2nd Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m.., and read prayers.
Mr. McCAY laid upon the table the following paper: -
Additions to financial and allowance regulations. Military Forces, Statutory Rules 1904, No. 13.
Debate resumed from 30th September (vide page. 5162), on motion by Mr. Watson -
That the present Administration does not possess the confidence of this House.
– The result of the debate so far has been to bring to the surface three main considerations. The first is, which group of honorable members should sit on your right, Mr. Speaker; the second concerns the merits of Socialism versus anti-Socialism; and the third is the trumped-up issue of Tariff reform. If there is any matter in connexion with the first issue which requires explanation by me, it is the vote which I gave to displace the Watson Administration, to which we have been charged with not having given fair play. I do not think that the leader of that Government has much to thank his friends for on account of that charge. Whilst I admired the manly way in which he took his seat on the Treasury benches, I was not gratified by the patronizing’ manner in which some of his opponents suggested that he must havefair play - a manner which did not seem to commend itself to him, because, instead of asking for a “ show,” he seemed to be trailing his coat, and saying “ Come on, and prove that I have not a majority.” I do not take exception to the way in which he and his party obtained ‘ possession of the Treasury benches. It has been stated that, as he had not a majority in the House, he should not have accepted a commission from the GovernorGeneral. My casual reading, however, affords two instances in the history of the House of Commons, the great prototype of our representative institutions, in which the late Queen commissioned statesmen to form Governments who did not possess a’ majority in the House. The first of these was the late Sir Robert Peel. When the Melbourne Ministry were defeated on the Bill for the suspension of the Constitution of Jamaica, Lord Melbourne had a majority of five; but Sir Robert Peel was commissioned to form an Administration, and he undertook the task. He failed only because of the now historical dispute over the bedchamber question.
– No doubt he assured the Sovereign that he had a majority
– No, he did not. Lord Melbourne, when he went out, had a majority of five.
– Then, perhaps, a dissolution was promised to him.
– No. Then in 1845, when Sir Robert Peel was beaten, the Queen sent for Lord John Russell.
– The honorable member has had to go a long way back for examples.
– There is an instance in which the Prime Minister had no followers at all.
– In the case to which I am now referring, that of Lord John Russell, Mr. Justin McCarthy says that, with characteristic courage, he undertook to form a Government, notwithstanding that he had not a majority either in the House or in the country ; and he failed only because Lord Grey did not approve of the foreign policy of Lord Palmerston, whom Lord John Russell wished to include in. his Ministry. I think, therefore, that the honorable member for Bland, considering the nature of the division which defeated his predecessors,,, and the extraordinary way in which the votes were cast, was perfectly justified in assuming that he might be able to obtain sufficient support, and I have not a word to say against the manner in which he entered office. But I cannot accept the charge of want of fair play which has since been levelled against us. Personally, I should be very sorry to cast any vote which was unfair or unmanly. The Minister of Defence anticipated me on Friday when he dealt with the subject of press interviews. That is the rock upon which the last Administration split, because the late Prime’ Minister stated in an interview in Sydney that he would regard a certain clause in the Arbitration Bill as vital, and he afterwards felt bound to stand by that declaration. The honorable member for Flinders spoke of him as having been outgeneralled, but my opinion is that the Lord delivered him -into the hands of his adversaries through the medium of that press interview. I think there is a good deal too much interviewing allowed by our leading public men, and the press is given information before it is placed before Parliament. It would be more dignified and proper if important statements of policy, or even less important matters, were first brought before the House. Honorable members are entitled to such information first.
– The statement made by the honorable member for Bland to the press in Sydney was made first to honorable members here.
– The statements made by leaders of parties, through the medium of these interviews, often bind their followers, who have no opportunity of considering the policy to which they are committed. Some honorable members have referred to the composition of the Ministry. The honorable member for Coolgardie, for instance, took exception to the fact that the smaller States were not represented. I do not think that that objection comes with very good grace from a member of the late Government, because the personnel of the Watson Administration could not be regarded as fairly representative of the various States. I am not sure that it is altogether right to be guided by considerations as to the representation of the States when a Ministry is being formed. Perhaps it may be necessary to pay some regard to them at the present stage; but eventually they will have to be ignored. New South Wales and Victoria, which have sixty-one members in this Parliament, were represented by only three Ministers in the Watson Cabinet. Victoria, with twenty-nine members, had only one Minister. If there . is any force in the argument that all the States should be fairly represented in the Ministry, I hardly think that the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne could be regarded as fairly representative of the whole of Victoria. The- other States, having a total of fifty members, had five representatives in that Cabinet. There, were two
Ministers representing the fifteen members from Queensland ; two Ministers representing the thirteen members from South Australia; and one Minister representing the eleven members from Western Australia. In the present Government there are six Ministers representing New South Wales and Victoria, with sixty-one members, and two Ministers representing the other States, with fifty members-, Therefore, so fair as the equal representation of the States is concerned, I do not think that there is much to choose between the two Ministries. There seems to be some difficulty. in arriving at a definition of Socialism which would meet with general acceptance. When an honorable member opposite speaks of Socialism, and tells us what it means, so much’ confusion is caused by the disparity between his statements and those of honorable members behind him who are interjecting, that we are very much in the position of persons who are watching a thimblerigger. It is a case of “ Now you see it, and now you don’t,” and it is really impossible to tell under which thimble the pea is to be found. The leader of the Opposition and the honorable member for Hume attempted to draw an analogy between Socialism and the fostering of industries by the State. I contend, however, that there is no analogy, and that the socialistic methods and those adopted by the State for the encouragement of industry are the veryantithesis of each other. In order to establish my case, I shall probably have to ask honorable members to accept a definition of Socialism. I have ‘perused a number of socialistic works - I am fairly well acquainted with most of them - but I could not find any definition so concise as that given in the Encyclopaedia Britannica- I ask honorable members opposite whether the following definition meets with their acceptance : -
The Socialists propose that land and capital, which are the requisites of labour, and the sources of all wealth and culture, should become the property of society, and be managed by it for the general good. In thus maintaining that society should assume the management of industry and secure an equitable distribution of its fruits Socialists are agreed, but in the most important points of detail they differ very greatly.
Does not that describe the ultimate aim of the Socialists, namely, that all sources of wealth and culture shall become the property of society, and be managed by it for the general good? If honorable members will accept that as a fair definition, I think that
I can show that the system under which the State fosters industry, settles people on the land, and makes’ them advances under a Credit Foncier system, is the direct opposite of the socialistic method. The honorable member for Hume enumerated a number of industries and enterprises which, he said, were either carried on by the State or encouraged by it upon socialistic lines.
– The honorable member for Darling enumerated seventyfour cases in which the socialistic principle was applied.
– Honorable members opposite have not brought to bear any arguments in support of their contention. They have treated us merely to their own opinions, and all we have had to combat has been the mere ipse dixit of the preceding speaker. Whilst the honorable member for Hume was speaking. I interjected that there was no analogy between Socialism and the encouragement of industry by the State. The honorable member then asked me what I would call the assistance which was given by the State, by way of bonus, to various industries. I did not feel, called upon at that time to answer the honorable member’s question. He reminded me very much of the Highlandman who said that the Garden of Eden was in the Island of Mull. When some of his friends questioned the accuracy of this assertion he said, “ You prove to me that it was not.” State Socialism means control and management of enterprises in detail for the direct profit and benefit of the State, whereas all the other enterprises which I have mentioned are the very antithesis of that. “Industries are fostered by the State to help individuals to make a profit, and that policy is justified, because it results in indirect benefit to the State. There is no fettering of individual effort under such a system, but direct encouragement is given to individuals, who are able to realize profits more easily. Therefore, it is entirely erroneous to suppose that the fostering of industries by the State has anything to do with Socialism, as defined in the Encyclopaedia Britannica. “The honorable member for Hume laid a great deal of stress upon, the fact that our railways and some tramways were owned by the State; but I contend that that fact has nothing to do with Socialism. Our railways and tramways are worked not with a view to profit per se, but as part of a system which is intended to encourage individual effort and to thereby promote the general well-being of the community. They are not regarded as a direct source of wealth, but are intended as aids to the expansion of existing industries and the establishment of new ones. We would not be content to allow our railways to earn a large profit. All that is expected is that they should earn sufficient to defray the cost of maintenance and working, and to pay the interest upon the capital invested. For the rest, we expect them to assist as far as possible in increasing the profits of individuals, and promoting the expansion of industry. The aim of the Socialists is to find employment for every one. and some of them hold - I admit that this would not apply to some of the more sensible advocates of the principle of Socialism - that capital is not necessary, and that we can get along very well without it, so long as we have the land, which cannot be taken out of the country. Honorable members have not, however, been able to quote any instance in which the principle they advocate has been carried into practical’ effect. Socialism has been before the world for ages. Intermittent and spasmodic attempts have been made to give effect to it. But with what result? From the time of Plato downwards we have been accustomed to hear of some royal road to human happiness, but generally from guides who did not know the way. The story of one of these attempts is that of all. I have never yet read of a single permanent success in connexion with any socialistic scheme. The other day I happened to pick up a somewhat old book which was published in 1876, Taine’s Notes on England. There I read a very interesting little passage in reference to an attempt which was made in the old country upon co-operative lines. Now I suppose that co-operation approximates more closely to Socialism than does any other scheme of which we have had practical experience. This is what Taine says in his Notes on England -
A - narrated to me the history of twenty-five working men who, having each saved £30, formed an association some years ago in order to manufacture engines. For several months they had no orders. Taking counsel together, they resolved to persevere, and reduce the outgoings of each to 3s. 6d. weekly - that is to say, they fasted and their families. A customer appeared, became interested in them, bought an engine, and invited the public to come and see it ; the engine turned out very well, and their credit was thus secured ; they prospered, and, after giving them compensation, they expelled twelve of their number who were not industrious or skilful enough, reorganizing their society on a new basis.
What became of those twelve? They went out to seek their livelihood amongst the individualists. And what kept those going who remained in the co-operative society ? They were started by the capital which this friend expended in purchasing the first engine, and were kept together by the credit which was established by that transaction. I do not know how any enterprise can be successful in which every individual engaged is placed Upon the same dead-level. We have been told that there is nothing in the warning that capital is being withdrawn from Australia, because of lack of confidence in the methods which we are adopting. As Professor Walker puts it -
There is no more reason why a capitalist should employ his capital without profit than there is why a labourer should employ his labour without being paid for it.
If methods are adopted which will cause the employer trouble and worry, capital will certainly be withdrawn from business undertakings. Only the other day a cable message informed us that a lumberman - no doubt he was a bit of a crank - had overcome these troubles by blowing up his works upon the Mississippi. I recently heard of a somewhat similar instance, in which a man who was representing a number of English companies here. and who had planted some rubber trees in Queensland - the seed of which he had imported - received orders to close the whole of the enterprises which he had been superintending, and return to the old country. Accordingly he went with some of his friends, and, armed with axes, they cut down all these rubber trees.
– Why did they do that ?
– He was annoyed at receiving orders to return to the mother country.
– But why was he ordered to return ? There has been no labour legislation in Queensland.
– He was the representative of several English companies which carried on business, not only in Queensland, but in other places.
– I do not see the application of the incident.
– I am endeavouring to show that a want of confidence on the part of capitalists prevents investment - prevents opportunities of expansion - and is, therefore, detrimental to the labouring classes. Although the actions of the lumberman and of the representative of the English companies may have been the work of cranks, yet between the feeling which prompted them and the establishment of full confidence there are numerous steps and grades. For instance, there are many who, from fear that they may not be able to obtain sufficient labour with which to carry on operations, refuse to invest their capital in various enterprises. I say emphatically, of my own personal knowledge, that capital has been withdrawn from Australia within the past few years, and that it is still being withdrawn. I do not urge that for its withdrawal there is that measure of justification which some people think, because I believe that we shall right ourselves in the end.
– Does the honorable member say that at the present time capital is being withdrawn from Australia at a greater rate than at any other period in its history ?
– I do say so.
– Coghlan points out that quite the reverse is the case.
– I am not quoting from Coghlan. Of my own personal knowledge within the past three years, large sums of money which were invested in Australia have been withdrawn. Itseems to me extraordinary that we should experience any labour troubles whatever. Is there any country in the world which possesses such a large area of good land and good climate in proportion to its small population? Thereis something radically wrong in the present condition of affairs. In. my opinion, one reason why we experience a difficulty in inducing people to settle upon the land is that a large number of the population which came to this country in the early days were miners who have congregated in towns. It seems to me that under proper methods we should have no unemployed at all. I believe that if capital and ‘ labour worked together in a spirit of enterprise both could reap large profits. At the present time labour is holding aloof, but labour should shake hands with capital. I think there are certain methods for settling labour questions which we might advantageously adopt - methods similar to those which are employed’ in the United States, and which commended themselves to me so strongly when I spoke of them upon a previous occasion. My own ideas upon this matter are the result of an address which was delivered some time ago by Mr. Andrew Carnegie in his capacity of President of the Iron Institute of Great Britain. So impressed was I with the possibilities of the method which he advocated that I wrote to him asking him to forward me full particulars of his experience of the system of making every worker a shareholder in his enterprise. He passed my letter on to the President of the United States Steel Corporation, who complied with my request. His communication is too lengthy to read to the House, but I have attempted to summarize it, in order to show the most uptodate method which has been adopted in the United States with a view to settling troubles between capital and labour. The Finance Committee of the United States Steel’ Corporation was engaged for several months in perfecting a plan which, in its opinion, would make it the common interest of the officers and employes of the corporation to become holders of the preferred stock of the corporation. A plan, including every employe, from the President of the corporation itself to the men working by the day in the several subsidiary companies, was submitted to the Board of Directors and by unanimous vote the Finance Committee was authorized to proceed to perfect and to promulgate the plan. From the earnings of the corporation during the year 1902 there will have been set aside at least two million dollars and as much more as is necessary for the purchase of at least 25,000 shares of the Corporation Preferred Stock, for the purpose of making the following offer to all the employes, numbering 168,000, of the Steel Corporation and ofits subsidiary companies. It is proposed to divide them into six classes according to amounts of salaries. A man in the first class - highest salaries - will be allowed to subscribe for an amount of stock represented by a sum not to exceed 5 per cent. of his annual salary ; in the second class, 8 per cent. ; third class, 10 per cent. ; fourth class, 12 per cent. ; fifth class, 15 per cent. ; sixth class, 20 per cent. If on this basis of subscription more than 25,000 shares should be subscribed for, 25,000 shares would be awarded to the several subscribers in the order of the classes, beginning with the lowest or sixth class, the upper classes receiving only in case any stock should remain untaken by the class below. That is beginning with the men who receive the lowest wages, but each subscriber will be allotted at least one full share even though this might make it necessary for the Finance Committee to purchase more than 25,000 shares. Payments of subscriptions for the stock must be made in monthly instalments, to be deducted from the salary or wages of the subscriber, in such amounts as he may desire, not to exceed 25 per cent, of any one month’s salary or wages. A man may take as long as he chooses, not exceeding three years, to. pay for his stock. Dividends on the stock will go to the subscriber from the date on which he commences to make payments on account of his subscription. Interest at 5 per cent, will be charged on deferred payments on the stock. In case a man should discontinue payments before his stock had been fully paid for, he could withdraw the money he had paid on account of principal, and might keep the difference between the 5 per cent, interest he had paid and the 7 per cent, dividend he had received on the stock; and thereupon his subscription and all interest on the stock to which the same related would cease and determine.- If he will not sell or part with the stock, but will keep it, and in January of each year, for five years, will exhibit the certificate to the treasurer of his company, together with) a letter from a proper official, to the effect that he has been continuously in the employ of the corporation or of one or another of its subsidiary companies during the preceding year, and has shown a proper interest in its welfare and progress, he will, . during each of such five years, receive checks at the rate of five dollars a share per year. If he should remain continuously in the service of the Corporation or qf one or other of its subsidiary companies for five years, at the end of the fifth year the Corporation intends that he should receive a still further dividend, which cannot now be ascertained or stated, but which will be derived from a certain source.
– Are those reasons why we should have confidence in the present Government?
– I think they are reasons why our labour troubles should be settled in a different manner from that in which they have been settled in the past, namely, a compulsory and forcible manner.
– Carnegie had a .very effective method of settling1 such troubles.
– The .possibility is that we’ do not know the whole “ins and outs’-‘ of Mr. Carnegie’s methods, nor do we know what he did for the working classes employed in those large undertakings in which he was engaged. The leader of the Opposition, after treating the question in a practical way, touched on philosophy, and referred to the cold-blooded’ Spence.rian doctrine of the survival of the fittest. It is very easy to “ shut it off “ in this particular way, but I would draw the honorable member’s attention to the fact that the survival of the fittest does not answer the whole issue of this philosophy. Darwin was the first to start the idea of the struggle for existence, but he did not regard that as the most potent factor in the development of species. Prince Kropotkin who is, perhaps, the leading exponent of Darwinism, shows that Darwin attached greater importance to a permanent instinct of mutual support, which, he held, is always at work in all sociable animals, especially in man. Following on the lines of Darwin, Kropotkin holds it to be an evolutionary development1 tending to create such an atmosphere in society as will produce in the greater number, entirely by impulse, those actions which best lead to the welfare of all, and the fullest happiness of every separate being. Prince Kropotkin, in following Darwinism, does not adopt Socialism, but puts the matter from an entirely different point of view.
– Will the honorable member subscribe’ to Prince Kropotkin’& idea ?
– No; but I say that as an exponent of Darwin-
– I think that Prince Kropotkin goes a great deal further than the honorable ‘ member would be prepared to go-
– I was going to spare the House any further quotation, but in view of that interjection, I should like to read the following from Prince Kropotkin -
For the first time in the history of civilization, mankind has reached a point where the means of satisfying its needs are in excess of the needs themselves. To impose, therefore, as has hitherto been done, the curse of misery and degradation upon vast divisions of mankind in order to secure well-being for the few is needed no more - well-being can be secured without overwork for any. We are thus placed in a position entirely to remodel the very base and contents of our civilization - provided the civilized nations find in their midst the constructive capacities and the powers of creation required for utilizing the conquests of tha human intellect in the interest of all.
I presume that will be accepted by all. But later on Prince Kropotkin says this -
A most importantcondition, which modern morality is bound to satisfy, is that it must not aim at fettering the powers of action of the individual, be it for so high a purpose as the welfare of the Commonwealth, or even of the species.
Honorable members of the Opposition seem to have no patience to wait for evolutionary methods.
– Our platform shows that we have much patience.
– There does not seem to be much patience. I remember a conversation with the honorable member for Perth when we were both new members occupying seats in the Opposition corner. The honorable member argued very much on the lines adopted by Prince Kropotkin, taking the view that the evolution of the world is in the direction of Socialism. But what has brought the world to its present stage? It is not Socialism, but the evolution of mankind - not the outside application of a hard-and-fast materialistic doctrine. It seems to me that the evolutionary methods which have worked mankind up to the point at which it is said that Socialism is possible, will as certainly tend to further development, and that any attempt to graft uponit from without the hard lines of Socialism will, like the cankerworm, lead to decay. The probability is that by evolution we shall arrive much more quickly than we should by methods of Socialism at the permanent good of humanity. As to the fiscal question, the honorable member for Melbourne Ports seemed to take some exception to my calling this a trumped-up issue; and I shall now see whether I cannot justify that description. In the first place, who was it that suggested the combination of parties? The suggestion came from the leader of the Protectionist Party, the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, and it came on the lines which he laid down, and which almost every man in his party laid down at the last election, namely, that of fiscal peace or truce. When we five Victorians sat in Opposition-
– This is getting interesting.
– It will get more interesting
– It was very abstract before.
– When five Victorian members were sitting on the Opposition side of the House, and the question arose as to whether a coalition should be formed, we at once told the present Prime Minister that we intended to support the programme’ which the honorable and learned member for Ballarat had put forward, and that he could not depend upon us for assistance in re-opening the Tariff question.
– Very wise.
– In what way?
– The honorable members referred to were wise in their own day and generation.
– I was in no doubt as to my own attitude. In addition to that, we gave the honorable and learned member for Ballarat to understand - and I believe that it was mentioned in the Ministerial room at the time - that he could rely upon the five Victorians for support.
– For fiscal peace.
– Yes. From the day that the Tariff was dealt with by Parliament I felt that it would be a great disadvantage to the country if at any time we went in for a general revision. I suggested to the honorable member for Hume, who was then Minister of Home Affairs, that if an InterState Commission were created it should be the duty of that body to examine into the working of the Tariff, and to report periodicallyto Parliament, so that we should be able to know how the industries of the country were progressing. When I entered this House I accepted the position which was put forward by the first Prime Minister of the Commonwealth, Sir Edmund Barton, that we should have a Tariff imposing duties for revenue purposes, and at the same time saving industries from destruction.
– They are not being saved from destruction.
– That is a matter for argument and evidence. The suggestion which I made to the then Minister of Home Affairs was recorded, because on the following morning I saw that the Age stated that a Member of Parliament, friendly to the Government, hadmade this suggestion. I should like to know what it was that induced the honorable member for Melbourne Ports to take a different attitude from that of his leader after the last election?
– That was twelve months ago.
– It appears that some people can change their attitude in less time than that. I do not find that in the debate upon the Address-in-Reply any one of the
Victorian members now supporting the Opposition Party - either the honorable member for Melbourne Ports or the honorable member for Bourke, or the honorable and learned member for Indi - ever opened his mouth about the necessity for Tariff reform or the languishing of industries.
– We were not aware of it then.
– Does the honorable member recollect that when the right honorable member for Adelaide spoke about industries in New South Wales flourishing under the new Tariff I challenged him to show how it was that, while industries were flourishing in New South Wales, they were languishing in Victoria?
– That is easily understood.
– Does the honorable member recollect that?
– I have some remembrance of it.
– I said this in my speech on the Address-in-Reply:-
I would like to say that while there should for the present be an armed truce upon the fiscal question, we should have some authoritative tabulated information upon the working of the Tariff for the next few years. A revision of the Tariff will have to take place sooner or later, and statements upon the subject are being circulated in the newspapers which are entirely misleading. The right honorable member for Adelaide, in his very excellent speech, drew attention to certain figures affecting New South Wales, and certain deductions drawn therefrom. He declared that the effect of the Tariff in New South Wales had been so to check imports that there had been a vast expansion of local industries. Yet, in the case of Victoria, I have seen it stated time after time that imports are coming in so freely that local industries are languishing, and that they will assuredly be wiped out. Surely there is a contradiction involved in those two statements.
Therefore, it was clearly stated in that debate by me that the statement was being widely circulated that industries were languishing,, and were being wiped out. I said afterwards -
I do think that, instead of these unauthorized statements being broad-casted throughout the country, we should have some properly constituted body to report annually to Parliament concerning the operation of the Tariff.
At that time I was interesting myself in the operation of the Tariff. It was a matter of concern to me. but it was no matter of concern to honorable members opposite.
– Oh !
– There was not a single honorable member who is now supporting the Opposition Party, who, in his speech, said a solitary, word in relation to the Tariff, although it had been stated broadcast that our industries were languishing under it.
– The Argus quoted me three times last week.
– The quotations must have been from speeches made outside, because there is no record of them in Hansard. A suggestion is now put forward that a board should be appointedto inquire into the Tariff. Why was not the suggestion made previously? Why is it made for the first time now? The hollowness of the whole thing was pretty well exposed by the speech of the honorable and learned member for Wannon. He shelled the occupants of the Opposition corner so thoroughly, upon a measured range, that it has since been a matter of doubt with me whether the little countingout episode was not the effect of his attack. It was a masterly retreat to get out of a difficulty.
– We have got into it again very quickly.
