2nd Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Motion (by Mr. Reid) agreed’ to -
That the consideration of the first’ Order of the Day be postponed until tomorrow.
Debate resumed from 5th October (vide page 5286), on motion by Mr. Watson -
That the present Administration does not possess the confidence of this House.
– Just prior to the adjournment last night, when referring to the excellent speech delivered by the honorable member for Perth in the course of this debate, I said that, although he is utterly opposed to the alliance which has been entered into between the members of- the Labour Party and a few protectionists who sit in the Opposition corner, he is yet, in obedience to the caucus, in duty bound to vote for the motion. Since making that statement I have found that I was in error, because the honorable member for Bland has explained to me that the motion of- want of confidence is not one of the planks of. the labour platform, and, consequently, the honorable member for Perth, and any other member of the Labour Party, is at liberty to Vote upon it as he may choose. As I have no desire to do an injury to any ‘member of the Labour Party, I withdraw the remarks to which I have referred. Although we may differ : in our political opinions, we have the highest esteem and regard for the members of the Labour Party individually. We are certainly opposed to their policy of compulsory and restrictive legislation. I wish, however, to say a few words about a speech delivered the other day by the honorable member for Brisbane, whom I am glad to see present. He was good enough to say what he had to say about me while I was here, and I should be sorry to say anything against him in his absence. Later on, I shall make a personal explanation in regard to something which he said. The other day he made a most extraordinary speech. In giving the financial history of Queensland, he dealt with millions of pounds as though they were merely so many pence, and depreciated the public men of the State apparently to his entire satisfaction, though no other member,I venture to say, had the slightest idea of what he was driving at. He is only a recent convert to the Labour Party.
– How does the honorable member know that?
– I have lived in Queensland longer than any other representative of the State in the House.
-i challenge that statement.
– I have lived in Queensland for over thirty-six years.
– That is a mere nothing.
– During the whole Of that time, except for visits to the land of my fathers, and to other parts of the world, I have resided in Brisbane, so that I consider myself a pretty good authority on what has been going on in Queensland, and particularly in Brisbane, during the last thirtv years. I say that the honorable member for Brisbane is only a recent convert to the Labour Party, because, until two or three years ago, there was nothing in common between Dr. Culpin and the working man.
– What nonsense.
– Like many new converts, he is just now full of enthusiasm, very indiscreet, and inclined to make most unreliable statements. He joined the Labour Party, not because he was in sympathy with its claims and aspirations, but because he thought that that was the best way of getting into Parliament.
– The Standing Orders expressly prohibit the imputation of unworthy motives such as the honorable member has imputed to the honorable member for Brisbane.
– I apologize, and withdraw what I have said. At any rate, he signed the labour pledge, and bound himself to follow his leader blindly if he were elected. The greatest objection that we on this side of the House have to the Labour Party is that its members are bound hand and foot. We do not care about giving up our political liberties, and therefore will not sign any pledge.
– Some honorable members will have to give up their political liberties in a few weeks.
– There is an old saying to the effect that every man has a soft spot somewhere.
– Generally in the head.
– I do not desire the honorable member to assist me in delivering my speech. I think that in the case of the honorable member for Brisbane, the soft spot will be found in the upper regions. The weakness from which he suffers is an impression that he is an authority on financial and banking matters. He has dealt with immense figures, and in his maiden speech in this House he discussed the financial affairs, of not only Queensland, but the Commonwealth.
– I desire to know if the honorable member is in order in referring to me as he has done ?
– What the honorable member was saying at the moment was not out of order. I do wish, however, that honorable members’ would make a stronger effort, if that were possible, to uphold the dignitv of debate in this House.
– I do not wish to transgress in any way, and I shall curtail my remarks as much as possible. As I say, the honorable member for Brisbane labours under the impression that he is. an authority on financial and banking matters. Queensland is fortunate in having even one representative in this House who can claim to be an authority on such subjects.
– The honorable member’s supporters bolstered up the most rotten institution in Australia and it took us a long time to expose it.
– I would point out that in this Parliament we have no epidemic of financial troubles for which the honorable member for Brisbane need prescribe. If the honorable member is not more reliable in matters of physic than he is in banking and financial matters, may the Lord have pity on his patients. The honorable member made a very free use of the names of other honorable members. He appeared -to have a very serious grievance, and he made reference to a visit which was recently paid bv a member of the Legislative Council of Queensland to Victoria. He said -
The honorable and learned member for Ballarat has been making “ copy “ for the newspapers. One of the remnants of that continuous Government who has been pensioned off in the nominee Chamber in Queensland, was in Victoria, and interviewed the honorable and learned member, as thus reported : -
Speaking with Mr. Deakin, the Queensland visitor was able to show very plainly what the effect has been in Queensland of the Act abolishing Polynesian labour. . . . Mr. Deakin’s reply was - “ See the kind of men Queensland has sent to represent it.”
I desire to point out that if Mr. Deakin made use of those words they could not apply to any honorable members of the present Parliament, but could only refer to the members who were returned to the first Parliament, and who sat here at the time that the Pacific Island Labourers’ Bill was before the House. Mr. Deakin sent the following telegram to the Brisbane Courier : -
My remarks to Mr. Annear, reported in your paper of 17th, followed, and related to his statement that Queensland now regretted exclusion of kanaka, labour, and had no relevance unless that is understood.
This shows that the honorable member for Brisbane had nothing to complain of with regard to the statements supposed to be made by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat.
– Another manufactured grievance.
– It is nothing of the sort; it is absolutely true.
– The statement made by Mr. Deakin had reference to the fact that Queensland returned to this House a majority of representatives pledged to abolish kanaka labour as speedily as possible.
– He did not use the words in that sense.
– Mr. Deakin denies absolutely that he made any such statement.
– My contention is that the statement did not in any way refer to the representatives of Queensland in this Parliament. The honorable member for Brisbane went on to say -
There is another contribution from this gentleman, to which he attaches no name - a statement which could only have been made by a vile cur, and it is a pity it was published. I intend to read the statement and also the names the writer mentions in the paragraph, and if there are any of those honorable -members present, I hope they will repudiate having had anything to do with the matter. I say that this paragraph was communicated by a vile cur -
That appears to be a favourite expression of the honorable member - if the communication was made to Mr. Annear, who is reported to have said - “ The Queensland representatives, with one or two exceptions, seemed to have but little influence in the House. Prominent legislators had remarked to Mr. Annear - “
The prominent legislators mentioned in the paragraph are Mr. Richard Edwards, Mr. George Reid, Mr. Deakin, and Sir John Forrest. I now give the paragraph referred to - “ Prominent legislators had remarked to Mr. Annear - ‘ Surely a city like Brisbane could have sent a representative whom we might really take seriously.’ “
I desire to ask the honorable member whether he implies that if Mr. Richard Edwards, Mr. George Reid, or Sir John Forrest made such a remark he is a vile cur.
– Certainly I do, if either of them made such a statement.
– I have nothing to do with what other honorable members may have said, but I deny that I made any such remark. In conclusion, I would urge upon honorable members that after having wasted so much time we should now employ ourselves to better purpose. Mr. Bamford. - We all say that.
– We should endeavour to pass useful legislation for the benefit of the community as a whole, and to do something that will tend to bind together these great States of Australia in a bond of common sympathy and common freedom - freedom of thought, freedom of speech, and freedom of trade and commerce throughout the continent.
– I recognise that at this stage of the debate very little that is fresh can be said, and I should not have risen had it not been for a statement made by the honorable and learned member for Wannon. I must admit that I am rather surprised at the great concern which is being displayed by the Government and their followers with respect to the alliance entered into between the Labour Party and those honorable members who sit in the Opposition corner. If any proof were needed that the alliance is justified, and that it is the best that can be done under the circumstances in the interests of democracy, it is afforded by the hostility that honorable members opposite are exhibiting towards it. The honorable member for Larig, who spoke early in the debate, adopted the alliance programme as his text, and every honorable member on the Government side who has since spoken has, to a greater or lesser degree, followed his example. They have adopted exactly the same attitude that they assumed when the Conciliation and ‘ Arbitration Bill was under discussion. They claim to be the true champions and representatives of the working classes. This afternoon the honorable member for Oxley declared that he failed to see how a doctor could represent the workers, quite oblivious of the fact that there are more doctors upon the other side of the House than there are upon this. Last night he stated that the workers should exhibit the self-reliant spirit which characterized them thirty or forty years ago. If his remark had reference to the farmers of Victoria, who are continually approaching the Government with requests for assistance, I quite agree with him. In my opinion, the workers in the cities should not be slower in appealing to the Government for aid than are those in the country. At a later stage I may have something further to say upon this aspect of the matter. I was pleased to hear the apology offered By the honorable member for Oxley for the statement which he made last evening to the effect that every member of the Labour Party is absolutely bound to vote upon a. no-confidence motion as he is directed by the caucus. When the accuracy of that statement was denied, I regret to say that the Prime Minister interjected, “ Oh, they must have altered their rules lately.” Surely the right honorable gentleman is aware that when he submitted a want of confidence motion in the Barton Administration he received the support of no less than six members of the Labour Party.
– But this motion was submitted by tHe honorable member’s leader. The case is therefore somewhat different.
– It is absolutely the same. Every member of the Labour Party has perfect liberty to’ vote as he chooses upon this question. I am satisfied that when the opportunity presents itself, the electors of the Commonwealth will express their opinions of the action of some honorable members who are sitting behind the Government in disregarding a decision which was’ arrived at in caucus, to the effect that it was inadvisable to enter into any coalition.
– They will get that opportunity in about two years’ time.
– I hope that they will get it at a much earlier date. In this connexion I desire to quote from the Age, and I think I may do so without any prejudice, because that journal has never given me a line of support. The Age of the 16th August contains the following : -
At the last caucus of the protectionist body, held on the 19th May, that party distinctly declined to accept any coalition, and carried the following resolution : - “ That this party is not prepared to consider proposals for a coalition except on the condition that the Prime Ministership of any coalition be accorded to the present leader of this party.”
Has effect been given to that resolution?
– If effect had been given to it, would the protectionist members have supported the present Prime Minister?
– I am not a member of the caucus, and I am no more in a position to answer that question than is the honorable member.
– It .would be just as well to know that.
– As the honorable member is comparatively a “new chum “ in the House, perhaps he is not aware of the fact that I am a member of the Labour Party, and consequently imagines that I have access to another caucus. The Age article continues -
Nothing that has since taken place has modified that situation. The resolution stands. The need for protectionist cohesion has ‘not been weakened by the lapse of time; the contrary is the case. If one single protectionist joins in a Reid coalition, he breaks the strength of his party, while he leaves the free-trade section intact.
When we consider that there are three members of the Government who to a large extent owe their political existence to the fact that they have been continually written up by the Age-
– Does the honorable member suggest that the Age has habitually written me up?
– I will show that it has written the Minister of Defence down since his recent action in associating himself with free-traders.
– It has never made a pet of me.
– Very likely. I believe that the whole of the Victorian representatives in this House, with the exception of the Conservative five, were upon the Age ticket at the last general election. That organ supported their candidature. Yet, despite the fact that some of these honorable members were returned pledged to a definite platform, they have absolutely broken away from their party, and are now doing their best to disintegrate it. That is a matter upon which the electors will pronounce judgment. Upon previous occasions I have heard certain honorable ‘members denounce Victoria as the home of blacklegs, and of men who have no principle. I am inclined to think that they are now in a position to quote some very good examples in that connexion - those honorable members who have broken away from their election pledges. Having agreed to a certain resolution in caucus, they afterwards desired to dragoon the minority into submission, and. finding that that was impossible, without holding any further meeting, they declared “ We will leave the minority and support, a man whom we regard as a menace to the Commonwealth.”
– Does not the honorable member believe in majority rule?
– I do. ‘But the honorable member does not represent a majority of his constituents.
– That can be said of a good many honorable members.
– There are eight honorable members upon the other side of the House who do not represent a majority of their constituents, and five upon this side. The honorable member for Corangamite polled only 4,600 votes, and there were 81488 votes recorded against him.
– How many did Mr. Wynne poll ?
– I have not the remotest idea, but it does not follow that every elector who voted for Mr. Wynne would have supported the honorable member.
– Why not agree to a second ballot, and thus solve the difficulty ?
– I am quite prepared to support a proposal of that character, and I am satisfied that the Labour Party would not lose anything by its adoption. The eight honorable members upon the other side of the House who represent minorities polled 33,100 votes, whereas 52,000 votes were recorded against them. They are thus in a minority of 18,900 votes.
– Tell us about the honorable member for Melbourne South.
– I shall deal with those honorable members who represent minorities and who sit upon this side of the chamber in a few moments. If the honorable member for Wannon desired to refer to the case of the honorable member for. Melbourne South he had ample opportunity to do so in the two long speeches which he has recently delivered. He himself polled only 5,300 votes, and there were 6,900 votes recorded against him.
– How many did Mr. Hogan poll?
– I have not the slightest idea.
– Did the honorable membei nottake a note?
– I think it is the honorable and learned member for Wannon “who will have totake a note as to how Mr. Hogan polled, and as to how many votes he is likelv to obtain at the next election. Five minority members on this side had 38,000 votes polled in their favour, and 45.000 against, so that they are only in a minority of some 6,000, as compared with a minority of 18,000 showin on the other side. That proves to me that honorable members on this side are no more in a minority than are honorable members on the other side, and’ I think it will be admitted that we have the best of the argument so far as representation of minorities is concerned. One or two honorable members on this side happened to be in a minority of 100 or 200, though the honorable member for Southern Melbourne was in a minority of 900. To return to the thread of my argument, from which I was drawn by an interjection by the honorable member for Corangamite, I should like to read the following extract from the Melbourne Age of the 17 th August, in reference to the Liberal Protectionist’ Party who have broken away : -
It seems pretty certain that Sir George Turner has agreed to become one of a FreetradeProtectionist Coalition. This’ is in defiance of a decision arrived at by the whole party in caucus in May last, and is consequently a direct and unauthorized flouting of the Protectionist party’s deliberate resolve. Such an act as that, taken at the. invitation of the free-trade leader, and contrary to the will of his own party, cuts Sir George Turner off from his natural allies. It would have been in the power of the Protectionist party, elected as it was on a distinct fiscal issue, for what might seem good reasons, to order a Coalition with the free-traders. In that case, Sir George Turner, as a protectionist, would have been free to do . as he is reported to have done - join Mr. Reid in an agreement to sink the fiscal issue. But, as we have shown, that Coalition is the very thing which the Protectionist party, sitting and voting together, has refused to assent to. And in these circumstances for Sir George Turner to have assisted in bringing about such a Coalition is an act of party repudiation which places him outside the organization.
Further on the Age says : -
It is conceivable that the protectionists who have taken the . extreme step of cutting themselves off from their party colleagues have stipulated that these election pledges in favour of preferential trade and the Bonus Bill shall be given effeGt to.
My opinion is that there is as much chance of getting an Iron Bonus Bill and preferential trade from the Prime Minister as there is of the Minister of Trade and Customs persuading the right honorable gentleman to put on a stock tax.
– Is there any hope from the other side of a Bonus Bill ?
– So far as I am concerned I am prepared to take up the same attitude that I did on the previous occasion, an attitude which I believe was supported by a fair majority of my constituents. I have not to answer to any one but my constituents. I have not broken away from my pledges, and I am now only dealing with those honorable members who have done so.
– Does the honorable member say that there is no hope of a Bonus Bill from the other side?
– At present I am quoting what the Age says. I believe there is no possible chance of getting from the present Government an Iron Bonus Bill which would’ be acceptable to the workers in this particular industry ; that is my own private Opinion.
– Nor from the other side.
– That is the opinion of the honorable member for Corangamite.
– And that opinion is supported and proved by the speeches which have been delivered.
– The article in the Age proceeds -
The electors, who are quick to note and mark crooked courses, will not be slow to understand the meaning of any such course as this. We have no fear that any large section of them will consent to play this ignoble part. Office may be sweet. It is a temptation at all times under our accursed Party system. It is ever luring away weak and venal men from their allegiance to principle. But when office is accepted on the condition of openly violating sacred pledges given to the people, it falls as a blight upon its possessor. Mr. McCay has once before known the weight of an outraged public opinion. He was once decisively rejected for what his constituents interpreted as party perfidy. If he has sold his protectionist loyalty for the sake of office with Mr Reid, the time for reckoning is both sure and near.
-“ If “ !
– “ If “ - that is for the constituents of the honorable and learned member, and not for me, to say.
– Hear, hear !
– The Age article goes on -
Strange things happen in times of political crisis ; but it is not often that we see in modern Parliaments any dramatic exhibition of fiscal renegadism.
In another leading article the Age deals with the matter in the same way, showing how honorable members have broken away from their pledges to their constituents. I do not desire to read the other extract, because it goes over practically the same ground, pointing out that those persons who, having promised that they were going to support preferential trade and an Iron Bonus Bill in addition to fiscal peace, broke away, and are at the present time betraying their constituents by joining a Government who have absolutely no intention of bringing forward chose measures. The Minister of Trade and Customs, when’ dealing with the subject of the caucus of the Labour Party at Ballarat, stated that if there were a meeting of 25, and 13 voted on one side, and 12 on the other, the minority would be compelled to sink their opinions and vote with the majority.
– And that was after the Minister of Trade and Customs had been told in the House that we did nothing of the kind.
– It has been proved a dozen times since that what I stated is absolutely true.
– If the Minister is relying on the pledge he previously read, it is a pledge quoted from the Melbourne Argus.
– Had the Minister a correct copy, or did he take the pledge from a leading article in the Argus? I know that the honorable gentleman had a copy which was taken from that newspaper.
– I did not take the copy of the pledge from any newspaper.
– Then is was probably a copy supplied by some industrious supporter of the Government.
– I got the copy from an authoritative quarter.
– If the pledge on which the Minister relies is the one he quoted in the House, it is not correct.
– Is it correct that on matters affecting the platform the Labour Party must vote with the majority?
– On matters affecting the platform, certainly.
– That has a very wide application.
– That is the platform to which we pledge ourselves before our constituents. That is what honorable members on the other side do not do; they evidently pledge themselves, and break away afterwards. We pledge ourselves, on all questions affecting the platform, to vote as the majority may decide; and that, in my opinion, is absolutely fair and right. I would not support any pledge less binding. If we are to. judge by the way our party is growing in the various States, the electors of Australia are quite satisfied with the way in which we are working, and that our pledge and caucus meetings are approved of by an increasing number of electors. While our party is growing with every succeeding election, that cannot be said for any other party in the Commonwealth. So called “ reform “ or other movements may run a little while in New South Wales or Victoria, but the people get tired of them, and, finding that the movements are largely bogus, they vote for the Labour Party. The people of Australia are quite satisfied with our pledge. When we find conservatives objecting to our platform and expressing great regret that the Labour Party have seen fit to join with some other party, the question arises whether the action of the Labour Party is right or wrong; and I, for one, believe it to be right. In that opinion I am backed up by every honorable member on this side of the House. If honorable members opposite thought that the Labour Party were talcing a wrong action - that they were doing anything to weaken their position before the electors - they would be delighted, and tell us we were doing a wise thing. When, however, honorable members opposite express regret at our action, it is pretty nearly proof positive that we are on the right track.
– Is that why the Labour Leagues denounce the alliance?
– While certain labour leagues denounce, other labour leagues approve of the alliance.
– The central executive denounce the alliance.
– They do no such thing. What they do say is, that they do not indorse the alliance, and will not be bound by it. If the honorable member for Corangamite read’s the only labour paper in Victoria, the Tocsin, he will see that on this question opinion is divided, as opinion will be divided on almost any political question. In a body constituted as is the Labour Party of meo who are not hide-bound conservatives, like the majority on the other side, there is undoubtedly room for differences of opinion. Honorable members opposite state that labour members represent only trade unionists. It is not so long ago since we had the’ Tariff under discussion in the Chamber, and I can remember that honorable members opposite, and particularly the honorable and learned member for Werriwa, insisted that those of us who advocated protectionist duties were representatives not of the workers, but of the employers. The honorable member for Laanecoorie, who refers to me as the representative of a class, is prepared to admit that although a member of the Labour
Party, I was one of the best supporters that the Government had when the Tariff was before the House. Members of the Labour Party represent not merely trade unionists, but all workers throughout the Commonwealth, and are ready to do what they can to remedy any wrongs from which they may suffer . The Trades’ Hall Council, on many occasions, has had applications from country workers asking us to remedy the sweating conditions from which they suffered, and we have endeavoured on all occasions to do our utmost for them, without inquiring whether they belonged to a union or not. Yet honorable members opposite say that we represent only trade unionists. Will they tell me that there are over 7,000 trade unionists in my electorate? They cannot do so, and yet I received over 7,000 male votes at the last election. Thousands of men who cannot join unions are supporting the Labour Party to-day, and that accounts for the objection which honorable members opposite have to the growth of our party. The workers of the Commonwealth are beginning to realize that the Labour Party represent all workers, whether they belong to a union or not. I believe it would be possible, in some cases, for men and wpmen to belong to unions.
