrava-I gant bureaucratic Civil Service ; and whose idea of encouraging national progress is to offer concessions for the building of private railways on the rotten land grant system - such a party can no longer rule the destinies of the northern State now that it is brought face to face with a united Liberal-Labour combination. The lesson should not be lost upon Federal politicians and their supporters in the constituencies. Substantial achievments are only possible for liberals of all kinds when they march together under ?. flag of practical politics.
The honorable and learned member for Ballarat has been making “ copy “ for the newspapers. One of the remnants of that continuous Government who has been pensioned off in the nominee Chamber in Queensland, was in Victoria, and interviewed the honorable and learned member, as thus reported : -
Speaking with Mr. Deakin, the Queensland visitor was able to show very plainly what the effect has been in Queensland of the Act a’bolishing Polynesian labour. . . . Mr. Deakin’s reply was - “ See the kind of men Queensland has sent to represent it.”
– Has the honorable member got my telegram, in which I corrected that statement, and which was published in the Courier?
– As to the telegram, the newspaper extract is as follows: -
We yesterday received a telegram from Mr. Deakin which reads as follows : -
I hope honorable members will all pay attention to this. “ My remarks to Mr. Annear, reported in your paper of I 7th, followed, and related to his statement that Queensland now regretted exclusion of kanaka labour, and had no relevance unless that is understood.”
That I think was understood. The extract . I read gives the exact information, and the honorable and learned member need not have troubled to send a correction. But the honorable and learned, member wanted to make it appear that he corrected the statement - that is what he wanted.
– No, no ; there is no doubt about the honorable and learned member’s views on a White Australia.
– I think the honorable member for Brisbane is “off the rails there.
– There is another contribution from this gentleman, to which be attaches no name - a statement which could only have been made by a vile cur, and it is a pity it was published. I intend to read the statement and also the names the writer mentions in the paragraph,’ and ‘ if there are any of those honorable members present, I hope they will repudiate having had anything to do with the matter. I say ‘ that this paragraph was communicated by a vile cur - if the communication was made to Mr. Annear, who is reported to have said -
The Queensland representatives, with one or two exceptions, seemed to have but little influence in the House. Prominent legislators had remarked to Mr. Annear -
The prominent legislators mentioned in the paragraph are Mr. Richard Edwards, Mr. George Reid, Mr. Deakin, and Sir John Forrest. ‘ I now give the paragraph referred to-
Prominent legislators had remarked to Mr. Annear - “ Surely a city like Brisbane could have sent a representative whom we might really take seriously.”
As to the refusal to recommit clause 48 of the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, the Prime Minister and the honorable member for New England stated that the amendment inserted had the same effect as the amendment which the honorable member for Bland intended to submit. That is a very misleading statement, and I ought not to allow the debate to conclude without offering a contradiction. The inserted amendment practically amounts to the same thing as though every member of this House had to be returned by an absolute majority of the electors in his constituency, whereas the amendment of the honorable member for Bland, instead of providing for an absolute majority, would be something like a proposal, which appears in the following newspaper extract -
The membership of the Wages Board in the shirt-making trade having expired by effluxion of time, the Minister of Labour has nominated the following persons to fill the vacancies : - Employers, Agnes Crawford, Ellen Eckersall, Charles Mclntyre, R. A. Pryor, Thos. Stephens; Employes : Josephine Fogarty, Ada Gould, Elizabeth Kerrigan, Margaret M. Powell, Marie Stellner If either employers or employes desire to object, one-fifth of the trade must do so within twentyone days.
That is a reasonable proposal, the like of which I think might very well have been adopted.
– Does the honorable member not believe in majority rule?
– I do, and so does the honorable and learned member for Illawarra. But that honorable and learned member would not believe in majority rule if it were necessary for him to be elected by an absolute majority of the electors in his constituency.
– I always have been.
– By an absolute majority of the electors?
– Yes ; I had no opposition last time.
– I want to draw attention to an admirable statement made by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat on the question of a White Australia. It is as follows : -
A White Australia goes further than the preservation of the complexion of the people whose homes are here. It means the multiplying of those homes, so that we shall be strong enough to use and defend the whole of this Commonwealth. It means the maintenance of conditions of life fit for a white man and a white woman. It means equal laws and equal opportunities for all, and protection against the under-paid labour of other lands. It means social justice, so far as we can establish it, and the payment of fair wages. A White Australia means a civilization whose foundations are built in healthy lives, lived in honest toil, under circumstances that do not imply degradation. A White Australia means protection. We protect ourselves from armed aggression. Why not protect ourselves from aggression by commercial means? We protect ourselves against undesirable aliens ; why not protect ourselves against the productions of the undesirable aliens’ labour? Unless a White Australia is to have no more than a surface complexion, it must represent a policy which goes down to the roots of the national life from which the whole of our social system and political organization must spring.
On the other hand, we have the halfMinister, who represents Gippsland, anxious to shift the Chinese to Queensland. We do not want them.
– Thai is not correct.
– I am pleased .to hear the honorable gentleman deny having made any statement of that kind. I really ha’d not noticed the denial previously, and am pleased to accept it. But if that were done, what kind of a White Australia should we have in a few years under the Reid-McLean Ministry? I intended to say that, and I say it now, notwithstanding the honorable gentleman’s denial. On paper it will “read” yellow, and “ma’clean” up piebald. I have given two or three quotations to show what this White Australia business means. The quotations made by the’ honorable and learned member for Indi, in his speech a little while ago, are important, in that connexion. He quoted the Prime Minister to the following effect: -
What is the hope of the great manufactures of Australia? How are we going to manufacture cheaply or to compete with the cheap labour of other countries? How are we going to compete with these under-paid, sweated countries until our own labour is under-paid and sweated too? In the plenitude of time, when our millions become tens of millions, we shall have a. crop of misery which will solve the difficulty in regard to cheap manufactures.
When that quotation was made, the honorable member for Parramatta said that it was a shameful one. Does he reiterate that remark ?
– I did not say that, but it does not matter.
– The honorable member said something very like it.
– Very like it.
– The honorable member spoke- about reading the context
– Hear, hear.
– I have looked up the speech, because I wanted to see what kind of context it waa which would alter the meaning of such words. The context is as follows: - -
Will the erection of a fence solve it? Never.
I do not see how that alters the meaning of the passage in any way. But I have since come across something else that the Prime Minister said when he was in Queensland. I will quote it directly. In the same speech as that from which the honorable and learned’ member for Indi quoted, the right, honorable gentleman said -
When there was a strike in an American factory -what was the cure ? A ship-load of these people from the south of Europe.
And I am sure from the context that that is what he meant. It is disgraceful to preach such a doctrine as that as a cure for strikes, and it shows that the right honorable gentleman does hot believe in conciliation and arbitration. .
– Does the honorable member suggest that the Prime. Minister favoured that remedy?
– He suggested it. Speaking -at Toowoomba on 16th March, 1 90 1, the Prime Minister again expressed, his ‘mind on this subject.- He said -
He did not expect a protectionist to support him, and if he did he would call him a political humbug and a shuffler.
