2nd Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Debate resumed from 4th October(videpage 5214), on motion by Mr. Watson -
That the present Administration does not possess the confidence, of this House.
-I should like at the outset, by way of exposition pf my own position, to allude to a number of the many circumstances which have led up to the present situation. ‘ It is rather remarkable that the fight in connexion with the Arbitration Bill has completely changed its ground. Before the last election it was thought that the great struggle in connexion with the Bill would be on the question of including public and railway servants’; but that appears to havebeen lost sight of now.
– Hear, hear. Honorablemembers opposite have dropped it like a hot potato.
– My honorable friend iswrong. The Government, and those who made it a test quesion, have accepted and swallowed it like a sugar-coated pill. The’ Deakin Government vacated office because-, the House determined to apply the Bill torailway servants. I -myself voted for that..
– Most of the members in the Opposition corner voted for the exclusion of the public servants.
– I am speaking for myself, and will leave them to speak for themselves. There is one incident in connexion with that vote which is” worth noting. The right honorable member for East Sydney, who was then leading the Opposition, did his best to bring about an. arrangement with the leader of the Labour Party to procure the defeat of the Government of the day. It is well known to every member of the House that, although he was professing to be with the Government on the question, he tried to bring about an alliance, or a coalition, or a conjunction, or whatever name he pleases to give it, with the Labour Party, against whom he is now fighting.
– Will the honorable member sav when that was?
– When the Barton Government, in which the honorable and learned member for Ballarat was AttorneyGeneral, threw the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill under the table, refusing to go further with it. My right honorable friend must know well that the Barton Government was trembling in the balance while he was trying to negotiate with the Labour Party, to use them as a lever to turn it out of office. However, the House went to the country, and I stated to my constituents that I had voted for the inclusion of the railway men in the Bill, and intended to do so again ; but, to my certain knowledge, I lost hundreds of votes by the further declaration that, if my action would be likely to put the Deakin Government out of office, and allow the leader of the Free-trade Party to take possession of the Treasury benches, I would not vote for the inclusion of the railway servants in the Bill. I took that stand, because I knew that the right honorable member was opposed to arbitration, and to the policy which has given us our industries.
– The honorable member sticks at nothing.
– When has the right honorable gentleman been identified with the policy of arbitration? When has he ever championed it?
– Over and over again.
– Although I considered it to be of immense moment that the railwaymen should be included in the Bill, I preferred their exclusion to allowing the right honorable gentleman to obtain possession of the Treasury benches.
– Then, it was not a case of putting labour first at that time.
– My course was rendered easier by the fact that the right honorable gentleman announced that he would vote with the Government on the question. That robbed the division of all party semblance, and made it improbable, if not impossible, that he should be sent for by the Governor-General. More than that, I knew - and the honorable and learned member for Ballarat will bear me out in this statement - that- it was the policy of the party with which I was allied, and” of its leader, to sit in the Ministerial corner, and to be in the House what the Labour Party had hitherto been.
– The Ministerial corner? No, never at any time. I never had such a thought. The advisability of sitting in the. Opposition corner was discussed.
– No, . the Ministerial corner.
– That was the impres sion left on my mind, and on the minds of other members of this House.
– It was the impression left on the minds of mutual friends outside. The object in view was to keep the leader of the Free-trade Party off the Treasury benches.
– I was to be the scapegoat.
– The honorable member for Melbourne Ports is an artist in misrepresentation.
– That . unquestionably was at the time the position of the leader of the Protectionist Party.
– Not at all.
– Yes. It was told to me, and to other honorable members, and to mutual friends outside. The understanding was that the party should sit in the Ministerial. Corner, and should be in the House what the Labour Party had hitherto been. The whole of its energies were to be directed towards regulating the policy of the Government, and, above all, to keeping the Free-trade Party off the Treasury benches.
– These are revelations.
– They may be revelations to my honorable friend, but as he was not a member of the Protectionist Party, it was not part of his business to know them before.
– We are glad that we are not members of the Protectionist Party.
– The honorable member for Gippsland is a member, and no inconsiderable member, of the Protectionist Party.
– I hope that I shall not be called upon to say anything unpleasant. I shall try to avoid doing so. I merely wish to state in a plain, frank, straightforward way, my position, and that of my friends. Without revealing caucus secrets, I would like to know if I did not ask the Chairman of the caucus, in the caucus, why he had changed his tactics and his course ?
– That was as between the Opposition corner and the Opposition benches. Never in my life had I’ such an idea as to sit in the Ministerial corner.
– The honorable and learned member conveyed that impression to me and’ to the honorable and learned member for Darling Downs, amongst others.
– This is the first time that I have heard of ‘it.
– I am sorry that there has been a misunderstanding.
– Why has not the honorable member said this to me before? He has discussed every other matter with me; but neither he, nor any other living being, has ever stated to my knowledge what he is saying now.
– I mentioned the matter to the honorable and learned member privately and in the caucus, and my distinct impression was as I have stated. However, we will admit that there has been a misunderstanding. Will not my honorable and learned friend admit that he would sit in the Opposition corner for the purpose I have indicated, namely, that of keeping the leader of the Free-trade Party off the Treasury benches?
– Then what was the object in view?
– To maintain the integrity of the party.
– That suits my purpose quite as well. The object was to maintain our integrity as a party so that we might become masters of the situation in the House, and prevent the Free-trade Party which we had been fighting right up to that time from occupying the Treasurybenches. That is where the first difficulty arose. The first caucus then took place, and the leader of the Protectionist Party was requested to interview the leader of the Labour Party and the leader of the Free-trade Party.
– No; to receive overtures from either of them, but not to interview them.
– That is another way of putting it. I shall accept my honorable friend’s definition’ of the position There is very little difference between his statement and mine. Overtures were sub.mitted, at the second caucus meeting, in the shape of a definite agreement which had been arrived at between the leader of the Protectionist Party and the leader of the Free-trade Party.
– Was the honorable member a party to negotiations being entered into with me?
– There is a very great difference betwen being a party to negotiations and being a party to completing those negotiations.
– Would the honorable member negotiate with a man whom he intended to proscribe?
– There was never any intention on my part to complete negotiations that would lead to a coalition with the Free-trade Party.
– Then why were negotiations entered into with me?
– Because the right honorable gentleman was to be used as a lever to bring others into line.
– That is a nice confession to make.
– That is what I believed.
– That is a most disgraceful thing for a public man to say.
– Nevertheless, I believe it to be a fact, and I am not going to hide anything that I believe to be a fact whilst I am discussing this matter.
– That would seem to show that I was to be something more than a scapegoat. This is a nice lesson. for New South Wales.
– Previous to the second meeting of the caucus, the whole of the arrangements for a coalition were completed. The moment I heard of it I stated publicly that I would not be a party to any arrangements that would lead to a coalition with the free-trade leader - that I would resist it in every possible way.
– Hear, hear.
– If I had become number two, would the honorable ‘member have had any objection to the coalition?
– I do not propose to discuss what took place at the caucus. I shall read the statement that I made after the second caucus meeting, because it is just as well to have the matter placed distinctly on record. My position was discussed very freely in the leading free-trade journal, which made the following statement : -
We ascertained definitely to-day that in the event of such a combination Mr. Mauger would not follow Mr. Deakin, but support the present Administration.
It went on to say that it was my full intention to do my very best to secure for the Watson Government fair treatment and a reasonable tenure of office so long as they conducted the business in a manner which, in my view, was in the best interests of the country. Although my attitude was clearly and definitely known,. I was afterwards invited to the caucus meeting convened by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat. I went to the meeting, and did my very best there - and. with the aid of others, succeeded - to induce the caucus to definitely and emphatically declare against any coalition with the Free-trade Party at that juncture.
– That was a meeting of a parliamentary party, and not a caucus.
– It was to all intents and purposes a caucus.
– No ; it was very different.
– The honorable member will admit that the minority were free to do as they chose after the decision had been arrived at by the caucus.
– I admit nothing of the kind. I acknowledge that the majority were free to do as they liked with regard to the Arbitration Bill, but not to go beyond that. The resolutions arrived at by the caucus were carried practically unanimously. It suited the honorable . member for Laanecoorie to entirely omit all reference to the fact that the Protectionist Party had met on two or three occasions.
– The iast was a nice sort of a meeting.
– It was a glorious meeting, and, with the exception o? my honorable friend, we all enjoyed ourselves immensely. I know I did.
– The honorable member tried to upset the whole arrangement.
– I admit that I tried to do so, because the combination as proposed was an unholy and immoral one, and would have involved the sinking of our political principles, contrary to the wishes of the vast majority of the people of Victoria.
– The honorable member will admit that at the first meeting of the party it was expressly agreed that minorities should not be bound by the majority decisions.
– That was expressly agreed to upon the question of the Arbitration Bill, but not on the question of the coalition with the Free-trade Party.
– Yes, upon all questions.
– No, I beg the Minister’s pardon. If that were agreed to in regard to all questions, why should fault be found with the action we have taken in this matter?
– Have I found fault with the honorable member’s action ?
– I do not know whether the Minister has done so or not. The first resolution adopted read as follows : -
That this party is not prepared to consider proposals for a coalition except on the condition that the Prime Ministership shall be accorded to the present leader of the party (Mr. Deakin).
That was definitely agreed to.
– Would the honorable member have supported a coalition upon those terms ?
– No ; I should not have supported it on any terms whatever. My position was a definite one, and if I had been the only one to object to the proposal I would nevertheless have been prepared to stand alone in doing so.
– The honorable member says that the ‘motion was almost ‘unanimously agreed to. If so, he was probably one of’ the majority.
– The honorable member does not know anything about it. The second resolution was as follows: -
That the present circumstances do not render advisable either of the proposed alliances or coalitions, and that every effort should be made to maintain the unity and integrity of the Liberal Party.
What happened then? The Watson Government was assailed on a proposal to recommit a vital clause in the Arbitration Bill. In my judgment, the action of the then Opposition was unwarranted, unparliamentary, and unfair. I may . be wrong, but that is the honest conclusion at which I have arrived. The Prime Minister was anxious to turn out the Watson Government. No honest attempt was made to arrive at a decision with regard to the clause in dispute; but the right honorable gentleman made use of his majority to prevent the Bill from being recommitted. I have no hesitation in saying that if the Bill had been recommitted a clause satisfactory to all parties would have been framed, and the Bill would have been placed upon our statute-book.
– Had the honorable member a clause ?
– Then how can the honorable member know?
– The right honor - able gentleman will admit that the difference between the proviso as it stands in the Bill and the amendment proposed by the late Prime Minister was not so great as to preclude the possibility of an agreement.
– And yet the honorable member for Bland made it a vital question.
– He made the amendment of a clause a vital matter, but not the question of the recommittal of the Bill. The right honorable gentleman knows- full well that if the clause had been recommitted there is no doubt that an understanding satisfactory to both sides would have been arrived at.
– I am quite certain that no satisfactory arrangement would have been made.
– I think so. At any rate, no opportunity was given to consider the matter.
– How many amendments had honorable members up their sleeves?
– None. There was a determination to make an earnest effort o settle the matter, on account’ of its urgency, and in response tq the demand of the public.
– I understand that the honorable member’s object was to keep me out of office all the time.
– Not personally. My course was clear and definite. The people of Victoria had no faith in the then leader of the Opposition as head of a Government, and my object was to do- my best to keep him off the Treasury benches. At that juncture there was a distinct understanding arrived at that it was inadvisable to enter into any coalition. It was clearly understood that no coalition could be agreed to unless the honorable and’ learned member for Ballarat was to become Prime Minister.
– No coalition has yet been entered into.
– Then what is the combination opposite? Honorable members talk about a private understanding, and about something which has not yet been explained. Will they tell me what took place at the private meeting which was held between the present Prime Minister and the honorable and learned member for Ballarat when they were concealed in a cottage at Richmond, and had a watchman to guard them against intrusion, whilst they were conducting their negotiations? If there be any mystery at all, certainly it attaches to the coalition opposite, and not to the party with which I am associated. I now come to the next stage. So far as I am personally concerned, every one of my actions was full” made known “to the honorable and learned member for Ballarat. Some honorable members, including the honorable member for Laanecoorie, have spoken of a project to form a new organization. I know nothing of any new organization, and I frankly believe that there was never any serious proposal to establish one. I told the honorable and learned member for Ballarat that I was not aware of any such project.
– Hear, hear.
– I also informed him that if there were any such project I should not support it.
– Hear, hear.
– I also informed him that I thought it was merely proposed that the Liberal -Protectionist Party should remain intact and consider the best course to follow under the then existing circumstances. We met, and we invited every member of that party to be present. I received no more invitation to attend that meeting than did the honorable member for Moira or the honorable and learned member for Ballarat. They knew quite as much of it as I did.
– Who called the meeting?
– I do not know. All I know is that the gathering was open, fair, and) above board. The only announcement which I saw of the meeting was in the columns of the press, and every member of my party received the same announcement. Before that meeting was held, I acquainted the honorable and learned member for Ballarat with the fact that I purposed attending, and with my object in so doing. In the meantime, the Coalition was formed, and the Treasurer was nominated for the time being as the leader of the Protectionist Party. He handed his charge over to the honorable member for Gippsland, who in turn has handed it over to the leader of the Free-trade Party, the present Prime Minister. At the gathering te which I have already re- f erred, we merely elected a chairman. We did not elect a leader or a secretary. We did nothing to shut out any member of the Liberal-Protectionist Party. A little later an invitation came from the present leader of the Opposition, to meet the members of his party in conference. We invited every member of the Protectionist Party to meet them in conference.
– The honorable member did not invite me.
– I beg the right honorable member’s pardon. He had as much invitation as I had.
– How were we invited ?
– I never received a hint of it.
– The Minister of Trade and Customs had placed himself beyond the possibility of receiving any such hint by joining the free-trade leader.
– The Ministry had not then been formed.
– The Ministry was practically formed, and it was well known that the honorable gentleman was to be a Minister. I have no desire to rake up past events, but the honorable and learned member for Ballarat knows perfectly well that years ago I indicated that a junction between protectionists and the Free-trade Party would come from the Ministerial corner, and that we looked forward to the time when it would come.
– Were the invitations to attend the meeting issued by circular or by letter ?
– They were issued through the public press. My honorable friend, however, need not trouble himself to inquire into the matter, because he was not interested in any way. I have endeavoured’ to make it clear that we did nothing behind the back of our leader, that we did nothing to destroy, the Protectionist Party, tha’t we left the door open, and that we entered into the present alliance at the request of the leader of the Labour Party.
– Did the honorable member observe the absence of his leader from that meeting ?
– Yes, and I regretted” it. That, however, was entirely his own business, and not mine. Having explained my personal position, I now come to the reasons which impel me to support this noconfidence motion. In the first place, I am opposed to the Government because I object to the way in which they secured pos session of the Treasury benches. I have a lively recollection of the present Prime Minister,” when sitting in opposition, pointing the finger of scorn at the honorable member for Bland, who was then leader of the Government, and saying - “When the honorable member gets upon the Treasury benches by the votes of the people of the Commonwealth, he will have something, to be proud of.” I repeat those words to him to-day. When he obtains possession of the Treasury benches by the votes of the electors of the Commonwealth, and not by intriguing and by shameful political demoralization that is a disgrace to those who are parties to it, he will have something to be proud of.
– The honorable member, if he adopts that tone, is one of the most brazen specimens I have seen. He is logrolling every moment of his life.
– I protest against the manner in which the right honorable gentleman secured possession of the Treasury benches. It is well known that had he tabled a direct no-confidence motion against the Watson Administration, he would have had not the faintest hope of carrying it. It is an open secret that a number of honorable members supported the amendment of the honorable and learned member for Corinella, under shelter of which the present Prime Minister secured office, who would not have dared to vote in favour of a direct motion of no-confidence. As a matter of fact, some of these, gentlemen had actually gone to the then Prime Minister and assured him that so long as he conducted business upon the lines’ he was pursuing he would have their moral support, and would command their votes. Consequently, I repeat that had a direct no-confidence motion been tabled by the leader of the Free-trade Party he would not have secured office.
– Would the late Prime Minister have obtained office under the same conditions?
– There is absolutely no analogy between the two cases. The leader of the Labour Party did not seek for office ; he did not want it. He came into power because of the action of unprincipled wreckers upon the other side of the House, who, in order to displace the Deakin Government, voted for an amendment in which they did’ not believe.
– There were only two of that description in a majority of eight or nine.
– Honorable members so prostituted their positions in this House-
– The honorable member must not make a charge of that description against honorable members. I must ask him to withdraw it.
– If there is anything irregular in what I have said, I most certainly withdraw it. I say that it was openly and publicly stated by honorable members that they would vote for the amendment which displaced the Deakin Government, not because they believed in it - as a matter of fact, they were absolutely opposed to it-
– They -said so openly.
– Yes, the statement was made in this House.
– They declared that they had two objects in view, the first being to wreck the Bill, and the second to wreck the Deakin Government. The present Prime Minister did not raise his little finger in order to prevent conduct which seems to me both inexplicable and politically immoral. The honorable and learned member for Bendigo, in trying to explain his present position, wished to know what the contention was all about, and urged that the Victorian Factories Act and its system of Wages Boards was quite as efficacious as any Arbitration Act which we could put upon the statute-book. He said that there was no preference to unionists under the .Victorian Factories Act.
– -That shows his ignorance of the whole question.
– It undoubtedly does. I say, with all respect to the honorable and learned member, that his remarks showed that he knew nothing whatever about the working of factories legislation in Victoria. It is a notorious fact that employes’ representatives upon three or four at least of the first Wages Boards were turned adrift, and that some of them are begging for work in the streets of Melbourne to-day. I could give their names. I have a list containing the names of no less than thirty -eight really good men and women, who were prominent as representatives of the employes on the Wages Boards, and who have been dismissed for some reason. Of course, they were not dismissed for being members of Wages Boards ; that cause was not assigned. But they have been dismissed. I contend that some such clause as the preference clause is necessary in order to protect such people, and to give them security that when they are doing the work of their fellow employes and of the country, the employersshall not make scapegoats of them and turn them adrift. It is notorious that four members of the Butchers’ Board - some of the best men in the trade - were dismissed by their employers. One or two have started in business for themselves after going through a period of difficulty and privation. Others are still out of employment, because they could not get work with other employers. Yet the honorable and learned member for Bendigo says that the Victorian Factories Act is effective. The facts show conclusively that the preference for unionists provision is needed. I am opposed to the Government also on account of their constitution. The Prime Minister has acknowledged that he was beaten, and has said that he is quite prepared to accept a truce and to carry it out honorably. But what did the right honorable gentleman say just before the last election? He said in a speech at Warrnambool, in regard to the Tariff -
There must be no ambiguity as to his position. The Government was unpopular, and thousands of protectionists would support him, only they were afraid of what he would do. They would put him into power if they could do it without danger to their cause, but he was not to be bought or bribed by their support from his allegiance to the cause to which he was pledged.
Has he been either bought or bribed?
– Certainly not.
– If not, how does the right honorable gentleman occupy his present position? He stated distinctly when before the electors that on no account would he lower the flag of free-trade, and that he would not occupy the Treasury bench except for the purpose of reducing taxation and removing anomalies in the Tariff.
– Is all that contained in his speech?
– Yes ; I will go on reading it.
– I must be doing well for my side when the honorable member is so angry with me.
– The right honorable gentleman always did well for his side until he lowered his flag. ‘
– My people are not complaining.
– I will show the right honorable gentleman presently that his people are complaining. He said -
He looked upon an honest revenue Tariff cut down to the honest necessities of the Government, as the only proper form of Customs taxation.
This other taxation was on the downward path, leading to monopoly and corruption, and, as long as he was in politics, he was square against it.
If the Tariff was so dishonest and corrupt twelve months ago, what has made it honest and uncorrupt at the present time? What change has taken place ? What difference should there be between the policy of the right honorable gentleman before the elections and his policy to-day, in regard to the same Tariff ? It is interesting also to notice the attitude of the honorable and learned member for Ballarat towards the leader of the Free-trade Party. This is what he said in his great Ballarat speech -
Their affection for the mother country has disappeared. They are foreign-traders pure and simple. (Applause.) We offer to Great Britain a preference in our ports, but this is refused by our opponents, simply and avowedly in the interests of foreign imports. They are, therefore, more his friends than those of the Empire. They are foreign-traders, naked and unashamed. They are also creatures of inconsistency.
Let me remark in connexion with that quotation that, while the honorable and learned member for Ballarat had strong things to say in that speech against the leader of the Freetrade Party, he had not a single word of condemnation to utter concerning the Labour Party. His whole condemnation was levelled against the leader of the Freetrade Party. Yet here are these two gentlemen to-day, one the head of a Government, and the other supporting him ! No wonder protectionists in this House are opposed to the Government. The Prime Minister says that he is prepared to abide by this truce faithfully. But what do his friends outside say ? Do they approve of it ?
– What are the Labour Party doing?
– I will . come to the Labour Party directly.
– The honorable member will - soon enough.
– I wish to point out that not only do I regard the present coalition as unwarrantable and immoral, but that it is so regarded by free-trade leaders outside Parliament. Take the Rev. Dr. Bevan - who, by-the-by, has been lecturing this House in the Argus to-day on account of the long speeches of honorable members, though the same venerable gentleman did not lecture prominent free-traders when they spoke for hours, and when they were doing their best to destroy Victorian industries. It is a remarkable thing that he should only now discover that long speeches are made in this Parliament.
– What Victorian industries were destroyed ?
– That, however, is by the way. Dr. Bevan says, regarding the present coalition -
I have no faith in coalitions. The working out of great principles is best done by means of the opposition of great parties. This is so, not only in politics, but also in the church. I can understand a man believing in protection, and there are logical arguments in favour of free-trade, but 1 cannot see any advantage in sinking a principle simply to secure a majority in the Federal Par. liament with the view of re-adjusting the relationship of parties. I will not say such a course is immoral, but it tends to political immorality on the part of the followers of both parties. Perhaps a party is never so well off as when it is weak in Parliament but strong outside, and it behoves all free-traders outside Parliament to work hard in the interests of the cause.
Dr. Bevan does not lower his flag, He has been one of the free-trade leaders of Victoria, but he does not say, like the leader of his party in Parliament. “I am beaten, and I am. going to give up the fight - I intend to abandon the principles- which I have been advocating - for the sake of office.”
– No, no; there is a truce. The honorable member will not face us on that issue.
– Who was agreeable to a truce? Not the right honorable gentleman. His party outside are now showing that they do not agree to a truce. The president of the’ Free-trade League of Victoria, Mr. Hickford, has said -
We are asked to sink the fiscal issue merely to allow a certain party in the Federal Parliament to disappear from the Treasury benches. If a coalition of parties can bring that about, it will be simply lamentable, not only in free-trade interests, but in protectionist interests also. We ought, as Cobden insisted, to have no sliding scale, but advocate fully and sincerely what we believe in.
That is what is said by the President of the Free-trade League in Victoria, in criticising the action of his own leader in proposing a coalition. That is what is being said, not only in Melbourne, but also in Sydney, whilst the right honorable leader of the Free-trade Party has proclaimed a truce.
– It is the electors who proclaimed the truce.
– But the right honorable gentleman did not agree, to that truce ?
– Why does not the right honorable gentleman send us to the electors?
– The right honorable gentleman fought the truce to the very death. Whilst he is -professing to be agreeable to the sinking of the free-trade policy, ; the . president of the Free-trade League in Victoria, and also leaders in the city which the right honorable gentleman represents, are organizing their forces, and are doing their best to fight the battle of free-trade at the present moment. Already a free-trade candidate has been announced against the honorable member for Wimmera.
– Not by the party.
– It is an open field. There are a number of men anxious to get into Parliament.
– This shows conclusively that the free-trade party outside has not lowered its flag, that it is not agreeable to a truce, and that it is most anxious to continue the fight. There can be no doubt that on the first opportunity the present Prime Minister will aid and assist the freetrade party outside to destroy our industries and bring about a regime of free-trade.
– What about tha Melbourne Ports seat?
– The member for Melbourne Ports can take care of himself.
– That is what the honorable member is doing all the time.
– I object to the present Government on account of its constitution, and -because it sinks its fiscal principles. It is objected to on that ground by free-traders and protectionists alike outside this Parliament. Representative, bodies of protectionists have at two meetings passed resolutions condemning the coalition opposite.
– What does Mr. Lorimer say ?
– The right honorable member for East Sydney, when visiting his electorate recently, told a newspaper interviewer that the coalition, was most popular in Victoria. Where are the indications of it? Can honorable members opposite point to a single resolution which has been passed in its favour ?
– What about the alliance?
– Protectionists condemn it, free-traders condemn it, and the public of Victoria and of Australia will condemn it at the very first opportunity.
– Is it not a fact that the labour leagues have condemned the coalition on the other side?
– The honorable member himself ran as an advocate of fiscal peace.
– I shall come to that presently. I object to the present Government, and I support the motion because of its avowed policy, and because of its want of policy. There cannot be the faintest doubt that the policy of the Government is to get into recess as quickly as possible.
– Hear, hear ; to crawl there.
– Yes, to crawl there - to patch up the Arbitration Bill and other measures on the notice-paper, and to get into recess at the earliest possible moment.
– Have not other Governments gone into recess ?
– We do not wish to stop here always. If some honorable members opposite lived in Western Australia, Queensland, or Tasmania, they would soon get tired of stopping here.
– I admit that at the last election I supported the policy of fiscal peace. I admit that without any hesitation whatever.
– But with mental reservations.
– Without any reservations whatever at that time. I firmly believed when I addressed my constituents that, although the present Tariff was far from being a protectionist one from my point of view, and although it had already begun to injure a number of industries, fiscal peace was the best policy for the Protectionist Party, which was led at the time by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, to pursue. Why did we propose that policy? Because we believed it was the best in the interests of the industries. We did not announce that policy because we believed entirely in the existing Tariff, or because we believed it was a final settlement of the question, but because we thought that by adopting a policy of. fiscal peace we should be best serving the interests of the Commonwealth, best protecting its industries, and accepting the lesser of two evils.
– The protectionist party was fiscally winded just then.
-If ‘honorable members thought they could have won on a high Tariff policy, they would have gone for it.
– Unquestionably we should have done so.
– They thought they could win on a truce, and now they wish to go back on that.
– I admit that it was purely a matter of policy, and the adoption of what appeared to be the best expedient. If I had thought that a policy of higher duties, which I consider right and necessary, would have been the safest in the interests of the Commonwealth, I should have fought for that policy, and I think that the honorable and learned member for Ballarat would in those circumstances have fought with me. The party adopted the policy which appeared at the time to be best. But what do we find? Not three months elapsed before an agitation was got up in connexion with our industries. I have been charged with introducing this matter into the House in order to help the Labour Party, and to injure the present Prime Minister. I am charged with doing this for purely party reasons.
– But can a party break a truce; is that honorable?
– What are the facts? Did this agitation begin in this House,or did it begin outside this House?
– It began in the lobbies.
– Was it commenced her ; for party objects and from selfish motives, or was it voiced here as the reflection of a vast and increasing public opinion, fast developing into conviction, outside? I shall show plainly that that was the case. The first people to move were the Trades Hall Council, and they moved some eight months ago, when they called for inquiries into the condition of certain trades. They collected evidence which showed unmistakably that men who had been engaged in the engineering and agri-
Cultural implement trades especially were walking the streets, and that never in the history of Victoria had industrial enterprise been in such a dreadful state of stagnation. The Trades Hall Council were followed by the Chamber of Manufactures. They are distinctly separate from one another, and will not even meet in conference. They have positively refused to do so upon a question pertaining to their common good and future welfare. There can, therefore, be no suggestion of any coalition or mutual understanding on the part of those two todies in connexion with this matter. The fact that industries were being injured was forced upon the Chamber of Manufactures. They appointed a special committee, and the results of their inquiries, as set out in the daily organ of the Protectionist Party, have demonstrated that a number of industries were being injured, especially those in connexion with the iron trade, that there was stagnation, and that skilled workmen were leaving our shores. We are told that this is only a bogy, and that there is nothing in it. The honorable member for Grampians yesterday said that it was brought into the House for party pur poses, and that there was nothing in it. He said that he knew very well that I voiced my own sentiments with respect to the effect of the Tariff upon our industries, that Iwas doing so for party purposes, and was solely responsible.