– Members of the Labour Party call them “ scabs, “ and “ blacklegs,” only to chasten them, I suppose?
– I have no doubt that the honorable member for Wentworth would call them “ free labourers,” or “ loyalists,” as the men were called who, during the railway strike in Victoria, showed that they were prepared to take the bread and butter out of other men’s mouths. It was by those terms also that the men who did the same kind of thing during the late struggle that occurred in Gippsland were called. The honorable member for Flinders, referring to the Gippsland strike, said that the members of the Miners’ Union had been demanding increased wages until the employers found it impossible to pay anything more. If the honorable member knew anything about the case, he would know that on the last occasion of difference, the employers endeavoured to reduce the wages of the men by twenty-five per cent., and because the men objected to that reduction, they struck. When we were discussing the question of preference to unionists, honorable members opposite said that employers are not vindictive, and that with them it makes no difference whether a man is a member of a union or not. Although I happen to work in a trade ir which practically all the workers who are eligible are unionists, and the employers can therefore make no distinction, I know that a great many employers in other industries do make such distinctions, and dismiss men who are unionists. I can mention a . case where the general secretary of a union left Victoria for another State, and his name was published in the leading columns of a newspaper in that State, with the announcement that an agitator had arrived, and warning employers to beware of giving this man work, because he would stir up trouble and strife. Many of us have gone through the mill, and know what it is to be out of work, and have been brought into close contact with the suffering brought about by strikes and locks-out. We are therefore most anxious that some means of settling industrial disputes should be resorted to other than the barbarous methods pursued by employers. Honorable members opposite object to the Labour Party on the ground that they have machine politics, and move as a machine. We are not the only persons who move as a machine, or who believe in machine politics. It has been the custom to denounce every worker who rises from the ranks and holds any official position in a worker’s organization as an “ agitator.”
– A “paid agitator.”
– If he happens to hold an official secretaryship for which he is paid, he is of course referred to as a “paid agitator.” Honorable members opposite have from time to time referred to Tom Mann as a “paid agitator.” Mr. Tom Mann is at present doing very good work in showing the workers that they should pay attention to politics as well as to trades unionism. What have the other side done in this connexion ? They have at the present time some ten or a dozen agitators going round the country - Sievwright, Walpole, Douglas and others.
– Is Sievwright the man who was in Court lately for not keeping his father?
– I see that another organizing secretary has been appointed to rope in the farmers, and to tell them how disastrous it will be if the Labour Party obtain any more power in this country. We have been told that Tom Mann is preaching doctrines which are very injurious to the interests of the community. I made the statement some eighteen months ago in this House that Mr. Walpole had said at Lilydale1 that marriage was a luxury for the workers.
– Who is Walpole?
– He is the paid agitator of the Victorian Employers’ Federation. I placed on record then what he said at Lilydale. Mr. Palamountain, writing recently in the Launceston Examiner, referred to the fact that Mr. Walpole had made these statements at Lilydale. It would’ appear that the editor of the Examiner sent a copy of the newspaper containing Mr. Palamountain’s letter to Mr. Walpole, and I have here extracts from the Examiner of the 20th of September, in which Mr. Walpole deals with the matter. I propose to read first his denial, then his statement, and then a letter which I have from the man who took the report of Mr. Walpole’s speech at Lilydale, and which he says has never been contradicted in that place. I went there myself last week to find, out whether it had been denied, and found that it had not. Mr. Walpole, in his letter to the editor of the Examiner, says -
Let me now say that for some two years past the gutter press of Australia has industriously circulated a lie about myself. Lately that lie has grown bigger and bolder, and has even been repeated in the Federal Parliament by members who take their “facts” from the section of the press referred to. I have not thought it worth while to pay the least attention to falsehoods emanating from such a source, and which have hitherto not been noticed in the respectable press. But now that you, sir, and quite rightly under the circumstances, give publicity tothe charge as repeated by Mr. Palamountain, I take the opportunity of nailing the lie to the counter on the authority of gentlemen whose names are given, and whose honour cannot be questioned. . . . But the lie which Mr. Palamountain seems to have so much faith in was based entirely upon a malignant misrepresentation of replies I gave to some questions asked me at the close of a lecture I delivered at Lilydale on 12th April, 1902.
He then gives three letters, one from Mr. M. C. G. Hutton, stating that he has gone to the trouble to secure a refutation of the statement; another from the Rev. R. G. Burke, who proposed a vote of thanks to Mr. Walpole, and who says -
There was nothing said antagonistic to fair play or Christian morality. Had I thought so, I should have protested with no uncertain sound.
It is evident, from the correspondence, that Mr. Walpole submitted three questions to which he sought replies,I give only the third as being important -
This is a deduction from absolutely imaginary premises. Nothing in the lecture could justify such a conclusion. - (Signed) Richard George
Burke, LL.B. (Clergyman).
Mr. Walpole says
When Mr. Palamountain compares the above letters with the statements he has collected from the gutter press, I am sure he will do me the justice of acquitting. me of the slanderous charges which have been made against me.
– Why cannot the honorable member believe Mr. Walpole?
– I will tell the right honorable member for Swan why I cannot believe him, if he will wait a little while. I do not think that honorable members generally will believe his statement after they have heard what I have to s’ay. Mr. Morey, who seconded the vote of thanks, wrote as follows : -
I was present at a lecture delivered by Mr: Walpole at the Red House, 12th April, 1902, and remember asking, at its conclusion, the question - “ Did the lecturer expect a man and his family to live on the amount which he had referred to as a living wage?” Although his reply, in some respects, was not as satisfactory as t desired, I am quite certain it contained nothing whatever out of harmony with Christian morality or fair play, and ‘ I am astonished to find that any one could draw the conclusions which I hear have been drawn from the words comprising his answer to my question.
They are the denials. Now for the newspaper itself.
Sir- John Forrest. - What newspaper?
– It is the Lilydale Express.
– Why should the honorable member refuse to take the word of Mr. Walpole and the other two gentlemen ? Why should he go to the newspaper ?
– Mr. Walpole’s statement was made at Lilydale, but the denials - or, rather, the alleged denials - appear in Launceston.
– Would the honorable member father all the statements made by Socialists?
– These are really not denials, as honorable members can see. I desire to enter into this matter in order that we may understand ‘ what we have to expect if persons holding Mr. Walpole’s opinions are able to impose their views upon the country. To use an illustration given by the Prime Minister, we do not object to a young tiger, except that we know that when it grows up it will be dangerous. We do not object to kind-hearted gentlemen like honorable members opposite; but when the paid agitator of their party goes about preaching these doctrines, we call attention to what that party is prepared to do if it gets the opportunity. No doubt Mr. Walpole said these things in an unguarded moment. As was the case with the honor able member for Oxley this afternoon, they “ slipped out.” I have read the alleged denials; I will now read the original statement.
– Is Mr. Walpole a member of the Political Labour League?
– If Mr. Walpole were to join our league we should take care that he did not go about the country making statements of this kind, or we should turn him out. Mr. Walpole states that the report is quoted from the “ gutter press.” In the first place it has to be remarked that Mr. Walpole had advertised his lecture in the previous issue of the newspaper - The Lilydale Express. Consequently, according to his own statement, he advertised in the - “ gutter press.” In the second place, he sent up nearly two columns of his lecture in the form of stereotype to the Lilydale Express. Of course he had gone over the text of the lecture carefully time after time to see that nothing crept into it that should not be there.
– He does the same with regard to his lecture on the Factories Act.
– I believe this is the same stereotype.
– It must be nearly worn out by this time.
– I may mention that on another occasion Mr. Walpole went down to Werribee to deliver an address, but unfortunately the meeting was not prepared to believe what he stated as facts. Many questions were asked, and the .meeting got out of his hands. Nevertheless the report of the lecture came out just the same, because the stereotype had been sent to the local newspaper, and it contained many things which did not actually take place at the meeting. At the Lilydale meeting the chairman was Mr. A. B. Taylor, President of the Shire. At the conclusion of the lecture he said -
Whatever their opinions might have been before hearing Mr. Walpole, no one could gainsay that there was not a great deal of truth in what they had listened to that afternoon. There was no doubt the time had arrived for employers and producers to form strong alliances to watch and protect their interests He had been greatly instructed by the address which had been so ably delivered by Mr. Walpole, and he would ask some gentleman to move a vote of thanks to the speaker. The Rev. R. G. Bourke would do so with very great pleasure, as he was quite in accord with the doctrine expounded by the lecturer. Mr. B. Morey, in seconding the motion, was somewhat puzzled as to how a. married man could exist on the amount stipulated by Mr. Walpole as .1 “ living wage.” The motion was carried with acclamation.
Mr. Walpole, in replying , bear in mind that this is not his lecture, but his reply - expressed his thanks for the cordiai reception he had met with at the hands of the meeting. What was lost in numbers was made up by the appreciation and intelligence of his listeners.
Honorable members have evidently heard that phrase before. Touching the matter of the living wage, Mr. Walpole said -
Marriage was a luxury, and so were “ long sleevers,” attending theatres, &c, and it was not fair to compel employers to pay for such things.
That was Mr. Walpole’s reply.
– He meant the “ long sleevers.”
– The right honorable member for Swan has asked why I do not accept Mr. Walpole’s denial. I will explain. I went up to Lilydale last week.
– I think, the honorable member ought to accept it.
– I think that the right honorable member will agree with me when I have read the letters which I intend to quote. Indeed, I have not the slightest doubt about it. I went to the. office of the Lilydale Express, and I asked whether the report had ever been denied in Lilydale. The reply was, “No.”
– To whom did the honorable member go?
– To a man who was working on the paper. The man who’ seconded the vote of thanks, Mr. Morey, has a two column advertisement in the Express. I asked the proprietor of the paper whether he was present at the lecture. He said, “ Certainly.” I said, “ Has the report ever been denied?” He replied, “ Never in Lilydale.” I then wrote to him the following letter : - 29th September, 1904.
Thomas Oliver, Esq.,
Proprietor Lilydale Express.
Dear Sir, - I have seen a copy of your paper of 18th April, 1902, which contains an account of Mr. Walpole’s address at Lilydale on the Shops and Factories Act. I am anxious to know if the accuracy of the report has ever been questioned by any one who was present at the meeting. 1 do not refer to the stereotyped portion, but the latter portion of the report, including Mr. Walpole’s reply to the vote of thanks. Kindly inform me if your report of his reply can be relied on as correct. Awaiting a reply at your earliest convenience, - I remain, &c,
Frank G. Tudor.
– Did the honorable member ever know a newspaper to acknowledge that its reDort was incorrect?
– I received the following reply from Mr. Oliver, the gentleman who wrote the report. He is the proprietor of the newspaper, and, I believe, was his own reporter at Mr. Walpole’s meeting.
Dear Sir, - Re Mr. Walpole’s address at Lilydale on the Shops and Factories ‘Act. The accuracy of the report has never been questioned, and that portion of the report including Mr. Walpole’s reply to the vote of thanks is thoroughly reliable. - I am, yours faithfully, Thomas Oliver.
– Does the honorable member think that that is sufficient?
– Certainly. I would sooner accept the statement of the man who reported the speech, and of those present at the meeting, than a contradiction made at Launceston, 200 or 300 miles away, a considerable time afterwards. Why was this contradiction not made at Lilydale, or in Melbourne? If it is made in Melbourne, I shall publish these letters alongside of it, or in the next issue of the newspaper.
– In any case, what has the matter to do with us?
– This is the man on whom honorable gentlemen opposite depend.
– Certainly. The Victorian Employers’ Federation is; the chief backer of the Ministry in this State.
– And throughout Australia.
– Yes; that body and its allies in the other States. Speaking on the Address-in-Reply., the Prime Minister stated that he had a whole-souled contempt for those who had banded together in Queensland, and had subscribed , ?10,000, to defeat labour candidates. But when speaking to the Employers’, Producers’, and Farmers’ Federation, six months later, his remarks were something quite different. I admit that he is a lightning-change artist, and that in six months he could make, and has made, many changes. He has now gathered into his party many of those whom he previously denounced. Speaking quite recently at the meeting to which I refer, he is reported to have said -
The Labour Party had turned him out because he had got too slow for them after he had got what he wanted. Then the” found Sir William Lyne, and in twelve months they had got more out of him (Sir William Lyne) than they would have got out of the speaker in 200 years.
That is the Age report. The Argus report reads as follows’: -
Then they got hold of Sir William Lyne, and in about twelve months they got more out of him than they would have got out of me in about 200 years.
The reports of the Sydney Morning Herald and the Sydney Daily Telegraph contain exactly the same statement.
– The Prime Minister has denied the accuracy of those reports.
– I have not heard any denial. At any rate, he can make a personal explanation, and show that I am wrong: when he does so I am quite prepared to withdraw.
– What he claims to have said is that the honorable member for Hume was squeezed more.
– What could the Labour Party squeeze out of him except, legislation or better administration? Accepting the statement which the honorable and learned member made, it would, on his own showing, take thirty -three years to pass each of the following measures : - An Old-Age Pensions Act, an Arbitration Act, an Early Closing Act, an Adult Suffrage Act. and a Miners’ Relief Act.
– The late Sir Henry Parkes was the first to propose adult suffrage.
– Then why did not the Prime Minister carry it into law during the five years that he . was in power ? It is said that we have been going too slowly in this debate;, but the speed at which the right honorable gentleman thinks it proper to go is the rate of .one Act to every thirtythree years.
– How long have the Labour Party been in favour of adult suffrage ?
– The honorable member was, I believe, the leader of that party before I entered public life. Perhaps he can inform me whether at that time they were, or were not, in favour of it ?
– Most of them were against it.
-That was perhaps due to . the honorable member’s influence. If honorable members opposite are to give us only one Act in thirty-six years, their taunt against the Labour Ministry, that they wanted another day’s pay, and were going too slow, did not come with a good grace from them.
– At any rate, that could not be spoken of as hasty legislation.
– No. Perhaps it would suit the honorable and learned member. The Prime Minister, when “the caucus was working for him, declared it to be all right ; but when it began to work for itself, he complained of it. He and many others approved of it so long as the workers were content to vote for candidates, who would support him; but when they chose- representatives out of the factories and workshops, and even from the doctors’ surgeries, the machine was quite a wrong institution.
– Is the honorable member speaking of a sausage machine?
– There is no doubt that it would make mince-meat of the honorable member’s stock tax. We know what his occupation is, and. that therefore his thoughts naturally run towards meat.
– He was prompted by the Postmaster-General.
– The thoughts of the PostmasterGeneral are said to run in the direction of vegetables. We have been blamed for attacking the Government for not putting the High Commissionership Bill on their programme for the present session. I belong to the party in Victoria which opposed the acceptance of the Federal Constitution because it was not democratic enough, and we believed that by waiting we could get a better one. But honorable members opposite, who advocated its acceptance, stated that it would result- in a saving to the States, because, instead of six Agents-General,, there would be one General Agent for the whole Commonwealth. Now, although the States are crying out for economy, and thousands of pounds could be saved by abolishing the offices of the Agents-General, the Government will not move in this matter until they have consulted the Governments of the States, and yet they said this Administration was going to establish responsible government. It has been said that the Watson Administration should not have resigned on the amendment which they declared to be a vital one. But no Government can hold office when the business of Parliament is taken out of its hands. We know- that honorable members opposite went about asking members to vote against the recommittal of clause 48. The honorable member for Barker stated that he was asked if he would oppose the recommittal, and he said “ No.”
– That was a fortnight before it was moved.
– I was whip to the Watson Ministry, and the whip of the Deakin party came to me one afternoon and stated that the right honorable member for Balaclava would pair in favour of the recommittal, because he had stated to the honorable member for Grey that he would not be a party to such tactics as pi eventing the reconsideration of a proposal. Apparently, however, someone communicated with him by telephone, and told him that the members of the then Opposition were adopting . those tactics to defeat the Government. Therefore, although he had said that he would not be a party to such tactics, he changed his mind, and voted against ‘ the recommittal. We have been told that if preference were given to unionists, the non-unionists could not obtain work. But preference is necessary to prevent unionists from being dismissed from their employment by emplovers. Many men have already suffered from belonging to trade organizations. The honorable and learned member for Bendigo has stated that the Victorian Factoiies Act has worked well, although it does not provide for preference to unionists; but does he not know that many of the representatives on the Wages Boards have been dismissed for so acting ? The honorable members for Bourke and Melbourne Ports have given many examples of such tyranny, and I myself know that when the representatives of the white workers were selected from each shop to try to frame a price list, one of them, although a skilled worker with whom no fault had ever been found, was dismissed the day after she attended the meeting. So much were her fellow workers incensed by this action of her employer, that, although they had no organization on which to rely for assistance) they left in a body. In the jam trade, I believe, every employé on the board who voted for the fixing of the minimum rate of wage at 30s. for males and 12s. for females was dismissed. The amendment of the honorable and learned member for Corinella provides that unionists shall not obtain preference unless a majority in the trade declare for it. That means that in the cabinet-making business the control of the industry is to be vested in Chinamen. The honorable and learned members for Corinella, Bendigo, and Ballarat, and the honorable member for Laanecoorie, wish to give control of that industry to the Gee Hing and Bo Leong, who caused the riots in Little Bourke-street last week. I wrote to the chief inspector of factories, who has supplied me with figures showing the number of employes engaged in the cabinet-making trade. I find that there are 590 Chinamen and only 188 Europeans employed. Therefore, the majority are Chinamen. These are the men to whom the Minister of Defence would hand over the controlling influence in connexion with the preference provisions of the Concilia tion and Arbitration Bill. Can the honorable and learned member deny that ?
– That is nonsense.
– What I state is absolutely true, with regard to the cabinetmaking trade. I was perfectly aware of the position.
– If the honorable member’s idea were adopted 188 Chinamen would be able to obtain a preference over 500 white men.
– Nothing of the kind. Even the Minister with his skilled legal mind cannot overcome the fact that, so far as his amendment is concerned, it would give the Chinamen in the cabinet-making rrade a preference over the European employes.
– I am surprised that the honorable member should’ say so, and more surprised that people with intelligence should cheer him.
– I am surprised that the Minister should attempt to wriggle out of the position in which he has placed himself. I have been very much astonished at some of the honorable and learned member’s actions, but his action in proposing an amendment which would give Chinamen an absolute preference over Europeans, has surprised me more than anything.
– Nonsense !
– The Minister wants to place us in the same position as South Africa.
– We were told by many honorable members on the Government side of the House, that they were anxious that the Bill should pass.
– They meant “ pass out.”
– Exactly. It is very strange that every honorable member who is opposed to the measure should have voted for the amendment of the Minister of Defence. They contended that there was no difference between the honorable and learned member’s amendment and that proposed by the leader of the Opposition. They knew full well, however, that the Minister’s amendment would cripple the Bill, and that was their sole reason for supporting it. Under the Victorian Factories Act only adults are qualified to vote at elections of representatives upon the Wages Board, but under the amendment adopted, at the instance of the Minister of Defence, it would be necessary for the Court to take cognisance of every operative employed in a particular trade in order to ascertain whether a majority wereinfavour of preference being granted. Ali the employes, whether under or over the age of twenty-one years would have to be reckoned.
– They might not even be employes.
– No; they need not even be employes in order to be included in the calculation. In the jam industry a large number of youths and girls are employed, and unless these children - they are little more in many cases - consented to the unionists obtaining preference, the Court would be powerless to grant that concession. This would have the effect of handing over to the employers the absolute control of the industry. In connexion with the election of representatives of the workers upon the Wages Boards, the employes have tried, time after time, to secure the return of nien or women who were favorable to them. They have brought all sorts of influences to bear. They would not however, even be required to do that under the amendment now embodiedin the Bill, because youths and girls would have the same voting power as would the adults engaged in the industry. In the dressmaking trade, for instance, wages are fixed for apprentices and improvers at from 2s. 6d. per week upwards, and a minimum wage is fixed for adults. Every one of the employes, irrespective of age, would have to be included in the calculation when the Court was ascertaining whether a majority of those engaged were in favour of a preference being granted. And yet we are asked why we intend to urge the unions not to register under the Bill. Why should we urge them to do so as long as it contains this obnoxious provision? In trades in which every person employed is qualified to become a member of a union, there will be no difficulty in securing the necessary majority, but in occupations in which large numbers of boys and girls are engaged, we ‘should be absolutely helpless.
– The honorable member is wrong again.
– On the contrary, I am absolutely right. There is nothing in the amendment, or in any other part of the Bill to indicate that only adults are to be recognised as operatives. The Court would be compelled to take cognizance of every worker in a particular industry, and those who applied for preference would have to secure a majority of all the hands engaged. I admire those honorable mem bers who declare themselves straight-out opponents of the measure. We know exactly how to fight them fairly and honestly. But our worst enemies are those who profess to be friends of the Bill, and yet fry to cripple it. Those honorable members, however, will be reckoned with at no very distant date. In order to show the extent to which boycotting exists, I desire to bring under the notice of honorable members the following report, published in the Melbourne Herald of 13th July-
One of the members of a deputation, which waited on the Premier this morning with a request that the Government should appoint inspectors to supervise scaffolding, asked that his name should not be published.
