2nd Parliament · 1st Session
Debate resumed from 28th September (vide page 5045), on motion by Mr. Watson -
That -the present Administration does not possess the confidence of this House.
East night you held, Mr. Speaker, that I could not make a personal explanation about anything which had not been stated in regard to myself. If the right honorable gentleman is allowed ‘to go into these details, and: practically makes another speech in connexion with this matter, I hope that I may be allowed to reply to him.
Mr. Wilks. - Gag
– I think that the honorable member for Hume can rely upon having fair play. I ask the Prime Minister to confine himself strictly, as I believe he will, to a personal explanation; but if, when he has finished, the honorable member for Hume also desires to make a statement, I am sure that the House will be willing to hear it.
– I was stating to the House that one of the gentlemen who was appointed by the honorable member for Hume to judge me, had already, as a hostile candidate at the elections, prejudged me. I submitted his utterances, as reported in the newspaper published in the district, to the honorable member for Hume, and I protested against being judged by a man who had condemned me before entering upon the investigation, and who was a political opponent.
– The right honorable gentleman said the same thing about Mr. Dibbs.
– I hope that the honorable and learned member will keep quiet. If he has not a shred of care for reputation himself he might have some respect for the reputation of others. Under these circumstances, I refused to put myself in the hands of the Committee appointed by the honorable member for Hume, But what was the next step that I took? I asked the two institutions of accountants in Sydney to select two of their best men, without reference to me at all, and the two thus chosen were to select a third. One institution of accountants nominated Mr. Bowes, a leading accountant in Sydney, and a London chartered accountant ; and the other institution nominated Mr. Davis, another leading accountant in Sydney. Those two accountants nominated Mr. Richard Teece., whose name is known throughout the length and breadth of Australia as the general manager of the Australian Mutual Provident Society, the largest financial institution in the Commonwealth. Mr. Teece began his work with the other gentlemen whom I have named, when his directors withdrew him from the position, on the ground that it was a political matter, and they thought that their general manager should not be entangled in it. Then the other two accountants, who had been selected in the manner I have described, selected, as a third, Mr. Vane, of the well-known firm of Miles and Vane, accountants in Sydney. All three were selected absolutely without the exercise of a choice by me in any shape or form. But, as the matter was one outside the ordinary run of accountants’ work, Mr. Davis waited on me to ascertain what the scope of the inquiry was to be, so that they might be able to form some idea as to the length of time for which they were to be taken away from their ordinary business. That was the private interview to which the honorable member for Hume has referred.
– Mr. Davis was a prominent protectionist, too.
– Yes; he was a member of the Protectionist Party. Honorable members must know that I paid these accountants myself. As I would not go before the tribunal appointed by the honorable member for Hume, I felt that I owed it to the public to have an independent inquiry, and at my personal expense I appointed the gentlemen whom I have named, who were selected entirely by others. My written instructions to them were to take the accounts of the Treasurer and the Auditor-General, and, when there was a difference between the Treasurer’s accounts and those of the Auditor-General to follow the Auditor-General’s accounts, and not my accounts.
– The right honorable member did not formulate a set of questions, as the honorable member for Hume did.
– No. I asked the honorable member for Hume, when’ he was formulating his questions to his own Committee, to allow me to put some questions to them, but he would not do so. I then asked the honorable member, when the report of the three accountants nominated at any instance, was presented to me, to allow it to go into the journals of the Parliament of New South Wales, as the report of his own Committee had done, but he refused that, too. Fortunately I have some chance now of having my side of the case placed on the records of the New South Wales Parliament. But I wish to go further. The three accountants had each separate sets of the accounts of the Treasurer, and of the Auditor-General, placed before them, with instructions to follow the Auditor-General’s accounts in any case of doubt. Each of them conducted an independent investigation, and they met and agreed upon a joint report which showed - what? That my statement of the balance which I left to the honorable member for Hume on the 1st July, 1899, namely, ^147,000, was ^110,000 under the mark - that, instead of overstating the accounts, amounts had been advanced to public officers during my last financial year which had to be returned under the Treasurership of the honorable member. . These three accountants pointed out that I had understated my balance, to the extent of j£i 10,000. The honorable member for Hume accepted my balance, and put it -in his own accounts as correct.
– That is not correct. I made a statement at the time as to why it was done.
– The Treasury accounts are there to be seen. The honorable member put some other statement on the table of the House, which the accountant to the Treasury would not sign.
– When making personal explanations, it is not permissible to introduce new matter, and I ask the right honorable gentleman not to do it.
– I will now leave that matter, and come to the more serious statement of the honorable gentleman, which imputed corruption to me in the administration of the office of Premier of New South Wales. I suppose we have not come to a state of things in this House when such charges may be made against a man without some seriousness being attached to the imputation under which he is made to lie. I suppose that on this matter, considering the nature of the statement which has gone on the permanent records of Parliament, I can claim1- the generous indulgence of every: member of the House. I would like, with reference to it, to say this : Senator Neild, who was at the time a member of the Legislative Assembly of New South Wales, and had been for years a member of my own party, was going to the mother country on other business, and asked me to authorize him to make inquiries on behalf of the Government of New South Wales as to the old-age pensions system, in connexion with which he had been prominent from the first. I gave him the commission, but like a prudent Minister, I stated in it that he was to do the work entirely without remuneration. Those were the terms on which I appointed him. I expected to receive a report such as any one of us might give after a visit to the mother country - a document containing forty or fifty pages. I did not dream of the length to which his report would go. The honorable gentleman came back, and was ill for a long time. Finally, he set to work, and presented to me a report containing 515 pages.
– The best document on the subject in the world.
– It is a document containing information culled from the literature of various nations. I did not get it until it had been printed at the Government Printing Office, but the moment I saw it I said, “This must have cost you a good deal. We must put some amount on the Estimates for the trouble you have taken in this matter “ ; and I promised to do so. As honorable members know, to put money on the Estimates is not to guarantee that it will be voted. I am now .giving merely the preliminary history of the matter.
– This is all in the sworn evidence of the Committee.
– I intended to put a sum on the Additional Estimates for the year 1899, but as we had no Additional Estimates that year, the matter was allowed to stand over until the following session. We prorogued in December, and the payment was made to Senator Neild at a time when Parliament: was not sitting, and would not sit for six months. Not a penny was paid to him when Parliament was sitting, and I had no intention of paying him anything until Parliament had voted the money. But the honorable gentleman had suffered a number of misfortunes; his health, for instance, had broken down, and he came to me. and asked me to pay the actual expenses which he had been out of pocket for a considerable time, in anticipation of the grant of Parliament. The amount which I paid to him did not comprise one penny for his personal labour in this gigantic work. It was merely a reimbursement of the money he had actually spent in producing it. I paid it in the full belief that Parliament would recompense him for his gigantic labours in a national cause. It was not a matter of helping rich corporations, but of providing old-age pensions for the poor of Australia, and Senator Neild s work had a great deal to do with the ease with which that system was established in New South Wales. I now come to a more serious matter than that. The honorable gentleman spoke as if there had been a Committee sitting upon my conduct in connexion with that matter.
– No, I did not say that. ‘
– That is what one would gather from the honorable member’s speech. That Committee did not sit to inquire into my conduct at all.
– I never said so.
– I accept the honorable member’s statement. The Committee was appointed to inquire into the question whether Senator Neild had’ entered into any contract, and whether by receiving payment from the Government he had forfeited his seat as a member of the Legislature, and it did not report upon my conduct in any shape or form. I admit that it is constitutionally dangerous to make payments to members of Parliament, and no one grants more freely than I do that since Parliament did’ not approve of my conduct it had a perfect right to censure me for believing that it would approve, and for thus falling into an error. I have never grumbled about that. Will honorable members believe that the honorable gentleman who made this imputation against me, and his whole party, when I challenged them in the face of the House and the country as to whether their Statements amounted to an imputation upon my personal integrity gave me an assurance that they did not?
– I did nothing of the kind.
– I shall read from the records of Parliament in justification of what I have said. When the motion of censure was tabled, the member for HastingsMacleay, Sir Edmund Barton, made use of observations in a daily newspaper interview which seemed to me to suggest some imputation of improper conduct on my part. I immediately challenged him. I came before the House upon a question of privilege, and took up this position : “If this is a mere censure upon me for making a mistake as a Minister, I am satisfied to abide by the decision of the House ; but ‘df it is an imputation upon my personal character, if it is a charge of corruption against me, I claim the right to have a judicial investigation. I do not want my character to be the sport of a party censure vote.” Honorable members will se,e the difference between the two things. If any of my honorable friends had his personal character impugned, would he be content to have it dragged into the mire of a censure debate? Would he not claim the right which belongs to the meanest criminal in the land to have a fair and impartial trial? I knew what use might be made of such statements. I shall read from the New South Wales Hansard. On the 5th of September, 1899, page 1136, I called attention to Mr. Barton’s words, and said this-
I rise to say that my ideas of parliamentary fair play and honour are so different from those of the honorable member, that if this charge embodied in the amendment of the honorable member for Wickham-
That was Mr. Fegan, who pointed the honorable member’s general motion, with some words I will read. There was no charge of corruption embodied in Mr. Fegan’s amendment, which was couched in these words -
That the question be amended by inserting after the word “ House “ the words “ and deserves censure for having made payments of public money to Mr. J. C. Neild, member for Paddington, without asking Parliament, and contrary to the assurance given by the right honorable the Premier.”
That was .a perfectly legitimate ground for censuring any Government, and I did not object to anything of that kind, but when the honorable member for Hastings-Mac - leay said something which seemed to me to amount to a charge affecting my personal reputation, I got up in the House and made these remarks -
If this charge embodied in the amendment of the honorable member for Wickham is intended lis a deliberate charge of personal corruption against me, affecting my personal integrity-
– Certainly not.
Now I willi read a little further. I had a prophetic sense of the extreme’s to ‘ which political malignity can go in some quarters, and I made these remarks, which are reported at page 1141 -
The Ministry are entitled to take up this position. Putting aside the language of the honorable member, suppose he is giving a description of certain things involved in a charge of corruption, all I can say is that, if there is an understanding, apart from what the honorable member has said on this matter, that it is not an attack on my personal integrity as a man-
Honorable Members. - Nothing of the kind !
That remark came from the honorable member for Hume and his friends, who were sitting opposite to me.
– It did not come from me.
– I am going on a little further. There is no getting away from the words contained in Hansard. I went on to say -
Well, I say if it is simply an attack upon me in a public way, a fair and legitimate public way, as- a public man who has made mistakes, then I will not have another word to say. My only desire is this : That after this debate is over, whatever the result is, I do not want it to be said that I was tried on a question affecting my personal honesty, and was found guilty by this House.
That is what is said now.
But if there is any understanding that there is a charge of corruption levelled against me, there is not a man in the House who would not do me the justice of having the matter thrashed out, before the House dealt with it, because in our party fights we do not want to mix up matters affecting our personal characters. I accept the assurance of the leader of the Opposition-
Who was he? The honorable member for Hume, who was sitting in front of me with his friends. as representing his party, that he is not making a charge affecting my personal honesty as a man, and I have, therefore, not another word to say. That is the honorable member who spoke as he did yesterday.
– To commence with, the last statement made by the Prime Minister
– Let the honorable member admit that he was not sober, and say no more about it.
– I desire. Mr. Speaker, to know whether the honorable and learned member for Werriwa is in order in making a remark implying that the honorable member for Hume was inebriated and not fit to speak?
– If the honorable and learned member made any such remark he must withdraw it.
– I withdraw the’ statement. I admit that this is not the place to make it - I should make it elsewhere.
– The honorable member must withdraw the words absolutely.
– I withdraw the remark.
– I regret that such an interjection should have been made, because I really feel that it was quite uncalled for. I do not think that any one in Australia has at any time seen me the worse for drink. . The Prime Minister, in another part of his statement, read to the House, not what was said by me, but what was stated by Sir Edmund Barton.
– The honorable member concurred in it.
– I’ did not concur.
– The whole of the honorable member’s party did.
– I think I shall be able to show that I. did not concur.
– The honorable member concurred at that time.
– I did not concur: The right honorable gentleman merely read out what he said, and endeavoured, by securing the re-publication of his remarks in Hansard, to show that I concurred in relieving him from any personal imputation. But I did not do so.
– The honorable member did so when he was sitting opposite me in the House.
– I did nothing of the kind. The honorable member cannot show that by quoting from Hansard one word that I said.
– Order. I hope that these interjections will not be continued. I’ trust that the honorable member for Hume will address the Chair, and not make remarks which almost demand an answer.
– I hope that the Prime Minister will not interrupt me in my denial. I direct the attention of honorable members to the fact that the remarks of the right honorable gentleman, and the passages that he read, were intended to induce the House to believe that I concurred in the remarks evidently made by Mr. Barton. I did not concur in them, and the right honorable gentleman has not shown that I did so in any shape or form. As’ a matter of fact, the contrary was the case. In the course of the speech I made on that’ occasion, in moving the vote of censure, I recounted the whole history of the case, including the action of Mr. Neild, who had” come to me and had’ stated that he was furious against the Government. I also.’ stated that information was obtained by me that a conference had taken place between the right honorable gentleman and Mr. Neild, with the result that something had happened of which I did not know at that time, although I had a suspicion regarding it. Mr. Neild withdrew his opposition to the Government, and although he did not vote for them, spoke in their support. The Government won by a majority of four. I am not quite sure, but I believe that at that time Mr. Barton was leading the Opposition.
– Oh no, he was not.
– The honorable gentleman was leading the Opposition, and moved the vote of censure.
– I believe that Mr. Barton was the leader of the Opposition at that time. At any rate, he had led it previously, if he was not actually in that position upon the occasion referred to. I have stated plainly what happened in the case, and the right honorable gentleman has not quoted one word from me in refutation of what I stated. My impression stands good to-day as it stood then. The right honorable gentleman has omitted to refer to the question that was asked of him by the Chairman of the Committee, recorded at page 1044 of Hansard. I do not know what Committee that was, but I believe it was connected with the question of old-age pensions. I know that Mr. Neild was connected with it. At that particular time, when the question was asked, it was! intended to move a vote of censure against the Premier if he said he was going to pay Mr. Neild. When the Government accounts came’ out I could not discover how the payment had been made, although I had heard whispers regarding it, and I had to go to the AuditorGeneral, in order to find out under what heading it had been made. Parliament was not sitting, and, unquestionably, such a payment should not have been made. Not one word has been said by the right honorable gentleman to cause me to vary my original statement. If I had been proved to be wrong I should have been perfectly ready to withdraw what I said. But I know what happened, and I know that I am right. The right “honorable gentleman has stated that I appointed all the members of the Committee of Public Accounts. Technically I. did so, but two of the members were selected at the instigation of the right honorable gentleman, who mentioned their names across the table in the Legislative
Assembly, of New South Wales, when he was replying to my financial statement. He wanted to name the third member, but I stopped Mm, and said that I thought I was entitled to make that selection. I did not know Mr. Yarwood before I asked him to accept a seat on the Committee,, and I did not know that he had ever contested an election.
– I brought the fact under the honorable member’s notice.
– That was after he had been appointed - he was appointed immediately. I did not know that that gentleman had stood for election, and, as a matter of fact, he, as a free-trader, did not object generally to the policy of. the right honorable gentleman, but only to his land legislation.
– He also referred to the question of the accounts.
– Then I was not aware of it. That was the way in which the Committee was appointed. I had nothing further to do with the matter, and, as I stated last night, Mr. Davis was one of the three whom the right honorable member appointed privately and paid. Mr. Davis wished to be placed on the Committee which I was appointing, but I did not know him, and I am not sure that I know him now. At any rate, I never knew before that he was a protectionist; and had I known of it that fact might have been supposed to influence me in his favour. I did not, however, appoint him. I know that he went to the right honorable gentleman’s house - I have this in writing - and discussed the matter with him before the question of the report was raised.
– There is no treason in that !
– I do not say that there is. I obtained, I believe, the three very best men . for the work in New South Wales, and no one can point a finger at them now. But from the moment I made the appointment, the right honorable gentleman hurled his invectives at both Mr. Dibbs and Mr. Yarwood, though it is difficult to .see why, considering that he nominated one of. them himself. I do not. think there is any ne:cessity to say more. I should not have dealt with this matter had it riot been brought up by the right honorable gentleman himself with a view, if possible, to destroy the effect of the Committee’s, report, which stands, and always will stand, as a record against his financial administration. “ When the right honorable gentleman says that I accepted a balance of his in my financial operations as Treasurer, it must be remembered that when I assumed office I was compelled to accept the accounts as they were. The balance left by the right honorable gentleman was ^100,000 odd.
– Wil[ the honorable member kindly take his seat? It must be obvious to the honorable member that it would be unfair to allow him to proceed with those remarks. I stopped the Prime Minister’s references to that subject, and, on the same ground, I cannot permit the honorable member for Hume to continue.
– I have very nearly completed my remarks. The right honorable gentleman made a statement in this connexion, and I think I ought 10 be allowed to say a word in reply. I had to take his balance into consideration until such time as I could have the services of a special inspector in the Treasury to investigate the accounts.
– Mr. Martin !
– I explained the position when I made my financial statement later on, and the right honorable gentleman knows that, but he desires the House to believe that I made use of a balance which he left behind.
– The honorable member never altered the figures.
– I desire to make a personal explanation.’ The Prime Minister interjected, “ If the honorable and learned member for Corio has no care fur his own reputation, he ought, at least, to have care for mine.”
– The honorable and learned member alters my words, as usual.
– I would point out to the honorable and learned member for Corio that any such interjection is not sufficient ground for a personal explanation on his part. The honorable and learned member may make a personal explanation as to any matter which he himself has brought forward, and in regard to which he has been misunderstood or misrepresented, but he cannot discuss an interjection by the Prime Minister.
– I do not desire to discuss the interjection, but to make an explanation in fairness to the Prime Minister. That right honorable gentleman has been good enough, in quoting from the New South Wales Hansard,- to say that he accepts the assurance of the members of the
Parliament of that State that they did not attempt in any way to reflect upon his personal honour or private rectitude.
– Will the honorable and learned member kindly say what remarks of his have been misunderstood or misrepresented? If he does so I will permit him to proceed.
– The Prime Minister says-
– But what remark of the honorable and learned member for Corio has been misunderstood or misrepresented ?
– I am speaking of a statement of the Prime Minister in which he expressed the opinion that if I had no care for my own reputation I might have some care for his.
-I do not think the honorable and learned member understands what I have endeavoured to place very clearly before him. I have already told the honorable and learned member, as I have told others over and over again, that he may make a personal explanation on any matter in relation to which he has been misunderstood or misrepresented. If the honorable and learned member will deal with any such matter I shall certainly not interrupt him. But if he persists in seeking to explain some remark which* the Prime Minister has made, he is not within his rights, and cannot be permitted to proceed.
– Then I ask the indulgence of the House in order that I may make a statement. I presume that no honorable member will object.
– Is it the pleasure of the House that the honorable and learned member for Corio have leave to make a statement ?
Honorable Members. - Hear, hear !
– The Prime Minister has said in reading extracts from the Hansard” reports of the New South Wales1 Parliament, that he accepted the assurance of the leader of the Opposition and other members of that Parliament that they had no intention to reflect on his personal honour or private rectitude. I understand from the interjection of the right honorable gentleman to-day that hethinks that anything I may have said in this Chamber or outside should not be viewed1 in a similar way, but that I have in someway reflected on his personal honour. I should like to assure honorable members that all I have said has been against the right honorable gentleman in his official position - that nothing I have either said or written is intended in any way to reflect on his personal honour or private rectitude.
– It is to be deeply regretted that certain honorable members will continuously and persistently endeavour to introduce into this House ancient squabbles in a State Parliament. I believe, however, that every reasonable man here deprecates any efforts of that kind, and I rejoice to notice that, at any rate, the Labour Opposition, to their credit, are no party to those disgraceful attempts. Resuming the thread of my address, which was interrupted last night, I desire to draw attention to a remark made by the honorable and learned member for West Sydney in the course of his speech. That honorable and learned member complained that the Labour Party had been “ butchered “ - had not received fair play. In reply, I am justified in saying that if there was any ‘ ‘ butchery ‘ ‘ it was self-inflicted. As to the treatment which the Labour Ministry received during their term of office - which extended from 27th April to 17th August, or nearly four months - I may say, from my knowledge of the inner life of the party to which I belong, and of those with whom I was associated while sitting in Opposition, that we did all we could to secure fair play for Ministers. I was not aware of any underhanded attempt to displace the Government ; on the contrary, it was generally thought that a little Ministerial innings would do them good - that no harm would result. It was thought that whilst in office the Labour Party were practically “ on the chain “ - that they had given securities for good behaviour, and that they would emerge from office better and abler men, probably more appreciative of a Minister’s difficulties and responsibilities. There was a general consensus of opinion, so far as my knowledge goes, that they should have a fair trial, which, I believe, they got. The Government went on with their measures, and challenged the verdict of the House upon a certain clause in the Arbitration Bill, with the result that they were fairly and honorably beaten.
– No; the business was taken out of the hands of the Government.
– That is the complaint I heard made last night. But surely the House is not to be so impotent and so recreant to its trust that, if a Ministry objects to the introduction of a clause into a Bill, it is to surrender its powers and prerogatives. In this case the House viewed the Bill with generous fairness, and with a desire to see it passed into law. There was no wish whatever to emasculate the measure ; on the contrary, there was a desire to have workable legislation, and I believe that as a result of our deliberations the Bill is one which we can recommend to the electors of Australia.
– Unions will not register under the Bill.
– We shall see about that later on. During the exhaustive debates on the Bill a flood of light, of which we previously had not the advantage, was cast upon its provisions ; the debate, indeed, amounted to a revelation to many of us. I admit that, with reference to the clause enabling the Court to give preference to unionists, I, for one, like the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, when the Bill was first introduced, acquiesced in it without a murmur. We thought that the power thus given would only be used on rare occasions, such as when a strike or dispute occurred regarding the employment of unionists or non-unionists. We regarded the clause’ as an incident in the Bill, and not as one involving its very spirit and essence. But as the debate went on, our eyes were opened, and it dawned on the House that this apparently harmless provision, intended to be a mere incident, was being utilized in New South Wales, and would be utilized under the Bill, as a great transforming agent - that the clause would convert a judicial tribunal, for the bond fide settlement of industrial disputes, into a great electioneering agency. I am sure that that was not the intention of the original framers of the Bill when they inserted this harmless provision. It only shows how a clause, which maybe well meant in its inception, may, in the course of experience and manipulation, be transformed into an instrument for a. purpose not originally intended or contemplated.
– That is an absurd exaggeration.
– Who framed the Bill?
– It is not a matter for surprise that many friends of the Bill, such as the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, who brought it in, and others, when this light was gradually being thrown upon its provisions, thought it time to surround and hedge this power of giving preference to unionists with certain reasonable and legitimate safeguards.
– Impracticable safeguards.
– We shall see whether they are impracticable. In the debate on that clause, the then Prime Minister, in endeavouring to persuade honorable members not to pass the amendment ofthe honorable and learned member for Corinella, said -
The Government do not desire that preferences shall be granted to minorities. … So far as I have been able to ascertain, the New South Wales Court has never granted preference to a union which did not appear to have a majority within the district to which it was toapply.
I assume that that statement was founded by the honorable member upon an intimate knowledge of the unions, and of the working of the Arbitration Act in that State. If that be so, what was the objection to the amendment, which was intended to restrict the exercise of the power by the Court to cases where majorities wanted preference?
– Because the Court could not find out if there was a majority.
– How has the Court of New South Wales found out that there was a majority, according to that provision ?
– The Court has not required absolute proof.
– No absolute proof would be required in this case.
– Yes, there would.
– No; any affidavit filed by a member of a union stating that to the best of his knowledge, information, and belief, the people represented in the dispute before the Court constituted a majority of those affected, would be sufficient. I have no doubt that the Court, in the exercise of its judicial discretion, would accept an affidavit founded upon knowledge and belief.
– What rot !
– This Court is not bound by the ordinary rules of evidence.
– An affidavit filed by the other side would knock that one out.
– This Court is so constituted that it may accept evidence founded upon knowledge and belief.
– It is to be especially so constituted.
– It is not bound by the ordinary strict rules of evidence, which require statements to be verified on oath.
– Then, why stick to the provision ?
-Because we wanted that majority principle, admitted by the then Prime Minister, chrystallized in the form of a section in an Act of Parliament. We desired the Court to have notice as to the conditions on which the power of granting preference is to be exercised.
– What is to be done if each side makes an affidavit ?
– We shall leave it to the Court to decide.
Honorable Members. - “Trust the Court “ !
– There can be no doubt that the division on that clause of the Bill established in this House a line of cleaveage and demarcation which remains at the. present moment unobliterated. That division is responsible for a change of Government, and for our presence on the Ministerial benches this afternoon. There can be no doubt that this provision about preference to unionists, originally an incident, has been converted into the essence of the whole struggle. Take the honorable members on this side who belong to the Liberal Protectionist Party. We were all strongly in favour of the Bill as originally launched for compulsory arbitration in matters of industrial dispute.
– And promptly voted against it.
– Certainly not.
– On nearly every occasion when an amendment was moved.
– Certainly not.
We never voted against the fundamental principle of compulsory arbitration to settle industrial disputes. Surely the honorable member will grant the main principle of compulsory arbitration for the settlement of industrial disputes. If so, why object to reasonable conditions being attached to it ?
– The conditions proposed are not reasonable.
– Those conditions do not in any way assail or impair the main principle.
– Undoubtedly they do. They render the Bill ineffective.
– I think we can appeal to the sense of fair play of the people of Australia when they read its provisions to find that it is a Liberal measure - one which is founded on logic and reason, and which will give effect to the original intention of its framers.
– The Opposition did not support 10 per cent. of vital alterations proposed by the Government themselves.
– There was only one vital alteration proposed by the Government.
– The Government proposed five vital alterations, as I shall show presently.
– I contend that preference to unionists is not an essential to compulsory arbitration.
– But the honorable and learned member favoured the granting of preference to unionists.
– I supported it as an incident, but it is not an essential to compulsory arbitration. I think we can appeal to the people of Australia to decide this point.
Honorable Members. - Hear, hear !
– I hold in my hand a copy of a report by the Chief Inspector of Factories in Victoria, dated 25th June, 1904. Referring to the provisions of the Victorian factory law, he says -
The principle of compulsory arbitration, which has been abolished, so far as several boards were concerned, by the substitution of seven-tenths majorities by the Act of 1902, was restored by the Act of 1903.
In this State we have in force a number of boards charged by Act of Parliament with the duty of determining rates of wages, hours of work, and conditions of labour. In this report it is shown that a large number of boards have been appointed, have done their work, and have made awards dealing with various branches of trade and industry.
– But the machinery is entirely different.
– There are no less than thirty-eight boards affecting over 38,000 operators, and according to this report -
Determinations made by the above boards are now in force, with the exception of the Artificial Manure, the Dressmakers, the Ironmoulders, and the Tinsmiths’ Boards. The determinations in force appear to be well observed considering the numbers affected. There have been breaches of the law during the year under review, but many were the result of misunderstanding or inadvertence.
In Victoria, therefore, we have no less than thirty-eight trades in connexion with which there has been compulsory arbitration for the settlement of labour disputes.
– There is no compulsory arbitration.