– I said nothing of the sort.
– Then I do not understand words.
– I said that the honorable member did not say one word about it in the debate upon the Address-in-Reply which took place less than eight months ago.
– I have answered that objection by saying that it was not evident at that time, that nobody knew the injury to be so far-reaching in its effects as events have proved that it was.
– The honorable member said just now that the Trades Hall Council moved in the matter.
-I have shown that tha Trades Hall Council and the Chamber of Manufactures moved in the matter.
An HonorableMember. - How long ago?
– Four or five months ago.
– Just now the honorable member said it was eight months ago.
– I said that the initial steps for an inquiry were taken by the Trades Hall Council seven or eight months ago, proving that I was not the originator of it and that it was not suggested for party purposes.
– That was before the AddressinReply was moved.-
– That does not prove what the honorable member suggests.
– Does it not? Surely my honorable friend does not imply that I set the Trades Hall Council angling-
– I think that the honorable member is a regular Machiavelli.
– If the honorable member does he is very much mistaken, and does not understand the true position of affairs. What has happened since? We are told that this is only a Victorian cry.
– It exists in South Australia.
– It exists not only in Victoria and South Australia, but also in Queensland. For the information of honorable members, I shall read a resolution which was carried at a meeting of the united Chambers of Manufactures held in Queensland last month. The meeting was presided over by Mr. O. C. Beale, who is said to be against the Labour Party and against the re-opening of the Tariff, because he thinks that it is being sought in the interests of Socialism and the Socialistic Party. The resolution reads as follows : -
On the motion of Mr. C. Atkins, seconded by Mr. R. A. Pryor, it was resolved : - “ That the Federal Council regrets the injurious incidence of the Tariff in certain established industries, and recommends that the Chambers of Manufactures immediately make investigations in their several States, taking evidence relating to anomalies and the injury done to local industries, with the view of presenting their united deductions to the Commonwealth Parliament at the earliest opportunity.”
Surely my honorable friend will admit now that the movement is more widespread than Victoria, that it is not confined to the Trades Hall ; that it has been taken up by the local Chamber of Manufacures, and that it has been affirmed by a conference representing all the Chambers of Manufactures in Australia?
– I said that the movement had begun before the Address-in-Reply was moved.
– My honorable friend is wrong. It began very soon after that event.
– How did I come to mention it in my speech on the AddressinReply ?
– It was only talked of at that time. I, for instance, talked of it to my constituents. I pointed out that a number of industries were being injured, but I was not aware that they were being injured to the extent that they are. I had no idea that the disease was as bad as it has proved to be. I propose to show the position taken up by the president of the Chamber of Manufactures by reading the following letter, which he addressed to the Age: -
The manufacturers fully realized, when they entered the Commonwealth partnership, that they would have to make sacrifices, but annihilation was never entertained nor anticipated. Under the Victorian Tariff men were given every encouragement to establish manufacturing industries. The result of their enterprise and labour was reinvested in plant; their business and machinery were their children’s sustenance and inheritance. Suddenly, by inconsistent Acts of Parliament, these honourable industries are, perhaps slowly (because of the dogged character of the men conducting them), but nevertheless surely condemned to death. Manufacturers are not wreckers ; they disclaim any intention to rip up the Tariff or dislocate trade. We want more trade, and it is felt that the many anomalies which have disclosed themselves in the operation of the Tariff might be at once investigated and adjusted. The country should go straight for preferential trade. It means preference for their produce by upwards of 50,000,000 of people in the northern hemisphere, who are existing under reverse seasons, which enables us to fill their demand in their close season.
That shows conclusively that he was voicing the opinion which I had expressedhere, not for the purpose of displacing or strengthening the Ministry, but for the purpose of trying to save those industries which in Victoria are languishing. What do honorable members opposite propose? They, too, propose that there shall be an inquiry. Of what character is it to be? They propose that the inquiry should not take place during this Parliament, for their leader, in an interview as late as Monday last, named a number qf honorable members on his side who are pledged to fiscal peace for the life of this Parliament, and said that no contrary step is to be taken. This is a matter of urgency. I contend that, did this House realize its duty, it would immediately afford relief to the engineering trade, if to no other. A committee appointed on the lines suggested in the programme of the allied parties could deal at once with the trades one by one, report to the House, and afford it- an opportunity of taking measures of relief at the earliest possible moment. If honorable members like to charge me with having broken my election pledges I am quite prepared to plead guilty, but I know that hundreds of men are out of work in this particular branch of trade. I know facts with which I was not acquainted when I addressed my constituents and advocated fiscal peace extending over a term of years. That is the present position.
– In Victoria, the honorable member means ?
– Not only in Victoria, but in Queensland and South Australia, and even in Tasmania. Only this week I received from engineers in Tasmania letters saying that some relief should be afforded, not only there, but elsewhere.
– Why did they not ask their own representatives, instead of writing to the honorable member?
– Because they are out of touch with their representatives, I suppose.
– The honorable member will be out of touch with his constituents directly.
– I do not know why the engineers did not communicate with their representatives. I am not responsible for that. I am merely stating facts.
– They are not facts.
– The contradiction of the honorable member will not alter them.
– There are no engineering establishments in my electorate.
– I do not believe there are. I was saying when I was interrupted that we went before the electors with our policy clearly understood, and believed it to be the best one. When I was head of the volunteer fire brigades we came to a mutual understanding that the plugs in a certain municipality should be entirely under the control of the brigade therein, and that the plugs in an adjoining municipality .should be under the control of the brigade there. A fire occurred in one of the municipalities, and the first brigade to arrive was the one which was prohibited by the mutual understanding from using the plugs in that municipality. What did they do? In order to faithfully observe that understanding, which was written, and not oral, they positively looked on at the plugs until a crowd of persons standing by took the hydrant, sank it, and got water playing on to the burning buildings. The position here is analogous. Our party came to an agreement which we believed was an honorable and fair one, but while we are trying to make out that it is more important to observe its letter than to help the industries, hundreds of men are walking the streets and the industries are being destroyed: That is the position at the present moment. And yet some men who call themselves protectionists are sheltering themselves against taking the first opportunity to relieve struggling and strangled industries by saying, “ Did we not agree to a truce, and was it not an understanding that we should not re-open the fiscal question during the present Parliament?” It was an understanding that the plugs should be opened only under certain conditions, but a house was being destroyed, and had not the bystanders taken the matter into their own hands the complete destruction of the house would have been inevitable. And seeing that circumstances have changed, this House would be equally justified in taking in hand the fiscal question, notwithstanding the agreement, and affording immediate help and assistance.
– Why not appeal to the honorable member’s constituents ?
– Will my honorable friend not agree with me that if it is true that the question of fiscal peace was before the electors not a word about a coalition with the free-trade leader was breathed to the electors? . Did the honorable and learned member for Ballarat indicate that in the faintest degree ? Would the . Minister of Trade and Customs have dared to go to his constituency and advocate such a thing? Yet, he tells me that, because we are advocating fiscal peace, we must go to the country, and must face our constituents before we attempt to give relief.
– At the last elections I heard nothing of an alliance with the Labour Party. I should not have dared to advocate that.
– The distinct understanding was that the Protectionist Party would fight for the Tariff, because it was believed to be best in the interests of our industries, and such .an idea as a coalition between the free-trade and protectionist’ leaders was never hinted at, breathed, or thought of: I challenge my honorable friends to contradict that state-‘ ment. They know that they would not have dared to face the electors of Victoria in advocacy of a coalition with the Freetrade Part)’.
– There is nothing to prevent the honorable member from going before his constituents, putting before them the altered conditions, and getting their approval of his action.
– My constituents have put the altered conditions plainly before me.
– What about the electors of Australia ?
– The electors of Australia are voicing exactly the same policy. Victoria, Queensland, South Australia - as the honorable member for Hindmarsh will bear me out - and even Tasmania, are voicing this policy.
– “ No. 66 Bourkestreet,” is flooded.
– The honorable member has never done anything in his place of business to cause its number to be known throughout the length and breadth of the Commonwealth. I am not ashamed’ of anything that has been done at No. 66 Bourke-street. If fiscal peace was the issue before the electors, and we, on this side, have violated our pledges, what isthe position of my honorable friends opposite? Was the verdict of the constituencies asked in regard to a coalition between free-traders and protectionists? Wassuch a coalition ever dreamt of? Was it not condemned by protectionists and freetraders alike, through the length and breadth of Victoria? Has one resolution been passed in favour of it, or has one constituency given it a cheer? When the Minister of Defence went to his constituency, did not his best friends express the opinion that it was a matter of regret that, with his abilities, he was not filling a position in a Liberal instead of in a mongrel Government?
– One man said that.
– One man said it publicly, but he voiced the opinion of a great many who held it privately.
– A great many of my longtime enemies would disapprove of anything that I might do.
– No doubt, that is the case with all of us. It comes with exceeding bad grace from honorable members opposite, however, to taunt me with having broken my election pledges, because I am going for an extension of the policy with which I have been associated during my whole life- The honorable member for Gippsland says that I should consult my constituents; but they consult me every morning before I leave home, and at the place of business of which the honorable member for Parramatta has quoted the number. They are out of work, and are pleading that I should do something to remedy the present state of affairs. I shall be prepared to consult my constituents when I feel that I am in the slightest degree out of accord with their wishes and aspirations. But I am voicing the opinions of nine out of ten of them, and of nineteen out of twenty of the people of Victoria, when I say that it is the duty of this Parliament to take immediate steps to protect our industries.
– Are all the members of the Opposition going to the country in advocacy of increased duties?
– I come now to the attitude of the Government in regard to the Labour Party. I have been taunted with having said something at the last elections which should irrevocably and eternally keep me from working with- that party, though that taunt is a remarkable one to come from honorable gentlemen who have pointed the finger of scorn at the Labour Party for having opposed me while I was so much in accord with them and their programme. They have tried to make it appear that in entering into an alliance with the Labour Party, I am deserting my leader, and breaking away from my election pledges. My attitude towards the party was deliberately and clearly set out in an article which appeared in the Review of Reviews a month after the elections.
– The honorable member is there described as a labour member.
– Not only was I described as a labour member, but I was asked as one in touch with the wishes and aspirations of the party to pen an article upon its future possibilitiesand programme.
– Did the Labour Party recognise the honorable member as a labour man during the elections?
– We were at issue in regard to one matter only, and that was the retiring pledge. Anything that I said with regard to the organization of the party was local and circumstantial, and had not to do with its policy, its programme, or its aspirations. Every honorable member who knows my life is aware that I have been fighting, speaking, and working side by side with the members of the Labour Partv all my life.
– Yet they opposed the honorable member at the elections?
– All the worse for them - not for me. That was not my fault. They fought me because I would not agree to sign a retiring pledge.
– The honorable member will never be half appreciated in this world.
– That is unfortunately the position of a good many besides myself. My attitude in regard to the Labour Party was set out in the article which I have mentioned, in the following words : After speaking of the programme of the Victorian Labour Party, I went on to say -
There seems to be very little in it after all to raise the fears and doubts and misrepresentations that have been expressed in regard to it, both in the press and on the platform. For myself, I di not fear the programme, or even the results of its realization.
Those sentences show that I was in ‘ touch with the platform and aspirations of the party. It was because I objected and refused to sign their retiring pledge that I was opposed at the elections, not because I was out of touch with their programme, or their politics generally. Then it has been asked, what have those on this side of the House done for the policy of protection, with which I am more closely associated? The honorable member for Echuca said that during the great Tariff struggle) the Trades Hall Council did nothing whatever; but had it not been for their influence with labour members, and their Conference with the Protectionist Association, the only effective duties in the Tariff - the boot and hat duties - would not have become law. The Trades Hall party secured the votes of a number of men who were avowed freetraders, by representing to them that these industries would be destroyed if lower duties were imposed, and it was protectionist votes that prevented even higher duties from being placed on those particular articles. Whatever the Labour Parties in the other States may have done, in Victoria that party is pledged to the hilt to protection, and the Trades Hall Council here has invariably supported men and measures connected with the protectionist policy. The same thing may be said of it at the present juncture. The honorable member for Flinders went so far as to say that every protectionist who at the next election declared himself to be in favour of higher duties would be branded as a Socialist.
– Nothing of the kind.
– The honorable member is reported to have said that every member who advocated the re-opening of the Tariffwould have to be branded as a Socialist.
– That is very different from the first statement made by the honorable member.
– It is practically the same as the statement I made in the first instance. Then, the honorable member for Grampians concluded his speech yesterday by saying that it was the intention of his party to fight Socialists and Socialism. What did the honorable member mean ? Did he mean the Continental Socialism that abstracts all ideas of character, morality, and religion? Because, if so, I may tell the honorable member that every man in this House is determined to fight against it. I am quite sure that there is not the faintest fear of that kind of Socialism ever taking root in Victoria, because the working classes have too much “sense to think of encouraging i’t. There is. not a man on this side of the House who would not fight with all his strength against it. I am confident, however, that the fight that is now being waged is not against Socialism as it is known on the Continent, but against social reforms, factory legislation, and the emancipation of the workers on the lines of social evolution. It is not a fight against Socialism, but against the bogy which the Conservatives are parading before the people of Victoria. They are appealing to all the most selfish feelings of the classes, and asking them to rally round the present Government. The employers’ unions, the national leagues., the farmers’ leagues, and the freetrade associations are all uniting, to fight under the one flag. Against what? Against Socialism? Nothing of the kind. They are uniting to fight against that movement which is supported in Great Britain by such men as Professor Shuttleworth, the Rev. Hugh Price Hughes, Canon Scott Holland, Bishop Gore, the Rev. Mr. Sprague, and others - a movement which finds advocates in Australia in such men as Bishop Mercer, of Tasmania, the Rev. Charles Strong, and other eminent men. These are the men against whom the Government and the forces behind them are fighting, and it is social reform that they are combating. Seated upon the ‘ Government benches are men who have opposed every proposal for the emancipation of the workers, men who voted to establish Chinese communities in the very heart of South Africa, and who would destroy the Empire, rather than allow men and women to be considered before material considerations. They represent those whose opinions are voiced in Great Britain by such men as Mr. Arthur Chamberlain, who, when addressing a meeting of shareholders in connexion with a large manufacturing concern at Birmingham recently, is reported to have said-
– He is a protectionist now.
– No, he is not. He is a staunch- free-trader, and has been opposed to his brother throughout his preferential trade campaign. He is also opposed to factory legislation. He compared the cost of manufacturing forty years ago with that which was entailed at the present time. He said -
What economies could be effected if the manufacturer could carry on his business free from local boards and by-laws, free from sanitary inspectors, free from smoke inspectors, free from chemical inspectors, free from school board inspectors, free from Home Office inspectors and factory inspectors, free from the whole brood of officials who, not being producers themselves, lived on the produce of manufacturing industry and strangled it
He desired that manufacturers should be allowed to conduct their business in their own way. Is not tha: the sentiment that is being voiced by the men represented by honorable members opposite? Do they not belong to that school of thought in Victoria, and in Australia, that has always been opposed to progressive legislation? I repeat that’ this is not a . fight against Socialism, but an attempt to annihilate the Labour Party, to crush out all those forces that make for social reform and the amelioration of the condition of the masses. For those reasons I am opposed to the Government I am confident that the country will also prove hostile to it. The electors never sanctioned the present coalition. No suggestion of such a combination was breathed during the last election, and I am sure that when the next election takes place the decision of the people will be emphatically against the apparent policy of the present Government.
– I admit that I feel somewhat in the position of a litigant before the High Court of Australia., who is awaiting a decision upon a very important case, because I feel that in the person of the honorable’ member for Wilmot we have the arbiter of our political future. All eyes are directed to that honorable member. I can understand that some honorable members opposite are in fear and trembling that that honorable member’s vote will be cast with the Opposition. They are fond of declaiming against some honorable members as being rabid conservatives, and I should like to know how they regard the honorable member for Wilmot ? I suppose now that he is ready to fall into line with the Labour Party, they regard him with special repugnance.
– He will have to repent before we take him over.
– I desire to refer to the remarks of the honorable member for Melbourne Ports in condemnation of the alleged coalition of members on this side of the Chamber. It would be as well for honorable members to produce some evidence in support of their assertions, to have some little crutch upon which to hang their arguments. I would ask, “Where is the coalition?” I am not aware of any coalition, nor can it be proved that any such thing exists.
– What about the “ equalinall -things “ arrangement ?
– I took advantage of the very first opportunity that presented itself after I had taken my seat in this corner, to clearly define my position. It is a pity that some honorable members opposite did not also take the House into their confidence in regard to their relationship with the respective leaders of the different parties, and . concerning their political prospects. On the 18th August last - a short time after the present Government had assumed’ office - in replying to the observations of some members of the Opposition, who had extended sympathy to me in my position, I am reported to have said - i have this comforting reflection : that as soon as there is any deviation from the programme laid down, or the policy which i am here to support, the gentlemen who constitute the present Cabinet know that they cannot hope for any allegiance of mine.
Is there any evidence of a coalition there? None whatever. I went on to say that I was then just as free to follow my own convictions and fulfil my own pledges as I was during the tenure of office of the Watson Administration. Can honorable members say that upon any occasion I have swerved in the slightest degree from my expressed opinions? Those who declare that honorable members upon this side of the House are opposed to social reform, merely make bald statements for the purpose of giving them publicity, because they cannot substantiate them. This afternoon the honorable member for Melbourne Ports has told Australia what the greater number of people believed to be his exact position, although up till the present time they had had no public announcement of it. He has declared that he is part and parcel of the Labour Party.
– I wish that he were.
– Has he not said so?
– Practically he has said so. The interjection of the honorable member for Bourke reminds me of the analogy between his own case and that of the honorable member for Melbourne Ports. What was their position upon the eve of the last general election ? What about the party which was after a percentage of the “ screw “ of the honorable member for Bourke ? What about the little clique that was going to dominate his constituency - that little coterie of wire-pullers who wanted his billet? What is his position to-day? He is a party to an alliance which practically places him in the hands of that little clique. In ‘addressing’ an audience at Melbourne Ports during the last election campaign, the honorable member for Melbourne Ports said that he had been asked nominally to sign the labour pledge, and that he would then be recognised as a member of the Labour Party. Thereupon an interjector - one of those objectionable individuals whom we all meet at political meetings when we are looking into the cold and steely eye of the elector - inquired, “ Then the Political Labour League is not a success ?” In reply, the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, said, “ Not only is it not a success, but it is an absolute fraud.” What has the honorable member done now ? Has he not pledged himself to a manifesto embodying the fundamental principles by which the Labour Party is bound together? The honorable member for Bourke occupies a similar position. He denounced to his constituents the tactics of the Political Labour League. He declared that they wanted a commission upon his “ screw,” and wished to obtain his billet. They wanted him to sign a pledge before tks electors could know whc the selected candidate would be.
– That is the statement of the honorable member for Bourke, and that is one of the grounds upon which he denounced the Labour Party.
– He’was under a misapprehension.
– Those are his words as reported in the Age of 14th April, and they are supported by correspondence which appears above his own name. What is the position of the honorable member for Darwin, when he signs the labour pledge? Can he say that he will be the nominee of his party at the next election?
– They trust me, and I trust them.
– Truly, the Parliamentary Labour Party - as the leader of the Opposition recently informed the public at a pleasant Sunday afternoon meeting - is purely the creation of outside organizations. Yet, forsooth, these honorable members talk about the conservatives being ranked upon this side of the Chamber. There are honorable members sitting upon the Ministerial benches who are not going to warp their political convictions to please any one. What have the protectionist members gained by entering into this wonderful alliance? From its manifesto, I gather that each party is to retain its separate identity, that the alliance is to continue during the life of this and the next Parliament, and that each member of it is to use his influence individually and collectively with its organizations and supporters, to secure support for, and immunity from opposition to members of either party during the currency of the alliance. is not that a complete admission that they approve of the conditions under which the members of the Labour Party are nominated for election? Undoubtedly it is. What an illogical position is that occupied by the honorable member for Bourke, who at. the last general election denounced the practice? Why, to-day, he is a party to machine politics.
– The honorable member might back up that statement with some proof.
– I have already given some evidence of it, inasmuch as I have quoted from a clause in the alliance manifesto.
– Which is just as binding on one partv as on the other.
– Exactly. That is the whole of my point. The honorable member has entered into an alliance with the party which approves of forcing upon electors a candidate of . whom they know nothing. He is a party to that proposal at the present time. But I do not intend wittingly to be drawn into any recriminations with honorable members in any part of the House. At this stage, I wish to repeat what I have already declared from many platforms, and also in this House. If there is one thing more than another which I admire and respect, it is the selfsacrifice and solidarity of the Labour Party in attempting to achieve the principles in which they believe. Those who endeavour to raise up a bogy in the form of Socialism - for I regard it merely as a bogy-
Honorable Members. - Hear, hear.
– I have made that statement in my own constituency within the last month or two, and I also made it. from the public platform on the eve of the last election. The cry in regard to Socialism is merely a bogy. When we hear such a confusion of terms as we heard the other night, when some honorable members seemed to think that the resumption of land for closer settlement and land nationalization were identical, it is evident that some of us require a little more education in political matters. It is said that because we sit on this side of the House we have no sympathy with industrial workers or with social reform. It is admitted that the Labour Party is the evolution of recent times. In Victoria we have known it as a party for, perhaps, twelve or fourteen-‘ years. I think that the honorable member for Melbourne Avas one of the first members of the Labour Party in Victoria. A member of another place, who has the respect of every one who knows him, was another member of it. These facts being known, is it not a piece of arrogance to say that the condition of the workers in Australia is the result of the zeal and industry of the Labour Party? What party is it that has done so much for the betterment of the industrial section of the community ?
– The Protectionist Party.
– I do not intend to raise the fiscal question at this point, but there are men who, irrespective of their views on free-trade and protection, have given their best efforts, as far as their opportunities would permit, to create a standard of comfort and of living for the industrial classes. Now, however, we have the Labour Party - I say it with all respect to them - attempting to belittle what has been done by their predecessors, and to hound out of public life some of those who have done somuch in the past. They attempted to drive out of politics in Victoria at the last general election, a man who, above all others in Australia, has done most in the interests of the workers. The political Labour Council of this State attempted to secure his defeat. It is unnecessary for me to mention his name. He now occupies a seat in another branch’ of the legislature. No man has rendered better service in the interests of the workers of Australia, or has made greater sacrifices. I remember the time - not many years ago - when that gentleman’s name was anathema to the employers throughout the length and breadth, not of Victoria alone, but of Australia. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports can confirm what I say. But no one could have been more bitterly and unfairly opposed than that gentleman was. And by whom? Not by the liberals, not by the conservatives - who, although they never agreed with him, still respect the man for his ability and his courage - but by those very classes for whom he has done so much, the nominees of the Political Labour Council of Victoria.
– Yet the honorable member condemns the alliance.
– It is not the alliance I am condemning, but the machine by which one party to the alliance is dominated. The words of the honorable and learned member for Indi, by which he announced in all seriousness that the “ happy alliance “ had been consummated, are still ringing in our ears. I shall not attempt to disparage that honorable and learned member in any way. Many years ago in the State Parliament I greatly admired the way in which he conducted his case, when in charge of certain measures, and had arrayed against him most of the legal ability in Parliament. Though I may have to differ from him in some respects, I shall be a life-long admirer of his ability and his energy. He said, in announcing the alliance -
I have no doubt that the alliance, which we all know has been happily consummated between two great parties in this Parliament, will have an effect - a beneficial effect - upon the future of Australia.
I have no doubt that in whatever part of the House we may sit, if any proposal will tend to the welfare of Australia we shall be glad to assist in its advancement. But with respect to the alliance, I wish to know whether the marriage settlement was properly signed, and whether the endowments were duly made; because we have the author of the Labour Party already demanding a divorce; we have the Political Labour Council saying to the Labour Party, in this House, “ When you go before your constituents you shall be no parties to this alliance.”
– They have not said that.
– Is not that the dictum of the centra] executive of the Political Labour Party of Australia?
– Not of Australia.
– Of Victoria, then. Is it not true that it is the executive or the local branch of the Political Labour League that does the nominating in the different States?
– No; that is not correct.
– Is it not correct that the executive in Victoria nominates candidates ?
– Then the branches nominate ?
– Any member can nominate.
– I am correct in saying that the executive of the league in Victoria said, “ We will have a dissolution.” Why has the leader of the Labour Party been going down on bended knees to this very organization ? Why has the leader- of the Opposition come down from his high position to attend a pleasant Sun- day afternoon, to talk politics and to plead to be allowed to complete the alliance ? Is not that correct?
– The honorable member knows that it is absolutely wrong.
– The statement is not correct.
– The newspaper report is headed “ Mr. Watson’s speech ; a spirited address.” Is not that correct?
– Is that pleading?
– That is the description given in the press.
– It is incorrect, for instance, to say that he went down on his knees and pleaded to any one.
– That is a figure of speech.
– He did not do that.
– Honorable members will admit that under the circumstances, my figure of speech was admissible.
– Will the honorable member mention under whose auspices the leader of the Opposition spoke?
– It would be advisable to mention that the leader of the Opposition was invited to speak.
– I do not question that. The Age report says : -
An address was given in the Queen’s Hall, Bourke-street, last night by Mr. Watson, M.P., at the invitation of the Social Democratic League, in defence of the Liberal-Labour alliance in the Federal Parliament.
That is why I said that the leader of the Opposition had gone down on bended knees to the authors of the Labour Party, as far as Victoria is concerned, asking to have the alliance ratified.
– He said he would go out of politics rather than be untrue to the alliance.
– At any rate he pleaded for its ratification.
– They had no power to ratify, nor do anything else. They are an outside body.
– I speak, subject to correction; but I have seen a report of the matter, I think, in the Age. Did he not say this’?
It was true the Labour members of Parliament were the result of organizations ;: were governed by the rulesof 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 impinge upon the authority which the organizations undoubtedly possessed. 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.
That is one case in which the leader of the party has asked those representing the leagues and organizations outside to ratify the alliance. Have we not another case, quoted here yesterday, and is there not an exactly similar instance in the remarks of Senator Dawson, the ex-Minister of Defence, who, speaking at Fitzroy, in that guileless way of which he is a past master, told his audience that the Opposition alliance have no desire for office at all, and that those who made the statement that they desired office were telling a deliberate untruth. The honorable senator said that their sole object, their sole aim in life, was to get the Reid Government out of office. What an illogical position for an able, and usually a logical man !
– We are absolutely agreed upon that.
– We are to go out, but they are not to go in.
– We wish the people to sav who shall go in.
– These were the words of the late Minister of Defence -
The purpose of the Watson-Isaacs combination was to put Mr. Reid out of office, and he believed that they could do it. Ithad been said that the object of the Watson-Isaacs combination was to secure office, but a more untruthful statement could not be made.
That is a statement made by a leading member of the opposite party -
Oh, wad some power the giftie gie us
To see oorsels as ithers see us.
I have stated the position by which we are confronted at the present time. It is somewhat amusing to hear honorable members on the front Opposition bench declaim against the present Government. They always hold up to the public gaze something which occurred in the dim and distant past. They remind us, for instance, of what the Prime Minister said about the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, or what the Minister of Trade and Customs has said about the ex-member for Wentworth, or something of that sort. By way of varying the monotony would it not be as well if they told us a little about the exchanges- that occuried, sav, for instance, between the honorable and learned member for West Sydney arrl the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, and between the honorable member for
Coolgardie and the honorable member for Bourke during the discussion of the Tariff ? When they advertise so publicly the little differences which existed in the past between honorable members on this side, and which were given expression to, should they not also tell us how those little differences which exist to-day in the thoughts of honorable members opposite on large principles and big political issues, are going to be reconciled by the splendid alliance - which has been banded together, in order (o scrape the present Government off the Treasury benches - when they come across to this side of the House? How are they going to harmonize the fiscal opinions of the honorable member for Perth and the honorable member for Riverina?