– Is the Minister of Trade and Customs listening?
– I wonder what the honorable member for Oxley says to that. In his appeal to the electors the honorable member said -
I am entirely in accord with the principles of conciliation and arbitration in industrial disputes ; old-age pensions ; such a Tariff as will not only meet the needs of the Commonwealth, but foster . and encourage our local industries.
In the -same speech as that from which 1 have already quoted, and which was delivered at Toowoomba, the Prime Minister spoke of fostering and encouraging our local industries. He said - i Let the Commonwealth Government establish the industries, and then they would be sure that the wages would be paid, and the proper hours kept, and no one could sweat any one or get the profit out of them.
Again, at a meeting at the exhibition - al Brisbane during the same tour, he said -
Why not ask the Commonwealth Government to establish industries of the kind the country
Wanted, and employ men and give them fair wages with no sweating and no middleman’s profit? They said that .protection set up a standard of wages, but let them go to Victoria and try it. They could set it up in their factories, and then they saw how much they were paying and where the money went, and that the people working in the factories would be treated fairly., and that the State would have to bear the burden. He locked upon the records of the factories system i older nations, and he saw nothing in them to excite his enthusiasm. Still less did he see anything in them that he wished to transplant to this fair land of Australia.
Then the Prime Minister went on to talk of the New York slums, and of the woollen mills crowded- with young children, and he said -
The best- way to express their horror at such a result was to vote against, the policy which created it.
One would imagine from hearing him talk thus that there was no sweating of that kind in free-trade England.- But if we compare the labour conditions in England and America I think we shall have no doubt that those in England are the worse of the two. The man who raves, about such things being the result of protection,’ when they exist also in free-trade England, is the man who is killing industrial legislation in Australia. The honorable and learned member for Wannon in his speech last week spoke about rags. He referred to “ the ragged corner. ‘ ‘ He seemed to be anxious to protect his “ uncle’s “ interests, for he again repeated the old chestnut about confiscating- £8,000,000 of money deposited in the banks and substituting notes for it. I wish to point out that the’ continuous Government in Queensland got rid of ,£3,500,000 of the people’s’ money, -and put it into the coffers of the banks. * Queensland has only half a million inhabitants, and if a State with such a population can be robbed of £3,5.00,000, a similar proportion for the whole- of Australia, containing four and a half millions of people, would be £17,500,000. I think I am just as much entitled to speak of the Queensland Government confiscating that money as. the honorable and learned member for Wannon is justified in saying that we propose to confiscate £8,000,000 of cash reserves. The suggested proposal is not really a confiscation in any way whatever. Honorable members, who talk so glibly about confiscating the banks’ gold, wink at the way in which the people’s gold is used by their party, when they have the whip-hand. They object to a reasonable system of note issue, accredited by time, and accepted by the people. Honorable members should also remember that ‘ such a note issue does great good for the people. It does for the people what Antonio did for his friends. He says -
I oft deliver’d fromhis forfeitures
Many that have at times made moan to me ;
Therefore, he hates me.
Honorable members opposite who squirm, and object to this currency system, which is intended simply to help the. people, are in the position of Shylock, when he’ says-
I hate him…..
But more, for that, in low simplicity,
He lends out money gratis, and brings down
The rate of usance here with us in Venice.
If I can catch him once upon the hip,
I will feed fat the ancient grudge I bear him.
He hates our sacred nation ; and he rails
Even there where merchants most do’ congregate,
On me, my bargains, and my well-won thrift,
Which he calls interest.
That is the position of honorable members opposite, and not of honorable members of the Labour Party. Whose fault is it that this Australia of ours is still in the social condition which we left behind us in the Old Country, and in some cases in an even worse condition? The old Conspiracy Act of George III. is still in force in Queensland; and whale we have here a continent large enough for 100,000,000 of people, we have, by our laws, given our best lands away. If any one coming here desires to settle on the land, although we have such a huge extent of territory, he must pay rent to some one else, whilst the people who hold the lands hold them for profit, and not for use. They make a profit from them, and obtain the unearned increment, whilst the’ increased value is made, not by the men who own the lands and receive the rents, but by the farmers and producers who occupy the lands and pay rents which are increased from time to time. That is the result of the ‘unfair legislation which the Conservative Party, that has always been in power, have allowed to go on, and it is time now to make them step down, and let a more progressive party take a hand in legislation. .
– I desire to make reference, by way of personal explanation, to a statement made by the honorablemember for Parramatta the other evening. I have here some documents bearing on the matter to which, I think, the House will permit me to refer. The honorable member said that at the last general elections I had asked the Orange Party or the Protestant Party, to put my name on their list, and that I had not asked them to withdraw it.
– I did not say that the honorable and learned gentleman had not asked them to withdraw it.
– I shall read what the honorable member quoted from Mr. Packer’s wire -
Never asked to have name withdrawn from list.
I have here a copy of the Watchman, dated 5th December, 1903. No issue prior to that date contains my name. My statement is simply this : I said that I had not asked that my name should be included ; and that when it was included, I requested that it should be withdrawn. I now put before the House and the country these documents as proof that what I said was a fact. In the issue of the. Watchman for 5th December, 1903, there is given a list of Protestant candidates. Amongst that list my name occurs. That was a week and a few days before the last general election. In the issue of the same newspaper, dated Sydney, 12th December - the next issue of the paper - there is a list of Protestant candidates, for whom, of course, those who supported this newspaper, and the movement with which it was connected, were asked to vote. My name does not appear in that list. I think that in itself may.be taken as conclusive evidence that my name was withdrawn at my request, since no other name that appears in the list, published on the 5th December, was withdrawn or altered in any way. I have- a further statement which I received by wire on. the 24th September, from Mr. Connington, who was connected with my committee, to . this effect -
I remember hearing you at two meetings repudiate any sectarian nomination. You asked constituents. not to vote for or against you under a misapprehension.
Mr. Connington’s letter, which confirms that telegram, is also dated 24th September, and arrived here yesterday. He writes -
I have a distinct recollection of the circumstances in connexion with the election, and will, if necessary, swear that my telegram of 24th September, 1904, is absolutely correct.
I merely wish to put those documents forward. I think the House will indulge me so far. I have no wish at all to deny anything in connexion with the matter which actually occurred. I desire merely to say that I never asked Mr. Packer to do anything at all in the direction of including me in the list; that Mr. Packer had been a friend of mine, and that I thought he was still a friend, until I received a notification from the wire quoted by the honorable member for Parramatta that he was hot. When he put my name in the list, as honorable members can readily see from these papers, I went to him, and I said, “ Well, I ask you to put a letter in saying that I did not ask for or authorize such a thing.” He said, “ I cannot do that, because that would get me into trouble, since I put it in without authorization of the head body.” That he withdrew it, at my request, I think, is pretty clear, because it was withdrawn whilst no other name was withdrawn, as honorable members will see by reference to the two issues of the Watchman to which I have referred. With this statement I shall leave the matter to the judgment of the House.