He made the request, he said, because he was afraid of losing his job. One of the witnesses, who spoke out clearly at the inquest into the Kensington accident, was discharged last Saturday. He asked the reason, and he was told that he was a dangerous man to have on a building, and that it was advisable to “sack” him. If his (the speaker’s) name appeared in the papers he would be put down as an agitator, or something like that, and he did not want to be boycotted, as he had a wife and five children. The man he referred to would have hard’ work to get a job from any of the big contractors. . .
These are the tactics resorted to by some employers. We are told that the honorable member for Wilmot intends to speak tonight, and that he will be able to settle the whole business in connexion- with this motion. That, however, remains to be seen. The honorable member for Franklin told us that there was no need for an Arbitration Bill in Tasmania, because the workers there were well treated. I have a letter from the secretary of the Workers’ Political Association in Hobart which speaks for itself. It reads as follows : -
Hobart, 5thJuly, 1904.
Taken all through wages are lower in all occupations in Tasmania than” in anv other State of the Commonwealth. The very best carpenters, cabinet-makers, and joiners can be secured for 9s. per day - not 20 per cent, of the men are getting that’ wage, the great majority get 8s. per day, and building trades have been and are now what is called brisk. First-class smiths arc working for 8s. 6d. a day, and glad to get it. Printers get £2 per week - the Victorian typo, minimum is (I think) £2 12s. And some attempt has been made lately to organize the Tasmanian typos, with £2 5s. as a minimum wage, but the Mercury and other large offices bitterly oppose the union rate. Dozens of carpenters have left for New Zealand during the last two years, and many who never got more than 8s. in Tasmania are earning 11s. in Wellington, and assure us by letter that living is cheaper there than in Hobart. Hobart Corporation labourers get 5s. 3d. a day; that is the maximum. Scores of men, carters, &c, are working ten hours a day for £1 a week, and find themselves. Factory hands (woollen industry), work 11 hours for from 7s. to 18s. a week - few earning more. In the Franklin district, hundreds of full-grown, ablebodied men are working for 10s. and 12s. a week and tucker. Shearing is paid for at the rate of us. and 12s. per 100 (and found). And so on and so on. Wages are lower, and the general condition of the people (vide Benevolent Society statistics) is worse than in any other State. The tramway conductors get 24s. 6d. a week and find themselves, and work on Sunday afternoons.
We were told by the honorable member for Franklin that the workers were perfectly satisfied. If they are, they are content with very poor conditions. Some one should go over to Tasmania and wake them up, and urge them to improve their position. We have been told, time after time, particularly by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, that the Labour Party have grown at the expense of those nearest to them, and that it was through them his party lost many seats at the last Federal election. From the turn events have taken, we cannot make any distinction between Reidites and Deakinites, because the two parties have joined forces for the purpose of crushing out the Labour Party. I would point out, however, that only one seat previously held by a supporter of the honorable and learned member for Ballarat was lost at the last election. I refer to the Corangamite seat, which was not contested by a labour man. The organization of the Protectionist Party was so incomplete that three Government supporters contested the seat, namely Mr. Wynne, Mr. Dunn, and Mr. Woods. The organization of the Labour Party, which has been the subject, of so much denunciation from honorable members opposite, enables us amongst other things to insure that only one pledged labour man shall contest a given seat. At the last State election in Victoria, the seats gained by the Labour Party were not secured at the expense of the party nearest to them, but in the majority of cases, were won at the expense of representatives of the alleged reform party. Some honorable members have stated that practically the whole of the representatives of Victoria in this Chamber were returned pledged to preserve fiscal peace. I did not give any such promise. I told the electors that in many cases the duties under the Tariff were not sufficiently high. As honorable members know, I fought strongly for higher duties upon a number of articles which are manufactured in the Commonwealth, and I am quite preprepared to do so again. I told my constituents that I intended to fight for higher duties at the first opportunity.’ The dividing line in this House is not between protection and free-trade, but between conservatism and radicalism, and we find that all the conservatives are supporting the Government. The honorable member for Parramatta some weeks ago asked us why we continually referred to the honorable member for Kooyong and the honorable member for Flinders as conservatives. He said that they were not conservatives. What did he say with regard to the honorable member for Kooyong about twelve months ago?
Some honorable members believe in the good old Tory principle of disfranchising the electors. I admired the straightout declaration of the hon- orable member for Kooyong, who we know belongs to the good old conservative school.
The honorable member for Kooyong was a conservative then, but now, because he happens to be sitting upon the same side of the House as the honorable member for Parramatta, we are asked to believe that he has changed his opinion. I respect the Conservatives in the Ministerial corner, and I am convinced that it is not they who have changed their opinions, but certain individuals who call themselves Radicals. The honorable member for Flinders has declared that he does not consider it is Socialism for the farmer to ask the Government for increased bounties, or municipal subsidies, or for lower rates for the carriage of his produce. He considers that legislation for the maintenance of a White Australia partakes more of the character . of Socialism. I do not know from what book he gleaned that idea, but I venture to say that no person who has devoted five minutes to a study of Socialism would urge such a view. A member of the Victorian Parliament - Mr. Fairbairn, M.L.A. - recently stated his views upon Socialism to a meeting of ladies. In passing, I may remark that at the present time a number of individuals appear to be extremely anxious to persuade the women of Australia that they can be trusted to look after their interests much better than can the Labour Party. Mr. Fairbairn said -
The ladies could assist materially in combating this description of Socialism bv seeking to so treat their servants as to make them satisfied with their conditions.
Does he mean to suggest that these ladies have not been accustomed to treat their servants well, because that is the only inference which can be drawn from his statement? Later on, he said -
Poverty among the masses was the Labour Party’s recruiting ground. Poverty stricken people would grasp at any quackery which proposed a betterment of their conditions. The ladies should strive to improve the conditions of those dependent upon them.
That is exactly what the Labour Party contend. We hold that existing conditions produce poverty, and therefore we strive to better those conditions. Another gentleman - Mr. Thomas Varley - in addressing the same organization, is reported in the Age of the 10th of September, to have said -
With regard to the Socialism the league was fighting, it should remember that State interference was the hall-mark of civilization.
That is the utterance of one who professes to speak against Socialism. Then I find that Mr. Hans Irvine and Mr. S. G. Black, both members of the Victorian Legislative Council, recently addressed the electors of the Nelson Province, and their remarks are reported in the Argus of the 21st of May last. Upon that occasion. Mr. Irvine stated -
Now with even a larger power than formerly, the Council should be able to make itself felt as a strong force in political life, checking rash legislation, opposing reckless borrowing, and, at the same time, with its closer association with the interests of the State, assisting mining, agriculture, viticulture, Stc., in every possible way.
This gentleman is opposed to Socialism, and yet -
He suggested schemes for the advancement of mining, in which he was largely interested, one being that larger batteries should be provided by the Government, and the business managed on commercial lines.
The other candidate at the same meeting alluded to the influence of the Council in checking socialistic aggression. He said -
He was decidedly opposed to the present movement towards Socialism, as it tended to destroy industry and sap the foundations of a man’s independence and individualism.
Nothing funnier than the statements of these gentlemen who avow themselves opponents of Socialism can be found in any comic opera. They are typical of the class of individuals whom the Labour Party is fighting to-day. They believe in securing all the socialistic advantages which the State will give them, but are averse to bestowing any concessions upon the workers. The Bulletin put the matter very fairly the other day when it stated -
The squatters and agents are anxious that the farmers should receive bonuses and reduced grain freights, Stc, so that they can have a fatter farmer to rob.
I have taken the trouble to look up some of the interviews with the present Prime Minister, which were published in various newspapers at the time of the six hatters’ incident. Upon the 9th of December, 1902, I find the following statement published in the Argus -
Mr. Reid is very much astonished at the action of the Federal authorities. He regards the detention of the men as an outrage. It seems to him as if the Federal Government is quite incapable of discrimination, and wish to push every Act to the limits of absurdity.
– He only objected to the Act.
– That is what he says today. He now declares that he is sworn to administer the law as he finds it, notwithstanding that he found fault with Sir Edmund Barton for doing exactly the same thing. He does not say that he will withdraw the prosecution against the gentleman who imported the six potters. That individual should certainly be considered as liable to a penalty for an infraction of the law, . as was the gentleman who imported the six hatters. As a matter of fact the latter might have very reasonably pleaded that he was ignorant of the existence of that law ; but no such excuse can be urged to-day. I trust that the Prime Minister will not “ wobble “ upon this matter,, but will give effect to ‘his own views. In another interview which was published, in the Age of the 10th of December, I find the following: -
Mr. Reid stated today that he is more astonished than ever that Sir Edmund Barton has not taken immediate steps to release the men on be. coming fully acquainted with the facts of the case.
What were the facts of the case ? That not until two days after this interview was published, did the importer of the six hatters apply to have them released, upon the ground that they were specially exempted under the Act. Yet to-day we are told that it is quite right that the Act should be enforced. Not long ago, we heard the right honorable gentleman denouncing the Labour Party as the “steerage crowd,’ and stigmatizing firemen and sailors in connexion with the White Australia legislation as “ the scum of the earth “ - as men who were not fit to be treated as human beings. The honorable and learned member for Ballarat must be exceedingly uncomfortable in his present position, when he recalls the many unpleasant things which the Prime Minister has said of him, and especially his statement, so persistently made, that the honorable and learned member had to obey the behests of the Labour Party. We all recollect the outcry which was raised by the leader of the present Government in regard to the new electoral divisions. We remember his charges of gerrymandering, and his dramatic action in resigning his position as a protest against the proposal of the Barton Government. He has stated that he intends to administer the law . as he finds it. Does he propose to appoint Commissions to divide New South Wales and Victoria into new electorates, so that an elector in Yarra or Kooyong may exercise as much political power as an elector in Wimmera or Gippsland? I think that he should; but I do not think he will find a strong supporter of such a proposal in the Minister of Defence, or in the honorable member for Echuca.
– All the honorable member’s party does’ not.
– I am speaking for myself. Surely the honorable member does not desire to speak for the whole of the party with which he is associated. The honorable member was absent . from the Chamber just now when I referred to the fact that he has repudiated the idea that the honorable member for Kooyong is a conservative.
– I never made any such statement.
– Apart from the many harsh statements which the Prime Minister uttered in regard to the gerrymandering tactics of the Barton Government, the. honorable member for Parramatta also made some very severe statements.
– I am not prepared to take a word of them back.
– The party opposite must be a very happy family. I wonder how the Prime Minister would get on with the honorable member for Mernda in discussing the question of starch. The present Postmaster-General had something to say upon that subject upon a memorable occasion. In speaking of the honorable member for Mernda, he said -
The honorable member has accumulated wealth, in the firm which he represents, by extorting higher rates under this iniquitous system of protection than he had any right to expect from consumers.
He declared that the whole of the members of the Barton Administration were plunderers - “ robbers “ they were called.
Then the Minister of Home Affairs designated the Deakinites “ political pirates.” Many honorable members opposite have objected to the statements made by the honorable and learned member for Corio in regard to the administration of the finances of New South Wales by the leader of the present Government. I find that the honorable member for Echuca, who is one of the best supporters of that Government, said during the last no-condence debate -
The object of the Argus has been for years past to get a free-trade Premier, and to see a free-trade policy adopted in Victoria. It wanted to instal the leader of the Opposition as Prime Minister of Australia. If that were done, the Argus would be happy. It has not scrupled to adopt any means, no matter how deceitful or underhand, to bring about that result. For my own part, I should look with great consternation upon the prospect of that gentleman occupying the position of Prime Minister of this Commonwealth.
The honorable member was then criticising the right honorable gentleman, whom he now follows as leader, and he went on to say -
We can judge of men only from what they have done in the past, and surely the career of the leader of the Opposition as Premier and Treasurer of New South” Wales for four or five years was not of such a character as to warrant Parliament in placing this enormous Country under his charge for any length of time. We have the authority of the gentlemen, who are now the right honorable member’s colleagues, as to his conduct of the finances of New South Wales. I am not one of those who would look up old Hansards in order to condemn a man, but they contain speeches prolific in condemnation of the financial reputation of the right honorable member. A committee of outside accountants was appointed by Parliament to consider his balancesheets, and they brought up a condemnatory report, showing how he had turned deficits into surpluses.
There are many other honorable members who are in a similar position to that occupied’ by the honorable member for Echuca. The honorable member for Laanecoorie took a great deal of ‘ trouble the other night to show how I and other members of the Labour Party had voted on particular proposals, but he did not go to the trouble of giving us similar information in regard to supporters of the present Government - such as the honorable member for Wimmera - who were returned as protectionists, and time after time deserted that cause in critical divisions. The honorable member for Laanecoorie, in referring to the fact that the honorable member for Kooyong and the honorable member for the Grampians left their party when the present Prime Minister moved his no-confidence motion three years ago, said -
I desire to express my sincere and deep regret that they should have considered it necessary to take that step. All of them, I know, are wellwishers to the Commonwealth, and were ardent workers on behalf of the Constitution Bill when it was before the people. I do not regret the fact that they have left us - because I know that in spirit, at any rate, and in very many votes, they will be with us - so much as I fear the result of their association with the conservative side of the House. While they were on the more liberal side, while they were members of the more democratic portion of the House, we felt that, at any rate, if there were a change, it would always be a change for the better. But I am fearful lest in their new environment they may find themselves losing that amount of grace which they obtained during the time they were with us.
In these terms the honorable member for Laanecoorie expressed his regret that the honorable member for Kooyong and the honorable member for the Grampians had gone over to the conservative side of the House. I am satisfied, however, that if those honorable members have changed their position, the honorable member for Laanecoorie has joined them. One other honorable member has acknowledged the present Prime Minister as his leader. I refer to the honorable and learned member for Bendigo, who, in an interview, reported in the Bendigo Advertiser of the 15th August, the day after the division was taken which turned out the Watson Government, said -
The issue on which the Labour Party has been defeated is an amendment to the 48th clause in the Arbitration Bill. The time has passed for rail sitting and trimming. There is no middle course available ; a public man must be for or against the Labour Party as a political organization. I am not a member of that party, nor do I seek to become one.
The honorable and learned member for Bendigo has a perfect light to take the position that there is room for only two parties in politics. But when we contrast those remarks with the speech he made the other night, we find that on the latter occasion he said that the Deakin party should have maintained its integrity, so that it could hold the position of a third party. The honorable and learned member evidently spoke one way at Bendigo and another way in the House, when he practically expressed himself as anxious that there should be three parties. The honorable and learned member states in that interview that the Watson Government were defeated on an amendment. That, however, is not the fact, be- cause the Watson Government were defeated on a motion which had the effect of , pre venting an amendment being discussed. The Opposition on that occasion took the business out of the hands of the Government, and, no doubt, they had a perfect right to do so if they believed they were in. a majority. But members who believed in the gag so voted that the amendment could not be considered, and they ought to have come out in a fair and square way and expressed their opinion. They should have openly declared that further discussion would throw some light on the matter, and that, as they were anxious to remain in darkness, they refused to allow the clause to be recommitted.
– How many members of the Labour Party were not able to speak on the motion for a recommittal ?
– I do not know.
– There were verv few.
– That does no’t alter the facts. During the absence of the honorable member for Wentworth I pointed out that the real effects of the amendment then proposed had not been considered by those who voted for it. If that amendment finds a place in the Bill, it will give every young person in any trade or calling as much power as is given to the adults. In many trades and industries, the whole of the power will thus be handed over to workers under twenty-one years of age. That is what the honorable and learned member for Bendigo voted for, as well as voting that Chinamen should have preference in the cabinet-making trade; and in another press interview, a few days after the one quoted, he said -
I think we have had enough talk about arbitra-tion for a while. We want not only fiscal peace, but industrial peace. The Labour Party had a fairly good innings at arbitration, and it is time to put a stop to the incessant efforts to promote industrial war and the division of the country into two hostile camps.
– I say that again.
– Does the honorable and learned member mean that the discussion of the Arbitration Bill divides the country, or that the passage of the Bill would divide the country into hostile camps?
– The extreme provisions of the Bill.
– If the honorable and learned member believed that the passage of the Bill would divide the country into two hostile camps, he ought to have voted against, and not pretended to be a friend of legislation of the kind, and at the same time express other views in newspaper interviews. He knows full well that his vote has placed in the Bill a provision which will make it absolutely unworkable. I can admire honorable members who are opposed to the Bill, and who stated their intention to vote against it, even if a division had been taken on the second reading.
– I do not believe in compulsory unionism, but in voluntary unionism.
– The honorable and learned member has a perfect right to that opinion, but there is nothing in the interview about compulsory as against voluntary unionism.
– That is the main issue.
– I have read the whole of the interview, and I presume that the honorable and learned member was correctly reported in the Bendigo newspaper.
– That was the only question before us.
– If the honorable member believed that the discussion of arbitration, or the passage of the Bill, will divide the country into two hostile camps,
I13 ought to have voted against the measure.
– Oh, no !
– When we had discussed the Tariff Bill for ten months without finally settling anything, the honorable and learned member would have been equally justified in taking the same stand that he did in that interview in regard to arbitration. Although in the interview of the 15th August he expressed the opinion that the time’ had arrived when Parliament should be divided into the Labour Party and those opposed to the Labour Party, he said in a subsequent interview that he could not support the present motion. Of course, the honorable and learned member has a perfect right to take that stand ; but we must look at the reason he gave. He said that he hoped that by not supporting the motion he could assist in bringing about the reunion of the old Deakin Party - in other words, a third party. I should’ like to know exactly where the honorable and learned member stands, because his attitude at present appears to be worthy of his present leader, the grand exemplar of the “ Yes-No “ policy in Australia. On a subsequent occasion the honorable and learned member, in making a personal explanation, I believe, said that he was no party to the coalition ; and some honorable members on the other side say the saime. If the protec tionists did not agree to the present coalition, they must admit that the Free-trade Party have absolutely swallowed them. The specific proposals prepared by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat and the present Prime Minister were discussed in my own electorate ; and I sincerely hope my electorate will be able to get over the fact. I know that a coalition platform was laid down.
-In a vault?
– I do not know. At any rate, the Labour Party do not meet in vaults; their meetings are open to every member of the party - any person who desires to join the party may attend, on complying with the conditions laid down in the constitution of the Labour Party. I have spoken at greater length than I intended ; indeed, I do not think that I should have’ addressed the House at all, had it not been for the denial which the honorable and learned member for Wannon attempted to make in regard to the statement by Mr. Walpole. It will be admitted that I treated the honorable member fairly,, inasmuch as I got an accurate copy of the remarks from the man who reported the meeting. The persons who are supporting the present coalition Government are those who go about the country saying that for the workers marriage is a luxury ; and all who subscribe to the Victorian Employers’ Federation are anxious to keep Mr. Walpole in his present position.
– Does the honorable member wish to insinuate that Mr. Walpole is officially connected with this party?
– I believe that tlie present Prime Minister appeared on many platforms with Mr. Walpole, while the Royal Agricultural Show was being . held in Melbourne ; and we are told that we may judge men by the company they keep. If the Prime Minister and the Minister of Trade and Customs do not believe in the doctrine advocated by’ Mr. Walpole they are at liberty to give a denial in this House.
– Do the members of any party in this House brand themselves as employers’ representatives ?
– There is no necessity for any “ brand “ ; a blind man could pick them out.
– I suppose we can smell them ?
– I do not know anything as to that. Perhaps the honorable member’s sense of smell is keen enough to enable him to discriminate, and there are some of the Employers’ Federation who are pretty “ strong.” Fortunately for myself, the employers for whom I have worked are a little better. I sincerely trust that whether the motion is carried or not - and we may learn to-night from the honorable member for Wilmot what is to be its fate - the people of Australia will have an opportunity to express their opinion about honorable members who have “ gone “back “ on their election pledges, and are now supporting the present Government.