– Or the opinions of the honorable member and those of the right honorable member for Swan, on the Western Australian railway question.
– Strange to say, as every honorable member will admit, my migration from one side of the House to the other has not altered my views on the Western Australian railway question.
– More is the pity.
– That may be; but after the Tittle experience I have had I am becoming more than ever convinced that there can be no justification for a sudden change of mind without good reason ; and when the justification comes, the sooner we take the public into our confidence, the better for all parties concerned.
– We shall give the honorable member good reasons by-and-by to change his mind.
– Honorable members who talk so much about secessionists, in referring to the little party to which I belong, and other honorable members sitting on this side still belong-
– How many of the faithful are left now ?
– All. I believe we are the same happy band still. The little fences which honorable members opposite have attempted to put up will not effect what they desire. There is no danger whatever of that; and I feel that when the battle-cry is raised on the big principle we have at heart honorable members are not going to sacrifice it for any reason. For the present, so far as I am concerned, on the eve of the last Federal election, rightly or wrongly, I pledged myself to fiscal peace for the life of this Parliament, with one reservation, and one alone, which was to this effect: that should the Imperial Parliament submit a proposal for preferential trade, I was prepared to alter such items of the Tariff as might be necessary, in order to comply with that request.
– Surely, if that is a sufficient reason for Tariff revision, the fact that industries are struggling is a stronger reason.
– When the honorable member for Melbourne Ports stands on the floor of this House as the mouthpiece of the Protectionists’ Association, and says that on the eve of the last Federal elections he did not know that the conditions of the industries of Australia justified an alteration of the Tariff, but that now he is better informed, I ask what sort of a representative is the honorable member of such an association?
– That is no answer to my question.
– That was ten months ago.
– Ten months ago!. Has the honorable member for Melbourne Ports been asleep since, or was he asleep then? Was he asleep when the interests of the manufacturers of Australia were at stake, and when suggestions came back to this Chamber from the Senate? At that time I believe that I alone suggested to the then leader of the Government, the , honorable and learned member for Ballarat, that he should throw the whole thing under the table, and then let us fight for protection or free-trade.
– A nice mess the honorable member would have made of it, too.
– The honorable member for Melbourne Ports raises the cry now.
– Was there a division on the occasion to which the honorable member refers?
– No; there was no division. Of what use would it have been ? The honorable member for Melbourne Ports has now had a sudden awakening. Surely those who had any knowledge of the conditions prevailing in Victoria under a protectionist Tariff could foresee, with a fair degree of accuracy, what was going to occur as the result of the reduced duties then being forced upon this House. I never had a doubt as to what the result, would be. Take, for instance, the reduction of the duties on agricultural machinery from 25 to 12^ per cent, and the alterations of the duties on some of the minor lines which the manufacturers were using. I realized then that it would mean ruin to the industry. Still, in face of that fact, at the last general election I dis- ‘ tinctly said that for the life of this Parliament there ought to be fiscal peace.
– I do not hear the Prime Minister cheering the honorable member now.
– I did not hear the honorable member cheer the honorable member for Hume the other evening when he was advocating a fight for protection above everything. Do those who to-day hurl accusations against the protectionists sitting on this side of the House, realize the position which confronted them when the honorable member for Bland was leading a Government? What was his fiscal policy, and what hope had his supporters of getting a revision of the Tariff?
– He never came here as a fiscalist.
– That reminds me that the honorable member for Bland as a leader of a party has practically no fiscal policy. Yet we have the small joint attempting to wag the tail of the dog.
– How funny ! that is worthy of the Prime Minister.
– I was not referring to the honorable member, and if he assumes that I was, I must humbly apologize to him.
– It is all right; I know that it is good-natured, any way.
– Those who charge the followers of the honorable and learned member for Ballarat sitting on this side with having deserted the party and their principles, forget the position in which they themselves are. They have not yet told the House how they expect to get a revision of the Tariff from the party with which they are allied. The honorable member for Gwydir has just stated - and I think it is a reasonable assumption - that the honorable member for Bland, as a party leader, has practically no fiscal policy. Then, it is said, “Oh, look at the Prime Minister; you are sitting behind a free-trader.” I admit that a man is the creature of his environment to a very great extent, but I do not forget that as a small handicap on the Prime Minister, we have two dead- weight protectionists, in the persons of the honorable member for Gippsland, and the right honorable member for Balaclava.
– And two dead-weight free-traders, in the persons of the honorable member for North Sydney, and the honorable member for Macquarie.
– Will the honorable member look at the occupants of the benches on his right hand, and say if equal ballast is to be found there? It will be just as difficult for him to carry the honorable member for Maranoa across the plains of Riverina as it would be for any honorable member on this side to carry the Prime Minister. Will the honorable and learned member for Indi, the second leader of this party, after his experience as a colleague for six years with, and under the leadership of, the right honorable member for Balaclava, question his honesty or integrity of purpose? Will he, even in his mildest breath, murmur that there is a possibility of the Prime Minister - giving him credit for all the astuteness it is possible to have embodied in the human form - being able to turn in the slightest degree the Treasurer from his political- purpose?
– No ; but we believe that the Treasurer has made the mistake of his life.
– When an assertion pf that kind is made by the honorable member, no one takes it seriously.
– That is no answer.
– The Minister of Trade and Customs has a record for political honesty and integrity second to none in the public life of Victoria.
– Nobody said anything to the contrary.
– Those who talk about the indictment of the leader of the Opposition, practically wish to get the Prime Minister off the Treasury bench. With them it is that, and nothing more. What is the position when they raise this cry of danger to the White Australia policy?
– That is the point.
– That is the point.
– That is a bitter pill.
– That is the pit which they dug, and fell into.
– The six potters.
– Why did not the right honorable gentleman stop the prosecution?
– Honorable members opposite are a nice crowd, if they are prepared’ to renew that subject.
– The Prime Minister has never been asked to stop the prosecution.
– He is frightened to do so.
– The honorable member ought to say nothing about that.
– We shall say a good deal about it.
– The “better half” will not allow the right honorable gentleman to stop the prosecution.
– I am not assuming the role of apologist for the Prime Minister. 1 am placing before honorable members on the other side a few arguments which, I hope, will be answered. Their first cry - and, indeed, their only battle cry in substance - is the miserable charge made by the leader of the Opposition that the Government do not intend to introduce a High Commissioner Bill this session. What a punv charge ! If there was one thing which the people of Australia expected more than another, as the result of Federation, it was that the cost of the States Governments would be diminished in proportion to the cost of the Commonwealth Government. I should think that all honorable members will admit that when it is intended to appoint a High Commissioner for the Commonwealth it is a step in the right direction to ascertain if it is not possible to abolish the Agents-General, who are doing to-day that which he would do in the future. That charge against the Administration is a little too thin. Then it is uiged that the White Australia policy is in danger, presumably owing to some utterance of the Prime Minister in the last Parliament, or in his pre-election speeches. Now, honorable members who made that charge forget that it is recorded in Hansard that hu has admitted to the House, as he has done in regard to the fiscal question, that he has not the numbers behind him.
– He is only waiting for them.
– Wait until he gets a chance, and then see what he will do.
– Only the people couldgive the numbers to me, and I suppose that the honorable member would not object to that ?
– What is the trouble to-day ? Because the Prime Minister is administering the law he is found fault with.
– Too thin !
– The trouble is that the right honorable gentleman did not do something not in consonance wilh the law.
– What did he say about the honorable and learned member for Ballarat in connexion with the Petriana case?
– That is an old bogey. Assuming, however, that the right honor able gentleman said all that the English language would permit him to say about the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, does it follow, because men fight strenuously on some principles, that they are to be estranged for all time, and can not come together on other issues upon which they might join hands for their mutual benefit, and for the welfare of the country ? Is it statesmanship to refuse to take that course? Is the argument worthy of the “ higher and rarer atmosphere “ which we expected to find in this Parliament? No, that is paltry party politics.
– If that is so, what is wrong with the alliance?
– That is their business. But, before members of the alliance make these charges against honorable members on this side, they should look at their own home. It has been their trouble that they cannot bring the charge against the . Prime Minister that he has not assisted to preserve a White Australia, because they know that he has not been recreant to the oath which he took to administer the law as it stands.
– We charge him with having gone back on the pledge which he gave to the people, that he would remove that legislation from the statute-book.
– Yes ; if the people would give him a sufficient number of followers to enable him to do so; but he has told the House that that is not his position. Therefore the only fault that honorable members Opposite can find with him is that he has not been recreant to his oath to administer the law as he found it. If the immigration restriction raw is interfered with, those who stood shoulder to shoulder with honorable members opposite in passing it for the preservation of a White Australia will take the same position again.
– That is fair and straight.
– What is the position of honorable members opposite in regard to preferential trade and the fiscal issue ? They are trying to make a battle cry of these things, in order to entangle protectionists. But, before I go back on my pledges, I shall take my constituents into my confidence. If the honorable member for Coolgardie was correctly reported - and the report has not been contradicted - he, speaking as a free-trader, at the Fitzroy Town Hall, told an audience within the past month that the Prime Minister had sold the free-traders. If tha.t is so, what have the protectionists who have joined him to fear? Seeing his present environment, and knowing the strong protectionist feeling by which he is surrounded, it seems to me that there is a danger of his slipping from grace in the direction of protection. I told my constituents that I would support fiscal peace during the present Parliament. I am not going to shelter behind the subterfuge put forward by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, that I was not aware at the time of the elections of the effect of the Tariff upon Australian industries, because I realized when the duties were reduced by the Senate to the starvation limit at which they now stand on the stature-book, that we had to accept them for at least five years to come. With regard to the working of the Tariff, honorable members opposite, led by the honorable and learned member for Indi, have asked for a patch-work investigation.
– They have named their favourite industries.
– It will be the fault of the House if we do not get a complete investigation into the working of the Tariff from the Government before this . Parliament ceases to exist, supposing that it lives the ordinary term. Any proposal for a complete investigation of the working of the Tariff will have my hearty support; but I shall never be a party to a patch-work tinkering with the duties, ‘ session in and session out.
– Will the honorable member’s leader agree to act on progressivereports ?
– I leave him to answer for himself. When I become Prime Minister, I shall be ready to answer questions about the occupant of that office. The honorable member for Hume has spoken of the result of the non-introduction of the Iron Bonus Bill, in keeping back the establishment of a possible industry. But what partv was it that killed the’Bill which he introduced? That little combine opposite, which is conscientiously opposed to bonuses in any shape or form, and whose members believe that the industry should be established only under State control. What is the position to-day? We know that the States will not undertake the development of the industry, and, therefore, honorable members opposite, if they were in power, would not reintroduce the Iron Bonus Bill. This is more playing to the gallery.
– The leader of the Opposition signed a report which was against the payment of bonuses for the production of iron.
– Honorable members opposite have made the most of preferential trade, fiscal peace, and the Iron Bonus Bill.
– And the High Commissionership.
– To my mind, the Government are acting rightly in regard to the establishment of a High Commissionership. With regard to the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, we are told that the wreckers of the measure sit on this side of the chamber.
– That is absolutely so.
– I regret that honorable members cannot be made responsible for their statements. Honorable members opposite taunt those on this side with being in ‘conflict on many matters ; but the very embodiment of confusion and contradiction, without parallel in Australia, or out of it. is the honorable and learned member for Corio. That honorable and learned member has joined the alliance ; but is there anything on record more emphatic than the opinions which he has expressed with regard to Socialism? Speaking on the floor of the House within the last twelve months, he said -
I do not believe in Socialism, nor can I approve of the proposal under discussion, which is the first step towards the establishment of a system which I abhor, and which, if carried out, must cause disaster, not only to the cause of democracy, but to the State.
Why is it that the alliance put into their programme sub-clauses a and b. which permit every member sitting opposite, excepting the members’ of the Labour Party, to adhere to his former vote?
– The honorable member does not seem to like those sub-clauses.
– I admire the ingenuity with which they were framed to fool the public. What was it that created a split in the Deakin Farty, so that now some sit on one side, and some on the other side of the gangway? If was the division taken on a clause of the Arbitration Bill. It would appear from the speeches of some honorable members that the principle of preference to unionists was then at stake ; but the leader of the Labour Party has shown that that principle was not challenged by the amendment. Preference had already been agreed to ; but an attempt was made to define, for the instruction of the Court, at what point it should be granted.
– The amendment would prevent the principle from being put into effect.
– Then, why does the platform of the alliance accept it?
– We have been told, time after time, about what has taken place in New South Wales ; but if it be a sine qua non that the Bill should be passed as it stood before the amendment of ‘he Minister of Defence was agreed to, why has the alliance allowed its membersto vote on the question exactly as they did before? I wish now to occupy a few minutes in putting before the House what appears to me to be the true cause of the attitude of honorable members opposite towards the Bill. We have been told how much the Hon. B. R. Wise did to get a Conciliation and Arbitration Act placed on the statute-book of New South. Wales. What did he say when he introduced the measure into the Legislative Council of New South Wales ? That there was no provision in the Bill that would place nonunionists at a disadvantage, as compared with unionists, in seeking employment. Was it not simply owing to judicial interpretation that it was eventually found that preference could be given to members of organizations ?
– No limit was placed upon the discretion of the Court.
– The honorable member for Bland told this House that in every instance in New South Wales in which preference was given, a majority was practically insisted upon by the Court. I ask what is the use of employing words if they do not fairly convey our thoughts and impressions ? What is the use of deliberately misleading the public? The honorable member was forced into this position : He said that before preference was granted to unionists in New South Wales-
– Or in New Zealand.
– Yes; but I am now dealing with New South Wales. The honorable member stated that before preference was granted to unionists the Court must be satisfied that the majority of those engaged in the industry supported the application. That is on record in Hansard. If that be so, why should any objection be raised against inserting in the Bill a provision that would convey, in clear and distinct terms, the deliberate intention of Parliament.
– Does not the honorable member appreciate the difference between a State enactment and -a Federal Act?
– Not upon this point.
– Yes, upon this point.
– The most extraordinary course was adopted by the late Prime Minister. Can any honorable member remember an instance in which a Prime Minister, who was defeated upon what he considered to be a vital issue, slept upon his defeat, and carried on the business of the country for six weeks before he gave the House an opportunity of reconsidering the position.
– No Government was ever treated so meanly as was the last Administration.
– Could the Prime Minister have secured the recommittal of the clause before he brought the matter before the House ?
– Yes, of course he could.
– Even when a recommittal was asked for, honorable members opposite would not grant it.
– I consider that if the late Prime Minister had had a proper appreciation of what was due to his position he would not have hesitated for a moment to place a straight-out issue before the House. He should have come down at the first opportunity after that clivision, and asked honorable members to reverse their votes. If they were not prepared to take that step, he should have resigned office at once. That was the constitutional course to adopt. What was done by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat? Did he consider his position for six weeks? Did he ask honorable members to eat the leek ? He told the House that he regarded a certain matter as vital, andthat if a majority of honorable members voted against the Government he would resign his position. The honorable and learned member was honour and dignity personified.
– Andthe honorable and learned member has since swallowed the objectionable provision.
– I have never regretted my action for one moment.
– The honorable and learned member did not move for the recommittal of the clause containing the objectionable provision.
– That interjection reminds me of one matter which I desire to have placed on record. Some honorable members have stated that they would have joined the alliance between the protectionists and the free-traders if the hon- orable and learned member for Ballarat had been the leader of the Government. Do not honorable members clearly see why the honorable and learned member cannot lead the party until the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill is finally disposed of? Would the most humble of his followers, with any experience of public life, expect him to eat the leek, and adopt a Bill containing a provision to which he had expressed strong objection, even to the point of sacrificing his position on the Treasury benches ?
– The honorable and learned member has accepted the provision now.
– He has not done so, except in his capacity as a private member.
– What is the difference?
– There is all the difference in the world. I would ask why the honorable member for Bland allowed the Bill to pass without objection, so far as1 he was concerned, even though it still embodied the amendment which he considered to be vital. What was his position as a private member?
– If I had been leading the Government, I should have had to advise His Excellency the GovernorGeneral that the Bill could constitutionally be assented to. I could not do that in view of the fact that I had declared one of its provisions to be unconstitutional.
– The most humble follower of the honorable and learned member could not expect him to return to the position of Prime Minister whilst the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill was still before this Parliament.
– Does the honorable and learned member’s vote, as a Minister, count any more than his vote as a private member ?
– No; but in addition to exercising his vote, he is called upon as a Minister to accept the responsibility of advising his Excellency the Governor.
– He must be Mr. Facingbothways.
– What occurred during the six weeks which elapsed between the first division, upon which the Watson Government were defeated, and their final appeal to the House to recommit clause 48 ? There was another clause which was fully discussed, and in regard to which certain honorable members were instrumental in providing the Government with a loophole of escape. I refer to clause
Provided that no such organization shall be entitled to any declaration of preference by the Court when and so long as its rules or other binding decisions permit the application of its funds to political purposes, or require its members to do anything of a political character.
It was only after fhat provision had been inserted that it dawned upon the late Prime Minister that it was essential for him to make the amendment of clause 48 a vital matter.
– The amendment just quoted by the honorable member should also have been made a vital matter.
– That amendment was, to my mind, the determining factor. That was proved by the attitude assumed by certain honorable members, with whom I do not quarrel because of their action. I give them every credit for being sincere and honest. Just before the motion for the recommittal by the present Government was agreed to, the honorable member for Kennedy, in his mild-mannered way, asked that clause 62 should be recommitted. So far as I am aware, there was no objection to that course being adopted, and when the matter came on for discussion, the honorable member asked that the clause should be excised. He said -
When clause 48 was under discussion, and was carried, the general impression was that it was going to be recommitted, and, in those circumstances, this proviso was inserted in clause 62.
That was the famous bridge that was built by the honorable and learned member for Indi and the honorable and learned member for Darling Downs. The honorable member for Kennedy went on to say -
In any case the words of the proviso are only downright hypocrisy, so far as the operation of the Bill is concerned.
– Did not the honorable member vote for their insertion?
– In the peculiar circumstances in which the Committee was placed at the time I could not do anything else. I did not get a chance to vole against them.
That was the amendment suggested by the honorable member for Darling Downs, which, I think, I am right in saying, the late Prime Minister accepted. A proposal by the honorable member for Angas was under consideration, to the effect that the organizations should be constituted practically for the -purposes of the Bill. A number of honorable members, including myself, were not in favour of proceeding to that length, because we saw no reason why the existing organizations should not be utilized. I made the stipulation, however, that the organizations should not be permitted to have anything in their rules which would trammel the political actions of their members, and should not be allowed to use their funds for party political purposes. The honorable member for Kenendy stated that he had not been afforded an opportunity to vote against the amendment framed by the honorable member for Darling Downs. He represented that he had no choice between the amendment eventually adopted and that which was originally proposed. It is well known, however, that when a clause has been amended, an honorable member may- vote for or against what may be termed the substantive proposal. The honorable member might have moved an amendment or voted against the substantive proposal. The action taken, however, disclosed the reason why the amendment in clause 48 was made vital. The amendment in clause 62 was the flyin the ointment, because it deprived organizations constituted or utilized for the purposes of the Bill of their power as political machines. Was ever an honorable member placed in a more humiliating position than that occupied by the leader of the Opposition and honorable members sitting in the Opposition corner, who perfected the clause with his concurrence. When the honorable member for Kennedy moved that the clause should be excised, they went out of the House because they were unable to vote in support of the motion, unless they were prepared to swallow their previous -votes. Even the Prime Minister was dragged in the dust. A more degrading spectacle I never witnessed in any Parliament, and I trust that it will never be repeated. Some honorable mem bers may think that this provision in clause 48 will prevent the Bill from being accepted by the trades organizations.
– It renders it unworkable.
– That provision I claim, according to the statement of the leader of the Labour Party, has not endangered the principle of preference in the slightest degree. To urge that defeat upon a mere detail of the measure has caused the party to wash its hands of all responsibility, is scarcely in accordance with fact. . At any rate, that is my view of the situation. Personally, I have no regrets. I hope that I have said nothing offensive to those honorable members who were at one time associated with my party. I venture to say that when the occasion arises, it will be found that upon matters of broad principle, upon which we have stood shoulder to shoulder in the past, nothing will keep us apart. I say to members of the Labour Party, who arrogate to themselves the exclusive right to represent the interests of those engaged in the industrial life of Australia, that they - should extend to others a little of that tolerant spirit which they expect to have extended to them. When they point to the different opinions which have been expressed by free-traders and protectionists upon this side of the House, I would ask them to recollect that some of the most enthusiastic free-traders in Australia to-day are to be found amongst their ranks, and that the Labour Party has not yet publicly disclosed that it possesses any fiscal policy. To those of my late political friends, who declaim against honorable members sitting upon this side of the Chamber, and still acknowledging the leadership of the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, I say that before they commenced to throw stones, they might at least, in justice to their late comrades, have informed them of their intentions. To the most ardent protectionist, who is inclined to exclaim, “ Your protectionist faith and principles are in danger,” I reply, “ I do not fear to follow those who have allied themselves in the present Cabinet.” Having regard to the political principles which have been entertained by the leader of public life in Victoria for so many years - I refer to the present Treasurer - and by the Minister of Trade and Customs, is there any likelihood - weak and unaccustomed as I am to the wiles of public life - of my own principles being sacrificed?
– Not for a day or two.
– So far as Tariff revision is concerned, with the one reservation in regard to preferential trade, I am clearly and distinctly pledged to my constituents to preserve a fiscal peace during the life of the present Parliament.
– The honorable member fought a reform candidate last time.
– I may have to fight a labour candidate at the next election ; but to me all candidates are the same. There are good and bad in all classes. I repeat that I have no personal animus against members of the Labour Party. I respect them for their self-sacrifice and solidarity, and if they will extend to others the same toleration that they expect to be extended to themselves, I am satisfied (hat we shall be the best of friends after the next election.
– Upon several occasions in the course of this debate, the honorable member for Laanecoorie and the Minister of Defence have referred to me, by way of interjection, as “ a new convert,” and “ a new broom.” I do not understand the point of the interjection, but if it is intended to imply that my advocacy of industrial legislation - legislation for the amelioration of the conditions of the masses - is of such recent date that I ought to be called “ a new convert,” I hurl back the accusation with contempt. As you, sir, are aware, I have been twelve years in political life, and I challenge either of these gentlemen to point to any legislation that has been introduced for the advancement of the people which has not commanded my support. Prior to entering political life, I was for many years - and the honorable member for Laanecoorie when he made his statement was well aware of the fact - associated with the miners of the very district which he now represents. Only last year this “ new broom “ was asked to assist him at the general elections. Had he thought that I had no influence, or that I did not possess a record of good work accomplished in that locality, he would scarcely have requested me to assist him in his campaign. If, on the other hand, the term “ new broom “ has reference to the fact that I recently became a pledged member of the Labour Party, my reply is that I made the move voluntarily. I was not coerced from without, and certainly there was no coercion exercised from within. I threw in my lot with the fortunes of that party voluntarily, not because I was promised immunity from opposition at election time, Lui because I saw the political combination which was being effected. I noticed that the leading conservative journals were advo”rating < coalition of parties - not for the purpose of carrying on responsible government, tut with the avowed object of preventing labour from obtaining any more power than it at present possesses. When it became a question of joining the Free-trade-Conservatives and the Protectionist-Conservatives, who had banded together for the sole purpose of strangling the labour movement, and “ down ing the Labour Party,” I had no hesitation in declaring my position. I ask honorable members opposite if they have- ever had any doubt as to my attitude upon industrial matters ? When the Prime Minister advocated something in which I did not believe, I was never afraid to voice my opinions. I took care that there should be no misunderstanding. When an attempt was made to rope me in by making it appear that, at the last elections, we went to the country in opposition to the Deakin Government, I at once repudiated any understanding of that character. It has been acknowledged that at that time anybody could join the present Prime Minister if they, were sound in one faith, namely, a desire to displace the Deakin Government. Who would have dreamed when the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill was originally introduced, that, it would have had such a rough and stormy passage ? We all recollect the occasion when a difference in regard to it occurred in the Barton Administration, as the result of which the right honorable member for Adelaide resigned his position.- A little later the honorable member for Kennedy carried an amendment, the effect of which was to make the Bill applicable to railway employes. Then the Barton Government abandoned the measure. The general election followed, and if there was one thing more than another which was placed clearly before the people during that campaign, it was the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill. When this Parliament opened the measure was re-introduced, and the amendment to include within its provisions the [railway servants of the States was again carried. As a result the Deakin Adminstration resigned. The Watson Government then assumed office, and they in turn were displaced upon the same measure. Now we have the composite Ministry that is before us. When I look at the Government, I find it difficult to understand how they can agree upon any policy, except it be a policy of doing nothing in order that they may retain their seats upon the Treasury benches. They certainly cannot remain there upon the fiscal issue. They admit that they have submitted no policy. Their apologist, the honorable and learned member for Bendigo, has informed the House that they have not yet had time to formulate a policy. He spoke of them as if they were inexperienced hands in the matter of Cabinet-making. They are certainly a very funny mixture.
If I were asked to describe them, I should say that they were half fish and half fox. One-half of them are foxy, because of their cunning; and the other half are fishy, because of their slipperiness. It will be impossible for them, during the life of either the present or the next Parliament, to submit a policy upon which they are in anything like agreement. Then, look at their followers ! For example, there is the honorable member for Dalley, for whom I have the very greatest respect: How could a policy which would command his support suit the honorable member for Flinders, the honorable and learned member for Parkes, or the honorable member for Kooyong? The secret of the strength of the party, which is at present led by the Prime Minister, is that it is destitute of a policy. Despite the right honorable gentleman’s boast, that he would put the fiscal issue before the electors clearly at the last election, did he not agree that every free-trade Victorian member should be allowed to sink that issue?
– Otherwise, they would not have been returned.
– Nevertheless, it was understood that they were to assist him to bring about the downfall of the Deakin Government. I wish to show that the political chaos which we have to-day is the result of the ambition of one man. He has already wrecked two Ministries, and he has also wrecked the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, which he used for the purpose of attaining office. One can hardly believe that it was possible for a gentleman to allow his ambition to get the upper hand of his judgment, and of his sense of fair tactics in politics, to such an extent as the present Prime Minister did. What did he say concerning the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill when it was first introduced ? He said -
I feel no reserve whatever in saying that the experiment is one to which there are a number of objections. It is an experiment which is surrounded by quite a multitude of fears, but there is one substantial gain which comes to us by this willingness on the part of those who represent the physical strength of our Commonwealth to place themselves under the reign of law and order, administered by a High Court of Justice.
He referred further to the great sacrifices made by the labour organizations in agreeing to this experimental legislation. He said -
But, still, we in this young Commonwealth, viewing the history of the great nations where these joint interests fight to a point at which human life is ruthlessly sacrificed - remembering that behind all these employers and workmen there stands that great helpless element in our national life, the women and children of Australia; remembering that the homes of labour will, under a Bill of this sort, be more secure from the misery of poverty, and the agitation and dangerous ebulition of class feeling; remembering the great humanity which deals with this imperfect state of things - will, I hope, cheerfully pass this Bill, trusting that the time will come when, under a more rational and voluntary arrangement of intelligent men representing these great interests, a method will be found of settling their disputes without any recourse to legal machinery.