– The honorable member is not entitled to discuss the question, but if he has an explanation to make on his own account, he ‘is entitled to make it, though not to make any contribution in the nature of debate on the matter now before the Chair.
– I am quite aware of that, Mr. Speaker. I was only going to say that the honorable and learned gentleman’s statements to-night simply put him in issue with my authority. It is now a matter between the two of them. The position, as I understand it from the statement made to;me, is that the honorable and learned member for West Sydney did ask to be put on the list, and when he found that that was not working for him, as he thought it would, in his electorate, he went and asked to be put out of the list.
– This is another version.
– The honorable member can have a lot of versions if he wants them.
– We have not the slightest doubt about that.
-I say that I prefer my informant to the honorable member, and I propose to stick to my informant too.
– If the first statement does not suit, it can be amended.
-The honorable member has got other versions.
– There are- no other versions. The honorable and learned member for West Sydney himself admits going to see Mr. Packer.
– I did nothing of the sort, until my name was included in their list.
– Order !
– And afterwards the honorable and learned gentleman said he had not been to see Mr. Packer.
– The honorable member for Parramatta is debating the explanation made by the honorable and learned member for West Sydney. The honorable member is not entitled to do that. He is only entitled to explain any matter in respect to which he has been misrepresented or misunderstood.
– I merely wish to say that the statement I made the other night speaks for itself. It was upon that authority that it was made, and it has been corroborated by other gentlemen who know the facts of the case. They corroborate me, just as the honorable member’s statements from his own electorate corroborate him. It is a matter of credibility, and there it must rest.
– As there have been so many personal explanations made in this debate, I desire to give another honorable member an opportunity to make one. When the honorable member for Kalgoorlie was addressing the House. last Friday, he referred to the action of the Prime Minister and the right honorable member for Swan in addressing women’s meetings, and he asked what they had to do with extending the franchise to women. He said that they had taken no action to enfranchise women, but now that women had been enfranchised they were doing all they possibly could to secure their votes. And then, seeing me sitting on the Treasury bench, he asked what did . the Minister of Trade and Customs ever do in the way of giving the franchise to women. I interjected that I had been an advocate of women’s suffrage before the honorable member was born.
– But the honorable gentleman did not put a measure on the statutebook, though !
– Unless the honorable member is much older than he looks, that statement is absolutely true. He went on to say that when I was Premier of Victoria I had the opportunity of bringing in legislation to extend the franchise to women, but that I had never attempted to do so.
– I said that the honorable member did not do so.
– That statement was lustily cheered by the honorable member for Melbourne, who, as an old member of the Victorian . Legislature, knew perfectly well that he was cheering a statement which had no foundation in fact.’ I was taken back a little. I stated at the time that the extension of the franchise to women was one of the principal planks in the platform of my Government. The honorable member for Kalgoorlie then said that- 1 never attempted to introduce a measure for that purpose. I looked up the matter, and I found that I brought in a Bill, which I carried through all its stages in the Legislative Assembly by the necessary statutory majority, and sent on to the Legislative Council.
– And asked . the Council to throw it out. .
– That statement is absolutely incorrect. The representatives .of my Government did all they possibly could to carry that Bill through the Legislative Council.
– They will stick at nothing over there now.
– The interjection is on a par with other statements which have emanated from that side. But that is not all. The reason given by a number of members in the Legislative Council for opposing the Bill was that they did not believe that the electors of Victoria were in accord with the members of the Legislative Assembly’ in asking for its enactment. In order to test the matter, I then brought in a Bill to remit the question by way of referendum to the electors of Victoria., I carried that Bill through all its stages in the Legislative Assembly, and it also was lost in the Legislative Council. I can only tell my honorable friend, who is a young man of considerable promise, thai if he were a little older, I would say perhaps a good deal more.
– Why did the honorable member not correct me at the time if I was misrepresenting him?
– Is that the best excuse which the honorable member can give?
– Does the honorable member make random, statements ?
– No, I shall make full and ample apology when I get an opportunity.
– I shall say no more about the matter if the honorable member acknowledges that he was wrong ; but it is most unfortunate that a reckless statement of that kind should be made.
– It is not a reckless statement.
– Honorable members may accomplish their object of misleading the electors, and . by that means placing the party which does not resort to those tactics at a temporary disadvantage.
– I say that the honorable gentleman ‘ left me without a seconder the first time a proposal was introduced to grant the franchise to’ women.
– I do not know what the honorable member is referring to.
– Women’s ‘ stiff rage.
– The honorable member knows that I supported women’s suffrage every time it was introduced.
– I say that the honorable member did not, and Hansard proves that he did not.
– Perhaps the reference is to one of the honorable member’s erratic motions, moved at a time when he knew it would not be discussed.
– What about the Maffra sugar business? “ Mr. McLEAN. - The honorable member was always bringing in motions which were not intended for the House, but for the people outside, and I paid no attention to them.
– I ‘ never robbed the revenue’ of the country over the Maffra busi- i16ss.
– Order !
– The honorable member knows that in regard to the matter to which he refers I have nothing to be ashamed of. He was. one of those who helped to put hundreds of men out of employment in connexion with that industry.
– That is not true.
– The honorable member for Melbourne will withdraw that remark.
– I withdraw the remark, and say that the statement is not correct.
– That interjection is on a par with a good many of the honorable member’s statements. Coming to the matter more immediately under discussion, I find, from the complaints of the leader of the Opposition, for whom I have the highest respect and esteem, and complaints from the honorable and learned member for Indi - not in the present debate but in a recent debate - that the sins of this Government consist primarily in extending unfair treatment to our predecessors in office, and in coming into power as a result of that unfair treatment. A more egregious misstatement of facts was never uttered in a deliberative assembly. Such statements are childish and ridiculous to the last degree. During my political career I have never known a Government under similar circumstances to receive such indulgent treatment as was extended to our predecessors in office. What were the facts? When the late Government first took possession of the Treasury bench there were twenty-five or twenty-six members all told on this side in a House composed of seventy-five members. la spite of that grotesque condition of things, not a single member of the late Opposition ever challenged the position of the Government by moving a motion of no confidence.
– Because they were not game.
– Because they had not a ghost of a chance of carrying it.
– No member of the late Opposition, I repeat, ever moved a motion of no confidence in that Government. What were the conditions under which the late Government went out of office ? At the instance of the Minister’ of Defence the House carried an amendment on a detail of the Arbitration Bill, to the effect that in the opinion of the Court, the unionists asking for preference should constitute a majority of the workers interested in that particular industry. That was carried by a majority of five’ votes. Then the Prime Minister immediately afterwards moved the adjournment of the House, and, when he met honorable members on the next day of sitting, said that he would ask them to reconsider their decision. But he then went outside the House, and told the press, who published his statements broadcast over the Commonwealth, that if honorable members would not reverse their decision, if they would not stultify themselves - because that is what it would have amounted to - his Government would resign office. Under that threat he afterwards asked the House to agree to the recommittal of certain clauses, including that in regard to which the threat had been made; but the members of the then Opposition very properly told him that they had discussed and settled the matter, and would not reopen it.