– Honorable members opposite have since had time to recover and to make up their minds as to how they shall reply. Perhaps later on some answer will be made by them. We now have in Parliament as the result of what has happened practically two combinations. The Ministerial combination has been compared by some to oil and water, which it is said will not mix. But oil and water are not mutually destructive of each other. There is an old saying, “ Pour oil on the troubled waters.” We have heard of vessels being saved from shipwreck by the pouring of oil upon troubled waters. The balanceof parties is preserved on this side of the House. But on the Opposition side we have a large party and a small party. The honorable member for Riverina interjected last week, while the honorable member for Richmond was speaking, a remark about the lion and the lamb lying down together. But the simile of the lion and the lamb will hardly apply to honorable members on the Ministerial side. Parties on this side are too well balanced for one to swallow the other. It does apply to the Opposition, and the probability is that absorption of one of the parties will take place. But there is an alternative. If we take illustrations from natural history, it is clear that absorption does not always take place when one animal swallows another. Honorable members will recollect the story of Jonah and the whale. In that case Jonah proved himself to be such a tough customer that the big fish took the first opportunity to turn him out.
– But he got to Nineveh all right.
– He did after travelling some distance towards Tarshish. Some modern authorities have doubted whether it was possible for the whale to swallow Jonah, but it has been suggested that Jonah was such a slippery customer that he could go down where another man would stick. Indeed, internal evidence of his slipperiness is to be found in the narrative. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports says that he got to Nineveh all the same, but Jonah’s distinct and obvious duty was to go straight to Nineveh. Instead of doing that he tried to sneak away to Tarshish. After his experience with the whale it is true that he made tracks to Nineveh, but he would have saved a lot of trouble if he had gone there straight at first. The honorable and learned member for Corinella has shown how carefully the alliance agreement has been drawn up, from a lawyer’s point of view, and I am reminded by it of the story of the lawyer who was going to be married, and who, after having repeated the formula “ until death do us part,” added the words, “or divorce, whichever shall first happen.” I should think that if there is to be a marriage between honorable members opposite, which is hardly likely, there will certainly be a divorce or absorption at a very early opportunity. I do not admit’ the oil and water theory so far as honorable members on this side are concerned.* I believe that if such a proposal as I have suggested were adopted, and we were to appoint some board toinquire periodically into the Tariff, we could remove Tariff revision from the sphere of party politics altogether, and we might then look for a complete union on this side instead of a coalition. I hope that that result may be brought about. With regard to the suggested dissolution, it almost gives some honorable members a fit to refer to it. and I cannot say that I like the idea particularly well myself. I think that the present is a very inopportune time for a dissolution. I do not say so because I am more afraid than are other honorable members to meet my constituents, but because on either side things are yet in the crucible and have not crystallized, and the electors of the Commonwealth will not now be in. a position to give a working majority to either party any more than they were at the last election. I believe that if we went to the country to-morrow the chances are that we should be in the same position when we returned. We should have spent , £50,000 or £60.000, and could do no more than we are doing now, whilst Federation would be still further discredited.
– If we cannot do anything had we not better go home for a couple of years?
– It would not be a bad suggestion to let Federation rest for five years or so. I have no wish to speak in an intolerant spirit, but I have no doubt that the issue to be fought out at the election, should one take place, will be between Socialism and anti-Socialism.
– Is that the only prop the honorable member has to lean on?
– It is a very substantial prop indeed.
– The honorable and learned member for Bendigo did not say that.
– We all have a certain amount of sympathy for the direction in which honorable” members opposite desire to go, but, on this side, we desire to steady matters, and not to rush things. The honorable member for Flinders the other night said that honorable members always pointed to him as a conservative, and I may say that I am always referred to in the same way.
– The honorable member for Flinders said that protectionists were Socialists.
– I do not agree with that. I am conservative to this extent, that I stick to things which I know by experience to be good until’ something better is shown to me. If I am crossing a stream on steppingstones, I have no desire to get off the stone on. which I am secure until I am satisfied that the other ahead of me will bear my weight.
– The honorable member will stick there until he is bogged if he does not strike out.
– The honorable member for Maranoa would get into the water and would have to come out at the side from which he went in. The honorable member for Richmond said that the issue at the elections would be - Socialism versus Free- dom. I go further, and say that it will be Socialism versus the right to call ourselves our own.
– This Parliament is comparatively in its infancy, but during its brief span of life it has witnessed some extraordinary changes. I desire to direct the attention of honorable members to those changes, and to what they mean. We have only to travel back to the last election campaign to learn what were the great issues then placed before the electors of the Commonwealth as demanding the attention of this Parliament. What were those issues? First of all, the Free-trade Party, under the leadership of the present Prime Minister, placed before the electors the issue of free-trade and free-trade only. The great forces which the right honorable gentleman was combating were those under the leadership of the honorable and learned member for Ballarat. The issues presented by that honorable and learned gentleman were fiscal peace and preferential trade; whilst the party led by the honorable member for Bland submitted to the electors a number of social reforms, disclaiming any special interest in the fiscal issue, and leaving that to be fought out between the other two contending parties. The honorable gentleman claimed on behalf of the party he represented that there were other issues of as great, if not greater, importance to the Commonwealth, demanding the immediate attention of this Parliament. The position is now changed, and, instead of having three parties putting forward three separate issues, we have practically two parties, the issue being the supremacy of the one over the other. That is a very considerable change from the position presented at the general elections. The electors have some right to be considered in this matter. Parliament and parties only exist for the purpose of enabling the electors to voice their views in regard to the administration under which they live. In view of this important change in the issue presented to them at the last elections, it seems to me that they should be called upon to ratify the departure which is being made by at least one of the great parties from its first principles, and to express their approval of the new issue. I do not wish’ to refer to the ancient literature of the great fiscal fight between the two parties up to the time of the last general election ; but I desire to make a few quotations for the purpose of indicating the position thus presented. I find that- the leader of the present Government convened a meeting of his supporters in Sydney about twelve months ago, for the purpose of making arrangements for the ensuing campaign. What did he say on that occasion? Addressing a number of his supporters on the 2nd October last year, he said -
This cry on the part of the Federal Government and their sympathizers for fiscal peace was a cry of weakness. It was a cry of apprehension, of cowardice, of fear, and if the people of Australia allowed themselves to be deceived by this cry on the part of the protectionists for fiscal peace, they would deserve the fate that awaited them.
– Notwithstanding that, he gave the Victorian wing of the Freetrade Party a free hand.
– I am not concerned with what was done in respect of the Freetrade Party in Victoria. That was the issue which the right honorable gentleman placed before the electors of New South Wales. On that occasion he spoke not merely as the member for East Sydney, addressing some of his constituents, but as the leader of the great free-trade cause in the Commonwealth. And that was how he met and combated the cry of fiscal peace and preferential trade raised by his political opponents. In the same address, he went on to say -
He felt satisfied that, in spite of the desperate efforts the Government were making to shirk this fiscal question, it would be in nearly every part of Australia the burning question of the next general election.
That was practically the opening address of the right honorable gentleman in that campaign. Ten days later, he addressed a public meeting in the Protestant Hall, in Sydney, at which he unfolded his programme and his position for the campaign. I was present at that great meeting; which was very strongly in accord with the position taken up by the right honorable gentleman, coming quickly, as it did, after the effects of the Tariff had been felt, and emphasized as they were in that State by the distress occasioned through the drought, from which it had just emerged. To that meeting he addressed these words -
My experience of protectionists is that their policy is like the policy of the holy Russian Empire. It is always for peace when it cannot get anything by bounce, and when it takes a rest it is only in order to get a bigger spring.
I should like to ask the right honorable gentleman whether fie has altered his opinion in respect of the Protectionist Party. Within this short space of twelve 1 months he has completely dropped his cry for a revision of the Tariff, which he then laid down as essential in the near future, and which he pledged himself as strongly as possible to carry out in this Parliament. On that occasion there was nothing said about sinking the fiscal issue, or joining hands with the Protectionist Party for purposes other than those which were mentioned to the electors. Those are new issues on which they were not invited to express an opinion. On that occasion the right honorable gentleman made the ground of his fight to be opposition to the very policy which he has now adopted, and also to a party which he told the electors could not foe trusted. He said that the cry of the protectionists on that occasion for fiscal peace was simply to gain breathing time, in order to secure later on a larger amount of protection than was possible in the Tariff which had just been passed. Referring, in the same address, to the Deakin Government, which he was then so strongly condemning, he said -
The Government has not had the courage to say - “ We want a protectionist Tariff.” They are afraid to take up our challenge. We said - “Your Tariff is abhorrent to the people, and it amounts to a fiscal fraud.”
These are the words which the right honorable gentleman, who is now leading this new party of fiscal peace, and probably of preferential trade a little later on, addressed less than twelve months ago to the free and independent electors of New South Wales, and through them, as the leader of the Free-trade Party, to those who were prepared to range themselves under his banner throughout the Commonwealth. In that address he went on to declare what the planks of his policy were, and they are very interesting indeed. He said -
The bond of union amongst us is first the removal of the present Government.
Plank number one in his then programme was to remove from place and power the Deakin Government.
Then a member of our party must be in favour of reducing the Tariff to a revenue level, and if he can go that far, give the mother country a substantial preference in our Australian Tariff.
He went on to say that his party was broad enough to include those who held widely diverse opinions on subjects other than his two main planks - the defeat of the Deakin Government and the reduction of the duties to a revenue Tariff level. At that great meeting the following resolution was carried after the address of the right honorable member: -
That this meeting desires to place on record its appreciation of the energetic opposition offered by the free-trade members of the Federal Parliament to the burdensome Tariff introduced by the Ministry, and urges the party to strenuously resist any proposal, whether for Australia or the Empire, tainted by the errors and involving the evils of protection.
That- resolution was moved by Mr. John Haynes, a well-known politician and freetrader in New South Wales, and was carried unanimously. The position put before the ejectors by f)ie right honorable gentleman was that the fiscal issue would be the battle-ground between parties in the Federal’ Parliament, and that every effort would be made by him and those who had enrolled themselves under his banner, to secure the reduction of duties. Since then marvellous changes have taken place. The right honorable gentleman’ has achieved plank No. i, the defeat of the Deakin Administration, with the assistance of the Labour Party. But whereas the members of the Labour Party who voted against the Government, were fighting for a principle which they had advocated before the electors, and had found expression in their platform, the supporters of the right honorable member stated’ distinctly and plainly that they were voting merely to wreck the Government. But what do we find now? The right honorable member has sunk the fiscal faith which he professed at the last elections, and is advocating fiscal peace, which he then condemned throughout the Commonwealth. The excuse which he gives for deserting the cause which he led so long and so ably - because I know no man who has fought so energetically for Tariff reform as he has done - is that when Parliament met, he found himself in a minority, and was unable to reform the Tariff on the lines which he considered to be best in the interests of the community. He gives that as a sufficient reason for dropping the policy which he advocated when before the electors, and taking a new stand.
– It is a very sound position to take when in a minority.
– A coward’s castle.
– It is a new system of parliamentary ethics to say that men may pledge themselves before their constituents to a certain policy, and, when they find that they have not a sufficient number behind them to carry it into effect, turn round on their pledges. That system of ethics has not hitherto been introduced into this Parliament, and has never been successful elsewhere. I ask the honorable member for Wentworth to point to an instance in which a great statesman in the old Home Parliament, to which we look for example, has adopted such a policy. Imagine a statesman like Gladstone, who, after fighting for Liberalism in the British constituencies was defeated in the House of Commons by his great antagonist, Disraeli, who practically stole his liberal clothes - imagine him turning round on the pledges which he had given to supporters, and joining hands with his antagonist to effect some other purpose or to gain some other end.
– Is the honorable member as a free-trader going to help the Tariff revivalists to increase the duties ?
– I shall look after myself. I was returned to the House as a believer in the principle of free-trade, and honorable members know upon which side of the fiscal fence I stand. I have never endeavoured to wriggle from one side to the other, and if I should ever find occasion to change my views my constituents will be consulted at the very first opportunity. During the long and weary fight over the Tariff, I bore my share of the burden, and my vote was always cast in the direction of free-trade. No honorable member can truthfully say that I shirked my duty, or that I ever failed when I was called upon in connexion with that struggle. My constituents were specially affected by the duties upon grain and fodder. At the time of the Tariff discussion we were passing through one of the most severe droughts ever known in New South Wales. That State, Queensland, Victoria, and to a lesser degree South Australia, suffered very seriously. The settlers in New South Wales were reduced to the direst straits in their efforts to keep alive at least some of their stock. Not only was this the case, but the food supplies for the community generally fell far short of requirements. All the natural sources of supply were for the time stopped, and flour and other necessaries had to be imported from abroad. Therefore the grain and fodder duties were pressing most heavily upon the people at a time when they were undergoing the greatest suffering. When the fight took place in this House, upon which side did the Minister of Trade and Customs range himself ? When we represented the straits to which the settlers in New South Wales were reduced, he laid down the principle that protection was necessary to assist the agriculturists of Victoria, and, further, argued that an insidious attempt was being made to secure a measure of free-trade, which could not be obtained by any other means. Another gentleman, who is now sitting behind this piebald Government, said that any troubles through which the settlers of New South Wales were passing were brought about by their own improvidence, and that they had no right to come to Parliament squealing for assistance.
– What did some of the members of the honorable member’s party say?
– I am dealing with honorable members opposite. The honorable member for Parramatta can direct his attention to honorable members on this side of the House if he chooses. The Prime Minister told the electors of New South Wales, upon the occasion to which I have referred, that the cry for fiscal peace on the part of the Deakin Government was a sign of weakness, and apprehension.
– I got beaten, that was all.
– The right honorable gentleman has recently laid down an entirely new principle, namely, that when a leader is beaten on a particular policy, he is justified in coming to Parliament, and turning his back on all the promises of a life-time, and all the pledges he has made to his constituents.
– That is very good, coming from the honorable member.
– What would the public have said if Gladstone had done any such thing ?
– What did Gladstone do with regard to the question of Home Rule?
– The electors of New South Wales were asked’ to stand by the Prime Minister in bringingabout a reform in the Tariff ; and yet now we find him leading a Ministry, the principal portfolios in which are held by protectionists. We are told that the most important positions in the Cabinet are those of the Ministers who control the collection of the revenue, and the expenditure of the revenue, in this case the Departments of Trade and Customs and the Treasury. The Minister of Trade and Customs is a staunch protectionist, who refused to agree to a temporary remission of the grain and fodder duties on the ground that he regarded it as an attempt to introduce a measure of free-trade. The Treasurer, the Minister of Defence, and the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, the last-named of whom is practically responsible for the present combination, took
– If the honorable member explains away the honorable and learned member for Indi he will have enough to da That is what will be required of him by the electors.
– I am not concerned about the honorable and learned member for Indi.
– Does the honorable member repudiate the alliance?
– What would be my position if I were sitting on the Government benches ?
– The honorable member would be sitting with the friends of a life-time.
– I should be sitting side by side with the strongest Conservatives in this House, and also with men against whom L was compelled to fight throughout the Tariff discussion. During the debate upon the grain and fodder duties I called for a division upon the question whether grain and fodder should be placed upon the freelist. The acting leader of the Free-trade Party, Sir William McMillan, asked me not to press for a division, because some of the free-trader.s were not prepared to support me. He moved that the proposed duties should be reduced by one-half, but he did not call for a division. I did so, and was asked not to press my request, . but I said that I was determined to show the electors the sides upon which honorable members were ranged. That is how it comes about that there is a record of those who voted for the proposal and those who voted against it.
– The honorable member has fallen from grace since then.
– In the course of his address the other evening the honorable member for Echuca proved to his own satisfaction that at one. time the honorable and learned member for Indi was a free-trader. In support of his contention, he quoted from a number of speeches, which I must say constituted somewhat of a revelation to me, because I had no idea that the honorable and learned member for Indi had gone so far in the direction in which I have been travelling as those quotations appeared to indicate. The honorable member for Echuca declared that he was sitting upon the Ministerial benches because he thought that was the proper position for every true protectionist to occupy. He claimed that by remaining there, not disappear, and of vested interests to be created under it. Then, when the nextfight comes, those connected with these interests will be up and doing. They will battle, not merely for the retention of the Tariff in its present form, but for increased protective duties. That is the position which was put by the honorable member for Echuca, and by other strong members of the Protectionist Party who sit behind the Government. It seems to me that they had very substantial reasons for the stand which they have taken. By the combination of honorable members opposite, they have secured that for which they could not hope at the1 last election. They have insured the retention of the existing Tariff during the life of this Parliament, or whilst it is under the dominance of the present Government. In other words, they have obtained everything which they went before the electors to secure. It is the Prime Minister and those who sit behind him who have given their position away.
– Yet, up to the present time, the honorable member has not uttered a word of protest, although Parliament has been in session for seven months.
– Since the coalition was brought about, this is the first opportunity I have had of addressing the House.
– Did the honorable member say a word about the matter when the Watson Government were in power?
– Had the honorable mem ber informed me that such a coalition would be effected it might have made a very considerable difference. The other day I noticed an interview in one of the Sydney newspapers in which the Prime Minister dealt with my own attitude, and that of two or three other members of the Labour Party towards this motion. He stated that at the last elections the honorable and learned member for West Sydney, the honorable member for Barrier, and myself, although members of the Labour Party, were practically placed upon his list because we were free-traders. He declared that no opposition was offered to our return, because we were ranked amongst those who would assist him in fighting for Tariff reform. He now designates our present attitude upon this motion as sanctified treachery. He holds that after the mischief is done - that is after his Government has been turned out - to say that the free traders may vote as they like, is one of those ingenious methods of trying to sanctify an act of treachery which will absolutely fail. Then, apparently in order to clear the way so that no similar charge may be lodged against members on that side of the House, who have professed a faith in fiscal peace and so forth, he said -
It is to be observed that the protectionists who sit on the Ministerial side, are, to a man,, determined to follow the paths of political honour.
I have to say that I have never asked any body of men, or any free-trade association, to support me as a free-trader absolutely.
– No one has ever suggested that.
– Well, it looks as if the suggestion had been made. The charge which the right honorable gentleman levels at myself and others of perpetrating an act of sanctified treachery if we vote against him on this occasion, looks rather like a suggestion of the kind. If that is not the suggestion, I can only say that I regret verymuch my mistake. But I want to say that right from the start I have made my position as a member of the Labour Party “clear and definite.
– Is that why the Political Labour Council of Sydney have invited applications to contest the honorable member’s seat in the labour cause ?
– The Labour Council may do what they like; I can look after myself. I am in politics because I wish to see passed measures of social legislation which, I believe, will considerably alter the present unsocial conditions which obtain in the community. I place my desire for such legislation above anything else ; and I believe that free-trade will help towards the reform - 1 advocate. I am convinced that under a protectionist system, certain vested interests are created which prevent the reforms at which I aim, and which I believe would result in so much benefit to the public. For that reason, I give my adhesion to the free-trade cause; but I’ have never told my electors, or any one outside, with whom I may have been in communication, ‘that I. am prepared, for the sake of free-trade, to sink those measures of social reform to which I have given prominence throughout my political career. I never pledged myself before the electors that I would support the present Tariff. I spoke against its operation as strongly as did any free-trader. I indicated that my attitude was one of hostility towards the Tariff - lock, stock, and barrel. Now the Prime Minister wishes me to take a seat behind him, in support of the very Tariff I condemned before ‘the electors.
– As the honorable member sat behind the other Government.
– The other Government never raised the Tariff question, and, besides, it was a Labour Government. I told my electors I should support a Labour Government in securing the social reforms I had placed on my programme. I never pledged myself to the electors to support the present Tariff. My pledge was dead against the present Tariff, and I should, in my opinion, be a traitor to my electors if I associated myself in maintaining a number of items which I have combated ever since I came to the House.
– Then, according to that view, the honorable member must have been a traitor for six months at least.
– The honorable member is very anxious to attach to me the stigma of “ traitor.”
– The honorable member is very anxious to stigmatize all those with whom he has worked hitherto; He is making a very bitter speech, anyhow.
– I am placing my position clearly before my electors, who know that I came here to support certain reforms.
– The honorable member would not have been here but for the man whom he is now bitterly denouncing.
– Those reforms are in the forefront of the programme of the Labour Party, with which I have been associated ever since I entered politics - from that party I have never dissociated myself. I find the right honorable member for East Sydney in hostility to the party with which I have been associated, and fulminating against the principles for which they have been fighting for years. How could I, under present circumstances, record a vote against the principles for which I have been fighting ever since I entered politics ? My vote on this occasion is one which I understand is in ‘the direction of sending the members of this House to -their masters. I have no particular anxiety for another general election, the trouble and worries of which are not generally inviting to honorable members. But, in view of the extraordinary changes which have taken place, and the complications arising out of the issues which have been raised, I feel it my duty to allow my electors to say whether they .are prepared to be represented by a Labour free-trader or by a fiscalsinking Conservative, such as those who sit behind the present Prime Minister. As to the interjection about “ treachery,” let me tell the honorable member for Parramatta that it was his leader who. first used that term to myself and two other free-traders. If the honorable member chooses he may look at the Evening News of Sydney, of the 16th ult., and he will find in an interview the statement to which I am referring, and to which I so strongly object. I have a little bit of Scotch blood in me, and it is well known that while a Scotchman may be led, he cannot be driven. If the Prime Minister thinks he can drive me into his ranks he will find himself very much mistaken. The Labour Party, as I pointed out previously, took a different position from that assumed by a number of the freetrade! followers of the Prime Minister in their attitude towards the Deakin Govern.ment. Those honorable members were opposed to the Government in regard to the Arbitration Bill on a matter’ of principle, which they had fairly put before the electors, and which they were pledged to support in . the new House. They were supported in the stand they took, by a number of the members of the party led by the present Prime Minister. Some, of those honorable members indicated thai they were in deadly opposition to arbitration legislation in any shape or form; and that they were simply voting as Government “wreckers” on that occasion. Well, I had to associate with them, but I was not going to turn from my path of duty because other honorable members could not look at the position from my stand-point, That they chose to lake1 a hostile position towards the Government for the purpose of killing arbitration legislation, was not sufficient reason for me to “ back down “ in regard to a principle which I had pledged myself to my electors to support. As a result of that action, without any self-seeking on their part, the Labour Government was constituted, with the honorable member for Bland as Prime Minister. Members of the Ministry, with the exception of the AttorneyGeneral, the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne, were drawn from the ranks of the Labour Party. That Government undertook to carry on the business of the country. A number of statements were made in the press that it was to be challenged by the right honorable gentleman who is now leading the Government. But, instead of being met by a direct challenge, the Watson Government was allowed to unfold its policy, and after a while was defeated upon a question as to whether a Bill should be recommitted. With respect to the attitude of the House towards the Watson Government, I wish to say this - that as one who did hot take any very active part in the discussions at that time, it seemed to me that the Watson Government met with as little fair play and consideration at the hands of those who were opposed to it, as any Government I have known since I have been in politics. There were, it is true, professions from honorable members opposite, that the Watson Government would receive fair consideration. The fact must not be lost sight of that the honorable member for Bland had had no Cabinet experience, and that practically the whole of the members whom he called to his assistance were without Ministerial experience. I understand that the honorable member for Boothby had been a member of a Ministry ; but his experience was of a very limited nature. The honorable member for Bland had to face in this House gentlemen who had taken leading positions in the politics of their States, and who had had Cabinet experience extending up to twenty years. He received at the hands of these gentlemen far less consideration than they have been prepared to extend to other Governments - less than was extended at the commencement of the Commonwealth to the Barton Government, and less than was extended to the Deakin Government. It appeared that while honorable members opposite could find very little to cavil at in the policy of the honorable member for Bland, or even in his methods of conducting the administrative business of the Government, still there was a deadly hostility towards him simply because he was a labour member, and his Government’ a Labour Government. What was the crux of the whole position? It was hoped by honorable ‘ members opposite at the outset that, from want of experience and so forth, the honorable member for Bland would give an opening that would enable his opponents to bring about his defeat with something like a reasonable excuse. But. that hope failing, the behindhand side-issue method was adopted. One is tempted’ to ask why, in view of all the talk that we had at the time as to the intention to challenge the Watson Govern- 8 r ment, something was not done in that direction, and that the method of refusing to recommit a Bill was adopted as a means of defeating them. It is strongly suggested that the reason was that, seated behind the present Prime Minister were a number of honorable members who did not care to go to their electors after having helped to defeat a Labour Government, and’ that they wished to have some reasonable excuse for turning, that Government out of office. Now a number of honorable members opposite are very anxious to impress upon the electors the idea that the defeat was one which the La60u Government themselves invited, and were wholly responsible for, and that there was no need for it. But if we analyze that criticism what do we find ? Some of those honorable members adversely criticised the Labour Government because it was’ alleged they had not sufficient backbone to stick by their principles, and were prepared to give away matters of vital importance for the purpose of retaining office. But when the Watson Government stood’ by a matter of principle, refusing, as any self-respecting Government would refuse, to be humiliated, as they were by the refusal of the House to allow a Bill to be recommitted, they were charged with unnecessarily standing by that principle, and with bringing about their own defeat. The truth is that the right honorable gentleman at the head of the Government found that the Labour Government would be able successfully to carry on the administrative and legislative work of a Government, and also that it was breaking down a considerable amount of prejudice in the public mind which had formerly existed against the Labour Party and the Labour Government. He found that the Labour Party was likely to establish itself amongst a wider number of electors than formerly. The right honorable gentleman has not burked this position. I find that recently he is reported as having used the following words: -
You may be sure that no light crisis in politics has brought two such inveterate antagonists together Mr. Deakin and I, both in provincial and Federal politics have stood upon opposite sides.