In the same speech the right honorable gentleman said that it was one of the greatest tributes to the representatives of labour in Australia that they had agreed to allow the Judge of a Court to settle industrial disputes, instead of ha;-;ng recourse to the old methods. What has become of all those noble sentiments and aspirations? I felt my blood warm within me as I listened to that speech. I thought that the right honorable gentleman was the great democrat who was going to stand at the head of the forward movement in this country. But some little time afterwards, I had a rude awakening. The scales were removed from my political eyes when I heard this very man denounce those who, in New South Wales, had practically kept him in office tor years. He is now making political capital out of the fact that the alliance endeavours to secure immunity from opposition to those who are supporting it. But what did the right honorable gentleman do when the Barton Government dropped the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill in the last Parliament ? Did he not move the adjournment of the House, and while the debate on his motion was’ proceeding, was he not communicating with the Labour Party with the object of bringing about the defeat of the Government? Not only that, but the very thing that he is now condemning in the alliance - the granting of immunity from opposition - he agreed to grant to every labour man who stood at the elections. Yet we have this same gentleman posing before the public and saying that the Labour Party is a menace to Australia. I am glad that the Labour Party did not accept his overtures. Immediately after that, he entered into other intrigues to bring about the downfall of the Deakin Government. It is idle for him to say that simply because he voted with the honorable and learned member for Ballarat he could not have prevented the downfall of that gentleman’s Government. While the Prime Minister was shaking hands with the then Prime Minister in voting with him, he was driving a political stiletto into the side ot his Government by the assistance of those who publicly declared that they voted against the Deakin Government in order to wreck the Bill, and the Ministry. The Prime Minister tacitly agreed to have the Bill killed.- Why ? Because he thought that if the Deakin Government were defeated he would be sent for. This is not idle talk. When the honorable member for Bland was sent for, did not the Prime Minister declare that he did not know on what constitutional grounds the GovernorGeneral could send for him, instead of for the leader of the Opposition ? He complained bitterly about it. But still the right honorable gentleman did not abandon his attempt to get into office. Further intrigues were tried. He approached the honorable and learned member for Ballarat for the purpose of forming a coalition. There was to be no immunity from opposition for labour men then, but they were to be fought against in every shape and form. While the right honorable gentleman’s party were prepared to swallow a coalition proposal, the Deakin party would not agree to it. Matters drifted on until the Watson Government was threatened with a no-confidence motion. The newspapers said that the right honorable gentleman had left Sydney with a no-confidence, motion in his pocket. The honorable member for Bland, while Prime Minister, announced in a speech in Sydney, that if clause 48 of the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill were not amended in Committee in a certain direction, his Government would resign. That was the right honorable gentleman’s opportunity.
– I call attention to the fact that there are only five members on the Government side of the Chamber. It is only fair that we should have a quorum present. [Quorum formed.]
– Knowing that he would fail if he submitted a direct noconfidence motion, there was only one way in which the right honorable gentleman could displace the Watson Government. That was by assassination. The present Minister of Defence was used for the purpose. It was not his first attempt in this direction. He had previously been guilty of assassinating a Government. An interview took place . between those two gentlemen, and this matter was fixed up.
– That is not correct.
– I say that it is correct. How is it that the honorable member for Barker was approached with . regard to the honorable and learned gentleman’s amendment, if there was not some arrangement about it a fortnight before?
– I rise to order. It is an invariable rule that when an honorable member gives a denial concerning a statement which has been made, that denial must be accepted. I submit that that rule ought to be applied to the honorable member for Grey, who has refused to accept a denial made by the Minister of Defence.
– There is no standing order which provides that an assurance given by an honorable member shall be accepted, but amongst gentlemen, asI have said several times previously, it is the custom to accept an assurance given. There is no point of order.
– I submit that the statement which I have made is correct - that an arrangement was made between the Prime Minister and the Minister of Defence to prevent the Watson Government from going into Committee on clause 48. Having secured a member to perform the act of assassination, they proceeded to look around for another person to help them. They hit upon the Chairman of Committees. I am sorry he is not in his place, because I am going to say something strong about him and I shall not screen him because he happens to be away.
– The honorable member is incorrect on that matter also.
– Everything is incorrect that does not suit the Minister of Defence. The honorable and learned gentlemain has a record of his own, and he was an apt instrument for this purpose of assassination.
– I will not allow the honorable member to make incorrect statements unchallenged.
– The honorable member for Grey has three or four times applied the word “ assassination “ to honorable members.
– I say it was political’ assassination.
– On the first occasion I thought, perhaps, the use of the word might be due to a slip of the tongue, and I therefore took no notice of it. The honorable member must not apply such an expression to members of the House.
– I think that any terms are good enough in which to describe the treatment which was meted out to the Labour Government. I say that there is no precedent for such treatment. I was about to refer to the Chairman of Committees, who is reported in this way in the Argus -
– He had little opportunity to speak on the question, except on the second reading, and when the opportunity did come he followed
– Your leader.
Mr. SALMON (indignantly).- Mr. Poynton could not understand this. It was above his mental level.
Those who laugh last laugh best. It may be above my mental level to understand what the honorable member should have done in the case I referred to; but I challenged him last night to show one case on record where a Chairman of Committees had acted as he had acted. The honorable ‘ member pleaded as an excuse that he was representing his district, and that his vote should not be lost to his constituents, because he happened to be Chairman of Committees. I venture to say that when the honorable member accepted the position of Chairman of Committees, he knew, as you, Mr. Speaker, know, that one of the responsibilities attaching to such a position is that the honorable member accepting it has frequently no opportunity of recording his vote. I repeat that there is no case on record where a Chairman of Committees has done such a thing as was done by the honorable member for Laanecoorie. If there is such a case, I challenge honorable members who have yet to speak to quote it.
-Wes, there is in this Parliament
– It is all very well for the honorable member for Parramatta, who is only just “ barking “ because he is on the other side, to say that.
– The honorable member used to “bark” with me until lately.
– If the honorable member were on this side, there would be no one more indignant if his party were subjected to the same treatment. It is the established practice of all parliamentary institutions I suppose, and certainly of all English Parliaments, that whenever a Chairman of Committees, or a Speaker, has to give a vote, it is recorded in such a way as will secure further consideration of the matter in hand.
– I say that is the established practice.
– The honorable member forgets the divisions which took place, on the Tariff.
– What was the question submitted in this case? Was it not the question whether the House should go into Committee to further consider a certain proposal?
– There is no such practice as1 that to which the honorable member refers, affecting the vote of a Chairman of Committees in the House.
– I say that I have correctly stated the practice.
– That is with respect to a casting vote.
– It .does not affect merely a casting vote. I point out that the Chairman of Committees had no consideration whatever for Mr. Speaker. I venture to say that if, in the course of a day or two, we have a division on the motion now before u£, and which, from present indications, is likely to result in a tie. Mr. Speaker will be found following the established practice of voting in such a way as to give opportunity for further consideration. The Chairman of Committees, in the case to which I refer, not only liberated himself to vote, in order to destroy the Labour Government, but by his action, the honorable member prevented Mr. Speaker from having a vote. Mr. McCAY.-p- Does that mean that the Speaker would have been entitled to a vote ?
– Does the honorable member suggest that any Speaker would have voted o_i a censure motion?
– I do not say that at all. What I say is that the immediate result of the course followed by the Chairman of Committees was to place Mr. Speaker in such a position that he could not vote. Surely the Speaker has as good a right to a vote as has the Chairman of Committees ? Is it because the Chairman of Committees is an officer of their own creation that honorable members opposite claim that he should vote whenever they desire him to do so? I challenge the honorable member for Parramatta to state another case in which a Chairman of Committees has voted in the way in which the honorable member for Laanecoorie has done.
– I have already told the honorable member. There were a number of such cases during the discussion of the Tariff.
– I can refer honorable members to the action taken by one member of the Government, who is possessed of a conscience. I refer to the right honorable member for Balaclava. When that right honorable gentleman learned that the question which was to be decided was. whether the House should recommit a clause in order to consider whether or not it should be amended, and that the Watson Government staked their existence upon the recommittal, he gave a pair in favour of the Watson Government, and gave distinct reasons for his action. His reasons were that he had never in his experience known a case in which a Government asked for the recommittal of a clause, and when such a request was refused, and particularly when the Government staked their existence on the proposed recommittal. The Prime Minister said that the honorable member for Bland chose his Own ground. I say that is a distinct fabrication, and the right honorable gentleman well knew it. We know the intrigue that was going on for some days in order to secure to honorable members opposite the possession of the Treasury benches. We are told that it is their intention to restore responsible Government. Have we not had a lovely illustration of it? I invite honorable members to look at the exhibition of responsible Government which we have had during this debate? I ask them to consider the anxiety which the members of the Government have shown to remain a little longer on the Treasury benches. They have exhibited no anxiety to bring this debate to a close. It is, on the contrary, their desire that it should continue. That is evident from the. fact that at 10 o’clock at night an honorable member has only to get up and ask for the adjournment of the debate, when immediately a representative of the Government will rise to say that the request is granted.
– They are following the lead of the last Government in that respect.
-While this desire on the part of the Government is evident, we are being told that we are trying to delay the conclusion of the debate in order that the farmers may not get an opportunity to vote at the impending election. I challenge the “Government to push the motion speedily to a division. I am prepared to sit here night and day until the debate, is concluded ; but we know that the members of the Government are in no hurry to proceed with it. What an exhibition of responsible government it all is. Last night we had complaints about the way in which the debate was being conducted, and about the evident lack of desire on the part of the Government to push it along, and one-half of the head of the Government, the honorable member for Gippsland, said that with the assistance of the leader of the Opposition, the Government would try to. push the debate to a conclusion. The honorable gentleman excused the Government in . the matter by saying that the motion had been tabled by the . leader of the Opposition. This Government assumed office in order to restore responsible Government, and have they no concern about the management of the business of the House? I say that the anxiety which members of the Government exhibit to remain on the Treasury Benches is a disgrace to this House. If they are conducting responsible Government, and really control the business of the House, why do they not insist that the debate should be brought to a close at an early date? The honorable member for Laanecoorie seems to be very anxious about his present leader. He has complained that others have deserted their leader. When people live in glass houses they should be careful how they throw stones. Is it not a fact that the honorable member deserted his leader 021 two occasions when motions of want-of -confidence were submitted ? The honorable member now wishes to pose as a very loyal supporter. He gave expression to certain views at a banquet recently. I do not know whether what he said was due to exuberance of spirit, and if it was, I forgive him ; but it is difficult to believe that he said these words coolly and deliberately. The honorable member is reported to have said that -
There had been an unseemly exhibition on the part of those who had just left office, and he regretted, for the credit of the Commonwealth, that they had not followed the fine example set them by their predecessors in this respect. When the Watson Government went out they made no appeal to reason, but, instead, appealed to passion and resorted to abuse.
– Who said this?
– The Chairman of Committees.
– That is the language of a violent partisan.
– The honorable member further said -
He regretted that men whom he frankly admitted had undoubted abilities should have so far degraded the high positions held by them as to descend to tactics which would disgrace Billingsgate.
That is the language used by the present Chairman of Committees, who, as I have already stated, has taken action which is no credit to him. When the honorable member makes such remarks about Labour members, I should like to ask him when the Billingsgate was used?
– The honorable member last night was guilty of worse than “Billingsgate,” he was guilty of misrepresentation.
– If the honorable member is such a stickler for the good conduct of honorable members, why did he not protest when the Prime Minister used “ Billingsgate “ about a fortnight ago, and used certain dirty expressions when referring to the honorable and learned member for Corio. I have no hesitation in saying that the only man I ever heard use language in this House that might be termed “ Billingsgate “ is the present Prime Minister. Where was this censor of public morals that he did not bring his present leader to task on that occasion? It did not then suit the honorable member to do so, and I leave it to him to- explain his inconsistency as best he may. Some honorable members on the other side think that when they attack us we suffer in public estimation. We are told, forsooth, that we do not represent the real workers, that we have never done any hard work, and that the honorable member for Kooyong, the honorable member for Flinders, and the honorable and learned member for Parkes are the true representatives of the honest workers. Let me assure honorable members that every insult directed to this side of the House ‘is an insult to the working men in Australia, and it is accepted in that way. I am asked why I object to this Government. I object to them, first, because of the way in which they got on to the Treasury Bench, and which, to say the least of it, was “fishy,” and secondly, because of the way in which they are deliberately misrepresenting the aims and aspirations of the Labour Party. Just imagine the Prime Minister standing up at a meeting of the Farmers’ and Producers’ League, and saying that the Labour Party would have an inspector on every farm. He knew that it was a base fabrication which he was addressing to his audience, and that fact and others of a similar nature make me feel more strongly against him than I should otherwise do. If he really believed these things, all honour to him for having the courage to express his thoughts ; but he knows quite differently. At another meeting, he said that under the Labour Party the “ Government stroke “ would be instituted in connexion with all Government undertakings. For five years he was Premier of New South Wales, and during that period a good many public works were carried out under his Government. It is a singular thing that he never discovered any sign of the “ Government stroke “ as a result of the labour movement. For five years his Ministerial existence depended upon the support of the Labour Party in that State, and a time came when he could not get them to do all he wished them to do. In view of that fact, it very ill becomes the right honorable gentleman to go before the electors of Australia, and try to throw dust in their eyes by saying that the aim of the Labour Party is to introduce the “ Government stroke “ everywhere. I am against the right honorable gentleman, too, because he took part in a meeting of the Women’s League of Victoria, whose policy includes a plank for the purity of home life. That plank is an insult to every right-thinking man in this House, and I rejoice that the honorable member for Grampians refused to go upon their platform while their policy contained that plank. Does any one here imagine for a moment that we believe in a system of free love and the breaking up of home life, as is suggested bv some of our critics? When the right honorable gentleman went upon the platform of the Women’s League, he must have known that that plank was a lie from start to finish. And yet the honorable member for Laanecoorie has not the courage to rise here and denounce that sort of thing. I am against the right honorable gentleman, too, because instead of trying to bring about conciliation between the two great forces, he is going upon every platform throughout Australia and stirring up class bitterness. He is stirring’ up strife between employers and employe’s, and posing as the only “Simon pure” in connexion with this political crisis. He is appealing to the prejudices and passions of the great farming’ community. He has addressed to them remarks which he knew were not correct, and which have been contradicted here time after time. He has made that admission on the floor of the
House, and yet he continues to make practically the same accusations, although they are couched in different words. I was amused at the sophistry of the honorable and learned member for Bendigo, when in his laboured speech he tried to make the House believe that the Wages Boards and the Arbitration Court are synonymous. It was quite a revelation to me to hear his statement to that effect. His greenness was so conspicuous as to cause me some anxiety. There is no comparison between the Wages Board system of this State and the Arbitration Court sought to be created. The Conciliation and Arbitration Bill is based upon organization. Its provisions cannot be given effect to, except by organization. An award cannot be carried out without organization. An organization must consist of at least 100 members before it can go to the Court. The honorable and learned member’s attempt to justify his’ vote by the institution of that comparison was very lame, indeed. I was equally astounded at the new-born zeal of the honorable member for Echuca. It is certainly very refreshing to see the affection which he has bestowed upon the Prime Minister. It was only very recently that he used to describe the right honorable gentleman by such endearing terms as “ a political mountebank.” “ a political humbug,” and “ a political buffoon.” And yet, to-day, we see him practically hugging the right honorable gentleman, and discovering in him some wonderful qualities which he never perceived before. This may not be politic, but it certainly has the recommendation of being honest. The difference between the honorable member for Echuca and myself is that, while I speak what I think, he does not speak what he thinks. It is interesting to notice the warmth of affection which he displays for this new combination. His record shows that he has always been against a Liberal Government. He is only masquerading in a Liberal’s clothing. He got into congenial company, I think, when he crossed to the other side. If we take away from that side the honorable member for South Sydney, the honorable member for Parramatta, and the honorable member for Dalley, the honorable and learned member for Wannon, and the honorable member for New England, what sort of legislation would suit the other members on the Ministerial benches? There is a degree of similarity between the honorable and learned member for Wannon and the honorable member for New England. The former is a renegade Single-taxer. The other night he admitted the soft impeachment of having been at one time a single-taxer ; but he said that he ‘has his politicaL sight now. Singular to say, he only cut his politcal wisdom teeth just prior to standing for a country seat.
– That is not correct.
– What did the honorable member for New England, who is always boasting ot his consistency, and never misses an opportunity of attacking the Labour Party and others who sit on this side, tell us the other night? He said, in effect, “I una single-taxer. I do not want any of this land of trumpery legislation.” But when he was asked if he would impose a Federal land tax, what did he say? “No,” he said, ‘that was a proper thing for the States Parliaments to do.” This bold apostle of Henry George ran away from a State Parliament where it was possible to impose a land tax, and got a seat in the Federal Parliament, so that he should not have to vote in support of his view. From the honorable member for Richmond we had a nice display the other day. I have a great admiration for him ; but I never take what he says very seriously. To me he is a political enigma, a sort of political” monstrosity - what is called a sexless politician. He has no convictions. He repeatedly says, “ Why should I consider about any policy, why should 1 do anything, why should I have an opinion? We pay the Government .to have opinions.” Those are the lines upon which he proceeds. He is very much like a chip in porridge in that respect. When any one who knows the honorable member reads the newspaper reports of his remarks, he merely remarks, “It is only Tom Ewing who is speaking. He is never in earnest, he is joking. Take no notice of him.” The Prime Minister, however, occupies a responsible position, and he goes before the public and deliberately misrepresents the aims of the Labour Party. On one occasion he said that he was against Socialism ; but he has modified that statement, and he ,is now against extreme Socialism. I wonder what he calls extreme Socialism. I should imagine that that plank in the platform of the Women’s League of Victoria - a branch of the “National Ass.” - to which I have referred, would be extreme Socialism. I am a State Socialist, and I wish to briefly refer to what State Socialism has done for New Zealand. The policy of State Socialism is put into practice there, and it approaches more nearly to the policy of the Labour Party than does any other policy in Australia.
It has been the policy of New Zealand for a number of years, and this year, according to Mr. Seddon’s Budget speech, that Colony, after carrying forward ,£350,000 to the Public Works Fund, has a surplus of £649,740. One of the planks of the Labour Party is the stoppage of public borrowing. They believe that additions, extensions, and repairs, as well as new works, should, as far as possible, be paid for out of revenue, instead of out of loan funds. In New Zealand, between the years 1892 and 1904, they have in this way trans1f erred £3,755,°°° from the revenue account to the Public Works Fund, and by so doing, have saved the people ,£119,800 annually in interest alone. Then they have a State bank there, which is another phase of State Socialism. That bank was established in 1895, and in 1904 had advanced ,£4,009,520. As you know, Mr. Speaker, the institution of a State bank in South Australia meant cheaper money to the people there, and in New Zealand the slaving of interest has amounted to £493,542. The total amount of the private loans in New Zealand has been estimated at £^40, 000,000. Now. as we know from experience in South Australia, not only does a State bank reduce interest for those who borrow from it, but iti also saves interest to other persons, because the other banks and mercantile institutions have to reduce their rates to compete with the State institution. This saving has been calculated to amount to £3,500,000 in New Zealand, which is nearly equal to the total amount that has been advanced by the State bank. That is an example of what can be done by State Socialism. They have also an old-age pensions fund there, and a number of other institutions for the amelioration of the conditions of the people. Although the number of pensioners is large - pensions are paid to between it, 000 and 12,000 persons - the Colony had a credit balance at the end of the financial .year, equal to nearly £1, 000,000. Another socialistic project which has been carried into effect there is to re- purchase land for closer settlement. In this way 129 estates, comprising an aggregate area of 615.581 acres, have been acquired bv the Government, and of this area 576,045 acres have been subdivided into 2,729 holdings, classified and valued at £3,030,462, and producing an annual rental of ,£15 1, 523. The receipts during the past financial vear amounted to £150,883. There have been 2,076 houses erected on these properties, and 8,255 persons reside on them. The value of the improvements effected is £608,611, and at the end of the financial year, after paying the cost of subdivision, interest, and other expenses, there was a profit of £49,398, which will go towards the. purchase of other estates. There are also State Insurance Departments, covering fire, life, and accident insurance, all of which have progressed remarkably well. It has been found that the State Fire Insurance Department has reduced the rates of private fire insurance companies. Therefore, not only do those who are insured with the Government benefit from the establishment of the Department, but those who do business with other institutions also benefit. New Zealand is the only place where socialistic legislation has been given anything like practical effect. We have been told that socialistic legislation will reduce all to an equality.
– No; it will not do that.
– The honorable member does not know anything about it. He ought to be very thankful that he was born with a silver spoon in his mouth. If he had had to battle in the world to make his living, and had commenced at the bottom of the ladder, he would have been found alongside a wire fence with the “ deadbeats.” As he has plenty of this world’s goods, let him be a little more considerate of others. He is only an infant yet.
– Is the honorable member in order in referring to my private affairs, and to matters in regard to which my electors may be presumed to be the best judges ? Furthermore, is he in order in taking from ‘the honorable member for Hume the only joke which he has ever made in this Chamber, namely, that in reference to my age?
– The personal references which, I am sorry to say, are indulged in at times, are nor in order, and’ I ask the honorable member for Grey to withdraw, any :emarks that are displeasing’ to the honorable member for Wentworth.
– I withdraw them; but when I was a lad I was taught that children should be seen and not heard. I find that in the socialistic Colony of NewZealand there are 243.675 depositors in the Savings Banks, that is, one person to less than every three and a half in the total’ population is a depositor, while the averageamount deposited represents ,£30 6s. 5d, One of the most gratifying features in Mr-
Seddon’s Budget speech is the statement contained in the following paragraph : -
Honorable members will notice a largely increased education vote. This, I hope, may be cheerfully accepted and provided for. It means the complete education of our youth, and his equipment for the battle of life. Primary, secondary, technical, and university education are imperative, if our children are to compete and tight the battle on level terms with others.
These facts should afford material for thought to honorable members opposite, who would deprive us even of education if they could. I agree with Mr. Seddon that New Zealand is God’s own country. The statements in his Budget speech read almost like romance, but they are nevertheless statements of fact. I wish that Australia could show such magnificent results as have been obtained in socialistic New Zealand. Yet, under the administration of Sir Julius Vogel, although there was the same land, the same sunshine, and the same rainfall, people were leaving the Colony. Despite these facts, we are told that socialistic legislation brings ruin to a country. If such legislation were passed in Australia our conditions would improve very materially. I should like very much to go amongst the farming community which the honorable and learned member for Wannon represents.
– I should welcome that. We shall have an opportunity within the next month.
– I hope not.
– I understand that the Prime Minister has recently been on a visit to Adelaide, and that he has induced a gentleman who was formerly a member of this House to oppose me in my electorate. Therefore, if we go before the country. I expect that I shall be fully engaged. I have not, however, the slightest fear-but that I shall come back with a very respectable majority.
– And I shall be here to welcome the honorable member.
– In the stranger’s gallery.
– The Prime Minister has told the farmers that the Labour Party are advocating a ‘policy which will have a ruinous effect upon them ; but I challenge any man to come forward as a’ nominee of the right honorable gentleman, and oppose me in the farming districts of South Australia. I should undertake to beat him handsomely.
– That is because of the honorable member’s belief in free-trade.
– I am perfectly prepared to stand by what I have done in regard to the fiscal question.
– Did not the honorable member, when speaking at Quorn, advocate fiscal peace?
– No. . I stated that I thought that certain Customs duties were too high. I certainly did not advocate fiscal peace.
– I think the ‘honorable member referred to it as a fiscal rest.
– I may have said that there was an evident desire on the part of business people for a fiscal rest; but I stated my position to my constituents clearly - it is in black and white. I think that we should aim at passing legislation such as that adopted in New Zealand, in the hope that we may bring about similar results.
– The honorable member must remember that they have protection ‘ in New Zealand, whilst he is an advocate of free-trade here.
– I am not such a bigoted free-trader that I would not vote for higher duties upon certain articles, if, after an inquiry, I found that they were required to encourage certain national industries which may have . suffered under the Tariff. I should be able to justify myself on exactly the same lines as those adopted by the Prime Minister some years ago, when he agreed to impose a duty upon sugar in New South Wales.
– What has the honorable member to say about salt ?
– The manufacture of salt is a great natural industry; but I do not care about having salt rubbed into me too often. I stand by the party which regards human flesh and blood as of more importance than bricks and mortar, the party whose motto is “ industrial peace, progress, and prosperity,” the party which aims at making the lot of the workers - of women workers particularly - wholesome and more attractive, and affording safeguards against the pitfalls which surround you,ng girls engaged in industrial pursuits, the party which desires to make work more attractive than walking the streets, and whose Socialism is expressed in the words, “Whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them.”
– I suppose it would be almost impossible for any honorable member to increase the intellectual obsession which doubtless this long debate has produced in the House. But, as the honorable member for Wilmot has not yet delivered judgment, we are all expected to emulate the ladies in the Vicar of Wakefield, by continuing the conversation, if not the argument. However, I shall endeavour to attain the merit of comparative brevity, by keeping as clear as possible of any attempt at extemporizing the details of honorable members’ political careers by indulging in any personal retrospects, because I firmly believe that the electors are not particularly edified by our excursions into the domain of political inconsistency. By this time they have learned to take it for granted that a capacity to adapt one’s self to circumstances is a condition essential to success in public life, and that in times, when principles are so often affected by the proximity of power, all of us, in the opinion of our opponents at least, fairly fit the portraiture of Dryden’s lines -
Stiff in opinions, always in the wrong;
Was everything by starts, and nothing long.
It seems to me that the electors are chiefly concerned with policy and method ; with the soundness of principles, and the probable efficacy of machinery, though being like ourselves, indebted for half their parentage to woman, they sometimes indulge in a little curiosity as to -
What’s done i’ the Capitol ; who’s like to rise, who thrives, and who declines.
Perhaps, however, we may find some little consolation in the fact that we are no better, and no worse, than the electors made us. We are, in fact, the chroniclers of the times, such as the public, by inference from their choice, wished us to be. If it be true, as was said by Burke, that the virtue and essence of the House of Commons is that it is the express image of the feelings of the people, we, with our wider suffrage and more frequent elections, must more clearly mirror the wisdom and folly of the public.
– Chiefly the folly.
– I am not speaking for other honorable members just at present. There is one thing, perhaps, about which the electors have some right to, and do, complain. I allude to the growing tendency to abandon power on inadequate occasions - power which is so dearly sought, and which, when given, is intended to be used for greater ends. I say that it is ignoring the true principle of party and responsible government to surrender the power to carry out the bulk of great principles upon a division affecting a subordi nate matter of method in Committee. The fact is it seems to me that if a Cabinet has a majority in the House upon matters of current policy, it’ should not resign upon any division in Committee, if that division does not clearly indicate a want of confidence in its general principles or administration. The public who sent us here, as I mentioned previously, have a large interest in the stability of government, and the balance of principles which bind a party together should not be sacrificed owing to a difference of opinion among members generally upon one principle. The essence of party government is that honorable members upon some matters subordinate, while not abandoning, their personal convictions in the interests of unity on a great many others.
– Is not that something like machine politics ?