– There is.
– Where is the compulsion ?
– Under the Factories Act not one of these boards has power to give preference to unionists.
– Where is the compulsion ?
– Why does the honorable member, who is one of the strongest advocates of the Wages Boards system, ridicule what I say ?
– I am not. I am only ridiculing the comparison which is sought to be established between the two systems.
– The comparison is most important, and quite relevant, because one of the tests applied to a democratic candidate in this State hitherto has been, “ Are you in favour of Wages Boards and the Factories Act?” These boards have made determinations in thirty-eight industries, and the awards have been enforced by the Government without reference to the question of preference to unionists.
– With what result?
– The chief inspector told me yesterday that the awards have been enforced very satisfactorily.
– With what result to those who helped to enforce them?
– There are inspectors appointed to see that the awards are enforced, and receive complaints if there is any breach of an award. When there is a breach of an award the occupier of the factory is prosecuted.
– And some of the best men are starving to-day, because they are out of work.
– Order ; I ask the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, who has not yet spoken, and who will therefore, have an opportunity to reply to any speaker, not to interject.
– I noticed that the Hansardreport of my speech last night contains more interjections than observations of mine. I have no objection to occasional interjections from a friendly source, but when they come like a hurricane, one is upset, to some extent.
– I apologize.
– I would ask the honorable member to reflect upon the good work done by the Wages Boards here, and to consider whether it does not support my argument that, whilst we may put preference to unionists as an incident, there is no necessity to make it the essence and the condition precedent to Federal legislation on the subject.
– Then the unionists will stick to the strike weapon.
– Thev will.
– I do not believe that there has been a single strike in this State after an award has- been made by a Wages Board. The workmen, after having fought out the matter before the Wages Board, on which they are represented, generally acquiesce in the award. I believe that the workers, not only of Victoria, but of Australia generally, would acquiesce in the awards if there were not on the scene agitators, who are only too willing to stir up strife and prevent men from obeying the law. I think it is well that this issue should be emphasized at every stage of this debate, and now, having called in evidence the Victorian Fac: tories Act in support of my contention that preference to unionists is not an essential part of compulsory arbitration-
– The honorable and learned member does not seriously compare the two measures?
– I do, most decidedly.
– What power does the State law give to enforce an award ?
– When there is a breach, the award is enforced by a prosecution in the Court.
– What guarantee is there that the award will be given effect to?
– The guarantee is that the Court will give effect to the award.
– There is no power in the union to make- the award effective.
– The honorable member assumes that an award, when it is made, will not be carried out by the workmen. He has no right to make that assumption.
– I did not say that.
– If the honorable -member believes in compulsory arbitration, surely he ought to believe that the parties to a dispute will obey an award when it is made ?
– No machinery is, provided in the Act for enforcing an award.
– What right has the honorable member to assume that the workmen will not obey an award ?
– Are the Wages Boards empowered to enforce their awards ? I
– No; because the Wages Boards are founded upon the assumption that the workmen will obey their awards.
– Any excuse is better than none.
– The honorable member appears to assume that the workpeople would have to be forced to obey the awards by criminal- prosecutions.
– Any excuse is better than none.
– Order. The honorable member for Grey will have an opportunity to speak later.
– If the honorable member continues to interrupt me, I must continue to direct my remarks to him. I say that the honorable member seems anxious that there should be a provision in the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill for the purpose of coercing workpeople. That is what he desires. I contend that that is not necessary. If the workpeople of Victoria and Australia generally are let alone, they will obey these awards without coercion.
– The Miners’ Association sars that preference is necessary.
– They will obey these awards without the intervention of any Court or trades union council. I may say that they have done it in Victoria, and it is therefore not necessary that we should create these huge trades union organizations, and intrust them with Ministerial powers to coerce workmen- I believe that most of the democratic organs of public opinion in Australia have arrived at the conclusion that compulsory preference to unionists, as developed in the Bill, and as advocated by the Labour Party, is a menace to personal liberty, and a danger to those whom it is intended to .benefit. In this connexion, I should like to quote one or two passages from the Age newspaper, which has always been the advocate of the working classes in this State. It has advocated the passing of factory laws, and the due administration of those laws.
– Will the honorable and learned member quote what the Age says about the Coalition at the same time?
– The honorable member for Melbourne Ports is interrupting again, but I can tell him that I shall come to the Coalition presently, and to the honorable member’s participation in the alliance. -Will -the honorable member- kindly listen to this, from the Age of 27th July. It is rather interesting reading, and it will probably be found to be useful to honorable members during the Federal campaign ? -
The proposed wholesale dismissal of men and women from their employment by order of an Arbitration Court is becoming more distastefulto members of the Federal Parliament the more its moral and industrial consequences are inquired into. Preference to unionists must mean the dismissal of non-unionists ; and this must take place on a very extensive scale if the principle of preference is to be applied in anything like the way proposed by the Watson Government.
– Honorable members opposite are all silent now.
– They cannot come under the Act at all unless they are unionists.
– Here is another passage -
Members do not take kindly to the idea of instructing any Court, or even giving it the power to compel employers to dismiss one set of employes and give a right of preference to others.
– Does notthe honorable and learned member see how ridiculous that is, when they must belong to unions before they can come under the measure ?
– Let the honorable member ask the editor of the Age.
– Apparently he does not know it either, and requires instruction.
– The honorable and learned member for Bendigo may have to ask the editor of the Age to support him in a little while.
SirJOHN QUICK.- Here is another passage -
The true influence which in this matter of the Arbitration Bill has converted the Watson Government’s majority into a minority has been the thought that the measure, instead of being a means of promoting industrial peace, is being converted into an instrument for ejecting large numbers of persons from their billets.
– Yet they must be unionists before they can come under the law. How absurd !
– Here is another passage -
Extreme State Socialists, who are concerned in the working of the Political Labour Councils, are acting quite logically in setting great store by the preference clause. A Trades Hall Council, sitting in judgment to determine who was to be thrust out of employment in favour of its nominees, would be almost an exact counterpart of the Socialistic rulers whom such theorists as Marx and Lasalle would have installed in absolute control of the universal State industry. But the more this kind of scheme is realised in actual life, or in proposals which have been advocated in the arena of practical politics, the less it commends itself to common-sense people who retain their ordinary notions of justice and humanity.
– What does the honorable and learned member for Indi say to that ?
– I think the honorable and learned member must be quoting from the Argus.
– That is from the Age of 27th July. I now propose to quote some passages from a leading article appearing in the Age of 12th August, which was published on the eve of the great division upon the amendment proposed by the honorable and learned member for Corinella, and in this leading article we are invited to support the amendment, by language and argument stronger than any used by honorable members on the floor of the House.
– Did that influence the honorable and learned member?
– No, certainly not; but I place these arguments on record for the use of the honorable member for Gwydir during the Federal campaign..
– The honorable and learned member need not trouble about me; he will have plenty to do in looking after himself.
– I take these passages from the leading article of the Age of 12 th August -
Members have now fully realised how deeply they will be compromised in the eyes of many of their constituents if they use the mandate given to them at the general elections for the purpose of driving men and women out of their employment instead of promoting industrial peace and goodwill among the workers. . . . Nothing could be imagined more repugnant to the spirit of British liberty and toleration than to permit any kind of labour organization to use a Court of law as the instrument for offering to those who differ from it the alternative of joining or being dismissed. . . The more formidable and insidious attack on all outside the unions will have the effect of alienating the sympathies of many thousands of electors. There are a very large number of men who are compelled to vary their employment, and who cannot possibly belong to a union for each class of work which they must take up.
I say that those extracts from leading articles which have appeared in the leading Liberal organ of Victoria, and one of the leading democratic journals of Australia, are entitled to greatweight and consideration.
– After the experience of the New South Wales Arbitration Court they are.
– They show that it is possible to have a system of compulsory arbitration for the settlement of industrial disputes founded upon democratic principles, without the introduction of a provision which may be used as an instrument of hardship and tyranny - for the purpose of driving innocent men and women out of employment. ‘
– I deny the honorable and learned member’s statement of the case.
– As I have said before, the division on the amendment proposed by the honorable and learned member for Corinella was one which established a line of cleavage in this House, and led to the resignation of the late Ministry. As a matter of personal opinion, I do not think that it was necessary that the late Ministry should have resigned on account of the result of that division, especially in view of the statement made by the late Prime Minister himself, that this preference provision was only intended to be brought into action where the majority in any trade or industry required it, and that it was merely giving legal effect and expression to the practice of the New South Wales Court. If that be so, it merely expressed in writing, in the form of an Act of Parliament, what the late Prime Minister himself desired, and intended should be done. If that be so - and I accept the honorable gentleman’s honest assurances at the table that it was so - then why all the uproar ? Why all this fuss because of the insertion of an amendment which was merely intended to give’ effect to the desires and intentions of the framers of the Bill? The amendment was merely intended to give effect to the desire that the principle of preference should be applied only where the majority of those engaged in any trade or industry desired it. It should not be forgotten that the clause after all was not introduced for the protection of minorities. It was introduced for the protection of majorities. That was the essence of the clause. It was introduced to prevent any small union which might be scratched up for the purpose of raising a dispute and bringing a case before the Court of Arbitration, being able to snatch a preference behind the backs of the majority of the workers in a trade.
– That would give the preference to Chinamen in the furniture trade, because they form the majority of the workers in that trade.
– I am not the friend of Chinamen. We are dealing here’ with white men and Europeans.
– The Chinese would come in under the amendment moved by the honorable and learned member for Corinella.
– I point out that the honorable member for Bland himself said - and he cannot go behind it - that he only intended the principle to be brought into operation where majorities were agreed that it should apply.
– Yes; but I proposed to give the Court power to go beyond that if it wished.
– Then the honorable gentleman’s statement, as reported in Hansard, to the effect that it was only intended to apply in the case of majorities, does not accurately express his intention. I believe, as I said last night, that if the late Prime Minister had been left to his own sober judgment and discretion, he would have cheerfully acquiesced in the decision of honorable members, and would have allowed the amendment to remain in the Bill without raising such a noise about it.
– The honorable and learned member does not know the man.
– It was only because other influences were at work.
– Ridiculous ! The honorable arid learned member has a keen imagination.
– I point out that the honorable member for Bland did not exhibit much alarm when the amendment was first proposed. He allowed the debate to go on in a complacent sort of manner, and scarcely took any part in the discussion.
– There was no debate on the .amendment.
– I told the honorable gentleman very clearly what my attitude was upon it.
– The honorable and learned member did’ nothing of the sort ; he never said a word about it.
– I did. If the honorable gentleman will read my speech, as reported in Hansard, he will see that I expressed .my intention to support the amendment moved by the honorable and learned member for Corinella. The honorable gentleman got up afterwards in reply, and said formally that he objected to the amendment.
– There are only sixteen lines altogether in Hansard upon it.
– He did not give any grave reason why it should be objected to.
– The amendment of the honorable and learned member for Corinella was referred to by several speakers before him.
– It was never mentioned by any other honorable member.
– We all knew of it; it was mentioned by half-a-dozen honorable members.
– Honorable members will remember that the amendment was carried by the substantial majority of five, after the lapse of a considerable time, during which honorable members on the Government side at the time had an opportunity to reconsider the matter. The Government asked the House to reverse its decision. Honorable members who had voted for it were invited, forsooth, to reverse their previous votes on a clause1 which was suddenly regarded as one of immense vitality and importance. So far as I am concerned, having thoroughly understood and considered it, and having spoken on it, I could not plead ignorance of its effect. The honorable member for Riverina has complained that he was taken by surprise, and desired time for further consideration; but I could offer no such plea as that. I do not think that the honorable member for Bourke pleaded ignorance.
– He has not given any explanation yet.
– Because he has not altered his vote. He has not had a chance to alter it.
– The honorable member announced his intention to alter it.
– I did not.
– Then I beg the honorable member’s pardon, because I understood that he had done so. While some honorable members may justifiably plead ignorance, or misapprehension, or inadvertence, as a reason for reversing their vote, those who understood what they were doing had no reason for reversing it. The members of the Watson Administration voluntarily staked their existence upon the.chance of procuring a reversal of that vote. I believe1 that they thought that the vote would be reversed, but they miscalculated the material upon which they were operating. They thought that if they could not obtain a reversal of the vote, they would be granted a dissolution, and that the resignation of office would not be necessary. The Go vernor-General upset their calculations on that point. But, having resigned office upon that vital question, why is it that they are so anxious to get back again? Because the same situation will be reproduced, the same vote will have to be taken, and the same or a similar crisis will eventuate, if they again take office. In my opinion, they were practically outgeneralled. If they had shown better generalship, they would have allowed the decision of the Committee to stand, and left the development of the matter to the ordinary course of debate in the other Chamber, and afterwards of messages between the two Houses. Instead of doing so, they asked us to rescind our votes, and to give up a provision which a large number of us were determined to fight for in this House, and, if necessary, in the country.
– In order to kill the Bill.
– Certainly not. I have already pointed out that it was not to kill the Bill. In the Victorian factory legislation there is no such thing as compulsory preference to unionists, and the absence of such a provision has not killed that legislation. The honorable member for Yarra is a powerful advocate of the settlement of industrial disputes in Victoria by means of the Wages Board system. He knows what an immense amount of good has been done by those boards without the granting of preference to unionists. That fact, coupled with the arguments which I have already given, is sufficient to show that the qualification of a provision giving preference to unionists would not kill the Arbitration Bill. But such a qualification may do this : It may . prevent organizations registered for the settlement of industrial disputes from being converted into political organizations. Indeed, the only object of preference was to bring that about. It was desired that the unions should be clothed with a certain amount of power and patronage in connexion with industrial disputes, so that they might be used as the outposts of the Labour Party. I think that I have now said enough on the subject of preference to unionists, though, as it was the main issue which caused the crisis, I think it is as well to accentuate the fact. But I would ask honorable members why are we requested to make a .change of Government at the present time? The Liberal Protectionists were divided as the result of a division on the clause, a large number of them voting for the Bill as it stood, and a still larger number voting for the Bill as amended by the honorable and learned member for Corinella. His amendment having been agreed to, and the Ministry having resigned in consequence, it became the duty of those who voted for it to take the constitutional and parliamentary responsibility for their votes. We could not shirk that responsibility. The Labour Ministry resigned, and a new Ministry had to be formed to carry on the Government. Those who were responsible for the vote which displaced the Watson Administration were bound to see that arrangements were made to carry on the Government of the country, and we should have been recreant to our duty if we had failed to do so. Consequently, we had to cross the floor of the Chamber, and the line of cleavage between -the two parties in this House at the present time was caused by the division to which I have referred. We are kept apart by that division, and we shall have to remain apart pending the settlement of the question. If we do not remain here, we must be identified or associated with it for the purpose of maintaining, and fighting for the principle upon which we are divided. I do not see how we can escape the responsibilities of the situation, whatever its consequences may be. The Ministry was formed as the result of that division, and those of us who sit on this side of the Chamber feel that we are bound, as men of honour, to maintain it, so long as it is able to carry on the Government of the country in a manner consistent with our views, our policy, and our programme. There may not be the same amount of individuality in. the Ministerial organization that there would be if the Ministry were not of a composite character. It is neither a straightout free-trade, nor a straight-out protectionist Administration, and its programme is limited by the composition of its members. I believe that the work which it .will be capable of performing will be of a non-contentious character, but none the less necessary for the welfare of the Commonwealth. It will have to carry out, if it be successful in maintaining its position, a considerable amount of work of a noncontentious character which the late Ministry undertook to perform. One of the grounds of attack which ‘has been suggested from the Opposition corner is that it should be turned out in order that we may have a protectionist revival ; but I do not see that there is any reasonable prospect of a protectionist revival, even if the Ministry is dislodged. The vast majority of honorable members were returned to ‘.support a fiscal peace during the present Parliament. That was the policv laid down at Ballarat by the honorable and learned gentleman who represents that place* and I, in common with a large number of my protectionist friends, went to the country in advocacy of it. I informed my constituents that we had had so long a battle over free-trade and protection, that I was getting pretty sick of it,, and would like a rest.
– The honorable and learned gentleman declared himself to be sick of the Arbitration Bill a day or two ago.
– Only for the time being.
– It was the leader of the Opposition who threw up that Bill.
– I think that we have all declared that there should be no more tinkering with the Tariff during the present Parliament, so that trade and commerce may be allowed a short respite and freedom of action, instead of being hampered and harassed by constant threats of changes. I told my supporters at Bendigo that I should be no party to any tinkering with the Tariff during the present Parliament, and I believe that that was the view taken by protectionist candidates generally at the last elections.
– The leader of the Labour Party was very sound on that point, too.
– When the Labour Party came into office, they had no fiscal policy, except one of a negative character, and in the Age of the ist June last, there appeared the following passage on the subject : -
On the fiscal issue, the sole issue which has held the Deakin party together, the Watson party has no policy. Its members are free lances, and although about 75 per cent, of them are protectionists, the party, as such, can never take any part with protectionists.
– That was before the alliance.
– Is the magic of an alliance going to convert them ?
– It has done so.
– To show that we cannot expect a protectionist revival from the Labour Party, I would quote from the Age of the 9th August last the following passage from the report of the speech delivered by the honorable member for Bland at Wagga : -
He believed there was no probability of a Bill altering the Tariff being brought in during this Parliament, and it was certainly desirable that there should be some rest from the turmoil of fiscal strife. It was a desirable thing to have a rest from the eternal fight on the fiscal question, especially in view of the present circumstances of Australia. They had not had time since the passing of the Tariff to get any clear ideas as to what its incidence would be in the future.
Then he goes on to say -
It is too early to judge accurately of the effects of the Tariff.
Perhaps the honorable member for Bourke has been able to ‘instruct the leader of the Opposition with regard to that matter. Then I find in the Age of the 12th August the following statement : -
Watson Ministry hostile to protection - Those who turned out a strong protectionist Ministry in order to instal in office one which (as Mr. Watson’s Wagga speech abundantly proves) is hostile to protection, certainly put on a very bold front when they want to know how a protectionist can oppose the present Prime Minister.
Then it goes on to say -
It would be much more reasonable to ask how a true protectionist can support him ? This is indeed becoming daily and more conspicuously the question of the hour.
Now, we are invited by the alliance to support the honorable member for Bland, and to restore him to office, in the hope and anticipation that he will break and violate the undertakings in his Wagga speech, and all the apparent understandings of his party and his friends. Surely these things cannot be. Surely such a change could not be brought about even under the magic influence of the alliance. In offering a few observations upon the alliance, I do not wish to say anything offensive to my old friends. I merely wish to offer what I consider to be fair criticism.
– They will apply for a divorce ; do not be too hard on them.
– In the honorable and learned member’s case, there has not been a marriage’ even.
– When the LiberalProtectionists were on the opposite side of the House, I think we worked fairly and harmoniously upon all political questions. We .met in the same room, and held consultations, without any serious differences, until the Minister of Defence proposed his amendment in clause 48 of the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill. There was nothing up to that time to sever us or break our unity or integrity as a party. I know of nothing as between man and man. I believe that it was the desire of the majority of us to keep together as a party.
– That was conveyed by the resolution that we passed.
– Yes, exactly. The resolution arrived at on 1st June, and generally concurred in, was that we were to keep together as a party.
– And yet there are now four protectionists sitting as Ministers under a free-trade leader.
– That is the trouble, is it?
– We have got the wrong men in. have we?
– I find that the Watson Ministry resigned on the 16th August, and Mr. Reid was then sent for. On looking over the files of the Age, I find that on the very day that the Watson Ministry resigned the honorable member for Bourke, the whip of the Deakin-Liberal Party, issued circulars calling a meeting of a certain section of the party.
– Hear, hear; that was the split.
– They did not send an invitation to the other members of the party. The circular was issued only to those members who voted with the Watson Government, who were invited to meet for the purpose of considering an alliance with the La’bour Party.
– Did the honorable and learned member say that circulars were issued ?
– The Age said so. I am only stating what was published in the newspapers. Perhaps a letter was sent, or, at any rate, an invitation in some form.
– No letter or circular was issued.
– The point is that the invitations to attend the meeting were confined to the few members grouped over in the Opposition corner at present. There was nothing to sever or divide our party before that. I was in the country, and never came down between the time that the vote was carried against the Watson Ministry and the reassembling of Parliament. I had no invitation to attend any meeting to consider an alliance with the Labour Party, and the leader of our party was not invited. What had he done that he should have been left out of consideration?
– I was not even informed of the meeting.
– Why should the leader of the party not have been invited to attend, even though he might have objected to what was proposed ? Why should not the members of the Liberal Party be invited to meet together to consider the situation ?
– The honorable and learned member for Bendigo and the honorable and learned member for Ballarat had as much’ invitation as any of us.
– That is absolutely impossible. The last time that we met in caucus as a party was when” we passed’ the resolution affirming that we should preserve the unity and identity of our party. And ‘if it was intended to change the constitution of our party, why were we not all invited to attend the meeting convened to consider the question?
– All the members of the party were invited.
– No, we were not. The meeting was exclusive from the first because I find that those honorable members present at the meeting, which was held on the 17 th August, and reported in the Age of 1 8th August, were the honorable and learned member for Indi, the honorable member for Bourke, the honorable and learned member for Darling Downs, the honorable member for Bass, the honorable member for Moreton, and the honorable member for Melbourne Ports. Apologies were received from the honorable member for Hume, and the honorable member for Riverina.
– And they had no more invitation than had any one else.
– Then it is very strange that they should have known about the meeting.
– They told me that they had received verbal invitations. .1 had not even a verbal invitation.
– I told the honorable and learned member for Ballarat about the meeting.
– It was stated that the honorable and learned member for Ballarat was informed of the meeting.
– That is not true. I had no invitation.
– Will the honorable and learned member kindly withdraw that remark.
– I do not think I need. The honorable member for Hume intimated that a certain statement had been made by some one’ else, and I said that that statement was not true.
-I heard the honorable and learned member say in reply to an honorable member - I do not know whom - “ That is not true.” That is not a remark which should be made in this House by any honorable member, and I would therefore ask the honorable and learned member to withdraw it.
– I would point out, Mr. Speaker, that you are under a misapprehension. The honorable member for Hume said that some one had made a statement to him, and I said that it was not true. I do not, however, desire to raise a point or order, and I will content myself with withdrawing my remark, and saying that the statement is incorrect.
– I am sorry if I asked the honorable and learned member to withdraw a remark that did not apply to a statement made by an honorable member of this House. If the statement were made bv some one outside, there was no obligation upon him to withdraw.
– I contend that an invitation of some kind should have been sent to all the members of our party, asking them to attend the meeting that was held, so that they might have an opportunity to consider- the situation. It is true, I admit, that three of our party had seen fit to accept office.
– The honorable and learned member had just the same chance as we had of hearing about the meeting.
– The fact that three of our party had agreed to accept office under the leadership of the Prime Minister did not in any way deprive us of our rights and privileges as members of the Protectionist Party. Those honorable members took office on their own responsibility, and in the exercise of their deliberate judgment and discretion, as they had a perfect right to do. Their action did not dismember our party, and did not release us from our obligations to the leader who was appointed by us. I think there should be something like loyalty to a leader, so long as he remains in his position. If he betrays his trust, if he does not lead the party aright, there is a way of applying a remedy, but to go behind Ms back and to call a hole-and-corner meeting is to display disloyalty of the most contemptible character.
– I say that the leader of the party knew of the meeting.
– That is incorrect.
– The leader of the party would not be justified in crawling to a meeting merely because he heard that it was to be held. Surely the leader of the party was entitled to give directions as to the convening of the meeting, and no small party or clique should have convened a meeting behind his back, and have left him to find out as best he could what was intended to be be done.
– Order. At the moment of my rising three or four honorable members were carrying on a conversation across the Chamber. I have not yet named any honorable member within the meaningo f the Standing Orders, although I have mentioned the names of some honorable members. If honorable members do not make a more dignified use of the liberties which they enjoy, I shall have to adopt the extreme course of naming them, and I need scarcely inform them that that procedure would be followed by suspension for such term as the House might direct. I hope I shall not be called upon to proceed to any such extreme.
– I am inclined to believe that in certain quarters, for some time past, there has been a little more going on than appears on the surface. The Age of 1 8th August contained a report of the meeting of the Labour-Liberal section, and it was stated that a conference was held between the Liberal Protectionists and the Labour Party the same evening.
– Hear, hear; there was no room for the leader of the party.
– Now I desire to give honorable members a real tit-bit. The conference was held upon the evening of the 17th August, and was reportedin the Age of the 1 8th, as “the outcome of negotiations which had been quietly proceeding ever since the Labour Party took office.”
– Who says that ?
– The Age. I was not aware that any underground engineering of this kind was going on, but I thought that as a party we were working together harmoniously under our common leader, and that although we had divided over the amendment proposed by the Minister of Defence, there was nothing in that to separate us as a party. I complain bitterly that a change was made, and that negotiations were commenced behind the back of our leader, and behind the backs of the majority of the Liberal Protectionist Party, without giving us any opportunity to come in, or to be heard.
If we had been heard we might have been able to prevent this disruption. As a result of this alliance our party has been prejudiced and damaged in the country, as well as in this House; our usefulness and our influence have been impaired. If this alliance, by which our unity and integrity as a party was destroyed had not taken place, do not honorable members see what a powerful position we should have occupied in this Chamber. We should undoubtedly have been the dominating force, and able to exact terms from any Ministry.
– That is what the honorable and learned member’s leader at Ballarat said that he did not want.
– I am not aware that my leader said anything of the kind. It is quite possible for us to work together with another party for one purpose, and remain united as a party for another purpose. We might work together, say, to keep in a Labour Ministry or a Reid Ministry for the time being, if we thought fit, without impairing the integrity of the party. The Labour Party, when supporting the Barton Administration, did not destroy themselves as a party. A political organization or political party does not necessarily destroy itself by giving support to a Ministry for, the time being. We could have maintained our homogeneity without an alliance. In my opinion the true destiny of the party was’ to avoid entangling alliances. What has become of the Protectionist Party ?
An Honorable Member. - They are in the Reid Ministry.
– How can that be so ? Three members of the Ministry accepted office for the purpose of carrying on what was regarded as a Government evolved out of the necessities of the situation, but that does not destroy their position as members of the Liberal Party, or as Protectionists. They may be called upon by irresistible circumstances, and the drift of events, to retire from their present positions at any time, and we expect that they will be loyal to their old friends and colleagues, and come back to the Liberal Party to which they belong-
– And to their old leader.
– And to their old leader, should that time arrive. It is to be deplored that so many of our old and esteemed friends have joined in what I might almost call a colourless coalition with the Labour Party, and for a valueless consideration.
– -Why bother about it ?
– We have to consider, not so much the consequences and results in the House, as the effect of the alliance upon the party throughout Australia. What is the consideration ? Immunity from opposition. What a shadowy consideration the honorable member for Bourke is receiving ! I think he is being treated very unfairly j but it is just what we all expected.
– Is that the reason the honorable and learned member did not come in?
– No, I knew long ago that the Labour Party would have nothing to do with any persons except those who would sign their pledge. And quite right, too; let the Labour Party stick to their colours and their platform, But let us also stand by our colours and principles. The Labour Party have, in my opinion, shown a considerable amount of cleverness and astuteness in these negotiations, the result of which is that our Liberal-Protectionist friends have sold themselves to the Labour Party for a mess of pottage. They will have to support the Labour Party “ through thick and thin.” They will have to support this motion, and any other proposal the Labour Party may make, under the penalty that if they do not go the “ whole hog,” out they go.