Those are the right honorable gentleman’s words in an address delivered in this State about n month ago, when he was reviewing the position. He went on to say, in speaking of the temporary control of the administrative and legislative functions of government by the Labour Party -
In ordinary circumstances I would have given him that is, the honorable member for Bland - two or three years. But I put my position in a nutshell when I say that if I had a young opos sum, I would feed him, because when he got old he would not bite me; but if I got a young Bengal tiger, I would get rid of him while he was weak. Even when he was weak I would not like to tactile him until 1 thought I could get through at the job.
That seems to explain the attitude of the right honorable gentleman towards the Labour Government. Under other circumstances, the present Prime Minister would have been prepared to permit the honorable member for Bland to control the destinies’ of the country ; but, because he happened to be the leader of the Labour Party, he represented a power which, in the opinion of the right honorable gentleman, could be likened only to that of a Bengal tiger. He therefore not only availed himself of the opportunity to kill him as speedily as possible, but he was so little anxious to engage him in a straight-out fight that he sought the means which offered him the greatest likelihood of success. Any one who is acquainted with the trend of politics in the Australian States for some years past, with the fights which have raged round the fiscal issue, and the position of parties in this House up to the time the honorable member for Bland assumed office, must recognise that no trifling matter could have brought about the combination which we see opposite. Good free-traders hate protectionists, because they consider their policy is one which will ruin the Commonwealth, and good protectionists hate freetraders because they think that their policy will drive all the money out of the country, and bring ruin upon industries. But both are agreed in their hatred of the new labour movement in politics. They hate that movement a great deal more than they hate each other on the fiscal issue. I have a word to say with respect to the new force in politics which has brought about the lightning and far-reaching change with which we are face to face to-day. Any one who has studied the trend of matters political, must have recognised that this would come about sooner or later. It has been gradually at work in the different States, and old political parties, which have been in life-long antagonism, now find themselves driven together in the face of the common enemy. We find that honorable members who differ on the fiscal issue have a common hatred of the Labour Party and labour ideals. This feeling is much stronger than their mutual likes and dislikes on the fiscal question. They are now prepared to sink their differences on the fiscal question, in order that they may better accomplish their purpose of wiping out the labour movement altogether. I believe that the labour movement represents the desire of the great toiling masses of our community to secure for themselves better conditions than those to which we are rapidly trending, and must inevitably come, unless some important changes are made. The depression and strikes of the early eighties forced upon the masses of the people representing the industry of the community a consideration of matters with which they did not previously concern themselves. Prior to that time, they were satisfied to permit representation in Parliament to be drawn from the side of wealth and vested interests. As a result, they found that the conditions which they had left the old land to escape - fondly hoping that in the wider avenues of this new land, with its rich potentialities for wealth production, their condition in life would be improved - were being repeated here. The opportunities for acquiring wealth were being narrowed down, man was pitted against man, and a section was finding it increasingly difficult to find work on any terms or conditions. They realized that these results had been, and were being, brought about, not by reason of any lack of natural opportunities in Australia, but because of the conditions created by the laws of the Parliaments as they were then constituted. Their first protest was in the form of the great maritime strike and the labour disturbances that took place in the early nineties. They found that, with the forces of law and order, the forces of Government, and the restriction of opportunity with which they had to contend, they were engaged in a losing fight. They were advised by the great newspapers of the day not to waste their efforts and energies in useless and destructive labour disputes, but to go to the Parliament of their country, and seek there the effectiveredress which was there to be obtained. That led tothe creation of the labour movement. One of the first evils which had to be redressed was that which was caused by the anomalies in the system of enfranchisement. Large numbers of people were denied the right to take part in making the laws under which they lived, while other persons had a plurality of votes. I am told that in my own State it was possible for one man. to exercise as many as twenty votes, and some of the city electorates were dominated by the club vote, which was in force there. I remember when the Labour Party was first formed in my own State, and I took some little part in the movement on that eventful occasion. I remember that the labour programme was first put before the electors at a by-election, which was contested by a democrat and friend of my own, Mr. Frank Cotton. I was his assistant secretary, and the programme was put forward in his opening address at the Protestant Hall just prior to those general elections in which labour played such a leading part in the State. The labour movement has had many vicissitudes. It has had its times of progress and its set-backs, as all such movements have. But it is now generally recognised that it is one which embraces the whole of the Commonwealth, and that it is not going’ to be wiped out very readily. I propose to quote some figures, in order to show the progress which has been made in each State since the previous general election. In New South Wales at the general election of 1901, twenty-three pledged labour men were returned. The Legislative Assembly was afterwards reduced in number from 125 to ninety, and to that reduced House twentyfive pledged labour men were returned at the recent general election, while four labour men sit in the Legislative Council. In Victoria, at the general election of 1903, twelve labour men were returned, and at the recent general election, that number was increased to nineteen, and I am told that two labour men represent constituencies in the Legislative Council. In Queensland, at the general election of 1901, twenty-two labour men were returned to the Legislative Assembly. That number was brought up to twenty-four, and at the last general election, when a penal appeal was made to the electors, its strength was increased by ten, and at a recent by-election, a further addition was made. So that, since the first general election held after Federation, its strength has increased to thirty-five in a House of about seventy-two members, while it has one in the Upper House. In South Australia, prior to Federation labour had seven representatives in the House of Assembly, and it now has six members in a considerably reduced House, and one representative in the Legislative Council. In Western Australia the Labour Party started under
Federation with seven members in the Legislative Assembly, in which it now has twenty-two members. It also has two members in the Legislative Council, or twentyfour in all. In Tasmania prior to Federation there was no labour member in ; he Parliament, but the Labour Party has now five representatives in a House of thirtytwo members. Taking all the States, before the reductions of members we’re made, labour had seventy-one representatives, whereas now it has 132 representatives in the Assemblies and ten representatives in the Councils. As regards the Commonwealth, the first election resulted in the return of sixteen labour men to the House of Representatives and eight to the Senate, making a total of twenty-four. At the present time labour has twenty-five representatives in the House of Representatives and fourteen in the Senate, making a total of thirty-nine. These figures show a steady increase in the labour movement, not merely in one State, but in all the States, and in the Commonwealth. They show that this new movement in the politics of Australia has to be reckoned with, and all political thinkers recognise that fact. I propose to quote a few paragraphs from some Australian publications. My first quotation about the Labour Party is taken from the Review of Reviews, which is published in this State, has a considerable circulation throughout the Commonwealth, and is under the control of Mr. W. T. Stead, who takes a wide interest in the politics of the Empire. Dealing with the Labour Party in an article in its issue of the 20th July, this magazine made the following statement of the position : -
No one can be blind to the rising of the tide of sentiment and to the way in which it is making. All over Australia the Labour Party is winning at the elections. The recent contests have shown a great increase in numbers returned on labour pledges. He is a blind student who fails to see and allow a proper estimate of the growth of public sentiment. It is not to be fought and killed, but nourished and educated, that it may serve the best interests of the Commonwealth.
Honorable gentlemen who sit on the other side of theHouse, and whose present combination has been brought about by reason of the growth of the Labour Party, do not take the liberal view which the writer of this article takes. Instead of believing that it is a power which should be nourished and educated, they believe it is a power which should be killed at all costs. My second quotation is taken from another magazine, published here, called Life, and edited by the Rev. Dr. Fitchett. I do not know that he has ever been closely associated with or shown any great interest in the labour movement; but, writing on the position as it presents itself to him, he says in his issue of 15th July last -
The Labour Party has many claims to respect. It is rich in able men. It maintains an admirable discipline. It has brought to bear upon political affairs a zeal and an organizing power which are beyond praise, and which stand in shining contrast to the political apathy of the average elector in whom what may be called the civic conscience seems to be dead.
Then he goes on to say -
The Labour Party will always be a force of the first order in Australian politics, and many of its ideals are noble. It is not to be judged by its cranks and its bitter-tongued fanatics, and it will itself gain’ when it is sobered by the sense of responsibility and is compelled to legislate, not for a class, but for a nation.
Honorable members who criticise the policy and aims of the Labour Party do not go to its programme or to the utterances of its recognised leaders for material on which to base their charges, and present them to the electors ; but they go either to the Yarra bank or to the Sydney Domain. They prefer to quote from its cranks and its fanatics rather than from its level-headed men, who have made it what it is, and control its destiny.
– Then the honorable member admits that there is an aristocracy of labour ?
– We have no aristocracy of labour, but we have some good common sense, which the writer of this article in Life is prepared to recognise. He says that it is unfair to the labour movement to judge its aims and its ideals by the utterances of a few of its cranks or a few of its fanatics. And Mr. Stead, in his magazine, says it is a political force which has to be reckoned with, and that the wise man will nourish it, because of its good purpose and high aims, and endeavour to educate it into right political lines ‘and economic thought. Honorable members on the other side of the House see in the Labour Party nothing which commends it to them. They see in the Labour Party a force’ and a danger, which they feel called upon to fight to the very death. “ No quarter to the Labour Party,” is their motto on the present occasion. Another quotation that is worth considering is taken from a recent article in the Pall Mall Gazette, dealing with Australian matters. This is the quotation -
Now the question we are bound to ask ourselves is - “ How will Australia pay her heavy indebtedness to English bondholders ? “ It is not only that her finances are rotten, but the tone of public and commercial life is deplorable. These facts - the evidence and the arguments in the Times article - are perfectly conclusive upon the point.
The writer goes on to say that Australia is looked upon by leading commercial men in the old world much as merchants in some eastern countries are regarded - as unreliable and . untrustworthy, and that commercial morality has reached a very low ebb amongst us. No doubt the history of our bank smashes and our mining and land boom syndicates may give some ground for such views, but I hope, for the credit of this country, that much of the criticism which finds expression in the article is undeserved. I hope, too, that with more settled conditions, a good many of the wild cat schemes which to some extent justify it, will disappear. The article concludes with the following passage : -
Although no party has lived through more abuse than the Labour Party, still it contains, and has for supporters in the country the only stable element in society. Their ideals are purity of public and ‘ municipal life.
I should like to read another quotation from the British Australasian. It is this -
Looking at the trending of recent debate, it must be obvious that the Labour Party, both in the Commonwealth and States, are on the rising tide, and it is useless and foolish to blink the fact.
I wish now to deal with some of the objections which have been raised against the Labour Party. In the first place, honorable members opposite say that it is tied by a pledge and bound by a caucus. They seem to think that there is in that pledge an element of danger to the liberty of the individual, and to the good government of the community. Now, nothing exists without reason, and there is a reason for the pledge pf the Labour Party. When those who are in the Labour movement undertook the great task of forming a new political party, they found that they had to contend with very considerable difficulties. In the State from which I come, political lines are very strongly defined, and it was found, when a democrat who should have been able to make himself heard in the councils of the country was put forward, that if he ran on the free-trade side, conservative free-traders would join with protectionists in returning a protectionist who was opposed to him, while if he came forward as a protectionist, conservative protectionists joined with free-traders in bringing about his defeat. This led to a recognition of the fact that to secure a political position other lines must be followed, and that it was useless to try to obtain any reform by working on the old party lines. Those in the movement found that they had to wedge in a new party between the two old parties, and to secure the stability of that party they had to formulate a definite programme, and to secure a definite pledge from their members. The first Labour Party returned in New South Wales was practically an unpledged party. But it was found that some of its members, although professing to put labour interests first, and desirous of securing the reforms set out in their programme, ranged themselves on the side of free-trade or protection, according to their fiscal bias, and thus the main issues put before the electors who supported them were, to a certain extent, lost sight of.
– That is not correct.
– I do not say that the honorable member did that, although he was a member of the first Labour Party, but some of the other members of that party did so. Some of them had previously, been in Parliament as members of one or other of the old political parties, and thoughreturned as labour nominees, supported those parties. Out of this state of affairs arose the necessity for a very drastic pledge - a pledge with which I was not in agreement and which I refused to sign.
– Then the honorable member, too, is a renegadeand a rat.
– To my mind, that pledge embodied wrong principles, inasmuch as it placed the control of the party in the hands of an irresponsible body outside the political arena.
– And absolutely disfranchised the electors.
– An honorable member owes allegiance to his constituents. When he goes before the electors he places a programme before them and gives them certain pledges, and if he is an honest man he wishes to be in a position to carry them out. If I am not very much mistaken the honorable member for Lang, in 1894, signed the cast-iron pledge to which he now expresses such strong objection in order to secure nomination as a representative of the Labour Party for the electorate of Marrickville in the State Parliament. I went into the State Parliament in the first instance as an unpledged labour man, and I took the first opportunity to secure a modification of the labour pledge. In that movement I was joined by Mr. George Black, who was returned as an unpledged labour man for, one of the constituencies of Sydney, Mr. Edden, who was one of the first labour representatives from the Newcastle district, Mr. Nicholson, who represented then, as he does to-day, one of the south coast electorates, which embraces the coal miners employed in the Bulli and Wollongong mines-
– Mr. Nicholson did not sign the pledge until the last State elections.
– Therewas a special reason for that, which was fully understood. In addition to the gentleman I have named, we had the co-operation of Mr. Donald McDonnell, the present representative of Cobar, Mr. Arthur Rae, ex-member for the Murrumbidgee, and one or two others. As the result of our efforts the pledge was modified, and assumed the form which it presents to-day. I shall quote the State pledge, because I desire to direct the attention of honorable members to the contrast which it presents to the more liberal Federal pledge. Some honorable members do not seem to be able to see the distinction. The honorable member for Lang confused the Federal and State pledges in his address on this motion.
– The Federal pledge is the same that is used in Queensland to-day.
– Exactly. I must do the honorable member for Lang the justice of saying that when he discovered his mistake, he corrected it. Notwithstanding this, however, there is a strong inclination on the part of other honorable members to fall into the error which he committed. The State pledge reads as follows: -
I hereby pledge myself not to oppose the selected candidate of this or any other branch of the Political Labour League. I also pledge myself, if returned to Parliament, on all occasions, to do my utmost to insure the carrying out of the principles embodied in the Labour Platform, and on all such questions, and especially on questions affecting the fate of a Government, to vote as a majority of the Labour Party may decide at a duly constituted caucus meeting. I further pledge myself not to retire from the contest without the consent of the Executive of the Political Labour League of New South Wales.
That requires that any man whose name is submitted to the ballot for the purpose of selection shall abide by the result, and that, if rejected, he shall refrain from standing in opposition to the selected candidate. That is a principle which other political parties have endeavoured to follow, but have not vet succeeded in fully applying. In several instances during the last State elections in -New South Wales, selections were made by means of ballots for the nomination of the Liberal and Reform Party, but in one or two cases the rejected candidates did not abide by the result. The next thing that is required of a candidate is that he shall support the programme of the Labour Party. That programme is well known, and is modified from year to year at conferences, which are representative of all the electorates. The candidate is required to pledge” himself only to the programme as it is submitted to the electors at the general election. If that programme be afterwards modified, the member who has signed the pledge is not required to abide by the modification until he has had an opportunity of submitting the matter to his constituents- Then again, the determination of the question whether -or not a particular Government was friendly to the Labour Party, .was regarded as of the utmost importance, and members of the party were required to pledge themselves to abide by the decision of the caucus upon that question. I have had several years’ experience in connexion with State politics, and during six years of the term I was a pledged member of the Labour Party. Upon no occasion have I been asked to vote contrary to the pledges given to my constituents, or what I considered to be the best interests of the Labour Party. The only vote regarding which I had any doubt was that which had the effect of ejecting the Prime Minister from the position of Premier of New South Wales. In that case, Mr.
Neild, a member of the Legislative Assembly of New South Wales was commissioned by the Government to inquire into the question of old-age pensions during a visit to Europe, and he undertook to do so free of expense to the State. When his report was completed, it was generally recognised that he could not reasonably be expected to bear the whole of the expense involved in its preparation ; but in order to guard against any extravagant charges the Labour Party requested that no money should be handed over until Parliament had been consulted. The Prime Minister was then absent in the old country, in connexion with the jubilee celebrations, and the Acting Premier, Mr. Brunker, gave a distinct pledge that no money would be paid to Mr- Neild until the question had been submitted to Parliament. Upon inquiry afterwards, however, it was discovered that ,£300 had been paid without the sanction of Parliament, and that action on the part of the Government was regarded as a distinct breach of faith. I do not think that the Prime Minister was cognisant of the promise referred to, or he would have paid due regard to it. Other issues were, however, raised by the Labour Party. The question arose whether the Government were sincere in their desire to pass measures dealing with early closing, old-age pensions, conciliation and arbitration, and other matters which were on the stocks at that time. I was one of those who held that the Government could be trusted to carry out their promises, and that they would endeavour to place the desired legislation on the statute-book as speedily as possible. Other honorable members disagreed with me upon that particular matter. That was one of the main factors which led fo the decision of the caucus to oust the Reid’ Government.
– Was it not a fact that some members threatened to retire from the party?
– That had nothing whatever to do with the matter. As a matter of fact, there were a number of the right honorable gentleman’s most staunch supporters who. turned against him upon that occasion.
– Did not Mr. Watson and others reverse their votes to save the party ?
– Messrs. Ashton and Dick, members of the present State Government, Mr. Frank Cotton - who was not then a member of the Labour Party - Mr. E. M. Clark, Mr. J. C. L. Fitzpatrick, and others, all of whom had been returned as direct supporters of the Ministry, voted against it? They had lost faith in the Government-
– Over Federation.
– Yes, over Federation. The members of the Labour Party had as much reason to oppose the Government upon the question of Federation as had- those honorable members to whom I have referred, because they entertained exactly the same view in that they objected to certain portions of the Constitution which the present Prime Minister and his ‘then colleagues strongly advocated. That.was what was responsible for the defeat of the Reid Administration. Yet what are we now told? In addressing some farmers the other day upon this particular matter, the right honorable gentlemen is reported to have said that the Labour Party got within twelve months from the honorable member for Hume more than they could get out of him in 200 years.
– He. corrected that statement in this House the other evening.
– I did not hear him make the correction, and I am very sorry that I. did not. The matter has caused me considerable concern, because I was one of those who strongly believed in the sincerity of the right honorable gentleman’s desire to place certain measures upon the statutebook of New South Wales. I was extremely disappointed, at this late hour of the day to read in the report ‘of his address, a statement to the effect that the Labour Party had got more in twelve months out of the honorable member for Hume than they could get out of him in 200 years, despite the fact that all that the Labour Party received from the honorable member for Hume were measures which the right honorable gentleman himself had upon the stocks at the time of his defeat, and which he had given our party to understand he would pass into law as soon as possible. If he asserts that he did not use those words-
– He said so the other night.
– I am very glad to hear it. They were only brought under ‘my notice quite recently. I am very happy to learn that the right honorable gentleman has been misreported in this particular. Now let me deal with the Federal pledge. 1 1 reads -
I hereby pledge myself not to oppose the candidates elected by the recognised political organizations, and, if elected, to do my utmost to carry out the principles embodied in the Federal Labour Platform, and upon all questions affecting the platform to vote as the majority of the Parliamentary Labour Party may decide at a dulyconstituted caucus meeting. I further pledge myself not to retire from the contest without the consent of the Executive of the Political Labour League of New South Wales.
The rules contain this further proviso -
Labour candidates shall have a free hand on the fiscal question.
I am informed by the honorable member for Kennedy that the Federal pledge is practically a fac-simile of the pledge of the Queensland Labour Party. The marked difference between the Federal pledge and the State pledge is that, under the former, members are not required to meet in caucus or to decide upon what attitude they shall adopt upon a want-of -confidence motion, or any other motion of the kind, involving the fate of a Government. On the contrary, they have perfect individual liberty. Further, they are free to pledge themselves as they choose to the electors upon the fiscal issue, and to stand by the pledge which they have given when that question is specifically under consideration. Upon a motion of noconfidence, it seems to me that the State labour pledge may well be liberalized with advantage in the direction of the Federal pledge. I believe that it would be found to operate satisfactorily, and that probably it would not give rise to the misconception, if not the friction, which is said to exist at the present time. Upon these matters, whilst I was a member of the State Labour Party, no friction was engendered, and I was never required to record a vote to which I conscientiously objected. I know that members of that party who had pledged themselves to the electors, were not called upon to vary their pledges, although the party as a whole took an opposite course. The principle laid down by the Labour Party was that any such pledge was sacred, and could not be violated. At the same time a member was required to make himself familiar with the programme of the Labour Party, and was forbidden to give any pledge in opposition to it. I repeat that under the Federal pledge the fate pf a Government is not a matter upon which a caucus meeting is held. No doubt, upon the present occasion, the members of the Labour Party will vote against the Ministry, notwithstanding that there ‘is no decision requiring a solidarity vote. There are special reasons why they should do so. The Government have declared themselves opposed to that party and to their principles. Honorable members opposite also object to the Labour Party, because its members seek to extend a preference to unionists under the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill. The question of arbitration generally, is one upon which honorable members opposite are by no means in agreement. Some of them believe in legislation of that character, upon the ground that it is necessary, if not to prevent labour disputes, at least, to allow .of an amicable settlement of the differences between capital and labour. On the other hand, there are honorable members who believe in non-interference - who believe that no legislation relating to arbitration should find a place on the statute-book. They reckon that industrial troubles should be settled by capital and labour in the best means that they can devise, and that the real settlement is to be found in legislation in some other direction.
– Would the honorable member accept the Arbitration Bill without preference to unionists?
– No. From my experience I think that the Court should have power to give preference. It has been put forward that what is aimed at by unionists and the Labour Party is that a man, simply because he belongs to a union, shall have the first claim to employmentthat an employer shall not have the option of selection, but that, if a unionist offers, he must be accepted in preference to a nonunionist, irrespective of the ability of the two men. I wish to say that the unions, so far as I understand, do not hold a doctrine of that description.
– The honorable member supported it.
– No ; I did not. I contend that the party with which I am sitting, are in accord with me in this particular.
– Does the honorable member not support preference to unionists?
– I say that the Court should have power to consider the question of preference. Preference should not be made mandatory, but the Court should see that a man, because he is a unionist, is not made to suffer for his principles. That is all that is aimed at in the New Zealand Act.
– That is the amendment in the Bill now.
– And that is what is aimed at in the law in operation in New South Wales and in Western Australia. What is desired is a provision to enable the Court to say that a man, because he is a unionist who fights for the consideration which he thinks he and his fellow-unionist ought to receive, shall not be punished on that account. I know that all over New South Wales prominent unionists are boycotted simply because they have a capacity to state their case, and take a leading position amongst the men with whom they are associated. These men strive to better their condition, and the condition of their fellow-workers, and, because of this, they are denied the opportunity to secure employment within the State. Men of this description are constantly being driven by this boycott out of New South Wales, and we lose not only many of our best working men, but also some of our best citizens. During the debate on the Arbitration Bill, the honorable member for Maranoa exhibited a “ black list “ published by the Employers’ Federation in Queensland. This was a secret list circulated amongst the members of the association, with the object of indicating what men were to be denied the opportunity of employment.