– That was very fair, was it not?
– It was absolutely fair. If the honorable member understands anything about parliamentary practice, he must know that it is ridiculous to say that a Government is dealt with unfairly if it is given an opportunity, as the late Government was, to poll its last vote. Every vote in the House was accounted for on the occasion to which I refer.
– On which division?
– On the division which determined the fate of the late Administration.
– I was referring, not to that division, but to the snatch vote on the clause.
– How can the late Opposition be chargeable under the circumstances with unfair treatment? The late Government, in my opinion without justification or reason, chose to regard a defeat on a detail of the Bill as vital, and expected the Opposition, whose members, although they had never challenged their existences did not believe in them, to stultify itself by reversing its previous vote. The next complaint levelled against us - if it can be so called - is because of the meagre policy which we have submitted to Parliament. That complaint comes with a very bad grace from our predecessors, after the policy which they submitted. They came into office when the session was four months younger than it was when we did so, and they had four months more in which to transact public business. But what measures did they submit, in addition to those proposed by us ? The Seat of Government Bill, the High Commissioner Bill, a Royal Commission, and a slight amendment of the Post and Telegraph Act. The discussion of any one of those measures need not have occupied more than two or three days, and the Seat of Government Bill, which was practically the only debatable measure on the programme, was dealt with in three or four days.
– That decided the fate of the Ministry.
– Those four small measures were all the late Government proposed for a session of four months longer than that at our disposal. We came into office after the House had been in session for six months, and when, if we desired to keep to the proper season for sitting, we should have been considering the question of closing the session.
– The Government have been considering that question ever since -it took office.
– Then what measures did the late Government propose for its second session? It told us that it would bring in a Bill to annex some £8,000,000 worth of the banks’ deposits, and another Bill to. nationalize the tobacco industry. That, if I remember aright, is all that was foreshadowed for the second session.
– Was it not enough?
– I think that the present Government has made reference to a much larger number of measures, and certainly to measures much less mischievous than those of the late Government.
– What about an old-age pensions scheme?
– That was common to both programmes.
– Both the heads of the present Administration forgot to mention it.
– The honorable member should not try to take advantage of an omission of that kind, since he knows that the subject was referred to by a leading member of the Government in the Senate on the day that we first met Parliament.
– I did not know it, because I was not in the Senate at the time.
– The honorable member knew it when he made his interjection just now. He knew that the Government must have arranged to deal with the old-age pensions question, because, otherwise the AttorneyGeneral would not have announced the fact in the Senate on the first day that we met the House. I .maintain that, although we outlined .a number of very important measures as those with which we intend to deal . next session, the proper time to announce the programme for that session will be when the Governor-General delivers his speech in opening Parliament. Every old parliamentarian will bear me out in that. Even if we had omitted to refer to any of the work with which we intend to deal next session, that could not have been charged against us as a serious omission. As a matter of fact, however, we referred to a number of important measures with which we intend to deal, and to more than were referred to by the late Government as likely to find a place in their programme for the next session. Statements have been made to the effect that there is a secret understanding between the free-traders and the protectionists,, which has not been made public, and that statement has been fathered - I do not know with what authority - on our friends in the corner, though I hardly think that any of them would make such a statement, since it is without the slightest shadow of foundation.
– Every one outside thinks that it is so.
– Those in the Opposition corner do not.
– Those who practice that sort of thing are always prone to suspect others, but I can tell my honorable friends opposite that there was nothing in the shape of any understanding between those two parties that was not made as clear as noonday. The conditions of our alliance were embodied in the manifesto drawn up by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, and there is no intention on our part to do anything whatever at variance with that programme.
– The Protectionist Party never agreed to that.
– The leader of the pro.tectionists and the main body of the party agreed to it.
– The main body rejected it.
– As my honorable friend has referred to that matter, let him be fair. I would ask him what was the objection that was urged when that manifesto was read at our caucus meeting?
– The objection was that the fiscal truce did not go far enough.
– Hear, hear !
– It was stated all- round the room that we had already won a fiscal truce for the natural life of the present Parliament, and the honorable . and learned member for Ballarat was asked if it would not be possible tq induce the right- honorable member for East Sydney to agree to an extension.
– No such resolution was carried, and the Minister knows it.
– The Minister’s statement is absolutely untrue.
– It is absolutely untrue, and the Minister knows it.
– The honorable member for Melbourne Ports is wrong again. I did not say that any resolution was carried.
– Only two or three honorable members suggested it.
– I say that that was the almost unanimous view.
Honorable Members. - No, no.
– I did not hear a single voice raised that day in favour of reopening the fiscal question during the life of this Parliament.
– I am surprised to hear the Minister make such a statement.
– I thought it would take a good deal more than that to surprise my honorable friend.
– I desire to explain-
-Order! The honorable member may raise a point of order, but he cannot make, any remarks with any other object.
– My point of order is that I was present at the meeting referred to and-
– That is not a point of order. The honorable member cannot make an explanation at this stage.
– Did any one ask that the fiscal truce should extend over a shorter period than was proposed?
– In rising at this stage of the debate I am placed at a great disadvantage, inasmuch as all the big guns in the Opposition corner have so far refrained from making their voices heard. I am compelled, therefore, to go back to the speech of the honorable and learned member for Indi, delivered during a recent debate, because, really, his speech, and that of the lea’der of the Opposition, contained the only charges - if charges they can be called - that require any reply. We know the great ability of the honorable and learned member, his fertility of resource, and his great command of language, and I must say that he used all these attributes to the utmost advantage in denouncing the action of the protectionist members who sit on this side of the House. He accused us of having abandoned our protectionist principles, and of having betrayed the cause of protection. These are very serious charges, and I think that they come with very bad grace from my honorable and learned friend, in view of his own action in the whole matter. Immediately after the elections the then Prime Minister, the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, announced that it was not intended to re-open the fiscal question during the life of the present Parliament. In spite of that announcement, my honorable friend continued to support the Government, and never uttered one murmur or complaint against their decision. When that Government went out of office, and were succeeded by the Labour Government, the honorable member for Bland made a similar announcement. He stated his- intention, tooth in the House and at Wagga, in his own electorate, not to re-open the fiscal question during the life of this Parliament ; and yet my honorable and learned friend supported that Government throughout the term for which they held office, without one complaint or murmur about their omission to re-open the fiscal question.
– I raised the question.
– I am not speaking of my honorable friend, but of a much more formidable, a much more able man.
– No one disputes that.
– The moment the late Government were defeated, my honorable and learned friend called together his little band of seceding protectionists - for what purpose ?
– The Minister means the succeeding protectionists.
– I do not care to use the term “ deserters.”
– We are better than the traitors on the Government side of the Chamber.
– The object of that meeting was to find a pretext to justify honorable members in deserting their leader, abandoning their election pledges, and joining forces with the Labour Party.
– Why did the leader of the protectionists accept terms that were’ previously rejected?
– The present Government was not formed, and, if I am not mistaken, the Prime Minister had not even been sent for to form the present Administration, when the honorable and learned member commenced negotiations with the Labour Party to re-open the Tariff.