– I do not care by what name it is called. I am afraid that we are too much the slaves of names. Undoubtedly it is the true principle of party government that, for the sake of power, members have, in some respects, upon matters of current policy to subordinate their opinions in order to gain momentum upon others. It may be that upon a division in Committee the vote of an honorable member may be cast with a view to keep in power a Government which will further his views upon other questions rather than upon the matter immediately engaging his attention.- I would ask, is it a matter of precedent even on the second reading of a Bill that Ministers when defeated should resign? We know that it is contrary to the usual custom. Much less then, should they throw up the reins of government upon a division in Committee. Some divisions which were taken in Committee upon the Tariff were very far-reaching in their effects. But no Government would dream of throwing up the reins of office because they were defeated upon them. In the last session of the first Parliament, we had a far-reaching division upon the question of borrowing for the purpose of carrying out certain lines of expenditure. But the Government never thought for a moment when such a sweeping reversal of custom was insisted upon, that it was a matter upon which their existence should depend. The bulk of the principles of a party may be sacrificed through over sensibility as regards the carrying out of one. Men then come into power as a mere political accident, and not as emphasizing the main lines of policies acquiesced in by the country. I say that, because it is applicable to an extent to both sides of the House. We get as the result an abnegation of the true principles of party and representative government. . We get, when men are so forced to seek other lines of cohesion and of separation, such a farrago of halting opinions as the alliance programme of the Opposition. I do not wish to enter into an analysis of that programme ; but I find from a perusal of it that it consists of twenty-two planks, seventeen of which deal ‘with matters of general policy, whilst the, others relate more particularly to the elections. Plank one is certainly deserving of some commendation. It introduces a novel principle of union. It is a marriage after the latest fashion, in which the tie. is temporary, and the sense of personal independence and ethical laxity remains as active and agreeable as before. The parties to this somewhat ‘ sexless union are, we are told, to retain their separate identities. It is an arrangement which the lawyers would describe as sui generis - a marriage unaffected by any old-fashioned ideas of marital or moral responsibility, in which the vinculum is dissolved when the honeymoon ends; in fact, one which even the most confirmed of political bachelors might enter without foreboding, as he certainly might leave it without regret. As regards the seventeen items of the alliance programme, I find that nine of them, such as the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, the Trade Marks Bill, the. Fraudulent Trade Marks Bill, the Electoral Act Amendment Bill, the Papua Bill, the Anti-Trust Bill, the question of exchanging ideas in connexion with preferential trade, the Quarantine Bill, and the submission hereafter of other matters to the consideration of the joint caucus, are really subjects which most members of this House, judging from their votes, might accept without any possible forestalling of their better judgment. Then there are four lines in the programme to which any honorable member, owing to the qualifications which surround them might subscribe, without prejudicing his future action, whilst three others, which are somewhat radical iri their principle - though not, perhaps, in the method of carrying *hem out - such as the establishment of a tobacco monopoly, the Iron Bonus Bill, and the question of old-age pensions are also subject to conditions which leave an easy open ing for any subsequent variation of policy or action. But, in the seventeen general planks, there is not one single item in which a positive, and, therefore, dangerous opinion is asked of any one as a condition of his admission to the party. Not one single profession is he expected to make without qualification which would tie him down to a definite radical policy. I am measuring what is best upon the Opposition side by the aspirations of the Labour Party. There is not a single contentious line which would pin a man down to a definite democratic opinion. There are three matters which possibly may be far-reaching, two of which it is therefore proposed to refer to Commissions - an easy way out of a difficulty - and another upon which it is proposed to appoint a committee. ‘ From the point of view of a democrat, such a policy seems to me to be neither stimulating nor sincere. It lacks the pluck and candour of true propagandism. Let us take the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill as an example. That measure is to be restored by the Alliance Party to its original shape, a claim for which there is no doubt a good deal of reason on the side of supporters of the Bill. But that has to be accomplished without any member of a party changing any vote which he has previously recorded. How, then, is it to be done? Do honorable members think that the result can be attained by their internal inconsistencies of ‘ voting being compensated for by possible defections from this side of the House?
– Let us get into Committee, and we will fix the matter up.
– No doubt the honorable member has a faculty for reconciling incompatibles, but for the life of me, I cannot see - in view of the close divisions which have been recorded upon matters declared to be vital to the machinery of the Bill - how it can, with the liberty of action permitted bv the alliance, be restored to its original shape. I say that the policy of the alliance upon this Bill alone is not as candid and as sincere as generally the programme of the Labour Party has been. Then, as regards Tariff legislation, is not the reference of the question and of the interference with the last adjustment to a Commission a surrendering of responsibility? Or, rather, is it not an easy way out of a difficulty created by certain clamourous representatives of the protectionist class? I have not much faith in these Commissions. The general result of them is that same men - those who ask for an increase of duty - secure that their case, at all events, is well put before the Commission, but that the bulk of the trades which are indirectly interested, and the raw material of whose industries may be burdened by the proposed increase of the duties, are not represented. Because it is only after the increased duties are imposed that they become alive to their interests, and recognise the extent to which they are affected by the alterations proposed.
– How would the honorable and learned member suggest that the Tariff should be revised?
– By the vote of this House. But I should say that there is no justification at all, even from a protectionist point of view, for a revision of . the Tariff after an experience of its operation extending over only two years. Then, again, the interests of the consumer are not likely to be represented before any Commission. Thev are too general and appeal too little to direct personal interests to induce any, except, perhaps, some patriotic men, who, apart altogether from possible effects upon themselves, take a sympathetic view of these larger matters of politics, to be concerned with them. The interests of the con- ‘ sumer are too indirect to secure representation before any Commission. We know also that if we grant a Commission in obedience to the importunities of some manufacturers, we cannot refuse its application of it to all; and we shall thus be introducing into Australia one of the greatest curses of America, the system of lobbying in connexion with a revision of the Tariff.
– Is not lobbying done now ?
– No doubt, but it is a question of extent when a principle becomes pernicious in operation. We must not give an opportunity for the increase of an evil because we cannot suppress it to the extent to which it already exists. We shall find as the result of all this that we shall have a halting report, and one that does not represent an honest and really deliberate opinion in favour of the required change. We have had some experience lately in’ connexion with Mr. Chamberlain’s self-appointed Commission on the coridition of Imperial trade. A few weeks ago, in September, a section of the report of that body was published.
– It is a very good report.
– No doubt the honorable member thinks so, as I am sure he would do if peculiar deductions from imperfect statements of facts were made a test of the acceptance of its principles.
– Has the honorable and learned member seen the report ?
– I have seen the extracts from it published in the Times.
– I have a copy of the original document.
– The honorable member obtains so much information on these matters that he has not time to digest its meaning. I believe in political fechterizing in connexion with these matters. The Tariff report of Mr. Chamberlain’s Commission, dealing with the iron and steel trades, discovered an array of facts as regards the increase of iron production in the United States and Germany, with which every one apparently, except the members of the Commission, had been previously familiar; and they deduced from these novel premises conclusions with which perhaps not one man in ten in England would agree.
– The honorable and learned member: said that he had not read the report.
– I said that I had read the full text of portions of the report published in the Times. Surely the honorable member for Melbourne Ports does not say that he has read the many hundreds of pages appended to the report?
– The report itself consists of sixty-seven large pages.
– It was known to every one familiar with the circumstances, into which I need not enter - one of which is undoubtedly the tremendous increase of manufactures throughout the world during the last thirty or forty years, and therefore the great demand that accompanied that increase for the raw material of those manufactures in the way of iron and steel - that production had been greatly stimulated in Germany and in America ; and though England had maintained an absolute increase, the comparative increase was greater in the United States and Germany. This is one of the great, discoveries of Mr. Chamberlain’s Commission, but their explanation is one that will be accepted by exceedingly few. That explanation is that the increase is due to the arrangements for export in Germany and the United States, and to the high Tariffs that prevail in those countries. Now I do not intend to go into the question of preferential trade, but I am just going to show that these calculations of party Com- missions are not to be relied upon, and how futile they are, owing to the manner in which the questions inquired into are approached, and the sometimes prejudiced reports that are framed, I shall do so by pointing out that in the Times of a week or two after the report of Mr. Chamberlain’s Tariff Commission was published there are reports of lectures delivered before the British Association by Professor Lotz, of Munich, on the operation of protection in Germany, and another by M. Yves Guyot, a French authority on the effects of protection in France. Professor Lotz shows that in Germany, as the result of Tariff legislation and the restriction of exports of the produce of a good many industries, the raw materials of some industries are touched. He says that -
Some very important branches of German industries suffered severely from the protection given to others. Thus, a body of monopolists exercised supremacy over the makers of finished, articles, though the latter were three times more numerous.
– What did Professor Price say on the same subject ?
– I should like to read what he says, but I do not desire to trespass too long upon the time of honorable members. M. Yves Guyot, in his lecture 0(1 protection in France, pointed out that the French workman is under-fed, owing to the taxes which are imposed upon his general necessaries, but particularly upon his food. He said -
Not 5 per cent. - not one person in twenty - could be found who was interested in protection.
There were leagues in France against tuberculosis which made noise enough, but the hygiene of the beefsteak was forgotten, and it was that of which the working man was mostly in need, especially the working man in France.
Again, in the last file of the Times that reached us an account is given of the working of the bounty system in favour of the production of pig iron in Canada, that altogether discounts the report of Mr. Chamberlain’s Commission. The Times in a cold-blooded report - because it is one of the reports of the Board of Trade, not made for the occasion, but presented to the House of Commons on the iron and steel industry - referring to Canada, says -
Though the bounty is on a higher scale in the case of pig iron made from native ores, the pig iron produced in Canada from native ores is much less than that produced from imported ores, and the greater part of the Canadian ore is exported.
Here, again, we have an experience of the working of the principle of bounties on iron production and manufacture, which is one of the chief planks, though not their’s alone, of the alliance. I find, sir, that even on the question of old-age pensions, one which appeals to radical instincts and to our sympathetic natures, the views pf the Labour Party have been somewhat modified, at least in expression, by the alliance into which they have entered.
– Not a bit.
– I am afraid it is too true.
– How is it, then, I ask honorable members, that on this question of old-age pensions we find, instead of a straight-out advocacy, that the principle is to be advocated - on a basis fair and equitable - whatever the distinction between the two may be; the words seem to be multiplied when the sense is small, to the several States and to individuals.
Here, again, an opening is left to individual shiftings of position, a way out of difficulties that attach to definiteness of statement. I ask honorable members if, in reply to one of those election circulars with which we are complimented from time to time by electors, an expression of that kind was used, what would the societies which send out the circulars think of the candour of the candidate?
– Why worry about us?
– Why worry about honorable members who are asking that there shall be an immediate change of Government, not on a question of administration - because there is no attempt to contest that - but on policy ! There can be no ground for an attack upon the Ministry on account of its administration within a week or a fortnight of its being formed.
– I have known an attack to be made upon a Ministry within a week of its formation.
– Not on the ground of its administrative incapacity. There being no experience of administration, the only test which can be applied now is the test of policy.
– The honorable and learned member was in a Government which only lasted twenty-four hours’.
– No doubt, but that Government went out, and that Government might have remained in had it agreed to widen. as some of its members wished, ‘ its democratic lines. I said that the policy of this alliance is equivocal and halting, scarcely up .to the morale of a party which has hitherto aspired to lead in matters of social amelioration. Policy seems to have become attenuated with the view of power, so that the policy of the Labour Party, as the result of new associations, is not up to the standard of men who aspire to represent the working class - a class whose leaders have hitherto, with most unswerving fidelity and courage, held fast to principles until they came by force of reason to prevail - men who always believed that what has been the experience of one reform may be made the experience of all, feeling, as they do, with Carlyle, that the truth that was yesterday a restless problem, has to-day become a belief burning to be uttered. I should like to mention also the result of this frequent change of power. Through the more accidental features in it, and tlie rearrangement of parties on lines less of principles than petty expediency, the members of the alliance cannot, if they come into power, give the country a Cabinet with the essential British characteristic of unity of opinion in great matters of policy. Unanimity amongst the members of the Government on the broad matters of current policy is the essential feature of the British system for the past 150 years.
– Let us abolish party government altogether.
– I am afraid that I am harassing my honorable friend, the member for Melbourne Ports, and, as I wish to be fair, as well as candid, let me say a few words on this much-confused issue of Socialism against antiSocialism. Personally, I always refuse to take the platform on any cry of anti-Socialism, because I believe Socialism covers an immense amount of what is good in policy as well as sometimes mistaken in method. As the honorable member for Grampians yesterday suggested, the definitions differ very widely. We have a general consensus as to what are the aims of Socialism, but very often the true meaning is misrepresented, owing to the prejudiced ignorance of even writers of assumed authority. I find that Professor Ely, ah unprejudiced authority, in his little handbook on Socialism, says -
Even a hasty examination of the vast majority of books written on Socialism or Communism shows how utterly worthless they are. The authors start out with such an intense hatred of all socialistic systems that it is simply impossible for them to understand those systems. But the worst of it is, they couple their misunderstanding with such hard words and severe epithets as to excite bad blood and drive the various classes of society farther apart than ever.
I say that when we find men like Professor Foxwell. who, I think was a lecturer on political economy in the Oxford University, and Professor Caird, of the University of Glasgow, saying that many of the principles of Socialism are legitimate deductions’ from economic doctrines, we must not, with the cock-sure dogmatism of economic tyros, endeavour to blast it with a name. Its aim, as distinct from its methods, and there it is often less a matter of design than mistake, is, as we all admit, distributive justice. Its meaning is well suggested by the great master-poet of our nation, in the splendid aspiration which he puts into the mouth of Lear as- he stands bareheaded against the elements -
That distribution should undo excess, and each man have enough.
Now in the opinion of Profesor Ely, it seeks to improve the common lot of the working classes by the application of thoroughgoing measures. It refuses to believe, no. matter what the concomitants of an apparently heartless social evolution may have once suggested, that in the words of Mirabeau, “ the oppression of the poor, like the hail and thunder, is a thing inevitable, the ordinance of nature.” But the method is the great difficulty and subject of difference, and here I hope we shall be ready to be a little tolerant of each other’s opinions, or perhaps mistakes. Buckle was not a man of conservative views; but he points out that the great difficulty is the method in legislation. It is on methods we differ ; the means of carrying out principles acknowledged to be good. Where the theorist suggests improvement, the difference of opinion in point of view of methods shows how many mistakes we are liable to. make in the furtherance of good aspirations. Continental Socialism is one thing, British Socialism is another.
– And Australian Socialism is another.
– Between, for instance, on the one side, the methods of Lassalle and Marx, both of whom condemn capital, describing it as theft, and, on the other, the methods of, say, Professor Thorold Rogers, who, I think was a professor of political economy in the University of Oxford, and? of the Rev. Dr. Fairbairn, who a few years ago held the position of President of the Congregational Union of England and Wales, and wrote some very able works on social questions, the difference is very great. We find that Professor Ely, in dealing with methods, says there are very sharp lines of difference between Socialists. You have, for instance, pure Socialism, State and professional Socialism, Christian Socialism, French Collectivism, French Blancqueists, French Anarchists. Social Democracy, and international Socialism, all of which are radically different in method. John Stuart Mill, strange to say - and it proves my point that method is the difficulty in legislation - is regarded by some as the protagonist of Socialism, and by others as the great champion of Individualism.
– He was distinctly socialistic in his old” age ; the older and wiser he grew, the more socialistic he became.
– It shows again the difficulty of labelling people by abstract names. Professor Ritchie, who exhibited socialistic leanings, and was, I think, a professor of Oxford, speaks, in one of his books on this question, of John Stuart Mill as the protagonist of Individualism, and yet we find that this John Stuart Mill wrote that :
The social problem of the future we consider to be how to unite the greatest individual liberty of action with a common ownership in the rawmaterials of the globe, and an equal participation in all the benefits of combined labour.
John Stuart Mill was not one of those pseudo-reformers who would attempt to frame in a day a programme for eternity. With the modesty of all great men and all deep thinkers, Mill said that he had not the presumption to suppose that he could foresee by what precise form of institutions these objects could most effectively be attained, or at how near or distant a period they would become practicable. He pointed out that it was only by co-operation between the various classes of society, between capital and labour, and through a system of culture, prolonged through successive generations, men could be brought up to the point of efficiency. The method here, again, is the difficulty ; but are we, therefore, to allow our faculties to rust, and to sit idly by whilst human destitution calls for remedial means? I say “No.” Some experiments must be made. Every healthy politician knows that there is a clear line of demarcation between the sphere of private enterprise and the sphere of Government interference. I say that nearly all the ameliorative measures which have been adopted during the last fifty or sixty years, were originally deemed to be socialistic. Factories Acts, Health Acts, and agrarian laws, that changed the relations between landlord and tenant, were all expressions of socialistic interference. I remember reading that when the great Devon Commission of 1844 inquired into the state of affairs, respecting landlord and tenant in the Old Country, and particularly in Ireland, Lord Brougham, who was then described as a fingerer of all things, condemned the probable outcome of the Commission as socialistic, and cautioned the members of it, and particularly Lord Devon, the chairman, against any interference with the sacred rights of property. The Times, replying to him, asked what were the limits of the interference asked for ? Did they not mean this in effect : the assertion of the, right of the poor man under God’s charter to live and breathe upon this, the Almighty’s world?
– The honorable and learned member should come over to this side.
– I have not quite done yet. If I may become a little personal, and only at mv own expense, I may say that if a belief in, or a leaning towards direct, as’ against indirect taxation ; if a belief in the leasing, rather than the sale of Crown lands, in the State ownership of railways, the State ownership and control of the post and telegraph system, of our printing offices, in municipal enterprise in connexion with gas - I do not exhaust the list, I am simply giving a few examples - waterworks, the health of the people, public parks’, trams, is an expression of sympathy with Socialism. I confess that I have such a sympathy.
– So have we all.
– If an admiration of the excellent municipal enterprise for the benefit of the citizens that has been displayed in England during the last thirty or forty years, in Glasgow, in particular-
– That is not in England - that is in Scotland.
– It is only a Scotchman who would correct a geographical mistake of that kind. I here use the term, “ England “ in the larger sense, as even including the better part of the United Kingdom, Ireland. I say that if the acceptance of the results of municipal enterprise in Glasgow, Birmingham, Berlin, and other great centres of population indicates a leaning towards Socialism, I confess to being affected’ somewhat in that way. But I stop where monopoly ends. I say it is the duty of the State to control monopoly, but not to interfere with the true sphere of private enterprise, not to obtrude upon the thousand and one other lines of our industrial activity.
– One step at a time.
– I stop at that,, the honorable member may go beyond it. The test I endeavour always to apply is this : The test that Government is formed to protect the individual against oppression, whether it be the oppression of physical duress or industrial monopoly. But beyond that it is not right to go, and the chief reason is that the State in its guiding power, the Legislature, is of a comparatively low intellectual level. As an organization it does not express the individual intelligence of its component members. The level of every deliberative assembly, if we may trust men like Lambroso and others, is lower than that of the individuals who compose it. There is, he said, such a thing as the madness of popular assemblies. Buckle, to whom I have already referred, mentions that the history of every civilized country is the history of its intellectual development, which kings, statesmen, and legislators are more likely to retard than hasten. Almost every Empire of modern times, from the Roman to the Spanish, went down through the corruption or folly of its Legislature. I say, therefore, that except where monoply is clear, we must distrust the capacity of the legislative machine. Let us take, . for instance, the Socialist Marx, and the quotation I shall read shows how many mistakes may be made in the endeavour by Utopian methods to carry out a principle acknowledged to be moral. In dealing with Liberals, whose policy was somewhat analogous to what is best in the policy of modern Radicals, he says -
Although the Liberals have not yet carried out their principles in any land as yet completely, still the attemptswhich have been made are sufficient to prove the uselessness of their efforts. They endeavoured to free labour, but only succeeded in subjecting it more completely under the yoke of capitalism; they aimed at setting at liberty all labour powers, and only riveted the chains of misery which held them bound ; they wanted to release the bondman from the clod, and deprive him of the soil on which he stood by buying up the land. They yearned for a happy condition of society, and only created superfluity on one hand, and dire want on the other ; they desired to secure for merit its own honorable reward, and only made it the slave of wealth ; they wanted to abolish all monopolies, and place in their stead the monster monopoly, capital; they wanted to do away with all wars between nation and nation, and kindled the flames of civil war; they wanted to get rid of the State, and yet have multiplied its burdens ; they wanted to make education the common property of all, and made it the privilege of the rich ; they aimed at the greatest moral improvement of society, and only left it in a state of rotten immorality ; they wanted, to say all in a wotd, unbounded liberty, and have produced the meanest servitude ; they wanted the reverse of all that which they actually obtained, and have thus given a proof that liberalism in all its ramifications is nothing but a perfect Utopia.
That is a condemnation of the methods of some of the most logical minds of the times, teaching us again humility in our empirical legislation. Might I refer, On the danger of trusting to the omnipotence of legislators, to the Federalist, one of. the great organs of Federation in America ? Speaking of the legislators down to 1787, it says -
It may be affirmed, on the best grounds, that no small share of the present embarrassments of America is to be charged to the blunders of our Governments; and that they have proceeded from the heads rather than the hearts of most of them. What indeed are all the repealing, explaining and amending laws which fill and disgrace our voluminous codes, but so many monuments of deficient wisdom, so many impeachments exhibited by each succeeding against each preceding session, so many admonitions to the people of the value of those aids which may be expected from a well constituted Senate ?
But we are told by Foster in his recent work on the American Constitution, that the chief advantage of the Senate is to stop the mischievous measures of the House of Representatives. Should it not teach us modesty in our experiments, when we learn that in almost every case in America where the States have changed their Constitutions, they have made elaborate provision for checks upon legislative folly, whether by the referendum or otherwise, and also when we are told by Bryce that the Governor is appointed to watch and check the legislators as a cat watches a mouse? I decline to accept this legislative machine as one to direct our intellects and morals. I decline to allow it to obtrude its ineffectiveness into every sphere of our industrial and social life, to endeavour to lay down, as if with the eye of omniscience, the lines and scope of development of a civilization which, whereever it has been stable and sound, has been the result of a growth for generations, and’ of unconscious adaptation and sustained evolution. Considering the record of mistakes that legislators have made, we ought to keep the State to its true province, which is to destroy monopoly, to afford to all equal opportunity, arid to leave to private enterprise, to individual intelligence and guidance, the task of perfecting and sustaining what is best in our industrial and social civilization.
– During this debate the House finds itself in a peculiar position, arising out of the attempt of certain honorable members to try to- create two parties. The House was constituted by the electors ‘ into three parties, which, as we know, were practically equal. Certain honorable members, however, seemed to think that such a state of affairs was absolutely fatal to the administration of responsible government under our Constitution. We know that the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, in a speech he made before the House met, declared as a fundamental principle, that we must have two parties. Those who stood as members of each of the three parties took up a certain attitude with respect to their constituents when they were elected, and now it is sought by artificial means to try to compel honorable members who have found themselves bound by certain pledges to range themselves in two parties. The attempt to a certain extent has been successful, and the result is that during the last few days we have had a series of recriminations arid attacks made upon persons for trying to adapt themselves to the conditions of two parties. Honorable members seem to think that two-party Government was a magnificent thing so long as they had two of the opposite parties sitting on one side of the House. But a number of honorable members find that by reason of the _ pledges and promises they gave they cannot adapt themselves to the position of sitting behind the right honorable member for East Sydney. Honorable members have also been inclined to express the belief that the present state of the House indicates a certain weakness in the Constitution. I for one do not share that opinion in the slightest degree. That great instrument of government which was created by the people of this Continent is as stable and solid a piece of governmental legislation as was ever devised by any intelligent people. We have a Constitution giving us ample powers of legislation, and conveying to us splendid powers of administration. But what is wanted in the Commonwealth is a party with confidence in the powers of government conveyed in the Constitution, and prepared to frame and stand by a policv on good strong national lines. I believe that the electors throughout Australia ‘spoke in favour of such a policy, as I think I shall be able to show. However, the issue before us to-night is a simple one, and it is whether or not the Administration which has been formed by the right honorable member for East Sydney commands’ the confidence of the House. I am not desirous of making any personal remarks during my speech. The Prime Minister seems to think that our feeling towards him is very much like that of the son-in-law, who on receiving a telegram informing him that his mother-in-law was dead, and asking whether she was to be embalmed, and buried, or cremated, wired back, “ Do all three, lest there should be any mistake.” I can assure the right honorable gentleman that that is not the feeling which is entertained for him by honorable members on this side of the House. He has declaimed as strongly as did the honorable and learned member for Ballarat that we should have two parties in the House, that we should have party government, that we should go back to those great principles of responsible government under which Great Britain became what she is. And if, as a result of his efforts, honorable members find themselves ranged on each side, I am perfectly sure that he will allow us that same right of conscience which he has claimed - that he will not continue the line of remark which he employed in Adelaide the other day, when he said that the alliance on this side savours of office-seeking.
– What alliance does not?
– If the right honorable gentleman’s alliance did savour of officeseeking - and he says that all alliances do - I can assure him that on this side that is not the intention of the alliance.
– No Opposition ever does look after office ! It is the “ other fellows “ always.
– The right honorable gentleman, however, has made use of that expression, which perhaps was only used in a press interview, and was not intended to be published.
– It is an honorable ambition. No one should be ashamed of it ; I am not.
– As the result of the efforts of the right honorable gentleman and honorable members opposite, two parties have been created. On the very evening when the fatal amendment was passed, which brought about the defeat of the Watson Administration, the honorable member for Gippsland declared in the most emphatic terms that as a result of that division two parties had been created. Speaking to the press on Saturday, 13th August, he said - 1 look upon the division on Friday evening as a line drawn between two distinct parties in the House of Representatives. The combination that voted against the Ministry with Mr. Reid is a solid party. Its members are united on all questions except that of the Tariff, upon which a truce has been declared for the life of the present Parliament. As I remarked before, the party that voted against the Ministry on Friday is a solid one. Two parties have emerged from the chaotic state of the House, the line has been drawn, and if it stops at all it must stop so as to add a few more members to the Opposition parties.
– We have three parties here yet, for we have the Cameron party.
– That is a solid party. I think there is no “ yes-no “ about it. Seeing that both parties are trying, as it were, to create this system of responsible government, we can afford, I think, to be generous towards each other in our criticisms. The issue, however, is, have we confidence in the present Administration? Speaking on behalf of this side, I say absolutely no.
– I never knew an Opposition that had.
– The right honorable gentleman has. had three experiences in opposition in this House, and I suppose that he can speak with more authority than any other honorable member. ‘ Why are we opposed to the Administration? In the first place, I regard the Ministry as one under the lead of a free-trade Prime Minister. I believe that he has still a firm belief in those principles which he has declared all his life are the most cherished convictions of his heart. The policy announced by him to the electors was defeated absolutely ; therefore, I am against him on the ground that the people of the Commonwealth pronounced against him as a candidate for the position of Prime Minister. I am against him because on all the measures which _ he criticised, the people pronounced against him, and in favour of their administration by sympathetic persons. I am also against him, because I am still in favour of all those principles which were advocated by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, and which were opposed by the right honorable gentleman.
– No, no; there were many I did not oppose.
– I am opposed to this Administration, because we were entitled, even at this stage, not to a complete declaration of policy, but to a declaration of leading principles.
– The little I have given the honorable and learned member does not agree with him. He is not strong enough yet to take a good dose.
– The right honorable gentleman will be strong enough before he is done. I am also opposed to the Administration because I do not believe in the methods by which it obtained possession of the Treasury bench. I am not speaking personally, nor do I wish to insinuate that there has been anything dishonorable ; I am speaking merely of the political methods by which they obtained their places on the Treasury bench. What was the policy announced by the Prime Minister when he stood before the electors of the Commonwealth last year? He stood, first of all, as an outandout free-trader. He would not accept fiscal peace, or a fiscal truce, the proposal for which he described as a specious barrier, raised by the protectionists to fight behind, and a ruse to enable them to win a certain number of free-trade votes. He stood out firmly for the principles of freetrade, for which he had fought during his whole life. He declared that if he had been ready to abandon them, he would then have been at the head of an almost irresistible party; but he could not sacrifice them. ‘ He was not going to give way upon principles which had brought him honours in the shape of Cobden medals.
– Only one.
– The right honorable member deserved two, one for “Yes,” and the other for “No.” When he went to Queensland, he condemned men like Mr. Philp, who were free-traders, but who dared not fight for the principles of freetrade; who raised the cry of the classes versus the masses when they should have stood up for the great and glorious doctrine which he professed? I do not believe that the right honorable member has sunk his free-trade principles. He has been “Yes-No” upon every subject except freetrade. I do not know sufficient about his State career to say what his attitude has been on all subjects.
– I have been more consistent than most of those who criticise me.
– I can speak of the right honorable gentleman only as. I have found him in this House, and I know that he has taken up a “Yes-No” attitude on many matters. He also fought during the elections against preferential trade. He was not going to raise duties against the mother-land. He did not believe in attempts to bind Australia to England by commercial ties. The great tie of relationship was strong enough. He would throw open all Australia, not only to the goods of Great Britain, but to the goods of America, France, and every other country as well, so full of love was his heart. Therefore he would oppose preferential trade. Those were the two chief matters of policy upon which he spoke ; but he went further, and dealt with the administration of the Immigration Restriction Act, as exemplified by the six hatters’ case. He said that that legislation was “ utterly mean, disloyal, and unnatural,” and that he would make an effort to repeal it if he got a chance to do so. He took up the stand that the Act was one which should be administered in a proper way, and he condemned the administration of Sir Edmund Barton. He ridiculed the treatment meted out to the six hatters, though it seems to me impossible to distinguish that case from the six potters’ case.
Honorable Members. - Hear, hear.
– Honorable members ought all to be ashamed of themselves.