– It was not a “ black list “ at all.
– The honorable member for Maranoa claimed that it was a “ black list.”
– The honorable member showed clearly that it was not a “black list.”
– Whilst I have not myself seen any “black lists” of the kind circulated in my ownState, I know that men who become prominent as trades unionists, fail to get employment, because of some secret understanding which exists. That was one of the reasons why at the beginning of the industrial dispute the Pastoralists’ Union insisted on references. Every man had to receive a reference from his employer on the completion of his contract.
– Has the honorable member ever known non-unionists to be “black listed”?
– No, but I have known non-unionists have a very good time of it. There was a very strong feeling amongst the members of the Australian Workers’ Union, particularly amongst the shearers, against this system of references. What was the ground for that strong feeling? It was not that the men declined to take references - it was not that they did not recognise the advantages of references - but they knew that a reference from certain men meant “black-listing.” There was nothing in the wording of the reference to indicate that the holder was an unsuitable man - there was nothing to which objection could be taken, but there was something in it which caused an employer directly he saw it to tell an applicant that there was no place for him in the shed. A continuous system of boycott by these means was suspected to exist, and is believed to exist to-day, amongst the shearers throughout New South Wales. And a similar system has extended from the industrial arena into the political arena. It has been my experience ever since my first contested election that, when ‘ the “ numbers were up,’ ‘ and it was known that I- would be returned, men who had been prominent in supporting me were informed that their services were no longer required. Many of them were told that now they had elected a labour man they should look to that labour man to find work. for him. That is p, system of boycott which obtains, I believe, throughout New South Wales ; and it is unfair systems such as this which make it necessary that an Arbitration Court, to be effective, should provide for preference. A man who is prominent in his union, and fights for the maintenance of existing labour conditions - because most of the troubles of later years have not been caused by a demand for further concession, but by a desire to maintain concessions already ‘obtained - a man who takes an intelligent part in a dispute, and leads his brother workers on to victory, or. it may be, defeat, through no fault of their own, but because of the natural conditions with which they had to contend - such a one is in every case a marked man. He has to quit his employment, and has to practically sink his identity in order to live. Is that a condition of affairs which should prevail in a civilized community? It is to prevent such a system - which, I am informed, has prevailed throughout the Commonwealth for many years past - that it is necessary to have a preference clause in the Arbitration Bill. It simply gives the Court the opportunity to step in, and say to a man, because he is a unionist, not that he shall get preference over every other man, but that he shall not be penalized simply because he is a unionist. We take our stand on this position. Honorable members opposite are satisfied with a condition of affairs in which a considerable section of the community, while dependent upon work for their subsistence, are unable to get that work, or, at all events, are unable to get it constantly. They say, “Why should a man who is a unionist be preferred as against a man who is a nonunionist, and why should a non-unionist be made to starve in order to enable a man who happens to belong to a union to obtain a certain amount of work ?” Honorable members on this side of the House believe that in this Commonwealth are natural opportunities sufficient to give every man work to do, and the means to provide for himself the necessaries of life. It is to the development of those resources and to the broadening of opportunities of employment that we look for the settlement of the question of work or no work for a considerable section of the community. Honorable members opposite say that if some people are to starve, why should not the unionist as well as the non-unionist do so? We reply that in a country bf boundle’ss resources there is no need for any man to starve, and we wish to bring about such an extension of the natural opportunities within the range of those who are seeking for work that there will be ample for all who labour, whether by brain or muscle, unionist or non-unionist. The question of preference to unionists is a question of arming the Court with powers which would prevent a man, simply because he takes a prominent part in a union, from being boycotted for his activity.
– Why should the non-unionist be boycotted?
– He is not boycotted unless there is a fight between unionists and non-unionists, and the non-unionist is prepared to take the wages and conditions that the unionist is fighting against. There is a fight then on the old barbaric lines of the strike and its concomitants, because our so-called civilization has not yet discovered any other method of settling such a difficulty. Our object and purpose in. supporting such legislation as the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill is to afford some other measure than the old barbarous method of a strike, which has hitherto been resorted to. Honorable members who oppose that legislation wish the old order of affairs to continue. They practically say to the unionist striker, “ If you do not like your conditions of labour we will find some one else who will take them, and if we can find some one else who- will take your place you must not make any protest. Your services are no longer required.”
– What is the difference be- . tween the position of the Government and the position of the Opposition as to preference ?
Mr. BROWN__ When the honorable member makes his speech he can tell us the difference. I wish to make a quotation to show the actual position, and the carelessness with which’ objections to preference have been put forward by honorable members opposite.’ I intend to quote some utterances made by His Honor Judge Cohen, in the Arbitration Court of New South Wales. I quote from the Evening News report. There had been considerable criticisms in. the newspapers in connexion with certain suggested alterations of the Act. The Judge, in delivering judgment i.i a certain case, took occasion to refer to those criticisms, and this is what he said -
I have no leaning one way or the other, but in’ the public interest it will be far better, if the preference clause is being unduly used as a means of oppressing or harassing employers, that the Cou# should be assisted by evidence of that.
The Judge simply said in effect, “If our decisions unduly harass employers, and if they are unfair, we ask the employers to place their position before us by means of the channels provided by law, and we will consider that position.” But the employers, instead of doing that, make all sorts of wild statements in the newspapers, which they do not think it worth their while, or are not in a position, to substantiate before a proper tribunal, such as that provided in the Court over which Judge Cohen, a fair and impartial man, presides. He further said -
I am not saying in this particular case, because I do not know - but from general statements I see in the press that the preference clause is the means of harassing the employer and placing him in an unfair position of working his business. I say it would be much better if the Court were enlightened by evidence of these cases. We read in the press of general statements ‘being made. One person takes it up from another person at the corner of the street, and I see general assertions made with’ regard to what the Court has done which will not bear any test. They are absolutely without foundation.
– Those were statements made outside this House.
– A number of the statements made outside this House have been repeated in the course of this debate. Mr. Justice Cohen goes on to say -
Therefore, what I say is, in the public interest - in the interests of the Arbitration Act, which, after all, is a most important experiment, it would be much better if people, instead of expressing their grievances in the way in which I have stated, would come to the Court and point out that preference has been given in certain cases, and the result is so and so. That is not done. I am not going to be guided in my decisions by what .1 see in the press. I am guided in my decisions by the sworn evidence in the Court, and that is the only evidence I will be guided by in arriving at my decision. We are sworn here to decide in accordance with the evidence placed before us, and that is the only evidence by which I intend to be guided. I know from my own knowledge, and what I read, time after time, of actions attributed to this Court which the Court has never performed. Almost daily in the press you see that.; Mind you, j am not saying one way or the other as to whether this preference clause is or is not worked duly. I will not be guided by what I see in the public press. These general statements are made, and if you put the statements to the proof, in almost all cases they will fail. I do not expect any clause we lay down will work with perfect harmony and satisfaction to every one. All the wisdom of the Legislature has not formulated it law to which some objection cannot be taken. ‘
These are the remarks of Mr. Justice Cohen upon this particular matter. He points out clearly that a number of the statements made with respect to the operation of preference to unionists have no foundation in fact. He says that if employers have any grievances - and he is not going to say that there are none - let those who feel that they have a grievance place their case before the Court, which will then be in a position to remedy it. He goes on to say that many reports as to decisions said to have been arrived at by the Court were absolutely without foundation. Mr. Smith, who is the representative of the workers in the Court, says : -
I would like to say, to show that there cannot be- very much in these general statements, in every industrial agreement that has been filed in this Court preference has been given. We had an instance of it yesterday in the Shipwrightsdispute, and, in fact, the Court pointed put, in making the common rule, that they might have to make some slight qualification in that preferenceclause.
The Court is animated by a desire to find out the best way to secure justice for employer and employe1. It is an open Court, and it has never refused to hear the statement of either side, or to allow the weight of evidence to have due consideration. I. wish to make another quotation in connexion with this matter from no less an authority than the Hon. B. R. Wise, who is a member of the Legislative Council of New South Wales. In an address delivered before the Chamber of Manufactures in Sydney, and dealing with the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill which was before this House, he said -
It was pretty certain there would be a dissolution of the Federal Parliament, if not immediately, at least before very long. It was equallycertain that the issue of the elections would be whether there was or was not to be a Federal’ Arbitration Bill. He was asking them to consult their own interests in begging them to make up their minds clearly upon the main issue, and to give a vote on that, and not on a side issue. If they did not want a Federal Arbitration Act then clearly it was their duty to vote against it. But if they did want it, then let them see that they voted for it, and were not misled into voting for a Bill including the amendment proposed by Mr. McCay, which, he said deliberately, would make arbitration a dead letter.
– Who said this?
– The Hon. B. R. Wise, who is the father of the Arbitration Act in force in New South Wales.
– He knew better when he said it.
– He said the same thing yesterday at the Eight Hours demonstration.
– He went on to say: -
If they wanted to kill it, do it straight out - not support candidates who posed as friends of arbitration and yet supported a clause which would make it inoperative. He had as much experience of the theory of industrial arbitration and its practice as any person in Australia, and he declared his firm conviction that any Arbitration Act which deprived the Court of the power of giving preference to unionists would be a dead letter and worse than useless. There was no person who had ever any practice in an Arbitration Court, either here or in New Zealand, who could say it was possible for an Act to settle an industrial dispute, unless the Court had power to award preference to unionists. That was the solemn decision of the Supreme Court of New Zealand before the Act there gave that power.
I wish now to quote an extract from the Lyttelton Times, a New Zealand journal, which deals also with this much-criticised proposal to give preference to unionists.
– Does the New Zealand Court give unlimited preference ?
– The Court is given unlimited powe!r in New Zealand.
– The article from which I- quote deals with the history of the arbitration movement in New Zealand. One remarkable thing about this resume^ of the history of industrialism in New Zealand is that it shows that this kind of legislation, at its inception in that Colony, met with the very same class of opposition as that with which it is meeting in the .Commonwealth Parliament. The very same objections were urged against it, and in- connexion with it the very same prophesies were made of injury to industry and capital, and of the illeffects it would have on the community. All these evil effects were prophesied in New Zealand ten years ago. On reading this r£sum6, one is apt to think that much of the criticism we have heard here, when the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill was before us, was drawn from this particular source. This is what is stated in the Lyttelton Times of 1st September-
It is just ten years yesterday since the Industrial Conciliation and Arbitration Act was first placed on the New Zealand statute-book, and the anniversary recalls to mind the circumstances in which this very notable piece of legislation was introduced into Parliament. It was a distressful time, full of cares and vexation of spirit. There was a peculiarly bitter feeling in both political and industrial circles. The Liberal Party, which had only recently ascended to power, had already given an inkling of the revolutionary policy it intended to adopt.
The article goes on to show how Mr. Reeves took the matter in hand, after careful consideration, in which he did not .limit his investigations to the industrialism of his own Colony, but extended them to industrialism throughout the world, and to the efforts made to improve industrial conditions by means of legislation. It goes on to say -
In 1892, and again in 1893, the House of Representatives passed the Bill with the conciliation and arbitration clauses complete. On both occasions the Legislative Council cut out all provisions dealing with arbitration. But compulsion was Mr. Reeves’s standard of faith, and rather than see the measure become law1 in a mutilated form he reluctantly moved for its discharge from the order paper. The result of the general election of 1893 convinced the Legislative Council that the measure was desired by the country, and in the session of 1894, when it was submitted to the nominated chamber for the third time, the constitutional practice was adopted, and opposition was offered no longer. The Bill was passed with its compulsory clauses, and it was then placed on the statute-book. It did not come into force until New Year’s Day, 1895, and, owing to some technicalities having to be attended to, did not come into operation until the end of the year.
Though the most effective opposition came from the Legislative Council, the feeling against the proposal found most violent expression in the House of Representatives. The doctrine of noninterference with capital was shouted from the Opposition benches. The “ compulsory clauses,” as they were called, were assailed with extraordinary vigour. They were used as a means of throwing discredit, not only on Mr. Reeves’s Bill, but also on all the labour legislation proposed by the Government. “ Who, but a lunatic,” demanded one member, “ would invest money in an industry in this Colony if that industry is to be subject to the verdict of an irresponsible and presumably incompetent tribunal ? “ Expressions of that nature found a ready echo from almost all the Opposition members. “ This legislation,” they said, “ will not tend to the conciliation of the classes, but to their estrangement.” The object is to resuscitate and reestablish unionism. The Bill has been introduced at the dictation of unionists, and under their guidance, and disastrous results must follow. It will throw back the cause of labour and of con- ciliation. It will bring about fresh strife and trouble. It will be the death-knell of unionism, and of the proper representation of the industrial classes in the struggle that will always exist between capital and labour. It is not conciliation. It is coercion. It is monstrous. It is a mischievous thing. It is a sham.
– Is that quotation from a speech by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports on the Labour Party ?
– No; that is a commentary on the legislation of New Zealand, and it has been echoed from the other side of this House. The Legislative Council of New Zealand, though it submitted under strong protest, drew up five reasons which were to stand as monuments to its wisdom in years to come and as indicating the disastrous effects which the legislation would have on the Colony. This is how it stated its position -
In the Legislative Council there were drawn up five “ reasons “ why the compulsory clauses should be struck out. It was held that Courts of Arbitration,) with compulsory powers, were not so likely to effect a settlement of an industrial quarrel as were Boards of Conciliation ; the power of inflicting fines given to the Courts in the BUI seemed to be quite unsuitable for the settlement of trade disputes; Courts of Arbitration without the power of enforcing awards would resemble the Courts of Conciliation provided for in the Bill, and would therefore be unnecessary ; there was reason to believe that the Boards of Conciliation would be more successful in the settlements of disputes if no Courts of Arbitration were in existence; if voluntary Boards of Conciliation do not go to the root of the conflict between capital and labour there is no likelihood of Boards of Arbitration, armed with such unsuitable powers as the infliction of fines, doing so; therefore the Courts are not needed.”
Time, of course, has proved that the compulsory clauses have stood the test much better than the conciliatory ones. So far from the compulsory clauses having broken down, as was prophesied, almost every important amendment of the Act has been in the direction of making them more arbitrary and more drastic. The boards have been partially broken down ; the Court, which was going to tyrannize over everybody, and would bring the whole scheme into disrepute, has withstood the brunt of all attacks, and, as far as the principle is concerned, is now above criticism. Had Mr. Keeves listened to those friends of the scheme who advised that the compulsory clauses should be deleted, the scheme would have been inoperative from the start. It would be hard to find a more complete vindication of the principle that if conciliation is to succeed, it must be supported by wide compulsory powers which may be put into force at any time by a recognised authority. There could be found no clearer demonstration of the truth of Mr. Reeves’s statement in 1803 “ that something more than private arrangements, and something more than voluntary conciliation, are wanted if you desire to put an end to industrial disputes.”
Another notable feature of the Act in operation is that while the present position is entirely different from what was anticipated by both sides, and while the Conciliation Boards have not come up to expectations conciliation has not been lost. In 1894 Mr. Reeves declared that he did not think *’ the Arbitration Court will be very often called into requisition ; on the contrary, I think that in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred in which labour disputes arise they will be settled by the Conciliation Boards.” After he had had a year’s experience of the attitude assumed bv a section of the employers, however, lie modified his opinion, and in Wellington, in 1895, be pointed out that the Conciliation Boards were not an indispensable basis of the arbitration system, as the Act could be worked without them.
At any rate, the Arbitration Court has proved itself not only a Court of Appeal and a Court of Law, but also a Court of Conciliation. The conciliatory element is predominant. In the words of Mr; Justice Cooper, “ the chief object of this Act is a conciliatory settlement without intervention or compulsion on the part of this Court. We sit with an earnest desire to bring the parties to a mutual agreement, if possible.” There is no doubt the Court, by adopting this attitude, has succeeded in averting many disastrous quarrels.
That is the position, as put by the Lyttelton Times, in its resume. It is shown that a considerable amount of the adverse criticism which was levelled against the proposal at that time, has not been realized. I believe that, under these conditions, the prognostications of honorable members opposite will meet with a similar fate. I had intended to quote from a New Zealand newspaper another extract bearing on this matter, but I cannot lay my hands upon it at this moment, though I can state its effect. At the annual dinner of the Employers’ Association in Wellington recently, some addresses were made. The AttorneyGeneral, who represented the Government, proposed the toast of the Association. Reference was made to the operations of the Act, and two of the speakers - Mr. Duthie^ a member of the House of Representatives, and’ Mr. Nathan, the president of the Association, bore testimony to the good work done in the Colony” by the legislation. They admitted that, although at the outset they were strongly opposed to it, fearing that it would result in much disaster, and would drive wealth out of the country, its operation had- falsified their anticipations. Whilst they were not prepared to admit that it was a perfect measure, they gave it credit for having realized many of the advantages which were claimed for it by its promoters. Surely, if the New Zealand legislation has1 won for itself the success claimed for it in the article which I have quoted, and by many eminent per- sons there, some of whom were friends to the movement, while others were at the outset bitterly opposed to it, we have some grounds for urging consideration for a similar measure here ! I think it can be shown that the New South Wales Act, though very faulty, so that its best friends are most anxious to secure amending legislation, to relieve the Court of a considerable amount of routine work, has been instrumental in doing much good. As one who, as a member of the State House, took part in fighting for that measure, I know that at the time of its introduction, there was considerable friction in many of the industries of the State, which, if it had not been for the hope that some means of the kind would be provided to deal with disputes, would have found expression in the old barbarous method of strikes, with the result that trade and commerce would have been seriously interfered with, and much suffering would have been entailed upon the community. I find, from returns dating back to May last, that twenty-two compulsory settlements, affecting as many different industries, with whom were connected 14,500 workpeople, have been made by the New South Wales Court; while twenty-eight disputes, affecting some 10,000 working men, were settled by mutual agreement. Altogether, some 25,000 working men have been affected, either by the decisions of the Court, or by mutual agreements which were rendered possible by the existence of the Court. Whilst all the settlements have not been in favour of the men, most of them have been so, and fair satisfaction obtains in industrial circles. There is still considerable friction, but it arises from the inability of the Court to deal fast enough with the matters which come before it, because of the prevalence of red-tapeism, and because of the many minor matters, such as the recovery of fines and payments to unions, with which its time is occupied. Although this is experimental legislation, its tendency has been to give better results than obtained under the old system, when men went out on strike, and, high feeling being engendered, called others “ blacklegs.” and other opprobrious name’s, such as the honorable member for Wentworth objects to. When a strike occurs there is a cessation in the creation of wealth, which results in loss to both capital and labour, while the sufferings which fall upon the families of the workpeople concerned are scarcely realizable. Very often those on strike have to depend upon their brother workers elsewhere for the means of subsistence. In these contests the opportunities for creating wealth, which are held by the few, are pitted against the empty pockets and the hungry stomachs of those whose only capital is. represented by their ability to work. There is, furthermore, the loss to the community at large. The business people in the little towns which largely depend upon the industries affected suffer ; business is lost, and very often never recovered again. Surely the Labour Party, in endeavouring to get rid of this old order of things, which has caused so much loss and waste, and has engendered so much bitter feeling, have put forward proposals which are worthy of a trial. But these proposals, instead of being met with fair consideration, are met with hostility and adverse criticism which, as Judge Cohen has said, is not often founded on fact. It would seem practically impossible’ to work out a better system, in view of the hostilities which we have to face, than that now proposed. Of course every reform is met with opposition. When the New South Wales Early Closing Act was passed, it was looked upon as an interference with the liberty of the subject, and considerable friction was caused not only to business people, but to the community generally, because the right to shop when one liked was taken away. I make bold to say that had the measure been submitted to the electors immediately after its enactment, they would have swept it out of existence ; but to-day its advantages are realized to such an extent that there is not the slightest danger of it being removed from the Statutebook. We have similar facts in regard to arbitration legislation. The New Zealand Act, which was adopted as an experiment, met with great hostility ; but in the course of ten years much of that opposition has been broken down, so that many who were formerly bitterly opposed to it now support it. This approbation should be an incentive to us not to stay our hand, but to continue in the endeavour to perfect our legislation, the operation of which will eventually win the support of many of those who are now opposed to it. One of the principal objections urged against such legislation is that it interferes with the liberty of the subject, the subject in this instance being the working man who is not a member of a union. It is desired to preserve to the non-unionist his right to do as he pleases in regard to industrial matters. As a matter of fact, the rights of the individual at present are very limited. A short time ago I quoted from Professor Thorold Rogers’ book, Work and Wages in England, in which he points out that the liberty of the subject, so far as the working people of England are concerned, is an unknown quantity, that they were, until the beginning of last century, subject to laws and enactments which deprived them of their personal liberty and freedom, and that the whole trend of legislation and administration was to make them more and more complete wage slaves. It would seem that the workers of the old country have not altogether freed themselves from the legislation referred to. The liberty of the subject instead of being curtailed by legislation, such as that recently before us, would be extended and widened. As the result of agitation, some of the old English enactments were considerably relaxed. Many of those who took part in the reform movement, and who had joined unions and fought for their rights, were transported to Australia as criminals. Some legislation in the right direction was passed, and until recently it was thought that the British workman had secured a much greater degree of liberty than was enjoyed during the period referred to by Professor Thorold Rogers. A shorttime ago, however, the Privy Council gave a decision, in what is known as the Taff Vale case, which has entirely swept away the liberties gained by unionists. In support of my remarks I shall quote from a very able article on “ The legal position of trades unions in England, as defined by the Taff Vale decision,” written by Mr. Frederic Harrison, in the Positivist Review for August, 1904. He says -
Within the last three years the legal position of trades unions has been entirely changed - and changed, not by Act of Parliament, but by legal interpretation - that is, by judge-made law. For the thirty years preceding 1901 trades unions have been believed to be legal voluntary societies, such as the Athenaeum Club or the Primrose League. They were not liable to interference by Courts of Law; “Picketing” was not illegal, provided neither intimidation nor violence could be proved. Above all, trades unions were not liable to civil damages, not being corporations or legal entities. This was accepted law. All this has been swept away by decisions of the last three years. The Courts now hold -
That unions may be sued for civil damages, though they are not corporations or legal entities.
That Courts will grant injunctions to control their collective acts, though they are not corporations.
That the Courts will supervise, interpret, and enforce their trade rules inter se.
That peaceful persuasion not to enter into a contract, or not to complete a contract, is illegal, and even criminal.
That if the officers of a local branch, how ever remote and subordinate, have authorized, or even acquiesced in such persuasion, the Amalgamated Union can be made answerable in heavy damages and costs.
It was held by a Judge of the King’s Bench that, during a strike, the employer can hire a workman to bring into Court the rules of a union, and in his name obtain an injunction to tie the hands of the union.
We know how easily in America a big trust can get an injunction from a sympathetic Judge.
Then he sums up the position as follows : -
The result of these decisions taken together is this : - Unions have the liabilities but not the capacities of corporations. They cannot sue for debt due to them, but they may be sued and made bankrupt. Their employers can hire members to break them up in exhausting law suits. Courts of Law will control , the acts of their agents and officials. Strikes are made practically impossible if quiet persuasion can be treated as illegal, for strikes rest on persuasion. Unions can be ruined at any time if they are liable for anything which causes loss to an employer (illegal or criminal acts apart), for all bargaining in trade implies the prospect of loss on one side or the other, if certain terms are not considered.