– The Minister is wrong - it was afterwards.
– Was not that the object of the alliance that was entered into - will my honorable friend deny it?
– It was something else. It was another crutch.
– I believe that there were three planks in the platform of the seceders, and they were very important ones. I would be the very last to underrate their significance. One of the planks was the revision of the Tariff ; another referred to the Manufactures Encouragement Bill ; and the third had reference to preferential trade. If my honorable friends had fought for these provisions, I could have understood their action. No doubt they did fight for them, but what did they get? So far as the public can ascertain from all the published statements and from the manifesto of the alliance which has been issued, they did not obtain a single concession in return for their support of the Labour Party, except immunity from opposition at the coming election. I think it is’ only fair to the honorable and learned member for Indi to say that he could not have been thinking of himself when he stipulated for that condition, because we know perfectly well that the Labour Party could not affect his chances in his own constituency.
– How does the Minister know that I made any such stipulation? It is a mere assumption upon his part.
– Stipulated for what?
– For immunity from opposition.
– They did not make that stipulation.
– The stipulation is contained in the document.
– At any rate, I think it is a. reasonable assumption, . when we know that the stipulation is contained in the manifesto, and when we have had a recent admission from the leader of the Opposition that he had no right to put it there without consulting his masters outside.
– I never heard that admission from the leader of the Opposition.
– My honorable friend should have attended the meeting which was held on Sunday at the Queen’s Hall, and he would have heard something very like it.
– The Minister was not present anyhow.
– No; I do not attend political meetings on Sunday. I think that six days a week are ample to devote to politics. A man must be a glutton who would give up the seventh day to a political discussion.
– Then why did the Minister advise me to attend ?
– I did not. I should have respected my honorable friends - although it was in violation of their election pledges - if they had insisted on the concessions which they demanded upon the three great questions to which I have referred. But when I find that they surrendered their claims without receiving any consideration other than that which I have stated, I am forced to the conclusion that there was some other motive for their action, which has not been divulged. It is not for me to suggest the nature of that consideration. Every honorable member can fill in the blank according to his own imagination. I would remind my honorable friends in the first place that their action constituted a distinct violation of their hustings pledges. I am aware that the honorable and learned member for Indi was not opposed at the last election, and probably he gave no pledge. But the utterances of several honorable members in the Opposition corner, including the honorable member for Hume, the honorable member, for Bourke, and the honorable and learned member for Darling Downs-
– I was not opposed.
– But the honorable and learned member made a statement which I am sure he will not deny.
– Hear, hear !
– The only other member of the party who spoke during the course of the debate was the honorable and learned member for Corio. He manfully admitted that he had pledged himself to his constitutents in favour of fiscal peace. He informed us that he . released himself from that pledge on the ground that there had been a change of Government. What that circumstance had to do with the deliberate violation of an election’ pledge I have yet to learn. However, that is a matter between himself and his constituents. My point is that the honorable and learned member admits that he pledged himself to fiscal peace during the life of the present Parliament. We also know that the leaders of the three parties in the House immediately after it assembled, declared that the result of the general elections had been to secure fiscal peace during this Parliament. I may be pardoned, perhaps, if I read a few extracts bearing upon this point. The honorable and learned member for Ballarat said -
The fiscal issue is dead and buried during this Parliament, at all events.
The present Prime Minister said - ‘
I recognise that that is the verdict of the constituencies.
The honorable member for Bland said -
I share the gratification of the Prime Minister that with the last election, the issue, as between free-trade and protection, has disappeared for some time to come, at any rate, so far as the Tariff is concerned.
Further on he said -
Practically the fiscal issue is dead, at any rate, so far as this Parliament is concerned.
Again, on the 12th November, he said that under no circumstances would he be a party to the disturbance of the fiscal peace now reached. Speaking at Wagga on the 91b
M.r. Reid. - Why, that was only last month.
– Speaking at Wagga upon the 9th August, the honorable member said -
I believe there is no probability of any appeal for an alteration of the Tariff being responded to during this present Parliament.
T admit at once that if honorable members subsequently received information which, in their opinion, justified them in reopening the question in the interests of the country, they would be warranted in doing so. But before taking such action, I certainly think that they should take their constituents into their confidence. They should resign their seats. The honorable’ member for Melbourne Ports ‘ laughs at the idea of resigning his seat. I can quite understand that that laugh comes from his very heart. If my honorable friends felt so strongly upon this question, how is it that they entered into an alliance with the Labour Party, by giving up every tittle of what they claimed ? Not a single- shred of comfort for them is contained in the manifesto which has been issued concerning either of the three questions to which I have referred. In regard to the Manufactures Encouragement Bill, every honorable member of the alliance is to have “ freedom of action as to method of control.” Inotherwords he, is to be at liberty to do exactly as he likes. When my honorable friends agreed to that they knew perfectly well that the Labour Party, which outnumbers them by two or three to one, would; to a man, favour State control, notwithstanding the fact that the States will not nationalize the industry.
– Do not be too sure of that; one State in the group is very likely to take the matter up.
– Is that Fiji?
– Then it is provided that preferential trade is to be “ discussed by the joint parties.” What a definite, forward movement that is ! Then the Tariff is to be “inquired into.” The greatest opponent of the revision of the Tariff might agree to those conditions without abating one jot of his convictions. I believe that the free-traders would not be more averse to an inquiry than would the protectionists.
– There .is provision for something more than an inquiry.
– lt is not worth more than a ticket for a soup kitchen.
– Let us hear the magnificent provision which follows: -
Legislation (including Tariff legislation) shown to be necessary.
To develop Australian resources. (2) To preserve, encourage, and benefit Australian industries, primary and secondary. (3) To secure fairer conditions for labour for all engaged in every form of industrial enterprise, and to advance their interests and well-being without distinction of class or social status.
– - Indi again !
– That is magnificent. But what follows?
Now listen to this -
A lot of magnificent proposals are laid down, and then we have “a” and “b” taking any particular starch or benefit out of them. I must say that when I read this document, I thanked my stars, for the sake of my old friend, the honorable and learned member for Indi, that he had not gone any further in alphabetical order. If he gave up everything he had contended for in the two initial letters of the alphabet, it would be sad to contemplate what he might have done when he had reached the letter “ s.” I fancy I can hear the honorable and learned member bargaining, not for himself - I admit that he has no necessity to do that - but for some of his followers, with the leader of the . Opposition, to ‘spare them at :the election. I ‘can imagine that I hear the polite and gentlemanly leader of the Opposition telling him in the language of the poet -
I will place thee in a sylvan bower And guard thee like a tender flower.