– Not only are inter jections across the Chamber decidedly disorderly, but it is also disorderly for honorable members generally to make so much noise that the speaker cannot proceed. I hope that both causes of disorder will be discontinued.
– I shall set out the facts: I do not wish to be unfair.
– Has not the honorable and learned member a word of condemnation for the false charges which’ have been made ?
– The statement to which the honorable and learned member refers was one of the dirtiest that has ever been made here.
– I wish to be allowed to set out the facts in my own way. If I speak unfairly, I shall be willing to’ withdraw what I say. I think that I have always acted fairly in this House. Without referring to matters of administration at all,I say that the facts in the six potters’ case are very much the same as the facts in the six hatters’ case. What was the position of the six hatters? They came here under contract, and no application for exemption was made ontheir behalf. They were, therefore, not allowed to land, and stayed on board the ship which brought them. It was not until later that application for an exemption was made by the person who imported them. When the facts were put before the Minister of External
Affairs, Sir Edmund Barton, he heard the whole of the evidence, and came to the opinion that the men should be allowed to land. Yet the right honorable gentleman declared that his administration of the Act had brought discredit on the Commonwealth. What are’ the facts in regard to the six potters? It is admitted that they came here under contract, and they were allowed to land, notwithstanding.
– Nothing has been proved yet. The matter is being inquired into. There is considerable doubt about their position, and the caseis coming before the Court.
– The right honorable gentleman condemned’ in unmitigated language the application of the law of the Immigration Restriction Act to the six hatters; but he had not the slightest foundation for his criticism.
– They were exempted,- which showed that they did not properly come within the law.
– The right honorable gentleman said, when his action was challenged, that he had sworn to obey the law ; but he did not allow that defence to be raised on behalf of Sir Edmund Barton.
– The six hatters were exempt under the law, and were therefore admitted into Australia.
– It was the action of Sir Edmund Barton in administering the Act which was criticised. We were told that his administration was a disgrace to the Commonwealth. That was one of the points upon which the right honorable gentleman worked strongly. He told the people that if he were Prime Minister he would not administer the Act in that spirit.
– The Act must be administered.
– It was Sir Edmund Barton’s administration of the Act that the right honorable gentleman criticised.
– One could not break, the law by administering it.
– Quite true; but it is a pity that the right honorable gentleman did not think of that when he was criticising the administration of Sir Edmund Barton. Why did he allow telegrams to be sent across the seas condemning that administration? Why did he not rather say, “ I do not believe in the Act ; but Sir Edmund Barton did his duty “ ?
– Why did not the honorable and learned member denounce the fabrication about the six potters?
– The honorable and learned member for Wannon recently delivered a lecture to a. large audience of ladies in his constituency, demonstrating on the blackboard the method of voting. At the end, one of the ladies asked, “ Now that we know how to vote, for whom ought we . to vote?” His answer was, “My native modesty prevents me from telling you.” My native modesty prevents me from answering the honorable and learned member’s question. The right honorable gentleman at the head of the Government also condemned the section of the Post and Telegraph Act which prohibits the employment of black labour on mail steamers.
– Hear, hear.
– The right honorable gentleman was in opposition then.
– Of course, that is a question of policy upon which it is permissible to hold different views. I find no fault with the right honorable gentleman for holding that view. At the elections he also sounded his trumpet very loudly about the terrible gerrymandering which had taken place in this House in regard to the redistribution of seats. I have gone through all his speeches, and the matters which I have mentioned were the chief issues which he put before the people. What was their answer? Did they authorize him to pass a free-trade Tariff? Did they reject the preferential proposals which he opposed ? Did they authorize him to repeal the Immigration Restriction Act and certain sections of the Post and Telegraph Act? Did they, as a whole, pronounce against the men who were responsible for our electoral legislation ?
– They reduced their numbers.
– The right honorable gentleman was utterly and hopelessly beaten on every issue.
– Wait until next time.
– Next time the right honorable gentleman will no doubt have the zeal of a convert, and I shall be pleased to congratulate Him upon his conversion. It will be one of .the most interesting episodes in our political history if he is able to say, “After sitting in close counsel with the Ministers of Trade and Customs and Defence, I see the error of my ways, and declare for protection.” We can imagine the rejoicings which will take place across the seas when Mr. Chamberlain receives a telegram’ informing him that the right honorable gentleman has been appointed a member of the
Imperial Conference to advocate preferential trade for Australia. These are possibilities which appear to loom before us. The right honorable gentleman at the elections was hopelessly beaten on every issue. The honorable and learned member for Ballarat had a clear constructive policy. Throughout the Convention, and ever since, he has believed in the Constitution. He knows the great powers which the nation possesses under it, and he went before the electors with a policy which he believed would do something to build up industries in Australia. He recognised that the first Federal Parliament, although there were three parties in the House, had laid a great many splendid foundation stones. That Parliament passed machinery measures, none of which have yet been subjected to serious criticism. It established a White Australia, enacted an excellent Electoral Act, with a splendid franchise, instituted a Federal Judiciary, framed a Tariff, and passed the legislation necessary for the proper administration of the great Departments of the Commonwealth. None of these measures was subjected to any serious criticism. The honorable and learned gentleman’s remarks were confined to the case of the six hatters.
– I spoke of other matters, too.
– Nearly all the laws passed by this Parliament have stood, and will stand, the test of time. The first Ministry has been subjected to a good deal of abuse ; but I believe that in years to come, when things are seen in better perspective, Australians will be proud of it. The honorable and learned member for Ballarat went to the constituencies with a clearly defined policy. He believed in this principle of protection.
– Fiscal peace.
– I am coming to that point. He also believed in preferential trade, and he stood up for it. I suppose that no finer speeches were’ ever delivered in Queensland than those of the honorable and learned member upon the subject of preferential trade. He told the people that preferential trade would present great opportunities for the . producers of Australia. He believed that there was an unlimited market in the old country, and that, by means of preferential trade, that market could be secured .for us.
– That is very comforting for the farmers of Great Britain.
– He believed, further, that tEe establishment of preferential trade would result in bringing together all parts of the Empire, not in the did spirit of Imperialism, but by binding them together foi the advancement of mutual interests as members of a common stock, as a people speaking a common tongue,’ reading a common literature, and having the same traditions of Government, and I am confident that in this House and throughout the “Commonwealth there is a strong feeling in support of his ideas.
– And yet” the honorable member voted against him.
– The honorable member’s interruption is both irrelevant and incorrect. The honorable and learned member for Ballarat put before the people the principles of protection and also advocated fiscal peace. He believed that we should stand by the existing Tariff, and the majority of the people of Australia agreed with him in the view that he put forward. He argued for fiscal peace, not as the mere suspension of the Tariff. He regarded the issue as being not between fiscal peace and fiscal war, but between national trade and foreign trade, between preferential trade and the rejection of the offers -made to us. Protection, in his view, did not mean the mere collection of duties at the Custom House, but an attitude of mind favorable to legislation in the direction of building up industries upon a firm basis, establishing satisfactory conditions between employer and employed, and providing that all persons in the community should receive fair remuneration for their services. He expressed his reliance in our magnificent resources. He pointed to the fact that we had great deposits of minerals scattered throughout the Commonwealth, and an almost unlimited area of agricultural land, and the question, to his mind, was how we were to secure the best results, and obtain the best conditions for our people. Now, on the other hand, the Prime Minister’s idea is that we should repeal all the Customs . duties, and let everything come about spontaneously. Perhaps he also leans to the view expressed by the honorable member for Lang, who thinks that the standard of intelligence can be raised, and improved conditions can be secured by imposing a land tax - that all the blessings that we could desire would flow from the imposition of such a tax. The constructive clement characterized the whole of the policy of the honorable and learned member for Ballarat. He said we must, first of all, ascertain how we could give the people of the Commonwealth a market for their produce, and he indicated preferential trade as one of the means. Then he advocated the establishment of a Department within the Commonwealth, by means of which those engaged in the producing industries might be so guided that they would be enabled to secure the best results from their efforts. That led up to the idea of establishing a Department of Agriculture. He also considered it necessary to assist our producers by obtaining information with regard- to markets across the seas, and with that end in view he pressed for the appointment of a High Commissioner. He believed in establishing proper conditions of employment, but wished to avoid industrial strife, and, therefore, proposed that protection should be afforded to the workers by means of a Conciliation and Arbitration Bill. His was essentially a constructive policy, whereas that of the Prime Minister is entirely destitute of that element.
– And yet the honorable and learned member deserted his leader in favour of the honorable and learned member 5or indi.
– If the right honorable gentleman held the same views as does the honorable and learned member for Indi he might be worthy to lead even the honorable and learned member for Ballarat. ITe honorable and learned member for Indi can claim that he has consistently stood up for his principles right through the piece. He has fought the fight from the beginning, and has no reason to be ashamed of the results. He has stood up for his principles, whilst many of those who should have supported him have arrayed themselves against him, and he has emerged from the struggle triumphant. We have no reason to be ashamed to sit behind’ him, 01 to be afraid to follow him, because his record in this House has been one of honour. Reverting to the policy of the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, I would point out that he believed that we should initiate an immigration policy, that we should encourage the development of our iron industry, that we should assist our producers by means of bonuses, and that we should pass a Navigation Bill to protect the seamen and others engaged in trading along our coasts. He also believed in the Western Australian railway. The only difference between the honorable and learned member for Ballarat and the Prime Minister upon the last-named subject was that the Prime Minister was at one time in favour of merely drawing a straight line across the map .from Port Augusta to Kalgoorlie, and allowing the railway line to be constructed straight ahead without any inquiry. That, at any rate, was the attitude he assumed when he was in Western Australia.
– But when he came to Victoria he forgot all about it.
– He now has some one sitting behind him who will take good care that he -does not forget it. The views I have indicated were those which were placed before the people of Australia by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, and I say that they show that, between the honorable and learned member for Ballarat and the Prime Minister, there is an absolute difference of method in approaching the solution of political questions. The Prime Minister is an individualist who believes in conciliation and arbitration only because the workers have asked for it. While offering to grant it to them, he reminded them of the fact that they would be subjecting themselves to legislation which would involve the abandonment of all the glorious -liberties, including the right to strike, which they now enjoyed.
– I commended them for it.
– But the right honorable gentleman reminded them of? the rights which they were surrendering.
– What sort of criticism is this ?
– I should say that it is very pungent criticism.
– How could I praise men without telling them what I was praising them for?
– It is quite true that the right honorable gentleman praised the unions. He said -
It seems to me that it reflect infinite credit upon the labour bodies of Austn.Ua that they are willing to entrust their liberty –ave, even their subsistence - to judicial decision. It is. in my opinion, one of the grandest displays of intelligence and a readiness to sacrifice the one weapon which labour has, that certainly has no parallel in any other part of the world.
– Hear, hear.
– I do not deny that the right honorable gentleman praised tthem, but his attitude throughout has been that of an individualist. His frame of mind throughout his political life has been similar to that of the honorable and learned member for Parkes. There were two policies before the country, and that of the right honorable gentleman was rejected, whilst the honorable and learned mem ber for Ballarat was returned here with a large following. There was another party in this House which also had a policy, embracing many of the proposals announced by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat. Their programme was - (i) Maintenance of a White Austra lia, (2) Compulsory arbitration, (3) Oldage pensions, (4) Nationalization of monopolies, (5) Citizen defence force, (6) Restriction of public borrowing, (7) Navigation laws. If honorable members analyze the programmes put forward they will see that the party represented by the free-traders in this House had practically no support in the community.
– It was the largest party returned.
– Of course, it had some support, but its representation in this House did not embrace more than one-third of the members.
– But they substantially represent the voters.
– Perhaps they do in competence, but not in numbers.
– I think that everything is turning out very well.
– The right honorable gentleman will be turned out very well presently. An examination of the programmes to which I have referred will show that if fair opportunities had been afforded a great deal of useful legislation might have been carried out. But those honorable members who were anxious to give all the assistance they could to the community by means of legislative enactments were blocked by certain combinations. A majority of honorable members were pledged to carry out a number of definite proposals which would have afforded great relief to the people of Australia, but by reason of the changes which have taken place, all their efforts in that direction have been blocked.
– And the honorable and learned member is sitting with the majority who turned out the Deakin Government.
– What about the freetraders oh the Government side of the House? Did they .support the Deakin Ministry ?
– The honorable and learned member and his associates turned us out.
– That is not so, but I shall come to that presently. So far as the Arbitration Bill was concerned, there was only one real point of difference between the Labour Party and the members of the party led by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, which prevented that piece of legislation from being placed upon our statute-book. That question had reference to the inclusion of States servants within the scope of the Bill. The honorable and learned member for Ballarat was entitled to take up the attitude he assumed upon that question, but 1 think that he made a mistake, and that subsequent events have proved it.
– We do not think so.
– So far as we can judge, there was only one point of difference between the two parties at that time to prevent the House from carrying on business, and passing a number of the leading measures advocated by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat. But, owing to the action of the Free-trade Party, the will of the people has been absolutely frustrated, and after a good deal of political engineering, the Free-trade Party have taken possession of the Treasury bench. After six months of inactivity, brought about by their action, we are here to-day. We are not following their bad example. We held that as soon as we found ourselves face to face with a Government policy with which we could not agree, we should, instead of blocking business, and intriguing, and whittling away this amendment, and that amendment, come straight out into the open, and say, “ We cannot support you. If you have a majority, show it by your numbers, and then proceed to deal with the legislation required by the country.” Why did not the Prime Minister take up that position ? If, when the House met six months ago, the right honorable gentleman thought he could command the confidence of the House, why did he not table a motion of want of confidence, and show exactly what his strength was? Instead of that, he allowed legislation to go on, and amendment after amendment to be moved, so as to block legislation, and eventually endeavoured to remove the Ministry from the Treasury bench by a subterfuge. I think that the actions of the right honorable gentleman have been such that this House should condemn them in anticipation of the displeasure of the electors which will be visited upon him when he meets them. Now, I desire to say a few words as to the means adopted by the right honorable gentleman to obtain power. When the honorable and learned member for Ballarat met the House, he knew that there was trouble ahead in connexion with the provision for including the public servants of the States within the scope of the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill.
– The honorable and learned member for Indi was with him.
– So was the right hon”orable gentleman, then. I am not denying that the honorable and learned member for Indi was following the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, and I wish the right honorable gentleman would confine himself to relevant interjections. The then Prime Minister proceeded with the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, and was met by an adverse vote. What position did the present Prime Minister take up with regard to that very important question?
– He voted with us, whilst the honorable and learned member did not, and would not do so if he had a chance.
– I did vote with him. This is the view which the Prime Minister then expressed -
So far as I am concerned, I say I most unhesitatingly adopt the attitude which the Government has assumed on this question. I have an absolutely clear view - it may be mistaken, but it is absolutely clear - that any such course as is now proposed would be a breach of the Constitution, and would be a serious - a most serious - assault on the integrity of a national compact in its most vital provisions.
The honorable and learned member for Indi entertained a somewhat similar view in that whilst he confessed that he was uncertain as to the constitutionality of the provision, he had no doubts as to its expediency. The present Prime Minister upon that occasion said -
I feel, and I wish my position at the present time to be one of absolute clearness, that, if I were in the position of Prime Minister to-morrow, I should just as fearlessly and resolutely, to the very last, take up the position which has been taken-up.
He said that he would resolutely take up that position and maintain it to the very last. Where is he now? Why, he is advocating the Bill now with the clause he condemned in it. He brought the measure before the House, but did not ask for its recommittal. Now that he is Prime Minister, why does he not do so?
– I have a better half.
– It shows that he is quite willing to adopt anything, so long as he is permitted to gratify his very laudable ambition to be Prime Minister of the Commonwealth. He urged the honorable and learned member for Ballarat to take up a certain position. He declared, “ I would do the same, if I were in your place.” Then, when the honorable and learned member for Ballarat was defeated, the right honorable member walked across the Chamber, and took his seat, without any qualms of conscience whatever. Is there to be no such thing as consistency? Can the public have any confidence in that method of dealing with important acts of legislation? Is there to be no definiteness and certainty in our expressions of opinion? The right honorable ‘member accuses us. of a breach of faith. What has he to say upon this question ?
– What is the honorable and learned member’s attitude?
– My attitude upon this Bill has been perfectly clear and logical throughout. Last year I voted in favour of including the railway servants within its provisions. Subsequently I went before my constituents,. and I was not called upon to deliver a single speech. I made no promises to them. I was returned unopposed. Consequently, I felt that I was in duty bound to repeat any vote Which I had recorded in this House. I voted with the honorable and learned member for Ballarat against the inclusion of States servants generally. Therefore, the interjection of the right honorable member for Swan is not very relevant. I still believe, however, that the general policy advocated by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat was the correct one. But, seeing that two members of his Cabinet accepted office in the present Administration after that provision had been inserted in the Bill, it is to be regretted that at the time they did not advise him that in their opinion he was making a mistake. .
– Does the honorable and learned member for Indi mean to excise that provision ?
– It is not a question of confidence in the honorable and learned member for Indi, -but of confidence in the Government. We have waited for several weeks to hear some defence of their administration, but none has been forthcoming. There has been nothing tout an attack upon the alliance. When the honorable and learned member for Ballarat resigned his position the present Prime Minister was not sent for by the Governor-General. It was a national loss to this continent when the honorable and learned member for Ballarat took up that position.
– Why did the honorable and learned member vote against him?
– I d.id not do So. It is a great pity that the right honorable member was a member of his Cabinet. It could not have been a very harmonious one.
– I did not assist to turn him out of office.
– But the light’- honorable member assisted to turn out a very good man, the right honorable member for Adelaide, from that Cabinet.
– Why rake up memories of that unpleasant time ?
– Upon the defeat of the Deakin Administration His Excellency saw fit to send for the honorable member for Bland, and not for the present Prime Minister. The latter then stated that it was absolutely unconstitutional for the honorable member for Bland to accept the position. I think that he had authority for acting as he did. In this connexion, I propose to quote from Hearn’s Government of England, in which .the writer says -
Those persons who overthrow any Administration may expect to be required by the King to assist him in the room of those officers whom, in consequence of their proceedings, he has displaced. Nor is a statesman who is summoned at liberty to refuse. He has taken upon himself the responsibility of obstructing the Government of the country. If he desires to save himself from the imputation of mere faction, he must endeavour to set up in its place a belter Government.
Then, upon page 552, he says -
We thus arrive at a further check. Since the Queen’s Government must be carried on, those persons who have overthrown one Administration must be prepared to provide a substitute. From the nature of the case they must, in doing so, be subject to unsparing criticism. Thus, -if the Ministry be responsible, an equal responsibility rests with the Opposition. They oppose, knowing that they are liable to be required to substantiate their statements. They cannot merely harass or displace their opponents. They must take those opponents’ places, and give “practical effect to their doctrines.
The present Prime Minister declared that the honorable member for Bland had no authority for accepting the position of leader of the House. I say -that in doing so he showed that he had a keen appreciation of the important position in which he had placed himself. He occupied practically the position of leader of honorable members upon the Opposition side of the House. But what can be said of the free-traders who voted with him? Here was an important provision which the present Prime Minister and the honorable and learned member for Ballarat had contended was of vital importance to the States. They urged that it struck at the very foundations of the Federal compact. The party upon this side of the House disagreed with them. They held that it was in their power to insert the provision in question, and they exercised that power in the interests of good government. How many free-traders sat upon this side of the Chamber then ? I think there were some fifteen or sixteen. Those honorable members, upon a matterwhich it was argued involved the whole Constitution, were prepared to overthrow the Deakin Administration.
– Will not the honorable and learned member give credit to those who voted for their principles?
– A certain number of honorable members voted according to their consciences, but others deliberately voted to displace the Deakin Government.
– Only two.
– I do not cast discredit upon those who voted according to their consciences. The present Prime Minister declared that the honorable member for Bland, in accepting office, acted unconstitutionally. I have quoted from a constitutional authority to show that the duty was cast, not only upon the honorable member, but upon those who assisted to displace the Deakin Administration, of seeing that responsible government was carried on. Honorable members opposite talk about responsible government, but do not cite authorities in support of their statements. We all know that the Watson Administration carried on for about three and a half months, and that members of the two parties, led by the present Prime Minister and the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, sat upon the Opposition side of the House. It was not long, however, before it became patent to everybody that there were forces at work which were extremely hostile to the Government, and to the particular piece of legislation to which every party was pledged. Whenever an opportunity presented itself of whittling away the powers conferred by the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, it was eagerly grasped. I do not find fault with honorable members for so acting, but I say that it was remarkable that a great many who were keen advocates of industrial arbitration quickly began to see that the foundations upon which they originally rested were of a very weak and untenable nature.
– The honorable and learned member voted against the Bill.
– I did vote for certain amendments upon some occasions. I did my best to give effect to the wishes of this House. In the interests of industrial peace, I desired to see an arbitration law placed upon our statutebook. I repeat that parties began to manifest their presence in this House, and certain honorable members of the section led by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat were found constantly acting with members of the Free-trade Party. By association, I suppose, their ideas became assimilated, and that condition, perhaps, constituted the beginning of the coalition between the two great parties, which the honorable and learned member for Ballarat was so anxious to establish. Those honorable members, who formerly sat in the Opposition corner, and who are admittedlv conservative, were always found ‘ voting with these Deakinites. The honorable and learned member for Bendigo and the honorable member for Moira, two as true democrats as are to be found in this House, from time to time voted with the free-traders. Unfortunately, their fears were appealed to, and in the end, they supported the amendment of the honorable and learned- member for Corinella, which resulted in the downfall of the Watson Government.
– Oh !
– I scarcely think that the honorable member for Parramatta himself is fully in sympathy with the present Administration. It is a most extraordinary combination. Honorable members sitting upon this side of the House are in agreement upon a great many things, and upon the general trend of legislation. Wherever, in the interests of the public, they believe that the State ought to exercise its power, they intend that it shall be exercised.
– But your masters seem to be falling out over ‘you.
– I do not know who is the right honorable member’s master at the present time.
– He is my better half.
– I should say that the talkative better half is not the honorable member for Gippsland. He is the silent member, but he may be the managing director, so that it is quite possible we may obtain protection and preferential trade just the same.
– When will the honorable and learned member for Indi say a word?
– Why all this trouble about the honorable and learned member for’ Indi? Is it because he is not sitting behind the Government? The Watson Administration, I repeat, were defeated upon an amendment which was moved by the honorable and learned member for Corinella. That amendment was really a test one, and one which divided the parties in this House upon the true principles of legislation. Honorable members were elected to pass an industrial Arbitration Bill. Was it to be a mockery and a sham, or a piece of legislation which would give effect to the wishes of the people who sent us here? It was intended that it should’ promote industrial peace. It was not to be a Bill passed purely in the interests of either the employers or the employes. The public were to receive first consideration, because a strike falls more severely upon the people than it does upon -the parties who are immediately concerned in it. The electors sent us here to enact a law which would provide that strikes should cease, and that a Court of Arbitration should be used for the settlement of industrial disputes. Some honorable members urge that we should have only voluntary arbitration. They do not believe in compulsion. That is a logical position to take up. But I say that when we come to deal with compulsory industrial arbitration, the Court, when once constituted, should have the same liberty of action as is. possessed by a voluntary arbitration board, when it undertakes to settle a dispute. What is the present position? We have a number of organized trade unions. Those organizations are faced by employers’ associations. We know that disputes of many kinds can arise between them, but one of the “most fertile sources of dispute is to be found in preference to unionists. That question is one which may be left to a voluntary board of conciliation and arbitration. I wish now to refer to a passage from Mitchell’s Organized Labour, dealing with these unions. It reads -
The British textile workers insist upon the employment of union men only ; but, in this and in other trades, the exclusion has become so complete that it has almost ceased to be felt. A union card is a matter of course, and a matter of absolute necessity to a man desiring to engage in many British trades, and membership in a union is considered a privilege and not a burden.
– In New South Wales at least twenty agreements granting preference have been voluntarily arrived at.
– So that in the United States the position which the unions take up is that for arbitration to be effective the unions must have preference right through. I am not saying that I favour that position. I am simply pointing out existing facts; and from the statements made by Mr. Mitchell himself in this book, it is clear that in England preference to unionists is a principle that is readily admitted by very many persons connected with industry. To create an Arbitration Court, and not give it the power to grant a preference to unionists, is really to deprive the men belonging to those unions of a right which they have at the present time. It is a right which is clearly admitted in law, that people can combine and refuse to work with any person if they choose to do so. There is no dispute about that. Whether they are morally justified in giving effect to that principle is quite another question. But when you come to take away from men their right to settle disputes by the old method of voluntary arbitration, I say that whatever disputes they can submit to a voluntary arbitration board, ought to be capable of being submitted to the compulsory Arbitration Court. The Conciliation and Arbitration Bill merely allows that ; and, as it was introduced by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, it gave the Court, in any dispute arising between employers and employed as to whether preference should be granted, the right to decide that question for itself. I found when I was over in New South Wales that, owing to the remarks made in this House, many people there believed that the Court to be established under the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill would be bound to give a preference to unionists. That is an absolute misrepresentation. The Court will have only a discretionary power.
– It was a wilful misrepresentation.
– Whether the misrepresentation was wilful or not I do not know, but the power proposed to be granted by the Bill is purely a discretionary one. The Court will have to consider all the terms and conditions surrounding an industry, and then to determine whether or not pre- ference to unionists shall be granted. It is well known that in many voluntary agreements, which have been registered, preference was readily granted. I do not hesitate to say that, personally, I do not like the preference provision. But I can conceive of cases in which preference ought to be granted. I therefore believe that it is only right and just - seeing that at the present time such a preference can be given under a voluntary agreement - that we should not tie the hands of the Judge but allow him to give the same judgment as can be given by a voluntary arbitration board. Take, for instance, the great shearers’ strike which occurred in Queensland some years ago. Honorable members know the terrible confusion that existed in our great State in consequence of that dispute. They know of the sufferings that the people had to endure in consequence of it, and they are aware of the class hatred that sprung up, and which is still rankling in the minds of the parties to that strike. What was the cause of it? The shearers made a claim to have their unions recognised. The squatters turned round and said, “ We claim the right to employ whom we please.” The shearers asked for a conference, but the squatters said, “No, we will not have any conference on any conditions.” That was the essence of the dispute.
– The squatters wanted the shearers to give up their right to speak as a union.
– That is so. That great strike threw the whole community into confusion. Would not honorable members give the Court appointed to decide disputes of that kind the right to decide whether preference should be given to unionists? Is it not better that the Court should have such power than that the community should be subjected to a loss of tens of thousands of pounds, that bitterness should be stirred up to such an extent that the military should have to be called out, and that almost a state of revolution should be produced ? I am not taking the part of either the shearers or the squatters, although I think that the shearers’ demand for a conference ought to have been conceded, because by means of free discussion a public conscience is aroused, which sooner or later is brought to bear upon the parties to a dispute. The late Government was defeated upon an amendment moved by the Minister of Defence. I must confess that, of the two amendments then before the House, there is not the slightest doubt that that proposed by the then Ministry was infinitely better than the amendment of the Minister of Defence. I am not prepared to say that if even the amendment of the Government had been considered in a fair and impartial way, something better might not have been devised. But what I do claim is that honorable members opposite took up a rigid attitude, and refused to allow the late Government the courtesy of an opportunity to submit a further amendment. It may be urged that there have been other cases in which the House has refused to recommit, but I do not know of any case where this House as a House wilfully and deliberately took the business out of the hands of the Ministry expressly for the purpose of humiliating them. There has been no precedent in this House for such a course as that. Honorable members who wished to bring about a change of Ministry were no doubt perfectly justified in adopting that attitude. Some honorable members voted against the recommital be* cause they wished to take the control of affairs out of the hands of the late Government. The right honorable member for East Sydney certainly was not enamoured of them, because he was constantly reported to be going about with a noconfidence motion in his pocket, which was always to be moved “ next day.” That “next day” was never reached, but he was evidently prepared to take advantage of any opportunity to turn out the Government. ‘ I say again that the amendment prepared by the late Government was far better than the amendment of the honorable and learned member for Corinella, which provided that preference should only be granted to unionists if in the opinion, of the Judge a majority of the persons affected in the industry who had interests in common were in favour of that preference.