By this decision of the Privy Council the whole of the work of the unions for years past has been rendered nugatory, and the condition of affairs which prevailed at the period of which Professor Thorold Rogers writes has been restored. This is the kind of liberty and legal control which those who oppose such legislation as the Conciliation and Arbitration Billdesire to see. The Conciliation and Arbitration Bill would remove many of the disabilities that are indicated by Mr. Frederic Harrison. Instead of interfering with the liberty of the subject, the Bill would confer upon him a greater amount of freedom. Members of the Labour Party have repeatedly been accused of a desire to curtail the liberty of individual industrialism, when as a matter of fact we are merely endeavouring to replace antiquated laws by up-to-date legislation. If we did not enjoy the liberal suffrage which we possess today, if the great industrial masses of the community were disfranchised - as they are in England and in most other countries - I should be very loth to bring them under the dominance of a compulsory arbitration law. But I am satisfied that, whilst we are endowed with the existing franchise - even if mistakes are made - the interests of the community as a whole will be in safe hands. Under adult suffrage we shall not have repeated those abominably one-sided conditions which were set out by Thorold
Rogers in his review of industrialism in England, and by Frederic Harrison in his very able and instructive article. So much for the objection which has been taken by honorable members opposite to the attitude of the Labour Party upon legislation affecting industry. During the course of this debate it has frequently been urged that the Labour Party is a socialistic party, and that Socialism is subversive of individual liberty, of good government, and of the best interests of the community generally. Honorable members opposite have declared that it is their mission to fight this new force in politics because of its socialistic tendencies. I admit that the Labour Party is socialistic to a certain extent, but not to the extent to which some who call themselves Socialists wish to go, because, like the careful gentleman at the head of the party, it believes in taking one step at a time. We claim that true reform is a matter of evolution, and not of revolution. I admit that there are some extreme Socialists who believe that Socialism can be achieved only by revolution. Thus, for the present, they range themselves against the Labour Party and join hands with the extreme individualist and conservative. They hold that under the conservative regime a condition of affairs will ultimately be brought about which the community will not tolerate, and that a revolution will follow which will practically consummate their ideas in a single day. In the political fight in which we are engaged I do not know who are our bitterest opponents - the extreme Socialists or the extreme conservatives who fight against Socialism of every description. A strong effort has been made by some honorable members to show that the Socialism which obtains within the Commonwealth in matters of common concern is not Socialism at all. The other day. as a member of the Farmers’ and Settlers’ Association, in New South Wales, I happened to be present at a deputation which waited upon the Premier, Mr. Carruthers, to ask him to extend State Socialism by amalgamating the Government Savings Bank, the Post Office Savings Bank, and the Advances to Settlers’ Board, with a view to establishing a State Bank, initiating a proper system of small loans on the credit foncier basis, and in that way assisting the primary industries of the country. The Premier was very careful to point out to the deputation that he was not a Socialist. The Socialist whom he depicted was an individual who wished to divide their little farms with them. By inference he made it appear that the one aim of the Labour Party was to secure a division of their little homes and properties, so that those who had not might share with those who had. I need scarcely add that that form of extreme Socialism finds no advocates in the Labour Party. I say that in New South Wales the very best friends of the small farmers have been the labour representatives in its Legislature. They have fought to secure for them reasonable concessions. It was through their instrumentality that the farmers succeeded in getting the Advances to Settlers Act passed - a measure which, though its operation has been very limited, assisted a considerable number of them to maintain their homes, particularly throughout the recent drought and the dry period covered by the last ten years. Labour members in that State have also been active in securing concessions in the way of the re-appraisement of holdings, and the reduction of interest charges. Indeed, every measure of concern to the farming industry has invariably commanded the support of the labour representatives. During the period that I was a member of the New South Wales Parliament, such measures would have had no chance of success had it not been for the active backing of the members of our party. The Prime Minister recently attempted to make it appear that the purpose of the Labour Party was to find employment in Government billets for as many of the industrial community as they possibly could, and he declared that if they achieved their object there would be a Government inspector upon every farm. The probabilities are that the scare created by these statements regarding the Labour Party in the Federal and State Parliaments, has been responsible for the formation of the new property and land-owners’ combination in Victoria, for which it is hoped to secure the support of the farming community. The first plank of the platform of this organization is quite in accord with the policy of the party now in power. ‘ The combination is known as the Farmers, Property Owners, and Producers Association of Victoria, and its first plank is that in all elections, whether Federal or State, where a Socialist candidate nominates, members of the association must sink all political differences and steadily support candidates to be selected bythe association in opposition to the Socialists.
– They must be an antiLabour organization.
– That is just what it means. The otherday a paper was. read by Mr. Stinson, the chairman or leader of the People’s Reform League of New South Wales, and in the newspaper report there occurred the following: -
Mr. Stinson, in the course of his papers, said the alleged decadence in the tone of our public life, and in the calibre of our public men, is attributed to a number of causes, the payment of members, manhood suffrage, and apathy and indifference on the part of the electors, being amongst the principal.
If that indicates the stand-point of those who are fighting the Labour Party - if we are to take that as indicating the true lines of reform, and as denoting a better standard in political life, according to these gentlemen - the first object is to get rid of manhood suffrage, payment of members, and similar reforms which have been brought about since the Labour Party found a place in political life.
– Does the honorable mem- ber say that manhood suffrage and payment of members have been brought about since the Labour Party came into being?
– It was largely the power of the Labour Party which brought these reforms along.
– There was manhood suffrage in Victoria forty years ago.
– There is not manhood suffrage in Victoria yet, much less adult suffrage. The only extension of the franchise inthat direction in Victoria has been given by the Federal Parliament, and not by the State Parliament. Opposition to Socialism is one of the strong planks of the new party, who have sunk the fiscal issue, and thus got into power. This party will not go to the extent of saying that they disbelieve in the active operation of the socialistic principle as exhibited in the State control of the railways, tramways, postal, telegraphic, and telephonic communication, and the education of the people. We are now told that these State enterprises are not examples of State Socialism. According to the honorable member for Richmond, State Socialism means taking from the person who has, and giving to the person who has not. That is simply a caricature of the ideals of the Labour Party. What we have attained already by State Socialism in Australia. State Socialists in the old world are now trying to secure. Only in to-day’s newspaper we read that Mr. Bryan, the
American politician, who, as representing the Democratic Party unsuccessfully contested the Presidency, is now of opinion that the time has come when the railways of the United States, which are conducted by private enterprise, should be made a State monopoly. If honorable members will only take the opportunity afforded by the parliamentary and’ other libraries to read some of the works bearing on this subject, they will see how the producer in America is ground down by large combines, and particularly by the railway syndicates. The small farmer, who depends on the railways for the carriage of his produce to market, is completely in the power of these combinations; and there are evidences of how this power is wielded to build up, not only railway, but also land monopolies. By the squeezing influences thus exercised those who are largely interested in the railways also secure a great land monopoly ; and we see the same sort of thing operating in Australia. As to the objections raised to the Socialism of the Labour Party, I should like to quote from an address by Dr. Mercer, Anglican Bishop of Tasmania, who in the Daily Telegraph of the 7th September, is reported as follows: -
He believed that there was at the heart of the socialistic movement of the present day genuine compassion for the multitude, and a determination to raise the standard of life for the submerged mass of the race. Then there was the sense of brotherhood to be found in the movement, and he believed in that brotherhood of humanity, and that they were increasingly realizing what that brotherhood could be because of some of the socialistic ideas. . . . The socialistic movement had in it elements that were distinctly on the side of virtue and good, and it was largely cultivating a spirit of sincerity between man and man - a spirit of true dealing one with another. There was in it also the development of a brotherly spirit of generosity.
I suppose that the words of an eminent divine! like the Bishop of Tasmania will be accepted as having some weight. I gather from the course of his address that this gentleman speaks with a knowledge of some eight years’ service in the lower quarters of the city of London, where great masses of people are herded together, under conditions which missionaries tell us would be a disgrace to the cannibalistic centres of the South Seas. The Bishop does not see those evils in the Socialist movement which honorable members’ opposite appear to see in the Labour movement. I wish in this connexion to quote the testimony of the leader of the present Government. In an address delivered some time ago, the right honorable gentleman is reported to have said -
If they asked him what was the thing upon which the Labour Party was to be most heartily congratulated, he would say that the members of that party, though they came from every State in the Commonwealth, found some bond of union strong enough to enable them to sink all their State and provincial jealousies and hatred, and work together on the broad basis of Australian brotherhood.
Many quotations could be! made from eminent authors on this subject. But what I wish to point out is that the principal charges that are levelled against the Labour Party on the plea of Socialism are not founded on fact. Honorable members opposite simply trot out a bugbear to frighten the timid elector. He is given to understand that the Labour Party desires to carry legislation to the point of destroying human liberty and individualism. Every person in the community is to be a cog in the great State wheel. He is to play a part which has been assigned to him by some great autocratic governing power. The man with a small home, who is struggling in the back country, is told that the ideal of the Labour Party is to divide his small holding, and put somebody else in it ; or to create as many Government billets as possible to satisfy the demands of its supporters. The whole of this condemnation is mere caricature. What the Labour Party wishes to do is to give greater liberty, and to free the natural opportunities that are at present locked up against labour and industry. Those opportunities were not created by man, but by the great Father of all, who gave them freely to his children; and they are not available, not because of divine laws, but of man-made laws. Wherever those opportunities are not used as Providence intended, it is the desire of the Labour Party to enable them to be used, and in this way to widen the scope of individual liberty, and to bring about a better state of affairs. The possibility of doing this is recognised by the great London thunderer, the Times, in an article which I do not quote directly from that journal, but. from a country newspaper, which reprinted it. The Times says -
Man is ripening in his ordained development. Beast of prey is not yet all extinct in him, but his organs in higher life are in growth. More and more, as the cycles are trodden, he rises to the religion of mutual helpfulness. Stronger now tb an ever in the history of the world, and of wider range than ever in that history, thoughts of loyalty to his kind are gaining sway with him. And surely in the years to come, so far forward as man’s outlook can reach, they who shall be in the front will more and more have to count it sin and shame for themselves if their souls fail in answering to that high appeal, and they hasten not with all their strength to fulfil the claims of that allegiance.
The great problem with which we have to deal presents many phases. I do not. hold with those who think that the mere passing of an Arbitration Bill will solve it. Under the conditions of our civilization, where there are large communities of people de- , pending more or less upon each other, some” legislation of this character is absolutely necessary, in order to hold the balance of interests evenly, and to secure justice to all, with a maximum amount of individual liberty. But behind all this lies the great crux of the whole question, the monopoly of natural opportunities, which is exemplified principally in the ownership of large areas of land, not for use, but for speculative purposes. Some of my honorable friends opposite hold a theory, which was put forward by economic thinkers of former times, that the wages of labour are drawn from a wage fund which is provided by capital. They consider that the position which accumulated capital plays in industry is of first importance, and that labour is only a secondary consideration. If there are conditions which tend towards the reduction of wages, capital will benefit, and consequently must receive the first consideration, wages coming second. Expression has been given to those views by one of the exponents of the principles of honorable members opposite, who, I understand, is lecturing throughout this State in support of their party and objects. Mr. Walpole, to whom I refer, on the 18th April, 1902, delivered an address at Lilydale, and is reported to have said that -
Marriage was a luxury for the working man, as were also long sleevers, attending theatres and the like ; and it was not fair to compel employers to pay for such things.
– The honorable member believes that long sleevers are a luxury, does he not?
– I believe that “long sleevers “ are a curse. I wish to quote against that an authority that will be generally accepted by honorable members - I refer to Adam Smith. I believe that the honorable member for Melbourne Ports will not go all tHe way with Adam Smith, but as the honorable member is at present sitting on this side of the House, I feel sure that he will go with him to this extent. Adam Smith says -
The annual labour of every nation is the fund which originally supplies it with all the necessaries and conveniences of life which it annually consumes, and which consists always either in the immediate produce of labour or in what it purchased with that produce from other nations.
In another part of his work, the same writer says -
The produce of labour constitutes the natural recompense or wages of labour.
I have to quote from another authority, Mr. Berens, an Australian writer, whose valuable work, Towards the Light, which I recommend honorable members to read, is in the library. He says -
Other things being equal, wages are highest in countries where land is more readily available, and steadily diminishes as the land comes into private control.
Another authority, who in the opinion of the honorable member for Parramatta is entitled to some little attention, puts the position in this way -
No man made the land. It is the original inheritance of the whole species. Its appropriation is wholly a question of general expediency. . . . It is no hardship to be excluded from what others have produced. . . But it is some hardship to be born into the world and find nature’s gifts previously engrossed and no place left for the newcomer.
– Does the honorable member think this has anything to do with the question before the Chair?
– I think it has. The quotation I have just read is taken from Henry George’s Progress and Poverty. I wish to show that this matter is really the crux of the whole question. Despite the great natural advantages we have, a considerable portion of our community cannot find an opportunity to make even a decent living. This is due almost wholly to the fact that the natural opportunities for the production of wealth have been disposed of from time to time by the governing authorities, who simply act as the custodians of the interests of the whole community. They are being held out of production and use in the hands of the few, and the many are, in consequence, obliged to suffer. Instead of looking for remedial legislation in the direction of controlling labour, Parliament will be well advised to look in the direction of making the natural opportunities which the Divine Creator has given to His children here reasonably available to every one for the production of wealth. As an illustration in this connexion, I take my own State of New South Wales to show how the monopoly of land has proceeded. I find that we have in that State something like 72,127 land-holders.
– The honorable member will kindly take his seat. The motion before the Chair is - “ That the present Administration does not possess the confidence of this House.” I should be glad if the honorable member will connect his remarks with that question. It is not competent for him to discuss any other matter than that at this stage.
– I have no desire, Mr. Speaker, to dispute your ruling, but the point I am endeavouring to make is that the Government and honorable members opposite are opposed to the Labour Party and their policy. They have taken advantage of an opportunity to combine their forces, in order to put the Labour Party out of power, and they now condemn the policy of that party, one of the planks of which is to secure wider and more reasonable access to the natural opportunities for wealth production. I am endeavouring to show the absence of any solid ground for the objections which honorable members opposite urge against the Labour Party, and why the plea of that party in this matter should receive fair consideration at the hands of the electors, as it must do, if they will but consider the position which the bulk of the people occupy at the present time in large centres of population, and the fact that considerable numbers of them are unable to find employment by which to better their condition. This plank inthe policy of the Labour Party is meeting with a certain degree of opposition and protest from honorable members now in possession of the Government benches. If in order, it is my intention to show the extent to which land monopoly has been allowed in New South Wales. There are in that State but a few who possess land, whilst the great mass of the people have simply to depend on their labour, which is useless to them without access to the natural opportunities for wealth production. If I am in order I would say that in New South Wales we have had liberal land legislation, provided in order to bring about settlement, and to build up a yeomanry that would be the stay of the State.
– Is that in the Federal platform?
– Federal and State members are at one in believing that the matter to which I refer is the crux of the present social position. Federal members would prefer to see the States members give effect to legislation which will remedy the existing state of things, and they are prepared to do their best to assist them; but they are not debarred under the Constitution from taking a hand in this particular matter themselves. In the State of New South Wales there ought to be under the operation of the land legislation there some 260,000 land-holders. But we have a total of only 72,127. The reason is that the small holdings have gradually been brought under the control of monopolists, and we have large areas of country practically held out.of use. I find at page 600 of Coghlan’s latest edition of The Seven Colonies that there are in New South Wales 66,152 land-holders who hold 1,000 acres and under, or a total of some 10,802,558 acres. There are 4,661 persons who hold from 1,000 acres to 5,000 acres, and the total area of 9,371,924 acres.
– The honorable member will kindly take his seat. I have been following his speech very closely, and it appears to me that the honorable member is discussing a purely State matter. So far as I can form any opinion, it has nothing whatever to do with the question now under discussion in this House. I must therefore ask the honorable member to confine his remarks to the no-confidence motion.
– If, sir, you think that the matter to which I have, been referring does not affect the present debate, I must bow to your ruling ; but it was my intention to deal with this phase of the question, and I think I could have shown that it affects the position which is being presented to the electors, if hot directly to the House. I do not desire to express disagreement with your ruling. I recognise that honorable members have listened to me for a considerable time, and I shall not trespass any further in that regard than to say that the growth of this Commonwealth largely depends upon the dealing with this vital question of land monopoly. The evil is not confined to my own State, but obtains throughout Australia. I desire to refer now to what may Be regarded as a cognate question, that of population. We find that instead of progressing, we are retrogressing. Our returns as to immigration and emigration show that we are gradually falling behind. If I am at liberty to do so - and the question of immigration laws has come under review - I should like to quote the latest figures issued by the statistician of this State. He points out that there has been a drop of 2,756 in its population for the first half of -this year, owing to an excess of emigration, which amounted to about 10,268 for the whole year, that there are now 592 more females than males, and that Victoria is the only State in Australia showing an excess of females, though South Australia may do so very shortly. If honorable members will refer to the minutes of evidence in relation to the Federal Capital Sites, they will find on page 146 the following reply by Mr. Coghlan to a question on the trend of population : -
Any estimate of the future population of Australia would involve unknown possibilities; for instance, as to what the Northern Territory is to be, and what Queensland is likely to be. We have also to consider the fact that Victoria is at the present time suffering from economic causes which prevent the increase of population. During the past twelve years Victoria has lost something like 120,000 persons by immigration alone. That cannot go on much longer. Perhaps these economic causes might be removed at any -time, and the population flow back again. The elements are so diverse and so many that one in my position would be unwise to make an estimate.
In his latest edition of the Seven Colonies of Australia, he gives, at page 170, a table showing the immigration and emigration in each case. I shall not quote the table, but it shows that for the period from 1890 to 1900 the total immigration exceeded the emigration by only 26,586, and for the year 1901-2 by only 6,267. That brings us to this question, that whilst we have natural advantages in the direction of suitable lands for all kinds of cultivation, whilst we have a wealth of minerals which perhaps few other countries possess, unless we have the human factor that wealth is useless. A country cannot be rich without a large population. That is one of the problems which we have to face, and which I maintain is seriously affected by the land monopoly prevailing. There are only three ways in which we can secure population. The first of these is by promoting an influx of Asiatic peoples. We are in such close proximity to the teeming peoples of India, China, and Japan, and of the islands adjacent thereto, that all we have to do to get a population very rapidly is simply to allow the usual facilities of ingress. The social conditions in those countries are such as to induce numbers of people to very readily quit their homes in order to enjoy the better conditions obtaining here. We have decided, by legislative enactment, that it is advisable not to encourage this kind of immigration, and hence we have our White Australia legislation. The purpose of our legislation is to limit, as far as possible, access of population from these quarters. I can quite understand that the holders of large landed estates, which are blocking settlement under natural conditions, would readily welcome a policy of that description. It would provide them with the necessary cheap labour for the development of their estates, and enable them to turn to profitable account the natural advantages they hold. It would mean, however, that “Australia would not be the white man’s land that we hope it will be, but that it would be practically the home of the blacks - a mere extension of the Eastern or Asiatic possessions. The next remedy for this defect is to permit of the introduction of emigrants from Europe. But if those emigrants were of the character of those who are pouring into America I do not think that the Commonwealth would be very materially benefited by their presence. What we want here are people of our own race, determined to develop the natural resources we possess, but in order to encourage them to come we must give them some easy facilities. There must be some invitation that will bring them here. We are asked to look to Canada as an instance of what is being done in this direction. Some of our critics here say that the reason why Canada prospers so well in this regard is because it has no Labour Party and no labour legislation. I am not so sure about that. Let me quote an extract from Mr. J. S. Lark, who represents the Dominion of Canada in Australia. This is how he puts the position -
In Canada the Government taxed the land, which made it impossible for persons to hold land for speculation purposes; but here (Australia) they taxed the man on the land. There was a great difference between the two systems. All land should be brought down to its value as a producing element. As far as he had been able to ascertain, the system followed here was an admirable one for keeping the people off the land.
It has proved that in practice. There has been a large influx of immigrants of the very best class into Canada, from both Europe and other parts of America. These in 1893 numbered about 10,680, but in 1903, ten years later, had increased to 124,654, while the area under wheat in creased in the same period from 250,000 to over 4,000,000 acres. Those figures show what may be done in the development of the country by, the encouragement of ‘immigrants of the right class.
– In Canada they give settlers 160 acres of land free.
– Yes, and the Canadian Government has already given away something like 5,000,000 acres for the encouragement of settlement. Immigrants coming to Australia, under present conditions, would be asked to pay at least onehalf of their returns for the right to occupy and use the land. I cannot deal with the subject at length now; but I would point out that, whereas in New South Wales we cultivated last year 1,500,000 acres, which produced 27,000,000 bushels of wheat, worth about £4,000,000, the Government Statistician has estimated that the State contains 20,000,000 acres of arable land, a great deal of which is better than that now under cultivation, because our farmers have been pushed back right into the dry. country. What an enormous increase of wealth, and of population too, would result from the profitable use of that 20,000,000 acres. The Labour Party in the States Parliaments and in the Federal Parliament are endeavouring to break down the existing land monopolies. In New South Wales 350 persons own between them onehalf of the alienated land in the State.
– The Labour Party at first resisted the Closer Settlement Bill.
– Yes, they did.
– They resisted closer settlement on the lines of those who wished the Government to repurchase unprofitable estates, and sell them again to the disadvantage of the community.
– It is only lately that the Labour Party have come round to the compulsory purchase of estates.
– I do not think so. I was in favour of it during the whole of the time that I was a member of the State Parliament.
– The Labour Party wanted a land tax first, that was all. They were never opposed to it.
– One reason why they were opposed to the Bill was that it was beingmade an excuse for handing Crown lands over to the pastoralists at long leases: With regard to the motion before the House,
I feel that I cannot vote with the Government, first, because they ask me to support a Tariff which I condemned when before my constituents previous to the last elections.
– Yet the honorable member is supporting a party which aims at securing an increase in the duties.
– When the honorable member finds me voting for an increase of duties, he can bring that objection to bear against me. My next ground of opposition to the Government is that they are opposed to the party to which I belong, while some of their supporters have pronounced themselves as strongly opposed to most of the items which find a place on our programme, and which I believe to be essential to the true progress of the Commonwealth, and to the upbuilding of its wealth and population.
– Particularly the bank robbery.
– That opens up another question with which I cannot deal now ; but I ask the honorable gentleman to remember how the banks have robbed the people, and particularly the small land-holders.
– Do two wrongs make a right?
– No ; and there is no intention to rob the banks. The proposal to create a State bank in New South Wales, which” is being met with strong, opposition, does not mean robbing the banks ; but if carried into effect will give those who invest their money a security which they do not now possess.
– What about the proposal to take from the banks ,£8,000,000 of reserves ?
– I will judge the proposals as they are put before us. What I am asked by the Government to do now is to support the present Tariff until it gets well established. I am not going to do that.
– Will the honorable member take any steps to re-open it?
– I am prepared, as I told my electors, to have the operation of the Tariff thoroughly investigated, and I believe that before any effort is made to either increase or decrease duties, we should have such an investigation.
– Hear, hear. That is the Government proposal.
– When was it made?
– It was made before ever the alliance thought of it.
– I know that some honorable members came to this House in order to secure concessions for industries in which their particular State was interested.
– Free-traders have also done that.
– Some so-called freetraders may have done it, but they are nor free-traders of the same brand as I am. Those to whom I refer voted to increase duties in order to protect industries in which they were interested. They said that the duties proposed were so low that those industries would be killed unless they received further protection. Now, however, these honorable members ask for fiscal peace. They say, “ Keep from the Labour Party the administration of the affairs of the country, and, if possible, wipe them out of existence. We shall be satisfied with the Tariff as it is until you get rid of the Labour Party.” I am not a prophet, but I think that those who have taken in hand the task of wiping out the Labour Party have a long row to hoe.
– Is the honorable member’s party in favour of reducing the Tariff ?
– I know where I am going, but the honorable member does not know the direction in wHich he is proceeding.
– I know where I am better than the honorable member does.
– I consider that before the Tariff is in any way altered, the statements which have been made in this House with regard to its injurious effects should be the subject of searching inquiries. Some assertions, made when the Tariff was under discussion, had considerable weight in swaying the votes of honorable members, but when further information was obtained, it was found that” only half the facts had been disclosed. If we are to deal with the Tariff fairly and justly, we must have the fullest information at our disposal. I would not countenance an investigation that would begin and end with an inquiry into the condition of a few little twopenny-halfpenny industries in Melbourne, Sydney, or Brisbane. The Tariff was framed in the interests of the people of the Commonwealth as a whole, and if an investigation is to be made, the far-reaching nature of the duties and the interests of all the people of the Commonwealth must be held steadily in view.