– They will go out anyhow
– It is rather a melancholy spectacle and I regret it. I do not know whether it is too late for our Liberal-Protectionist friends to retrace their steps. They have elected to join this alliance, not as a mere temporary combination for a special purpose, but, I believe, for a period extending over two Parliaments. They are tied hand and foot to the Labour Party; and what do they get in return? Will they get protection to native industries? They cannot get that during this Parliament, according to the declaration of the leader of the Opposition. Will they get preferential trade? They cannot get that, unless the leader of the Opposition, breaks his pledges and understanding with the party to which he belongs. I do not see what the LiberalProtectionists are to gain except revenge. That apparently, is at the root of the combination - revenge ‘ and resentment seem to be the basic principles on which the alliance is founded, irrespective of) the political situation, irrespective of the necessity for carrying on the King’s Government and maintaining that fiscal peace and industrial progress for which we all have worked, in which we are all interested, and which the country expects. The House ought to determine to deal with the Arbitration Bill during this session. No political changes ought to be encouraged by any party in the House which may lead to the defeat or loss of that Bill, about which there has been so much contention and fighting. It is inevitable that the Bill will be lost if the changes now being agitated for are brought about. The Labour Party, who desire , to have this Bill placed- on the statute-book, ought to subordinate any resentment which they feel through their defeat, and exercise a certain amount of self-restraint and selfabnegation in order to assist the House in making this Bill law. It would be a great mistake to bring about a change which might result in the loss of the Bill. And if the Labour Party are in earnest - if they do not want merely to see the Bill dangling before our eyes indefinitely - they ought to assist the Ministry in passing it.
– The honorable and learned member surely does not doubt our earnestness?
– Then I invite the Labour Party not to bring about a change which may result in its defeat. It is plain that the Labour Party are in a position to exercise an influence which might, and no doubt would, lead to the successful accomplishment of this measure. I am not going to take up time in discussing the abstract question of Socialism ; there are more burning questions claiming our notice and attention. But I should like to give a word of advice to the Prime Minister. I am prepared to extend to the Ministry at the present moment, and under present circumstances, much indulgence for the apparent meagreness of their programme. That meagreness is the inevitable result of the present circumstances. But I think that, should the Government be able to pilot the vessel through the present storm, and get anchored in the safe haven of recess, we shall be entitled, when the House meets next year, to demand from them a workable progressive programme.
– Hear, hear.
– The Prime Minis.ter will not be able to sustain his Ministry, party, or supporters, merely on the cry of anti-Socialism. We desire an alternative policy.
– Hear, hear.
– The honorable and learned member has knocked away the only prop which the Government had to lean on.
– That is only one prop. We want practical legislation - legislative proposals in the direction of industrial peace and prosperity in Australia. I am sure the Prime Minister will not hesitate, as far as may be reasonable and necessary, to bring into play the power, authority, and force of the Commonwealth Government and Parliament for the promotion of trade, commerce, and industry. In the July number of the Independent Review there is an interesting article by Mr. Sidney Webb, the well-known Socialist; and I desire to quote a passage, which expresses the views of myself, and, I believe, a number of other honorable members as to the differentiation between what may be regarded as the functions of individualism and the functions of the State1. The passage is as follows : -
Whilst the community may leave the conduct of industrial operations to personal initiative, it cannot, for its own sake, allow the conditions of employment to fall below acertain standard deemed indispensable to social health. This involves nothing more revolutionary than an extension, though a big one, of our Factory Act -
That is the English Factory Act - in the direction in which New Zealand and Victoria have shown the way.
There is a marked differentiation between the functions of the State and the functions of the individual. Mr. Webb says that we should leave the conduct of industrial operations to personal initiative generally ; but, at the same time it is the true right and true function of the State to so regulate the conditions of labour and employment that they do not lead to injustice or oppression. I am sure every Liberal in the House will acquiesce in that view ; and this should form a rallying point around which we can all venture to fight.
– Where are the approving cheers on that side of the House for those sentiments?
– Every Liberal is in favour of that view.
– I consider that this dictum of Mr. Webb, who is a wellknown writer, affords us a true definition of the distinction between the collective regulation and the socialization of industries. The collective regulation of industries is something we can all justify,so far as it may be necessary, for the protection of the weak against the strong - for the protection of those who cannot alter their surroundings or environment. On the other hand, where the individual can exercise his powers, resources, and faculties without intervention, we ought, of course, to allow him to do so.
– Does Mr. Sidney Webb approve of the New Zealand Arbitration Act?
– What Mr. Webb recommends is an extension of the Factories Act of England in the direction of the legislation in New Zealand and Victoria.
– There is preference to unionists in the New Zealand Act.
- Mr. Webb is speaking of the Victorian Factories Acts, as well as of the New Zealand Arbitration Act. It is well known -that when Mr. Sidney Webb was in Australia he studied well the provisions of the Victorian Factories Act, of which he spoke highly. Here he recommends the adoption in England of an Act which, while it makes no provision for preference to unionists, is capable of preventing oppression and sweating in various forms and phases.
– There is a “common rule” under the Victorian Factories Act.
– Yes, but there is no preference to unionists.
– There is in New Zealand.
- Mr. Webb points not only to the New Zealand Act, but to the Victorian Factories Act, as models at which the democracy of the mother country should aim. I did not wish to take up any more time on that branch of the question. But, to sum up my position ; in the present state of public affairs, I consider that I and my friend’s around me here, who belong to the Liberal-Protectionist Party, are not only justified in our present attitude, but are bound to judge this Ministry not merely by its name, or its personnel, but by its measures, as they are severally submitted. I believe that at the present juncture of affairs, there is no probability of any more workable combination being called into existence, and that it is our duty, as far as we possibly can, to avoid any further violent and revolutionary changes. I consider that, in view of the way in which the Commonwealth has been drifting of late, with so many changes, we are undoubtedly in a position of imminent danger, and’ that there is a risk of the people losing faith and confidence in and respect for our Federal institutions, if things go on much longer as they are doing. Recently
– Hear, hear !
– I invite my honorable friend, who says, “ hear, hear “ to my remark, to endeavour to work for the re-organization and re-constitution of thai. Liberal Party which he helped to break; up, because unless that be done then we on this side of the House feel bound to support this Government so long as the period of fiscal peace endures, and so long as they are prepared to respect the traditions of the past laws and administration of the Commonwealth, and bring in measures to meet varying emergencies as they arise. On these grounds, sir, I intend to vote against the motion of want-of-confidence.
– Like the honorable and learned member who has just resumed his seat, I deprecate the frequent intrusion of so many personalities into our debates. I wish, sir, that there was a standing order framed, which would prevent honorable members from referring to anything that has transpired outside Parliament, or since the Commonwealth was established. The last speaker touched upon one matter with which I desire to deal at once, because it affects not only myself, but others who have been named. I refer to his statements with respect to the alliance, the alleged issue of some circulars calling a meeting of the LiberalProtectionists, and his remarks in connexion with the negotiations between the members of the Liberal-Protectionist Party sitting on this side of the House, and the Labour Party. There were no circulars issued by any honorable member sitting on this side of the House to any honorable member sitting on this or the other side. The only intimation given to honorable members was one which was conveyed in the press, and it was made, not as a result of any secret negotiation or anything of that kind, but by the general concurrence in the first place of all those Liberal-Protectionists who are now sitting on this side.
– The press at first stated that the meeting was to be calledfor the 1 6th August.
– The 17th August.
– No. I wish to be very particular as to the dates, because a good deal hinges upon them. Let me remind the honorable and learned member and others that the Government was defeated on the 1 2th August, that the composition of the new Ministry was not known on the 1 6th August, but that it was known on the evening of the 17th August. There was no meeting called for or held on the 1 6th August. No intimation, either oral or otherwise, was given to any honorable member of a meeting on the 16th August. But an oral intimation to some honorable members who could be seen was given of a meeting on the 17th August, and a press intimation was given to everybody for the same date.
– Is that the way the honorable member informed his leader?
– On the morning of the 17th August it appeared.
– Yes, and on the afternoon of that day a meeting was held.
– Was it authorized by the leader ?
– I had been the whip to the whole party prior to the break up, but when it was suggested to me to send out a written circular, I felt that I had no warrant for taking that course; and after consultation with those who had voted as I had, it was decided that my attitude was right, and _ that only a press intimation should be given.
– To the leader ?
– On the afternoon of the 17th August, when he was sitting just where the honorable member for Fremantle is now sitting, I went to the honorable and learned member for Ballarat and said, “ You will observe by this morning’s press that an intimation is made that circulars have been issued for a meeting this afternoon. There is no truth in that statement; no circulars have been issued. No one in particular has been invited to that meeting. All who were opposed to the present Administration will be welcomed,” and, speaking in a jocular fashion, I added, “ We expect you- to be there.”
An Honorable Member. - That is a knock-out for the honorable and learned member for Bendigo.
– No; it does not affect his statement by one iota.
– There was no Administration to oppose at that time.
– I shall speak of the Administration presently. I am speaking only of the meeting now, and I think that the honorable and learned member for Ballarat will bear me out as to the facts so far.
– Hear, hear.
– No persons were invited in any other way than I have stated, except the honorable and learned member, who knew that the meeting was to be held from my oral statement to him, and from the press notice which he had read.
– I read the press notice in the morning, and I was informed at a quarter to 3 o’clock in the afternoon
On that bench.
– That was the only notice I had.
– As regards those honorable members who were not invited, but who sent apologies to the meeting, the honorable member for Hume and the honorable member for the Riverina only saw the press notice, but they took good care to send their apologies, although they had received only that intimation. There is no improper inference to be drawn from the fact that they sent apologies, for they got no more intimation than did other honorable members, except the honorable and learned member for Ballarat.
– There is the fact that the honorable member invited his leader to a meeting. He cannot get over that.
– Now, as to the meeting itself. All the members of the party were invited; the names which were read out by the honorable and learned member for Bendigo are the names of those who were present; and these resolutions were carried : -
Relying upon what he read in the- press, the honorable and learned member for Bendigo stated that these negotiations had been going on for weeks. Nothing is further from the fact. On the afternoon of the 1 6th inst. I walked down Collins-street with the honorable and learned member for Indi, the honorable member for Coolgardie, and I think the honorable member for Melbourne Ports. In the street we happened to meet the honorable member for Bland and the honorable member for Boothby, and we told them of the meeting we proposed to hold the. next day. The honorable member for Bland said, “ It was my intention, on behalf of my party, to have invited all those of your party who voted with me to meet us next week. I find, however, that I shall not be able to be present in Melbourne next week. Can you meet us to-morrow evening?” Speaking for myself I said, “ Yes, I could,” and the others said the same thing. And on that invitation the honorable members who had voted with the Government in the fatal division, were invited to meet in conference the members of the Labour Party on the evening of the 17 th August.
– On what day was this invitation given - the 16th?
– No, for the 17th.
– But the honorable member used the words “to-morrow evening.”
– That is correct; we met on the next evening.
– It was on the 16th that the invitation was given?
– Yes; and before our meeting was held. We were asked to meet the Labour Party on the following evening, and we did so. These are the initial facts in respect to the formation of the alliance. On the evening of the 17 th August we knew which members had joined a free-trade Prime Minister, and we were quite justified, I think, at that stage in beginning to make negotiations for an alliance.
– But what was the date of the meeting with the Labour Party ?
– The honorable member and his friends knew very soon, because no one else knew until the next morning.
– That was part of the secret treaty.
– No one else knew on that day.
– Why did the honorable member ignore his leader?
– I ignored my leader no more than I do now. No one is more sorry than I am that he and I are sitting on opposite sides. It has been a source of great trouble and pain to me that I should be dissociated from him. I am sincerely sorry that the separation has taken place. Nothing would give me greater pleasure than to think that I was still sitting on the same side with him.
– Come along.
– But there were compelling circumstances, political and otherwise, as I shall prove later on, which prevented me from going to that side of the House. The honorable and learned member for Bendigo, I think, must admit that the statements he has made have been based upon wrong information. The facts, as I have given them, should be sufficient to warrant the honorable and learned member in withdrawing his statements. When the negotiations had been going on for some time, and were almost quite completed, the1 honorable and learned member for Bendigo did not take up the attitude which he now assumes, because he said, “How is it that in your negotiations you have left no open door for other members of the Liberal-Protectionist Party to join you if they wish.” I said, “ When the terms of agreement are published, you will find that there is a special clause which will permit any member of the Liberal-Protectionist Party, no matter on which side of the House he sits, to join the alliance if he pleases.”
– Another bridge.
– Only with the consent of the Labour Party as well as of the Liberal.Protectionists
– With the consent of both parties.
– Hear, hear. You had to get the Labour Party’s consent to be liberal. How kind.
– I should think that after the vote which had been taken that was a fair condition to impose on honorable members on the opposite side. No honorable member in sympathy with the alliance programme and proposals could find any bar in the conditions named to his entering the alliance if he so desired.
– The first clause of the conditions prohibited the honorable member for Barker and myself from joining.
– The first clause of the programme’ provides that the integrity of both parties shall be maintained, and the honorable and learned member could surely agree to that?
An Honorable Member. - The honorable member for Barker has joined the alliance.
– Only when the clause was altered to suit him.
– So much for that portion of the honorable and learned member’s address. May I be permitted now to refer to another matter about which he said a great deal, and on which other honorable members have also spoken. I refer to the famous “ McCay amendment,” and preference to unionists. The honorable and learned member for Bendigo has been endeavouring very skilfully to draw an analogy between the Victorian Factories Act and the Wages Boards under that Act, and the proposals of the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill. There is no real analogy between them. When the honorable and learned member says that preference to unionists means the dismissal of nonunionists, he ought to know that under the Victorian Factories Act the very reverse has been the case, and that as a matter of fact, employers and others have taken advantage of the Wages Boards to dismiss unionists. In the district which I represent, there is a very large number of persons connected with the brick, tile, and pottery industry. In order to secure the advantages of the Factories Act, they found it necessary to form a union. Is the honorable and learned member for Bendigo aware that it is impossible for employes to secure the advantages of the Victorian Factories Act, unless they form organizations ? That is a condition necessary under the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, and it is also a condition necessary under the Victorian Factories Act. When they formed their union, some of the men who had been active in its formation immediately became, to use their own term, “ spotted men.” I know that one man who had taken an active part in the formation of the union, was immediately dismissed from his employment, and he has never since been able to secure employment in any one of the yards. In another instance an employer conducting one of the yards dismissed every man in his employ who had joined the union. There is not a member of the union in his yard to-day, and he will not allow members of the union to be employed there. These facts are indisputable. The honorable and learned member for Bendigo cannot deny them, because they car: be proved up to the hilt. I say that so far from preference to unionists meaning the dismissal of nonunionists, under our Victorian Factories Act, the reverse has been the case, and unionists have suffered. Had it not been for the man to whom I have referred, and those associated with him, the brick, pottery, and tile-makers of Brunswick and other districts would not to-day be enjoying the advantages of shorter hours and better pay, than they previously received. The men who took action in forming the unions have been penalized by being dismissed from their employment, whilst those who did not join the unions are now reaping the advantages of the Act. Is that fair? Surely those who take all the risks in getting advantages for the men are entitled to get some of the advantages for themselves which others, without risk or effort, enjoy. I also wish to say, in connexion with this matter, that the honorable and learned member for Bendigo was most unfair when he said that it would be the endeavour of the Labour Party and those associated with them to turn the unions of Australia into active political agents. No such thing could happen under the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill as it leftthe hands of the late Administration, and the honorable and learned member knows it.
– The Australian Workers’ Union would not register under it.
– Under the Bill it was proposed to create distinct organizations that were not the ordinary trades unions. It was proposed that those organizations should have no political character or significance, and the late Prime Minister gladly accepted the proposal.
– Gladly accepted it?
– Yes; because the honorable member had previously declared his beliefin it.
– The honorable member for Maranoa does not believe in it.
– I am not now dealing with! the honorable member for Maranoa. but with a far more responsible man. The honorable member for Bland gladly accepted the proposal that there should be no political significance or character attached to these organizations, and he inserted’ the provision in the Bill. How, then can honorable members opposite, like the. honorable and learned member for Bendigo, say that it is the intention of honorable members on this side to turn the organization into active political agencies ? It could not be done, and it was never intended that it should be done. It is all rubbish and moonshine to say that that is what was proposed.
– In which clause did the honorable member for Bland gladly accept the anti-political provision ?
– I cannot now name the clause, but I know that the provision was inserted by the honorable member for Bland. ‘
– The honorable member refers to the bridge built by the honorable and learned member for Indi.
– It does not matter who built it ; there it is.
– Does the honorable member refer to the provision which says that there shall be no preference to unions which are political?
– Order ! The honorable and learned member will have an opportunity to speak.
– I thought I was at liberty to ask the honorable member a question.
– There is a proper time to ask questions, and to answer them. The honorable and learned member for Bendigo repeated the statement to which I have referred, and he read an article from the. Age newspaper in support of his contention, but he forgot to inform the House that the article he read was written prior to the insertion of the provision to which I have just referred, insuring the non-political character of the organization.
– No, it was not. I quoted from the Age of the rath August.
– At the time the article was written it was probably justified, but in view of the fact that at a later stage the organizations were made non-political in character, the article loses its point, and the sting is taken out of it.
– I quoted from the Age of the 12th August, which was published a few days before the division took place on the amendment moved by the honorable and learned member for Corinella.
– We have now a Government in power which professes to have been brought into existence to do three things - to restore responsible government, to institute majority rule, and to bring about the restoration of public confidence. From what I know of the history of coalitions in the State of Victoria, I am not disposed to believe that a coalition is very conducive to the restoration of responsible government. A coalition is the very negation of responsible government. It means, in the words of the honorable and learned member for Bendigo, that the Government is necessarily limited by its composite character, lt is a sort of limited liability government. When the two opposing elements in the Government desire to do any one thing - apart, from the programme put before us. which is entirely non-contentious - as a.matter of course they have difficulties in coming to any agreement, and the result is a certain amount of stagnation and delay.
– Could they not appoint a Royal Commission?
– They were very good at proposing Royal Commissions before they became a Government. If honorable members will look at the policy put before us. they will see that what I. have just said is proved conclusively. Every item included in it is purely non-contentious. All matters of real importance to the country are carefully set aside. Why? Because I suppose the Government have not yet been able to agree upon them. Take such matters, for instance, as the great question of preferential trade.
– Which is going to be discussed at an early date.
– What is the Government proposing to do? They do not even propose to discuss it at an early date.
– The Prime Minister is pledged against preferential trade.
– What are they going to do with respect to the iron bonus? Nothing whatever. They, talk of the restoration of public confidence, and the institution of majority rule, but what are they going to do on this matter, which would in one sense help to restore public confidence. The Manufactures Encouragement Bill, providing a bonus for the manufacture of iron, is a most important measure which, if given effect to, would provide employment for thousands of persons, but the present Government cannot agree upon that important matter.
– Neither can the honorable member’s leader with honorable members opposite.
– On this and other matters Ministers declare that there must be a truce. Therefore, to talk about responsible government under a coalition is the very height of absurdity
– Did not the late Prime Minister declare against the iron bonus?
– The late Prime Minister will be able to answer the honorable member for himself when he replies to the debate. The Government have three principal planks in their programme. They propose to oppose Socialism. That is plank No. 1. They propose to fight unionism and the Labour Party - that is plank No. 2. And plank No. 3, and the most important of them all, is their proposal to get into recess. If they mean to oppose Socialism, do they intend to repeal some of the measures which honorable members who now hold the fate of the Ministry in their hands, helped to put upon the statute-book ? Do they propose to repeal” some of those socialistic measures which were placed on the statute-book by honorable members like thf honorable and learned member for Bendigo, and which the members of the free-trade section of the coalition opposite have in past speeches condemned everywhere in Australia? I think’ not. ,Are they in their offices only to prevent legislation? Are they there to sit still and do nothing? Is that what is meant by responsible government ; or are they going at some time to agree upon a policy and let us know what it is by putting it before the public? I take it that the people of this country will not be satisfied with a mere stand-still or sit-still Ministry. They will not be satisfied with the mere statement of opposition to Socialism or the prevention of’ legislation. What the country wants is that something should be done, anc! done quickly.
– What the’ country wants is a spell from legislation.
– If the country wants only a spell from legislation, it is likely to get it from, the present Ministry. I do not think they will be able to do anything, because they cannot agree upon anything.
– That will restore public confidence.
– The honorable and learned member for . Bendigo has sought to prove that the Protectionist Partyassociated with himself on the other side of the House! hold the fate of the Ministry in its hand. Is this consistent with that majority rule, which the Prime Minister said was going to be instituted? Where is the majority rule of which we have heard so much: 7 There «fe more of minority rule now than there ever was before. The best evidence that we have minority rule lies in the circumstance that the Prime Minister has given half the representation of the
Cabinet to one-third of the total number of members supporting the Government. That was done, not so much because the right honorable gentleman desired to institute majority rule, but because he wished to give a sop to the protectionist element in Australia, in order to make the protectionists believe that by giving half the representation of his Cabinet to that party, protection in Australia would be safe. If majority rule is to be instituted, the protectionists should alone be represented in the Cabinet. They number two-thirds of the members of this House, and they are in a greater majority in the country. What nonsense it is for honorable members to speak about majority rule, when the fate of the Ministry really lies in the hands of any one honorable member sitting behind it. That has been openly boasted by the honorable and learned member for Bendigo to-day, and by other honorable members repeatedly during the time the Ministry has been in existence. Let me turn now to another matter about which something has been said, and that is the restoration of public confidence. What did the Prime Minister say about this business ? He is reported in the Argus of 5th September, under the heading, “ The real democracy,” to have said-
Lack of confidence spells lack of employment, and no greater curse than that can fall upon the families of working men. My efforts, and those of all my colleagues, will be devoted to the restoration of public confidence, not by reactionary methods, but by keeping on the broad track of Australian liberalism.
That fs a fine, grandiloquent phrase, which in the light of his present proposals means very little. He is going to restore public confidence by declaring fiscal peace, while industries are being strangled wholesale, and men are out of employment and are leaving these shores ! The way to restore public confidence would be to find employment for our people, and to retain our population. Victoria has lost during the last two years, because of the improper nature of the Commonwealth Tariff, 30,000 persons, of whom 24,000 were adults. If the Prime Minister and his Government wish to restore public confidence, they must bring back these persons, and others besides, and they can do so only by declaring the fiscal truce off, and by giving adequate protection to the industries concerned.
– Did the honorable member know these facts during the last elections, when he was advocating fiscal peace?
– No. If “I had known them, I should not have advocated fiscal peace. Since then, however, the Government Statist has given us trie figures which I have quoted. Those who have left Victoria were men connected with industries which could, and should be protected - agricultural implement makers, engineers, boilermakers, and others of kindred trades. Will public confidence be restored if the fiscal truce is allowed to continue, and if we fail to grant bonuses for the production of iron ? I do not wish to anticipate any debate which may take place on the latter subject, but the development of our great natural deposits of iron ore would give work to a large number of people, and would supply a great quantity of raw product to those engaged in engineering and other works. The subject is therefore one which should have the attention of any Government, and I more particularly of a Government which claims to be desirous of restoring public confidence.
– Why is not the granting of an iron bonus in the programme of the Labour Party?
– It is in the programme of the alliance, and will be one of the first measures dealt with if we get into power. Do honorable members think that the proper way to restore public confidence is to repeal, as the Prime Minister has threatened to do as soon as he gets a majority, the provisions of the Immigration Restriction and the Post and Telegraph Acts, which prohibit the importation of coloured and contract labour into this country? If the provision which prohibits the importation of persons under contract is repealed, such persons will be brought here at reduced wages, and the conditions of our working classes will be even worse than they are at present. The Prime Minister, however, says that he is in favour of repealing that provision. He is also opposed to the provisions which we passed for the maintenance of a White Australia, and says that he will repeal them whenever he gets the opportunity. I do not think that such declarations are likely to restore public confidence ; but, no doubt, when the democracy of this country speaks on the subject, it will pronounce its verdict in no uncertain tories.
– The Prime Minister advocated a White Australia when the honorable member was drawing a tape measure about the country.
– Some men have advocated a number of things in order to get into Parliament, but their subsequent performances have not fulfilled their promises. The Prime Minister does not believe in giving preference’ to Australianmade goods in connexion with tenders for Government supplies, or Government contracts. A policy, of that kind will do a great deal to prevent the restoration of public confidence. The proper way to restore public confidence is to begin to use our own products and manufactures, so as to encourage and find employment for our own people. As a matter of fact, the Commonwealth declared at the last elections that it had no confidence in the Prime Minister, and I am satisfied that when it pronounces judgment again that verdict will be repeated. I have already made some reference to the question of preference to unionists, but I wish to say a little more respecting the matter. Some time ago the Prime Minister said that the Ministry were individualists, whereas those on this side of the Chamber - he was referring more particularly to the Labour Party - were for equal opportunities “ with the postscript added, 1 provided you are a unionist.’ “ The right honorable gentleman, when he made that statement, surely forgot that he is a member of one of the biggest unions in Australia, to which that postscript certainly applies. The Lawyers’ Union is the most restrictive on earth. It suits the right honorable gentleman to declare himself an individualist, in order to tickle the ears of the groundlings ; but it does not suit him to be an individualist in matters connected with the profession of the law. He is not in favour of a minimum wage, but he is in favour of a minimum fee, I suppose. Personally I do not see much difference between a salary or a fee, and wages or remuneration. My point is that a man who prates about being an individualist and against Socialism is a member of the strongest and. most conservative union in Australia, and perhaps in the world. Let me say here that I am exactly the same kind of Socialist as is the right honorable gentleman. I go no further than he iri my Socialism, and I. do not know that any member of the alliance goes any further. In the statement in the Argus, from which I have1 previously quoted, he is reported to have said -
The very essence of democracy, as I understand it, is the fullest preservation of the liberties of the individual, consistent with the fullest use of the powers of the State for the benefit of the people as a whole.
That is exactly the kind of Socialism in which I believe, and of which I approve. I also wish to say that I approve of the same kind of Socialism as that supported by the right honorable member for Swan, who is reported to have said, speaking some time ago .about an over-governed country -
They ought to have sympathy with the toiling millions of their fellow countrymen. The great object should be the uplifting of the masses of the people, so as to build up a nation of intelligent and high-minded people. Education and better advantages should result in greater happiness to the people of the country. There were a good many people out of work in Melbourne. If a man was willing to work, and could not obtain work to do - it was pitiful. (Hear, hear.) It was a sore spot on our social system, and ought to be remedied. (Applause.) In a new country like this, with its broad acres, splendid soil, magnificent climate, all sparsely settled, it ought not to be difficult to obtain a remedy. The country was not adequately settled, and all considerations must give way to the placing of people on .the soil. Why should they not help people to build up homes for themselves?