The honorable and learned member for Indi, in his facetious manner, went on to describe the parties sitting on this side of the House as a “ sexless ‘ ‘ combination. I can only say that if my honorable friend, in his negotiations with, and his final surrender to, the leader of the Opposition, showed any political sex it certainly was not the masculine sex. The honorable and learned member promised to “ love, honour, and obey “ the leader of the Opposition on condition of receiving what the weaker vessel always receives, even in a savage land, from her lord and master - personal protection. But the honorable and learned member went on, and promised the leader of the Opposition a very numerous family, which, in his own graphic language, was to comprise “ all the progressive forces of the Commonwealth.” We can imagine “ all the progressive forces of the Commonwealth “ being galvanized into life, and action being taken on such a soul-stirring plank as that preferential trade is to be “discussed.” The honorable and learned member went still further. He agreed to .constitute himself a sort of decoy duck to lure any erring spirits from this side of the House to the labour fold. Really, the appeal he made the other evening to honorable members to cross the floor was most touching - it was made with all the blandishments that my honorable and learned friend can command. I presume the reason he called us a “sexless” lot was that there was not a rush to cross. I am sure he must have realized during all these trying negotiations the truth of the lines - ‘
Oh, what a tangled web we weave, When first we practise to deceive.
In the same spirit, on the very day that the motion of no-confidence was tabled, the honorable and learned member perpetrated a most magnificent farce. He rose, and in austere manner, and; with an air of pristine innocence and almost vestal purity, gave notice of his intention to move, next day, for the appointment of a Royal Commission to inquire into the working of the present Tariff. I need hardly say that that idea was borrowed from the Minister of Defence, who had expressed an opinion in that direction, in a press interview, ‘ some days before. That, however, is not the important point. When the honorable and learned member for Indi gave notice of that motion, he knew that as soon as he sat down the leader of the Opposition would give notice of a motion which would arrest all business - a motion which my honorable friend had no doubt helped to frame, and which, if successful, was intended to result in a general election. That is what the late Government asked the Governor-General to grant them, and what they were working for. But if the motion of which the leader of the Opposition at that time was prepared to give notice were successful, my honorable and learned friend knew that it would be utterly impossible ever to reach the question involved in his motion. Of course it was a splendid electioneering cry. My honorable friends opposite seem to be adepts at that sort of thing. I know that my honorable and learned friend has great ability, and I am sure that there are very few honorable members who respect him more highly than I do. But. in matters of this kind we have to speak out plainly ; and I must say that my honorable and learned friend displayed a capacity for acting which I never gave him credit for. The whole thing was about as clever a piece of acting as it “has ever been my good fortune to see. It may have been a little overdone. For instance, the anguish that my honorable and learned friend expressed at the havoc that was being wrought by the present Tariff was, I think, a little overdrawn ; and the indignation that he expressed against the protectionists on this side of the House was perhaps a little too terrible when we remember that both of those emotions had slumbered peacefully for the previous nine months, and had only been suddenly galvanized into existence when the Labour Government were turned out of office. I am reminded forcibly of a countryman of my own, who, having failed to see the point of a joke, racked his brains for two days in the effort to discover it. At last, having found a wrong and not the real point of the joke, he laughed most heartily, and said, “Eh, mon, it was guid.” And then he added, “And it flashed on me a’ 0 a sudden.” This necessity for an immediate revision of the Tariff must have flashed on my honorable and learned friend “a’ o’ a sudden “ when the Labour Party went out of office. My honorable and learned friend referred in rather scathing terms- to the reactionaries and conservatives on this side of the House. Any one who will express any serious fear of an influx of the conservative element into a Parliament which is elected on the most democratic franchise that the world has ever seen must be trying - I do not care to use harsh terms, but he certainly cannot be very sincere in his denunciation. Honorable gentlemen who are so ready to denounce what they call the conservative element know perfectly well that if four, five, or half-a-dozen persons having conservative leanings get into a House of seventy-five members, it is the utmost that can be expected under such a franchise as we have. They know also that those persons cannot possibly do any harm. They cannot retard progressive legislation.
– If they hold the balance of power they can.
– At the same time our honorable friends know that honorable members opposite, who are quite as exclusive as is the most crusty conservative, are a much more dangerous body.
– Hear, hear; a Masonic Lodge.
– But it is a safe thing to rail at a weak party, and it is probably a prudent thing to speak well of what is really a rising party. The leader of the Opposition complained bitterly of the remark I made to the effect that the Labour Party represented only a section of a class. I should be very sorry indeed to misrepresent my honorable friends in. any way. I can assure them that so far as the personnel of the party is concerned no one has more respect for them than I have, or more friendly feelings towards them. But I spoke from the evidence of my own senses in this House what I believed then, and what I still believe, to be literally and absolutely true.
– How could we get here without being elected in the same way as “other honorable members?
– I do not mean to say that persons of no other class vote for my honorable friends opposite. I know perfectly well that they do. But when my honorable friends enter this House what consideration do- they show those other persons who vote for- them ? Whom do they represent outside ? Trade unionists ? They certainly do not represent the free labourers.
– We do.
– This is most extraordinary.
– We desire fair play for everybody.
– And yet my honorable friends support legislation which would rob the free labourer of his means of living.
– That is not correct.
– They do more. They abuse them in language which I hardly like to repeat. Such terms as “ scab,” “ blackleg,” and “ members of the criminal classes,” are the epithets that are hurled by members of the Labour Party at free labourers.
– The free-traders have called the protectionists robbers?
– What did the honorable member call the Labour Party?
– Order ! I am sorry to have to mention the name of the Minister of Defence, but this is the second time he has offended. I must ask that these interjections across the Chamber shall be absolutely’ repressed.
– With the exception pf a few days given to the consideration of the Seat of Government Bill, the Labour Government while in office, devoted practically the , whole of their time to the consideration of the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill. I was a constant attendant in the House, and I never heard a member of that party advocate any provision from the employers stand-point.
– There was no need for that. They had plenty of friends to do that for them.
– Honorable members opposite cannot claim to represent them. They cannot claim to represent the free labourers. I should, therefore, like to know whom my honorable friends opposite represent outside trade unionists?
– We are prepared to give everybody fair play, and that should be all that is needed.
– I admit that they represent trade unionists well. Thev are certainly true to their pledges to those people. I have never known them desert trade unionists on anv occasion whatever. I still say, judging from all that I have seen, that whoever may support them at the elections, when they come into this House honorable members of the Labour Party represent only one section of the workers, and that is the trade unionists. During this debate we have heard a good deal about Socialism. I have been a little exercised about my honorable friends’ eagerness to deny that they’ sympathize with Socialism.
– Nobody here denies it. I am a Socialist from my toes to my nose.
– What is a Socialist? All authorities I have read on the subject assert that the ultimate end of Socialism is the nationalization of land, of capital, and of industries.- I think my honorable friends opposite will admit that.
– They will admit anything.
– It is on that point that I join issue with them. As for their present milk-and-water programme, there is no great harm in it. I am sure I should have been quite willing to have let my friends opposite remain in possession of the. Treasury bench while dealing with their milk-and-water legislation. I do not know that I should have been wise in doing so, because when we know that men are travelling on a dangerous road to a goal that we know would be destructive to the best interests of the country, the sooner their progress is arrested the better it will be for all concerned.
– That is why we have proposed’ a motion of want of confidence in honorable gentlemen opposite.