– When I made a similar statement on Friday last, the honorable member for Melbourne Ports protested against the idea.
– Further than that, I shall hold myself free to exercise my own judgment with regard to any recommendations that may be made by the Commission. In connexion with the subject of preferential trade, I do not intend to lend myself to any movement that would tend to impose fresh burdens upon my brother-workers in the old country. I recognise that I can exercise a vote, and that all my brotherworkers in the Commonwealth can do the same. But the position of our fellows in the old land is very different. The benefits of adult suffrage have not yet been conferred upon them, and in view of that fact it behoves us to pay the fullest regard to their interests when we are considering any proposals for preferential trade. If the Government submit a proposal in the direction of reducing some of the Customs duties, with a view to giving preference to the mother-land, I shall be prepared to meet them. I would not, however, agree to any increases of duties, which, in my view, would prove detrimental to the industries of tha Commonwealth. I must express my thanks to honorable members for having so patiently listened to me.
– I feel personally indebted to the honorable member for Canobolas for having allowed me time to gather together some scattered notes which I had made during the progress of this debate. I think honorable members generally are also under a debt of gratitude to the honorable member for having refrained from following the bad example set by some other honorable members from the State which he represents,’ who have revived ancient feuds and dragged before this House matters which I think might very well have remained in oblivion. I deeply deplore the introduction of personalities into our debates. Whilst I recognise that political conflicts in this country are of a strenuous character, I think we might very well agree 10 differ without hurling accusations of unfairness and improper conduct across the chamber. It is not my intention to follow the honorable member for Canobolas along the. paths which he has seen fit to tread. I intend to, as closely as possible, confine my attention to a discussion of the ] present position, dealing with the circumstances which led up to it, and outlining tie probabili ties of the future. The ostensiible question at issue is whether the Government have any right, by reason of a certain vote which was recently taken in this House, to occupy the Treasury bench. I do not imagine for a moment that those honorable members who are so strongly criticising the Government policy and their actions care very much about their programme. They are prepared to judge them upon their States performances rather than to trust them to carry out the very moderate programme which they have outlined.
– What programme?
– The programme which has been brought down by the present Ministry. It is an exact copy of that which was presented by the previous Government, which in its turn took as its programme the policy put forward by its predecessors. I see that the honorable member for Hindmarsh appears to be very much struck by the originality of the remark made by the honorable member for Gwydir. I trust that we shall not hear uttered in this Chamber any remarks so shocking as those which recently fell from the honorable member for Hindmarsh with regard to some very estimable persons in the Commonwealth.
– What were the remarks ?
– I refer to the honorable member’s remarks with regard to the churches being sanctuaries of sweating.
– The honorable member could not have heard what I said.
– The honorable .member has not denied the report of his speech.
– The honorable member for Laanecoorie should say definitely what he means.
– I promise the honorable member that I shall not close my remarks without expressing my opinion with regard to his utterances. The ^natter to which I desire to specially refer is the preference clause in the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill. It is stated that the debate which preceded the division on the amendment in clause 48 proposed by the Minister of Defence, was not such as to afford honorable members sufficient opportunities for free discussion. At least one honorable member has stated openly that he voted under a misapprehension. I had an exceptionally good opportunity to form some idea of the amount of discussion that took place’ around that particular proposal, and, in my opinion, it was just as freely debated, during the whole time that the previous amendment was under discussion, as it could have been under any other circumstances.
– What was discussed?
– I am referring to the amendment proposed by the Minister of Defence in clause 48.
– That was not before the Committee at all.
– I attended here more regularly than did the honorable member for Gwydir, and I heard the whole of the discussion, and in my opinion the amendment adopted at the instance of the Minister of Defence was very fully discussed. Any one who closely attended the Committee at that particular time will, I think, bear out what I say.
– Hansard disproves the honorable! member’s statement.
– The amendment was not discussed in Committee at all, and the honorable member must know it. Only two honorable members referred to it, the mover and another
– I am now expressing an opinion that was formed after an experience which I think the honorable member for Bland will admit was perhaps more complete than that of any other honorable member. Certain references have been made to unions and organizations under the Bill, which I regard as very much beside the mark. An attempt is now being made, particularly in the country, by some honorable members, who are taking the fullest advantages of the” opportunities afforded by this debate, to create the impression that a dead set is being made against the trade unions.
– Hear, hear. .
– There is no doubt about it.
– I would ask honorable members who are of that opinion to remember that in the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, we were dealing, not with trade unions as unions, but with organizations that were to be registered for the purposes of the Bill. It is provided that these organizations shall have the power to register solely for the purposes of the Act, in order that they mav take advantage of the benefits conferred by it. In my opinion, the unions themselves have only to be made acquainted with the full scope of the amendment submitted by the honorable and learned member for Corinella, and with the provisions of the measure as a whole, to be very much more satisfied with it in its present form than they are.
– If the honorable member belonged to a union, he would know different.
– I realize that we have a magnificent opportunity of placing upon the statute-book a measure which, I believe will tend to the advancement and welfare, not only of the industrial community - speaking of the labouring class - but of others who are engaged in industrial enterprises, and who have put their capital and their ability into them. Had the Bill been treated fairly, instead of being made the sport and plaything of parties-
Honorable Members. - Hear, hear.
– I must say that the honorable members who cheer were those who endeavoured to make the most of it in that way-
– The honorable member seized the only opportunity he had to kill the Bill, anyhow.
– The honorable member for Kennedy says that I embraced the only opportunity which I had to kill the Bill, and, apparently, the honorable member for Melbourne Ports indorses his statement. Except upon the second reading of the measure, I have had very little opportunity of voicing my opinions upon it. But I can say that, when the opportunity did come, I followed the principle which I have always laid down-
– What principle was that?
– The honorable member cannot understand my action. I know that it is a long way above his mental horizon. I followed my convictions irrespective of party or personal considerations.
– Have I, at any time, exhibited any personal animus towards members of the Labour Party? I defy them to cite a single occasion upon which I have done. so. Yet it is now argued upon the slenderest foundation that I used my first opportunity to kill a measure which I supported.
– In a mutilated condition.
– Does it lie in the mouths of honorable members, who have stipulated that they shall be free to repeat their votes upon this Bill, to charge me with acting improperly towards it? It does not become them to adopt that attitude. I am prepared at the proper time and place to defend my action, and I have no fear whatever of the result. Indeed, if the result were different from that which I anticipate, I should not follow the example of some of those whom I see opposite, by screaming, crying, fretting, and fuming all over the country.
– Then the honorable member has changed very much since the last election.
– I trust that my association with honorable members has not so sapped my moral fibre that I should resort to tactics of that kind. The leader of the Opposition has reiterated a statement which he has made in this House, and upon more than one occasion in the country. I am sorry that he has not yet learned - even after the conclusive manner in which the matter was put by the Minister of Defence last week - that he is standing upon very untenable ground. He has again declared that it is impossible to prove with mathematical precision to the satisfaction of the Court that the applicants for preference constitute a majority of those engaged in any particular industry. The statement that this Court is to be bound by the ordinary rules of evidence is one which honorable members are not justified in making. They know that its very constitution has been materially altered in order that it may be a tribunal of good conscience and equity. When the measure was first introduced, were we not told that this Court was to stand upon an altogether different footing from that usually occupied by a Court of Justice? Yet the leader of the Opposition would have those who rely upon him for guidance in this matter believe that we have taken away from the Court the power to judge a case according to good conscience and equity.
– I say that the honorable member has tied the Court down in a manner that will render the Bill inoperative.
– Yet the honorable member was prepared to accept an amendment which he said would have produced exactly the same result. Is it fair to the people - to those who regard him as their champion - that he should come here and adversely criticise a proposition which he himself declares is substantially the same thing? In speaking upon the Bill on the 10th August last, the honorable member said, vide Hansard, page 4044 -
In the great majority of cases, a majority of the men employed in a given trade or calling are within the ranks of unions relating to it ; but the ground on which I urge that this provision would be unworkable is that, in many instances, it would be impossible to prove with mathematical precision that which the amendment demands.
That is not a fair attitude to take up in regard to that provision, especially as the honorable member himself has repeatedly admitted that he was prepared to accept an amendment which virtually meant the same thing. He went on tosay - as will be seen by reference to Hansard, page 4045 -
I take it that “ satisfied “ means that the Court shall be satisfied in the clearest and most unmistakable way that the majority of those affected have approved of the demand for preference.
– The honorable member does not object to the provision for a majority ?
– No ; the practice in nearly every case, in all the Arbitration Courts, has been to grant a preference only when the majority, reasonably ascertained, is in favour of such a preference.
– They are not bound hand and foot.
– Could they be bound hand and foot by the words “ substantially represent “ ? Not according to the meaning which the honorable member himself puts upon the word “substantially.” What does he say that “ substantially ‘ ‘ means ? The present Minister of Defence, in addressing the Committee upon the Bill on 10th August last, is reported in Hansard, page 4033,to have said -
But let us take a specific instance.
He was then discussing the difference between the two amendments -
– Does the Prime Minister think that Mr. McGarry substantially represents the electorate of the Murrumbidgee in the Parliament of New South Wales?
– I think so.
– The Prime Minister asserts that Mr. McGarry substantially represents the electors of the Murrumbidgee?
– I do.
– Mr. McGarry polled 1,538 votes out of 8,111 electors upon the roll, and out of a total of5,171 votes recorded. In other words, he received 30 per cent. of the votes that were polled, and 19 per cent. of the votes of the electors whose names appear upon the roll. In his case the number of voters on the roll would correspond with the number of persons employed in an industry. Consequently, the Prime Minister argues that 19 per cent. of those engaged in an industry would substantially represent that industry.
– But how would Mr. McGarry have fared in a contingent vote? It is more than probable that he would have obtained a majority. There is nothing to warrant the assumption that the remaining 81 per cent. of the electors were opposed to him.
– The analogy is perfect. The question is not one affecting industries, but one affecting mathematical accuracy. The late Prime Minister was prepared to say - and did say, not once, but twice - that he believed that a member whoreceived only nineteen per cent. of the votes, substantially represented the people of that constituency.
– Had he gone to the poll with a single opponent, he would have won.
– The amendment, which was drawn up by the late Prime Minister, could not be anything like in the same category as the amendment proposed by the honorable and learned member for Corinella, if the former places such an extraordinary definition on the word “substantially.” I should like to read the two amendments. The amendment moved by the honorable and learned member for Corinella was as follows : -
Provided that no such preference shall be directed to be given unless the application for such preference is, in the opinion of the Court, approved by a majority of those affected by the award who have interests in common with the applicants.
The proposal of the late Government was -
The Court, before directing that preference shall be given to the members of an organization, shall be satisfied that the organization substantially represents the industry affected in point of the numbers and competence of its members.
Personally, I think there is no comparison between the two amendments, for clearness of expression.
– Then why did the honorable member object to recommit the Bill ?
– The honorable member for Melbourne Ports is one of the last in the House who should ask any member to sink his principles for the sake of expediency.
– The honorable member says it is not a principle.
– When the honorable member for Melbourne Ports was standing with his back against the wall, fighting for a Tariff which all of us protectionists acknowledged was far too low, how did he deal with those who are so fond of expediency ? The honorable member was returned to this House as an out-and-out protectionist.
– The less some people say about that, the better.
– The honorable member can make no charge against me.
– I do make a charge.
– If the honorable member thinks he can make a charge he shall have an opportunity to do so. What company does the honorable member for Melbourne Ports find himself in on this question? I do not wish to be drawn off the track. We have heard a great deal about the effects of the Tariff, but whose fault is it that the Tariff is inoperative to-day ? Is it the fault of those now in the Government corner, or those on the other side of the House?
– It is the fault of those on the Government side of the House.
– There is great difficulty in ascertaining what the attitude of honorable members really was. I have taken the trouble to go into the question, and to analyze the votes of those who were returned to support the Barton Government on the Tariff proposals. I have taken the divisions in Committee, but I have not separated the divisions on the revenue duties from those on the protective items ; I have given honorable members the benefit of the revenue duties for which I and some of them voted. I find that the honorable member for Yarra was the most consistent amongst the party opposite, he having voted 217 times for the Tariff, and only 17 times against. The honorable member for Southern Melbourne comes next with 195 votes for the Government proposals, and 11 against. The honorable member for Moreton voted126 times with the Government, and 12 times against. I am now dealing purely with the Tariff proposals of the Barton Government.
– How did the honorable member for Bland vote?
– I was not returned as a supporter of the Barton Government, nor was I returned onany Tariff issue.
– The honorable member’s votes prove that.
– Of course; I was not returned on any fiscal issue.
– The honorable member for Boothby voted 155 times for the Government proposals, and 31 times against; the honorable member for Newcastle voted 160 times for the Tariff, and 34 times against; the honorable member for Herbert, who tells us that he is a fiscal atheist, voted 89 times for the Tariff and 40 times against; while the honorable member for Bland voted 138 times for the Tariff, and 79 times against it.
– I was not returned as a supporter of the Barton Government, nor as a supporter of their Tariff.
– The honorable member for Melbourne Ports talks about the betrayal of the protectionist cause, and I am now indicating some of those who are responsible for the present inoperative Tariff.
– How many times did the honorable member vote against the Barton Government ?
– The honorable member will find several occasions on which I voted against that Government.
– The honorable member voted nearly every time against the Barton Government during the first session.
-I am dealing with the Tariff, though it may suit the honorable member to drag in something quite foreign to the question. Every one of the votes which I gave against the Government was in the direction in which I had pledged myself to my constituents to vote. I do not want to go back to the time when the Barton Government first took office.
– That is the far more important time.
– That Government introduced a proceedure with which I did not agree.
– And the honorable member voted against the Government and nearly wrecked it on several occasions.
– The honorable member says I “ nearly wrecked “ the Government, but the only time that Government was in danger was when the right honorable member for East Sydney submitted an adverse motion, and it can be seen on which side my vote was cast on that occasion.
– Can the honorable member give us the votes of the honorable member for Wimmera?
– I am dealing especially with those members whose names I have mentioned. I can assure the honorable member for Yarra that the information 1 am giving cannot be prepared in five minutes, and my object is to show what company the honorable member for Melbourne Ports is in. The honorable member for Darwin voted 119 times for the Tariff, and 74 times against.
– I did not come here as a free-trader, nor as a protectionist.
– The honorable member is a fiscal free-thinker.
– I have been drawn off the track by interjections, and I much regret it if honorable members find me getting somewhat incoherent. In fairness, I do not think that the word “ mathematical ‘ ‘ should be used in connexion with this matter. Realizing what the constitution and the powers of the Court will be, it is not fair to place the construction upon the clause as it stands at present, that it compels the Judge to exercise mathematical accuracy in coming to a decision as to the majority in favour of preference.
– What else is the Judge to do?
– The honorable member for Yarra asks what else the Judge is to do? Let us follow the example set in New South Wales and New Zealand, about which we heard so much at the beginning of the debate on the Bill - and “trust the Court.” The honorable member for Canobolas told us that Mr. Wise, the exAttorneyGeneral of NewSouth Wales, had said that the Bill would deprive the Court of power to give preference. That is a statement which has been made day after day by various honorable members opposite. V say that it is at variance with the facts, and that the power to grant preference still remains in the Bill. When I have been in the country, I have been astonished to hear how thoughtful and reading men have come to believe that the amendment which has been made, has taken the power to grant preference out of the Bill. Honorable members opposite will find that they cannot make the people believe that story for long. It is possible to fool some of the people all the time, and all the people some of the time but you cannot fool all the people all the time.
– Does the honorable member think that he knows as much about conciliation and arbitration as Mr. Wise does ?
– I am not pitting myself against Mr. Wise, though if he said what has been quoted, his statements were made without knowledge ; or, if he had the knowledge, they were made absolutely without warrant. It was pointed out over and over again that matters of evidence were not to be adhered to. Under these circumstances, I say that there is not the slightest danger to those unions which have been formed, and most certainly not to those which are to be formed, in having this question of preference settled as it is to be settled. It has been admitted over and over again that there are really only two great unions in Australia which will be affected by this measure. They are the Shearers’ Union and the Seamen’s Union, consisting of those who are engaged in the work of transportation. We have been assured by the executive officers of both those unions1 that they have in their ranks a majority of those engaged in the industries in Australia. Under -these circumstances, there can be no danger in their case; they have perfect security. What is the use of honorable members pretending - because after all it is mere pretence - to those outside, that there is a great danger in passing the Bill as it stands, and that the unions can only be rescued by means of the alliance which has been formed, and by a change of Government?
– Those same unions will refuse to register.
– I dare say that if the unions are guided as they have been in the past, and act as commanded by honorable members opposite, they will not register. But it would be a most unfair and disloyal thing to do. This piece of legislation, when it is passed - and I hope it will soon be passed - should be loyally adhered to, and administered in the spirit in which it is framed. I sincerely hope! that we shall not again hear this constant threat of the unions refusing to register under the measure. After the facts which have been stated time after time, it is clear that the reasons which have been given as to why the unions would refuse to register cannot have any foundation. There must be another reason, and it is possibly a reason affecting the political existence of those who are now interjecting so loudly. The late Government made this question vital. Why ? No one knows why. They themselves have never explained why. I myself can find only one reason for their action in making the question vital. I believe - and I say this with all respect to my honorable friends opposite - that it was a piece of political warfare, of political tactics.
– No, it was perfectly right if they felt so strongly upon the matter, that they should do what they did. If they thought they had a chance of reversing the vote of the Committee, they were perfectly right to endeavour to do so. I do not say that they necessarily did place such enormous store upon the principle as they afterwards professed; but if they did they were justified in using all constitutional means to secure a reversal of the verdict of the Committee.
– The honorable member never gave them a chance.
– Here, again, is that wretched, puling cry, “You never gave them a chance “ I am surprised that the honorable member, who has always been a manly, straightforward fighter, should make use of such an infantile wail. The cry about not having a chance is a most unfair one. One would imagine that, in the opinion of honorable members opposite, it is unfair to refuse to allow a clause to be recommitted.
– The honorable member cannot show a precedent for it; he cannot showa case where any Chairman acted as he did.
– The honorable member thought, I suppose, that when I accepted the position of Chairman of Committees, I was to be muzzled. He probably believed that I intended to disfranchise my constituents, to whom I was responsible. If so, he made a great mistake. I am not made of that kind of stuff. I am not afraid to take the full responsibility for my actions in this House, and I trust that I never shall be.
– The honorable member was muzzled.
– One would think, Wearing the honorable member, that he never voted aga’inst a recommittal in his life. When it was moved from this side of the House that there should -be a recommittal of the item of the Tariff, which dealt with combined harvesters, it was opposed by the honorable member for Grey, and his name appears in the division-list. He refused when you were sitting in the Chair, Mr. Speaker, to consent to the House going into Committee again upon that item.
– Did the Government stake their life on that question ?
– I see now where tha shoe pinches ! It was the life of the Watson Government that was at stake. It is not against the honorable member’s principles to refuse to recommit an item, but if that recommittal should cause the downfall of a Government in which he is interested, it is a most improper proceeding. This is quite a new chapter in political ethics!. We are learning something from the honorable member. His long silence has enabled him to incubate this new idea. Another motion for the recommittal of an item was moved, and the honorable and learned member for West Sydney voted against that as did also the honorable member for Barrier, the honorable member for Kennedy, and the honorable member for Maranoa.
– Did the Government of the clay propose that recommittal?
Mr.SALMON. - The Government voted in favour of it as a body. Upon another item, printing paper, there was a motion to recommit. The honorable member for Perth voted against that. So also did the honorable and learned member for Darling Downs, the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne, and even the honorable member for Melbourne Ports. The object of the proposed recommittal was to impose a duty on printing paper, and the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, the most consistent protectionist we have in the House, and the Secretary of the Protectionist Association, actually refused to allow the matter to go into Committee, so as to reconsider the determination already arrived at. Although the motion for recommittal was moved by the honorable member for Darling, the Government as a body supported it, and voted in favour of it. Yet they were opposed by the honorable members whom I have mentioned. The honorable member for Yarra also has a grievance. He moved the recommittal of items 117 and 118. The motion was opposed by the honorable member for Herbert, the honorable member for Barker, the honorable and learned member for Corio, the honorable member for Hume, the honorable member for Grey, and the honorable member for Coolgardie.
– Were those matters made vital ?
-The honorable and learned member for Darling Downs now apparently agrees with the honorable member for Grey that it is only proper to vote against a motion for recommittal when it is vital to the existence of the Government. Can the twisting and torturing of phrases go further than that? Surely we ought to have some consistency ? I was compelled to decide on a question of principle, and I very much regret it for one reason only, which I may as well give. I have been, ever since my election to the position of Chairman of Committees, remarkably good friends with my political opponents on the other side, and’ I think that, at the least, those of them who are in authority will admit that during the time I have occupied that very responsible position they have had no fault to find with the way in which I have performed its duties.
– The honorable member could not be worse than his predecessor, who voted straight and strong on certain occasions.
– That is quite in keeping with the right honorable gentleman’s usual statements.
– I rise to a point of order. I should like to know whether an interjection reflecting upon an ex-Chairman of Committees, is in order.
– The right honorable gentleman should withdraw it ; it is not fair.
– What was the reflection ?
– If the Prime Minister made any reflection - I did not hear one - I ask him to withdraw it.
– Ido not know that’ I did. Honorable members opposite were girding at the honorable member who is addressing the House-
– No, we were cheering him.
– Because he gave a certain vote on a certain occasion in defence of his principles, and I referred to his predecessor as having voted straight and strong on previous occasions.
– And often.
– And often. It is honorable members opposite who have put an imputation into what I have said. I did not do so.
– Perhaps honorable members will allow me to make my statement, because it refers to an action of mine which I have not had an opportunity of saying anything about before. The question I had to decide for myself was whether in my opinion the majority should rule, or, more broadly, whether the majority should be placed at the mercy of the minority ?
– How the majority was to be determined.
– I had not the slightest difficulty in arriving at a decision with regard to that question. I have always, during my eleven years of political life, been in favour of majority rule. I had to leave out all party or personal considerations, and vote strictly according to my own fixed political principles. I believe that all men are entitled to work. If there is work to be done they are entitled to have it. I am one of those who have always upheld the dignity of honest work.
– Is not all work honest?
– I know of no variety of creed or political principle which should come between men and their right to work.
– Then why are there so many unemployed nowadays?
– Honorable members who heard me speak on the second reading *of the Bill will know that I recognised then, as I recognise now, that there must be organizations if the measure is to be worked smoothly and effectively.
– The honorable member helped to kill them.
– If I thought that the organizations I have known in Victoria, and’ have heard of in other parts of Australia, were of such a puny character that it would be possible to kill them by a dose of reasonable conditions, such as would be administered under the amendment made in the Conciliation- and Arbitration Bill, I should be very sorry, indeed, for those organizations. Some honorable members come here and do not hesitate to slander the men who form the great bulk of these organizations, and work for them day in and day out. Those honorable members are only here as the result of the labours of others, and they are not themselves the men who have borne the heat and burden of the day ; though, of course, there are exceptions.
– I should like to know what the honorable member knows about it.
– I say that honorable members who are here to-day are not the men who have done the vast work of organizing the great labour unions of which we are so proud in Australia to-day.
– How much of the heat and burden has the honorable member borne ?
– I have had the advantage of- the private friendship of a number of these men, and I know that they are not men of the calibre of honorable members opposite. They are of a different character altogether, . and are prepared to do their work in a self-denying fashion. Some honorable members here who seem to think so little of those men only show their ignorance of their splendid stamina and magnificent self-reliance and self-respect when they suggest that the conditions imposed by the amendment would have the effect of killing the measure.
– Even that will not save the honorable member.