That is the sort of Socialism in which I believe ; but I do not see any difference between helping those on the soil to make homes for themselves, and helping those engaged in industries to obtain better wages and shorter hours of labour, by means of Arbitration and Factories Acts. I extend my Socialism to all classes, I do not confine it to the agricultural classed ; and I not only give them my sympathy, but I back it up by voting for arbitration and factory legislation, and whatever else will do them good. Two or three others on the Ministerial side of the Chamber will perhaps be astonished to find that they favour certain sorts of Socialism of which I approve. The honorable member for. Flinders, for example”, favours the establishment of an agricultural bureau, grants to farmers, and other Government action of that kind, and> so do I. The honorable and learned member for Wannon holds similar views, and also’ supports the insertion in our mail contracts of clauses to provide for the cheaper and better carriage of fruit, dairy produce, and other commodities from Australia to the markets of the world. I go as far as do both honorable members in connexion with those matters. But when the, Ministry as a whole say that their chief business is to combat Socialism, it is surely interesting to recollect what they individually have done in the nature of socialistic action. When the Prime Minister wishes to pose as a democrat, ‘ arid the friend of the toiling masses, he relies on the fact that he was responsible for . the imposition of a tax upon the unimproved value of land in New South Wales. But when he wishes to frighten the electors of Australia, he says that the proposal to institute a Commonwealth tax on land values to provide for a Commonwealth old-age pensions system is Socialism, and something which must be fought to the very death. Then the Minister of Trade and Customs - the other head of the Ministry - who says thai the one danger to Australia is Socialism, was, when in office in Victoria, most active in the furtherance of socialistic schemes. It is to the honorable member for Gippsland that we owe the institution in Victoria of workmen’s homes. It was he who established the first village settlement in Victoria. That is the Best kind of Socialism that could obtain anywhere. And yet he now tells us that those who are in favour of that policy are a menace and a danger to the’ State, and ought not to be countenanced for a moment. To him also we have to give the credit of having placed under the Victorian Factories Act more trades and occupations than have all the other Premiers put together. It was he who said, in effect, “ These people are labouring under an injustice; I will see that that injustice is removed.” And he removed it by inducing the Victorian Parliament to pass resolutions which had the effect of placing a great number of industries under the Victorian. Factories Act. Yet he now says that Socialism, as advocated by honorable members on this side of the House, should be combated. Then the Treasurer, who, although he has not said anything, no doubt indorses the sentiments of the Minister of Trade and Customs, did a very fine thing for Victoria, and caused his name to be blessed in many homes when h”e instituted the Cr6dit Foncier system. The proposals of the leader of the Opposition to interfere with the banks has been very seriously condemned, and yet the Treasurer amalgamated the Savings Bank and the Post Office Savings Bank, and placed their funds at the disposal of our farmers. But for his action many a man who is on the land to-day would have been a ruined outcast, and many farms which now remain in the hands of small proprietors might have passed into the hands of wealthy capitalists. When Ministers talk against Socialism they should recollect what has been done by themselves in times past. Then the Postmaster- 8 n
General, who is a most active opponent of Socialism, made a novel socialistic experiment when he imported a number of prize bulls into New South Wales in order to assist the farmers of that State. The only complaint [ have heard in that connexion has been caused by the fact that the bulls have not produced any stock. This prating of the dangers of Socialism is so much rubbish. All honorable members know that the Socialism of Australia is not the Socialism of Europe. Turning to one or two personal matters, I wish to say that it is very improper for a responsible Minister to impute motives to honorable members. The Prime Minister is wont to refer to some honorable members on this side of the Chamber as having entered into an alliance with the Labour Party with the object of securing some personal gain. That is a most improper remark to make. Speaking in Sydney, he said -
The Labour Party’s methods were simply those of delegates of the Political Labour Leagues. They could not even appear on the hustings without the permission of the leagues, not even to oppose men who had supplanted them.
I shall leave the members of the Labour Party to answer that. He continued -
So the attempt of the Parliamentary Labour Party to take the place of their masters had failed. For example, Mr. Hume Cook was run close on a heavy poll by Mr. Hannah, a prominent labourleader. If Mr. Cook could get a guarantee from the Labour Party that he would not be effaced, he would take over Mr. Hannah’s support, and’ Mr. Hannah’ would be coolly thrown over. Thus* would the Labour Party dispose of Mr. Hannah. Mr. Cook and Mr. Isaacs, and others like them,, were in a position which did not reflect infinitecredit upon their well known cleverness.
I desire to say that before entering into this alliance 1 knew well that I should probably not be able to secure - I did not seek any such thing - immunity from opposition on the part of the Political Labour Council in the district I represent. As a matter of fact, I have had to fight labour candidates on three occasions, and each time I have been returned by an increasing majority. I knew before I entered the alliance that the same kind of opposition would probably have to be fought again, and I was solely influenced by my own political views and my desire to represent the opinions of my constituents. Therefore, when the Prime Minister seeks to make honorable members believe that I was actuated by some paltry considerations of personal gain, he is speaking without the slightest justification. Before entering the existing alliance, I wrote to all the members of my committee - some hundreds of ladies and gentlemen - and invited them to attend a public meeting at Brunswick. I placed’ before them the coalition proposals as agreed to by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat and the Prime Minister, and I also submitted to them the proposals for an alliance made about the same time by the leader of the Labour Party. I told them that I did not think it right to accept the proposals of the right honorable member for East Sydney and the honorable and learned member for Ballarat. I added that I desired to obtain an expression of their opinion with regard to both the proposals. I said scarcely anything else. There was a long discussion, and eventually the following resolutions were carried.: -
That this meeting of Mr. Hume Cook’s combined committees thank him for his explanation of the facts concerning the proposed coalition with the free-traders, and of the alliance with the Labour Party; and that, in the opinion of this meeting, the coalition with Mr. Reid’s party should not be accepted on any terms whatever.
I had, therefore, some warrant for joining the alliance quite apart from my own individual feelings. As to the second proposal, all the meeting had to say was this -
That this meeting expresses its continued confidence in Mr. Hume Cook as the representative of Bourke electorate.
I was, therefore, free to join the alliance. I consulted my committee, many of whom had supported me for ten years, and after having obtained an expression of their views, I felt that I was free to act in any way I deemed best in the interests of the Commonwealth, and my constituents. The honorable member for Perth, during his speech in this debate, referred to statements which I was reported to have made concerning the Labour Party. I wish to put that matter right. He stated that I was reported to have said -
To have the Labour Party in power would be as bad as letting loose the animals in the Zoological Gardens.
It was so stated in the Argus, and I do not blame the honorable member for having been misled. I should not have made any reference to the matter but for the fact that an inaccurate report has been placed on record, and I think that its refutation should have equal publicity. Honorable members know that I was opposed at the last election by a labour candidate, that the fight was a very severe one, and that neither of us. spared the other. Among other things I had to answer statements contained in pamphlets’, such as one I have here, entitled, “ Hume Cook’s double shuffle on the White Australia Question.” In that pamphlet my opponent, sought to show that I was a black Australian. Among those who assisted my opponent were some persons connected with the Trades Hall Council, “and certain events occurred which seemed to afford me a chance of getting back at my opponents. The Trades Hall had been asked by Mr. Fleming for the use of some portion of their building, for the purpose ofholding a meeting to commemorate the death of some anarchists. The Trades Hall Council, in perfect friendliness, but hardly knowing what they were doing, granted the use of the hall, and as a result a small bill was issued, which read as follows: -
Anarchist - Communist Commemoration
Of the Government Assassination of Chicago
The meeting was to be held on Wednesday, nth November, some time prior to the day of the election, and certain speakers were announced, including one of the gentlemen to whom I have referred as having been very active in opposing me. When I obtained possession of that bill I . called a meeting, which was principally for ladies, and which was very largely attended. I read the bill to the meeting, and then said, “ I want to ask you what anarchy means ?” Then I gave the best definition I could, quoting Webster, according to whom anarchy means “ absence of civil government.” Proceeding with my remarks, I said, “ What would eventuate if we had in Victoria an absence of civil government? The police, the law courts, and the Judiciary would be swept away, men and women would be free to follow their own sweet will, and the results would be such that we scarcely dare contemplate them. I am not an anarchist,” I said, “ and I am not supported by any anarchists. If we have anarchy in this country, “ I added, “it would be worse than letting loose some of the wild beasts from the Zoological Gardens.” I went on to say, “ If anarchy means the absence of civil government, it means that every person is free to do as he. or she likes, and unfortunately, we know that there are a number of men and women, though probably more men than women, who, if they could give free rein to their passions, would be worse than wild beasts.” I spoke only of anarchists. I made no reference whatever to the Labour Party in this connexion. The proof of my statement lies in the particular pamphlet to which I have referred, and in another circumstance. The Trades Hall Council, and its associated political party, at a later stage gave the greatest justification to my remarks, and by their action did themselves honour. As soon as the pamphlet was issued, the Trades Hall Council saw that a mistake had been made. A special meeting was held on the 4th April, when a report was presented on the subject, and, in order to justify their position before the world, the council expelled from their ranks the man who was an anarchist and the cause of the meeting. The honorable and learned member for Wannon, the honorable member for Perth, and others who have misquoted me, will in future be able to state the facts.
– I never once quoted those remarks ; all I quoted were thewords of the honorable member about the twenty or thirty wire-pullers who “ wanted his billet.”
– I accept the explanation, as I trust the honorable and learned member accepts my explanation in regard to the words about “ letting loose the wild beasts.”
– I do not deny that I used some very hard words during the contest - all candidates so indulge - but I certainly never made use of the remarks which have been attributed to me. I should now like to refer to the question of preferential trade. I have said that with a coalition, or divided Ministry in power, great questions like that of preferential trade cannot possibly be dealt with; and here I desire to quote what the Prime Minister said before he became a member of the Ministry. Speaking at the Town Hall, Sydney, on the 29th November, the right honorable gentleman is reported in the Melbourne Argus as follows: -
Now, ladies and gentlemen, I denounce the Government - that was the Deakin Government - first for their breach of faith in not submitting some preference to the mother country free from any sort of condition. If we can reduce the Tariff to a sound revenue tariff all the objection of the mother land will disappear.
That is what the Prime Minister said prior to the elections. He was not then in favour of waiting for the mother country, and he had not then “ given the office ‘ ‘ to Lord Rosebery that Australia was not prepared to do anything in the way of. preferential trade. The attitude and speeches of the right honorable member since that meeting in the Sydney Town Hall justify Lord Rosebery, the leader of the Liberal Party in England, in saying that Australia is not ready to give preference to the mother country. I ask the Prime Minister and his supporters why they do not now endeavour to reduce the Tariff, as they said they would if ever they got the chance?
– Does the honorable member desire the Tariff to be reduced ?
– I shall presently tell the honorable member what I am prepared to do in order to get preferential trade. The Prime Minister now says that it is a question for the future ; that we are not going to make trouble now, but must assume that Great Britain will make the first move.
– He always said that.
– In the Sydney Town Hall, the right honorable gentleman said that we must make the first move.
– The honorable member is wrong.
– I have already quoted the right honorable’ gentleman’s words, and I could quote a great many more if necessary. If I mistake not, the Prime Minister, on the floor of this House, said that we ought to give a preference to the mother country by reducing the Tariff.
– No, not in that sense.
– Now the Prime Minister poses as the friend of the farmer, the vigneron, the orchardist, and other producers. What sort of friend is he who refuses now to give that preferential trade which is to be the salvation of the producers ?
– The Prime Minister cannot give them preferential trade.
– He said that he could, and that he would do so if he got the opportunity. But the right honorable gentleman wants to make out that we on this side are the opponents of the farmers and others on the land - that it is to him and his followers they must look for commercial prosperity.
– Hear, hear !
– How are we to have prosperity for those on the land unless there be preferential trade? The Australian market has been “wiped out” by the Tariff, andunless greater opportunities are afforded in this direction, our farmers will be ruined. And unless we get a market in the mother country on preferential terms, the condition in Australia generally will be even worse. The Ministry sit still, and wait for the mother country, but we on this side are prepared to do something now. There are now no markets - let us get markets. The right honorable member fort Swan talks about land settlement, and finding employment for the people; buthow can either of these objects be achieved unless there be preferential trade ? The honorable and learned member for Wannon, who poses as one of the friends of the farmer, and describes those on this side of the House as the farmer’s enemies, said, when speaking on this subject at Koroit, that there was a very large trade done between Australia and Germany, and that “ it would be a pity to interfere with it.” I am not concerned about building up a trade with Germany, but only about building up a trade with our own kith and kin. It would appear as though the honorable and learned member took an oath of allegiance to the German Emperor, and not to the King of England. Are those the farmers’ friends who want to support German trade - to build up German manufactures and continental industries, instead of the manufactures and industries of their own country ?
– Are the Germans not our best customers for wool ?
– Our best customers ought to be our own kith and kin.
– Could Great Britain take all our wool?
– Great Britain could take all our products, arid a great deal more besides. I forget how many million pounds worth of produce Great Britain imports every year, but I know that all Australia can produce is but a fraction of what is consumed in the mother country. The real friends of the farmer are those who are going to give him prosperity - those who are prepared to do something for preferential trade, and not those who sit on the Treasury benches waiting for the mother country to move.
– What becomes of the wool which goes to London from Australia ?
– We desire to send our wheat, wool, wine, oil, and other products to Great Britain, and admit, on preferential terms mutually advantageous, commodities not manufactured, or likely to be manufactured, in Australia, but manufactured in England by British workmen. I am prepared to repeal some duties altogether. Does that surprise the honorable member for Robertson? I am prepared to repeal the duty on such articles as cotton goods, tin plates, pig-iron, and raw material generally, not manufactured or produced in Australia. I am prepared to give the British people an absolute preference in the free admission of goods which are not manufactured here at present, and to reduce other duties.
– The honorable member is a free-trader.
– I am a preferential trader, and not a sitstillanddonothing trader; my record in Australian Parliaments shows what sort of free-trader I am. I do not, as some of the honorable member’s friends have done, vote for duties of 50 and 60 per cent. on farm produce, and for a duty of 12½ per cent. on agricultural machinery.
– Who did that? Mention one.
– One was the honorable member for Echuca, who, I understand, is going to “rub it into me” when I sit down. I am prepared to reduce duties in some instances - on some lines of crockery, plate glass, and articles of that kind, which are not made in Australia.
– I ask the honorable member not to go into details.
– I shall say no more than that I am prepared to reduce certain duties in favour of Britishers, and to increase other duties against foreign producers, in order to complete the system of preferential trade with the mother country. The present Ministry have declared for a fiscal “truce,” to which word I wish to direct attention.
– Say “peace”; it is a nicer word.
– There is a vast difference between a “truce” and a “peace.” I propose to point my remarks presently by something which was put into the proposed agreement between the Freetrade Party and the Liberal-Protectionist
Party some time ago. The difference between a peace and a truce is so great as to justify some consideration. “Peace” means an entire cessation of hostilities, whereas a truce means a temporary cessation only, to permit of the burial of the dead, a consideration of the position, or something of that kind.
– One word means the burial of weapons, and the other means their destruction.
– “ Peace “ means the putting away of the weapons.
– That is to destroy them.
– -Not necessarily, as you might need to use them again if war were declared.
– “ Peace “ might mean the cessation of war until you were ready.
– That is quibbling. What did the Prime Minister say about the terms of the agreement for ari- -alliance? The most interesting and most important statement contained in that proposal is to this effect -
The Tariff not to be altered in any respect during the present Parliament without the consent of both parties in the Ministry.
If the consent of both parties in “the Ministry were obtained, of course there could be an alteration of the Tariff. But that is not the main point I intend to make.
The fiscal issue not to be raised by the Ministry or any Ministerial candidate at any “general election held prior to the next ordinary general election, and the policy of the Ministry on all fiscal questions intended to be submitted at such election to be made public before the 1st May, 1906.
Speaking on this point last night the honorable and learned member for Bendigo said that he had’ not asked for an extended truce on the fiscal issue. But he was the one who pointed out the weakness of this proposal. He said that if the truce were not extended over the next general election the members of the Liberal-Protectionist Party could be made use of by the free-traders until some time prior to the next general election, and then dropped. And when the honorable and .learned member for Ballarat was asked for an explanation of this matter he said, “ That is quite true. This proposal as to submission before the 1st May, 1906, means that we are to get six months’ notice of any proposed abolition of the truce, so that we, too, can prepare our weapons: of warfare, and carry on the fight in a proper manner.”
– That is the substance of what I said.
– The members of the Free-trade Party asked us for a truce, which meant making use of the LiberalProtectionists during a certain period, giving us six months’ notice of the revival of the free-trade issue, and then fighting us after they had crippled us.
– That is what the Labour Party has done with that corner.
– I shall show the honorable member how it was proposed to cripple us, and how the protectionists who have joined the free-traders on the other side are under worse conditions than were offered to us. The free-traders propose to cripple us by organizing during the whole period oi the truce. Although we had been asked to agree to a truce, which in any case was to last until the 1st May!, 1.906, the free-traders in Sydney and elsewhere were not respecting the truce, but were organizing, doing their level best to get literature circulated, branches formed, and candidates in evidence, and intending to try to sweep the polls as far as our party was concerned. That has not been denied, because the leaders of this movement were the present Postmaster-General and the honorable member for Lang.
– It has been denied more than once.
– Then I shall prove that, although it may have been denied, it is still being done. I did not feel that I should be justified in accepting a coalition with free-traders on those terms. I believed that we were likely to be made use of. I shall show what kind of organization was to go on against us, while we were to remain quiescent, and to be dropped at the right time.
– What is to prevent the protectionists from doing the same thing outside ?
– What did the present Prime Minister say about this matter at about the same time? When he went up to support the honorable member for New England, he said -
Mr. Deakin said they had mangled the Tariff because they had brought the duties down. If that was so, why< were the protectionists now calling for fiscal peace? Did any one ever hear of any one calling for peace unless he was afraid of a bigger licking?
Why did they not have the courage of their opinions, and fight the matter out?
That is the right honorable gentleman who wants a fiscal truce - I suppose because he is afraid of getting a bigger licking. Again, what did he say at Toowoomba^ -
I do not expect a protectionist to support me, and if he did I would call him a political humbug and a shuffler.
Are the protectionists who are now supporting him in the Ministry political humbugs and shufflers?
– It is a coalition Government.
– They are not supporting him as a free-trader.
– And that was said when he was going for a fiscal war.
– I wonder if the right honorable gentleman still stands by that statement? If he does, why does he not also stand by the previous one? He has formed a coalition with certain honorable members’, and proclaimed a fiscal truce, and all his organizations are at work preparing to sweep aside the protectionists who have not been trapped, while dropping those protectionists who have been trapped.
– Give us some proof of that statement.
– Here is some proof, which appeared in the Age of the 5 th September, in the shape of a telegram from Sydney, headed, “ Free-traders organizing,” and relating to a meeting of the Australian Free-trade1 League in that city -
It was resolved, that the present situation made the work of the league doubly important, and that arrangements should be entered into forthwith for the purpose of strengthening the freetrade party throughout Australia. A manifesto is being ‘prepared, and, after submission to the league, will be issued throughout the Commonwealth.
Whilst the Prime Minister declares a fiscal truce in Victoria, all his organizations in New South ‘ Wales are preparing to strengthen the Free-trade Party, and to issue a manifesto throughout the Commonwealth, to attempt to upset the truce which he has declared, and to trap the protectionists who have joined him. Under these circumstances, we on this side were more than justified’ in entering into an alliance ito prevent ;the (success of this Ministry and their supporters at the polls, and to avert the downfall of the Protectionist Party. What is to happen after this truce is terminated ? I propose to quote the words of the Minister of Defence.
Speaking on this subject some time ago, he said -
The last Government was half and half : this Government is’ half and half. Therefore, where is there any more danger than before? I am no prophet, but I have no doubt matters will come right in the end. -
I want to see how they will come right in the end. Can the Minister say how they will? In view of the fact that even the first proposals have been repudiated, or are not being acted upon, can he go out and fight other members of the Ministry at the elections? I think not. Will those honorable members who sit behind the Ministry be in a position to fight the men with whom they have be’en allied here? I think not. The probabilities are that the Ministers will have to support the Ministerial policy or resign, just as their supporters will have to support the Ministerial policy, or go alone. By that time they will be tied to the Ministry; they will have betrayed their constituents,” and they will be unable to fight for the Liberal-Protectionist Party. The coalition does not give them what was proposed by the agreement submitted in May last. It leaves them subservient to the domination of a free-trade majority on that side, whilst we have a protectionist majority on this side: We are told that the real protectionists are on the other side, but I say that the numbers are on this side. The real dominating party on the other side are free-traders. Of thirty-eight members on that side, twenty-five are ‘ free-traders and* thirteen are protectionists; while of thirtysix members on this side, only nine are freetraders, and twenty-seven are protectionists. Where, then, ds the Protectionist Party in this House ? Surely it is to be found on this side.
– What does the honorable member get from the Labour Party?
– Free-traders like the honorable member for Perth, as he declared here only a few nights ago, are prepared to help us with a. protectionist policy to develop our resources and to find employment for our workmen, but the honorable and learned member for Wannon prefers to find employment for Germans in Germany.
– The honorable member will believe that if he’ says it again.
– The honorable ‘ and learned member made the statement.
– I never made the statement in the sense in which the honorable member is applying it.
– Does the honor able and learned member deny the statement I quoted from the Argus?
-I deny “the honorable member’s inference from the quotation.
– Will the honorable member direct his attention to the trapped individuals’ over here ?
– They are trapped all right. They cannot fight on the protectionist side any more, dominated as they are by a free-trade Prime Minister and a free-trade majority. Some members of the Ministry will find that they cannot fight on our side when the real contest takes place.
– There are some protectionists to whom the ranks of the Protectionist Party are not open?
-I did not hear what the’ honorable and learned member said. The Prime Minister has’ said that the Tariff issue has been raised against him. May I say, in answer to his complaint, that it was raised in the House before he took office, and in such a way that he could not possibly make that statement with any degree of justice.
– By whom and when was it raised?
– I raised the Tariff issue on a motion I gave notice of months ago.
– Pure blank cartridge.
– It appeared on the noticepaper for the first time in July.
– That is true. The Prime Minister says the Tariff issue has only been raised against him since he took office. But the fact is that it was raised by me before he took office, and during the administration of another Government.
– As soon as the last Government were getting into trouble the cry of protection had to be raised.
– Does the honorable member call that raising anything?
– Certainly I do.
– It was only academically discussing it on an off night.
– We have been told that we have no right to raise it, because there wasa Tariff peace, and that I, amongst other honorable members, fought for that. I admit at once, without any hesitation, that when the last election took place I spoke against the raising of the Tariff issue during the present Parliament. I do not deny that, but what I say is that since the election took place facts and figures have come to the knowledge of protectionist members which compel us to raise the issue.
– Then honorable members should go back to the people and ask their permission to do so.
– We determined the peace, and, being the victors in the fight, we had a right, as I have previously asserted, if the terms did not suit us, to raise the issue again. I have raised it. I do not deny that in so doing my attitude may appear, though it really is not, inconsistent with my platform pledge. The platform pledge I made was to support the industries of Australia against foreign competition. I thought at the time that the best way in which to do that was to maintain the existing Tariff, but I now say frankly that the existing Tariff does not meet the case.
– The honorable member also proposed to support the honorable and learned member for Ballarat.
– And I did support that honorable and learned gentleman.
– Is the honorable member doing so now?
– It is quite true that 1 promised to support the honorable and learned member for Ballarat. In connexion with the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, 1 told the electors that I was in favour of the inclusion of the railway servants in the Bill ; but I also told them then that I considered the fate of the Government, as it was a Protectionist Government, was of more importance than the inclusion of the railway servants in the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill. 1 told them frankly that they must not expect me to vote for the inclusion of the railway servants if it meant the defeat of the Deakin Government. I have kept my promise. I voted with the Deakin Government, and helped to maintain it in power, and I am sorry that it ever went out of power. When the Minister of Defence twits me with not supporting the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, he surely forgets that. I have already said that the truce which has been proclaimed by the present Prime Minister was proclaimed by the right honorable gentleman himself, and not by any one else. I have shown that that truce could have been declared off, practically at any time, on giving six months’ notice; but in any case, in May of 1906. I now wish to show that there are other reasons which compel us to speak of this matter, and I have a case in point. The free-trade importers of this country have, on many occasions, acted unfairly in their endeavour to destroy our manufacturing industries. I have in my hand a letter written to a firm of tanners in New South. Wales, by the Fred. Alderson Company, Limited, of Bulletin-lane, Macquarie Place, Sydney. It is so remarkable a letter, that I think it deserves to be placed on the records. It reads as follows -
We have much pleasure in informing you that We have received instructions from the Vaughan Machine Company, of Peabody, Mass., U.S.A., for whom we are the Australasian agents, to quote Beamhouse Fleshing Machines and Putting-out Machines at a, reduction of 20 per cent, for the present, and until further notice from the Vaughan Machine Company, and we earnestly urge you to consider the advisability of ordering at these reduced prices, which, we might state, are only for a time, which has been done at our request, in order to meet any competition that is in evidence at the present time in regard to such machinery.
We trust that you will get fullest particulars from us before deciding to purchase elsewhere. and, in the event of ordering from us, we advise such being cabled for, which cabling expense we shall stand, as it is. of an infinitesimal character.
Here is some proof of the necessity for raising this issue, when ‘ a firm declares, practically in print, thai: they are reducing the price of their goods - for a time only - in order to stamp out local competition. And they think the matter so urgent that the goods ought to be cabled for in order to break up the opposition of the local manufacturing firms. I have said before, and I now repeat, that that kind of competition had the effect of reducing the number of men employed in making this particular class of machinery by 50 per cent. There will be no one left in the industry if these tactics are to be resorted to, and more men will be le’aving the country, in addition to the 30,000 who, it is said, have already left it.
– Are the words, “local competition,”’ to be found in that letter?
– Does the honorable member for Parramatta think for an instant that it is the competition of importers that they care about? lt always has been, and always will be, local competition to which they object.
– What local competition?
– The manufacturers of the machinery in this country.
– There is only the one factory in the honorable member’s electorate, and he knows it.
– I say that this sort of thing more than justifies us in raising the issue. Because it means not merely the stamping out of local industries, but a further loss of population, smaller markets for those who remain, and higher taxation for those who have to bear the heat and burden of the day.
– How many of these machines are in use in Australia - a dozen ?
– I have no idea. I wish to say a word or two now concerning the alleged democratic followers of the right honorable member for East Sydney. Speaking some time ago, the right honorable gentleman said -
Attempts will be made to give the new party a conservative aspect, but we can point to a long and brilliant record of democratic service as a complete answer to that.
I desire to say a word or two . about this brilliant democratic record, and the first authority to whom I shall refer is the honorable and learned member for Bendigo. When the present Ministry was formed, the honorable and learned member, speaking of its constitution, was pleased to make the following observations: -
His colleagues are all good men, and i have no fault to find with any of them, although I consider that the protectionist element in the Cabinet might have been more typical and representative of the democratic wing of that party.
It is evident that the honorable and learned member for Bendigo does not see anything very brilliantly democratic in the record of the Prime Minister and his wing of the party, and he said so bluntly at Bendigo some time ago. The honorable and learned member for Ballarat, who may be accepted as a very good authority, has described some of the men connected with the Freetrade Party in no uncertain terms.