– When tha honorable member for Darling, whom we all respect, beamed on us the other day for five solid hours, he devoted his time to teaching us the beauties of Socialism, and the great attractions and advantages of State control. The honorable member even went so far as to tell us that in regard to the care of children the mother is not in it with the State.
– I did not. I merely quoted facts.
– My honorable friend told us that children that were farmed out by the State were infinitely better cared for than those under the care of any mother.
– I did not. I said that in South Australia the record of babies farmed out is a favorable one. That is merely a fact which can be ascertained by any honorable member.
– My honorable friend went on to point out the beauties and advantages of land nationalization. He told us that when the State secured possession of the land’, it would have so much money coming in from it that the Government could remit taxation in every direction, and could run railways free for the convenience of the people. But the honorable member never once told us how the State is to get possession of the land. Surely there are only two ways by which the State can get possession of the land - by purchase or by confiscation? The honorable member for Darling would not, I believe, advocate confiscation. I am only saying that there are two ways of obtaining possession.
– I did not advocate either.
– I understand from my honorable friends opposite that they have no sympathy with the confiscation of private property. Is not that so? Well, then, my honorable friends must intend to buy the land. Am I right there ?
– Tax it first.
– That shows the unfortunate position of gentlemen who have no knowledge whatever of business matters. It looks splendid- - most attractive. But let us come closer to the question. In order to buy the land you must, in the first place, borrow the money to buy it with.
– It is unnecessary to do that.
– Take the case of Victoria. Victoria has, I think - speaking from memory - 24.000,000 or 25,000,000 acres of alienated land. If, leaving out city land, we put the value down at, say £4 per acre - that is, I think, a moderate estimate of the value - we should have, in the first place, to borrow about £100,000,000 to buy out the Victorian privatelyowned land. How is the value of land ascertained ? The real value of land is the capitalization of its net income, computed at the current rate of interest. That is the rental value of land, the tenant paying all local taxes. The rental value of land should represent the annual interest. Therefore the rent that my honorable friends would receive - even if they got the highest rent that the most grasping private land-owner could get, and tenants will not give more than the interest represented by the profits from the land-
– Why, then, did the honorable gentleman advocate compulsory land resumption ?
– I advocated a very different kind of land resumption. I will tell my honorable friend later what I advocated, but I will deal with this question first. There would be no money left from the rents to go to the State. But the State would have to provide for the interest connected with it. The State would also have to provide’ the enormous expenditure involved in supervision - the supervision that is at present exercised by ‘the individual land-owner, and that would amount to an enormous sum. What then becomes of my honorable friends’ millions that are to be rolling in, and which will enable them to abolish the freights on the railways? Another phase of this question of Stateowned land is this : Every one who understands the question knows that land that has been cultivated by a tenant, unless it is cultivated under the most stringent conditions and the most careful supervision, will, in the course of a few years, be exhausted. It is absolutely necessary to give back to the land the’ properties that are extracted from it by cultivation. We can imagine therefore the amount of supervision that would be necessary on the part of the State in order to keep the land from being, impoverished or exhausted by the tenants.
– Is this part of the Government policy?
– It is part of my honorable friends’ policy, and I am showing what they are working towards and what constitutes a very serious menace to the future prospect of Australia if they become strong enough to govern.
– Yet the honorable gentleman supported it himself?
– I will tell my honorable friend what I supported. I supported the purchase of land for the purpose of dividing it into small holdings and planting a peasant proprietary on the soil, and I looked to the purchasers being able to pay for that land by the labour that they put into it each year. My anticipations in that -respect have been thoroughly justified by the experiments we have made. I believe that it is a sound policy to plant an industrious yeomanry on the soil.
– That is our policy.
– No. My honorable friend’s policy is that of the tenant and the landlord, the State being the landlord, and the people who work the land the tenants, who are personally interested in taking ail they can extract, and giving back as little as possible in return.
– The honorable gentleman’s policy is that of the mortgagee and the borrower.
– The policy of closer settlement is, I believe, a sound and healthy one. I should like to see all the good productive land of Australia in the hands of small holders, who would have a personal interest in preserving it from impoverishment and exhaustion. These men would be the best colonists we could have.’ They would have a vested interest in the country, and would do nothing to endanger its welfare or progress.
– The honorable gentleman is on the same platform as we are.
– When the leader of the Opposition was twitting the Government with its intention to confer with the States Governments during the recess, he told us, in a high-handed manner, that he would not treat with the States Governments, but would appoint a High Commissioner for the Commonwealth straight away, and trust to public opinion compelling them to transfer to him the work which the AgentsGeneral are now performing.
– Where did he say that?
– He used words to that effect.
– Let the honorable gentleman quote his words.
– How can I quote’ the exact words? My honorable friend will find the words in Hansard, and the honorable member for Bland will not deny that he used them. He is too honorable and straightforward to deny what he said.
– No one would care; to deny what he said; we only ask the honorable gentleman to quote his words.
– Those are his words, as nearly as I can remember them.
– As nearly !
– He said that he would appoint a High Commissioner during the present session, and he added that public opinion would compel the States Governments to come into line at once.
– That is, those who refused to come in by negotiation.
– Negotiating with a pistol held at their Reads.
– Hear, hear; a good way too, sometimes.
– That statement showed a want of business tact and diplomatic skill which, in ray judgment, would utterly unfit any person holding those opinions for the leadership of the Government of the Commonwealth.
– I think that the honorable gentleman is doing the leader of the Opposition an injustice. What he said was that the appointment of a High Commissioner was necessary, and, no doubt, the States would see to their own affairs.
– The leader of the Opposition said that public opinion would compel the States to come into line. I distinctly remember him using those words.
– That was in answer to an interjection.
– That was dealing with the States Governments, who have rights under the Constitution, in precisely the same way that the honorable gentleman tried to deal with the House when he held out a threat if we did not eat our own words and reverse our vote he would go out of office.
– He said that if the Opposition did not give his Government time to discuss the question he would go out of office.
– The honorable member can give his own version. The leader of the Opposition ridiculed our idea of conferring with the States Governments with a view to -have a uniform system of old-age pensions for the Commonwealth in place of the systems now in operation in New South Wales and Victoria. He told us that he would pass an Old-Age Pensions Bill, irrespective of the” views of the States. Is not that a threat?
– He said he would establish old-age pensions whether the States would agree or not.
– What sort of a’ position should we be in to negotiate with the States Governments if we told them beforehand, “ We are going to negotiate with you, but unless you do exactly as we tell you we shall proceed without you ? “
– He’ did not say any such thing.
– That is the inevitable inference ‘ to be drawn.
– That is not correct, and the honorable gentleman knows it is not. He is most unfair, and I am surprised at him.
– What construction would any one put on the honorable gentleman’s statement, but that he would proceed with an Old-Age Pensions Bill whether the States would agree’ to his proposal or not ?
– Will this’ Government give us old-age pensions ?
– When the honorable member rises he can speak about the Government. I am speaking about the leader of the Opposition.
– We will admit that much.
– I am glad that my honorable friend admits it.
– Only that much.