– That is moderately correct.
– The purport of it was that a majority of the persons affected by an award, and having interests in common, must be in favour of preference being granted. A man has to go into Court ‘ and make, his application. Before he went into Court at all, what evidence would he have to submit? He would have to submit the evidence of the majority of the persons who were affected by an award. Who are the persons affected by an award ? Are they only the persons who are immediately affected? Who are the persons whose interests are “in common”? Are they the persons who alone are interested in the award? The terms of the provision are uncertain, but still more uncertain is the “opinion of the Court” concerning the majority of the persons affected. No man would care to go into Court until he had the strongest possible evidence - obtained quite possibly by a ballot of the unionists affected, as well as of the nonunionists - in order to get the decision of the Court in favour of preference. When we consider that we are- dealing, not with matters in connexion with some little area under a Factories Act, but with the whole of the vast continent of Australia, what would be the meaning of “opinion of the Court,” under a vague and illusive term like that used in the amendment of the honorable and learned member for Corinella? Because it must be remembered that it is only a matter of the opinion of the Judge. It is a question as to which there could be no appeal from his decision. It is purely a matter of opinion. If in the Judge’s opinion there was a majority, preference might be given. As a rule,’ a Judge, seeing this language used in an Act of Parliament, would say - “ It is the intention of the Legislature that I must be satisfied in my own mind that there is a majority.” That opinion would have to be formed on what kind of evidence? It is quite true that the Judge could act upon any evidence. The good conscience clause comes in there. But no matter whether it was hearsay evidence or written evidence, the Judge would require that it should be very strong indeed, and I am quite clear that he would almost certainly ask for statistics concerning the persons engaged . in the industries affected in the Commonwealth. Imagine the difficulty of getting those statistics concerning all the persons who might be interested in an award in this Commonwealth? The whole thing is impracticable and unworkable.
– Thehonorable member assumes that we shall have a noodle of a Judge.
– How does article 1 of the alliance alter the position?
– The honorable member is much concerned with the alliance, but at present I am not troubling about it.
– We hear about the Bill being made unworkable, because of my amendment, and I say that the alliance would leave the Bill as it stands.
– Suppose that the alliance did so?
– Honorable members opposite attack us for doing a thing when thev are willing to do the same.
– The right honorable gentleman at the head of the Government took the Bill, as it stood, unworkable as it is, although it contained what he had described as unconstitutional clauses. Yet we find him and his colleagues still sitting there.
– They have swallowed it.
– No self-respecting Ministry, after such declarations, would sit in office and support a Bill containing such clauses.
– The Court will see to those provisions.
– If our attitude is not correct, the attitude of honorable members opposite is just the same. But the attitude of the alliance is clearly this - that we are quite prepared -to take the Bill back into Committee, and have a free discussion upon it. The alliance will never object to a free discussion upon any clause in any Bill. The other proposal before the House was as to whether the amendment indicated by the honorable member for Bland should be accepted. I say that that amendment was essentially a judicious and a wise one. It was a wise amendment, for this reason - that it was no mere empirical legislation; it was not an impracticable idea sprung upon the House,’ but an amendment based upon the experience of the working of the Arbitration Act in New South Wales. It has proved, in common practice, to work out well. There have been no complaints against it. Mr. Justice Cohen said that there had been some complaints in the newspapers, but they had never come before the Court, and there was no substantial evidence submitted to him as to its unsatisfactorines’s. I say, therefore, that it was a workable amendment based on experience, and one which the House might have done the late Prime Minister the courtesy to consider. But it is evident that advantage was taken of the opportunity to “ clown “ the late Ministry. The present Prime Minister did not move a noconfidence motion, because there was a belief that such a motion, if submitted by him would not- succeed. However, the effect was just the same. The Watson Government went out of office, and we then had brought into being the present Administration. It has been said that our alliance on this side was formed in a holeandcorner sort of way, and without due consideration with our colleagues.
– That is so.
– That is the charge which is made. When the protectionists met as a party,’ we were asked whether we would accept a coalition which involved the present Prime Minister as leader, and, as a party, we unanimously decided that no coalition would be satisfactory to us that did not retain the honorable and learned member for Ballarat as leader. Did we mean that, or was it but a foolish statement ? I contend that, as a party, we meant it, and it was our desire that the honorable and learned member for Ballarat should retain that position.
– The honorable and learned gentleman would not accept it.
– I did accept it. That decision was communicated to the present Prime Minister, and, surely, it was an intimation to that right honorable gentleman that as a party we declined to place ourselves under a freetrade leader. So eager was the present Prime Minister for an alliance that, in reply to that notification,* the tight honorable gentleman said he was prepared to concede the leadership to the honorable and learned member for Ballarat. Then we met again.
– We did not consider that.
– I have no desire to go into private conversations, or to state what took place in caucus.
– It has all come out already.
– In that connexion, I say that it is a very unfortunate thing that when the members of a political party have met together to deliberate privately on matters of importance, statements should afterwards be made with respect to what took place at their meeting.
– Who made them?
– A great many of us can say that we did not make them. I believe that I am entitled to make use of what has appeared in the press, and by that means it has been made public that we as a party decided to preserve our integrity, and declined to have any coalition or alliance of any description. Then we went into Opposition.
– And immediately bolted away from that: decision.
– And as the honorable member has interjected, certain honorable members bolted away from the decision, and we found honorable members who were pledged to the Protectionist Party openly doing all. they could in the House, and out- 8 u side as well, to assist a free-trade leader. As soon as the Watson Ministry was defeated, the following remarks were made by the present Prime Minister : -
Nothing has given me greater pleasure during the trying time we have gone through, than the gradual but steady growth of the feeling of comradeship and alliance between the members of my own party and those of Mr. Deakin’s party.
– What was the date of that?
– That appeared in the press on the very evening on which the Watson Government was defeated. Those remarks were not made in the House;, but they appear in the form of a press interview’ with the right honorable gentleman. That shows kinship and friendship.
– Is there not friendship between u.s all?
– I know that some honorable members opposite have shown a great deal of friendship to many of us. We know that subsequent to this the House separated, and honorable members went all over the Commonwealth, but on the Monday following the defeat of the Watson Ministry we found that the right honorable member for Balaclava, who was one of the partypledged never to leave us, had already agreed to help the present Prime Minister to form a Ministry. Shortly after that my very esteemed friend, the honorable member for Gippsland, was also found to be in alliance with the right honorable member for East Sydney, and in two or three days time the whole of the members of the Mini,stry were announced.
– But was not the honorable and learned member for Ballarat in agreement with what was done?
– The Prime Minister stated that he had’ been to see the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, and that honorable and learned gentleman would have nothing to do with the formation of the Ministry.
– But he agreed to the other members of his party joining the present Prime Minister.
– I have stated the way in which the Prime Minister put it, and to do him justice I have quoted from the Argus.
– The honorable and learned member for Ballarat is at the back of the coalition now.
– Is he? I should prefer the honorable and learned gentleman to say that for himself. I have no desire to express the opinions of any person who U free to express them for himself. We know that the honorable members who sat with us in conference, without consulting the party, and without calling the party together to consider the. serious position which had arisen, absolutely went straight- over to the other side and enrolled themselves under the free-trade banner. Did they do that without any coalition, or without any understanding ?
– Honorable members of the party opposite had left . them before they did that.
– No; that is not a fact. That is absolutely incorrect.
– Practically they had.
– I saw the whole thing before. I consented.
– What did the honorable gentleman see?
– The account of the meeting of honorable members opposite.
– I should like to know in what newspaper the honorable gentleman saw it. I can say that I never heard of it. The first I heard of any alliance being proposed or suggested was when we were forced to take some steps by reason of certain honorable members of the party enrolling themselves under the free-trade banner. In view of the deep interests of the people of the Commonwealth involved in the proper exercise of the powers given us under the Constitution, we felt we were bound to come together to resist what promised to be a conservative alliance. When we saw honorable gentlemen taking office contrary to their own agreement, what other course was open to us but to see whether something could not be done to check what was in progress?
– Why not have called a: meeting of the party ?
– I say that a meeting of the party was called, and it would have been but a proper proceeding if, before any member of our party took office, he had approached our late leader and suggested to him that the party should meet in order to discuss the situation.
– How does the honorable and learned member know that that was not done?
– I know that it was not done, because no such meeting was called
– What about the counterblast - the round-robin?
– We have been told that there was a round-robin, signed by fourteen members of the party, before a single thing had been done on this side in the way of forming an alliance. Where is that roundrobin? Who were the signatories to it? Who are the fourteen honorable members who put their names to that document.
– There is no such document in existence.
– I am very glad to hear it. It was stated in the Argus that there was such a round-robin, and the Age stated that the honorable member for EdenMonaro had it in his possession. I am gla’d to hear that it does not exist. No one ever found fault with the honorable member for Eden-Monaro for lack of constructive capacity.
– The honorable and learned member is good at destructive work, but he is not game to admit it.
– My present policy is one of destruction of- the present Ministry, and I think I am justified in it, for the reasons I have given. I regret that a good democrat like my friend the honorable member for Eden-Monaro is not here, where he ought to- be, helping me. However, the position is that there has been clearly expressed by the people of the Commonwealth a belief in democratic legislation. They have expressed the belief that’ we should exercise the powers’ of the Constitution, in accordance with the democratic policies’ which have been announced. I say that the alliance proposes to give effect to that. The parties to the alliance have been drawn together because I believe they have sympathies in common, though there may be some differences of opinion with respect to the means to be adopted to give effect to them. What is the position with honorable members opposite? What is the bond of cohesion between them? They find fault with trieparty on this side because, in their opinion, it has put forward a vague and indefinite agreement. Let us consider what is their position. The Prime Minister has said that there was an agreement drawn up in no secret way, in no cave away down at Queenscliff, but at the residence of the ex-Opposition whip. What’ does that agreement contain?
Tt might be said that all parties in Parliament could have Keen invited to unite, so far as their principles would allow, for the purpose, of carrying on the Government. Unfortunately, the party now in office, quite apart from any question relating to its programme, maintains a control of its minority by its majority, and an . antagonism to all who do not submit themselves to its organizations and decisions which seems to make it hopeless to approach its members on any terms of equality, even on the present exceptional conditions.
We know that part of that is quite incorrect, because we have approached this party
On terms of equality and of mutual recognition of our respective parties, and we have formed an alliance which I believe will be found to be for the good’ of the Commonwealth, to be practicable, and, to some extent, permanent. Opposition to that party is the sole connecting bond with honorable members opposite. That is very clear from their agreement -
It is neither desirable nor necessary to make any other question the subject of a binding party agreement outside the Legislative Chambers, in which members should always be, as far as possible, free to deal with proposals on their merits.
There is to be -no cohesion amongst them. The honorable member for Lang is to be still at liberty to advocate his land tax, and to propose that we should heavily tax the farmers in the Richmond district. I hope that when the honorable: member for Richmond sets out on his election campaign he will take the honorable member for Lang with him, to explain to the farmers the virtue of a land tax. Perhaps he will also get the honorable members for Parramatta and New England to assist him.
– Or the honorable member for Barrier.
– Of the honorable member for Canobolas.
– And when the honorable member for Parramatta goes to address his constituency, and to advocate democratic legislation, he will, no doubt, be attended by the honorable and learned member for Parkes, who will stand out strongly for arbitration and conciliation, and who will probably tell the electors that he believes that the general trend now is towards Socialism. On the great question of preferential trade, we may have the two heads
Of the Ministry on the same platform. The honorable member for Gippsland may say “ Yes “ to those on one side of the platform, while the right honorable member for East Sydney says “ No “ to those On the other side. The free-traders may be told to get behind this screen, while the protectionists getbehind that, and they will be given anything they ask. Ministers will be able to Say to them, “You can get anything you like, gentlemen. There is nothing vital in our programme. We shall give a land tax to those who believe in it, and industrial arbitration to those who believe in it; and we are prepared to give an iron bonus to the honorable member. for Eden-Monaro, although we do not ourselves advocate anything of the kind.” The right honorable member for East Sydney may denounce the proposal, and then say “ I have spoken. The honorable member for Eden-Monaro will follow me, and will explain the virtues of this proposal.” What is the position in which honorable members opposite find themselves under their agreement. They have clearly only one policy at the present time, and that is to get into recess. Then we come to a most important question. The Prime Minister will not condemn Socialism. That would never do. . The right honorable gentleman believes in a modified Socialism; he disagrees with extreme Socialism.
– How far does the honorable and learned member go?
– I intend to explain my position, but at present I am not being attacked - I am attacking. The Prime Minister defines the matter in this way -
His ideal was to use the national power in every conceivable way to advance the happiness and welfare of the whole community, and this second ideal was to leave individual energies and powers of the members of the community as free as they could consistently with proper national legislation. This mistake of the Socialist was that he went to a suicidal extreme, but he did not condemn the Socialist if he would confine his projects within proper limits.
The honorable and learned member for Angas did not go to the socialistic extreme, but confined his Socialism within proper limits. This is an interesting part of the Prime Minister’s statement -
As far as any exercise of the power of government or legislation was concerned, he stood for no dogma at all.
It is true he stands for no dogma at all, so far as Government legislation is concerned. We can now, to some extent, understand the right honorable gentleman’s “Yes-No” attitude. Referring to the coalition, I should like honorable members who are protectionists, to consider the arrangements which the right honorable gentleman made with the Labour Party, because I think we ought to judge the Prime Minister by his own utterances. Speaking recently in Victoria, he said -
During five years in New South Wales the Labour Party had held him practically in the hollow of their hands, but ‘the result was that he had got his Tariff Bill passed by protectionistlabour men. They could always go to him on a deal of that sort. He did not believe in the principles of the caucus, but the direction of their vole had his entire approval.
The right honorable gentleman now condemns the caucus, but when it gave its vote as he wished, he did not.
The Labour Party had turned him out because he had got too slow for them after he had got what he wanted.
I am afraid that as soon as the Prime Minister has got what he has wanted he will find that my protectionist friends on the other side are too slow for him. When you enter into an alliance with a party you act in honour and good faith, and you do not expect to be told after five years’ faithful service that you are too slow for them. But, when the Prime Minister goes before his constituents he will warn them of the dangers of Socialism; he will touch the pocket nerve; he will tell them to be careful lest what they have in their pockets should be taken away; he will describe Socialism as meaning the nationalization of all industry, and will refer to the way in which the policy has operated in the States. I wish to mention, as a corrective, a statement made by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat in Brisbane. The National Liberal Union issued a platform, containing this plank - 5 - “ Opposition to all legislation of a dangerous socialistic character.” By this phrase is meant opposition to that class of legislation advocated by the Labour Party throughout Australia, which aims at the nationalization of the primary industries, the abolition of the private ownership of property, and the destruction of individual idea.
That was the programme which was opposed to the Deakin Government and the Labour Party. The National Liberal Union said that if they favored anybody they favored the right honorable member for East Sydney. What did the honorable and learned member for Ballarat say with respect to this paragraph? Speaking in Brisbane, on the 7th November- he said -
He saw in another paragraph of the programme what appeared to him to be a misunderstanding of the respective spheres of the Commonwealth ind State Parliaments. The clause he referred 10 suggested opposition (o all legislation of a dangerous socialistic character, and amongst these were included measures relating to the nationalization of industries. Well, over industries the Commonwealth had no control, except fiscally. Then it referred to. measures for the abolition of private ownership - with private ownership the Commonwealth had nothing to do, except when it took .1 man’s land and paid him for it for public purposes. And then allusion was made to the- destruction of individual ideas. Well, he did not know that either the State or the Commonwealth could be successful in accomplishing that end if they attempted it, but he did know there was nothing in the Commonwealth charter authorizing the Commonwealth to attempt it.
What is the meaning of all this talk abou! Socialism in this House ? The Labour Party is attacked because its members are Socialists, and yet a member on the opposite side says that, under the Constitution, there is not a single socialistic measure which can be passed. We can pass democratic legislation; we can pass a number of measures which have a socialistic tendency, and which must relate to the carrying on of the public Departments. But we, as a Commonwealth, have no right to go and nationalize the land. These state ments are intended for the purpose of deluding the electors. . Honorable members say they know that under the Constitution we have no power to deal with land.
– Cannot we tax the land to the point of confiscation?
– Is that Socialism? We, as a Commonwealth, can only acquire land with the consent of the State. We cannot take land except for public purposes. It is ridiculous ito raise these issues. The right honorable member for East . Sydney accused me of a breach of faith in respect of fiscal peace. Now, what was the issue in Queensland? Was it a fiscal issue? I do not intend to give my opinion, but to quote the statement of the Prime Minister as to the issues which were raised, and I do not think that he can find fault with me if I ask him to accept his own version,. He said in the debate on the AddressinReply
In Queensland we saw the great questions, what- _ ever they may be, of national politics in this Commonwealth all swept into the background, whilst one issue, and that alone, was fought, the issue between the classes and the masses.
How did he speak on the fiscal issue? - ‘
I am not going to enter into a criticism as to which man or which party is to blame for this, but I will say when the free-traders of Queensland never could find room for the fiscal issue, when men like Mr.. Philp, the Premier of that State, a known free-trader, and other free-traders would not organize upon broad national lines of principle, but called meetings for’ the purpose of securing ^10,000 to fight an election for a class - such men, although they may pose as men of intelligence, as men of light anc? leading, expose themselves to criticism. And they have obtained their deserts. Whenever a class issue is raised . between the classes and the masses, we need not inquire into the rights of it, because we all know what will be the result. No one sympathizes with men of the classes who raise their own selfish interests in the politics of this country.
What is the issue now before the House? The Prime Minister has condemned freetraders in Queensland for not raising the fiscal issue, and for raising a dispute between the classes and the masses. But when we refer to his programme we find that in many respects it is almost the same as that of the National Liberal Union, which raised the issues in respect of which he spoke. He has opened a war between the classes and the masses. He on that side is leading the classes while we on this side are standing for the masses. It can only have one result, he says here, and that result can only tend to his displacement from power. The last ground on which I condemn the right honorable gentleman is because he has no policy. We are entitled to have’ from him a statement with respect to his future actions. What does he ask 11s to do? He asks us to allow him to go into recess for a period of six or seven months - practically at his pleasure. He is seeking to have control of the administration of all these Acts of Parliament which he has condemned. He is asking us to give him power with respect to a great many matters of negotiation. I contend that inasmuch as he was condemned by the electors of the Commonwealth, we should not be justified in allowing the session to close without a protest.
– Which Acts does the honorable and learned member refer to?
– I refer to the Immigration Restriction Act, th; Post and Telegraph Act-, and even to the Electoral Act. What is the policy that the Prime Minister has put before the House? For some weeks he was delivering great speeches declaring to the public what he thought ought to be done. Speaking at the Royal Agricultural Society’s luncheon, he made this magnificent statement -
My view is that, having put into the Constitution the most advanced principles of political equality, we can now afford to spend the same talents, energy, and pugnacity upon the great industrial problems of Australia, with which are inseparably bound up all our real solid progress and prosperity.
He was speaking to the farmers, producers, and manufacturers of Australia - to men who look forward to getting some assistance in the building up of the prosperity of the Commonwealth, and what do they get now ? A Trade Marks Act ! That is the way in which he is going to relieve them and to increase the industrial prosperity of the country.
– In New South Wales he passed a White Australia Act before the honorable and learned member ever thought about the question.
– That is an alarming discovery. My honorable friend is so mixed up in the politics of New South Wales, so persistent in bringing them before the House, that I am afraid he thinks he is still there, and perhaps it would be a good thing for the House if he were.
– The honorable and learned member has been raising them a good deal during this discussion. That is all he has been building upon.
– All I know is that in New South Wales the Prime Minister passed an educational test, and’ that when he came here and thought he could put out the Government on the White Australia policy he abandoned his view, and voted for the honorable member for Bland’s amendment, which wiped OUT the test. At that time the right honorable gentleman was “ steering from the steerage,” as he termed it. He was doing all he could to get control of the Labour Party. He was always reminding his dear friends of that splendid alliance five years ago, and saying how he cherished the friendships which sprang up between them, quite forgetting, however, to mention the fact that ultimately he got too slow for them. In fact, they almost found him so slow that they never trusted him afterwards.
– The people always trusted him, returning him by a large majority at each election.
– In Sydney they did, and it is very consoling to know that a man of his ability can command a majority. Let us see what is the Ministerial policy. First of all, the Prime Minister announced in .the House that preferential trade . was a matter of Ministerial policy. But later on he said he was going to deal with the matter when it was suggested by the Imperial Government. Then the honorable member for Gippsland said that in dealing with the matter they were going to stand by their pledges ; and finally we had a statement by the Prime Minister that if it involved any sacrifice of his fiscal faith he was going to dissolve the Cabinet. That is practically his position. That is as clearly defined an attitude on preferential trade as we could expect to get from the party. Then he adopts the Conciliation and Arbitration’ Bill, and charges us with breach of faith and inconsistency. But what is his position as regards conciliation and arbitration? First of all, he voted against preference to unionists. He used some very strong language on the subject -
As I said on the second reading, there is a greater violation done in this Bill to the individual liberties and rights of citizens of a civilized country than I know of in any other legislation in the British Empire.
He was then speaking, not of the modified preference to unionists, but of the principle of preference to unionists. Again, when the question of political unions came up, he said he did not believe in political unions even being entitled to register under the Act. We remember in what scathing terms he denounced political unions. He did not mind if a union were formed for industrial purposes only, and yet we find now that the clause is in the Bill which allows political unions to register, but will not allow them to have a preference. Again, he accepted the provision in regard to the inclusion of State servants. Did honorable members ever see such a “ swallowing “ policy as this ? Here are three matters which he mentioned as absolutely vital - preference to unionists, which was a piece of legislation practically unknown to the Empire; political unions, which was a gross abuse and attempt to use the judicial machinery for party purposes; and the inclusion ot State servants, which was absolutely unconstitutional. He comes in now, and says he is quite prepared to accept the Bill with all those three provisions. He was very vigorous in opposition, when he was on this side, but now that he is on the other side he says, in effect, “ Oh, I am so complaisant that I am prepared to adopt anything you like to put in. So long as you Will allow me to sit here, I shall let you pass anything you want.”
– That is the attitude of other honorable members.
– That is the attitude now of responsible government under our Constitution ! The Prime Minister says the High Commissioner Bill is to be postponed. He will adopt the proposal for the survey of the Transcontinental Railway, even as proposed by the Labour Government. The Naviga-> tion Bill was introduced by the Labour Government, and referred to a Royal Commission, and, therefore, he will accept the measure. The Papua Bill contains some clauses in respect of non-alienation, which he does not like, and he will accept that too. He will also take the Trade Marks Bill.
He is willing to negotiate under the Seat of Government Act. But in regard to the Iron Bonus Bill, at last his back stiffens, and he is going to be firm. The Government will not take charge of the Bill, but will allow a private member to do so, and when a division is taken Ministers will vote as they think fit. That is the position in this National Parliament, where we have only laid, as it were, the foundation stones of a great edifice. People are waiting expectantly to see on what lines this great Commonwealth is to develop. They ask ‘for a policy. For over three years the right honorable gentleman has been criticising the administration of affairs. He has told us that he has a scheme for developing the Commonwealth, that he can set things right, and restore public confidence. Now that he has come into power, what does he do? He has adopted a few of the minor measures introduced by his predecessors, and is willing to swallow anything, so long as he is allowed to stay there. He offers no single piece of original legislation to the people. He says to them, “ Parliament has been in session for six months, and has done nothing; therefore let it do nothing more, but go into recess.” Who was responsible for displacing the Deakin and Watson Administrations? Was it not the right honorable gentleman who now wishes to do nothing but get into recess? That is his first and only plan. There are other important matters with which I should like to deal, but I feel that the hour is getting late. We have sought from this coalition a justification for its formation, but what justification have we got? Not a single member of it has been able 10 justify it. All that has been done has been to attack the alliance; and particularly the members of it who sit in this corner. Why are we so bitterly attacked? If three or four of us were to transfer our allegiance to the. other side we should be perfectly safe; but because we do not do so we are subjected to all sorts of attacks and ridicule. During the whole debate honorable members opposite have tried to ridicule the terms of the alliance; but we are not ashamed or aft aid of their attacks, which have left us unscathed.
– And it is not we who ate afraid.
– I have been attacked for breaking my pledges to my constituents, though I have not done so. I have all along taken up the position that there should be fiscal peace; but that does not mean the absolute cessation of legislation. In Queensland the great sugar question remains to be dealt with. To show the attitude of some of the Queensland people on that subject, I will read the following extract from the National Liberal programme. Speaking of the sugar bounty, they say -
We do not propose to alter this law at the present time. In view, however, of the fact that the period allotted for the test is too short to enable it to be effectively made, we advocate an extension of the period for the payment of the bonus. If the bonus is not maintained, then the industry will languish, and the employment of white men in the sugar industry, and in other industries dependent upon the production of sugar will be very limited. “
The Act expires on the 1st January, 1907, during the currency of the present Parliament. Will fiscal peace prevent us from dealing with that important question, which strikes at the root of an industry which gives employment to thousands of people, and, according to present indications, appears likely to be one of the greatest and most profitable industries in the Commonwealth? It would be monstrous to say that, because the people have declared that the time of this Parliament shall not be taken up with Tariff details, that important question is not to be dealt with. The sugar bounty is paid out of the excise duty on sugar. Although I believe in a fiscal truce, if it be shown that persons are famishing for. want . of employment, that industries are being sacrificed, and capital is going out of use, I think that Parliament should give such remedy as an investigation into the matter suggests. I state that on the ground of pure humanity, and I do not fear the effect of such action on my constituents. I was elected without opposition, and. did not address a meeting before the election. I promised the then Prime Minister a general support. Beyond that I gave no pledges to my constituents ; but referring to this matter afterwards 1 said -
I would vote for all those duties which would protect existing industries and tend to the development of the magnificent resources of Australia. I spoke on those lines, and voted on those lines, and if the matter comes up again I shall continue to fight on those lines, because I have faith in this Continent. I have faith in the young men and women who are natives of this Continent, as well as in our fathers who are working equally well for the development and advancement of the Continent. Now that we have an instrument of Government which gives us the powers of a nation, it would be wrong of us not to exercise our powers to build up our strength, so that in time of need we can stand by the mother country.
That was a clear and definite statement. I believe that the people of Queensland do not wish the Tariff to be re-opened. The finances of no State have suffered more under Federation than have those of Queensland, and if there were a movement on foot which would bring in more’ revenue to the States, the people of Queensland would be glad of it. It is unfortunate that the financial provisions of the Constitution are inextricably interwoven with the finances of the States, and that the present revenue Tariff is every year tending to decrease the Queensland revenue. Last year there was a considerable falling off. and apparently this year Queensland will suffer a further loss of at least £70,000.
– The higher the duties, the more Queensland will suffer.
– The honorable member’s leader voted against the tea duty, which, unfortunately for Queensland, was not agreed to. For these reasons, the Commonwealth is restricted in its public works expenditure, because it is afraid that by reducing their revenue it may cause trouble and confusion to the States. But, although a larger revenue would be welcome to Queensland, a continual tinkering with the Tariff, and a perpetual alteration of the incidence of its duties, would undoubtedly cause confusion to the States Treasurers, because they could not properly estimate what was coming to them. The Prime Minister, however, did not accept the proposal for a fiscal peace, an9 now he calls it a fiscal truce, because he knows that a truce is merely a cessation of warfare, and he is ready, when the session is closed, to fight for free-trade again. Already the alliance has done a wonderful amount of conversion. A Select Committee was suggested by this side of the House for the investigation of the operations of the Tariff in regard to such industries as the House might specify, and the proposal was spoken of as a breach of faith. But now those who sit behind the Government are so complacent that they have found a new plank for their platform, and are prepared to give us a Tariff Commission.
– And immediate legislation.