– We shall quote Hannah on the honorable- member for Bourke directly. ‘
– I shall not have the least ‘ objection. The honorable and learned member for Ballarat gave his opinion of the democracy of honorable members on the opposite side, some time prior to the formation of the present Ministry it is true, but I do not think that their political characters have been materially altered in the meantime. Speaking at
Moonee Ponds on the 16th February, 1903, the honorable and learned gentleman said -
Now they found that the chief gibe that the leader of the Opposition (Mr. Reid) thought fit to level at them was that the Commonwealth throughout the last Parliament was “ steered from the steerage.” He did not know whether the right honorable gentleman desired only to steer from the saloon, and in its interests.
That is what he thought then of the present Prime Minister’s party, but he added the following words : -
If the Government came back to them with its armour dinted and bruised, and its flags torn and sullied in the heat of battle, they must remember the fight that had been fought; that the Government had to carry the trowel in one hand and the sword in the other; and that their victories had been accomplished in the face of brilliant and unscrupulous foes.
So that the honorable and learned member for Ballarat describes the democratic phalanx opposite as the “ brilliant and unscrupulous foes” of democracy.
– What was the honorable and learned gentleman referring to?
– He was referring to the members of the Free-trade Party, behind whom the honorable member for Echuca now sits.
– What was the subject?
– The subject was the then leader of the Opposition, the present Prime Minister, and his free-trade supporters. Some of the democratic followers who jeer at that statement, like the honorable member for Flinders, and the honorable member for Kooyong, and who are now supporting the ReidMcLean Ministry, went around prior to the institution of womanhood suffrage condemning it in every way. It is true that they are now hustling around forming national leagues for women, and telling them at every meeting that the Labour and Socialist Party is the anarchist party. Only a night or two ago, in the presence of the honorable and learned member for Wannon, who did not contradict the statement, the chairman at one of these meetings said that the Socialist and Labour Party were also the anarchist party.
– I did not hear that.
– I did not say that the honorable and learned member said it, but he did not contradict it, although, so far as Victoria is concerned, it was proved some time ago that they had expelled the anarchists from their number.
– Not one of these honorable members has said one half as much against the Labour Party as the honorable member now speaking has said.
– I am prepared to justify all that I said on the occasion referred to. In the meantime I ask the honorable member, and those who jeer with him, to remember that since that time the matters in connexion with the Labour Party of which I complain have, in two or three instances, been altered in the direction I desire. There are some other democratic supporters of the Government like the honorable and learned member for Wannon, who is against the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, lock, stock, and barrel; the ‘ honorable member for Kooyong, who did not believe in women’s suffrage, but who is now a chief organizer of national councils for women; and the honorable member for Flinders, who does not believe in Socialism, but does believe in its application to agricultural societies and things of that sort. Some other supporters of the Government outside this House have made a number of democratic statements. Senator Dobson, for instance, is one of the brilliant democratic followers of the present Ministry. Speaking on 19th August at a meeting’ held in the Caulfield Town Hall to a branch of the Australian National Women’s League - they are all addressing the ladies in these times, though they did not help them to get a vote - the honorable and learned senator said -
A fight between class and class is coming, and it would be suicidal folly if organization was not pushed on. It was going to be all classes against the Labour Party. Unless organization was proceeded with the result would be disastrous. Members should see that all they could influence were on the rolls, and second, that they all voted. It would be necessary at election time to combine with such associations as the Reform League or Employers’ Federation in the selection of candidates, otherwise two sound anti-Socialists would be put up against one labour nominee.
No class legislation, yet “all classes” are to be pitted against the Labour Party. Truly a brilliant democratic supporter. I shall now read something which may, perhaps, be even more interesting to honorable members -
The Victorian Employers’ Federation,
Citizens Buildings (opposite the Block), 285 Collins-street, Melbourne, 30th November, 1903. [Private and Confidential].
We, on behalf of the Executive and Parliamentary Council of the above Federation, again bring under your notice the position of our reserve and fighting fund. It was anticipated that this fund - which is utilized for electioneering purposes - might easily be made up to £20,000, but is at present very much short of that amount.
At this stage in the history of the Commonwealth, we need not remind you of the absolute necessity for a live, active body, supported by liberal funds, to combat the Labour-Socialistic Party in the forthcoming elections.
The Trades Hall people are not hampered by any want of funds, every unionist must contribute, besides which they have a lien on the salary of every member elected.
We are not taking up the alarmist’s position when we say that the question is, whether you will now contribute your portion towards helping on our good work or stand the risk of losing all?
You have only to carefully read the speeches of the Labour-Socialistic nominees, together with Mr. Tom Mann, to see what lies in the background once they become permanently dominant in the Commonwealth politics.
We would also point out that any donations to this fund- to be of use to the Federation in the present elections - must be forwarded at once.
The secretary would be pleased to see you at any time, and make clear the large volume of efficient work now being done by this Federation, both in Victoria and all parts of the Commonwealth, in combating Socialism.
We are, sir,
On behalf of the Executive and Parliamentary Council.
W, N. Pratt. robert Walpole, Secretary.
That letter was issued to quite a number of persons, and came into my hands quite properly. The Employers’ Federation are not only endeavouring to combat Socialism, but they are trying to get people to subscribe to their funds’ by saying that the Labour Party will take from them all that they have. There was never a bigger libel published. The letter was issued just prior to the last general elections ; but the same persons are to-day requesting subscriptions for funds for the same purpose, and are sending out their paid organizer to various part’s ofVictoria to combat the views of the Labour Party as they did before. I believe that he is starting on a new trip to-day.
– The honorable member when he was fighting the Labour Party had the support of those to whom the letter was addressed.
– Nothing of the kind. I entered’ Parliament before the Labour Party, as now constituted, came into existence, and I have held a seat in Parliament for over ten years. Whenever I have been opposed by Labour candidates, I have beaten them by constantly increasing majorities; but, as a matter of fact, I have not yet nominated against a Labour candidate. The men who supported me at the last election were the Liberal-Protectionists of Bourke, while those who supported the Labour candidates were those who believed in the platform of the Labour Party. The man who was supported by the Employers’ Federation and the Reform League was Mr. Grundy, the conservative candidate, and I beat him by over 4,000 votes. In these circumstances, we are quite justified in saying that we have no confidence in the Government, first, because they have declared a truce in which we do not believe, and which we cannot support, because it will do injury to the interests of Australia. We do not believe in them, because their boast, that they will restore public confidence, is a phrase which means nothing, especially in view of the fact that at the time when they should be doing something, thousands of persons are leaving these shores, because the Tariff is operating in such a way that trade is being taken from our industries, and they cannot give employment.
– People have been leaving Victoria for the last fifteen years.
– I admit that there have been losses of population from Victoria for a long period. They were due, in the first instance, to the great banking crisis. At that time 75 per cent. of the banking institutions of Australia closed their doors; but we are carrying on to-day without any repudiation, which is a grand thing to be able to say. Probably no other country would have done what Australia has done in this matter. The second reason why population left Victoria was that the bank smashes were followed by a succession of bad seasons. Had it not been for the development of the Western Australian gold-fields, this country would no doubt have lost even more heavily than it has done. But whereas in the two years prior to the imposition of the Federal Tariff, Victorialost only 9,000 persons, in the two succeeding years she lost 30,000 persons; and while the Commonwealth as a whole gained in population in the first period, it has lost about 6,000 persons, of whom 4,000 were adults, in the second period. The operation of the Tariff is responsible for this loss of population. The next reason why we have no confidence in the present Administration is that it is the result of a coalition, and the history of coalitions in Victoria has been so disastrous that we do not wish to repeat it.
– The honorable member was glad to have the support of the Treasurer on one occasion; but he is condemning him now.
– I am not ashamed of any action which I have taken in connexion with the present Treasurer, nor of any action which I have taken in connexion with the other leader of the Government, whom, on one occasion, I assisted to defeat the present Treasurer.
– When does the honorable member intend to support the party on this side of the House ? He seems to have supported every one in turn.
– I assisted the honorable member for Gippsland to defeat the right honorable member for Balaclava, because the latter wrote off some £2,500,000 from the irrigation trusts, and placed it to the debit of the general taxpayers, a proceeding which I could not justify to my constituents, some of whom were paying 2s. 6d. in the £1 in rates. We cannot support a coalition, because the history of Victoria has shown that coalitions are disastrous to all who have had anything to do with them.
– Is that why honorable members opposite call their coalition an alliance?
– Ours is not a coalition, which I take to be a truce between two parties mutually opposed to each other; ours is an alliance, by which I mean the junction of two parties which are mutually favourable to each other. We have common views, and there is no difference between our policies and our platforms.
– Yet the honorable member is going to be opposed by a Labour candidate.
– I have already said that I expect opposition from some of the branch leagues in my electorate; but I shall not be opposed by those with whom I am allied, and I. shall have their support if I ask for it. Then we are opposed to the Government because; while they profess to be the friends of the farmers, the artizans, and the producers generally, they are content to leave untouched such questions as the granting of bonuses for the production of iron and preferential trade. I cannot and will not support a combination which does that. I am opposed to the Government also because it is supported, both in this House and outside, not by a brilliant democratic following, but by an unscrupulous conservative following. I do not use my own terms and phrases in so describing it. The character of its backers outside is to. me the best of reasons for not support ing the Government. In the next place, the man whom I honour above all others in the political life in this country, and whose lead I should be content to follow if he were a free man, is not a member of the coalition, but is giving such support to it as leaves him free to act against it whenever he thinks fit to do so. When he chooses to again lead the party with which I am associated - and it must be remembered that the Labour Party were willing to accept him as their leader - he will be in the position in which all the LiberalProtectionists and democrats wish to see him. In the meantime, his position and attitude give the keynote to my position and attitude. If he cannot jointhe Ministry, I cannot support it. Lastly, I feel that the protectionists who have agreed to follow the right honorable member for East Sydney have been so betrayed and trapped that they will never be able to join our party again. As the result, we have been compelled to enter into an alliance with the Labour Party, and have, in the full light ofday, put forward a programme which we believe represents the democratic thought and feeling of this continent. For that programme we will fight, and by it we will stand or fall.
– The honorable member for Bourke, in the course of his remarks, indicated that he anticipated that I would make things warm for him. I have no such intention. The honorable member, during the last fortnight, has been so depressed, and has looked so miserable, probably as the result of the prickings of a guilty conscience, that I do not find it in my heart to lay the lash very heavily upon him. He said that he had abandoned the Turner Government because it had written off . £2,500,000 from the liabilities of the water trusts. What was actually written off was £700,000 from the irrigation trusts, £180,000 from various town waterworks, and £160,000 odd from local government bodies, making a total of something over £1,000,000 of capital, together with arrears of interest, amounting to a little over £500,000. Thus the remissions aggregated only about £1,500,000, instead of £2,500,000 mentioned by the honorable member. After speaking most eulogistically of the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, he stated that if that honorable gentleman came back as the leader of a great Liberal Party, he would be glad enough to fall into line, and again accept him as a leader. I always thought that one’s manliness was shown, not by coming back to a leader at the height of his success, but in standing by him when he was obliged temporarily to take a place in the background. The loyalty of such an individual as the honorable member for Bourke is not of very much value, and I do not know that we need discuss it, because from what has occurred during the last few days, it is not likely that after the next general election he will’ have another chance of following either the honorable and learned member for Indi, or the honorable and learned member for Ballarat. It is charged against the present Government that their programme is a very small one. If the Ministry had brought down an elaborate programme, they would have been most furiously attacked for deluding the people, by holding out anticipations that could never be realized; and, therefore, the Prime Minister has shown his wisdom by bringing down a programme containing only a few items. The Government may succeed in carrying out a short programme, provided that the present crisis is overcome, and after that I think the best thing we could have would be a period of political rest, during which we could settle down and review our position. During this debate, one very important question has been almost lost sight of. I refer to the feelings with which the public must regard the position into which this Parliament has drifted. We are wrangling here over matters of comparatively small importance, and are thrusting into the background those great considerations for which the people were induced to federate. When we remember the aspirations of the people, and the hopes in which they were led to indulge, and consider the miserable pass to which we have been reduced, we have every reason to feel ashamed and humiliated. When we went to the country at the ..last election, we were able to present a record of good work - of stupendous work which had been accomplished during the three years preceding. That work was necessarily of a foundation character,’ and was, perhaps, of little direct interest to the public. Still it was important, and it was well and solidly performed. It was realized at the last election that most of our foundation work had been accomplished, and . the late Government set before the people a programme of practical legislation, calculated to secure the ad- vancement oof the people, the settlement of the land, the completion of arrangements for the utilization of our water resources, and the initiation of a generally progressive policy for the encouragement of industry and enterprise in every possible way. What has been the result ? We have been here since 2nd March, and we stand today absolutely discredited, owing to the small quantity of work we have been able to do. Every one of the State Parliaments is able to show a better record. The Victorian Parliament particularly, with its schemes of land settlement and water conservation, is putting us to utter shame. Apart from the expenditure in connexion with the transferred Departments, we have spent upon Federation up to the present over ^1,000,000. Exclusive of Ministers’ salaries and one or two other items which it might not be fair to charge, the expenditure upon the Legislature last session amounted to ,£162,000. We sat for 101 days, and ‘ therefore every sitting cost the country over £1,600. What have we done during the present session? No Parliament ever had a more miserable record.
– But look at what we have prevented.
– When we ask who is responsible for this state of things, we shall probably be met by a conflict of opinion.
– Blame the Labour Party. They can stand it.
– The records of the past eight or nine months will show that the Labour Party, are primarily responsible for the present condition of affairs, owing to their persistent endeavours to introduce into the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill a provision bringing the public servants of the States within the scope of that measure.
– The honorable member accepted that provision.
– To my mind that provision is an absolute sham, a delusion, and a snare. It is a sham, because honorable members know in their hearts that the High Court will hold that the provision is unconstitutional. They know, further, that none of the States will submit to be governed by such a provision, and that even if the High Court sustains our action they will appeal to the Privy Council. - To those who are expecting that the provision will confer some benefit upon them, it is an absolute delusion, because it is holding out hopes that cannot possibly be realized. It is a snare, because it represents some of the bird-lime which, as the Premier of Western Australia has said, has been used by the Labour Party in order to catch supporters, and to further their cause. The theory of the Arbitration Bill is splendid, and if a measure could be framed upon sound and impartial lines, it would no doubt accomplish a great deal of good. The experience gained in New South Wales and New Zealand is not, however, at all conclusive that such a measure as that which has been recently before us would operate in the best interests of the community. The New Zealand Act has been criticised by impartial persons, including Dr, Clarke, who was sent out specially from America to inquire into its working, and who wrote an adverse report upon it. In New Zealand extreme doubt is entertained whether the measure will prove beneficial. The Melbourne Age recently published an article, in which the following passage occurred : -
New Zealand, for the next few years, will be an object-lesson to political economists. She is making experiments for the whole world, but, in the main, I am convinced she is doing it in a blind way. The enormous increase of the export trade, which has nothing to do with arbitration awards, has given her prosperity, and, therefore, the ability to bear the burden of social experiments. Industrial arbitration has affected every class, every phase of life. An award in one trade increases the cost of living in all the others. There is a perpetual enhancement of values. A dragon has been let loose in the land, because it was thought to be harmless, but he is gaining strength, and will devour the people unless they manage to chain him. Who is going to chain him? Not Mr. Seddon, who thinks it is right that he should roam at large and for ever. It was not foreseen that an artificial value placed on labour would result in artificial values being placed on everything else.
In a further article the following statement was made : -
Amend the Act, as the Government may, however, industrial arbitration is being more boldly criticised. Carried to its logical issue as it has been, it has bred trusts in all directions. But for the fact that these trusts are the direct outcome of the fixing of payment for labour by law, the trade unionists would to-day be carrying on a vehement agitation against them. They dare not raise an outcry, because they know that investigation might suggest remedies of which they could not approve.
The artificially enhanced prices for food are paid by nearly 800,000 people. The artificially enhanced wages are received by 27,640 male and female trades unionists. The last census gave a total of 234,346 male and female wage earners. The 27,000 unionists claim preference under the awards, and, at the same time, their awards result in the whole population paying higher prices.
We hear a good deal about protection and the new protection. No doubt both are very good, but, like all good things, they can be carried to extremes. In all likelihood, a third kind of protection will spring into existence. This will contemplate, first of all, protection to the manufacturing interests; secondly, protection to the employes ; and, thirdly, protection to the consumers. The regulation of all these matters upon a fair and. equitable basis wil tax the very best energies and the genius of those who have to deal with economic and fiscal questions. They will have to see that the great bulk of the people who do not share in the direct benefits of the protective system are not oppressed too harshly. It was stated that the Labour .Government did not desire office. I have never been able to accept that statement without reservation.
– That does not alter the fact.
– The whole circumstances show that the party deliberately pursued a course which could have no other result than the ejectment of the then Government; and for them to say that they did not want office is much the same as a highwayman, who holds a pistol to your head, saying that he does not want your purse. If it were not correct that the Labour Party wanted office, why were there those paeans of exultation throughout Australia, and in other parts of the world? Why was there that miserable whining and crying when they were defeated - such whining and crying as I have never seen in this Chamber during my twenty years of parliamentary life? If the Labour Party were so keen about the success of the Arbitration Bill - if the measure was so immediately necessary - why did they not take action when last year the Government laid the Bill aside rather than accept the clause proposed? It was because the foundations were not completed; there was important work yet to be done, and they waited, cuckoo-like, until the nest was ready. I do not blame the Labour Party for taking office. I have nothing to say against them as a party, and if the people desire Labour rule, I shall cheerfully acquiesce and help such a Government all I can. But I detest the hypocritical affectation of indifference which they assume when they declare that they did not want office. It has been repeated over and over again by men who know better, that the Labour Government did not receive fair play. The honorable and learned member for Indi said that that Government did not receive fair play, either during their term of office or when they were defeated. “In what does unfair play consist ? Unfair play consists in misrepresentation of the party, in delaying business, in stone-walling measures, in not making a House in order that measures may be considered, in refusing to give pairs, and in generally blocking business. What were the facts? The whole of the time the Labour Government were in office not one attempt was made to deal with them unfairly. There’ was scarcely a day during which the Labour Party were in office, when, if the Opposition had desired, they could not have walked out of the Chamber and caused a count-out. It is notorious that nearly the whole of the time that Government, were in office the Government benches were almost empty, five or six being the largest attendance, except at the opening of the sitting. During the whole of their term a House had to be kept by the Opposition; and yet we are told that the Government did not receive fair play. It is utterly absurd to make such a charge.
– The House has been counted out since the present Government came into power.
– And that, I believe, was caused by the action of the Labour Party. On the day the House was counted out I was present, and I ‘ saw that there were only twenty-three honorable members’ within the Chamber. We had to wait two or three minutes for one or two honorable members to come in, and immediately it was known there had been a House, some ten or a dozen labour members appeared. I observed at the time that it looked as though the Labour Party desired to have a count-out.
– We hurried from the Labour Party’s room in order to try to make a quorum.
– I did not; I stayed there. But any one who says that a dozen labour members remained in the room is saying what is not correct.
– There was not the slightest intention to count the House out, and the Prime Minister knows it.
– On the part of the Protectionist Party there was’ never any other desire than to give the Labour Government fair play. On the advent qf that Ministry, the Protectionist Party Held a meeting, and it was decided, after considerable discussion, that there should be no attempt to unseat them. The first business at the first meeting of the Protectionist Party was the election of the honorable and learned member for Ballarat as leader; and that fact requires to be borne in mind during the remarks’ I intend to make. The party not only selected the honorable and learned member as leader, but commissioned him to endeavour to make arrangements to bring about majority rule in the House. At a meeting held subsequently the honorable and learned member reported that the Labour Party would enter into no coalition or alliance.
– What does the honorable member mean by “ commissioned him”?
– At that meeting a vote of thanks was accorded to the honorable and learned member for Ballarat and the present Treasurer for their efforts during the past few weeks to bring about a better political situation. What they had been endeavouring to arrange was an alliance either with the Labour Party or the Freetrade Party. The honorable and learned member for Ballarat failed absolutely as to the first, and it was for his further attempts with the Free-trade Party that he was accorded a vote of thanks.
– After having refused to enter into a coalition the party gave the honorable and learned member their thanks.
– The vote of thanks was passed before there was any refusal. I should not refer to these matters but for the fact that they have been reported in the public press. The resolution passed was -
That this party is not prepared to consider the proposal for coalition, except on the condition that the Prime Ministership of any coalition be accorded to the present leader of the party.
That resolution was moved by the honorable member for Barker, and seconded by the honorable and learned member for Bendigo. I desire to be perfectly fair. In connexion with that resolution, it has always been supposed that the present Prime Minister showed an eager grasping for office. But it was known by the party that the Prime Minister was prepared to stand aside and support the honorable and learned member for Ballarat as leader ; and that offer was repeated by some supporters of the present Prime- Ministerat. Ballarat the other night. So that it is incorrect to say that the Prime Minister is an: eager, greedy, grasping office-seeker, who would not follow the leadership of the honorable and learned member for Ballarat.
– That was his attitude after the honorable and learned member for Ballarat had refused to take office.
– Will the honorable member quote to us the motion that he submitted ?
– The motion which I submitted on the 24th of May was as follows : -
That this party being now made definitely aware of the determination of its leader not to take, office at this juncture, deems it advisable in the best interests of the Commonwealth to postpone the consideration of a coalition for the present.
That was in accordance with the desire that we should give the Watson Government fair play. The motion, however, was not put to the meeting, which at that stage adjourned. Later on a resolution was arrived at which was practically the same as that ‘ which I had desired to move, namely -
That present circumstances do not render advisable either of the proposed coalitions, and that every effort should be made to maintain the unity and integrity of the Liberal Party.
I think I have given a very fair statement of the facts.
– The honorable and learned member for Indi was not there.
– The honorable and learned member for Indi and the honorable member for Echuca both agreed to the motion.
– We were unanimous that there should be no coalition.
– The honorable and learned member for Ballarat submitted to the meeting the agreement that had been arrived at between the present Prime Minister and himself. The little difference between the party on this :side of the House and the Opposition is shown in the extraordinary fact that the policy of the Watson Government, which was issued at that same time, was almost absolutely word for word the same as that arrived at in the agreement referred to. When the Government and honorable members on this side are taunted with being conservative and retrogressive - with having all the worst elements in the Commonwealth on their side - I hold up the two programmes, and point to the fact that, with the exception of one small item, they are identical, word for word. If that is the programme which the Watson Government desired to’ see carried into effect, and in the carrying out of which we were prepared to assist in Opposition, where is the necessity for the motion now before the House?
– Why was the Labour Government turned out of office?
– It is true that the present Government have not announced all the programme at present. If they had done so, and said they were determine’d to carry every item, they would only have been hoodwinking the people1 of Australia; and therefore they have simply announced their intention to submit legislation which they know can be carried out in the time at our disposal this session. The present Government were bound by the agreement with the Protectionist Party, and any departure would have meant the withdrawal of the support Of that party.
– What has this to do wilh three-legged glue pots?
– The honorable member desires to be funny, but he is successful only in a very small way. The three-legged glue pot is an implement used in a very honest occupation, and it is only one of seme fifty or sixty other articles which I endeavoured to have placed on the free list when the Tariff was before us. Those articles included all hollow ware, such as pots and pans. I do not know what there is for honorable members to laugh at in these remarks; my only wish is to give an explanation of how the phrase “ three-legged glue pot “ continues to be thrown at me by people who have no sense. As I said before, the party resolved to hold together. What did that mean? It meant that we were to hold together under the honorable^ and learned member for Ballarat as our leader. Who broke that party up? Did not the honorable and learned member for Indi, the honorable member for Bourke, and the honorable and learned member for Darling Downs choose to pursue a course of their own in connexion with the Arbitration Bill ? Every now and then they came to the assistance of the Government, without consulting their party or the leader they had agreed to follow.
– Because it. was distinctly understood at the caucus meeting that we were to have a free hand on the Arbitration Bill.
– It was that free hand which enabled those honorable members, on a matter of very small moment -because the difference between the Government proposal and the proposal of the honorable and learned member for Corinella was small - to carry out their design, which ultimately broke up the party. Those honorable members showed on that occasion that they were more concerned about the question of preference, which, even by the Government, was admitted to involve only a slight difference, than they were about holding the great Protectionist Party together.
– That was not a question of preference, but a question of want of confidence in the Government.
– During the last seven months what evidence was shown by the then Government of a desire to push on with business? Was not the reproach hurled against them night after night by the honorable member for Kennedy, that they were not pushing on with the business, and were adjourning the House too early? Did he not say that he for one was tired of coming from a far distant State, and hanging about here doing next to nothing? That was his charge against the late Ministry, and it was a true one. Their whole object was to allow things to drift until the Budget was delivered, and then to go into recess. It has been said that they received no fair play. As regards the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, there were only four points of difference between the two sides. The first was in regard to the inclusion of the State servants. That proposal was carried with certain modifications. The second was in reference to the proposal that an industrial organization should not be permitted to apply its funds to political purposes, or require its members to’ do anything of a political character, which the Government accepted on the motion of the honorable and learned member for Darling Downs. The third was in regard to the inclusion of farm servants, and the fourth related to the question of preference, on which, finally, the break-up occurred. I believe that if the then Prime Minister had been allowed to have his own way, he would have accepted the Bill, with preference as it was, because it was a liberal measure. But the unions which he said last Sunday night dominated the party, would not accept that position.
– It is only fair to the honorable member, who is not in the Chamber, to say that he contradicted that this afternoon.
– I am stating my own impression, and it has not been changed by that contradiction.
– Then the honorable member does not believe the late Prime Minister ?
– What I believe is that the question of political power was a much greater one with the unions than the question of preference. Yet we found the Watson Government, after losing nearly twelve months in discussing its provisions, refusing to accept the measure, or to assist in passing it on to the Senate, simply on the ground that it did not providefor preference to unionists. Were they really in earnest? Did they really desire to have the great principle for which they have fought so long enacted ? My opinion is that, now the facts as to the working of the law in New South Wales and New Zealand are known, they will wait a very long time before they get a better or more liberal Bill than the one before the Senate. We now have a Government under the leadership of the right honorable member for East Sydney. Of course, we should have preferred to have a Government led by a member of our party. Our first duty, however, is not to ourselves, but to the country. It is said that the free-traders have used harsh terms towards some of us in the past. That statement is quite correct. Life is too short for one to remember the harsh things which are said in the heat of political struggles, and they are unworthy men who, because a politician had said hard things about them at one time, would refuse to support him when he was doing that which was right, no matter what position he held. The honorable members who chose to break away from the Protectionist Party called a meeting in some mysterious and extraordinary way - by the aid of “ spooks,” or something else, because no one was told to attend, and no circular was sent out. Those honorable members, who just happened to be there, I suppose, called a meeting, but they carefully refrained from notifying the other members of the party, although it had been agreed that all should stand together under their leader.
– I suppose the honorable member could not come, because he was one of the signatories to the “ round robin.”
– I never heard anything about a round robin.
– The honorable member will hear more about the round robin before this debate is over.
– I never signed, or heard of a round robin being signed. I do not know what the honorable member is alluding to. He will have quite enough difficulty to explain his own position, which I think is a very humiliating one. Why was no notice of that meeting sent out? If there had been a full meeting of the party there would have been a majority of fourteen against a minority of nine, and the latter would not have been able to carry the resolutions which have been quoted today. They were very careful not to consult the leader and other members of the party, because they knew that the little game which .they were trying to work would not come off if they did.
– The leader does not say that he was not told.
– Does this mean that the honorable member is sorry he is over there ?