– The honorable member for Hindmarsh is far more in need of salvation than I am. When the honorable member can explain to the people of his own State, who do believe in keeping the Sabbath holy, and in having one day of rest in the week-
– Does the honorable member insinuate that I do not? It is a base reflection, and he should withdraw it. I rise to a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I say that the honorable member for Laanecoorie is casting a base slander upon me, and he ought to withdraw it.
– I point out that the - honorable member for Hindmarsh has rather taken the law into his own hands. As he will have an opportunity of speaking m the present debate, I should have preferred that, instead of making his replies across the Chamber, he should reserve them until then. As the honorable member objects to the statement of the honorable member for Laanecoorie, I ask that honorable member to withdraw it.
– It was a base slander, which was without foundation.
– If I have said anything that hurts the feelings of the honorable member, I of course, withdraw it.
– The honorable member should quote what the honorable member for Hindmarsh said, and leave it at that.
– I thought we were to have no personalities from the honorable member, but this has been the most personal speech that we have yet listened to.
– The honorable member for Laanecoorie should stick to politics and leave out personalities.
– I have been dealing strictly with politics. I referred only to a printed report of a speech made by the honorable member for Hindmarsh on Sunday last.
– I stand by that so far as it goes.
– The honorable member says that he stands by it. I quote from the Age of 3rd October. I find this under the headings “ Sunday Politics,” “ Labour Member on Clergymen.”
Speaking at the pleasant Sunday afternoon gathering at the Trades Hall yesterday, Mr. Hutchison, M.P., said . . . That was the kind of argument the Labour Party had to meet. There were good men in the church, but, taking them as a whole, the churches were the sanctuaries of the sweater, the oppressor, and the Customs def rauder.
– Hear, hear.
– It was a disgraceful thing to say.
– All I wished to say was that the honorable member, in my opinion, will require more salvation for that speech than I shall for anything I have said.
– It is the truth.
– It is a disgraceful libel.
– I can give the honorable member the names of a lot of them if he likes.
– They are like the money changers of old.
– I am very glad that the honorable member for Hindmarsh has had an opportunity of; accentuating the statement which he made, and which he appears to have thought I was improperly repeating. I believe that the organizations must not, and should not, depend on the Arbitration Bill to recruit their ranks. It was not intended for that purpose, but for another and quite distinct purpose. I have always been a strong advocate of unionism, and have spoken in favour of it many times. I am a thorough believer in the right of men to combine together. What is the honorable member for Melbourne muttering?
– Nothing to do with the honorable member.
– It is just as well, because the honorable member and I happen to have been once members of the same union. We are not. now.
– If all did the same thing there would be no strikes, and the honorable member knows it.
– The labour organizations - and the organizations to be registered under the Bill - must attract members by the breadth of their platform and their humane considerations. The Bill should not be an engine of tyranny to force men to join unions that might possibly have objects to which all of them could not subscribe. I believe that they are necessary for mutual protection, times of nonemployment, and times of sickness, and that they do a very great and good work in those directions. But political unions must rest on their own bottom. They must not be an excrescence on the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill. They must justify their existence on quite different grounds, and it is only by compelling them to desist from exercising undue pressure upon those outside their ranks that we can hope to make the measure the success which we intend it should be.
– How about the employers’ unions?
– The honorable member can speak later on, if he wishes.
– I think that unions should not be close corporations, that the rights of all must be considered, and that the rights of the majority must not. be placed in the hands of theminority. Honorable members opposite do not cheer the latter remark. This is one of the few occasions on which that sentiment has not received the full indorsement of honorable members opposite. It is because they have’ still a shred of consistency left ; they do not feel that they can honestly applaud the sentiment, when they know that their action in. the past has been in direct opposition to it. We had the resignation of the Government, and it was followed almost simultaneously by two things - the refusal of a dissolution and the formation of a new party, which arrogated to itself, in my opinion, improperly, and without any justification, the title of the Liberal-Protectionist Party. Then, before thepersonnel ofthe Government had been announced, or its policy had been framed, the new party decided to enter upon a role of its own. it formed a junction with forces which had bitterly opposed the strongest plank in its platform, and that is protection.It joined with those who had been, primarily, the means of the ineffective portions of the Tariff being passed. There were also differences in regard to the very Bill over which this incident occurred, for instance, the inclusion of State servants and agricultural employes-.
– They did not make that question vital.
– No. How different was their action in that regard from that of the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, who remained faithful to the provisions of the Bill, which he introduced when, at any rate, one of his own Government deserted him, and voted against the inclusion of that very large body of men who are engaged in rural occupations ! How can we possibly fit in with political consistency the actions of men who have political principles so divergent as these? They brought out a joint programme, and left every one free on every point except one. That point, strange to say, was not expressed in the programme, and it was the dismissal of the present Government. That was the only point on which they were not to be free, and we shall see, when the division comes to be taken, that those honorable members will be absolutely solid for the first, and I believe the last time. On no other occasion shall we see them voting absolutely as one body. Therefore, we see the hollowness of this performance on the part of those who entered into an alliance with the Labour Party. The defeat of the Government is the only reason for their existence, and if that were accomplishedwe should find them very soon pursuing their separate ways. How was this party formed? It was formed in a most extraordinary fashion.
– By accident.
– By accident, and apparently without anybody being present at the meeting. There was an agreement arrived at to which apparently nobody subscribed and for which nobody was responsible. We have not heard yet from that party, which has maintained a most sphinxlike silence in all the steps which were taken to bring them together. Privately, as far as I know, one and all have disowned the drafting of the programme to which they subscribed. Whether the leader of that party is the honorable and learned member for Indi or the honorable member for Hume, neither of them has thrown the slightest daylight on the circumstances which led up to the adoption of that remarkable programme. I am now alluding to the so-called Liberal-Protectionist Parry.
I do not call them deserters.
– I do not call them traitors, although members of that party have applied that term to honorable members sitting in that corner. One of them, the honorable member for Hume, went so far as to strengthen it with an adjective which is not generally used in polite society.
– It was sanguinary.
– It was. I do not intend to follow a very bad example. I regret very much indeed that they have gone a different toad from the majority of the party to which they belonged. I regret that they have taken this action without so far as I have been able to ascertain, any consultation with . a leader who deserved very much better treatment at their hands. The honorable member for Kennedy will bear me out in this remark that it is unusual for a party, or a section of a party, to act without its leader. In the old days when men were more punctilious in these matters, and when a certain amount of decent treatment, even of an enemy, was held to be the rule, and not to be unmanly, notice of some sort would be conveyed of an intention to take up a different stand.
– Why this sotto voice?
– The honorable member does not like my voice. He is one of those who, up to the last moment, protested “ There was nothing in it,” but after the platform was published he was in the position of being-
– There was something in it, then.
– What sort of a leader did these honorable members have? A man who has proved himself to be a staunch, leal, strong supporter of the Democracy of Australia, who is strong in conviction, is always courteous in counsel, and has an attribute which, I am sorry to see, is f ailing out of fashion in our political life, and that is sensitiveness. If there is one thing of which that party needs to be ashamed it is their shameless and ungrateful treatment of one who was the staunchest, strongest, and lealest friend to very many of them.
– Itis a pity that the honorable member did not always think that..
– I speak now from my experience, and if I had felt compelled to adopt the attitude adopted by those honorable members, one of my first duties would have been to go to the man whom I had so long called leader, and who deserved very much better treatment than they were prepared to give him. I regret the vulgar claptrap which has been uttered about him outside from time to time ; but it is as nothing compared with my feelings of indignation when I hear honorable members, who have been glad to call him leader, and who have benefited by his leadership, playing it so low down as to use the same phrases. There is nothing more easy than to decry the just attributes of those of whom the world thinks well, and I feel sorry that the statement which has been made outside concerning the great gift which the honorable and learned member undoubtedly possesses - that it alone has been responsible for his position in politics - has been fathered here! by those who know that it is absolutely untrue, and are aware that his position has been gained by abilities of which the reputation has extended beyond Victoria and beyond Australia, until it has become imperial, and even world-wide. One holding such a position as that is above the petty carpings of those who are moved possibly more by jealousy than by any other motive.
– I congratulate him upon his new-found friend.
– I do not desire to pose as a new-found friend, but I trust that my political friendship will stand a greater test than did that of the honorable member for Melbourne Ports.
– It did not stand a very big test in the time of trial.
– The programme which was formed by the dissenting protectionists
– The what?
– Surely the honorable member does not object to that term?
– Yes, I do.
– That programme was subject to amendment arid qualification, and, in my opinion, has been broadened by the party with whom they entered into alliance. I might mention, by the way, that I have been interested to learn that clause 2 of the articles of alliance -
The alliance to be for the life of this and the next Parliament - has beenamended by the pronouncements of the leaders of the party that it is of a purely temporary character. The LiberalProtectionists desired that there should be -
A joint election committee to consider contested seats, and to make recommendations to both parties.
The words, “ and to electors “ have been struck out of the alliance platform. Why was that significant alteration made? I suggest to those who are to follow me that some light should be thrown upon that point. Then the provision in the platform of the Liberal-Protectionists regarding the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill was whittled down by the alliance to cover a Bill- as nearly as possible in accordance with the original Bill as introduced by the Deakin Ministry, but any member is at liberty to adhere to his votes already given.
The Minister of Defence pointed out that there must be some reason for that alteration, and it is only fair that the House should know what it is. Why did the alliance refuse to ratify the agreement arrived at unanimously by the Liberal- Protectionist Party after several meetings?
– And why do they squeak so much about other members standing by the votes they have previously given?
– Then the LiberalProtectionist programme, which consisted of fifteen clauses, and provided three Tariff alternatives, omitted all reference to the very important question of old-age pensions. That matter is referred to in the alliance platform in the following terms : -
Old-age pensions on a basis fair and equitable to the several States, and to individuals.
Why did the Liberal-Protectionists make no reference to that matter in their programme? We are entitled to information on these points, but since the speech of the honorable member for Bland, we have heard nothing of any importance from honorable members opposite. The only thing in the alliance platform which appears to have emanated from the LiberalProtectionist members of it is the proviso that they shall not be opposed at the ensuing elections. ‘ But I do not think that they can be sure of that, and I have authority for that belief in the statement of the honorable member for Bland, who, in addressing another Sunday meeting, on the 26th of last month, said -
It was true the labour members of Parliament were the result of organizations ; were governed by the rules of organizations; worked by a platform prepared by organizations; and had to abide by decisions in caucus ; but in regard to none of these things did the alliance in the slightest degree infringe upon the authority which the organizations undoubtedly possess.
– I said more than that.
– The honorable member stated further -
The labour members of the Federal Parliament had agreed to use their influence towards securing to those who were members of the alliance immunity from opposition. If an organization desired to put forward a candidate in opposition to those who were combining with the Labour Party, there was nothing to prevent them doing so ; but if a man who, by some means, was technically kept outside of their movement, though voting straight with them, had the best chance of winning the seat, in his view of the case, it would be suicidal to oppose him. (Cheers.) There were four planks out of the seven in the Labour Party’s fighting platform which were accepted holus-bolus by the alliance.
Do my honorable friends of the alliance like that language? I know that in the profession to which I belong, the expression “holus-bolus” has not a particularly pleasant sound when it is used in reference to an unfortunate patient who is undergoing an operation.
– To which part of that programme does the honorable member object ?
– Now I would direct the attention of honorable members to the results of similar alliances in other parts of Australia. An alliance has been brought about in Queensland between the Labour Party and the Morgan Party in the State Legislature. The honorable member for Echuca directed attention to this matter the other evening. He read an extract from the Brisbane Worker, the statements in which have been amply borne out by the result of the election which took place yesterday. The Worker told its readers that the Labour Party had thirty-five straightout labour men in the House already, and that if they could gain the Toowoomba seat, they would require to gain only two or three more in order to secure an absolute majority. They would then be able to dispense altogether with the Morgan Party. That is the sort of thing to which the liberal members of the alliance have to look forward. There is no doubt about it. I do not for one moment say that they will receive such treatment from honorable members sitting opposite, but, according to the statement of the honorable member for Bland, it is the organizations outside Parliament which exercise the commanding influence. They have the controlling authority, as is shown by the result of the Toowoomba election. A seat which had been held by a supporter of Mr. Morgan became vacant, and three nominations were received. One gentleman was nominated as a supporter of the Morgan Government, and another as a supporter of the alliance, whilst a third was nominated as a straight-out supporter of the Labour Party, and, as is sure to happen in nine cases out of ten, the straight-out labour man won the seat.
– The central labour organization did not indorse his candidature. He would have won the seat anyhow.
– Did he win by a majority ?
– No. He won by a minority. I would ask the honorable member for Bland whether, in the event of his intending to contest his electorate to-morrow, he would sooner have the support of the local organization or of the central organization ?
– I should prefer to have both.
– I venture to say that if the honorable member had to make his choice, he would sooner have the support of the local labour organization. In the case to which I refer, the accredited representative of the alliance party was absolutely the lowest on the poll.
– No organization can prevent people from kicking over the traces sometimes. The honorablemember ought to know that. He left his Government on one occasion.
– I find that in the Sydney Morning Herald of yesterday, an advertisement is published under the head of public notices, as follows: -
– The executive invite nominations of qualified’ candidates in accordance with the rules of the P.L.L. for the following Federal electorates, viz. : -
– The advertisement proceeds -
Nominations close on Friday, October 7, 1904, 6 p.m. Address, J. Grant, General Returning Officer, Trades Hall, Sydney.
That is the kind of thing to which our honorable friends in the alliance corner will have to look forward.
– If I could not secure the support of the league which was responsible for my coming into politics, I should be glad to leave political life.
– What does all’ this mean ? It means that honorable members of the Labour Party are not only asked to give a pledge before they come into Parliament, but are required to give a continuous pledge.
– Hear, hear.
– It means, further, that if the request of the honorable member for Bland for a dissolution had been granted by His Excellency the Governor-General, the Prime Minister of Australia would have had to place himself in the hands of Mr. J. Grant, of the Trades Hall, Sydney.
To what a degrading pass we have come when honorable members of a House like this- which we hope will always be of a truly representative character - have to go to anoutside organization in order to secure its countenance before they can stand for election.
– Did the honorable member never seek the countenance and support of his leader? He would sooner go to one man than to an organization?
– Is the honorable member prepared to admit that the Political Labour League in Sydney is his leader?
– No; but the honorable member is willing to submit to one man’s domination.
– The honorable member does not know me when he says that.
– I do know the honorable member. He has done it, and would do it again.
– Does the honorable member mean to say that I have submitted to any man the question as to whether or not I should stand for election? If so, he is making a statement that is absolutely without foundation.
– The honorable member has been glad to have the endorsement of his leader. He would’ not have had a show of being elected without it.
– The honorable member will surely allow me to be a better judge of that than He is. He understands very little about my constituents if he says that. I am proud to say that I represent the place where I was bred and born. I have been eleven years in Parliament ; I have never suffered defeat, and have never stood as the nominee of any party. I defy the honorable member to prove that on any occasion I submitted myself to any party or individual.
– The honorable member is a marvellous exception, then.
– It is notfair for the honorable member to make statements of that kind, which will be published broadcase, and probably, used against me.
– The honorable member was glad enough to get the support of the Labour Party last time.
– Does not the honorable member know that I came back with the largest comparative majority of any man in Victoria?
– Because the honorable member accepted the labour platform.
– That is a nice kind of statement to make. The honorable member is speaking absolutely without knowledge.
– No, I am not ; I know the honorable member’s district.
– The honorable member ought to know that I was asked to sign the labour pledge, and absolutely refused to do so.
– The honorable member accepted the labour platform.
– What rubbish the honorable member is talking !
– I am absolutely sure that the honorable member will not do so next time.
– I may tell the honorable member that the party to which he belongs had no less than six candidates upon their list,’ whom they intended to run against me, and it was only just before nomination day that they withdrew the last of them.
– When the honorable member capitulated.
– The honorable member knuckled down.
– Order. It is almost impossible for the honorable member who in addressing theChair to proceed, owing to continuous interjections, which amount to an interruption of his speech. I must ask honorable members who have already spoken to remember that the Standing Orders allow them to speak only once. I must also request other members to refrain from interjecting. I am sure that they will be very disappointed if at a later stage I regard them as having spoken, by reason of their interjections.
– Not a single member of the Labour Party, except the present representative of that district in the State Parliament, the Hon. A. R. Outtrim, was a member of my committee.
– And he was not a member of the Labour Party at the time.
– Yes, he was. I would ask honorable members of the Labour Party if it is usual for the organization to which they belong to wait until a candidate has been elected, and then to take credit for his election, or to come out in the open and fight for him? What I have stated is absolutely true. Honorable members can obtain a list of my committee, and they will fail to find in it the name of a single member of the Labour Party, with the exception that I have mentioned. The honorable member for Canobolas has alluded to the success of the party to which he belongs. He has given instances of the way in which its numbers have been increased at the recent elections for the Slates Parliaments. But how have its numbers been increased? At the expense of the very men who have done most for that party in the past. It is the Liberals and Radicals who have lost their seats, so that the strength of the Labour Party might be augmented.
– Where is that ?
– In Victoria, and every part of Australia. Only yesterday, there was an instance, which the honorable member seems anxious to forget, when Mr. Morgan, the Premier of Queensland, lost a pledged supporter, who was beaten by a labour candidate. History will repeat itself, and my friends who have allied themselves with that party, will yet regret having given up so much, and obtained so little in return. Had the right honorable member for Adelaide been in the full enjoyment of health and strength I imagine that we should have had a very different platform from that which the alliance has put forward. He would not have bound the party which he took over with him, for so little as immunity from opposition at future elections. He would have demanded something much more substantial.
– He warmly approves of the alliance.
– Now, as to the fiscal question. I was asked by those who joined in the alliance to alter my opinion in regard to the necessity for preserving fiscal peace. I replied that I had given a pledge to my constituents in my initial speech during the recent campaign. Upon that occasion, I said -
The Prime Minister has declared for “ fiscal peace.” He feels that if the question of the Tariff is reopened it will mean that a number of industries which have been crippled must have their claims recognised. I ask you, free-traders and protectionists, to unite under the banner unfurled by the Prime Minister at Ballarat, and say, with one voice, that you are strongly in favour at the present juncture of fiscal peace. In view of what is taking place in England at’ the present moment this is no time for tinkering with our Tariff.
Within seven or eight months of making that statement, I am asked to entirely change my opinion. I am not. prepared to alter it so rapidly as that. The 8 s 2 only possible circumstances under which I could be released from that pledge would be by appealing to my constituents. When I appear before them, I shall be prepared not only to give reasons for my action upon the present occasion, but to enter into freshpledges in regard to the future. The candidate, who opposed me at the last election, was an out-and-out free-trader. He was in favour of ripping up the Tariff, which he described as a “ most (iniquitous “ one. No doubt, there are some honorable members who do not occupy a similar position to my own, and who did not pledge themselves so deeply upon the question of fiscal peace. But I feel that we should grasp, with great avidity, the opportunity to institute an inquiry/ into the working of the Tariff. I am glad that the Government have announced the!ir desire to appoint a body which will investigate that matter.
– Where was that announcement made?
– The Prime Minister announced it at Ballarat.
– It has been suggested by the alliance that we should limit the number of questions to be submitted to the proposed Commission. I sincerely hope that we shall do nothing of the sort. If we are to have a Royal Commission to inquire into the working of the Tariff, it should have power to investigate each item of it.
– How long should elapse before the Commission submits its report ?
– I think that it should submit progress reports from time to time, and, as a protectionist, I am not afraid of a single item being scrutinized by the most rabid free-trader. Nothing but good can result -from it. The honorable member for Canobolas has already told us that he will not be bound by this plank in the alliance platform. He believes that there should be a full and complete inquiry into the operation of the Tariff, and I quite agree with him. I believe that if progress reports were submitted by a Commission, the present opposition to affording relief to certain industries would be completely overridden, and that free-traders and protectionists alike would conclude that the want of employment in our midst, caused by the incidence of the Tariff, i’s of such a serious character as to cali for its immediate amendment.
– Does the honorable member suggest that legislation should immediately follow the submission of progress reports ?
– Yes, and I believe that the free-traders will admit that.
– They will not say so.
– The honorable member would not allow them to say so, if he had his way. I feel convinced - and I said so when I addressed the electors in December last - that the injury which has been done by the Tariff to certain industries will be so apparent that the free-traders will be willing to afford them some relief.
– They will become protectionists, I suppose?
Mr. SALMON.I do not know what the honorable member is. I am told that he lias been both a free-trader and a protectionist, so that probably he is an authority upon the subject.
– If legislation is to follow immediately, what becomes of the fiscal peace theory?
– The honorable and learned member is unwittingly doing me an injustice. I do not say that we should tear up the fiscal truce to-morrow. I think that some months must elapse before a report will be forthcoming, and if the free-traders are then prepared, as I am sure they will be, to give relief to certain industries, I, as a protectionist, cannot possibly object.
– Suppose that they do not offer relief?
– Then I presume that the honorable member will do his best to compel them.
– Will the honorable member come over to this side of the House then ?
– No, I should be very sorry indeed to do that. I am still a free man. I should be very sorry indeed to be bound by any such platform as my friends opposite, who have scuttled away from their leader and party, have been so anxious to frame. There are certain industries in which, I believe, a change is necessary, such as the boot trade, the engineering trade, the nail trade, wire netting trade, candlemaking trade, the distilling trade, the hat trade, and the fellmongering trade. I know that I cannot legitimately debate these matters in detail ; but I may say that in the trades I mention, there is, in my opinion, room for improvement. What brought those trades to their present position ? It was the action of those men with whom the LiberalProtectionist members are associated. In fact, some of the protectionists on the other side of the House are responsible for the present state of affairs. In the boot trade serious trouble has occurred through an amendment moved by the honorable member for Kennedy, and supported by the honorable member for Bland. That trade, in one particular line, has entirely gone away from Australia, and we are being supplied altogether from outside.
– Thanks to the Prime Minister.
– The Prime Minister did not vote in that division.
– He was paired, though.
– The honorable member for Boothby did vote, and on the wrong side, as did also the honorable members for Canobolas, Darling, Newcastle, and Bland. In connexion with the engineering trade, the Government was badly beaten on a motion moved by the honorable member for Bland, and supported by the honorable member for Canobolas.
– What division was that?
– On rolled iron, steel beams, girders and columns. No one will deny that there is a great dearth of em»ployment in the engineering trade. The honorable member for Bland was successful in reducing the duty on those articles from 20 per cent, to 15 per cent., and in that action he was associated with the honorable members for Canobolas, Perth, West Sydney, Coolgardie, Kennedy, Darling, Grey, and Maranoa.
– Does the honorable member think this a fair way to deal with the matter ?
– The duty on bolts and nuts was also reduced by the aid of the same honorable members from 25 to 24 per cent., and the duty on another line was reduced from 25 to 21 per cent. The duty on nails was reduced from 7s. to 5s. by the action of the same honorable members; and the same mav be said in regard to screws and other similar articles.
– Those honorable members could not have alone reduced those duties.
– If those who call themselves protectionists, and who were allied with the Liberal-Protectionists, had voted in the same way as the latter, those duties would not have been reduced, seeing that the present Tariff in these particulars was fixed, in a great number of cases, by a majority of only one or two.
– Why is the honorable member supporting the present Prime Minister ?
– Who says that I am supporting the present Prime Minister? I have not yet had an opportunity to vote with the present Government.
– The honorable member has announced his intention to support the Prime Minister.
– The honorable member must not be misled by statements from those who do not know exactly what I intend to do. I am still faithful to the leader I was elected to follow.
– He stepped aside.
– I am prepared, as I said on the only occasion on which I spoke in the caucus, to follow my leader right through.
– And I said at the time that it was a pity the honorable member did not always do so.
– I do not know the occasions on which I did not follow the honorable and learned member for ‘ Ballarat when he was Prime Minister, but the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, who seems to know something on this point, may enlighten us later on.
– The honorable member did so on the most critical occasions.