– Honorable members like the honorable member for Laanecoorie are prepared to give immediate relief. The honorable and learned member for Corinella, on one occasion, after he had been made a Minister, suggested the appointment of a Tariff Commission. He thought that it would be a good thing; but that the results would’ be a matter for future consideration. It did not, however, become a matter of Ministerial policy until it had been warmly taken up by the people and by the alliance. Then the Ministry thought it was good enough to make it a plank in their platform. This took place after all the talk we had heard about fiscal peace. So far as the alliance is concerned, we have nothing to be ashamed of. It has been suggested that the provision as to immunity from opposition on the part of the Labour Party at the forthcoming election is of a corrupt character. We do not consider it is corrupt, and we do not wish to suggest that the Prime Minister acted corruptly when he signed an agreement by which he undertook to allot four portfolios to members of the Protectionist Party as a condition precedent to the formation of the coalition. I do not suggest that that was a corrupt action on the part of the right honorable gentleman, and I do not think it was fair for him to say, as he did in Sydney, that liberal members of the alliance practically arranged upon a price with the Labour Party.
– He offered to afford the same immunity to the members of the Labour Party.
– The terms of the alliance have been published throughout the Commonwealth. We do not consider that we are bound as a party to formulate a policy, but we have indicated our determination to unite our forces against the Free-trade Party. There is a paper bond between the two sections of the alliance, but in addition to that there is a bond of sympathy which. I believe, will tend to good results. I know that we have all suffered from the strife we have gone through, but we can lay the blame for the fact that nothing has been done in the past six months at the door of the Free-trade Party. There has been strife amongst us, it is true, but I believe that-
There shall come from out this noise of strife and groaning
A broader and a juster brotherhood ;
A deep equality of aim, postponing
All selfish seeking to the general good.
– I think I shall be expressing the feeling of the majority of honorable members when I say that we are all sick and tired of this debate. If that be so, how must the general community regard the situation? Without doubt they view with indignation the conduct of this Parliament, the time of which has been almost entirely taken up in useless discussion. I have listened to the speeches delivered’ during the last three weeks with astonishment and sorrow. I have been atonished that honorable members should so far forget their dignity as gentlemen as to make use, during the heat of debate, of language of which, in calmer moments, they would never dream. Some honorable members have been charged with bribery, corruption and. robbery, and the term “vile curs,” and others equally objectionable, have been hurled’ at them. I have listened with sorrow to the speeches because the time of the country has been so wilfully wasted. I do not intend to follow the example of many honorable members who have preceded me by filling the pages of Hansard with irrelevant and absolutely useless matter. All I propose to do is to clearly define my position with regard to the question before the House. Even if I were not in sympathy with the present Government I should hesitate to record my vote in such a way . as to bring about another change of Administration, and thus disturb the business of the country. Even if the honorable member for Bland had been in office, I think that I should have voted with the Government in order to avoid a dissolution and the dislocation, of trade and commerce that must follow such an event.
– That is a revelation.
– The honorable member voted to put the Watson Government out of office.
– The Watson Government put itself out of office. If honorable members were to go into the country districts, into the suburbs, and into the large cities of Australia, and ask representatives of all classes of the community what they thought of this Parliament, they might be astonished at the tenor of the replies. They would be asked to point to what had been done by us, and if they were honest men they would have to confess that practically nothing had been done during the seven months we have been sitting. I ask whether we are paid to come here and do nothing but talk and talk until the country is sick of our quarrels? I venture to say that I shall have the approval of every sensible man- and woman- in Australia, from workers in the factories to those in the counting-houses, from the occupants of shepherds’ huts to residents in Toorak mansions, when I say that no Parliament in Australia has had so poor a record as this the second Parliament of the Commonwealth. We are wasting our time in . useless discussion, and ignoring the duty that we owe to the public. The small consideration which honorable members are exhibiting for the best interests of the people is really shameful. It is now proposed byhonorable members opposite to place an additional burden upon the people by involving them in the unnecessary expenditure of £50,000 or £60,000 upon a general election. Who wants a general election? I do not think that any honorable member on this side of the House has any such desire, and I am confident that not one honorable member on the other side wishes to go to the country. It is not so long ago since we had a general election, when most of us spent almost our last shilling in contesting our seats. We have had no time in the interval to save anything out of our “starvation” allowance. A dissolution at the present time would serve the purposes of only a few disappointed office-seekers, and would involve the country in an additional expenditure at the rate of about £20,000 per annum for the next three years. I consider that the motion is unwarranted. The business of the country, as we are all aware, has not progressed during the period that we have been in session. The speech of the leader of the Opposition, in submitting this motion, was an exceedingly poor effort, and I was greatly disappointed with it His utterances are usually of a very high standard, being full of life and enthusiasm, but upon’ this occasion, his heart did not appear to be in his work, and therefore he contented himself with delivering a long lecture upon Socialism.
– It was a painful duty which he had to perform.
– No doubt it was a duty which he had to discharge. We know that outside of this Parliament there are certain . organizations which compel the leader of the Opposition to play the part that he does, and which compel his supporters to appear anxious to obtain a dissolution when in reality they do not desire it.
– That statement is absolutely incorrect,- and the honorable member knows it.
– I am very glad to hear that denial from the honorable member. I entertain the very highest regard for every member of the Labour Party, but I am speaking of them politically. I claim that they are prone to indulge in socialistic legislation. The honorable member for Bland utterly failed to assign a single reason why the Government do not possess the confidence of the House.
– He did not wish to be personal.
– He did not attempt to advance a single reason in support of the motion. He gave no explanation why the Labour Party had allied itself with a group of members who have nothing in common with its aims and aspirations.
– How can the honorable member say that, after hearing the speech which has just been delivered by the honorable and learned member for Darling Downs ?
– I am dealing with the speech of the leader of the Opposition. The malcontents, it is true, have made no secret of their determination to raise the fiscal issue, despite the fact that every honorable member had accepted the verdict of the country that the Tariff should remain unaltered, at least during the life of the present Parliament. I claim that the honorable member- for Bland cannot honestly assist in the raising of the1 fiscal issue, in view of the emphatic decision of the electors in December last. Honorable members are well acquainted with that verdict. The honorable1 member for Bland himself admitted that the present was not the time to disturb the existing Tariff. Speaking at Wagga on the1 2th -September, he said -
He would not in any circumstances be a party to disturbing the fiscal peace now reached. The Labour Party had been able to knock out a few taxes, which pressed heavily on the people, and in this way had reduced the revenue by a large amount. The proof of their prudence in cutting down the Tariff was found in the fact that, on examination, the Tariff, as adopted, would now appear to average about 15 per cent, all round. As it stood, it was a reasonable Tariff, and should be allowed to remain undisturbed.
Again, on August 9, speaking as Prime Minister, he said -
I believe there is no probability of any appeal for an alteration of the Tariff being responded to during this present Parliament. The people were assured at the last elections that it was desirable to have fiscal peace, at any rate for this Parliament, and I must say that I agree that it is desirable to have some rest from the eternal fight on the fiscal question. If this were a country which had been united for many years, and the full effect of Inter-State free-trade could be accurately gauged, and the whole records were available for years, then I should say that there might be grave reason to inquire again into the conditions brought about by the Tariff. But we have not had time since the passing of the Tariff to get any clear idea of what its incidence will be in the future.
I quite agree with that statement. Sufficient time has not been allowed to elapse since the Tariff . came into operation to warrant any alteration being made in it. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports is also reported to have said -
While recognising this, he also recognised there was infinitely more to be gained by a period of rest than by re-opening the Tariff question. The protectionists were anxious to give the new Tariff a five years’ trial, but that was what the freetraders were afraid of.
The honorable member could not have been very much in earnest at the time he made that statement, or else he must have made it with certain mental reservations. Otherwise he could scarcely have changed his views so rapidly. The honorable member for Hume, the honorable and learned member for Indi, and others, including myself, also declared that we would not be parties to disturbing the Tariff for some time to come. 1 hold that it is inconsistent and dishonorable for the honorable member for Bland to assist in bringing about fiscal strife with its necessary corollary, and dislocation of trade and commerce throughout the Commonwealth. Let us have fiscal peace and practical legislation. I am -sure that is the wish of those who have the best interests of the country at heart, as some honorable members will discover when they appear before the electors. The leader of the Opposition and his supporters have frequently complained that the Labour Administration did not receive fair play at the hands of honorable members on this side of the House. That statement is utterly incorrect. The fact is that the Watson Government could have been displaced during the very first week of its existence. It is well known that it never had a majority at its back. The Opposition, however, recognised that it was entitled to a fair trial, and I claim that during the period that it remained in office fair play was extended to it. The honorable member for Bland has also complained that the Prime Minister did not inform the House of the legislation which he proposes to bring forward nine months hence. Is it likely that any Prime Minister would indicate what his programme would be dur ing the following year? I say that sufficient for the day is the evil thereof. The leader of the Opposition also urged that no mention was made in the Ministerial statementof policy of; an. old-age pensions scheme. While he was in power for four orfive months he made no attempt to introduce old-age pensions. That should have been one of his first measures.
– Would the honorable member support it?
– Yes, so long as it was a feasible scheme. But we must see our way clear as to where the money is to come from. From that point of view, an old-age pension scheme cannot be hurriedly carried out. Is it not better, as the Prime Minister proposes, to consult with the States Governments as to the best way of raising the money? I understand that it would cost £1,000,000 or £1,500,000 per annum to pay anything like a moderate amount to the aged poor throughout the Commonwealth .
– My road is the shortest.
– I think so. We must not quarrel with the States, but must recognise that this is a matter which will require their serious consideration. I shall certainly be prepared to support any feasible scheme for the maintenance of the aged poor. But we know that the policy of the Labour Party for raising money for old-age pensions is to impose a Federal land tax, which will cast additional burdens on the farmers. It is possible that the Labour Party may attempt to carry out a portion of Mr.- Tom Mann’s socialistic policy to the extent of compelling the farmer to part with his land. That is one plank of the socialistic programme. I should like to quote what a working farmer has said with regard to taxing the farmers. It will be found in Hansard, page 2028, and is as follows: -
Mr. Tom Mann is reported to have said, in answer to a question, that he would put such a tax on land as to make the farmers glad to get rid of it. Should not this, in itself, be enough to arouse the tillers of the soil to a sense of their duty to themselves and their children, to combine to defeat the aims and objects of the party for whom Mr. Tom Mann acts? After many years of toil, the farmers of the heavy forest timber country of Gippsland and elsewhere, farmers of the Mallee, who have lost their all through the drought, and are still striving to make homes foi their families, the backbone of the country, are told that they should be taxed off their homes.
That is what the farmers may expect from a strong Labour Party. In Queensland, we already have a very heavy land tax, and I am quite sure that the farmers of that State are not prepared to submit to any further land taxation. I sincerely hope that this Parliament will not attempt to enforce any taxation which would tend to cripple the farming industry, which is already heavily handicapped. Instead of more restrictive legislation, what we need is practical legislation which will give more opportunities for the workers, and help to establish new industries throughout the country, as well as give encouragement and freedom to the industries that exist, and to trade and commerce. The honorable member for Bland said, a little while ago, that if a man is successful in life, and by thrift and industry has saved money, he must have done so at the expense and the injury of the many. I will quote his exact words, as reported in Hansard, page 4706-
I ask, what there is to-day before the ordinary labouring man in Australia, though, perhaps, he is better off here than in many other parts of the world? It is true that occasionally the newspapers will mention the fact that one or other individual has managed, after great efforts, to emerge from the ruck, and he is pointed to as an example of what is possible for all others. They say, “ Brown, Jones, or Robinson, has succeeded ; why not others ?” But very often, when the individual succeeds, he does so at the expense of others, so that the blood and tears of the many have contributed to the success of the few.
– That is too true.
– It may be true in some instances, but it implies that a man cannot succeed in life without becoming dishonest, or cruel, or grinding down those who are in his employment. That is not correct.
– Does the honorable member know of any working man in Australia who is getting rich by his own work ?
– I have not known of any working man who has become rich, as my honorable friend suggests, nor have I known of working men who have become their own masters, since the Labour Party has been in existence. But I do knowquite a number of men in Queensland with whom I was acquainted thirtylive years ago, some of whom were in my own employ, and who, after years of hard work, and attention to business, have saved a sufficient sum to support them in a small way. They have afterwards started in a larger way of business, and have succeeded. Only the other day I met, in Townsville, a former employe who had a place of business as large as the one which
I sold a few years ago, when I employed a hundred hands. He was one of the first to welcome me on reaching Townsville. He wished to impress upon me that he had succeeded in life by carrying on business exactly on the same principles as I had pursued when he was in my employment. I was as delighted to_ see him doing well, as’ I was at my own” success. I can honestly say that the little which I have made, I have made honesfly, and I do not think that any one has suffered at my hands. It seems to me that under the policy of the Labour Party there is to be no freedom of action, and no encouragement to individual enterprise, but that our industries are to look to the Government for all things needful. There is now to be no self-reliance, and worthy ambftion on the part of the individual must be utterly destroyed. It was not so in Melbourne when I first knew that city forty-two years ago. The working people here were then self-reliant, they wanted no preference, they were content to depend on their merits, and desired no favours from any one. All they wished for was work, and they gave full value for any wages they received. In the present day it appears that the workingman requires to be nursed and fed by the Government, and he must have preference in employment.
– Not all of them.
– I am very glad to say that that does not apply to all of them, and it would not apply to any if it were not for the trade unions. They discourage self-reliance.
– Who form the trade unions ?
– Does the honorable member propose to tell us something about the Brisbane bank directors and the way they swindled the people up there?
– I say that no sufficient reason has been given the House for the want-of-confidence motion which has been proposed. It is true that the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne gave two reasons for his present attitude towards the Prime Minister. The first was that he could not trust the present Government with the administration of the White Australia policy. How verv suspicious the honorable and learned member has become all of a sudden. His second reason was that he wanted a dissolution. The honorable and learned member did not tell us why he was so anxious for a dissolution. Is it because, in common with others of his party, having experienced the sweets of office for a time, he is in a hurry to get back to the Treasury bench ?
– Does the honorable member think that the party will get back, as the result of a dissolution ?
– I do not know ; but I can say that they will not get back if I can help it. I am satisfied that there will be no obstacle in the way of my coming back to the Federal Parliament, unless it be myself. I am opposed to a dissolution for many reasons, but if the House is determined to have a dissolution, let us by all means have it as soon as possible. No speeches which have been made since the motion was tabled, and no speeches yet to be made, will influence a single vote for or against it, and if a dissolution is desired, let us have it by all means as soon as possible, and squander the taxpayers money for no good purpose. I wish to emphasize the fact that honorable members on the other side, though they may not have signed the labour pledge, will in future be classed as labour members. They will be known in their true light, and it is right that they should be. I believe that every honorable member on the opposite side should sign the labour pledge, that the party opposite may become a compact body of Oppositionists.
– Are all the honorable members on the other side going to sign the monopoly pledge?
– We have no pledges on this side. I sign no pledges for any man. I allow no man to influence me in any shape or form. I must be allowed freedom of action, and freedom to form my own opinion as to what is the right thing to do, even here in the Federal Parliament. I told the electors when I stood for Parliament, that if they wished me to come down here as a delegate, to do whatever might be wanted in the interests of a special class, I declined to come on those terms. I said that I must be allowed the free use of my own judgment and discretion as to what was best for the community as a whole. I will not encourage or support any class legislation. Our friends in the Opposition corner have entered into an alliance with the Labour Party. There are not many of them present to-night. They have run away j but I wish to say that they will have a poor chance of coming back here if a dissolution takes places. Honorable members who have joined with the Labour Party imagine that they will not be opposed at the general election. It is utter nonsense for them to I imagine anything of the kind, because the Trades Hall party must bring out a pledgebound candidate to oppose every other. It cannot help itself. Does the honorable member for Melbourne Ports or the honorable member for Bourke believe that the workers’ organizations have already forgotten what they said about them in December last ?
– They never forget.
– No, they never forget, and that is perhaps a good feature. They make good friends and they make good foes. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports some little time ago said -
If he were returned to the Federal Parliament it would be as a representative of the whole of the people, and not as a machine to be worked at the dictation of a small portion. If he did this (sign the labour pledge) he would be abrogating the fundamental principle of the Constitution by handing over to a few men, and a small section of the electors, the right to say whether or not he should be a candidate.
The honorable member for Bourke was equally emphatic. He stated that he would not sign the pledge, and he further said -
The position was that some twenty or thirty persons - a little clique at the Trades Hall - were to have the power to say whether they approved of a candidate, and if they did not approve of him he would have to stand down. Such things savoured of Tammany Hall and Russia. . . . The caucus did not allow any liberty ; they must vote for the majority. They clamoured for the liberty of minorities, but they did not allow any liberty to their own minority.
Now these two honorable members have fallen into the arms of the party which a few months ago they condemned in the strongest terms. It may be assumed that the labour organizations will prevent these two honorable members having a walk over. About three weeks ago Senator Dawson addressed one of the pleasant Sunday afternoon meetings.
– On a Sunday !
– It has, I believe, become customary for the Labour Party to have pleasant Sunday afternoon meetings. They are supposed to be semi-sacred meetings, but somehow they always glide into political meetings. Senator Dawson was addressing one of “these meetings on the alliance of the Labour Party with the LiberalProtectionists, and he defended the alliance. There was considerable opposition at the meeting:, and I find the following in a report of the meeting, which appeared in the Agc of 19th September : -
The Chairman (a member of the Fitzroy branch, of the Political Labour League) took exception to the use by a number of the audience of the word “ fanatics,” as applied to that branch. He would always be loyal to the league, and, if it selected for a parliamentary seat a Chow or a lump of wood, he would still be loyal.
In a discussion which followed several of the audience expressed the view that the alliance threatened the fundamental principles of the Labour Party, and, therefore, was not justifiable.
During the last election campaign I took it upon myself to say that the supporters of the. Labour Party, the members of the various trade organizations, were, in duty bound, to support whoever was’ nominated as a candidate, even if it were a gate-post. I have more than once expressed myself in that way.
– With more than the honorable member’s usual inaccuracy.
– I was a little more polite than Senator Dawson in saying a gate-post, rather than a lump of wood. At any rate, I never expected to have my statement confirmed by a member of the Political Labour League.
– He does not confirm it.
– He says he would be loyal to the league, and that if it selected for a parliamentary seat a Chow - I suppose a Chinaman is meant - or a lump of wood, he would still be loyal.
– He does not say thai the trade organizations are required to vote for a gate-post.
– From the honorable member for Perth, the other day, we had a most manly and straightforward speech. He honestly and fearlessly spoke his mind. He denounced in the strongest terms the alliance between the Labour Party and a few nondescript politicians. I admired his manliness and fearlessness when he said -
I believe that this alliance is a mere pretence and no more - that it has never had any sound basis. The electors are likely to deal with the alliance, if - there should be an election, in a way that I am certain will make it impossible for it to exist in the next Parliament. It is not, to my mind, an arrangement of which any labour man has any reason to be proud. I have exceedingly regretted the alliance, and have Opposed it, and will continue to oppose it. In doing that, I believe that I am fulfilling a duty I owe to the electors who sent me here, and to the labour electors of the Commonwealth generally.
That was a manly and straightforward speech, and such as might be expected to come from a man who was possessed of freedom of action, but it was spoiled by his concluding words -
I shall vote in support of the motion submitted by the leader of the Opposition.
I admired his speech until he came to that point. He is willing, for party purposes, to vote contrary to his convictions, thus proving what has often been said in the House, that the members of the Labour Party have no freedom of action. It has been said here over and over again tha they have freedom of action equally with honorable members on this side, but’ here is proof to the contrary in the action of the honorable member for Perth, who utterly condemned what was done on the other side with regard to the alliance, and who must sacrifice his convictions in response to the demand of the majority at a caucus meeting.
– That is not so.
– The honorable member for Perth is in duty bound to vote in accordance with the decision arrived at by the majority of the caucus.
– That statement has no foundation.
– On his own showing, the honorable member for Perth is sacrificing principles which he apparently holds dear, because the majority of the caucus have ordered him to do so.
– That is absolutely incorrect.
– At a duly constituted meeting of the caucus, the majority were in favour of the motion to be proposed by the leader of the Opposition, and the minority were in duty bound to give way to them.
– That is not so.
– Where is the boasted freedom of action when the honorable member for Perth cannot vote according to his convictions, but must vote as he is ordered ?
– Why does the honorable member repeat that statement when he is told that it isnot so?
– Although the honorable member for Perth was free to express his opinions, still his vote is the pledged political property of the caucus.
– That is untrue.
– That is most unparliamentary.
– If the honorable member for Bland said that a statement of the speaker was untrue, the expression must be withdrawn.
– I did say that the statement of the honorable member was untrue. but as I understand that is unparliamentary, I shall say that it is absolutely incorrect, and has no foundation except in his imagination.
– I accept the denial of the honorable member. But I still think that what I said is correct unless the rules have been altered.
– I shall prove to the honorable member’s satisfaction that it is incorrect.
– I should like the debate to be adjourned now, as it will take me some time to conclude my speech.
Motion (by Mr. Reid) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
– I desire, sir, to move, that the House adjourn until half-past 10 o’clock to-morrow morning, as I am anxious,, in common with most honorable members, to see the debate on the noconfidence motion terminated.
– That motion cannot be proposed after’ the adjournment of the House has been moved. The question is “ That the House do now adjourn,” and if that is negatived, of course the sitting will have to be continued.
– I must again protest against the dragging out of the debate on the no-confidence motion. I do not think that it should require any motion to induce the Government to sit until a later hour - I ‘do not say all night- so that the debate may be finished within a reasonable time. If they are nol: prepared to take that course, I think that the House should meet at an earlier hour and sit longer, so as to get on with the business of the country.
Mr. WEBSTER (Gwydir).- I would ask the Prime Minister to at least expedite the decision on the no-confidence motion bv agreeing to the meeting of the House at half-past10 every morning, until the debate terminates. I am sure that every honorable member wishes to see the matter brought to a conclusion, whether the result is to be that we must go to the people, or whether we are to remain here. If we remain here, we should endeavour to get on with some of the business which our constituentshave elected us to perform. The debate has now continued for nearly three weeks, and there is every justification for appealing to the Prime Minister, in the interests of the economy of the time of the House, to allow longer sittings.
– I do’ not wish to sound a discordant note, but this is one of the important debates of the Federal Parliament. A new set of circumstances has arisen ; there is now a new grouping of parties; and it is- just as well that matters should be set out clearly and fully once and for all. Furthermore, some Consideration should be shown to you, Mr. Speaker. You cannot be expected to sit here from 10 in the morning until 10 at night. Such a proposal would be perfectly unreasonable; I suggest that honorable. members should curtail their speeches to a reasonable length, and hand in their extracts to Hansard unread.
– I intend to support the suggestion that we should sit longer hours, whether by meeting earlier, or by sitting later.
– This is a sudden spasm.
– No ; I have always been in favour of that course. I believe that the only way in which to get through business is- to occasionally sit late. I have not occupied a great deal of the time of the House ; but I do not wish to take from other honorable members the right to speak as long as1 they choose. I think that every honorable member who feels it necessary to speak should be free to speak as long as he deems right: But the only way in which we can get through a considerable number of speeches is to occasionally sit late. We have been now three weeks discussing this motion ; but comparatively few speeches have been made. I do not complain of the length of them. The honorable- member for Wide Bay stated that the matter is one of great importance ; but while I admit that, I think that we should make an attempt to conclude the session by meeting earlier, or sitting later. In that way, we shall get through our work much more expeditiously, and. the country expects us’ to do that.
– I am positively amused at the farce which is now being played. This is the first time in the history of responsible government that an Opposition, having launched a motion of censure against a Ministrv, has complained of the time wasted in discussing it. During my fourteen years in Parliament, I have never seen anything to equal that. And these complaints come from honorable members who have taken four and five hours to deliver a speech. I think that they should be addressed in caucus to their fellow members, not to honorable members who oppose them, and to whom their remarks do not apply.’
– The honorable member knows that the caucus does not deal with these matters.
– I do not know anything about it.
– Then the honorable member should know, because he has had a good deal of experience.
– I have seenit stated in the newspapers that the honorable member for Darling prepared a pronunciamento, which it took him five hours to deliver, and- which has since been scattered all over Australia as the programme of his party.
– The honorable member does not believe what he reads in the papers ?
– Yes, I do, and I have never taken, the silly attitude of those who say that they’ do notread the newspapers, because I read them all. The complaint about waste of time cannot lie at the door of honorable members on this side of the House. If there has been any waste of time, the fault lies with honorable members, opposite.
-There has been no complaint of waste of time.
– Then what is the complaint?
– We wish to expedite business.
– What business ? The business of going to the country?
– Well, I do not ; and very few other honorable members do. It is the last thing that they desire.
– The honorable member should speak for himself.
-I am speaking for the honorable member, top; and he knows it.
– I know nothing of the kind.
– No one knows better than the honorable member that I am echoing his sentiments to the very letter. I hope that the suggestion that Mr. Speaker should take the chair at half-past 10 a.m. will not be agreed to, and that there will be no attempt to sit all night. I speak feelingly on this subject, because I believe that I have taken years off my life by attending the all-night sittings which “were so common in the New South Wales Parliament. If the honorable member for Boothby once had a dose of that kind of procedure, he would be the last one in the world to suggest it again.
– I have had several dosesof it.
– I would deliberately give my vote against a Government which adopted the practice of sitting all night in order to get through legislation. It is the way not to do things. The effect of all-night sittings is to destroy the health of those who attend them, and to demoralize and degrade all parliamentary institutions, while they do not expedite business. I speak on the subject out of a full knowledge. There is a way to remedy matters, and it is in the hands of honorable members. We do not want any one to compel us to lake it; we can take it for ourselves.
– The honorable member does not curtail his speeches very much.
– My speech on the motion of want of confidence lasted for an hour and a quarter. I believe that was the longest speech I ever delivered. I hope that the honorable member for Gwydir will not delay the House any longer than I did. He ought not to do so, for very shame’s sake, after the long speeches to which we have listened from the honorable member for Darling, the honorable member for Canobolas, and the honorable member for Melbourne. I would suggest that we . should try to shorten the debate in the only legitimate way that can be adopted in a free Parliament, namely, by limiting our speeches to a reasonable length.
– The honorable member for Parramatta has lately developed an objection to all-night sittings. He says that they have a tendency to demoralize and degrade Parliament, and to inflict a number of injuries upon the country.
– Does the honorable member say that they have not that tendency ?
– All I can say is. that I supported a Government, of which the honorable member was a componentpart, for five years, during which we had one weary succession of all-night sittings. Tha honorable member did not then protest against the demoralization of Parliament by means of all-night sittings. I do not agree with the idea of meeting at half-past ten in the morning. I think that an effort might be made without taking away from the liberty of’ any honorable member to address himself to the important question now before the House, to shorten the debate- in a reasonable way, and I shall be glad to endeavour to persuade honorable members on this side of the House to bring the debate to an early close. I think it is desirable in the interests of all parties that we ‘should do so.
– The honorable member for Gwydir ought to have known, that his suggestion was impracticable. A proposal for such an alteration in our time of sitting, must be preceded by due notice to the House, and the suggestion was made at a time when it was impossible to carry it out. In connexion with debates involving the position of the Government, the Ministry cannot act as it is often in a position to do when other matters of public business are being discussed, and bring pressure to bear on the House to shorten discussion. We have to allow every honorable member - and properly so. too- the fullest opportunity to express his opinions upon our administration. Both the leader of the Opposition and myself are anxious to do what we can to shorten the debate, and we had a consultation this morning to see if we could possibly bring it to a close this week. Knowing, however, that a large number of honorable, members desired to address the House, and claimed the same right that had been conceded to -others, we came to the. conclusion that it would be impossible to close the debate this week; but we both hope that avote will be taken on Tuesday next, or on Wednesday at the latest. ‘We are anxious that there shall be no surprise in connexion with the division, but that all. honorable members shall be acquainted with the time at which they will be called upon to record their votes. Those honorable ‘members who have made . long speeches must concede the same right to other honorable members who have not yet spoken, and if the Government were to attempt to curtail debate, they would be exposing themselves to the imputation of attempting to stifle discussion.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 11.17p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 5 October 1904, viewed 6 July 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1904/19041005_reps_2_22/>.