– No ; I am very thankful to be here to-night, because I am where I believe my duty tells me I ought to be, in conformity with my pledges to my constituents and with the best interests of the country.
– Yet the honorable member wanted to move a motion against a coalition.
– I did not move a motion against a coalition; I moved a motion which meant that we should give fair playto the Watson Government. When a question was raised as to whether a motion of no-confidence should be tabled I was amongst those who voted against the tabling of such a motion, and to give the Government fair play.
– The motion of the honorable member was against any coalition.
– I do not blame honorable members for what they did, because they were simply following the first law of nature, which is self-preservation. I quite recognised how very difficult was the position of honorable members who resided in crowded cities, and I did not blame them for seeking to make their own positions secure. I do blame them, however, for running to the press at once, and charging honorable members in this House with being traitors1 and seceders- with having gone back on their principles.
– Who did that?
– I shall tell the honorable member directly. These honorable members raised the cry, “Protection is in danger.” It was, as the honorable member for Gippsland has said, a sudden dis covery. The cry was raised when the Labour Government was thought to be in danger, and it was first raised at the Trades Hall. From private conversations with honorable members on the other side, I know that they - deprecated dlt cry when it was first raised. They said that they did not see any chance of getting better duties Tor their industries than they then had. If the cry_was a real one, it was laughable, but Hit was only a stalking-horse it was) contemptible, and that is what I think it was. They have held up the Prime Minister as a great bogy-man, who was going to destroy all the industries of Australia. If we have an unruly horse what do we do with him ? We couple him in with a horse upon which we can depend. When we have the Prime Minister coupled in between the honorable member for Gippsland and the right honorable member for Balaclava, there is not much fear of protection being in danger. As a matter of fact, the advantage of this coalition is all with the protectionists, because they are absolutely certain that any advantages which they have obtained will not be interfered with,” at any rate for some years to come.
– In the meantime we are losing people by the thousand.
– That has been going on for eleven years, since the honorable member was a baby.
– It is an extraordinary fact that, since the Labour Party have come into ‘ prominence, Victoria has lost more people than ever it did before. That is a fact which perhaps honorable members on the other side can account for.
– That is why they are going to Western Australia, where a Labour Ministry is in power.
– And to New Zealand, where they have more Socialism, which the honorable member says is no good.
– Nine thousand settled in New Zealand last year.
– In this discussion, and in this demand for higher duties, we seem to forget that Victoria is only one of six States, and that we cannot move faster than they will allow us to do. The pace of a team is regulated by the pace of the slowest horse in it. If the other States do not desire an. alteration of the Tariff - and so far there has been no such desire expressed by any other State- it will be very difficult for us to move by ourselves. Some honorable members who come here to represent Victoria seem to forget that they are Federalists. They appear to imagine that they are in a State Parliament, and can do whatever they think Victoria requires and demands:
– What about the Conference held in Brisbane recently ?
– Queensland wants an alteration of theTariff.
– She wants more revenue.
– We went to the country with a policy of fiscal peace. Why did we adopt that cry? Because the leaders of the party and all its members knew that if we had gone to the country with a cry for higher duties, we should have been beaten. If we had raised that cry, we should have had in power to-day a freetrade Government, which could have torn up the Tariff, and framed one to their own liking.
– Hear, hear; that is a fair confession.
– The honorable member is a beautiful protectionist.
– It is perfectly true.
– The honorable member for Melbourne Ports knows that is true.
– If I did I would not be such a fool as to say it.
Mr.McCOLL. - After the protectionist debates’ on the Tariff, and after commerce and business had been kept in a perfect state of turmoil for such a long time, people were heartily sick of Tariff discussions and alterations, and. if we had gone to the country on a policy of higher duties we should nothave come back with a majority. Therefore, I say that the proposal for a fiscal peace was the wisest policythat could have been adopted at the time in the interests of protection.
– It was only a policy, not a principle.
– The Honorable member subscribed to it.
– With mental reservations.
– It Has been said that some industries are being injured by the operation of the present Tariff, but was that not expected as one of the results of Federation ? It was thoroughly well known that the Commonwealth Tariff must be an average Tariff involving a reduction of duties in Victoria. It wasknown that it must be one which would bring in revenue, and at the same timedo something to preserve industries. But, while it was known that
Victorian industries would be injured to some extent, it was looked to as possible and probable that the increased trade which would be done acrossthe borders with other States would more than compensate for any loss by the reduction of duties.
– We lost our tobacco factory.
– This was part of the price which Victoria had to pay for Federation in the same way that every other State had to give up something because of it. The present agitation, as I have said before, was first of all started by the Trades Hall. But when we were battling here for these duties, and trying to get 5 or 7½ per cent. more of protection on various items, did the Trades Hall give us any assistance? Not the least. We secured the duties which are in force now, simply because of the magnificent fighting done by the right honorable members for Adelaide and Balaclava.
– The Trades Hall gave a lot of assistance. They held several conferences.
– The Trades Hall gave us no assistance whatever, and that is proved by the fact that we lost many of the duties we desired, through the votes of labour members.
– They did plenty of lobbying amongst free-trade members, anyway.
– How was the duty on agricultural machinery reduced ?
– The duty agreed toon agricultural machinery is only 2½ per cent. less than it was under the Victorian Tariff. It was 15 per cent. in the Victorian Tariff, and it is 12½ per cent. now. The difference of 2½ per cent. could not make any very great difference to the manufacturers of agricultural machinery. If 12½ per cent. protection is of no use to them, then 15 per cent. must have been of very little good, and it should be remembered that before Federation no attempt was ever made in the State Parliament of Victoria to raise the duty above 15 per cent.
– I beg the honorable member’s pardon. Such an attempt was made.
– We are now told that the Trades Hall people are all protectionists, but I remind honorable members that the electorate of Grenville, which has previously returned a protectionist, at the last election for the State Parliament returned a free-trader in the person of Mr. McGrath, who is a representative of the Trades Hall. They give £600 a year to a free-trader,
Mr. Mann, to go about the country preaching, not the doctrine which they say will find employment, arid save women and children from want, but the doctrine of Socialism, which will never have the result anticipated. If the Trades Hall Council desire protection, why do they not engage that gentleman to use his great powers of eloquence in preaching the doctrine of protection, not in this State, but in the other States. Why do not protectionists, instead of making speeches here about the virtues ofprotection, start a crusade in the other States, and try to convert the people of those States to the doctrine, as the present Prime Minister tried to convert the people of Victoria to free-trade? We went before the electors with a demand for fiscal peace. I have here the Preferential Trade Gazette, issued by the Trade Protectionist Association, and signed by Sir William Lyne, Mr. Poulter, Mr. Sparks, and Mr. Samuel Mauger, in which it is said -
The free-trader seeks to destroy the present moderate Tariff. The protectionist desires to defend it. The free-trader threatens a new fiscal war. The protectionist asks for a period of fiscal peace.
– I have never denied that.
– What has happened during the last nine months to account for this sudden upheaval, demanding an alteration of the Tariff, and an increase in the duties ?
– Does the honorable member say that industries are not languishing?
– I do not.
– Then why does not the honorable member help them?
– I do not think that they are much worse to-day than they were nine months ago, and that they would suffer to some extent was expected when we entered Federation. Every member of the Protectionist Party advocated the policy of fiscal peace, and not one word was heard against it.
– That was our policy then.
– It was the policy then, and yet in less than nine months all this difference is to be made. The Age newspaper, on 23rd October last year, said -
In the nature of things this was unavoidable. The Tariff, as it finally emerged, was at least a protectionist one of its kind, and what it lost in effectiveness as the builder up of national industries, the Federation was compensated in giving a wider market to manufacturers. It was a great and arduous work, done conscientiously in the main ; and the business of the electors in the coming election will be to see that, for a course of at least three years, it is not interfered with. This cannot be too vigorously insisted upon.
Mr.Mauger. - Will the honorable member read what the Age says now?
– I know that the honorable member for Melbourne Ports is the humble servant of the Age; but I am not.
– The honorable member was very glad to get the Age to help him, and he will be glad to do so again.
– On November 5th the Age said this -
The Prime Minister spoke words that should command attention in all the ranks of the party, when he said, “ It is, above all things, desirable that the electors should realise what is the root and centre of the position. The root and centre is the maintenance of the Tariff as we have it.” We want fiscal peace, the maintenance of the prosperity we have, and the enjoyment of preferential trade.
The honorable and learned member for Indi, I am sorry to see, has just left the Chamber. The other night the honorable and learned member interjected, “ When did I promise to support fiscal peace?” If that is the attitude the honorable and learned member is taking, it is a mean attitude. It is the attitude of the soldier who is told to carry out a certain line of campaign, but who has another one in his pocket, which, when he is away from his leader, he intends to pursue on his own account. This very question was raised by the Prime Minister of the day in Tasmania. I quote from the Age of. December nth, 1903 -
It has previously been remarked that the freetrade party is putting forward a different policy in every separate State. Mr. Deakin put this telling point to the meeting, “ Men in Tasmania, who claim to be Opposition followers, he remarked, are adopting doctrines which are rejected by Opposition candidates in Victoria and New South Wales. You are entitled to judge each side by its own policy. You must look to the leader of a side, and take its pronouncement as his pronouncement alone ; to that which he pledges himself he pledges his party. In this Tariff issue the Opposition leader pledges his party to fiscal war - to re-open the fiscal Tariff, to tear up the present Tariff, to strike off all protection what ever, and reintroduce commercial anxiety and unrest. That is the policy of the Opposition, and of . those who say they will support it. Every elector who objects to it must vote for the Ministerial candidate.
Yet the honorable and learned member for Indi asks, “ When did I promise to support fiscal peace?” Because he had the satisfaction of having a walk-over, the honorable and learned member did not need to declare himself as fully as he would otherwise have done, but I say that if he had gone to the country on a policy of his own, demanding higher duties, he would not have had the walk-over that he then enjoyed. The honorable member for Hume - who was a member of the Government who framed the policy on which we went to the electors, and who is going against his leader now - said -
Regarding the future policy of the Government, he said it had no intention to disturb the Tariff.
The honorable member for Southern Melbourne said -
The Tariff is by no means settled, but it is not desirable to re-open it till we are forced by the book-keeping clauses to do so.
Senator Best condemned the proposal to rip up the Tariff, which, he said, had been eminently successful, and which, according_ to the Age of the previous day, had caused an extension of trade representing £1,500,000. The right honorable member for Balaclava said that they were not justified in tinkering with the Tariff, and that for these three years it ought to be left alone. The honorable member for Bourke said, on the hustings -
He would support the Government as regards the maintenance of the present fiscal protection and fiscal peace.
– No one denies that.
– I think it just as well to compare what honorable members said then with what they are saying now. The honorable and learned’ member for Northern Melbourne said -
There was no doubt the progress of Australia was retarded’ by the constant tinkering with the Tariff. Western Australia nominally sent freetraders to Parliament ; but he found that the people there were very strongly opposed to further interference with the duties, recognising that unsettlement was worse even than a bad Tariff.
The Hon. J. L. Dow, who was a candidate for the Senate, said the same thing, and the ho.norable member for Melbourne Ports said -
He had no intention of reopening the Tariff question. More was to be gained at present by fiscal rest, than by resurrecting the Tariff.
The honorable member followed with some hard remarks on the Trades Hall, which I shall not read. Mr. Wise, who stood’ for the Senate, also took the same view, and Mr. Barbour, who is now writing to the press, to say how badly off local manufacturers are as against those of other countries, and who stood for Kooyong, said -
All parties are in favour of giving the Tariff a trial.
Again, on 21st November, he said -
The first item in the programme was fiscal peace. Alteration at present would be calamitous. Protectionists called for fiscal peace to give the Tariff a fair trial. They courted the test which time alone could give it. The Tariff must not be disturbed till the expiration of the Braddon clause.
– In 1911.
– I desire also to quote what the present leader of the Opposition said when he went before his constituents. This is the honorable member who is going now to get people higher duties, in order to protect their manufactures. He is reported in the Age of 13th November last year, to have said -
He would not, in any circumstances, be a party to disturbing the fiscal peace now reached. The Labour Party had been able to knock out a few of the taxes which pressed heavily on the people, and in this way had reduced the revenue by a large amount. The proof of the prudence of their cutting down the Tariff as proposed was found in the fact that, on examination, the Tariff, as adopted, would now appear t«» average about 15 per cent, all round. As it stood, it was a reasonable Tariff, and should be allowed to stand undisturbed.
He took credit to the Labour Party for having reduced duties, and for the fact that, although the duty on tobacco and spirits was 200 or 300 per cent., the average rate throughout the Tariff was only 15 per cent. Will the honorable member now eat his words, and vote for duties high enough to satisfy those who desire the re-opening of the Tariff? Even the right honorable member for Adelaide, when he went to Geelong to support the candidature of the honorable and learned member for Corio, said that the Tariff should not be re-opened during the book-keeping period for any reason whatever. Hd said that it had been a hard battle, and I am afraid that we shall not have a champion like him again. God help protection if those who are now trying to increase duties have to fight its battles. It is to the Labour Party that we owe the loss of many duties. I admit that several of them voted with the protectionists, and that without their assistance we could not have carried some of the duties in the Tariff. We did not expect the freetraders to vote with us, but we looked to those who claim to represent labour of every kind to help us in saving industries which had been established under protection, in order to prevent the men employed in them from being turned out into the streets, and their wives and children from being brought to want. It was a great disappointment when members of the Labour Party turned against us. The industries which are now crying out are chiefly the1 agricultural implement manufacturers, the makers of mining machinery, and those connected with the glassware, furniture, and brushmaking trades. But amongst those who voted against a higher duty on agricultural implements were the honorable members for Wide Bay, Perth, Maranoa, Kennedy, Barrier, and Coolgardie, and the honorable and learned member for West Sydney.
– Good free-traders.
– Yes, all the time.
– Those who voted against raising the duty on machinery were the honorable members for Perth, Kennedy, Darwin, Grey, Darling, Barrier, Canobolas, Coolgardie, and Maranoa, and the honorable and learned member for West Sydney. Those are the men whom the protectionists opposite expect to help them to obtain larger duties. I need not go through the whole list, but the same men voted against the increase of duties on brushware, glassware, wine spirit, and spirit made from grain.
– How often did the honorable member vote with them?
– Very seldom.
– How about glue pots?
– Glue pots were only one item in a list of fifty or sixty articles of hollow-ware used chiefly by the women of the country. I anticipated my honorable friend’s support in my effort to get them admitted free. The glue pot is an implement belonging to a respectable profession, and I would rather make money by using a glue pot than by using a pint pot, or a quart pot. I am of the opinion of Mr. Lormer, who has written once or twice lately-
– Dear, oh dear ! Mr. McCOLL. - I do not know why the honorable member should laugh at his name. Mr. Lormer is a liberal of the good old stamp, whose name should be received with respect by younger men. I know that we shall get a Tariff Commission from the present Government. Australia has adopted the policy of protection, and if it can be shown that any industry is languishing for want of an extra duty of 5, 7½, or even 10 per cent., I believe that even the free-traders will be prepared to listen to fair representations on the subject, and will at least give as much as we should get from honorable members opposite.
– Are they going to vote for protection?
– I shall have something to say about the honorable and learned member by-and-by. When the Prime Minister was Premier of New South Wales, and altered the Tariff there, it was urged that certain industries would be ruined if he took off all the duties, and therefore he consented to give them a certain amount of protection. To show that he is not so bad as he has been painted, let me quote the following passage from a speech delivered by him in the Legislative Assembly of New South Wales in 1892, or, 1893: -
It would now be impossible to carry out a freetrade policy in Victoria. The vested interests were so great, and the number of human beings dependent upon them were so numerous, that any man with humane feelings would have the greatest difficulty in altering the system.
I believe that if on inquiry it is shown that a reduction of duties would prove disastrous to any industry, or that a moderate increase of duties would have the. reverse effect, we shall get as much from the right honorable gentleman as from the honorable member for Bland, who boasted to his constituents that the Labour Party had reduced the Tariff to an all-round rate of 15 per cent. The Tariff will be saved by a period of fiscal peace, and not by re-opening it at the present time. Those who live in the metropolis, and come always into contact with the same people, hear only one side of the case. I have travelled throughout the country, and I know that the feeling generally is that the Tariff should not be re-opened. I am convinced that if we appeal to the country now for increased duties, we shall not have a chance of getting them. We must give time for the operation of the Tariff to be seen. What we in Victoria consider low duties are considered high duties in New South Wales, and while here we have a clamour for an increase in the duties, the protectionists in New South Wales are asking for fiscal peace, and are supporting the coalition. They say, “Let time develop things. Let us get our factories started, our money invested, and our men employed, and, when vested interests have been created, make an effort to secure higher duties, if necessary. To act now is to act prematurely, and will jeopardize what we have gained.” As was anticipated by the Age, the loss of trade in some directions, owing to the operation of the Tariff has been compensated by the increase of our trade with the other States. The imports into Victoria from the other States of Australian goods - produce and manufactures of all descriptions - were valued at £7,380,000 in 1890, andtell to £5>737>000 in *9°°> t0 £5,591,000 in 190.1, and to £4,766,000 in 1902, while last year they were £4,839,000, or nearly £3,000,000 less than four years previously. Our exports to the other States in 1899 were £3,097,000; in 1900, £3,433>00°i 111(1 in 1901, £3,649,000.; while in 1902, after the Tariff came into operation, they jumped up to £6,120,000; and last year amounted to £6,093,000, or just double what they were four years previously.
– But how has the Tariff operated in the other States?
– I am dealing now only with Victoria, and I am showing that the demand for a re-opening of the Tariff is somewhat unreasonable at the present time. The other States are in the same position in regard to protection as Victoria was in twenty or twenty-five years ago. Protection had to develop here, and it must be allowed to develop there ; but its leaven will work from month to month, as industries are started, and. by-and-by we shall obtain more reasonable duties if we do not interfere with the- Tariff at the present time. I do not know what protectionists will gain from this alliance with the Labour Party. The Minister of Trade and Customs plainly stated the case the other night, and I need not amplify his remarks. Every man is perfectly free under the alliance, and it is not likely that men like the honorable member for Maranoa, and the honorable member for Kennedy, will turn their backs upon their pledges, and upon the votes they have given in the past. What will the members of the alliance gain personally? Some of them joined it from an instinct of selfpreservation ; but they will very soon find the ground cut from under their feet. Some of the strong members of the seceding Liberal Party, like the honorable member for Indi, who considers that he is impregnable, may be left untouched. But wherever the Labour Party can gain a seat it will be seized upon, and the honorable member who now represents that constituency will be torn down as if by- wolves.
– They will shake up the honorable member.
– The honorable1 member had better be prepared for the shaking up that he will receive. In order to indicate the. amount of reliance that is to be placed upon labour ‘alliances, I desire to direct attention to what is now passing in Queensland. I may say that if I were to take up; the same position as that adopted by honorable members who have allied themselves with the Labour Party, I should sign the pledge straight away, and become a good honest labour man. I ^should not be a Laodicean, neither hot nor cold. We do not, however, find honorable members signing, the pledge, because if they did, they would lose caste in the circles in which they move. They are content to make use of the Labour Party for their own ends, but they will never join it, because they conceive it would involve a loss of prestige.
– Would the honorable member become a good, honest free-trader?
– When the honorable and learned member was a candidate for election in 1892 he was as nearly a free-trader as it is possible for any man to be, and denounced protection in no unmeasured terms.
– The honorable member is quite wrong.
– The honorable and . learned member says I am quite wrong, but I will show whether that is so or not.
– I hope that the honorable member will quote from Hansard, and not from some free-trade publication.
– In 1892 the honorable and learned member said -
For the last twenty-five )’ears a large and deserving portion of our community, the farmers and small graziers, have borne almost uncomplainingly, and certainly most loyally, a protective policy which has been introduced and extended, certainly not for their benefit, but chiefly for the benefit of the metropolis. I think, at this late hour, it is our duty to frankly acknowledge the justice of their claim to recognition, and, in this connexion, I would direct the attention of the Ministry to the thousands of cattle and sheep now passing over the border, in anticipation of the imposition of an increased stock tax.
On the 6th October of the same year, in reply to a remark of the then Minister of ] Lands, Mr. McLean, he said -
He (the Minister of Lands) told us the farmers were well protected. Unfortunately for myself, I have not the good fortune of agreeing with the honorable gentleman. We are told that the farmer has his reaper and his binder free. So he has. Is his plough free? Is his harrow free? Is his chaffcutter free? Is the very twine with which he ties up his produce free? Certainly not. This shows that the farmer has much to gain, and that there is much that he ought to gain, before he is placed on a level with his more fortunate brother in the town. And the miner, how is he on a level with the worker in the town ? He has a weight around his neck. We are told that the miners patriotically stood by protection in the past. Are we to whip the willing horse to -death ? His pick is weighted with taxation, every article he wears is weighted with taxation, and when he goes home every article in his house, even his: knife and fork, is- taxed.
– Will the honorable member state the name of the publication from which he is quoting.
– The State Hansard.
– Could the honorable member tell me the page. I know that there are some so-called extracts that are wrong.
– My first quotation was from the Victorian Hansard No. 69, page 15, and the second from Hansard No. 70, page 2073. I have still another quotation to make from Hansard No. 70, page 2472.
– Would the honorable member read the next two and a half lines following the last extract?
– I have not the volume of Hansard with me. The honorable and learned member is still carefully reserving himself, and he will have ample opportunity to read as many extracts as he likes. He said -
He was surprised … to find honorable members, who were sent there to support the country constituencies, and to resist the imposition of those duties Which pressed so heavily upon them, helping to carry those prohibitive duties through. He could not help expressing his sincere sorrow that this should be the case. The country was getting heartily and thoroughly sick of seeing this juggernaut of taxation rolling on and claiming its victims all over the colony. He trusted that some other and better means would be devised of raising revenue.
– And the next Government of which I was a member took off the almost prohibitive taxes of which I was complaining.
– The honorable and learned member has practically drawn these extracts from me by his challenge to me to prove the truth of my statement that he was almost a free-trader.
– The honorable member came prepared.
– I know that the honorable and learned member, like myself, assisted to bring down the prohibitive duties that were in vogue. The quotations that I have read show that he was not always the ardent protectionist that he is to-day.
– The honorable member has not proved his case now.
-Returning to events in Queensland, I wish toshow honorable members how the Labour Party treat their allies. At the recent election in that State, the Labour Party agreed to contest the seats, together with the members of Mr. Morgan’s party. They entered into an alliance somewhat similar to that which has been brought : about in this House. The result of the elections was that some 35 labour men and 21 of Mr. Morgan’s followers were elected. After the election one honorable member died, and the candidate who had been third on the poll again offered himself for the seat. His candidature was not indorsed by the Government, who put forward the brother of the honorable member for Darling Downs, Mr. H. Groom, and indorsed his candidature. One would have thought that under the alliance with the Labour Party, the leader of the Government would have had the right to select his own nominee. But the Labour Party said at once, “You have no right to indorse Mr. Groom’s nomination without consulting us, and we object to what you have done.” They are now running a man of their own against Mr. Groom.
– They had a perfect right to do so, because the elections were over.
– I am not disputing their right to do so. No doubt they were quite within their rights. I am only telling my friends of the alliance what they may anticipate if the same tactics are pursued in connexion with the Commonwealth elections. The Worker, in its last issue - I think it is the Queensland Worker - says that under the alliance the Labour Party have a right to run their own man for the seat in question, and that if they can gain two or three more seats, they will have an absolute majority in the House, and will be able to shift the Government and take office themselves. I am not blaming them, but I am pointing out the kind of treatment which our friends of the alliance may expect to receive.
– Did the honorable member notice that they elected a conservative as Speaker, instead of following the example of the Victorian Parliament and ousting the former Speaker without any cause.
– Why did the Labour Party oust Senator Best from the Chairmanship of Committees in the Senate?
– We shall shift the Chairman in this House, too.
– The members of the alliance have transferred their allegiance from the honorable and learned member for Ballarat to the honorable and learned member for Indi without the slightest justification. ‘ As has been stated by the honorable and learned member for Bendigo, there was no reason why they should not have continued to sit under their old leader, and have exercised absolute control upon this side of the House. As a matter df fact, the members under the leadership of the honorable and learned member for Ballarat exercise a controlling influence now, because the free-traders have given way to a ‘far greater extent than we have. Whilst those honorable members who have entered into an alliance with the Labour Party had a perfect right to do as they liked, there was no reason why they should rush at once into an attack upon members who chose to take their seats on this side of the Chamber. Instead of acknowledging that there might have been a legitimate difference of opinion, they took the first opportunity to blackguard honorable members on this side, to characterize them as traitors, and to charge them with having surrendered their principles, and having cast protection to the winds. Then the honorable and learned member for Indi said, “ However, the door is open if you choose to return.” I, for one, do not intend to return, because I would sooner leave parliamentary life altogether than follow the honorable and learned member. I was a Ministerial colleague of his some years ago.
– More recrimination.
– If the gloves are ofT on one side they must be dispensed with on the other. I was a colleague of the honorable and learned member for Indi, and I am in a position to say that for political turpitude and disloyalty to his colleagues he has never been equalled in . Victoria. I made up my mind that never again would I follow him, because I could never put any faith in him. My statement would be borne out by almost all those who are acquainted with the political career of the honorable and learned member, and it is indorsed by Mr. McCulloch in his letter which was published a few days ago.
– He was too straight for the crowd he was associated with.
– He is an intellectual giant.
– I know that the honorable and learned member is an intellectual giant, and so clever and skilled in the arts of political diablerie that he can put his case very ably before the people.
– And add to the dignity of Parliament.
– I know the honorable and learned member full well, and I could not follow his lead. I would sooner leave
Parliament and retain my self-respect. There was no need for honorable members opposite to give interviews to the press, and to make charges against us. That was not the way in which they could expect to obtain our assistance. They said that the party could not tolerate any such conduct. What do we care for the party? We are responsible to our constituents. I have been a parliamentary representative for my district for twenty years, and have never suffered a defeat ; and it- is to my constituents, and not to any association in town, or any newspaper that I am responsible. I desire to enter my strongest protest in a matter, which, however, may not quite concern the question we are now discussing. I was sorry to see that last. Sunday evening the ex-Prime Minister attended a party political meeting. I do not profess to be a strict Sabbatarian, but I am oldfashioned enough to trust that in this country an endeavour will be made to keep the Sunday free from business of the kind. There is a disposition growing up every week to more and more use Sunday for the discussion of political and other secular matters.
– The honorable member is after the Women’s Christian Temperance Union vote now !
– I am one who believes in respecting the Sabbath day ; and this is the place in which to denounce such conduct. Never in the history of Victoria have I known a Member of Parliament to hold a party political meeting on the Sabbath. Time and again efforts have been made to commence Sunday newspapers in Victoria ; but such enterprises have never been permitted by the State Government. Those who will suffer in the long run from the introduction of secular business on the Sabbath, will be the working classes. In Bendigo the miners have a rule that no man shall work on the Sabbath, unless it be absolutely necessary. If once public meetings become the rule on Sundays, candidates will be asked to deliver addresses, and we shall arrive at a perfect Parisian Sunday, such as I hope we shall never see.
– If the honorable member comes to Kalgoorlie, we will show him firstclass football on Sunday.