– I sincerely hope, if honorable members will bear With me, and c will not interrupt, to be able to confine my observations within a very reasonable number of minutes, as compared with the time which has been occupied by other speakers in this debate. I hope that honorable members will not take exception to my statement when I say that I am satisfied that our constituents have become heartily tired of this discussion. It must have become apparent during a number of trie very lengthy speeches to which we have listened that honorable members have travelled greatly outside the compass and purpose of the motion submitted by the honorable member for Bland. It is not, in my view, competent for individual members to criticise the action taken by others. I do not propose to criticise the action of those from whom I have separated, the members of the Liberal and Advanced Liberal Parties, with whom I have been working for the last three and a half years. There has been a decided rift, and we have separated, but I still desire to accord to every one of those honorable members from whom I have parted, and who now sit on the opposite benches, the same respect for their opinions which I believe they have for my own. I have chosen this side for reasons which I shall proceed to give. The party to which I belong has, for three and a half years or more, been associated and working in cooperation with the Labour Party. We have been glad to work with them up to a certain point. I have no doubt that they were glad of the assistance of previous Liberal Governments. We have now come to a parting of the ways, which is likely to separate us for some time. We cannot foresee what circumstances may arise to bring us together again, but it is very certain “that the exigencies of political life will sooner or later bring about another change in parties in this House. Because of political exigencies over which we have very little con trol - if we are here to conserve the interests of our constituents, and not merely our own, honorable members must become separated from time to time. We should therefore deprecate, as I do most strongly, any criticism by one honorable member of other honorable members who have; for the time being, separated from him. I find myself now associated with men who have been for a long time the leading free-traders of Australia, although it is known that I have been supporting a protectionist Tariff and a protectionist policy. We have for the moment sunk the fiscal issue, and I believe that we, disregarding our own interests, can now work together for the good of the country. If politics make strange companionships for a time, it is our duty to rub off the strangeness. It is our duty to recognise that, although we! are now associated with men with whom we have not heretofore been allied, we must continue in that association for a” time, at least, if we are to achieve the objects at which we are aiming. The objects at which I am aiming at the present time are certainly adverse to those aimed at by the Labour Party. I desire to direct the attention of honorable members to the circumstances which have led up to the present crisis. They have been largely influenced by the progress of the fateful Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, towards many of the provisions of which the majority of honorable members are kindly disposed. It is a measure which held us together for a long time, but which early in the career of the Barton Administration was the cause of Ministerial difficulties. We know that in connexion with it the right honorable member for Adelaide made a personal sacrifice in the interests of the cause he had at heart. Unfortunately, the right honorable gentleman sacrificed himself in vain, but he certainly did make a sacrifice, which at the time he believed would be beneficial to the cause he advocated. I held then, as I do now, that the right honorable gentleman was mistaken. He left a companionship which was satisfactory to himself, and to which he added much lustre, because he desired to take a stand which his conscience approved in the interests of a class in the community. The right honorable gentleman left the Barton Administration because the other members of the Cabinet would not associate with the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill provisions which they believed should properly be inserted in a Navigation Bill. His resigna- tion left the Barton Administration surrounded by certain difficulties. The Bill was again submitted to the House by Sir Edmund Barton, and, on a vote being recorded for the inclusion of the railway servants under its provisions, it was laid aside. In a later session, the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, as Prime Minister, re-introduced the Bill, and its consideration again led to separations in this House, and eventually to the resignation of the Deakin Ministry on a great principle. The principle of State rights for which the Deakin Ministry contended was disregarded”, by a majority of honorable members, and clauses were inserted giving the railway servants and other public servants of the States rights which the Deakin Administration held could be conferred only by the Legislatures of the States in whose service they were. I emphasize the fact that the resignation of the Deakin Administration was on a great principle, because I believe there is a marked difference between resignation on a broad principle and resignation on an insular motion, the course which was followed by the Watson Government. On a great principle the Deakin Government left office. I am gratified to know that they exhibited devotion to a high ideal in sacrificing themselves when there was at issue an important principle, which had been striven for in the Federal Conventions, and which is comprised in the partnership between the various States, the great principle of State rights. Western Australia, Tasmania, and possibly other of the States, weak in point of population,, would never have joined the Federation but for the respect for State rights for which the partnership agreed to by the Federal Conventions provided. There was nothing more sacred in the view of the people who voted for Federation, and nothing which more strongly influenced votes in favour of the partnership, than the fact that the Commonwealth Bill protected State rights by providing for the equal representation of the States in the Senate, notwithstanding the fact that some were smaller than others so far as their population was concerned. The Deakin Government, I repeat, resigned office on the great principle of the protection of State rights. We need not add any other reason. I hold that our adherence to that principle was quite sufficient to satisfy the people of Australia that, in resigning, the Deakin Government were actuated by the highest of considera- 8x2 tions. Then we had the Labour Administration, under the leadership of the honorable member for Bland, and associated with men with whom we had been co-operating for three years and a half, many of whom we had come to know as personal friends, and for verymany of whom we had very great respect, because of their ability and their reasonableness in most of their utterances in this House. The Watson Administration subsequently resigned, but not on a great principle. If they had done so, I should have respected them as honorable members must respect the Deakin Administration. But they showed their insularity by resigning upon ‘ a clause of the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, intended for the protection of a small section of the labour or wage-earning class in the community - the trades unionists with whom they were associated. It is that fact which marks the great difference between their resignation and that of the Deakin Administration. It is this insularity of the Labour Party, as manifested by so many of their speeches in this House on the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, which leads us to say that they are here primarily and largely in the interests of a few and not in the interests of the community as a whole. I suppose that I am one of the oldest politicians in this House, and if has been my privilege in years gone by to lead’ the members of the Tasmanian Parliament in passing various measures of legislation. As leader I have piloted through the Legislature of Tasmania all the liberal measures in force in that State, legislation which is to-day iii no way behind the liberal legislation of the other States. If one desires to know whether a man is a Liberal or a Conservative he has only to look at the Acts of Parliament which that man has piloted, or assisted to pilot, through the Legislature of his State. The right honorable member for Swan is often described as a Conservative, but honorable members have only to look at the legislation which has been passed in Western Australia to find that as regards its progressive character it is not far behind the legislation which has been passed in Victoria, New South Wales, or any of the other States of Australia. Certainly, honorable members will not find lacking in the legislation which has been passed in Tasmania any liberal measure for which the people hare asked. Whether under the leadership of Mr. David Lewis, the late Sir
Edward Braddon, or myself, Ministries in that State have invariably gone out to meet the wishes of the people, rather than have them clamouring at the doors of Parliament for liberal legislation. It has been so throughout Australia, inyears which have passed, and when there has been no Labour Party. There was certainly no Labour Party in Tasmania, or in Western Australia, when much of the liberal . legislation in force in those States was passed. There was certainly no recognised Labour Party represented in the Federal Convention, or in the Federal movement from 1891 to 1899, which ultimately gave to Australia its Constitution. No Labour Party was then represented.
– The honorable member would not recognise the Labour Party now, unless he was forced to do so.
– There was no forcing by the people of the representation of the States in the Federal Conventions, whether we refer to those elected by the various States Parliaments, or to members elected by the people of Australia, and who assembled in Adelaide and afterwards in Melbourne in 1897. The people of Australia were satisfied to leave to their former political representatives the very important work of framing the deed of partnership which brought the States together as a Federation, and the most liberal and democratic measure to be found in the world is the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Australia. All this was done without a Labour Party. What is it that the Labour Party desires at the present time?
– To get into, office.
– I often ask myself the question, “ How far does the Labour Party desire to carry us?” The Liberals gave the people adult suffrage, the most liberal electoral law which it was possible to conceive, and the ballot, before there was any Labour Party in existence.
– There were Labour Parties in some of the States.
– Possibly there were Labour Parties in New South Wales and Victoria, but there were none in Tasmania and Western Australia. Yet those States have not been one whit behind in passing legislation to bring us even with the times. Though some of us are termed Conservatives, we have followed the good old rule of the mother country in giving the people all the liberty they could possibly desire. In England there has been no judicious wish expressed by the people since 1832 which has not been conceded to them by the Imperial Parliament. If we can point to legislation in that direction, what care we for the charge that we are Conservatives ? To any one who levels that charge at honorable members on this side of the House, I reply that, while there may be ultra-Conservatives amongst us, there is, nevertheless, a leaven of that good’ old liberalism which, during the last fifty years, has been concerned with passing progressive and useful legislation for the benefit of the whole people. Fifty years ago the legislation of these States was thoroughly behind the times. In Tasmania we had so illiberal a Masters’ and Servants’ Act that it was criminal for a servant to break his engagement. The very: first act of my political life was to ask Parliament in my State to amend that Act. We have passed liberal land laws which have enabled the poorer classes to settle upon the land, and in some cases to become rich. We have given the people privileges and liberties which were in conformity with those great institutions which have been brought to Australia from the mother country, and which were secured at such great sacrifice by the people of England. And whatever leaven of conservatism there may be amongst us, the fact remains that we are the sons of toil, or the sons of the soil. The great body of the legislators of Australia can point to the fact that they have worked their own way up, rising from one steppingstone to another. Many of them were glad to earn their half-a-crown a week at the beginning. They are imbued, therefore, with a spirit of sympathy for those who are fellow-labourers to-day. It does not follow that because some of us hold good positions to-day that we have always held them. We hold those positions now by reason of. our zeal, our temperance, our judgment, our education, and also by reason of the liberties which the country has given to us. We also owe a great deal to the liberal legislation of the old country ; and here we are now, sons of toil, or sons of the soil, brought up amongst the people, and warmly sympathizing with them. Even though some may live in big mansions, and enjoy the luxuries which riches can give, they are ever ready to lend a helping hand to the wage-earner. I am frequently driven to ask the question. “Whythis Labour Party”? I regret the name. The ex- Attorney-General on a former occasion denounced those who called the party labour members. It is the style by which the members of that party choose to be known, but I wish they had adopted some other name.
– It is a name we are proud of.
– In just the same way the Liberals of Australia are proud of the fact that there is no legislation in America, England, or elsewhere, which is more liberal than that which we have placed upon the statute-book. We have reason to be proud of our work. The Labour Party has yet to show what it can do. It is1 because it is attempting to do more than we think is judicious that we have separated from it. It is due to the Labour Party that we should give our reasons for the separation. I hope that they will learn wisdom as they grow older as a party. They certainly represent a large mass of the people, but, at the same time, there are numbers of men even in the labour constituencies who will recognise the liberal actions of men who, nevertheless, hesitate to call themselves labour members. Fortunately we in Australia are all Britons. That fact brings us together in our sympathies, and our interests ; it ds a tie between us which leads me to hope that we shall not always be separated as we are to-day; but that the Liberals and the Labour Party will come together again by-and-by. There was a hope even lately that the Liberal Party would be able to associate itself with the Labour Party. We were willing to listen to any proposals which might have kept us together, a compact body. The coalition which is supporting the Government is not composed of men who are entirely at one. I find myself associated with, those with whom I have been at issue on many occasions. I am not attracted, possibly, by; the personality of the Prime Minister. But the Prime Minister represents in Australia to-day a policy upon which I think the people of Australia are agreed - that we should Have fiscal peace, and arrest hasty and injudicious legislation. Socialistic tendencies have been manifested in this House and by people outside, of which I do not think that the bulk of the people approve. The country desires that that tendency shall be scotched or, at all events, delayed, in order that we may ascertain where it is likely to lead us. Modern Socialism, to my mind, is an awful canker in the body politic. I know that some members of both branches of the Legislature repudiate ultra-socialistic tendencies ; but when we find that sympathetic messages are sent by the leaders of the Labour Party to the Socialistic Party at May-day celebrations ; when we find the New Zealand Labour Party putting forward a platform, much of which appears to be taken from the programme of European Socialists; and when we hear the honoraBle member for Bland telling us,that by next session he hoped to commence upon a modern socialistic programme, it is time for us to pause, if only to ask ourselves what that programme is, and into what new paths it is likely to lead us. Perilous, pernicious stuff is written in the name of modern Socialism. In Ensor’s book on the subject, which honorable members will find in the library, there are printed the programmes of the English, the Belgian, the French, and the German “Socialists. I am ashamed to say that the programme of the oldest English Socialist society - the Social Democratic Federation - is far more extravagant than are the programmes of the European Socialists. It is well that the public should study that programme. The first line of it declares for the dethronement of the monarchy. Here is a revolution to begin with. The institution which Britons most treasure, our ancient limited monarchy, is to be assailed at the outset1. Assailed by whom? By followers of Socialists like Marx, Millerand, Sidney and Beatrice Webb - who travelled in Australia a few years ago - and by believers in such Utopias as William Morris described. The next proposal in this programme is the repudiation of the national debt. Do the great mass of the workers in Australia and Great Britain know what that means? Out of ^800.000,000 of national debt in England, £200,000,000 worth of bonds are held by depositors in the savings banks. They are the savings of the poorest of the people. That debt, however, is to be repudiated under Socialism. Then the country is to be divided into medical districts, and medicines’ and the services of doctors are to be given free. The country is also to be divided into legal districts. People are to obtain their legal advice free. Next, there is to be a national bank, and - parody of parodies ! - a national pawnshop. It is curious to read that when we have a division of the spoils, giving to the “ have-nots “ what is already possessed by the “ haves, “ it is contemplated that the “have-nots” will not be able to keep what is given to them at the beginning of the week, so that national pawn-shops will have to be established for their use at the week’s end. The English association of Socialists propose the nationalization of the land, the nationalization of the mines, the nationalization of all machinery, all husbandry tools, and all tools of trade. Finally, they propose the building of workmen’s cottages on land for which no rent is to be paid, the amount of the rent of the cottages to be limited to the interest upon the money outlay. Those are the proposals of the modern Socialists with whom our friends in the Labour Party are to a certain extent associated, or at any rate whose propaganda is so far acknowledged as to obtain the plaudits of the Labour Party. I impeach that party because of its insularity. It regards primarily the interests of a small section of the wage earners.
– A small section?
– The unionists are only a small section of the wage earners.
– The honorable member will discover at the next elections that they are a very big section.
– We know their numbers. It was proposed in the Bill-
Mr.Mauger. - In the Bill of the Deakin Government, for which the honorable member was responsible !
– I was not responsible for clause 48. I have never, either in this House or elsewhere, referred to the differences which may have arisen between my colleagues and myself ; but I have always held myself free to vote against preference to unionists.
– The right Honorable member for Swan said that there was no difference between the ‘honorable member and himself.
– The right honorable member and I were often to be found in agreement, and on this matter we were in complete agreement. I shall not forget the scathing denunciation of class legislation administered by the Prime Minister when he said that preference to unionists was the creation of a new crime in democracy, a rebuke which the members of the Labour Party ought to have taken to heart. Their purpose, as shown by their actions in this House, is to compel men to enter the unions, whether they will or not. They have striven against the liberty of the subject, and while, like the French, they may have cried out for “ liberty, equality, and fraternity” there is neither liberty, equality, nor fraternity in their actions towards those who, believing that they can earn their living in their own way, are prepared to work out their own salvation without joining unions. These are some of the reasons which have caused me to review the position, and they have compelled me to the conclusion that I cannot regret the separation between the Labour and Liberal Parties. The Liberal Party was at one time willing to draw the Labour Party within its borders, provided that the former were to rule; but the Labour Party refused all approaches, and compelled the present coalition. If there is one thing more than another which has drawn me to the right honorable member for East Sydney, it is the selfabnegation which he exhibited in this Chamber on several occasions, and outside, in respect to the taking of office, conduct which we did not expect from him. He repeatedly called upon the honorable and learned member for Ballarat to move a motion against the Watson Administration, and always gave precedence to him. He was always ready to stand aside to allow the honorable and learned member to take the lead, and he exhibited self-abnegation such as it is well to see occasionally, because it gives the lie to the statements so frequently made outside that, instead of being for the State, we are all for the party, and instead of being for the people, we are always for ourselves. I hope I have given sufficient reasons why I can no longer work with the Labour Party. I have expressed a very strong opinion with respect . to the extravagant socialistic proposals of the day. I have in my mind the old country from which those of us who are adopted children of Australia set out. I remember the commercial greatness of that land, and the commercial greatness of America. Both countries have been working out their immense destiny, and have arrived at their supremacy, through the instrumentality of men who, (though they ‘have not been called labour members, have always manifested the desire to help those who could not help themselves, it is my sincere hope that in coming years the legislation of Australia will follow that of Great Britain -
A land of . settled Government,
A land of just and old renown,
Where freedom . slowly broadens down
From precedent to precedent.
I hope that, instead of taking a leap in the dark, we shall proceed from precedent to precedent by the adoption of measures which approve themselves to our best understanding, instead of’ passing laws which, although they may bring a fleeting popularity to their framers, will result in misery and discredit to the future of Australia.
– While I think that honorable members will agree that the tone of the speech just delivered was admirable, and more in harmony .with that adopted in the early days of this Parliament than with that with which we have become familiar of late, the ideas of the speaker seemed to me to be those of a political Rip Van Winkle. At the same time, I congratulate him upon the straightforward manner in which he stated his opinion upon the present position of parties. He says that he does not regret that there are now but two parties in the House, and is glad that the so-called Liberal Party has separated from the Labour Party. He has admitted freely that the Labour Party was at all times ready to serve the Liberal Party when it suited that party to seek its help, but there came a time when the so-called Liberal Party ceased to go forward, and then, as the members of the Labour Party were anxious to carry out their pledges, it was discovered that they were a dangerous body of men. The honorable member for Denison was, as a member of the Barton Administration, glad to have the support of the Labour Party. I have no complaint to make against either the Barton or the Deakin Government. Their actions justified the attitude which they took up, and I believe that the first Government of the Commonwealth of Australia is likely to stand out in history as one of the very best that the Federation possessed. It is, therefore, a consolation to me to remember that I was a member of the Labour Party which gave it a fairly generous support. I make no complaints about the manner in which the Watson Administration were attacked by the party now in possession of the Treasury benches, because I have seen the same kind of procedure in the Queensland Parliament from time to time, when there was a likelihood of the Labour Party there becoming strong enough to assume the reins of Government. But does any one, either inside or outside the House, believe that the country was1 in danger when the Labour Party were administering the Commonwealth Government? No honorable member would say such a thing, although the
Prime Minister and others have told the farmers, who are supposed not to know anything, that if the Labour Party got into power it would confiscate their lands. Only one member, the honorable and learned member for Parkes, has descended to the improper suggestion that it was dangerous to allow members of the Labour Party to have portfolios and to administer the laws of the Commonwealth, seeing that they believed only in one class. Whatever may be thought of the honorable and learned member’s abilities, and the backwardness of his policy, such a statement was quite unworthy of one occupying his position. Whatever can be said about labour members, it cannot be said that they do not keep their obligations and compacts, nor can it be denied that we administered the laws without fear or favour. I should like to remind the House of the reason why, according to a leading journal which supports -the present Government, and has always supported the Free-trade Party, they tried to obtain possession of the Treasury benches. Negotiations had been proceeding between the honorable and learned member for Ballarat and the right honorable members for Balaclava and East Sydney, at the house of the honorable member for Macquarie, with a view to turning the Labour Party out of office, and the Argus then said -
The coalition may not take place on the lines Mr. Deakin marked out, but it is certain to come. If two separate herds on poor grass are divided by a low fence from a fat pasture, there will soon be a coalition on that pasture.
Therefore it was the fat pasture off which, according to one of the leading lights, guides, and counsellors of the Government Party, they could not resist hunting others.
– Then the honorable member opposite found it fat?
– I have merely quoted from the Argus, though the right honorable gentleman must have found it fat, because on the day that the Watson Administration was sworn in he said, “ I do not believe in any adjournment. Out with them. They put us out.”
– I assure the honorable member that I did not say that. I said that the Labour Party ought not to have taken office. I did not say anything about putting them out of office.
– I must accept the right honorable member’s assertion. The honorable and learned member for Ballarat advised His Excellency the GovernorGeneral to send for the honorable member for Bland, and what has since transpired has amply justified his action, because the late Government was undoubtedly more in touch with the liberal sentiment of honor able members than is the present Administration. In Queensland some years ago a state of affairs prevailed very similar to that which now exists here. The most conservative elements in the Parliament launched a manifesto, in which they urged the people to safeguard the rights and privileges for which their forefathers had fought and bled. That appeal was made to the more timid spirits in the community, in order to enable the Government to hide a great financial scandal. At the time that those in power were asking the people to guard their sacred rights and privileges against the Labour Party, they were making .an unauthorized use of the money belonging to the people. At a time when every adult in the Commonwealth has a vote, is it not absurd to endeavour to frighten them by declaring that the Labour Party has socialistic aims? The late William Morris has been referred to as a dangerous Socialist, and I think that that is a most extaordinary view to take of a great reformer. Undoubtedly the programme of the Labour Party is socialistic. So also is every progressive programme in the civilized world. We are told that Socialism is dangerous, but what are we to say of the results of the application of the principle of individualism in some of the greatest countries in the world? How are we to regard a system which results in the sending of useless war material, in lieu of efficient arms, to soldiers who are fighting for their country ? What are we to think of a system under which shavings are sent out as horsefeed, and packages of stones as food to soldiers who are undergoing all the privations of an active campaign ? So much for individualism.
– I should call it dishonesty.
– I am using against individualism arguments similar to many which have been urged against Socialism. Are we not told” by experts that half of the food sold to the public is adulterated, and that about 25 per cent, of it is absolutely dangerous to life? The Queensland Government Analyst informed me that even infant foods are seriously adulterated. Of all the samples he examined, he found only one that could be regarded as satisfactory.
– Why is not the law enforced against the offenders?
– There is no power to enforce the law. Did not one of the Melbourne newspapers, in referring to the recent disclosures in connexion with the adulteration of food, say that the utmost caution must be -used in order to guard against disturbing or interfering with private enterprise? Some honorable members claim that private enterprise will reme’dy all evils, and make good all defects. They are urging the necessity of taking measures to secure an increase of population, and yet they are countenancing a system which permits of the people being poisoned for profit. Such is individualism.