– At any rate, my votes did not result so disastrously as did those of the honorable member. In the candlemaking trade, and also in the distilling trade, the votes of the honorable members I have mentioned have had most prejudicial results. There were no fewer than forty-seven important divisions, the majority of which adversely affected the leading trades inAustralia, and those divisions were carried by the action of the Labour Party. Personally, I cannot understand the attitude of a labour free-trader. I cannot for the life of me understand how a man can claim to be a representative of labour, and at the same time be a free-trader. How a man can be prepared to pass industrial legislation for the assistance and protection of working men, and yet place working men absolutely at the mercy of competitors outside, passes my comprehension. We are assured by Liberal-Protectionist members of the alliance, that the whole of the Labour Party will vote with them for protective duties when the time arrives; and if there be no other result, the alliance is justified.
The honorable member for Coolgardie has told us plainly that he intends to vote in that direction.
– He did not say that.
– I understood him to say so.
– The honorable member said that he would not vote for the present Prime Minister.
– I understood the honorable member to say he would vote with the protectionists. The honorable member for Canobolas was not quite so satisfactory, but I hope that as time elapses, and he is brought into contact with ardent protectionists in the Opposition corner, he will be converted, and, like the usual convert, will become most energetic in the cause.
– The honorable member for Laanecoorie will be a good free-trader before he dies.
– The honorable member forgets my “ sheet-anchor.” If the honorable and learned member for Ballarat was on the other side there might be some fear for me, but so long as I have that gentleman to rely on, there will be no doubt as to my fiscal faith.
– The honorable and learned member for Ballarat has ceased to be a leader.
– The anchor is dragging all the time.
– I admit that the labour platform has recently been liberalized. The admission of the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne to what was otherwise purely a Labour Government, was a step in that direction, and the admission of the allied party may be another step. We may yet see a fusion of the Radical and Labour Parties, when the unhappy division which has kept them apart for so long has been obliterated and forgotten. We may find the Labour Party recognising that, after all, they do owe a duty to a large number of people outside their organization, and whom, at present they do not appear to wish to represent. The honorable member for Canobolas mentioned boycotting. Will that honorable: member believe me when I say that the organizations of which he is such a devoted adherent, do not altogether decline to practise thatmethod of showing their displeasure? There are members of the Political Labour Council or League who do not scruple’ to go to shopkeepers’ places of business and say that, unless those shopkeepers subscribe to the labour platform, business relation with them will cease. I do not believe in any such method.
– Where did that happen?
– In my own electorate. I should like to give names, but the terror on the part of those tradespeople is so great that they would not on any account have their identity made known. Exactly the same thing has occurred on the other side, and if the Labour Party desire such practices to cease, they must put their house in order, and keep their own hands clean. I urge the honorable member for Hindmarsh the next time he addresses a meeting - and I hope it will not be on a Sunnay - to call upon the labour organizations to use all their efforts to prevent any such practices being resorted to.
– I have always done so.
– The question we have to face is that of Socialism and antiSocialism. Personally I do not believe that we have quite reached that stage, but we shall arrive there later on. At the present time, we have to decide between representative Government and machine politics. We have to make up our mind which method of Government we shall adopt in the future. ls the Commonwealth to be governed by the representatives of the people, or by delegates selected by organizations? Are we to remain as1 a deliberative assembly, or are we to degenerate into an aggregation of mere voting machines, carrying out the desires, the behests, and the instructions - particularly the instructions - of organizations outside? Conservatives have been described by Gilbert as those who never think for themselves at all. The neo.Conservatives are the’ members of the Labour Party, who have become quite as exclusive in their way as the old Conservatives were. They apparently desire that men shall be sent into Parliament, leaving their brains outside, and simply carrying out the instructions’ which they receive from, their organizations. This sort of thing may flatter those of the electors who cannot think, but it will by no means be conducive to the best interests of the Commonwealth. We desire to see in these Houses of Legislature the best men whose services can be obtained to represent the views of the majority of the electors, and to carry them into effect; but not men who will bow’ the knee to Baal on every occasion, and become first the nominees, and then merely the mouthpieces of a machine in the hands of outside organizations. With regard to Socialism, many views have been expressed. There is a good deal of confusion of terms with, regard to it. We have included under thehead of Socialism State commercial undertakings, communistic schemes, ideas of collectivism, and even anarchism - because Mr. Fleming is with us still. Those whoclassify all these various views under theheading of Socialism, make a great mistake. The ultimate result of pureSocialism, in my opinion, means the destruction of individual liberty, and is the absolute negation of individual effort. Under Socialism there would be no incentive to excel. Men would become machinelike, and life would be most drearyIt is a very poor prospect for those brightyoung minds of ours, which, at the present time are being rubbed into excellence by means of our State-school system. If Socialism is to be realized, there is but a dull outlook before them, varied only by political Sunday meetings. I have toapologize to the House for speaking at greater length than I intended. Therewere one or two other points which I meant to make, but I will no longer detain honorable members. I sincerely hope that when the time comes that we have to face the electors, the issue will be put before them in a temperate spirit, and with that fairness and judgment which in the past have generally accompanied such appealsFor myself, and those associated with me, I have no fear as to what the result will be. In the light of recent events, and under present circumstances, I have nodoubt whatever, that with regard to our future development, the electors will prefer evolution to revolution, and that we shall have no sudden topsy-turvy turning; of the whole of our political and social systems. I feel assured that thi* magnificent engine which the ingenuity of those who worked in such a self-denying fashion, has given us for purposes of government, will be put to its best use, and that we shall remember that this Commonwealth does not consist only of those inside organizations, nor even only of those outside organizations, but that we have toconserve the interests of. the great mass of the people who are dependent upon us, not only for their immediate requirements, but also for the future development of thisgreat country of ours.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Mauger)* adjourned.
Motion (by Mr. McLean) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
– After listening to the brief remarks of the speakers who have occupied the whole of to-day’s sitting, I should like to ask the leader of the Government what steps, if any, he proposes to take to have the debate brought to a conclusion before the Christmas holidays ?
– If there are no more personal explanations, we shall finish before Christmas.
– This is not a joking matter, so far as I am concerned. The House has been in session for seven months, and practically we have done no work. Two Governments have been displaced, and a third Government is on its trial. Personally, I see no reason why the occupants of the Treasury bench or honorable members opposite should waste a single moment, because this is practically the third debate of a similar character that we have had this session. We had a full-dress rehearsal on the motion that defeated the Watson Government.
– The honorable member had a chance to speak then.
– I had, and I took advantage of it. Then we had a matinee performance on the statement of the present Prime Minister.
– That was only a farce.
– Now we are having election addresses. If I am to be compelled to put in twelve months every year sitting in Parliament, I shall have to reconsider my position. There are some members who may be able to afford to give the whole of their time to the electors for the remuneration allowed under the Constitution. I am not in that happy position. My constituents knew when I accepted the honour which they conferred upon me in returning me to. Parliament, that I could not afford to give twelve months every year to the performance of public duties. I trust that the Government will make some announcement as to their intention. The time of Parliament ought not to be wasted with hearing election addresses, which ought to be delivered in the constituencies. I do not think any one will say that a single vote is likely to be changed by anything that may be said in the course of the debate. As far as I can understand, we have simply opened a Commonwealth laundry for the washing of the political dirty linen of some of the Australian States. If the debate were of an educational character, I should be prepared to listen to it. I trust that the Government will take some decisive step. We are now in the third week of this discussion, and surely, in allfairness to ourselves and the community, we should make an effort to conclude within a reasonable time. Nothing which may be said in this debate is likely to alter the vote of a single honorable member. The lines of parties are clearly drawn, opinions have been formed, and we are here now to listen only to election addresses, or to give time for further engineering. In the circumstances, I trust that the Government will make some announcement as to what their intentions are.
– In the absence of the Minister of Defence, I should like to direct the attention of the Minister of Trade and Customs, as acting leader of the House, to a matter which I think is urgent, or otherwise 1 should not bring it forward during the progress of the debate on the motion of want of confidence. I notice that there is before the State Parliament of Victoria a Bill called “ The Frankston and Langwarrin Land Reservation Revocation Bill.” I think that the Minister of Defence, as protector of the rights of the Commonwealth Defence Forces, should look into this matter, and enter into some negotiations with the State Ministry of Victoria. It is of great importance to the Defence Forces in Victoria, for whom it is absolutely necessary that there should be some training or encampment ground between Westernport and Melbourne. The Minister of Defence will know from his own experience that the land, the reservation of which the Bill before the State Parliament is intended to revoke is used for the Easter operations of the Victorian branches of the Defence Force. It is the only place within a reasonable distance of Melbourne where it is possible to have the camp training which is so necessary for the troops. I am afraid that unless attention is drawn to the matter, and unless the Minister of Defence, even during the present political crisis, takes some urgent action, the Bill to which I refer may pass the State Parliament of Victoria, and it may be rendered impossible to give Victorian troops the necessary training. I need not remind the Minister of Trade and Customs of the difficulties which have arisen in England in securing ground on which to train troops. I understand that the Frankston-Langwarrin land was reserved for the purposes of a cemetery, but it has been found absolutely necessary for the annual training of the Military Forces in Victoria. I trust that my action in calling attention to the matter will result in its being looked into very speedily.
– Like the honorable member for Moira, I think it is time some steps were taken to prevent the debate on the want of confidence motion dragging on from week to week. I would ask the Government whether they would not consider it advisable to have late sittings, in order that the motion may be disposed of. If they agreed to that they would have my support, ana* I believe the support of most honorable members on this side of the House.
– The honorable member is advocating political sweating.
– I am in favour of late sittings to dispose of this motion, because so much matter that is entirely foreign to the motion has been introduced into the debate. I think that every honorable member is entitled to say what he thinks on this question if, it be relevant, though it should not have the effect of changing a single vote. It is necessary that we should let our constituents know what we think of the Government before we go to the country. We may possibly change a good many votes there. I repeat that I am willing to sit late, in order that the debate on the want of confidence motion may be concluded.
– I join with the honorable member for Moira in entering a protest against adjourningat this early hour. It is now only a quarter past ten o’clock.
– The request for an adjournment came from the honorable member’s own side.
– If the debate is to be dragged on as it has been during the past fortnight, it will take another three weeks to finish it. We all know that the Government cannot possibly carry on, and why should they desire to mark time in this manner? Are they trying by some trick or another to secure somebody’s vote, in order that they may carry on for a little while? It is all very well to say that honorable members on this side have taken up a considerable time, but have not the Government got the business of the House in their own hands. Have they not power to say, “ We shall sit here until to-morrow morning, and finish this debate,” if they so desire?
– That would be urged as a complaint against them.
– The Government are not game to take that course. If they desire that the debate should be brought to a conclusion at the earliest possible moment let them put their power in force. We have been here now for six or seven months and have done practically nothing. The House has got into such a state that no business can be transacted, and as an honest set of politicians, as I believe we all are, we should be taking a more honorable course if we finished this debate at once, and allowed the electors to decide whether the present Government shall retain office or another should take its place.
– On last Friday the right honorable member for Swan denied certain statements of mine in connexion with the introduction in the Western Australian Legislature of a Payment of Members Bill and an Arbitration and Conciliation Bill. I told the right honorable gentleman on that occasion that I spoke on the best authority, but he still persisted in contradicting the statements which I made, and I promised that I should produce proof of my remarks.
– It will puzzle the honorable gentleman to do that.
– The honorable member for Coolgardie will kindly take his seat. If will be out of order on a motion for the adjournment to discuss matter relating to another debate which is pending, and which has been adjourned. I do not see very well how the honorable member can bring in what he desires to say in the way of a personal explanation. If what the honorable member desires to say is something urgent, perhaps he would prefer that I should ask the House to give him leave to make a statement. Is that what the honorable member would wish?
– Yes, Mr. Speaker.
– Is it the pleasure of the House that the honorable member for Coolgardie have leave to make a statement ?
Honorable Members. - Hear, hear,
– I should have risen as a matter of personal explanation earlier in the proceedings, but that I know that the right to make personal explanations has been somewhat abused.
– The honorable gentleman should accept my statement to the House ; that is what he ought to do.
– I have no hesitation in accepting the view that the right honorable gentleman has correctly given his recollection of the transactions, but what I desire to do, if he will allow me, is to put myself right with the House. I wish to show that I did not come here to make certain assertions without having the proof of them in my hands. The right honorable member for Swan will admit that the memoTies of half-a-dozen men are much more likely to be correct about an incident which took place some years ago than is the recollection of one gentleman who was overwhelmed with public affairs at the time.
– The honorable gentleman need not believe it. I know what I did.
– But. in addition, I have here a printed document - the official minutes of the congress of trades and labour bodies of Western Australia - printed not this year or last year, but shortly after the transaction occurred in which the right honorable gentleman denies having taken a certain part.
– We shall hear what it says.
– I shall give the right honorable gentleman every opportunity to deal with it, and he can even have possession of the document when I have finished vith it. I have in my hand a letter from two gentlemen, who were members of the Trades Congress, and who interviewed the right honorable member for Swan. These gentlemen now are members of the Senate, and they have written me the following letter: -
We listened yesterday in the House of Representatives to your statement of the circumstances leading up to the introduction in 1900 of the Arbitration Bill into the Legislative Assembly of Western Australia. We also heard Sir John Forrest’s denial of the facts as stated by you. As President and Secretary of the Trades’ Union Congress, which met in Perth in August, 1900, we desire to indorse your statement as absolutely correct in substance and in fact.
As you will perceive from the copy of the official report of the Congress herewith, a deputation was appointed fo wait on the: then Premier, Sir John Forrest, with a request that he should introduce and carry an Arbitration Bill. We were members of the deputation and spokesmen at the interview with Sir John Forrest on that occasion. After the representatives of the press had left the room, Sir John Forrest promised us that if we would use our influence to prevent Mr. Illingworth, then leader of the parliamentary Opposition, from submitting a motion of censure, he would introduce the necessary measure, and guarantee its passage through both Houses in an acceptable form. The understanding was that we should bring our influence to bear on Mr. Illingworth to induce him to refrain from submitting the censure motion, and that if he refused to’ comply we should interview certain members who proposed to support him, with a view of detaching them from the leader of the Opposition. Our understanding with Sir John Forrest was so clear and explicit that we forthwith interviewed Mr. Illingworth and the members referred to, with the result as stated in your speech of yesterday. To confirm this, you will notice that the deputation on the day of the interview with Sir John Forrest and Mr. Illingworth reported the result to the Congress then sitting, which indorsed our action by resolution. Sir John Forrest shortly afterwards introduced the Bill, which eventually passed both Houses and became law.
– The signatories are Senator Pearce, as President, and Senator Croft, as Secretary, of the Congress, but I have not got to the end of the letter.
– Was not Senator de Largie there, too ?
– Undoubtedly, and I can get an assurance from him that this statement is correct.
– The honorable member might as well have them all, I think.
– Here are the official minutes, printed shortly after the Congress was held. The minutes of the session of Thursday, 16th August, 1900, contain these resolutions : -
Mr. Johnson moved “ That a deputation of six be appointed to interview the Premier at 2.45 p.m. to-day to lay before him the resolutions of Congress.” Mr. Field seconded. Motion carried. Messrs. Reside, Cartwright, Field, G. F. Pearce, de Largie, and Croft, were appointed a deputation, and the Congress adjourned till their return.
Congress resumed business at 4.50 p.m. President reported on behalf of the deputation. Report received.
Mr. S. G. Pearce moved, Mr. Findlay seconded. - “ That, in the opinion of this Congress, any M.P. who, by voting to close this session, or otherwise, tries to block the passage, or who fails to support, when introduced, the Compulsory Conciliation and Arbitration Act, will be looked upon as an enemy of the labour interest.” After a lengthy discussion, the motion was carried by thirty votes to seven.
– There is nothing about a no-confidence motion there.
– Nothing about a noconfidence motion !
– It refers to the close of the session, and what else?
– It refers to the close of the session, and voting for a Conciliation and Arbitration Bill. Evidently the right honorable gentleman was as anxious to close that session as his friends here are to close this session.
– That is all right; that is what I said.
– The fact of the matter is, that the right honorable gentleman made a promise in this interview. He knew very well that his Government was going out, and he desired to be in power at the time the Commonwealth was established so that he might be a member of the Federal Ministry.
– How was it going out? There was no majority against it in the House.
– The majority was obtained, as I have stated, by the influence of the Labour Congress, as the right honorable gentleman knows.
– After they had passed the Bill, they could have voted against me?
– Order !
– I hope that the right honorable gentleman will have an opportunity of replying.
– The honorable member has not proved his case.
– Well, I do not know what other proof the right honorable gentleman wants. If this document does not supply the requisite proof, I am afraid that I cannot get anything better. The letter continues as follows: -
In regard to the introduction of a Bill for payment of members in Western Australia, we, as President and Secretary at the time of the Political Labour Council, desire to state the following facts : - That the Labour Party had determined to nominate a candidate for West Perth, in opposition to Mr. D. C. Wood, who had vacated his seat consequent on his acceptance of the portfolio of Minister of Works in Sir John Forrest’s Ministry, and who was seeking re-election.
– What date was that ? It was long before.
– That was considerably before. I admit. I am not quite sure, but I think it was in 1889; the two incidents are entirely distinct.
It was the intention of the Labour Party to contest the election on the issue of payment of.” members.
– That was not to say that they did not want it up to that rime.
– No; but the right honorable gentleman was very anxious that his Ministry should not be imperilled. Theletter continues -
Sir John Forrest’s desire that Mr. Wood should not be opposed was conveyed to us by telephone through Mr. Rason, M.L.A., the then Government whip.
– No one wants tobe opposed, I expect.
– Order !
– The letter proceeds-
On behalf of Sir John Forrest, Mr. Rason,. undertook, if labour opposition to Mr. Wood were withdrawn, that Sir John would introduce and carry through a measure for the payment of members.
– There is some Ananias about.
– We shall come to the Ananias presently.
The Labour Party accepted that arrangement; no labour candidate offered himself. Mr. B. C. Wood was returned,
– He was opposed, though.
– Not by a Labour man. and a Bill for the payment of members was introduced by Sir John Forrest and carried through Parliament.
– I deny that absolutely.
– I thank you, sir, and the House, for giving me the opportunity to make this statement.
– I do not know, sir, whether I shall be in order in replying to the honorable member for Coolgardie.
– Is it the pleasure of the House that the right honorable member for Swan have leave to make a statement ?
Honorable Members. - Hear, hear.
– I must apologize to the House for having to intrude matters connected with the administration of affairs in Western Australia, before this Parliament came into existence; but when such statements are made, as have been made to-night by the honorablemember for Coolgardie, it is imperative that I should reply to them. The statement which the honorable member made the other night was that I undertook to introduce a Conciliation and Arbitration Bill into Parliament, on condition that the Labour Party,. or the labour unions of Western Australia spared my Government duri’ng (that session from defeat. ‘ To that statement I give an absolute and unqualified denial. At that time my Government had a majority in the Legislative Assembly. There had been an attempt, a short time previously, during that session, to defeat the Government, on the ground of my action in regard to Federation, and the administration of the finances, and because it was said that we were too progressive in :railway construction and other works. Those were the charges made, but notwithstanding the action taken against the Government, and the defection of, I think, two members from its ranks, there was a majority of six in favour of my Government when the division was taken. There was no Labour Party in the House, and the supporters of the Government were absolutely solid, and there was no further danger of the Government being defeated that session. A trial of strength had just taken place, and, notwithstanding the defection of two old and trusted supporters, the Ministry had a majority of six. . Therefore) the statement that my action was governed by a promise that the Government should npt be challenged during the session is on the face of it absurd, and has not the slightest basis of fact. The Arbitration Bill was introduced Into the Western Australian Legislature in 1899, but I do not think it got as far as its second reading that session ; but the speech delivered by the Governor at the beginning of next session shows that the Administration of which I was the head promised :o introduce it again, and it was re-introduced. But when the session was -well advanced, a deputation of the Labour organizations waited on me, and urged that the Bill should be expedited, and I told them that if the Opposition did not obstruct the Bill, I would pass it; and I advised them that if they had any influence -with the Opposition, as no doubt they had, they should use it. They said that they -would do so. They then, it now appears, -passed the following resolution: -
That, in the opinion of this Congress, any -Member of Parliament who, by voting to close this session, or otherwise tries to block the passage, or who fails to support, when introduced, the Compulsory Conciliation and Arbitration Act, will’ be looked upon as an enemy pf the labour Interest.
There is nothing in that resolution, nor is there anything in existence, to substantiate the statement which was made about an agreement between us. It is absolutely untrue.
– The honorable member must hot use the word a untrue.”
– I withdraw it, and substitute the word incorrect. It is absolutely incorrect to say that I bargained with that deputation that if they would make my Government safe for the session I would pass the Bill. It is absurd for any one to think that I would give myself away in that manner. In the first place, there was no need to make any such bargain, and, if there had been, I would not have been so foolish as to say so. The statement about the Payment of Members’ Bill is absolutely incorrect. I do not charge the two honorable gentlemen from another place with wilful misrepresentation, but they do not know the facts. They were not behind the scenes in political life in Western Australia. The Bill was introduced, and passed during that session, to meet the views of members on both sides, but chiefly of the Ministerial supporters, and I had promised a referendum on the question a- year before.
– - The right honorable, member and his Ministers voted against payment of members.
– It was not made a party question, and one Minister voted for it. I was npt in favour of it;, but I eventually agreed that, as a strong desire for it was expressed on all sides of the House, I should not allow my personal feelings to thwart the wishes of honorable members generally. I promised to introduce the Bill, and I did so. To saythat the members of the Labour organizations were instrumental in influencing my action is absolutely incorrect. I am not aware, speaking from memory, that they made any representations to the Government on the subject, or tried to influence its action, beyond general public speaking. I do not think that either of these matters should have been referred to by the honorable member for Coolgardie, because they have nothing to do with this House. I have, however, replied to the statements which have been made, because I do not wish honorable gentlemen to think that I ever made such a bargain with Labour organizations, or any one else, to bring pressure to. bear on the Opposition to prevent the defeat of my Government. It ‘ is absurd to think that any Opposition would listen to such a proposal. If they had thought that they could defeat me, they would have got the Bill out of the way, and then moved a motion of want of confidence. But, as I have shown, the trial of strength had already taken place, and the Government had won by a majority of six. While I do not wish to say that honorable gentlemen have wilfully misstated the facts, I say again that their statements are absolutely incorrect, and devoid of foundation.
– With regard to the matter referred to by the honorable members for Moira, Hindmarsh, and Kennedy, I think that we must all be impressed with the desirability of bringing the debate to an early conclusion. ‘ The honorable member for Kennedy seems to have forgotten that the motion which has been responsible for such an inordinate waste of public time, did not emanate from this side of the Chamber, and the longest speeches have certainly not been made by Ministerial supporters. However, I am very glad to know that the members of the Opposition wish for an early termination of the discussion, and I hope that their leader will see his way to co-operate with the Government in trying to bring it to an end. If he will do so, I do not see why it should not be closed this week. I hope that honorable members will assist us to bring that about.
– What about responsible government ?
– My honorable friend knows that in a discussion of this kind it is exceedingly difficult for the Government to curtail speeches.
-But we could sit later.
– We have heard speeches of from three and a half to four hours duration, which have never touched on the subject of the motion. One such speech was delivered to-day. Anyperson listening to the debate would really think that the motion was one ofwant of confidence in the Opposition, because nearly everything that has been said has been in defence of members of their own side, rather than by way of an indictment of the Government.. However, I hope that honorable members will see their way clear to co-operate with the Government in bringing the debate to an early close.
– Hear, hear; we will sit all night if the Government like.
– We shall not do any such thing. .
– I am speaking for the Opposition; I do not pretend to speak for honorable members on the Government side.
– We are not going to sit all night to oblige the Opposition.
– Some means will have to be adopted to bring the debate to a termination within a reasonable time. The Government have no desire to unduly curtail the speeches of honorable members. We know that in a debate of this kind, certain latitude is always allowed, and consistently with that,I trust that all honorable members will co-operate with the Government in bringing the debate to a close.
– Hear, hear ; we will give every assistance.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 10.42 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 4 October 1904, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1904/19041004_reps_2_22/>.