– I have spoken longer than I intended, and I now return to my first point. What does the country think of our proceedings here? Surely we ought to do better than we have done. If there is one reason why we ought to support the coalition Government for a while-
– Why qualify it?
– The Government are not here for an eternity. One of the greatest drawbacks to the success of Federation has been the unfederal spirit shown between New South Wales and Victoria. That spirit we all deplore; and I believe that the continuance in office of this Government for a time will have a good effect in mollifying, and perhaps removing, that feeling. To bring about a proper understanding between those two great States, which represent the great majority of the people of Australia, I would give up a good deal. Now that we have the chance to get those States into line we may settle the question of differential rates, and also the question of the utilization of the Murray waters. If we can only get those two States to act in harmony we shall place Federation on a stronger and firmer basis than we can otherwise expect.
– And swallow up the other four small States !
– The small States are protected in the Senate. Is it wise at the present time to force on this motion, which will probably result in a dissolution? As the honorable member for Maranoa said the other night, frankly and honestly, if there were a secret ballot taken there would be no dissolution. I shouldnot care if a dissolution would settle matters, and return a majority on either side. I should not mind which. I have no objection to a Labour Government, who, I am sure, would not act unwisely. If the Labour Party have a majority, let them take office, but I am afraid that a dissolution will only mean that, after an appeal to the country, we shall come back practically as we are at the present time, and shall go drifting in the same fashion, with no good result to Australia. There is another matter we ought to consider. The last election took place in the middle of the harvest, and if there be a dissolution, that experience will be repeated. It is not just to country constituents, who are engaged on the soil, that they should be compelled to leave their work when every moment is precious. This may not matter to honorable members who know nothing of country needs or the precariousness of the returns from the soil; but it is not fair to country people to force a dissolution at this juncture. I was surprised at honorable members representing country districts - such as the honorable and learned member for Corio, and the honorable and learned member for Indi - pursuing a course which they know must be detrimental to the great majority of their constituents. I hope that the motion will not be carried, but that we shall dispose of the remaining business, and get into recess. That would be good for all parties, and for the country generally. We could then meet and sit for six or seven months, and, with a determination to get out of the slough, bend all our energies to business, and in an endeavour to realize the aspirations of four or five years ago, make the Commonwealth what it ought to be.
– I wish to say one or two words by way of personal explanation. I must apologize to the House if it is thought for a moment that anything I say may give the honorable member for Echuca more prominence than he otherwise would have. But the honorable member referred to two matters. One was the action I took publicly some years ago. I can only say that I happened - it was an accident,I suppose - to be a colleague of the honorable member in a certain Government. I found it my duty to take a certain course, and to put the ordinary law in motion in a very influential direction. The honorable member resisted that action. In the end I had to sever my connexion with the Government. I placed myself in the hands of my constituents, and was returned unopposed, and at the first available opportunity the honorable member and his colleagues were swept out of office. Immediately after that I had the honour to receive a portfolio in the next Government, formed by the present right honorable member for Balaclava; and I held office then for some years. On another occasion I took part in a general election, which* swept the honorable member for Echuca and his colleagues once more from office, and I again joined a Government, headed by the pre sent right honorable member for Balaclava, retaining my position until I resigned to come to this Parliament. The best credential I can have is the double indorsement of the people of Victoria. I am not afraid to pit my public character against that of the honorable member. Then the honorable member has taken on himself to represent
– Misrepresent !
– The House may judge how far his remarks are representations, and how far they are misrepresentations, and I think I shall be able to show their character very shortly. The honorable member stated that I. had practically supported free-trade in a speech delivered in 1892. That is going a long way back to dig up matters, even if his statement were correct.
– Why not have a little Victorian “ digging ?”
– Allow me to proceed; I shall not occupy any length of time. The honorable member for Echuca appears to me to have deliberately stopped short of the very point that would have given the exact truth to the House. The speech he referred to is reported in the Victorian Hansard, ‘vol. 70, and commences at page 2071. The Victorian Parliament was then discussing the Budget of Sir Graham Berry, and the opinion I expressed in the speech was that a prohibitive Tariff was being intro- duced. I took care time after time in that speech to point out that it was not a battle between protection and free-trade, but that, in my opinion, it was’ an advance to prohibition. I did not say that once or twice, but several times, and the honorable member must have seen the report. On page 2071, I said -
It is not a battle between protection and freetrade. Neither do I think that it is a question between protection and prohibition, but I do think it is a question between prohibition of all foreign trade and any foreign trade at all.
Further on, I said- -
We are marching steadily on to absolute prohibition. Therefore, I think it is a question, not of free-trade or protection, because no one has attempted to storm the fortress in this citadel of protection in the southern hemisphere. No one has approached the question from that point of view, but it has been raised by those who wish to advance to prohibition; and, looking at the question fairly and squarely in the face, it is not a question in which free-trade is involved at all.
– And the present honorable and learned member for Ballarat said just the same thing.
– It was page 2073 from which the honorable member quoted. After I had spoken of the farmer and the miner, came the words which I asked the honorable member to quote, but which he said he had not with him. They are as follows: -
Is this a fair and equitable Budget that does all these things?
That showed that I was speaking of the particular Budget; and then I said -
I desire to intimate to the Government now, because I think it will save time .hereafter, as far as I am concerned, in explaining the position that I purpose taking up, that I intend to fight to the very utmost against what I conceive to be the inequalities of this Budget.
Later on I used words, which explain the position I. have always taken up on the fiscal question.
Can it be denied that” when we have prohibition we create a monopoly? I object to the foreign trader having a monopoly here. One of the chief reasons for introducing protection was that it would prevent such a monopoly ; that it would protect the people of this country against the foreign trader, who can ask what price he likes. But if we shut out the foreign trader absolutely, do we not create a monopoly at home ? Are we to oppress the great bulk of the people, the great body of consumers in the country- the farmers, and the miners, and the general population - by placing on their necks a monopoly ? There is not the slightest doubt that prohibition is another way of spelling monopoly.
– In regard to the first matter mentioned, I merely wish to say that it came twice before the Victorian Parliament, and Parliament indorsed the action of the Government, and not the action of the honorable and learned member for Indi.
– And the people swept the Government out of office.
– This side of the House may feel a little indulgent to protectionists on the other, side, and accept their apology for their present position in the House. The debate, so far as I have followed it, appears to have been nothing but a mass of apologies from the protectionists on the Government side, and I do not know how they can explain their action in placing themselves under a free-trade leadership. We are told that the Minister of Trade and Customs is the equal in all things with the Prime Minister, but looking at the former, and also at the right honorable member for Balaclava, and others who have been associated with the Protectionist movement, we may see that they are not very comfortable. The leader . of the Opposition has moved -
That the present Administration does not possess the confidence of this House.
I think that the Administration does not possess the confidence of either the House or the Commonwealth, but I do not propose to move an amendment, because that question will have to be referred to the people probably within the next few months. The only question to be de- cided here is whether the Administration does or does not possess the confidence of the House. I do’ not intend to indulge in any recrimination. During the course of this debate too much dirty political linen has been washed. I do not know why this Parliament should be made a public wash-tub for New South Wales.
– It started on the honorable member’s side.
– I think that it originated on the other side. But, wherever it originated, it is to be deprecated. Let each State fight its own battle.
– In South Australia we have no dirty linen to wash.
– I am not so sure about that.
– The differences which have occurred in the States Parliaments should not be revived and discussed in this Parliament. We differ in our ideas, but, however much we may differ, let each side give the other credit for good intentions. I am willing to credit the other side with good intentions. I do not see eye to eye with them; nor do they see eye to eye with me. I shall support this motion, because I do not think that the Administration is calculated to advance the interests of the Commonwealth. I support the motion, not because I differ with the Prime Minister or those who are associated with him, but because I have seen in their acts of administration a tendency which I think will be inimical to the best interests of the Commonwealth. What did I notice in the press the other day with regard to the Minister of Trade and Customs? For twenty years we have been fighting for a White Australia. No part of the Commonwealth has fought harder for the policy than has Queensland. But when a deputation waited upon the . Minister of Trade and Customs about the Chinamen, he said, “Send them to Queensland; but of course you will have to ask the permission of Queensland.”
– I told the honorable member that there was no truth in the report, and he said he was glad to hear that there was not, but that he had prepared his speech, and ‘must deliver it.
– It is true that I told the Minister that I was going to mention this matter. Although he told the deputation that the consent of the Queensland Government would have to be obtained, still it could be seen that his leaning was to get rid of the Chinamen in Little Bourke- street and Adelaide by sending them up to Queensland. Now, that State will not receive any Chinamen. We intend to have a White Australia. That is one reason why I think that the Administration doe’s not possess the confidence of the House and of the Commonwealth. If there is one idea which is permeating the minds of Australians to-day, it is that we should have a White Australia. In the administration of the Immigration Restriction Act, apart from what I have said, there is I think very great danger. When the subject was being considered here, I sat on the other side of the House. I did not go as far as some of my honorable friends on this side would have liked me to go. They wished to draw the colour line, but that, I thought, was going a little too far. I voted for the application of an educational test, and the exclusion of those who might come here under the contract system. But what do we find now ? We find that all sorts of loopholes are being made, so that black, yellow, brown, tan, or any other colour can enter if they come in with a passport. Who is going to sign the document, or who knows anything about it? Those who have lived in Queensland, and seen Japanese, instead of nurse girls, wheeling perambulators through the streets, as I have in Townsville, will know what this change means. From time to time in Little Bourke-street a Chinese riot takes place, and the desire is to shunt them into Queensland. We do not want them there at all. We have Chinese quarters, Japanese quarters, Hindoo quarters, and kanaka quarters. We know what the evil is, and we want a White Australia.” That is one reason why I think that the administration of the Act should not be allowed to remain any longer in the hands of this Government than can possibly be helped. I was elected as a follower of the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, and I was proud tofollow him. It has’ been said in this debate that the Labour Party was anxious for office. What are the facts of the case? When the honorable and learned member for Ballarat was defeated on a test question, which, I think, ought not to have been selected, what did he advise the Governor-General to do? Did he advise His Excellency to dissolve the House ? No. Did he advise His Excellency to send for the right honorable member for East Sydney? No. He advised Hi’s Excellency to send for the honorable member for Bland, and his advice was accepted. Does that look as if the Labour
Party was seeking to jump into power? Office was forced upon the Labour Party. When the honorable member for Bland was called upon to form an Administration, would he not have been recreant to hia policy and his profession had he not accepted the commission? What sort of fair play did he receive here? On the other side of the House we see free-traders and protectionists combined - for what purpose? - not to forward the fiscal issue, not to develop the- industries of the Commonwealth, but simply to “ down “ the Labour Party. The result of this combination is to drive men into the arms of the Labour Party. It has had that effect upon me. The Government are not deserving of our confidence, because they are leaving what, I think, is a most important question in the hands of a private member. What do they intend to do with the Manufactures Encouragement Bill? Do they propose to do anything? The Minister for Trade and Customs is, I know, in sympathy with the development of Australian industries, but he is in ba’d company now. The honorable member for Hume, or another private member, is to be allowed to take charge of this measure; and the Government shelter themselves behind the fact that the question of State ownership was referred to the States Governments some time ago. The States Governments of six, or eight, or twelve months ago are not the States Governments of to-day. In nearly all the States there has been a big change. In New South Wales there has been a change.
– A change for the worse.
– That may be so, but still there has been a change.. In Queensland we have had a change for the better, and I am not sure now whether, if an inquiry were addressed to the Government, the Premier would not say, “Yes, we shall take the matter in hand.” In that Slate there is plenty of ore, flux, and coal ; it contains all the requisites for carrying on the iron industry. In Tasmania and Western Australia there has also been a change of Government. Let the question be again referred to the States Governments of to-day, and let us ascertain what they think. If they do not wish to take up the industry, let it be carried on by private enterprise ; but let us have the industry established at any cost. If the States will not take it up, let us give the bonus to private persons. It is too big a thing to allow to go without some .effort. :Much as I should like to see the industry nationalized or municipalized, I desire first to see it established, whether under private enterprise or State control. With regard to the Agent-General, I should like to say that I think there has been a good deal ot sense in what has been said about the present Government pandering rather too much to the States Governments. I had thought that this being the Australian Parliament, instead of our having to go to the States, the States would come to us- When in common with many honorable members of this House, and many perhaps more able men who are not members of the House, 1 advocated the Federation of the Australian States, I told the people that it would mean the abolition of the Agents-General of the whole of the States, and that there would be one Australian representative for the whole Commonwealth. Why has not this proposal been carried out ? The present Government say, “ We must ask the State* first.” Sir Horace Tozer, Mr. Taverner, and others must be asked before we can appoint our Agent-General, or General Agent, which is the name by which I would prefer to call the officer. I think there has been too much of the frills of ambassadorship, the wearing of the cut-away at evening entertainments, rather than loking after the disposal of Australian produce in the European markets. What we require instead of the Agents-General, is one General Agent, who will really represent Australia in London, and who will seek to place Australian products not only on British markets, but on the markets of Europe. We require a really good commercial agent, and such a man and his staff could be secured for about one-third of ‘ what ‘ the States are now paying for their six AgentsGeneral. What are” those officials doing ? They are merely attending Mansion House banquets, and banquets at the Hotel Cecil. What we want is a General Agent who will place himself in communication with the authorities of the principal cities of Europe, and let them know what products Australia has to sell them. The sooner we get a Commonwealth High Commissioner or Agent and abolish the present States’ AgentsGeneral, the better it will be for Australia. We can get from America an illustration of what mav be done in this direction. If honorable members go into any of the leading capitals in Australia, they will find sample’s of the leading products of the United States. In Philadelphia they have an institution which they call the Philadelphia Commercial Museum. I am in com- munication with it regularly, and any one visiting the institution will be able to see the hats worn in Albury, at Bourke, and at Cammoweal, on the western border of Queensland, and a statement of the prices paid there for them, what they -can be made for, and where they are sent.- Why cannot Australia establish something of that kind ? While we have! a foreign trade Ministry, as we have now - and in spite of the fact that we have professed protectionists in the persons of the Minister of Trade and Customs, and the Minister of Defence, it cannot be denied that we have a Free-trade Government, who will give preference to the produce of other countries rather than our own - we cannot hope to develop the industries of our own country. I wish to say a word or two to my free-trade friends of the Labour Party. There is one thing I never could understand. We are going for a White Australia. We say that wre are going for such conditions of labour that white men will be able1 to live in the Commonwealth in a civilized way; that they will be able to work eight hours a day, and will get eight shillings a day.
– The honorable member never worked for eight shillings a day.
– I have worked for less, and so has the honorable member for Parramatta. The ideal is eight hours a day for eight* shillings a day, though we may not always be able to reach it. I wish to ask my free-trade friends in the Labour movement how” they can expect to secure eight shillings a day for working only eight hours a day if they admit the products of the labour of men who work sixteen hours a day for sixteen pence a day ?
– That is a clincher.
– I think it is a clincher. I wish it to be understood that my ‘remarks have no personal bearing at all, and I conclude by saying that I am really sorry to find gentlemen with whom I have been associated for the last three years in the Federal Parliament as a strong protectionist - because I am a protectionist right up to the hilt - sitting alongside and under the leadership of the most arrant free-trader in Australia.
– I am at a loss to understand why honorable members of the Labour Party should’ point the finger of scorn at me as one of the most conser vative members of the House. I venture to say that there is no more independent man in the House to-day than I am.
– What about the honorable member for Wilmot?
– When I announced myself as a candidate for Flinders, I did not sign the free-trade, the protectionist, or any other platform. When I was returned to the State Parliament twenty-five years ago, I was returned as a moderate protectionist, and why the Age should write me down as a free-trader I do not know.
– Because of the company the honorable . member keeps.
– I know that when I announced myself as a candidate at the last election, the Age was very anxious that I should pledge myself for fiscal peace. I said that I would not agree to it, and did no believe in it. When my constituents asked me to support the Deakin Government, I said, “ I cannot support them. If I could, I should not be here.” I considered that the Deakin Government was inconsistent in preaching at the same time fiscal peace and preferential trade. I could not possibly see how the two things could work together.
– Does not the honorable member believe in preferential trade?
– I do. I know very well that we shall have shortly to go before our constituents. I do not see anything else for it. In my simplicity, when I came from my electorate. I thought I knew the position of affairs at the time. The Labour Party was simply dominating the Deakin Government, and I told my constituents that I should endeavour to divide the House into two distinct parties. I said that if the Labour Party was strong enough, it should rule, and it it was not, I should endeavour to form a collition that would carry on responsible government in this country. I quite agreed with the honorable and learned member for Ballarat that it was impossible to carry on government under three heads. My aim since I came into the House has been to carry out the resolution I formed, and I was very pleased to find that the honorable and learned member for Ballarat adopted the same view, and made up his mind that the existing condition of affairs could not possibly last. I was delighted to see the honorable and learned gentleman making the stand that he did in opposition to the inclusion of State public servants in the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill.
– And the honorable and learned gentleman came down and voted for it afterwards.
– No, the honorable and learned gentleman did not.
– The honorable and learned gentleman came down afterwards and voted for the Bill including it.
– I think the honorable and learned member for Ballarat took the right course, in staking the life of his Ministry on that particular question, because he considered that, to include States public servants in the Bill, would be to interfere with States rights, and that we had no right to deal with such a question at all. I believe that the Labour Party exhibited great indiscretion in turning out the Deakin Ministry. Our honorable friends opposite talk about protection, and suggest that the present Tariff is ruining the industries of the conutry. If they think that, why did they not assist to keep the Deakin Government in power?
– So they did.
– They did not. They try to raise the question of protection now, and for whose benefit? For the benefit of the artisans in Melbourne and the great cities of Australia. I should like to know what benefit is likely to accrue to the farmers from the proposed revision of the Tariff.
– They will get a home market.
– I was in the State Parliament of Victoria a quarter of a century ago, when we had higher duties than we have now. We were going to make this State a paradise for the working man, and to find employment for the sons and daughters of every one in it. What has been the result? ‘We heard last night that the cream of the population of the State is leavingus by thousands. That is what protection has done for us.
– I thought the honorable member was a protectionist.
– What has protection done for the farmer? The honorable and learned member for Indi has explained that the farmers have gained nothing at all by protection. They have to depend upon the home market for the sale of their produce - butter, wool, wine, and everything else. No amount of protection can help the farmers by increasing the price of their productions.
– I thought that the honorable member was a protectionist ?
– I am a protectionist, so far as it may be possible to raise the price of farm produce by preferential trade, or in other ways ; but I shall not stand by and allow taxes to be imposed on farming im plements andtools, and on all the articles used by the farmers, merely for the benefit of those who live in the cities, which’ is what is now proposed. Our friends who have joined the alliance wish to re-open the Tariff, and one of the duties which they wish to increase is that on agricultural’ machinery. To increase that duty would not assist the farmers. We have heard a great deal of talk about putting men on the land. I wish that some of those who are so fond of using the phrase, had to make their living off the land. They would then know, as I know, with what difficulties and troubles the farmers have to contend. The only way in which Parliament can help the farmers is by enabling them to raise and transport their produce as cheaply as possible to the Home markets. To speak of helping them by imposing a land tax, or by increasing the duties on agricultural machinery, is absurd. Those proposals are made only for the benefit of the artisans in the towns. I am afraid that when I go before my electors - which will not be very long, I suppose. - I shall have a poor account to give to them of what this Parliament has done.
– Do not mention it.
– There is nothing to mention. We have heard a great deal about raising the masses, and I am one of those who have been put down as an anti-Socialist. But we all have our own ideas about Socialism, and I think that my Socialism will advance the interests of the people of the Commonwealth much more than that of the honorable members opposite would do. I have been sorry to sit here night after night listening to the recriminations of former members of the New South Wales Parliament. We had to-night a little of that sort of thing on the part of former members of the Victorian Parliament; but I am pleased to say that it does not often occur amongst them. It is not thefault of the Prime Minister that what I deplore happens so often. Thehonorable member for Hume is very much to blame for it. While the charges made by the ex-Minister of External Affairs against the Prime Minister, which were utterly false and untrue-
– The honorable member must not say that remarks made by another honorable member were false. He must withdraw that statement.
– Then I will say that they were incorrect, and their incorrectness was proved to the satisfaction of the House. We are not doing our duty to our constituents in allowing such conduct in this Assembly. It was most undignified and unfair for the honorable and learned member for West Sydney to act as he did. He endeavoured to put upon the Prime Minister acts for which he himself was responsible, in order to lower him in the eyes of the community. I wish now to say a few words to show why I cannot support the Socialist or Labour Party. It is impossible for any member representing a country constituency to do so.
– Why, we come from country constituencies ourselves !
– I hope that those districts are pleased with the representation which they have obtained. If I supported the legislation which the Labour Party have proposed, and are proposing, I could not hope for the support of my constituents. I told my electors that I was opposed to such legislation as the provision of the Post and Telegraph Act which prohibits the employment of lascars on mail steamers, the result of which has been that, up to the present time, our English mail contracts have not been renewed. It may be asked, how does that affect the farmers ? Every one knows that the farmers depend largely on the mail steamers for the conveyance of perishable produce to the old country ; but the Labour Party, out of mere sentiment - because the lascars do not interfere in any way with the state of the labour market here, and their removal from the mail steamers would not benefit a single working man in the Commonwealth - supported legislation which seriously interferes with the shipping companies which have developed the carrying trade for perishable produce to the old country. The way to assist the farmers is to provide for the carriage of their produce to the Home markets at as cheap rates as possible. Another reason why I cannot support the Labour Party is that they propose to bring all farm servants under the operation of the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill. Speaking as a farmer, and knowing what I am talking about, I say that if that proposal were carried into effect the dairy farmers and others in the country who now employ labour would be unable to continue to make a living, and the country would be used merely for grazing.
– The Labour Party do not propose to fix eight hours as a day’s work for agricultural employes. We would leave it to the Court to say what is a fair day’s work.
– Well, the farmers do not want an army of inspectors travelling round their farms to see how long the men are being worked, and what wages are being paid to them.
– Quite so.
– Honorable members forget that the wages paid in any industry are governed by the profits made in that industry.
– Let the butter agents get a little less.
– The honorable member for Yarra knows perfectly well that the coal strike at Outtrim failed because the men demanded higher wages than the company could afford to pay.
– I do not think that that was the cause.
– The men had had their wages raised over and over again, but the directors had to make a stand when the miners asked for higher wages than they could afford to pay, and consequently shut them out, so that the strike was an. utter failure. Similarly the farmers cannot pay higher wages than the profits of their industry will allow. If honorable members can show me that the price of farm produce can be raised sufficiently to allow us to give our employes eight hours a day, and to pay double wages, I shall be very glad. The honorable member for Bourke has had a great deal to say about the emigration of young farmers from the country. That has happened because the remuneration to be obtained from farming pursuits is not sufficient to induce them to stay in the country.
– Is it not because they cannot get land to settle on?
– No; there is plenty of land available everywhere; but the State, by fixing minimum rates of wage for employments in the city, is responsible for the drifting of many young men from the country to Melbourne. Young fellows will not work for ten or twelve hours a day on a farm for £1 a week and their keep it they can get 7 s. or 8s. a day in Melbourne. I would not do it myself.
– Does the honorable member think that those wages are too high?
– No; but they are higher than the farmers can afford to pay. At the same time, I am sure that those in the employ of the farmers are better off than those who are engaged in city industries. I have passed scores of men through my employment who have saved money out of £1 a week and their keep, and, having made a fair start, are now doing well. It must be remembered that the farmerhas to compete in outside markets against the competition of the world, and it is the prices reigning in those markets which govern his operations. When I was before my constituents, I advocated preferential trade, but the Age ingored that fact altogether, and classed me as a rabid free-trader and a crusted conservative. I was never a conservative in my life, and the fact that honorable members seem to regard me in that light shows that they are guided by the Age.
– What is a conservative ?
– The members of the Labour Party are the greatest conservatives here, because they think of nothing else but the interests of the few people who have joined the trade unions, and would legislate on their behalf to the detriment of every other class of the community. I do not wish to say anything against the Labour Party, because I admire them. I think, however, that their short tenure of office has altogether spoiled them. When I came into this House I had not the slightest idea that the Labour Party would ever obtain possession of the Treasury bench, and I would commend to them the advice of the honorable member for Perth, that they should stick to their own platform, and keep clear of all alliances with liberals, or other classes of politicians, by whatever name they may call themselves. I believe that at the next election, the Labour Party will come back stronger than they are at present, and I hope they will gain their accession of numbers at (he expense of the liberal members of the alliance.
– If we gain, it will be at the expense of the members in the conservative corner.
– I think that the liberal members of the alliance deserve to be taken down, because of the shameful manner in which they deserted their leader, and entered into an alliance with the Labour Party without consulting him.
– The honorable and learned member for Ballarat admits that that is not the case.
– He does not. I am a loyal supporter of my own leader, and I should be very sorry to imitate the example of honorable members opposite.
– Who is the honorable member’s leader? He said just now that he was independent.
– So I am. I am independent to vote as my conscience may dictate. I announced at the time of my election that I should vote against the Deakin Government, but it happened that the very first time I was called upon to vote in this House, I supported the Deakin Government upon the question of excluding public servants from the scope of the Conciliation, and Arbitration Bill. Therefore, I showed that I was perfectly free to cast an independent vote. It is nauseating to listen to the taunts of honorable members opposite that the protectionists who are supporting the Government have sunk their policy. That is simply nonsense. We know perfectly well that the arrangement entered into will be faithfully kept by both sides, and that no attempt will be made by either to gain a point over the other. The coalition was brought about in order to extricate us from a difficulty, and to relieve us from the condition of muddle into which we had drifted. The scheme would have worked out successfully if the whole of the members of the Protectionist Party had remained true to their leader. Then there would have been no difficulty whatever, and we should not have had an election staring us in the face. We cannot go before our constituents at the present time with any great satisfaction, because our record of work is a miserable one. Moreover, we shall be putting the country to no end of expense, and shall be retarding business, which should be pushed forward for the benefit of the Commonwealth. If the whole of the protectionists had stood firm to their leader, and had allowed the business of the country to be proceeded with, there is no doubt that legislation would have been passed which would have done credit to the Commonwealth, and conferred benefit upon the whole community. It is rather amusing to hear honorable members sitting in the Government corner called ‘conservatives. We are told by honorable members opposite that we never vote for anything that is calculated to advance the best interests of the community. I may tell them that if I had my way I would advance the interests of the working man to a far greater extent than would the members of the Labour Party. Do honorable members opposite suppose for a moment that they will assist the working classes by taking £8,000,000 out of the banks ? They should know perfectly well that capita) and labour must work together amicably if we are to make any substantial advancement in the Commonwealth. Progress is impossible if the hand of labour is to be always on the throat of capital. The more capital we can attract here the more labour will be employed, and the sooner honorable mem bers opposite realize that fact the better. Some people imagine that they have nothing to do but to attend their union meetings and pass resolutions asking for eight hours a day and higher pay. They do not consider where the money is to come from, or whether the industry that will be affected can stand the extra strain which they propose to impose upon it. In Western Australia recently Tom Mann proposed that the working day should be reduced to six hours, because there was not enough work for every one whilst those who were in employment worked eight hours a day. I do not suppose that he intended to reduce the rates of pay accordingly.
An Honorable Member. - That was not Tom Mann’s advice. It was a resolution carried at a meeting of miners.