– Does the State provide better food for infants than do private individuals ?
– Yes, it happens that in the State represented by you, Mr. Speaker, the mortality amongst infants placed under the care of the State is lower than that amongst infants who are attended to by their own mothers. The honorable member will surely admit that that fact furnishes an answer to his question, because it is not at all likely that the infants committed to the care of the State would be any stronger :han those under the care of their own mothers.
– Is the honorable member arguing in favour of State motherhood for infants?
– No; I am not arguing in that direction. I do not propose to enter upon a discussion of that matter at present.
– At least four conversations between honorable members are proceeding in different parts of the Chamber. Some of them are being conducted in such a loud tone of voice that now and again I can catch a word or two. It is almost impossible for the honorable member to proceed with his speech under such conditions, and I would ask honorable members to refrain from holding discussions in a loud tone of voice.
– Honorable members are mainly interested, not in the debate, but in the question how the honorable member for Wilmot intends to vote. It is understood that he will very shortly make a declaration of his intention. I ask the honorable and learned’ member for Ballarat to be good enough to say whether or not a coalition exists amongst honorable members on the Government benches. It is only fair that the House and the country should know how matters stand. Whatever may be said against the Labour Party, it must be granted that in all their actions they have been plain and straightforward, and that they have publicly declared their intentions.
– Call it an alliance.
– I understood that the combination entered into by honorable members opposite took the form of a coalition, and if honorable members do not care to indicate the exact position, the responsibility must rest with them.
– I do not think that the parties affected have ratified any agreement. They came together under an agreement previously made.
– We have no right to know, but we have a right to ask whether a coalition has been formed. The country is entitled to know, and it is our duty to obtain the information. We are here only as agents for the electors of Australia, to carry out the duties delegated to us’. In spite of the glorious independence and freedom of which some honorable members boast, they must carry out the will of the electors. I have never regarded myself as entitled to depart one iota from any pledge that I have given to my constituents. As the Government are about to go to the country-
– What?. - about to go to the country?
– There is not the slightest doubt about it. I do not believe that honorable members opposite will go to the country if they can possibly help it, but I hope that if the Government fail to secure a majority, they will relinquish office. I do not suggest that they are retaining their positions on the Treasury benches for personal profit. We have heard so much about constitutional government, that I hope that there will be no departure from recognised constitutional principles, if the motion is carried against the Government. I ask if there is a coalition amongst honorable members opposite, because the Prime Minister, when speaking at Sydney recently, is reported to have used these words -
I never liked coalitions. They always seem to me to suggest, in some way or other, the possibility of the great chiefs meeting to divide the spoils of office.
– Does not that apply to alliances as well as to coalitions?
– I do not think so.
– What is in a name?
– Does the honorable member, who comes from one of the great seats of learning, suggest that a coalition is synonymous with an alliance? People enter into an alliance in order to fight a combination which they regard as dangerous to their existence, or to the welfare of the people they represent. But a coalition undoubtedly involves the surrender by the parties to it of their . principles, in order to- achieve a common object. According to the Prime Minister, that common object is to divide the spoils of office.
– Has there been no surrender of principle on the part of the members of the alliance?
– I think not.
– What will the alliance become when its members take possession of the Treasury benches?
– We shall tell the Minister when we get there. When we succeed, the mind of the Minister and those associated with him will undoubtedly be much disturbed. When the Watson Government were in office both sections of the Opposition exhibited much concern, and doubtless history will repeat itself. The electors of Australia will be asked to determine the programme of the next Government.
– Would it not foe better for each party to put its programme before the electors, and let them decide?
– We have always placed our programme before trie public, and we have never concealed our aims in any way.
– Is the Bonus Bill included in the alliance platform?
– The honorable member can easily obtain a printed copy of that platform; it has been published in every newspaper in the Commonwealth. Now I desire to sav a few words in regard to the general question. In my opinion the management of this Parliament has degenerated.
– Ever since the Deakin Government were turned out of office.
– At present there is an utter want of leadership and grasp of the political situation. What is the use . of our marking time as we are doing? According to the Government proposals, we are to do nothing that would cause any difficulty with the electors, but we are to sit here, and mark time. Whilst our revenue from Customs and Excise is decreasing, we shall be called upon to take over new Departments, and to conduct new services, which will entail considerable extra expenditure. Yet no attempts are to be made to raise the necessary funds.
– Why did the Watson Government postpone until an unattainable second session the consideration of those necessary me’asures?
– The honorable member knows very well that the Watson Government submitted a programme more than sufficient for the current session, and that the programme for the succeeding session was adversely criticised on account of its boldness. The honorable member for Bland was told that his programme was too bold and too aggressive, and yet the honorable member for Wentworth now speaks of it as being insufficient.
– What was the programme - to nationalize the tobacco industry, and to take money out of the banks?
– Is it not a fact that the hesitancy on the part of the Government to take over certain important Departments is due1 to the fact that they would entail extra expenditure ? _ Take quarantine, for instance. Does “ any honorable member contend for a moment that it is not desirable that the Federal authorities should take over the Quarantine Department ? Why is not that done ?
– There is nothing to prevent its being done.
– Why did not the Watson Government do it?
– We did our best to bring it forward, and we also showed that we were fully alive to the necessities of the case. So far as our defences are concerned, ours was admittedly the first Government of the Commonwealth which really obtained a firm grasp of defence matters. Everybody admits that.
– I do not.
– Why, the great journals upon tHe other side of the world admit it.
– What did the Government of which the honorable member was a Minister do?
– Surely the right honorable member will admit that a journal like the London Daily Chronicle is not likely to be influenced by labour ideas. Yet it stated that it seemed something like an anomaly that the Labour Government should be the first to firmly grasp defence matters.
– Was that because the Labour Party wished to establish an Australian Navy?
– I do. not know. In that connexion, however, I would point out that an influential journal like the Spectator also believes in the establishment of an Australian Navy. If Australia is ever to become a nation, she ought to shoulder the responsibility necessary to put her naval bases in proper order. I do not think much of any young Australian who fears to take up that position.
– In order to secure efficiency is it not necessary to have the naval and military organizations under one control ?
– I think it is advisable, as far as possible, that we should co-operate in a naval and military sense with Great Britain. At the same time, I do not believe that we should subject all our interests to the control of Imperial officers. I believe that we can be better served by. our own people. There are men in Australia -who are quite as competent as any officers whose services we could obtain from Great Britain.
– Would not our people serve England just the same?
– Undoubtedly. The honorable member has too much common sense not to realize that Australians, if they were afforded the usual facilities for obtaining instruction; would prove themselves quite as competent as are the officers who are sent to us from the old country.
– Will the honorable member tell the House what the Watson Government did in regard to defence matters during the four months that it held office?
– Order. I would remind the House that the honorable member who is addressing the Chamber has a right to express what opinions he pleases; and to make his own speech. It appears to me that three honorable members upon the other side of the Chamber are attempting to make his speech for him. That is not provided for in the Standing Orders. I hope that those who have not spoken will be content to wait their turn, and that those who have already spoken will refrain from interjecting.
– I have very little to add, because, as the honorable member who preceded me remarked, I think that the country is tired of this debate. It has been asserted that -when the amendment to include State servants within the provisions of the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill was submitted to this House, the Labour Party intended it to be regarded as a proposal hos- tile to the Government. I am sure the honorable and learned member for Ballarat will be believed when he says that we merely acted from a sense of duty and in fulfilment of our definite pledges.
– I have never made any complaint upon that score.
-I am quite certain of that. But the honorable and learned member, and also the present Prime Minister, declared that if that amendment were carried State rights would be altogether abrogated. They argued that it was synonymous with a proposal for unification. In my judgment they have proved very false prophets. They asserted that if the proposal were carried there would be a universal shriek from one of Australia to the other. So far as I am aware, not a single meeting has been held to protest against that amendment, nor is any considerable sentiment exhibited in connexion with it.
– The people know that it is unconstitutional.
– Moreover. the Prime Minister, who had affirmed that he would never agree to it, was candid enough when he secured office to send the Bill to the Senate with that provision included in it. What was his plain duty when he found himself in charge of a measure containing a clause which he believed would defeat the whole purpose of Federation? Obviously it was to advise the Governor-General that an appeal to the electors was imperative to preserve State rights. But, instead of acting in a straightforward manner, he accepted the verdict of the Committee, and forwarded the Bill to the other Chamber. That is what I mean when I say that the leadership of this Parliament has degenerated. Whatever may be said of Sir Edmund Barton as leader of the first Commonwealth Government, it must be recorded to his credit that when the adoption of a certain course was opposed tohis principles he had the backbone to declare that he would not be a party to it. Yet we are assured that the present Government came into power solely for the purpose, of restoring Constitutional Government. Apparently the Primer Minister is prepared to sacrifice all his professed principles for the sake of remaining in office for a few days, not from mercenary motives, but from a sense of duty which is entirely mistaken and absolutely wrong. Some honorable members have spoken of the great expenditure which a general election would involve at the present time, but I am disposed to think that it is not so much the expense they fear, as the possible effect of the election upon themselves. I think it is the duty of every honorable member to assist in sending this House to the country, and for the all-sufficient reason that some membeis who were elected upon most definite pledges have violated those oledges. I maintain that no authority was given to any body of members to enter into a coalition for the sake of displacing the Labour Administration, and thereby obtaining office. I am thoroughly convinced, because of the soundness and moderation of the principles and policy of the Labour Party, and because of the unity and straightforwardness of its members, that no section of the community would benefit more by its return to power than the farmers, of whom we have recently heard so much. I am satisfied that the Labour Party will do far more for the agriculturists than has been accomplished by any pievious Government.
Mr.KNOX (Kooyong). - There are two reasons which prevent me from inflicting upon the House a long speech. In the first place, I am not sufficiently well, and in the next it is absolutely impossible for me to traverse any new ground. Nevertheless, I think that the present political position is so serious and lamentable that every honorable member is’ justified in defining his position, and I presume that most honorable members will do so. I repeat that the present position is a very serious one for the Commonwealth. We have already been in session for seven months, and what have we accomplished? We have passed several necessary Supply Bills, and have listened to a number of speeches upon motions initiated by private members. Some of these speeches dealt with eminently practical subjects, which, in ray judgment, should have been taken in hand by any Government which desired to promote the true interests of the Commonwealth. Then, Parliament, in its wisdom, has selected a a site for the future Seat of Government. The work of establishing a city there must inevitably involve an enormous expenditure, if not immediately, certainly within the next few years. Further, we have taken the initial step in connexion with, the construction of a railway tq Western Australia. All these projects’ will do nothing but impose burdens upon the people of the Commonwealth. Further, we have forwarded to the Senate the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill - the measure which has been productive of so much trouble. None of us are satisfied with the form in which it left this House, and it will certainly be returned to us for reconsideration, with what result to the Ministry which may then be in office, or to this Parliament, Heaven only knows. Its progress has been marked by a succession of disasters. But what practical benefit, I ask again, havewe to record so far as. this session is concerned ? If honorable members ask themselves that question, they will find that nothing has been done except to impose a burden on the people of the Commonwealth.
– Does the honorable member really think that the Arbitration Bill is a burden on the people of Australia?
– The Arbitration Bill, if it passes in the shape in which it left this House, will impose unnecessary restrictions on - the industries of the Commonwealth, and, consequently, will be a burden. The people are filled with disgust and wonder at all this talk and delay, and are asking who is responsible.
– Why do not the Ministry, who were going to restore responsible government, apply the closure?
– Notwithstanding the personalities and recrimination which, unfortunately, have been features of portions of this debate, I take the view that there is an honest desire and intention on the part of individual members to represent the constituencies which sent them here. If we have to go back, as we may have to go, to our constituencies, what can we say? We can only say that nothing - absolutely nothing - has been done during this session. The last speaker made some reference to the Maitland speech of the first Prime Minister. That speech held out hopes of practical work for the people of the Commonwealth - it placed before the people hopes of an expanding and progressive national life. Those hopes have not bee’n realized ; on the contrary, step by step, they have shrunk away, until the Parliament of this great Commonwealth seems - “ seems,” I say, because I do not admit the fact - incapable of practical work or practical legislation.
– It is.
– I am not prepared to admit that honorable members who constitute the House of Representatives are in that position. But national aspirations have become lost amidst a number of needless and purely theoretical and speculative proposals. I ask honorable members, again, to seriously consider whether, in the face of all the expense caused by the establishment of this great Parliament - in view of the payments made to honorable members - we are doing justice to those who sent us here, or to the people of the Commonwealth generally, by our present course of action.
– Who is responsible?
– I am glad the honorable member for Herbert has asked that question. In my opinion, the whole cause of this obstruction to practical work has been the constant, endeavour to force the views of the Labour Party upon the intelligence of the majority of the community.
– That remains to be seen.
– Upon ignorance and stupidity !
– Quod erat demonstrandum.
– I earnestly hope the honorable member will realize that the position is not so easily soluble as the -pons asinorum. In the first Federal Parliament the influence of fhe Labour Party was only too apparent. Whatever regard and respect I had for the then Prime Minister, and for the members of his Government, I must say that it was patent to every one that legislation was dominated by a desire to defer to the particular views and wishes of my honorable friends who now sit in direct Opposition. It is clear that the influence of that party, and, probably, their suggestions, were at the bottom of the complicated and entirely unnecessary measure which is the cause of all the trouble at the present time.
– Why did the honorable member not vote against the third reading ?
– I always voted against the measure. I was the only member who, on the third reading of the Bill, stood prepared to record my vote ; but. I was unable to get a -second teller. Honorable members on my side were paired, and I stood alone in my direct opposition.
-The honorable member for Melbourne offered to vote with anybody who would join with him in opposition to the third reading.
– After Sir Edmund Barton had retired, the position of Prime Minister was taken by one who, whatever positionhe may occupy, is respected throughout the length and breadth of Australia as an upright, honorable, and straightforward man. I refer, of course, to the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, who is taking whatever action he may be taking to-day because he conscientiously believes it to be one necessary in the best interests of the’ people of the country. There is no more unselfish man connected with politics’ on this Continent
– The honorable member did not always support the honorable and learned member for Ballarat.
– In the first Parliament, the honorable member left the honorable and learned member for Ballarat.
– The honorable member for Bourke knows that my respect for the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, and the assistance I gave him in passing the measures he’ introduced, were never diminished in any degree because I held a different fiscal opinion. Reference was made by the honorable member for Denison to the fact that the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, when Prime Minister, had the courage and strength to resign on a broad question of principle. The’ honorable and learned member strongly and firmly held that, in bringing the public servants of the States within the operation of the Arbitration Bill, we were interfering with State rights; and, sooner than accept such a proposal, he gave up his position in a straightforward way, and by so doing earned the respect of the community. That crisis was brought about by the pressure of honorable members who now sit in Opposition. I now come to the time when the honorable member for Bland became Prime Minister. I am one who thinks that that honorable member was rightly and properly sent for by His Excellency the Governor-General - that he was properly sent for as the head of the Opposition who had created the trouble, and brought about the retirement of the previous Ministry. The Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, to the Labour Party, as a means of settling labour disputes, meant much, but, as I ventured to point out, when speaking’ at length on this subject during last session, however great the prominence given to the advantages to be derived from the avoidance of strikes, the party attached infinitely greater importance to’ the Bill as an instrument for strengthening the political power of their organizations. The Labour Party felt that if the Bill were carried through in the form in which it was introduced to the House, they would have an instrument - a lever of immense political power - such as no other device, in my judgment, could ever give them. I earnesly hope and trust that the people of the Commonwealth realize that fact. I know, that my honorable friends opposite, or some of them, will not admit the position as I have stated it, and, therefore, I venture to quote from a speech made by the honorable member for Barrier, who, I very much regret, is not in his place. As evidence that honorable members opposite did expect much from the preference to unionists, I should like to quote from a newspaper report of what the honorable’ member for Barrier said at a meeting held at Bendigo a Sunday or two ago -
Mr. Thomas, in the course of his address, dwelt on the advisability of the Amalgamated Miners’ Association, as an organization, becoming a political machine, and taking an active part in politics. There . were two classes of unionists. There were those who belonged to the old school, who considered that an organization should confine its attention to matters industrial ; and there was the new school - “ the new school “ - which considered that they could better achieve their ends by being associated with the party advocating progressive legislation. He strongly supported the policy of the new class of unionists. He explained the arrangements in vogue in Broken Hill, where the Miners’ Association, while retaining its individuality as a miners’ union, also took a prominent part in the doings of the People’s Labour League, of which it formed a part. He urged the Bendigo Miners’ Association to affiliate with the Political Labour League.
The new unionism involves an alteration in the constitution of many trades organizations for which I suppose every one of us has the greatest respect. The man who would attempt to slight them or to underrate their importance and effectiveness in this community must be no ‘better than a fool. I am aware of the capacity, ability, and discretion of the honorable member for Barrier, and I am satisfied that the honorable member has given utterance to the views and opinions held by the members of the party with which he is so reputably connected. The honorable member recommends and urges these unions to become political organizations. I can take no exception to members of the Labour Party making .use of every legitimate legislative means to accomplish the ends they have in view. If the people of the Commonwealth return to this House a majority of honorable members supporting the views held bv honorable members opposite, and a minority holding other views, it is the duty of all in this democratic country to recognise and respect the wishes of the majority. But I venture to think that when the people understand the strongly coercive provisions underlying the Conciliation and Arbitration
Bill, a majority of the electors of the Commonwealth will not be found prepared to support the position taken up by the Labour Party in this House. I say the proposal that has been made involves the coercion of the great majority of the people, who wish for freedom of action, and their control by the .grinding power of the minority represented by the trade organizations - I say minority because they have so far been shown to be in that position. The Government led by the honorable member for Bland was beaten on this proposal. If we do not take into consideration those honorable members who have in their wisdom since seen fit to join the Labour Party, honorable members opposite were beaten by a considerable majority on their policy. They chose their own battle-ground, they selected the provision which they desired to have regarded as vital, and they were beaten. I made no secret at the time of my personal preference that the Labour Party should have an opportunity of presenting their views in Committee. I know that the result would have been exactly the same, and that the members of the Labour Party would have been in opposition as they are to-day, because there is in this House a majority of honorable members against the proposal made for the coercion of men outside who desire to earn their bread and butter in their own way and without dictation. Immediately upon the new Government taking office, the honorable member for Bland, without any formalities, challenged the Prime Minister and his Cabinet upon a motion of want of confidence. We had been here for month after month, without doing any practical work, and the honorable gentleman might have given some consideration to the fact that it was desirable that some reasonable legislative measures should be dealt with. I esteem it a very great honour to have been elected a member of the House, but I have not on that account regarded myself as possessing any specially great capacity. I have always regarded myself as an humble representative of the people, whose duty it is to do the best that can be done for the country. In my opinion it is monstrous that we should have had no serious effort to do practical work. I feel that we have been bringing the Federal Parliament and the Constitution into disrepute. We have given occasion to critics to raise the question whether the present method of constituting Ministries is a wise one, and I think the question is one deserving of some consideration I feel that what has taken place during this Parliament may to some extent have the effect of undermining the respect which the people should have for Federation, and of destroying the hopes which were held out to them in connexion with the accomplishment of Union. The complaint was made by members of the Labour Party that honorable members who now sit on this side of the House challenged the Labour Government without considering the wishes of the people. They claimed that what the people desired was that the Federal Parliament should get to work; but they have not applied their advice to themselves. If honorable members will honestly consider what has occurred, they must feel that from the very commencement of the Federal Parliament, everything has been delayed, and conditions have been upset by the forcing policy of my honorable friends opposite, They have brought forward measures which in my just judgment were not of pressing necessity, and now, without experience, I venture to urge, they desire to force preference to unionists upon the majority of the workers of the Commonwealth.
– Why has the honorable member such a “ set “ on unionists ?
– I have no such “ set,” and the honorable member knows it. The honorable member knows that I have no objection to unionists. Any man who stood as I did with the late Prime Minister on the day of his appointment at the top of the steps of Parliament House, and watched the Eight Hours’ procession, and who had the slightest sympathy with, or knowledge of, the trades organizations, and the work they are doing, must have been filled with pleasure and satisfaction.
– Dees not the honorable member feel proud of them?
– I do feel proud of them ; but, unfortunately, some of them have been led away into wrong paths by agitators.
– Who. have got into Parliament ?
– I regret to say that some of their leaders who have got into Parliament have no other object or purpose in view than their own self-glorification. I say that from a close and intimate knowledge of many of the leaders of the movement in the past. What have we before us now, if the Labour Party should win on this motion of want of confidence?
– We are sure to win.
– The honorable member says they are sure to win, and I suppose he speaks with some knowledge; but I can honestly say that many honorable members opposite, in common with honorable members on this side of the House, do not desire a dissolution, because they cannot see that any practical good is likely to result from it. If we were to have a dissolution to-morrow, we should have returned very much the same House that we have to-day.
– That is quite possible.