– Whenever we spoke of our honorable friends opposite as being under the domination of outside organiza tions, we were invariably met with a contradiction from their side. We were told that they were absolutely independent of outside organizations. When we mentioned that the minority must bow to the decision of the majority in caucus, that was denied, in spite of the fact that we had before us the pledge that every member of the. party has to sign before he goes up for election. When speaking to their masters outside-
– Are not the people outside the honorable gentleman’s masters as well as ours ?
– Not in the same sense. We are not the bondsmen of certain organizations outside. What did the leader of the Opposition say on Sunday night, when he addressed the audience that assembled in the Queen’s Hall, Melbourne? -
It was true the labour Members of Parliament were the result of organizations, were governed by the rules of organizations, worked by a platform prepared by organizations, and had to abide by decisions in caucus.
That is all we ever asserted about the Labour Party.
– I never heard any one go further than that.
– I do not see how itwould be possible for any one to go further, because the honorable member for Bland admits that the Labour Party are the creation of these organizations, are governed by their rules, and are compelled to abide by the decision of a majority in caucus-
– On the platform.
– On matters affecting the platform, which is a very much wider thing.
– Honorable members on the other side are in the same fix.
– If we were all in the same fix, I could tell the honorable member how the House would be situated at the present time. If we had a caucus, and the majority could compel the minority to sit with them, speak with them, and vote with them, the honorable and learned member for Indi and his friends would be here, in their proper place, supporting us.
– The caucus decided against the honorable gentleman, and he knows that it did.
– My honorable friends opposite admit that the members on this side constitute a majority of the Protectionist Party.
– If we had all kept our pledges, the honorable gentleman would be still on this side of the House.
– I do not know whom my honorable and learned friend means by “we.”
– The majority of the caucus, and the honorable member knows it.
– I did not accuse the honorable and learned member for Indi of breaking his pledges.
– Were we not free to vote as we thought fit?
– The honorable members for Moira and Echuca, and I think the Prime Minister, though the Minister of Trade and Customs being in front of him I could not hear distinctly, have been guilty of an offence to which I have drawn attention two or three times, that is, of conversing- across the chamber.. I would also remind the honorable and- learned member for Indi, and the honorable member for Melbourne1 Ports, that they will both have an opportunity to speak later on, and therefore I hope that they will not continue their interjections.
– All the members now sitting in the Opposition corner should be supporting the Government with voice and vote, and would then be doing a much wiser thing for themselves and their country than they are now doing. ‘ I wish to say in conclusion - because the hour is late, and I have spoken longer than I intended - that it is the earnest desire of this Government, and all our actions will be devoted to that end, to make Australia a land worth living in. and not a place to be avoided. We believe that the best way to do that will be to stimulate and to encourage primary production and industrial enterprise by every legitimate means in our power.
– That is our platform.
– The honorable and learned member and those with him have given that up with their “ a “ and “ b “ provisions. We make no such surrender. We shall endeavour to secure to every man and woman in the Commonwealth the legitimate reward of their honest toil.
– By what means?
– By the means which we have announced in our platform, and by other legislation on the same lines. In the true spirit of the Constitution, which provides that every man and woman in the Commonwealth shall have an equal voice in framing the law, we shall endeavour to make them equal before the law.
– When speaking to the motion now before the House, I said -
The honorable member for Gippsland may have stated on the hustings his belief in woman’s franchise ; but, although he was Premier of Victoria for a considerable time, he did not introduce a Bill to give effect to that belief.
I was led to make that statement because of my knowledge that the women of this State are not enfranchised under the Victorian law, and the Minister did not correct me at the time.
– Yes, I did.
– The honorable gentleman has since repudiated the charge, and on looking through the records of the Victorian Parliament when he was in office, I have ascertained that he introduced a Bill, and then a second Bill, providing for thesubmission of the question to a referendum of the people. I wish, therefore, to unreservedly withdraw my former statement, and to ask the Minister and the House to accept my assurance that when I made it I believed it to be correct.
– Hear, hear. That is manly.
– Before asking for an adjournment of the debate, I think it right, since certain statements have been made by the Minister of Trade and Customs, to say a word or two on a subject which I regret has been brought before the House. I refer to the divulgence of certain proceedings! which took place in a caucus of the Protectionist Party, under the seal of confidence.
– Who violated the confidence ?
– The Minister; and he has made a statement which, I regret to say, is not in accordance with what took place. He said that a majority of those present were in favour of a longer extension of the fiscal truce “than was proposed in the memorandum submitted by the then leader of the party ; but the only member whom I heard say a word in reference to the matter was the honorable and learned member for Bendigo
– I heard many honorable members express that opinion.
– Two or three others may have done so. I did not hear them, and no vote was taken on the question.
– The honorable member was himself in favour of extending the time.
– I was absolutely against it.
– I do not say at the caucus, but when addressing the electors at Albury.
– I am speaking of what took place at the caucus. I shall have something else to say about what has been alleged, in reference to my statements elsewhere. I am . referring now to statements which have been made to-night in reference to the proceedings which took place at the caucus, and I wish my refutation of them to be published side by side with the statements themselves. The Minister also said that a majority of the protectionists were in favour of a coalition, and in refutation of that statement, I wish to say that there was a unanimous decision not to join under the leadership of the present Prime Minister. It was a clear understanding that, before any further steps of any kind were taken, another meeting qf the party would be called; but such a meeting has never been called. I am sorry that these matters have been referred to, but as statements have been made which are quite contrary to what really took place I have felt bound to say a word or two in regard to them. I shall not proceed to-night with the remarks which I wish to make on the motion before the House, because they will take some little time, and I think that I am justified in asking for an adjournment 01 the debate until to-morrow.
– I desire to make a personal explanation. I regret that any private conversation which took place at the. meeting of the Liberal- Protectionists has been disclosed this evening ; but, as the honorable member for Hume has mentioned mv name, I wish to state most distinctly that I never advocated an extended term for any coalition.
– Why, the honorable and learned member moved it.
– What I said was that if there was to be a coalition, it would be ridiculous to terminate it upon the eve of a general election, and that it ought to be extended over two Parliaments. Therefore the honorable member for Hume places me in a false position when he suggests that I advocated an extended term for a coalition. The honorable member ought to know that I opposed the coalition. I drafted the following resolution : -
Resolved, That the present circumstances do not render advisable either of the proposed coalitions or alliances, and that every effort should be made to maintain the unity and integrity of the Liberal Party.
So far as I am concerned, I have endeavoured to give effect to that resolution, and I am no party to any coalition.
– I move -
That the House do now adjourn.
In the interests of the public, I must suggest that this debate should not become interminable. We have already been sitting here discussing this very simple proposition, regarding which every one. has made up his mind from the first, for more than a week, and I hope that, in the interests of the public, we shall endeavour to bring the debate to a termination as soon as possible. I quite admit that every honorable member has a perfect right to express his views, and no one wishes to limit that right, but I hope we shall arrive at a decision very, soon, because the present time is one of great anxiety.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 10.47 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 27 September 1904, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1904/19040927_reps_2_21/>.