– I should like to know where the money would come from if such a change were brought about. Capital must assist labour, or success will be impossible.
– Does the honorable member know that the Western Australian mines pay. £2.000,000 in dividends annually?
– Yes, but how many mines are paying?
– And how much money has been lost in them?
– The returns show a profit of about £8 per week per man all round.
– I have some shares that I am willing to give away.
– I have been told that I am a bloated conservative, and that I am opposed to all progressive legislation. That is entirely contrary to the facts. I have always been a liberal.
– We shall change our name.
– I do not claim to be a liberal of the same stamp as honorable members who sit in the .Opposition corner. Their liberality seems to commence and end with their endeavours to secure seats upon the Treasury bench. If they had the 8 o welfare of the Commonwealth at heart, they would stick to their own leader. We should then have stable responsible government. I hope that when those honorable members go to their constituents, they will be classed as Socialists. The issue at the next election will be between Socialism and antiSocialism, and I have very little doubt that those honorable members who have deserted their leader will be relegated to their proper place.
– It is said that a discussion in Parliament very rarely leads to a change of opinion, but I am prepared to admit that this discussion has tended to change my ideas upon one matter, although not upon the main issue. I have in the past been opposed to any standing order that would have the effect of limiting the duration of speeches in Parliament, but after having listened to many of the speeches that have been delivered during this debate, I would readily support any rule that would have the effect of limiting the time which any one honorable member would be permitted to occupy in addressing the House. For a number of years I was associated with the Labour Party of New South Wales, and attended the caucus regularly. Some five or six years ago I took part in a caucus meeting, and gave my vote somewhat reluctantly - although it seemed to me that I was acting in the best interests of the country - because I knew that its probable effect would be to hurl from office the right honorable gentleman who now occupies the position of Prime Minister.
– I am told that the honorable member gave his vote with the greatest alacrity.
– On this occasion, however, I have no reluctance in casting my vote, and I hope that it will have exactly the same result that it had on the occasion referred to, namely, that of hurling the Ministry from office. The reason why I support the vote of censure is that I have absolutely lost political confidence in the Prime Minister.
– The honorable member is also voting in that way because his party has decided that he shall do so.
– No, that is not the reason, because we are perfectly free to vote as we please upon matters affecting the fate of a Government.
– But the honorable member has not the moral courage to do what he thinks is right.
– In this particular case I shall vote with extreme pleasure, for the reason that I have stated. It has been said by some one that words were given to’ us to conceal our thoughts, and I think that phrase might be appropriately applied to the case of the Prime Minister. For many years he has been thundering on the. platforms, and telling people that free-trade was a great thing for the country. He said so with such frequency, that he almost induced me to believe in the truth of his statements. Again and again he has told us that he was in favour of freetrade, and, not only so, but that protection, as embodied in the present Tariff, was a burden and oppression on the people. Yet we find him sitting on the Treasury bench, side by side with protectionist colleagues, after having entered upon a truce, and agreed that for a certain time the protectionist burden should be permitted to rest upon the shoulders of the people.
– He knows how futile it would be to re-open the Tariff question in this House.
– Just fancy Cobden and Bright abandoning the cause because they thought the battle was futile ! Fancy Cobden and Bright being prepared to go into a Cabinet with protectionists !
– The present Prime Minister has done more for free-trade than did either of those gentlemen.
– The present Prime Minister promised the people of New South Wales that if he went into Federal politics he would do for Australia what he had done for New South Wales in the way of freetrade. But if this Parliament lives out its term, the Prime Minister must abandon that idea for at least two years. There are two reasons - though there may be more - which may actuate the Prime Minister in abandoning free-trade. One reason may be simply gluttony for office, and another may be that he believes the Labour Party, which is supposed to be, and is, so far as I know, the Socialist Party-
– The honorable member admits that.
– I do, and I glory in the fact.
– The honorable member’s allies do not admit that.
– As I was saying, the other reason which actuates the Prime Minister may be that he regards the Labour Party and Socialism as politically the curse of. the country, and that, however bad protection may be, he honestly believes our policy to be worse. Under such circumstances, the right honorable gentleman would be quite right in sitting on the Treasury benches associated with protectionists. But I ask whether he is sincere when he denounces the Labour Party, with its caucus and organization. For five years the right honorable gentleman, as Premier of New South Wales, was associated with the Labour Party. For the first four years it might have been possible, though difficult, for him to carry on the business of the Government without the assistance of that:party, but for the last twelve months of that period it would have been impossible for him to do without their support. During all that time the right honorable gentleman never said a single word against theLabour Party or its methods. If he had fought the Labour Party then, in his determination to be Premier, I could have admired him. To-day, thinking that the Labour Party, with its caucus and Socialism, might stand in his way to the Treasury bench, the right honorable gentleman denounces us. The Labour Party in a State is much more powerful for Socialism than the Labour Party in the Commonwealth. Personally, the members of theF ederal Labour Party may be, and, I believe they are, socialistic; but, unfortunately, we are “ cribbed, cabined, and confined “ in our policy by the terms of the Constitution. In a State, on the other hand, there is much more room for socialistic effort. In 1894, in New South Wales, there was, as the honorable member for Parramatta has pointed out, a split in the Labour Party, just as there may be a difference between the Conservative-Protectionists and the Liberal-Protectionists. The dispute was at the time, called, I believe, a difference between the “ solids “ and the “ liquids “ in the Labour Party.
– It was a dispute between the “ ins “ and the “ outs.”
– At any rate, there was a dispute ; and when ‘ we were fighting amongst ourselves was the time for the right honorable gentleman, if he really objected to our methods, and felt that Socialism was a danger, to have throttled us. It is, howover, a little late to now think of killing the Labour Party.
– The Labour Party did not declare themselves then as they have done of late.
– I shouldlike to read an extract from a speech” of the right honorable gentleman, in order to show what he said of the Labour Party in those days. This speech was delivered after the Labour Party had supported him as Premier for twelve months, and when he knew all about our caucus system and methods generally. He knew that we were then controlled by outside organizations, just as we are’ today. Mr. Reid said -
I want to say this. There are some constituencies in this country which are called labour constituencies; where labour predominates, and labour elects its men. In such cases - and you will find a good many - where the labour man has stood loyally to the Government - mind you, they knew what it meant; they knew that in sticking to us it meant a dissolution soon. If they had given in to the blandishments, and they were many, of Sir Henry Parkes, and gone against us, the position of this Government to-day would not be so strong as it is.It is only common fairness and justice to make this announcement to the country, and I say that, in labour electorates, where there is a protectionist against a labour man who stood loyally to us, let the free-traders of those electorates show their recognition of his loyalty by voting for the labour candidate.
– The Labour Party were then supporting free-trade.
– But we were socialistic, just as we are to-day. Then the right honorable gentleman thought it better for the electors to support a labour man than. to support a protectionist, but to-day he is on the Treasury bench to fight us because we are a danger to the country. As I said just now, if he is sincere in his distrust of the policy we advocate and if he regards us as more dangerous than protection, it is fair that he should be in a coalition of the kind we now see. The right honorable gentleman on the occasion referred to went on to say -
There are some very prudent men, who might whisper in mv ear, “ Oh, don’t say anything about labour candidates, because the people might get frightened.”But when men act fairly and squarely by you, as they did by me, not making a whisper of a bargain, or coming to me with a whisper for terms or standing away from us, but loyally and honestly standing by us, I would not be worthy of my position as the head of the free-trade party if I did them an ill turn.
– If the Labour Party take the same course to-day Mr. Reid will saythe same thing.
– It seems, to me that if the Prime Minister does not really believe that our programme and methods are worse than protection, he is on the Treasury benches simply through gluttony of office. In the election to which he referred in that speech, whilst there was no particular agreement, it was understood that, as far as possible, no free-trader should stand against a labour candidate, and vice versa, and that was carried out, I believe.Mr. Reid was speaking at a free-trade meeting, where a labour candidate was opposed to Mr. Anderson, the right honorable gentleman’s own nominee. The speech was as follows : -
The free-traders naturally wanted to get their own man in, it was a splendid fight between Alderman. Banner’s friends and their friends, and whichever man got in he would fight the same fight. Therefore, he said to the people of Waterloo, “If you cannot fight for Mr. Anderson fight for the labour man.”
He asked the electors to vote for a labour man who was controlled by a caucus and outside organizations - a man whom he has since declared not to be free to go into the House as a representative, but simply as the nominee of a machine.
– The Labour Party were supporting his Government.
– Ofcourse, that is what I am trying to point out. When it meant the Premiership of New SouthWales, the right honorable gentleman supported the nominee of the machine.
– In the interests of free speech, which must be preserved in this Chamber, no matter what the opinions of the honorable member who is speaking may be, honorable members are bound to listen. If any other honorable member holds different opinions it is for him to express them when he has an opportunity to speak, and not to force other views on. the honorable member addressing the Chair I hope honorable members will refrain from interjections, which seem to have no other purpose than to force on the honorable member addressing the House, views which he does not wish to adopt.
– At Newcastle Mr.
Reid spoke as follows: -
No Free-trade and Liberal Party should be out of sympathy with labour. The labour representatives had stood by him in his hour of greatest trial.
Did the right honorable gentleman stand by us in our “ hour of greatest trial “? The right honorable gentleman, in returning thanks after the election said -
There are some who think I have gone too far, in what they call pandering to the lower classes. Gentlemen, these political Pharisees, if they had lived at the time of our Saviour, would have called him by the same names, because the only offence I have committed is one which the Great Author of the Christian religion committed, and it is this - to have a warm heart for the masses of humanity.
– That is the Reid of today.
– To-day the right honorable gentleman denounces our caucus and our organizations ; but when he was Premier of New South Wales, did hedo nothing to strengthen that organization? For the first time in the political history of New South Wales the right honorable gentleman sent to the Legislative Council for life four gentlemen who were members of the Political Labour Party.
– He was the first man to do that.
– I admit that. The four men who were nominated were Messrs. Buzacott, Hephir, Estell, and Wilson, and they were the first members of the labour political machine nominated to the Legislative Council. I am not blaming the right honorable gentleman but merely pointing out that although he now denounces our methods, hewas prepared to strengthen our organization when to do so meant the Premiership of New South Wales. I go further and say that it was no coincidence that these four men happened to be members of the labourpolitical machine, because Mr. Reid took rood care to find out that that was the fact.
– How long ago was that?
– I forget the exact year.
– It was about eight years ago.
– Does that make any difference ?
– Yes. The Labour Party had not developed bad habits then.
- Mr. Wilson was the president of the machine, Mr. Buzacott, was an active member of the Political Labour League of Broken Hill. Mr. Hephir was connected with Mr. McGowen’s political labour league; Mr.Estell came from Newcastle, and he also was a member of a political labour league. When the honorable member for Hume came into power there, and appointed only one labour man - Mr. Flowers - to the Legislative Council, the right honorable member for East Sydney tried to make political capital out of the fact that he had appointed four, and his successor only one.
– What a splendid answer to what the honorable member for Hume said last night - that he never did anything.
– If the right honorable member for East Sydney really believed that we were so dangerous as he said, why did he try to strengthen our hands in the State Parliament? He says to-day that men ought not to be members’ of a caucus. But will any representative of New South Wales deny that if we had told the right honorable gentleman after the election of 1898. that two members of the caucus must be in the Cabinet within twenty-four hours of that announcement, two members from the steerage would not have been sitting at the same mahogany with the right honorable gentleman, even though it would have meant that he would have to take a sulphur bath after coming into such close contact with the great unwashed ? The Prime Minister is reported to have said in Melbourne quite lately that although the Labour Party in New South Wales had him in the hollow of their hand for five years, yet they got practically nothing out of him. and the result was that he got the protectionist members of the caucus to support him. and give him free-trade. He also said that wegot more out of the honorable member for Hume in two years than we could have got from him in 200years.
– Exactly ; and the honorable member knows what was meant.
– The Prime Minister has denied that he made the statement.
– I have not heard him deny it.
– I understood him to do so.
-I do not Question my honorable friend’s word butI think that he may be mistaken in this matter. Now. what was given to the Labour Party by the honorable member for Hume? An Oldage Pensions Act, an Arbitration Act, an Adult Suffrage Act, an Early Closing Act. a Navigation Act, and a Miners’ Relief Act. AmI to support a Prime Minister who practically says that in 200 years he would not have given us those measures? Am I to be blamed for not supporting a Prime Minister who said publicly in Melbourne that he would have to be in office 200 years before he would give us what the honorable member for Hume gave us in New South Wales in two years ?
– Does the honorable member think that no creditattaches to the right honorable member for East Sydney for any of those measures?
– The Prime Minister is reported in the press to have made that statement publicly. I have not heard any denial from him.
– I have never heard a more unfair speech.
– If the Prime Minister denies that he made that statement, I shall, of course, accept his denial.
– What he meant was that the Labour Party could twist the honorable member for Hume more than himself.
– In the space of two years we got from the honorable member for Hume the measures which I have mentioned.
– Were the members of the Labour Party the only people in favour of those measures?
– I am dealing now with the statement by the Prime Minister that he would not give us in 200 years what his successor gave us in twoyears.
– Some of those measures were lying upon the table when he left office.
Mr. Culpin. - Is the honorable member for Parramatta in order, sir, in interjecting so frequently?
-I am sorry to say that I have called attention to these frequent interjections a good many times. I do hone that they will not be persisted in.
Mr. Joseph Cook. - I am very sorry, sir, but I do not think that I am interjecting more than honorable members over here.
-I am bound to say that during to-day the honorable member has interjected far more than any other member of the House.
-I do not think so, Mr. Speaker.
– Order.I express the opinion whichI hold, and I think that if the honorable member will look at the report he will find that it is amply justified. I must ask him to obey the instruction of the Chair.
Mr.Joseph Cook.- All I have to say is thatI do not think so, sir. I am entitled to say that, I hope.
-I may be most unjust and most unfair to the Prime Minister. But when he makes the statement I have quoted, it looks to me as if he practically said, “ I had the Labour Party for five years, and I fooled them.” I may be fooled by a man once, and it may be my fault. If I am fooled by the same man a second time, that is my look out, and I am a fool. I have lost confidence in the Prime Minister, and by no vote of mine shall he be given an opportunity of fooling us again.
– That is not what Mr. McGowen said about me in his farewell speech. He had a lot more to do with it than the honorable member had.
– Perhaps I may be permitted to explain that, in his absence, I have been referring to a statement which the Prime Minister was reported in the press to have made at a public meeting, and which was to this effect : that, whilst the Labour Party had him in the hollow of their hands for five years, yet all they got out of him was that he was able to carry his free-trade proposals with the help of the protectionists in that party, and that he would not give them in 200 years what the honorable member for Hume gave them in two years.
– I said I would not be squeezed in 200 years as much as he was Squeezed in twelve months, and Mr. McGowen gave public testimony in my favour.
– That remark practically means that we squeezed out of the honorable member for Hume in two years measures which we could not squeeze out of the right honorable gentleman in 200 years.
– The Labour Party never attempted to squeeze me, and Mr. McGowen publicly declared so in his farewell speech, when he voted against me.
– Who attempted to squeeze the honorable member for Hume?
– The honorable member knows a good Heal about that.
– During this debate, and for some time previously the Ministerialists have been trying to taunt the members of the Labour Party with being Socialists.I rather glory in the fact of being a Socialist. I do not think that it will come in my time, but I hope that the day will come when all machinery - all that which tends to produce wealth and distribute it -will be in the hands of the community for the sake of the community.
-And all children taken from their mothers.
– With me Socialism means that I object to the present state of civilization, which allows a great many to bepoor in order that a few may be rich. I object to a system which allows a large number to live in slums in order that a few may live in marble palaces. I object to a system which gives the benefits of education to a few, whilst the overwhelming majority of children have to leave school at a very early age before they have learned the mere rudiments. I do not believe that any luxury or dainty should go into anybody’s home until every man, every woman, everychild in the community has at least the bare necessaries oflife.
– How long has the honorable member been of that opinion?
-I do not know exactly how long but that is the Socialism I have believed in for some time. In this debate the honorable member for Hunter the honorable member for Gippsland and the honorable member for Echuca have attempted to make some political capital out of the fact that the leader of the Opposition addressed a political meeting on a Sunday.
Mr.Reid. -I draw the line at pleasant Sunday afternoons in that line.
– I do not know that I am any better than any one else for doing so, but Igo to church with fair regularity. I supposethat I go to church just as regularly as most honorable members of the House. I believe in the sanctity of the Sabbath.I also believe that if theprogramme of the Labour Party were enacted there would come into many homes which are sad and despairing joy and happiness.
– The honorable member is at variance with the German Socialists.
– I am explaining my own view of Socialism. I know that a sorrow comes into the lives of us all which no Act of Parliament can ever remove. There is the sorrow that comes from lack of employment, the sorrow that comes because children are crying for bread. I believe that is a sorrow which we can remove by Act of Parliament, and if. I personally could do anything at any time on. a. Sunday to help to bring about a state of society that would do away with that sorrow I should be prepared to do it.
– Can it not be done in six days a week?
– It might, but if the Labour Party really believe that it will do that kind of thing it is our duty to preach it, not only six, but seven, eight, or nine days in the week if that were possible.
-Preach what- the doctrine of the alliance?
– Anything in connexion with our programme.
– The honorable and learned member for Indi has a perfect right to do it on a Sunday, but the honorable member for Barrier has not.
– If, for instance, the establishment of old-age’ pensions would be the means of bringing happiness into homes, and I believe it would, surely no one could object to its advocacy on a Sunday afternoon or evening. And what is the difference between that and the advocacy of the machine by which it is intended to bring about old-age pensions? There were many people a great many years ago who seemed to find fault with Christ because He attempted on a Sunday to. heal a withered hand. It seems to me that there are some people to-day who with unctuous rectitude, are objecting that other persons should on a Sunday attempt to save withered lives and a blasted civilization.I suppose that no one would object to any of us going on a Sunday with a dole of charity to some one who was starving, and if that be so Icannot see any very great wrong in trying even on a Sunday, to do something which will bring justice to the people, and do away with any need for doles of charity. I am very glad thatthe Prime Minister is present, because I should like to read an extract from a speech which he made some time ago. The leader of the Opposition advocated the appointment of a High Commissioner, and said that it mattered not whether the States were favorable to such a proposal. He was in favour of the appointment and he thought we should compel the States to do away with their Agents-General. During this debate the honorable member for Gippsland has said that it is not the action of a statesman to point a pistol at the heads of the States, and that the leader of the Opposition is not a statesman, because he advocated the appointment of a High Commissioner in’ the manner in which’ he did. When the present Prime Minister undertook to explain the Commonwealth Bill in the Sydney Town Hall, the right honorable gentleman delivered the finest political speech I ever heard in my life. He dealt with the Braddon blot, and the financial aspect of the question, and he said -
And I may tell you that if this Federation comes I shall fight in the Federation precisely the same fight as I have fought in this country. (Loud and continued cheering and applause.)
The right honorable gentleman had been dealing with the fact that in New South Wales he had abolished protective duties, and introduced the land and income tax. He went on to say -
As in this country I fought, that ‘we should not lake all our taxes from lue masses, but take a share - not an extravagant share - from the wealth and income of the country - so shall 1 fight in the Federation. I give these Treasurers notice, and those who speak with them, that if they come into this Federation with me, and those’ who side with me, so far as I am concerned, they must come into it on this footing, that they must look out for themselves. If they are in a mess they must get themselves out of their own mess. In the Federation there should be as fair and equitable a division of. the national taxes as, if I may be allowed to say it, we have here.
According to the honorable member for Gippsland the honorable member for Bland is not a statesman because he believes .that the Federal Parliament should appoint a Commonwealth High Commissioner, even though the States may not be prepared to remove their Agents-General, and I should now like to ask the “ better half “ of the present Prime Minister, what that right honorable gentleman must be when he says that if the States Treasurers get into a mess, they must get out of it the best way they can?
– That is exactly what I say today. The States must deal with their own difficulties. .1 was warning them of the future.
– The right honorable gentleman was referring to what he had done in New South Wales. When the question of establishing old-age pensions has been referred to by honorable members, I have sometimes interjected that we should have a Federal land tax. I believe I am right in saying that the Prime Minister has said that when we came into the Federation there was a distinct understanding that we should not impose a land tax for Federal purposes, because the States only had direct taxation to look to.
– I did not say that there was any understanding of the kind, but that that was the policy agreed upon by the party which I have led, and that it was announced years ago, when the party was formed, after Federation.
– I am very glad to have been able to secure the quotation which 1 have given from a speech which I read more than once, and which I heard with very great pleasure.
– Did the honorable member do any cheering at the time?
– We cheered the right honorable gentleman to the echo, until the last two sentences. I have said that I am in favour of old-age pensions, and I am very glad to have been able to read an extract from a speech of the present Prime Minister, which justifies me in asking, even for direct taxation, if that .should be found necessary in order to establish an old-age pensions scheme. 1 feel that on this matter I cannot very well trust the present Ministry. The Prime Minister announced his policy, his “ better half “ followed him up, and neither of them said a word about old-age pensions. ‘ It is true that the Prime Minister laid very great emphasis upon the Trade Marks Bill. j . . ..
– “ Great emphasis “ ; I just mentioned it.
– That was not forgotten, but old-age pensions seemed to have been forgotten by both leaders of the Government.
– Because it was not a matter for this session. There was no proposal to deal with it this session.
– The right honorable gentleman forgets that we were subsequently told that it was a part of the policy of the Government, because it had been mentioned by the Attorney-General in the Senate.
– So it is.
– When people think so much of the question of old-age pensions as to forget all about it, I surely cannot be greatly blamed if I do not propose to strongly support them.
– I shall do more for it than the honorable member’s party will do in ten years. Honorable members opposite are afraid that I will do a little if I get the chance. They are afraid to give me a start.
– There is one thing on which I can congratulate the Prime Minister, and that is upon the formation of his Cabinet. 1 opposed the Commonwealth Bill on both occasions when it was submitted to the people, but not because I was an anti-federalist. I believed in Federation, but I was not in favour of the constitution, of the Senate as proposed, nor am I strongly in favour of it now. I did not, however, believe in imaginary boundaries and that kind of thing.
– The honorable member is a unificationist.
– I am to a great extent a unificationist. I believe that the present Prime Minister has acted wisely in picking out the best men of his party to form his Cabinet rather than selecting men from the different States. Other leaders of Federal Governments have selected men from the different States to form their Cabinets. That may have been very necessary in the beginning of Federation.
– I t is a very good rule.
– Yes, to begin with.’ But I think it is a good thing to break it down as soon as possible, because 1 am still in favour of party government, and in favour of placing on the Treasury bench the best men of the party, irrespective of the constituencies or localities from which they come. I take it that that is what the present Prime Minister has done.
– What about the honorable member for Wilmot?
– I was not thinking so much about the honorable member for Wilmot as about my dear old friend the right honorable member for Swan. I think that the Prime Minister has been wise, and I congratulate the right honorable gentleman upon picking his best men. We used to think a good deal of the right honorable member for Swan. We used to have an idea that the right honorable gentleman was a great organizer and administrator, and that he was a power. But I suppose that the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he, and looking at the honorable member for Macquarie we are forced to the conclusion that, the Prime Minister having picked his best men, the honorable member for Macquarie is a more able administrator and a better man in every possible way than the right honorable member for Swan.
– The honorable member must not imagine that the right honorable member for Swan is as hungry for office as are some honorable members on the other side.
– I say that the Prime Minister has acted on a good principle, and I am here to defend it. In forming his Cabinet a Prime Minister should not pick men merely because they come from particular States. The best men of the party should be taken into the Ministry. I congratulate the Prime Minister upon having adopted that course.
– The honorable member will never have a show if that is going to be the rule. Were the best men of the Labour Party picked for the late Ministry ? Some of them did not think so.
– Perhaps not. I congratulate the present Prime Minister upon excluding the right honorable member for Swan from his Cabinet, and putting inhis valet, the honorable member for Macquarie. I am not voting against this Government because they have too much or too little policy. Without being greatly troubled’ as to what their policy is, 1 am against the Ministry. The right honorable member for East Sydney has himself laid down that line of reasoning. From the time the Labour Party came into power the right honorable gentleman said that it was not so much the policy of the Government to which he objected, but what they were likely to do in the future if allowed to remain in office. The honorable member for Gippsland has stated practically the same thing. That honorable gentleman is not troubled so much about the milk-and-water policy of the Labour Party, as by the fear that they might become tigers if they remained in office. The same reasoning may be applied to the present Ministry, and whether they have or have not disclosed their policy I am against them.
– Honorable members opposite squealed terribly when that reasoning was applied to their own party.
– I do not think I said a word about it. The only policy on which the present Government are solid is the Trade ‘ Marks Bill. Some time ago the Prime Minister addressed a meeting in the Protestant Hall, in Sydney. Just after the honorable and learned member for Ballarat had been made Prime Minister, the right honorable gentleman used words about him to this effect : “ Mr. Deakin is a most amiable gentleman; he is an orator who can string words together fairly fluently, though there is not much in them after they have been strung together. Still, what has he done that he should be made Prime Minister?”
– I never made any such remark in my life. I have always admitted that the honorable and learned member was absolutely qualified for the office.
– I accept the right honorable gentleman’s disclaimer; but the statement appeared in the newspaper, and it was added that some one interjected, “ Well, Georgie, what have you ever done?” to which the reply was, “You are a stranger in these parts.”
– -He must havebeen to ask such a question.
– The honorable and learned member for Ballarat, speaking of the right honorable gentleman, is reported to have said -
The right honorable and learned gentleman who has just sat down has, in his own inimitable manner, made merry at my humble expense, even at the expense of the Government, and to justify his merriment has found it necessary to assume a variety of opinions and attitudes which are mutually contradictory ; but any simple representative in this House, whose only object is to put plain arguments that seem to relate to the matter in hand in plain fashion, is always at a disadvantage as compared with the right honorable gentleman, who scintillates, and revolves, and shines, and shimmers.
– I cannot revolve:
– The right honorable gentleman revolves upon his mentalaxis with such rapidity that as fast as one seeks to place a finger upon the argument be is using the rapidly-whirling globe leaves one miles behind. Heis cometary in his brilliance.
– I thought I was comic.
– The right honorable gentleman might be described as a comic comet passing from and into the void, and always far beyond the reach of any prosaic attempt to hold him down to facts, statements, arguments, or consistencies. To do that is far beyond my powers.
If it is beyond the powers of an able and gifted man like the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, I think I may be excused for saying that it is beyond my powers.
– As a personalexplanation, I wish to read a few sentences from the speech made by Mr. McGowen, the leader of the Labour Party in New South Wales, in the debate which finished my Ministerial career there -
I desire to emphasize what the Premier said. In the position I have the honour to hold in the Labour Party, I must say the right honorable gentleman has stated publicly here what is absolutely true. There never was any arrangement made by the Labour Party with the Prime Minister. At no time was there even a tacit arrangement in regard to what kind of legislationhe should bring in, or what he should do for us. 1 give the honorable gentleman this meed of praise, because I think he deserves it, and in order to justify myself and my party in having supported him for the last five years. I only hope that the successors of the present Government will be able to give the same amount of satisfaction to the people who sent us into Parliament as the present Government have done.
Debate (on motion by Mr. McCay) adjourned.
House adjourned at 11. 51p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 29 September 1904, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1904/19040929_reps_2_22/>.