– The honorable member for Herbert admits that it is quite possible that we should have the same impracticable House returned. I hope and trust that when this casualty measure, to which I have referred, comes back to this House from the Senate, and is fought out here again, we shall have a proper reference to the people of the Commonwealth by a double dissolution.
– The honorable member places himself in a dangerous position when he says that.
– I have no hesitation in saying that the will of this democracy, whatever it may be, should rule. What we desire is to ascertain what really is the will’ of the people.
– The honorable member will get himself disliked by members of the Senate.
– That may be so, but I say that what we require is a distinct and clear reference to the people, in connexion with the matter which has caused all the trouble in this House, and which has been the bone of contention throughout. It is the desire of our honorable friends opposite to use that pacific measure, which was intended for the pure and righteous purpose of settling industrial disputes, in order to strengthen their own position. If the people of this country really desire what is proposed, in the name of heaven let us know it. Let us know what really is the will of the people in this matter.
– We can find that out only by a double dissolution.
– Only by a double dissolution.
– That is the attitude of a statesman.
– It is perfectly clear that if we had a dissolution to-morrow, a clear issue upon this measure, could not be put before the people. We should return in December with the position still indefinite and unsettled, and we should have to again pass the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill and send it to the Senate.
– Make that Bill the question for the electors.
– Is the honorable member prepared to make that the question?
– Does the honorable member speak honestly and truly?
– Honestly and truly.
– I am sure that the honorable member for Maranoa always speaks the truth, and says what he feels, but if what he now says is correct, will he tell me why his party have found it necessary to break the solidarity which has been their distinguishing feature in the past? They have associated themselves with - I do not like to use the word - the goose-rump of a parly, headed by the honorable and learned member for Indi. I have had a long acquaintance and friendship with him, and no one has a greater respect for his ability than I have. No one is more capable to deal with the complicated position of honorable members opposite than the honorable and learned member, with his subtle, able, capable brain. In what I say I have no personal feeling against honororable members opposite. I am proud to know that there is a feeling of mutual respect between them and myself. I do not believe in permitting personalities to enter into politics. We do ourselves harm by reflecting on those whom the electors have sent to this Parliament, and when we jibe and impute motives to the members of various parties. I believe that honorable members opposite are honestly endeavouring to give effect to the wishes of the electors who sent them to Parliament. I have repeatedly stated outside the House that the high position which the late Prime Minister held for a period did not suffer in dignity, prestige, or in efficiency from his occupation of it, and I can pay the same cordial tribute to other members of his Cabinet ; but I think that all honorable members must regret that there is one action of a member of the late Government which has greatly tended to lower the status of that Ministry and of the Labour Party. Honorable members are aware that I allude to the most regrettable attack of the honorable and learned member for West Sydney upon the present Prime Minister. I hope that we shall not have a repetition of such a miserable effort to lower the reputation of a political opponent. I believe that the members of his own party, regret that he made that attack, and I honestly think that by this time he must regret it himself. The present position of politics is due to ‘ the forcing policy of the Opposition. They are not content to confer upon the community those benefits which, bymeans of the powers committed to this House could be equitably given, and which would be in accord with that development which every one of us desires to help forward. I have been told that I am a Conservative. I accept the appellation. If to assist to promulgate and carry into effect legislation which is for the good of the people, but at the same time is not destructive, or revolutionary, subversive or coercive in its character, is to be conservative, I am a Conservative.
– What about women’s franchise ?
– That is not a matter that needs to be dealt with at the present time. [ say, however, that the true position of honorable and upright men is to take the responsibility of sheltering the weaker sex. I admit that the Labour Party have set a splendid example of organization which should be followed by all other parties. I trust that in the coming elections other parties will have an organization as complete and on equally sound lines. I trust that an effort will be made by other parties to overcome that indifference and carelessness exhibited towards political responsibilities by some sections of the people, and that the electors generally will awaken to a sense of their duty. If they do not, they can take no exception to the success of honorable members opposite in their coercive policy.
– We must organize.
– Honorable members opposite have been organizing for years with a distinct object in view, for which they are striving earnestly and persistently. I cannot help regretting that some of the measures which they have united tq pass have been so disadvantageous to the Commonwealth. I should like now to refer to one or two of the methods of the Labour Party, which I regard as objectionable and prejudicial to the best interests of the people of this Commonwealth. I would, in the first instance, refer to their system of caucus. The meeting of parties in caucus to consider matters of general policy is not unknown in this House, and no one can take exception to it. But the caucus of the Labour Party meets with more regularity than that of any of the other parties, and has results which do not attach to the meetings of those parties. I have cut out from a newspaper called the Tocsin, which publishes from week to week the doings of the Labour Party, the following statement of one of the planks of their platform: -
No member of the Federal Labour Party shall accept office in the Federal Government except with the consent of the duly .constituted caucus of the party.
If the party of which I am a member were in Opposition, and the GovernorGeneral were to send for the right honorable member for East Sydney to form an Administration, we should not consider it necessary for him, before doing so, to ask us whether he should accept the commission of the representative of the King. I consider the plank to which I refer to be an objectionable one. Furthermore, the hands of those who are now sitting in direct opposition to the Government are tied fast by the decision of their caucus. That is another objectionable feature. I also object to the policy of coercion to which they are committed by many of the amendments which they have moved in measures brought before this House. In my judgment, the caucus system of the party operates against their individual liberty and responsbility. No member of a deliberative assembly, such as this, should’ be subject to the coercion of anybody, either inside or outside this House, or be bound beforehand to the giving of definite decisions. Some time ago, in order that I might receive an authoritative denial from honorable members, I asked a question in this1 House as to a statement which had been published regarding their disloyalty to the Sovereign of Great Britain. The statement received! a warm and strong denial from the leader of the Opposition, who was then Prime Minister, who said that honorable members of. the Labour Party were loyal to the core. I accepted his denial, and I know that it gave gratification in the quarter from which the original statement emanated. But I find it stated in Hansard that an honorable senator belonging to the Labour Party has said this-
The Trades Hall party only desire that there should be a series of republics instead of a monarchy.
– That is only the opinion of an individual.
– I assume that the Trades Hall Party is identical with the Labour
Party, and the honorable senator whose remarks I have quoted was the recipient of the highest honour which could be conferred upon him by the members of his party. I trust, that honorable members are able to authoritatively contradict his statement. The people of this country believe that our Constitution was framed in a spirit of lovaltv to the British throne, and if a statement of that kind is accepted by the party to whom the honorable senator belongs, it should be indorsed by them.
– What is the Commonwealth but a republic? What does the word mean?
– It is a republic within a monarchy.
– I trust that the remark of the honorable member for Southern Melbourne does not indicate the general feeling of his party. Ours is the freest Constitution on God’s earth. Under it every man and every woman has the right to record his- or her political opinion by voting for whatever candidate he or she may think fit. Now, my honorable friends opposite hold as one of the important planks of their platform that we should have a citizen soldiery, and an Australian Navy.
– Hear, hear.
– I believe that there is not a more honorable and loyal citizen than the honorable member. He has fought under the British flag, and, if necessary, would do so again. But does he advocate a’ citizen soldiery and an Australian Navy as the first step towards making Australia a republic? I am in favour of a citizen soldiery, . and an Australian Navy for coastal and harbor defence, and I consider it utterly absurd to think that we could maintain a navy sufficiently strong to protect Australia from the invasion of a foreign foe. as the war which is now taking place in the far East, and which will terminate. I hope, with successful results for our neighbours, has shown. The proposal of the late Government to appropriate a large portion of the banking reserves was brought forward without proper consideration.
– Who advocated that - the right honorable member for Swan?
– No ; the leader of the Opposition. Suppose the honorable member for Maranoa were possessed of considerable means, and placed£1,000 in a bank, would he regard it as a proper thing for the Prime Minister to demand that he should hand over 40 per cent, of the amount ?
– Yes; I should let him have it all if he gave me Government security for it.
– The honorable member could go into the open market and buy Government securities at 10 per cent, below par, and if he has such faith in Government securities, he is in a position to buy them easily now. I do not think we should attach too much weight to the example afforded us by Canada. Our banking institutions are merely the custodians of the money lodged with them by depositors, and the Government have no right to appropriate any portion of their funds. The intention is not to strengthen the banks, but simply to create an easy means of obtaining £8,000,000 of money for expenditure upon the Federal Capital, and other unnecessary undertakings. If another banking crisis were to occur, the banks would be justified., before trenching upon the reserves left in their hands, in coming to the Government and asking that the money taken from them should be refunded. In such a case, the Government would be unable to render to them that which was due, because the money would already have been spent in the manner I have indicated. I earnestly hope that the leader of the Opposition will never be in a position to carry out his proposal. I know of an instance in banking history which affords an excellent illustration of the disadvantages attaching to the adoption of a policy such as that advocated by honorable members opposite. A bank official, who was accustomed to the handling of the gold reserves, thought that it was a pity to allow such large sums of money to lie idle, and he deposited a certain amount in another institution, which he regarded as perfectly sound and safe. He thought that he was doing no harm to the bank - the money was idle and he could get the benefit of the interest. He did not wish the bank to lose the principal ; but when complications arose, and the case came before the Court he was held to have been wrong, and the Judge imposed upon him a penalty befitting his offence. The late Prime Minister proposes to do much the same thing. He suggests that the Government should take from the banks a certain proportion of their cash reserves, and give them in exchange I.O.U.’s, or promises’ to pay, which are not to be. used for purposes of ordinary circulation. In this way the general public are to be benefited at the expense of the individual depositors. Surely honorable members must see that suchaproposal is irrational and unwarranted. So far as our financial arrangements are concerned, we occupy an isolated position. The conditions in Canada are entirely different. The reserves of the Dominion banks can be invested in New York or other large centres, in such a manner as to carry interest, and at the same time to be readily realizable if required. If the banks here had similar chances presented to them why should they be deprived of the opportunity to take advantage of them? I hope that this, the first of the socialistic proposals for the appropriation of other people’s property, will be nipped in the bud.
– After hearing the honorable member, the Treasurer will probably not. think it worth while to look into the matter.
– I do not think that the Treasurer, after mature consideration, will adopt such a proposal.
– Probably- not, at present.
– The leader of the Opposition should have consulted the managers of the banking institutions before bringing forward his proposal. He should have ascertained from them the objections that were to be urged against it. He should have told them that it was proposed to confiscate a certain amount of their reserves, without making any return in the shape of interest, and to apply the money to the purposes of the State. The whole of the financial and business transactions of the Commonwealth are based upon the confidence reposed in our banking institutions. Certain figures selected from Coghlan, by Mr. Nash, of the Sydney Daily Telegraph, show that the capital valvie of the property held in Australia is£900,000,000, and that the incomes of the people of Australia represent a total of £1 78,000,000. These values and the whole of the operations of business and exchange rest, upon the cash reserves of not more than £30,000,000, which lie in the vaults of the banks. The soundness of the situation depends upon the confidence which the public feel in the security afforded by the banks. My honorable friends opposite may make light of bank crises, but provision must be made for emergencies, such as that which arose in connexion with our financial institutions some little time ago. Those who have read Carlyle’s work on the French Revolution must know that a deplorable state of things was brought about through the loss of faith on the part of the people in the security afforded by Government bonds. Bonds issued by the Government and valued at£2,100 were redeemed for £1. I do not suppose that any such disastrous state of affairs will ever arise here, but a crisis may overtake us at any time; and we have no right to filch from the banks the money which they hold in trust for their depositors, and which forms the very basis of public confidence.
– It belongs to the whole people of the Commonwealth.
– I am perfectly certain that if it were seriously proposed to use his money for the general purposes of the community, the honorable member would be the first to resent such intervention.
– I am ready to divide with the honorable member.
– The banking proposals of the Watson Administra’tion have created a feeling of distrust abroad. As evidencing this fact, perhaps I may be permitted to read an extract from a letter which I have received from a gentleman in London, who is associated with banking institutions, and who has an intimate knowledge of the general estimate of our financial condition. I have not had an opportunity of communicating with the writer, and therefore I am not at liberty to use his name!. His letter is dated the 14th of August of the present year.
– Hand it to Hansard, and let us take it as read.
– No, it is too important to be dismissed ‘ lightly. I repeat that it comes from an authoritative source, the author being a gentleman who is in constant contact with those whose confidence it is of the utmost importance that we should preserve. He says -
I am exceedingly pleased to hear that your prospects of a good season are so favorable. Something exceptional is wanted to counteract the feeling of distrust in all things Australian which is now so prevalent here. No doubt this feeling has arisen owing to the exaggerated statements in the cheap morning papers as to the position of Australian finances and the great harm the Labour Party is capable of doing-
Honorable Members. - Oh, oh !
– This communication comes from an authoritative source, and should therefore command the serious consideration of honorable members. It is not for us to laugh at these statements. It is the height of folly for us to imagine that we can remain independent of the great finan- cial centres of the world. If we disestablish their confidence, the result must recoil upon our own heads. The writer continues -
Many people seem to think fhat the country is in a state bordering on anarchy, and that the safest plan is to have no dealings with it. I constantly hear such opinions expressed, and it is very difficult to “even modify the views of people who know little or nothing of Australia and its resources, except what they gather from the Daily Mail and such papers. However, given good seasons, large exports and better government under the new Federal Ministry-
I presume that he refers to the present Government - the tone of these papers which has been , so adverse to Australia, must change, and public opinion also.
The Prime Minister has declared himself in favour of maintaining the public confidence and the public credit, and he is deserving of the fullest support. I do not fall down and worship him, or any other honorable member. The right honorable gentleman declares for stability and prudence in legislation. I am in duty bound to take up the attitude which, I believe, is in the best interests of the community as a whole, and of my own electorate in particular. I- regret that the right honorable gentleman cannot see his way to speedily appoint a High Commissioner. I do think that the Prime Minister might have declared his intention to immediately address himself to this question, with a view to correcting the erroneous impression which obtains abroad. No matter how bad the Labour Party may be, the country is not yet going entirely to the dogs.
– What did Sir John Macdonald say upon the banking system ?
– Sir John Macdonald is dead.
– He was a great Scotchman.
– He was. I come now to the much-discussed question of Socialism. The honorable member for Oxley has asked me what is Socialism? I consider that Socialism is a visionary scheme, based upon a desire to benefit humanity. I believe that at the very root of that movement there is an honest desire to correct the anomalies and inconsistencies produced by our present social conditions. But I claim that that result can be secured by a gradual upward movement which will confer proper protection for the worker and all who are reaping small rewards as the result of their labour. At what does Socialism aim ? If my statements are wrong, I ask my honorable friends opposite to contradict them. In my judgment, they wish the State to become the owner of all land, and to appropriate the fruits of industry and enterprize for general distribution. In the third place, they desire to suppress competition, and consequently to secure absolute destruction of human incentive. They would place every individual upon the same dead level. Under such a system the honorable member for Darling, with all his intellectual ability, would rise no higher than a man possessed of a muddled and incapable brain. Can the honorable member deny any of my statements?
– Yes. The honorable member is off the track now.
– I request the honorable member not to ask honorable members to interject. The honorable member will please make his own speech.
– I apologize, sir. I took it for granted that I was asking my question through you. I repeat that the Socialists desire to suppress competition, and thus to bring about” absolute destruction of human incentive. They also aim at secure-ing the surrender to the State of all liberty of effort and of enterprize. In considering this question I have endeavoured to ascertain what are the merits and demerits of those who call themselves Socialists. I have already outlined those aims.
– We utterly repudiate them.
– Those views are not entertained by anybody.
– The leader of the Opposition has already stated that he wishes to obtain his socialistic programme first, and a fiscal policy afterwards. The protectionist members who have. entered into an alliance with the Labour Party must of necessity subscribe to the Labour creed. The remedy for the existing state of affairs is not to be found in fiscalism, because there is as much misery in free-trade England to-day as there is in the United States, where high protective duties are in operation. The remedy is rather to be found in a gradual and consistent legislative advance by our people. I admit that, although there may be one or two wild enthusiasts in the ranks of the Labour Party, who believe that all these reforms ought to be accomplished within their own lifetime, the general wish of that party is to achieve their ideals by legislative methods.
If the people of the Commonwealth send back to this House a majority who are pledged to that socialistic programme I shall be very much surprised. The people of the Commonwealth require to waken up and understand the issue which is involved in the proposed preference to unionists - the issue involved in this coercion, which, as I have shown, is the first step to the appropriation of other people’s property. If the people believe in this .preference, let them vote for members of the Opposition; but if they disapprove, they must stand shoulder to shoulder, as do the members of the Labour Party, and counteract these insidious and undesirable proposals. I now wish to refer to the question of freetrade and protection. From this very spot in the House, one of the representatives of Queensland declared himself, in the first Commonwealth Parliament, as a fiscal atheist. I am not one who believes that all righteousness consists in either free-trade or protection - these names have been done to death. There is no one here - or, at least, I hope there is not - who believes that absolute free-trade., or, on the other hand, that a prohibitive protective Tariff, is possible in the Commonwealth. Indeed, I hold that if we wanted an index to what the intention of the framers of the Constitution was, it is shown in the fact that, notwithstanding the other rights that were conceded, the revenue must be derived from duties of Customs and Excise. All classes of fiscal thought were represented at the Federal Convention, and it was then decided that the revenue of the Commonwealth should be raised in the way I have indicated”, and that incidentally protection should be given to industries. In this and other States the Labour Party have supported measures in which manufacturers have been surrounded by conditions which affect’ production. I recognise that these measures have been designed in the cause of humanity, and intended to put down sweating and other forms of selfishness. In my judgment some protection or consideration is necessary for industries, which have been successfully established in our midst. Although I still firmly believe - other conditions being equal - that a revenue Tariff is best for the primary producers, who are the source of our wealth, I admit that the Constitution, and our circumstances, point to a policy of moderate protection for our industries. It has been alleged that a number of industries are suffering ; but I say that the whole of the Commonwealth is suffering from depression in trade. I shall support a proper and just inquiry, and when the opportunity comes, if it does come, I shall advocate that whatever may be the constitution of the commission that may be appointed, there shall be on it no member of Parliament. A Royal Commission of the kind should be comprised of .a Judge qualified to take evidence and who understands the situation. It should consist of an equal number of protectionists and free-traders, who are practical and substantial men, so that we shall not have repeated the fiasco which has been the result of so many similar inquiries. I should like also to say a word or two about the suggested dissolution of Parliament. We shall probably know tonight whether a dissolution is coming. Honorable members say that no one in the House desires a dissolution, and I have tried to show that if such an event should take place within the next month or two, the result will be absolutely ineffective. We shall return to a similar condition of affairs to that which we now witness. .
– Rubbish !
– The honorable member says that my remark is rubbish ; no doubt he imagines that the Labour Party will come back with an increased following. I predict,’ however, that the people of this Commonwealth are prepared to face the issues which they will have to decide. It is no part of my task to attack honorable members who sit in the Opposition corner. I believe that those honorable members are actuated by a sense of what they feel to be their duty ; but I ask them - both protectionists and freetraders - to Jook at the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, the honorable member for Gippsland, and the right honorable member for Balaclava, and ask whether the cause of protection, which’ is so dear to those gentlemen, is in any danger in their . hands. The answer is, no; protection is in no danger. Those honorable members, acting with consistency, accepted the verdict given throughout the length and breadth of the Commonwealth in favour of fiscal peace. They desire the effects of the existing Tariff to become known, and in my humble judgment they have adopted a right and proper position. I give my adhesion to the right honorable gentleman at the head of the Government.
– Which head does the honorable member mean?
– The right honorable gentleman at the head of the Government.
– What head ? There are two “ equal in all things.”
– I give my adhesion to the head of the Government, and the honorable members associated with him, because they intend to support law and order, and create confidence in this country, opposing as forcibly as they can all revolutionarymeasures which are detrimental to the inteiests of the community. I think I have, from my stand-point, shown weighty reasons why I should very strongly oppose the motion submitted by the honorable member for Bland.
– It is extremely gratifying to me to receive such a hearty reception from both sides of the House. I am greatly afraid, however, that when I sit down, although I may be cheered by one side, I shall not then be cheered by the other. I may also be permitted to express my deep regret at the absence of the Prime Minister and the leader of the Opposition ; but we can quite understand that, in view of the importance of the occasion, their feelings may probably have overcome them.
– I feel very uncomfortable, I can assure the honorable member.
– The honorable member will feel much more uncomfortable before I am finished. I feel deeply the responsibility which rests upon me at the present time. When I said a short time ago that I held the Ministry in the hollow of my hand honorable members were inclined to jeer. I rather fancy, however, that, as the debate has proceeded, and it has been realized how equal the balance between the parties is, their laughter has faded away. I think i may claim at the present time to possess a power equal to that of the leader of the Government, and also equal to that of the leader of the Opposition. It rests with me to make six men happy and sixty-eight men miserable, or to make sixtyeight men happy and six men miserable ; and such a responsibility is calculated to make a man pause before deciding what course he will take. It has been said that some of the members of the Opposition, upon the eve of the division, will be stricken with a mysterious illness, which will prevent them from attending and recording their votes. I do not believe that prediction is likely to be fulfilled. I rather think that, like the gladiators of ancient Rome, who, when they entered the arena, shouted. Ave Imperatorl Morituri te salutantl those honorable members of the Opposition will enter this Chamber shouting, “ Hail, member for Bland ! Hail, member for Indi, we who are about to die, salute you !” And I greatly fear, Mr. Speaker, that some of them may die.
– Only politically, I hope.
– Only politically, unless sudden joy has a disastrous effect. I can imagine those honorable members of the Opposition as they enter the Chamber, parodving the words of Tennyson -
Their’s not to make reply,
Their’s not to reason why ;
Their’s but to do and die ;
Into the Valley of Death,
Into the mouth of hell,
Walked in the ghosts
Of those labour men.
I need hardly say that, for some of those honorable members equally with some honorable members I see on the Government side, it is not likely that there will be any resurrection.
Mr.Joseph Cook. - Now then, be quick !
Mr.CAMERON.- I propose to divide my speech into two portions. I shall first of all deal with the Opposition, then I shall deal with the Ministry, and I shall conclude by telling the House how I propose to vote.
– Boiling in oil is not in it to this !
– I need hardly say that I expect that respectful attention from honorable members on both sides which is due to the man who holds the balance of power. Three and a half years ago the Federal Parliament first came into existence. On that occasion, the Ministerial Party and the Opposition were about equally balanced. A third party called the Labour Party, but which in my opinion ought to be called the’ “Union Party,” as its members are practically the representatives of unions, held the balance of power. They found the Ministry of the day singularly kind and considerate, and with distinct leanings, I think I may say, towards the policy in which the Union Party believed. They found, at all events, that if the then Government had not sympathetic leanings towards their policy,, they were squeezable. The result was that legislation was introduced and passed, which, in my opinion, was then, and is now,, calculated to bring disgrace and discredit upon Australia. The Government of the day with the assistance of the Labour Party, if I may be allowed to call them, by their old- name, secured the passage of such Acts as the Alien Immigration Restriction Act, ‘ and the Pacific Island Labourers Act, and were instrumen- tal in getting a section inserted in the Post and Telegraph Act prohibiting the employment of coloured labour on mail steamers subsidized by the Commonwealth. Later on, the Government introduced a Bill known as the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill. I need hardly tell honorable members, most of whom were, with myself, members of the House at the time, that I was then, as I have always been, bitterly opposed to that Bill. I opposed it, not only because I believed it to be bad in itself, but because I believed that if it were carried in the form proposed it would have a most disastrous effect upon some of the smaller States, and particularly the State of Tasmania, to which I belong. Considering the strength of the Ministry that introduced the Bill, and knowing that the members of the Labour Party intended to assist in getting it through, it was very doubtful whether it would be possible to wreck that Bill. However, the honorable member for Wide Bay was kind enough to give me an opportunity, by moving an amendment to include in the provisions of the Bill the civil servants and railway employes of the various States. I saw the opportunity; I induced another honorable member to support me, and I am proud to say that upon that occasion I wrecked the Bill. There can be no get away from that fact. The result was that the Bill was thrown under the table. Shortly afterwards the general elections were held, and the honorable and learned member for Ballarat announced, as leader of the Government, that he intended to oppose the inclusion, in the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, of States civil servants and railway employes. He told the people that sooner than agree to their inclusion - a course which he did not believe the Federal Parliament had power to adopt - he intended to resign. I say that the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, having made that distinct statement as to what his intentions were as leader of the Government, the members of the Labour Party in this House, as a matter of courtesy, and as a matter of gratitude for all the past benefits they had received at the honorable and learned gentleman’s hands, should not have pressed the proposal.
– And should have broken their pledges to their constituents ?
– I have nothing- to do with their pledges to their constituents, but with what they actually did. Honorable members have all read of Judas, who sold our Saviour for thirty pieces of silver, and then hanged himself. In my opinion, Judas was not in it with the members of the Labour Party on that occasion. They were worse than Judas. They had received benefits time after time at the hands of the1 honorable and learned member for Ballarat and his Government; they knew distinctly what would be the result if they insisted on the inclusion of the public servants and railway employes in the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, and if they had had any gratitude at all they would not have pressed their proposal. However, they did press the proposal to a division, again at the instance of the honorable member for Wide Bay. They ought to have known what they were doing. -They knew that the then Prime Minister would not consent to accept the amendment proposed, they knew that he would resign if it was carried, and yet they deliberately, if I may so describe it, politically murdered the honorable and learned gentleman, and after he was dead they stripped him of his clothes, and then fell down beside him, and said, “ Oh, dear brother, why did you die”? If they had had the slightest knowledge of political warfare, or I may say if thev had had common intelligence, they would have behaved differently. Their party” numbered only twenty -three or twenty-four members. They should have known that by their action they would embitter the feelings of honorable members who then sat ora the Government side of the House, and that those men would go into opposition against them. They knew that the honorable members who were in opposition at the time were their bitter opponents, and yet they were so led away by greed for office that they took the responsibility of carrying on the government. What they ought to have done was this : They had, by a majority, forced the inclusion of the States public servants and railway employes under the provisions of the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, and it was not in the least degree likely that the provisions which they had carried would subsequently be struck out. Knowing that ten men had gone over from the Opposition to oust the Deakin Government, they could have checkmated those ten men, if when the Go vernor-General sent for the honorable member for Bland, that honorable gentleman had declined to carry on the government. The right honorable member for East Sydney, who was then leader of the
Opposition, would in the circumstances undoubtedly have been sent for, and within twenty-four hours, or within a week if they had chosen to give the right honorable gentleman that length of rope, the previous Government party and the Labour Party could have coalesced, they could have wiped the right honorable member for East Sydney off the Government side of the House, to which he would never have returned, and the fifty men comprising the Deakin Party and the Labour Party could then have formed a Government that would have been able to carry on the) business of the Commonwealth for the next, three years. (
– Would the honorable member have supported them?
– Certainly not. I would rather remain on the Opposition side until the day of my death than support a policy in which I do not believe. If honorable members of the Labour Party will reason the matter out for themselves, they must realize that they had the ball at their feet, but they had not the common intelligence to see it.
– Did the honorable member see it?
– Did I see it? I went over and voted with the Labour Party before the honorable1 member for Kalgoorlie was known in this House, in order with their help to throw the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill under the table. I knew what would happen. I trusted that my Opponents - of course 1 refer to them only as political opponents - would not see the game, and as subsequent events have proved, they did not see it. The supporters of the late Watson Administration have been howling that the Watson Government did not get fair play from the time they went on to the Treasury bench until the time they were forced into opposition. I ask every impartial person to answer the question : Did they deserve fair play ? It is perfectly true that the present Prime Minister kicked them from behind, but that is a matter for the right honorable gentleman himself. My contention is that the Labour Government did not legitimately come by the power which they seized, and they therefore have not the slightest reason to cry out because they themselves were treated in the way in which they previously treated their opponents. There are just two’ other matters to which I wish to allude in connexion with this debate. One was raised by the honorable member for
Darling. The honorable member gave us what I think I may term a long discourse, in which he told us one or two stories, and quoted from a number of authors. After hearing the honorable member’s story about the gentleman who found that he had made ^400 more than he expected to make, and wanted to divide it with his men, I understood the honorable member to say that the Socialism advocated by him was that carried out by the Governments of the various States in the control of water, gas, tramways, railways, and enterprises of that sort. The honorable member claimed that all these works are carried out- by the States Governments for the good of the people as a whole, and not for the good of any particular individual. That, I understand, is the Socialism advocated bv the honorable member. Is that correct?
– Only partly.
– If that be so, I ask the honorable member for Darling how he can reconcile his statement that he supports Socialism because under it all are treated alike, with the proposal which honorable members of the Labour Party desire to introduce into the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, to give preference to unionists?
– That is easily done.
– It may be easy for the honorable member for Darling. The honorable member may be able to square the circle, but I am not, and I honestly confess that I cannot reconcile the two things. There is only one other matter to which I wish to refer, and that is the statement made by the honorable and learned member for West Sydney with respect to what is known as the “ six potters “ case. I am sorry that I should have to allude to the matter. I may say that if the honorable and learned gentleman’s statement had been proved to be correct I should not have hesitated for one moment after I heard it. I have hesitated repeatedly as to what would be the best course to pursue as regards my vote, but had the statement of the honorable and learned member for West Sydney with respect to the action of the Prime Minister in that case been proved to be correct, nothing would have induced me, by my vote, to have allowed the right honorable gentleman to remain another second on the Treasury bench. The statement of the honorable and learned member for West Sydney was proved to be incorrect. I can find no justification for the honorable and learned gentleman’s statement that the present Prime Minister is responsible for the carrying out of the law in that case. I hold that when laws are made, be they bad or good, it is incumbent upon those administering the government for the time being to carry them out in their entirety. Therefore, I do not think that any reproach could have been cast upon the Prime Minister if he had done so. The only other thing he could have done was to disguise his action. I can find no fault with him under these circumstances. But I do say this - that, if by any chance he remains in power, it is his duty to try to get such a section as that under which these troubles have occurred repealed, because it is calculated to bring great discredit upon the Commonwealth. Nothing has ever cast more discredit upon Australia as a whole than what is known as the Petriana case. Of course there can be no question upon this point - that the case was somewhat exaggerated. At the same time, it simply shows what might have happened; and I sincerely trust that if the right honorable gentleman remains in power he will endeavour to have that section repealed. Now, Mr. Speaker, that is all I have to say against the Opposition.
– There are no cheers from the Government side, I notice.
– I now propose to deal with the Government of the day. Holding the scales of justice impartially, I have shown the House as well as I could what I think of the Opposition. I deeply regret that the Prime Minister is not present to hear what I have to say concerning the Government. I daresay you will recollect, Mr. Speaker, that on the occasion when the late Deakin Government’ were turned out of office, the right honorable member for East Sydney expected to be sent for. He remained for twenty-four hours, more or less, within the precincts of this House, and he spent most of his time in saying not “ Sister Ann, Sister Ann, is there any one coming?” like the young lady in the “fairy tale. but ? Brother Smith. Brother Smith, is there any one coming ?;! And Brother Smith had to reply, very regretfully, “ No, Fatima, I am very sorry to say that no one comes from Government House.” As honorable members all know, the right honorable gentleman retired a very sad and sorrowful man. But he said that as soon as the Watson Government met Parliament he would table a direct no-confidence motion.
I would ask - the right honorable gentleman is not here, unfortunately, but I should like to ask - why did he not do so? I am a straight-going man; at least I have tried to be straight all my life, and when I make a threat I endeavour to carry it out.
– Not always.
– Do I not? Let the honorable member induce me to threaten him, and see whether I will not carry it out afterwards. The right honorable member for East Sydney announced that he intended to challenge the Watson Government, and I have no hesitation in saying that had he challenged them directly after the adjournment, he would have defeated them, because the previous Government and their supporters were distinctly sore at the manner in which they had been treated. Talk about the snake that was nurtured in the husbandman’s bosom ! It was nothing to the treatment meted out to the Deakin Government by the Labour Party ! I have no hesitation in saying that had a direct vote of want-of -confidence in the Watson Government been tabled at once, the probabilities are that they would have been defeated. But the right honorable gentleman, like Bob Acres, thought discretion the better part of valour. The more he thought about the task, the less he liked it. But at last he saw his opportunity in connexion with th’e amendment of the honorable and learned member for Corinella. He took it ; and as we all know, he carried his point successfully. He has now come into power. The right honorable gentleman has been going about the country speaking at various places, and always - of late, at least - posing as an opponent of Socialism. But he came to the House, and he brought forth his programme ; and his policy for the few remaining months of the session is practically - what? It is practically the programme of the Labour Party, as laid before Parliament by the honorable member for Bland. There’ is not the slightest difference between them, as far as I can see. Therefore, I ask the House, how does the right honorable gentleman justify his position on the Treasury bench?
– He has hardly been there five minutes yet.
– I am not quite sure whether he will be there five minutes longer, if that is the case. He had, at any rate, an opportunity to bring forward a pro.gramme or policy in consonance with what he had been saying outside the House, but he brought forward a policy which is practically the same as that which the Labour Government had proposed. But he says, “ Only let me get into recess - let me have one of those sleeps for which I am so famous - and I will come down next session and astonish you.” That is practically what it amounts to, and nothing else. Then, when the leader of the Opposition brings forward a motion of noconfidence, the Prime Minister, in his own defence, says, “ If I had the power I would repeal a certain section in the Post and Telegraph Act, and also a certain section in the Immigration Restriction Act; but I have not the power.” Well, if he has not the power, what right has he to be there? If the Prime Minister cannot lead the House, and has not a sufficient party to enable him to carry on the government of the country, what right has he to occupy his present position? He comes down whining - I use an expression which I have often heard from honorable members on the Opposition side, but it really amounts to a whine - and says, “ If I had the power I would do these things, but as I have not the power, I am not going to do any- thing.” I contend that a man who attains to such a position as that of Prime Minister, and who aspires to hold it, but who makes such a statement as that to the House - a man who does not bring forward a policy in consonance with what he said outside - has failed to make the most of his opportunities. The Prime Minister had a trump card to play until I took it.
– The honorable member for Wilmot has the joker.
– The Prime Minister had a trump card, but I have the joker, as an honorable member suggests ; and I am going to play it. The Prime Minister knew that if he had brought forward a policy of his own, and if it was not carried, the House would practically have been exhausted, and all he would have had to do would have been to ask the GovernorGeneral to grant him a dissolution. The request would have been acceded to. There is no getting away from that fact. Therefore, instead of taking up the position which he occupies at the present time, it was his bounden duty to bring forward a policy of his own. Instead of that, he has merely come down, and said what he would do if he had the power. The man who seizes the right moment is the man who takes the power - as I have taken it.
There is, however, one condition which weighs very heavily with me in giving my decision upon this question. It is this : On the Government side of the House I see a number of honorable members with whom I have been in close sympathy during the last three-and-a-half years while I have held a position as a member of this House. Ialso, recognise the fact that during the last few months, State elections have been held in Western Australia, Queensland, and New South Wales. In every one of those States the unionists Or Labour Party have increased their power. At the last two elections in connexion with the Federal Parliament, two new members who support the Labour. Party - one sitting in direct opposition, and one in the Opposition corner - have been returned. I recognise that if a general election were held at the present moment, it is quite possible that the Labour Party would sweep the polls to a very great extent. I think that any thinking man can have no hesitation in coming to that conclusion. Further, I know that the unionists are thoroughly organized. I know, on the contrary, that the liberalconservatives, with whom I have been associated so long, and the liberals themselves are not thoroughly organized. In the interests of fair play, and with a strong desire to see the best side win when the fight takes place, I shall vote on this occasion with the Government.
– After the intensely dramatic speech which the honorable member for Wilmot has delivered, I approach with something like fear and trepidation the task set before me. I allow the fullest amount of consideration to the grave statement of the1 honorable member who has just given another exemplification’ of the policy of “ Yes-No.” I was always under the impression, and am still, that no member has the right to abrogate to himself the privileges of this House. Every member of the House is sworn to do his duty to his constituents and to his King, and I do not think it very creditable for any member to pose as the custodian of the interests of the Commonwealth of Australia, and to declare it in the manner in which it has been declared to-night. I ask the indulgence of the House for a short space of time, while I deal with what might be termed a few personal matters before I address myself to the subject under discussion. I offer no apology for doing this. I do it from a stern sense of duty, not only to myself, but to every member of the House; because I hold that the honour of this House - the honour of any one member - is the honour of every member. Whatever our differences may be on political matters, whenever a dissolution takes place, and we appeal to the electors of Australia, it is our duty to speak the truth, and only the truth, concerning the actions and votes of the members of this House. I have to charge the Prime Minister of this country, the right honorable member for East Sydney, with having knowingly misrepresented me, misrepresented my actions, and misrepresented my votes as given in the first Federal Parliament. I am glad that there are one or two members of the legal profession present tonight, because I wish to tell the House what was said in my electorate, with a view to preventing my return, about my action in regard to the proposed remission of the fodder duties. Honorable members will recollect that on the 8th October, 1901, the right honorable member for Adelaide introduced the Tariff, and, following a precedent which I believe has not been successfully challenged, the Government of the day commenced to levy the proposed duties from that date. In November following, it was decided in Committee of the Whole to agree to the duties upon agricultural produce proposed by the Government. The Prime Minister, however, in addressing a public meeting at Hay, one of the chief towns in my electorate, prior to the late elections, said that he was not sure, but he thought that a vote had been taken on that. Question, and that he was satisfied that, although I, because of my position as Chairman of Committees, could not vote, I would have voted, if I had had’ an opportunity, for the duties, and, subsequently, against their remission. 1 challenge the right honorable member to show that ti vote was taken on the question. As a matter of fact no vote was taken. The Prime Minister lent himself to the tactics of my political opponent by deliberately misrepresenting my action, knowing, as he did, that the pastoralists in my constituency had probably suffered more by the terrible and devastating drought which occurred than did any one else. He made a further charge against me, and against the Government which I then supported, to which I direct the attention of? members of the House. As leader of the Free-trade Party in the Commonwealth, he stated that the fodder duties could have been remitted bv an Executive act, and I was unable to publish the true facts of the case to the people there, except by word of mouth, because the press was against me, and refused to publish the statements which I had made on the subject in this Chamber. The remission of the fodder duties was first proposed on grievance day by the honorable and learned member for Illawarra, and the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, who at the time was Acting Prime Minister, will, I. think, bear me out in the statement that, before the matter was so referred to, I went to him personally, and asked him if under the Constitution the Government could give relief. He communicated with the then AttorneyGeneral of New South Wales, Mr. B. R. Wise, and with the Premiers of the six States, four of whom replied that they were not agreeable to the remission of the duties. Consequently, the hands of the Commonwealth Government were tied in the matter. Furthermore, if honorable members will refer to Hansard., they will see by my speeches that I was deliberately misrepresented by the Prime Minister, and that every word which I spoke breathed the fullest sympathy for those who were suffering. But I knew, on the authority of the legal members of the House, and of the Acting Prime Minister of the day, that no relief could be given by the Commonwealth without a breach of the Constitution. I pointed that out, and I suggested that the State Government should either itself remit to the pastoralists taxation equal to the amount received by it from the fodder duties, or purchase fodder, and give it to them directly, without the intervention of middlemen ot agents, allowing them a term of years in which to repay the expenditure, as has been done to other producers under similar circumstances. Was it honorable of the Prime Minister to misrepresent my action in order to gain a few votes for the candidate who was opposed to me, and who espoused his cause? I wish also to refer to the conduct of another member whom I am obliged, in conformity with the rules of the House, to refer to as honorable - the honorable and learned member for Werriwa - who, in assisting the Prime Minister in trying to defeat me, went still further in misrepresenting my actions and votes as a member of this House. Honorable members will be surprised to hear that the rumour circulated against me was that in Committee the voting was equal, and I, in the exercise of my casting vote, was so he’artless and regardless of the wants of my constituents as to determine the matter against them.
– Who said that?
– That was said by my political opponents. I charge the Prime Minister with partly corroborating the statement, and he has not been honorable enough to deny it. The honorable and learned member for Werriwa, however, speaking to a large audience in Deniliquin, repeated the statement of the Prime Minister that, under section 69 of the Constitution, the fodder duties could have been remitted by an Executive act. If honorable members will look at the Constitution, they will see that section 69 has no more bearing on the question than’ section 169, which does not exist. If the honorable and learned gentleman had referred to subsection 2 of section li., and had read it to the electors, they would have known that it would have been a clear breach of the Constitution to discriminate between one State and another, and that what is done for one must be done for all. Moreover, section 99 refutes the statement of the honorable and learned gentleman. The honorable and ‘learned member also said of me what he is reported to have said of many honest and honorable members of the first Parliament. During the discussion of the Tariff base motives were imputed even to Ministers of the Crown. It was said that they were acting from motives of personal gain, and similar statements were repeated, until the Committee became tired and resentful of them, and, as Chairman of Committees, I had on more than one occasion to rebuke the honorable and learned member for his disorderly language. Therefore, the statements which he made against my honour and integrity savoured very much of personal malice, envy, and jealousy. He told his audience at Deniliquin that I had a motive for voting and speaking against the remission of the fodder duties, because I was connected with the firm of Chanter, Martin, and Company, produce merchants. As I have pointed out, however, the Tariff was introduced on the 8th October, and the fodder duties were agreed to in November, 1901, whereas the firm of Chanter, Martin, and Company did not come into existence as produce merchants until the 1st January, 1903. I am sorry that the honorable and learned gentleman is not here to-night, because I have here extracts from newspapers, sympathetic with the honorable and learned member, and the cause which he then espoused, which prove absolutely all the charges I am making against him. In view of the fact that the honorable and learned member is not present, I do not intend to quote all of them now, but I desire to give one example of his want of truthfulness. I shall quote from a leading article, entitled, “ Truthful or Untruthful,” in the Riverina Herald, published in Echuca. After having made the statement to which I have referred, the honorable member, on the following day, addressed a- meeting at Moama, where I live, and have my place of business. In the course of his address, he was told that he had acted very improperly the night before, by representing that I had a direct personal interest in the votes I gave, because I had a share in a produce business. Although only twenty-four hours had elapsed since he had spoken at Deniliquin, the honorable and learned member deliberately denied the statement he had made there. His denial called forth from my partner, who happened to be present at the meeting, a very strong retort, and the Riverina Herald published the following article: -
On Thursday evening, much of Mr. A. H. Conroy’s address at Moama was a repetition of the injunction to the electors “ to send in as their representative in Parliament a truthful man.” Certainly a very excellent suggestion, and one which the great majority of people will commend the speaker for, that is, if it can be proved that he was sincere in the matter. But, at the same time as Mr. Conroy was uttering these words, there was most noticeable that there was an implied “something” about it, and it must have been, indeed, a dull, or “ hollow head,” as Mr. Conroy termed one interjector - who happened to be of his own ilk, by-the-way - who could not see that the real meaning he wished to be taken was that the present representative was not truthful. It is not our intention to go into such an unnecessary piece of work as to give reasons for vouching for the truthfulness of Mr. Chanter. He is too wellknown, not only in Moama and Echuca and throughout his own electorate, to require us to state more than that he is an upright, honest man. What it is our intention to do, though, is to prove, by his own words, that the man who stood there and “implied” all sorts of things against Mr. Chanter, is not the “George Washington” any one listening to his oily-mouthed utterances would believe him to be. We shall not weary our readers with a long statement. One instance will probably be sufficient. Early in his address Mr. Conroy commenced quoting from the Herald report of Mr. Chanter’s speech at Deniliquin, and remarked, inter aiia, “that that journal was strongly supporting Mr. Chanter.” In that he was quite correct. Later, an interjector remarked that a quotation from the same speech was wrong. Mr. Conroy told him it must be correct, as it appeared in the journal supporting Mr. Chanter, which would not -put anything in he did not say ? Note the italics. Referring to the fodder duties question, in his Moama speech, Mr. Conroy said, among other things, that “ he did not think Mr.
Chanter’s firm was in the produce business at the time” - viz., the time the request was made for the remission of the duties. An elector remarked, “ You said last night at Deniliquin that it was.” Mr. Conroy, with emphasis, replied, “ I - did - nothing - of - the - sort,” drawling it out. Now, remember those italics above.
– Does the honorable member think that that matter has anything to do with the motion before the Chair ?
– Yes. I shall endeavour to connect it with the subject under discussion. Whenever an honorable member is misrepresented outside of the House with regard to his votes, and statements in this Chamber, this is the only place in which he can challenge his accuser, and repudiate the charges made against him.
-I would point out that with the permission of the House, the honorable member could make a statement embracing all the facts which he now desires to present. As the honorable member has stated, this is the proper place in which to make such a statement, but the present is not the proper time. I raised no objection while the honorable member was dealing with a member of the Ministry, but as the honorable and learned member to whom he is now referring is not a member of the Cabinet - and, personally, I am not aware of the relation in which he stands to the Ministry - it seems to me that, the matter could be very much more appropriately discussed under circumstances such as I have suggested.
– I connect my remarks with the motion in this way : We are invited to declare whether or not we have confidence in the Ministry, and one of my reasons for voting against the Government is that I take great exception to the action of certain Ministers and other members who support them. The article continues -
The Deniliquin Independent of yesterday, a newspaper which is a strong supporter of Mr. Blackwood, who is being bolstered up by Mr. Conroy, reports the latter’s speech at some length, and we take the following sentence from the report : - “ Mr. Chanter was not in favour of a remission of the fodder duties, because he knew his own firm of Chanter, Martin, and Co. would benefit by their, retention.” These are the two statements of Mr. Conroy. If they are not the strongest samples of “ Yes-No-ism,” what could be. If the electors take Mr. Conroy’s advice and elect truthful men to Parliament,” how will he fare. We ‘ rather fancy Mr. Chanter will benefit by the “stumping” of the electorate by Mr. Conroy, instead of the end being gained which was aimed at.
That is what one newspaper had to say about the matter, and I have half-a-dozen extracts from other journals which are sufficient to prove that certain misstatements were made. Another action of the honorable and learned member called forth a stinging rebuke from one of the weekly newspapers published in Sydney, which circulates from end to end of Australia. In connexion with the Pacific Island Labourers Bill, I told my constituents that it was proposed that the kanakas on the plantations in Queensland should not be retained after a certain period, that no more licences would be issued after a certain date, and that within two or three years the kanakas would have to be deported to the islands from which they came. The Government of New South Wales, actuated by humane motives, have established two mission stations for aboriginals in my electorate, and I charged the honorable member for Werriwa with having made the statement that I deliberately voted–
– Really I cannot allow the honorable member to discuss these matters upon the motion now before us, because they have no relation that I can discover to the question whether the Government possess the confidence of the House.
– I would ask permission to complete my statement, because I am jealous of the honour of the House as well as my own. If some misleading statement were made regarding yourself, Mr. Speaker, I should regard it my duty to bring it under the notice of honorable members.
– The honorable member will be one of the first to perceive that whilst such matters can properly be discussed in the House, and whilst the honour of every member is a matter affecting the honour of the House, the debate which is now taking place is upon the specific question whether or not the House has confidence in the1 Government. Therefore, the subject introduced by the honorable member has no relation to the matter before the Chair. However, as T understand the honorable member is just about to conclude his statement, I should be very sorry to interrupt him.
– I am grateful for your indulgence, sir. All the -votes I gave in connexion with the Pacific Island Labourers Bill dealt, as every honorable member “knows, only with the kanakas, and had no reference whatever to the aborigines of Australia. The statement of the honorable and learned member for Werriwa, that I had voted in favour of driving the aborigines out of Australia within three years called forth a rebuke from the newspaper to which I have referred, to the effect that any one making such a statement was not fit to mix with honest men, and ought himself to be driven out of Australia. I desire now to take a retrospective view of the circumstances which have led up to the present position. I had the honour and privilege of following Sir Edmund Barton when he formed* his first Ministry. I also had the pleasure of assisting him to bring about this grand Federation. Further, I was gratified to be able to approve of the measures which he submitted to this House. When the leadership of the Government was undertaken by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat I was pleased to follow him, and to assist him in carrying out his proposals, because I believed that they were conceived in the best interests of the Commonwealth. Certain changes, in which I had no hand or part, afterwards took place. As honorable members know, I was unfortunate enough to be made the victim of faulty administration of the Electoral Act. When we passed that measure we knew what was intended, but I had to resort to the High Court, at considerable expense, in order to obtain a proper interpretation of the law. Therefore, for a certain period I was denied the privilege of sitting in this House. During my absence the honorable and learned member for Ballarat was ejected from office, and the leader of the Opposition took his place. As the honorable and learned member for Ballarat had stated that the honorable member for Bland had attained office by legitimate means, and had promised to give him fair play, I pledged myself to mt constituents to see that every reasonable consideration was shown to the new Administration. Shortly after my return certain meetings of the party to which I belong were held, and at one of those gatherings it was resolved unanimously that the Protectionist Party, of which I was a member, should not ally itself with the party at present led by the Prime Minister. I have never departed from that position. As far as I am aware, no subsequent meeting of that party was ever convened. I would further point out that it is not correct to say that the Watson Administration resigned office because they were defeated upon clause 48. which contains a provision relating to the extension of preference to unionists. I may be pardoned, perhaps, for recalling the exact circumstances surrounding the division which took place upon the amendment submitted by the honorable and learned member for Corinella. It was launched upon a Friday afternoon, shortly after 4 o’clock, when - as is usual - Inter-State representatives were anxious to catch their respective trains home. As a matter of fact, several amendments were proposed - one by the honorable and learned member for Bendigo, another by the honorable and learned member for Darling Downs, and two others, I think, by the honorable and learned member for Corinella. I have a very vivid recollection of the then Prime Minister, sitting at the table, agreeing to some of these amendments, and disagreeing with others. In the hurry of the moment honorable members could scarcely be expected to grasp the proposals to which he had agreed and those with which he had disagreed. The amendment of the honorable and learned member for Corinella was not even in print, and one had to catch its purport as it was read from the Chair, and to vote upon it almost immediately. One cannot always do right, and if an honorable member acts in great haste he is very apt to do wrong. I candidly confess that when I saw that amendment in print I . realized that I had done wrong. When I voted for it I was under the impression that it provided that any union, either of employers or employes, interested in an industrial dispute, could apply for a preference to the Arbitration Court if they comprised a majority of its members. But when I came to analyze it subsequently I saw that its objects are of a threefold nature. In the first place, it provides that those affected by any award must have interests in common with the applicant. Who would be affected by an award? Would not every man, woman, and child in Australia? It is absolutely impossible for any tribunal to ascertain what the majority of those engaged in a particular industry favour, and what they do not favour. I recollect the then Prime Minister stating that he was dissatisfied with the amendment in the form in which it was proposed by the honorable and learned member for Corinella, that he himself believed that a substantial number of those who desired a preference should be represented, and that upon the first opportunity he would make the necessary alterations to comply with the real wishes of Parliament. That opportunity presented itself when the Bill had passed through all its stages in
Committee. He could not ask for the recommittal of the measure until it had been reported to the House. What followed ? When he moved that the Bill be recommitted for the purpose of reconsidering a number of clauses, including clause 48, he was met by a hostile amendment, which prevented him ‘ from remedying the mistake which had been made, and making clear the real intentions of Parliament. I ask was that fair play? The honorable and learned member for Ballarat promised to give the Watson Government fair play. I made a similar pledge when addressing my constituents, and consequently I felt bound to stand by them upon that occasion. So far as I am aware, no precedent can be found, either in Australian history or in that of the great mother of Parliaments - the British House of- Commons - for the action taken by honorable members opposite. The then Prime Minister occupied a ‘ to tally different position from that of a private member of this House. He was in charge of the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, and was responsible to the country for it, and I unhesitatingly affirm that it is not creditable to any honorable member to attempt’ to justify his action in preventing that measure from being taken into Committee. It was the foulest play that I have witnessed during twenty years of political . experience in Australia, and to my mind any attempt to justify it only aggravates the offence. If - as has been urged - there was no difference between the amendment of the honorable and learned member for Corinella and that of the then Prime Minister, why was the latter not allowed to recommit the Bill?
– If there was no difference between the two amendments, what did it matter?
– If there was no difference between them, was it fair play to take the unusual course of preventing the measure from being recommitted? Had there been some great difference between the proposals there might have been some justification for the action of honorable members opposite. I hold that the procedure which they adopted will be regarded by the future historian and political student as the first foul act perpetrated by the Commonwealth Parliament. As honorable members are aware, for many years the Prime Minister and myself occupied seats in the New South Wales Legislature. We always sat upon different sides of the House. I do not intend to dig up past events concerning him. I prefer that they should be forgotten. In my opinion it is high time that they were relegated to oblivion.
– The people of New South Wales have sent him here with a great number of supporters, anyhow.
– In the eyes of the Prime Minister ‘the people of New South Wales are the residents of Sydney.
– He receives his support from the city of Sydney and the county of Cumberland. I. have no desire to discuss the reason why he continues to obtain that support, because to do so would only lead to recrimination.
– That is a poor compliment to New South Wales.
– By his actions the right honorable gentleman has always shown to the country districts of New South Wales that their interests are not worthy of consideration when compared with those of Sydney and the county of Cumberland. Upon one occasion my own constituents were denied fair treatment, owing to his intense hostility to persons’ resident in what he regarded as a Victorian zone. What did he tell a Victorian contractor, in my presence, at Gundagai? This gentleman was invited to tender for a contract upon the Murrumbid gee, but despite the fact that his tender was the lowest, and that he had spent several hundreds of pounds in getting machinery upon the ground, the right honorable gentleman declared that he could not accept his tender because he was a Victorian.
– Did not the honorable member for Hume do the same thing ?
– I do not think so.
– He did.
– How much lower was the tender of the gentleman to whom the honorable member is referring?
– It was lower by some hundreds of pounds.
– The difference was only about£11 or£14, and I understand that the lowest tenderer had no plant, whilst the other tenderer had a good plant.
– I do not know who was the other man. These tenders were invited from the world at large.
– The difference between the tenders was only about£11 or £14.
– The honorable member is entirely wrong. I am not just now in possession of the actual figures-
– The figures were given in this House some time during the last Parliament.
– I was not aware of it, and I think that the Minister is making a mistake. I know that the matter was alluded to in the Senate, but I do not think that it was mentioned here, and I am very sorry that I have been led into making any reference to it. If the Prime Minister has been consistent, or nearly consistent, in one thing more than another, it has been in his advocacyof free-trade. I recognise and pay full tribute to the ability of the right honorable gentleman who has succeeded in bursting up the Protectionist Party in Australia. The right honorable gentleman could not do that in New South w ales, although he often tried ; but he has done it in this House, by what means the future may show. The fact I very much deplore. I am a protectionist first, because I believe that to be the truest policy for the country. I associated myself with the protectionists of Victoria and the other States, but particularly with the protectionists of Victoria, because the latter is the one State that has done noble work for the great principle during the past thirty years. Victoria has held up the flag of protection year after year, but now we see that flag dragged in the mire, as the result of the greatest piece of political engineering within my knowledge. Of course, the Prime Minister is quite right in claiming credit for having burst up the Protectionist Party, and having absorbed a portion in the party which he leads.
– And the rest of the Protectionist Party are absorbed in the Labour Party.
– I am not a member of the Labour Party, but I am in strong sympathy with their aims and aspirations. My natural affinity is with them, because they are seeking in other ways to do what I seek to achieve by means of -protection, namely, to benefit the masses, raise them to a higher level, and give every possible encouragement to the development of the industrial life of the country. I seek by my advocacy of the protectionist principle to provide labour at which men may earn an honest wage in their own country. I have been connected withthe Protectionist Party for many years, and it is a great grief to me that it should now be broken up by political machinations, especially in view of the fact that, united., it could have done good work in this House. When is the fiscal battle to be resumed? My doubts as to that question form one of the reasons why I have no confidence in the present Administration. This young nation must have a settled policy - sooner or later we must embrace one principle or the other. Who is going to carry the banner? Whether the dissolution takes place now, or in the future, how shall I regard this present Ministry, half of whom are my political enemies ?
– What is to become of the alliance on the other side?
– The alliance agreed to stand shoulder to shoulder on a certain definite line of policy.
– The protectionist policy ?
– The protectionists in the alliance say to the Labour Party, “ We, the protectionists, want no commission of inquiry into the ruin and disaster which have followed the imposition of the present Tariff, especially in the State of Victoria; we are prepared to act at once.” To this the Labour Party reply, “ We are prepared, if you can show by means of a Royal Commission, or in any other way, that injury is being done, to remedy the evil in the interests of the workers we represent.” There we have a clear, agreement. But . what can the Ministry reply? What are they going to do in regard to the fiscal question ? They cry “ Fiscal peace..” and there is no peace.
– Labour representatives have stated distinctly that they will not support any increase in the Tariff.
– I have nothing to do with what individual members of the Labour Party or any other party may have said ; I have onlv to deal with myself, and my responsibilities1 to the alliance. I am determined to do my duty, whatever other individual members may do. If the Ministry, or their supporters, could show me that I have more to hope from them for what is nearest and dearest to my heart - the welfare of the people of Australia - I should be only too glad to consider the advisability of a combination with them. But where is there any such hope? There is peace now ; but will members of the present Government say there is not going to be war very shortly amongst them? Which half of the Ministry will carry the flag to the country ? Is the Prime Minister, at the head of the Free-trade Party, to carry the free-trade flag, or is the honorable member for Gippsland to carry the protectionist flag? What would become of the Government under such circumstances? Where would there be any hope of useful measures ? I would twenty times sooner see a straight-out free-trade Ministry than the Ministry which now occupy the Treasury bench. The people would then have an opportunity to test the question fairly and honestly, with some solid effect. Everybody quotes the cry of “ fiscal peace,” and as I stated on the platform, I do not want to hide myself behind any misrepresentation or wriggling, so far as my responsibility or pledges are concerned. The leader I then followed, the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, stated in his manifesto that there was to be fiscal peace. Why? Because the Prime Minister was at that time going from one part of the Commonwealth to the other, declaring that there should be no fiscal peace - that he would fight to the death to have the Tariff revised at the first opportunity, and would remove the duties one by one, until they were all placed on a revenue basis. It was that action on the part of the Prime Minister that caused the cry for fiscal peace. But when I pledged myself to follow the honorable and learned member for Ballarat in this regard, I made great reservations. I said that so far as preferential trade with Great Britain was concerned, I was ready to concede it at a moment’s notice; so that that was exempted from ray pledge. I do not know that I or any honorable member desires to escape responsibility for his declarations ; but at that time we had gone through all the turn-oil and trouble of fixing the Tariff, and we did not know - or at least I did nol - what serious effects the reduction of some of the duties wouldhave on the industrial life of the Commonwealth. I would bo criminal, when now that experience has shown what those effects are - when some industries are ceasing to be carried on, and thousands of workers are being driven out of employment day by day - if I were stayed in my action by this paltry cry of fiscal peace. The honorable member for Laanecoorie made charges against honorable members on this side ; but supposing a favorable diagnosis of his, on which he had arranged not to see a patient until the following morning, should, in the middle of the night, turn out to be wrong, would he refuse to attend the patient until the time he had fixed, and to give him the medicine which might save his life?
– The patient might have a betetr chance without the medicine.
– That is possible, but if the honorable member makes that charge against the medical fraternity I do not. If some people say that doctors bury their mistakes underground, I am not going to follow the example. Having made a mistake in agreeing to a fiscal peace for the life of the Parliament, I am absolved when I realize that injury has been, and is still being done by the Tariff. I am ready at a moment’s notice to do all I can to find a remedy. Let us now regard the other phase of the subject - preferential trade. I do not propose to discuss that subject- in all its details, but only to deal with broad outlines.I have to ask myself whether I have confidence in the present Government to deal with this question. My reply is that I have no confidence at all, so far as half thu Government are concerned.
– A number on this side are with the honorable member in that.
– I am not speaking of honorable members who are supporting the Government, but. of the members of the Government. So long as I have known some of the supporters of the Government, and that has been for many years, they have always been consistent in their advocacy of free-trade. But free-trade and preferential trade will not, and cannot, blend. The right honorable gentleman at the head of the Government has stated here, as well as outside, many times, that he is in favour of preferential trade with Great Britain, but his idea of preferential trade is to sweep off all the duties, and make no difference between the foreigner’ and the Britisher. Can we afford, in the interests of Australia, to deal with this question five or six years hence? Is it not our bounden duty to declare that Australia is ready to enter into the proposed reciprocal relations? For months past Mr. Chamberlain has been holding out his hand, asking Australia to speak as Canada and New Zealand have spoken - to say that we do not want to wait, but are ready to concede the broad principle and deal with details afterwards by way of conference or by way of legislation in this House.
– I do not think that the leader of the Opposition would do anything.
– He would have to do something.
– I am not really aware, except from a newspaper report of an interview, what the opinions of the leader of the Opposition arc on the question.
– The leader of the Opposition has stated fully and freely what his views are.
– I know the leader of the Opposition is a protectionist, and every protectionist who understands economic principles, knows that preferential trade is only another form of protection for the Empire. Is it not our duty to help Mr. Chamberlain in his great and noble campaign ? The other day we had a cable message to the effect that Lord Rosebery declares there is nothing in the proposal, and is trying to lead the people of Great Britain to believe that statements from Australia to the contrary must be weighed very carefully. Is there any honorable member who does not honestly believe that if the people of Australia were polled tomorrow they would re’turn a verdict in favour of preferential trade? If that be the fact, why not say so? Why should we refuse this great assistance to Mr. Chamberlain in his campaign? Why should this Legislature not say at once that Australia is agreeable, whenever England is ready, to enter into these reciprocal relations? Tn the face of the statements of the Prime Minister in the past, and within the last few days, I have not the slightest hope of the matter being brought to a happy consummation by him. The right honorable gentleman has been at great pains, when attending agricultural shows in Melbourne, and meetings at Kyneton and other places, to tell the farmers that he wants to encourage and foster the interests of the primary producers. What greater encouragement could the right honorable gentleman give the primary producers than to lend himself heart and soul to forward these proposals’ of Mr. Chamberlain? No greater offer has ever been made to the producers of Australia. What is proposed is but protection in another form, and the right honorable gentleman should have said, “ In the interests of the producers of Australia, I am not going to dally with this Question of preferential trade, and, as Prime Minister of the Commonwealth, I shall submit a motion in which I shall invite the Federal Parliament to at once say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to what Mr. Chamberlain has proposed.”
– Why did not the honorable member ask other Prime Ministers to do that? Mr. Chamberlain has been making these proposals for a considerable time.
– There was no necessity to do so. Sir Edmund Barton, and the honorable and learned member for Ballarat have time after time announced to the world that they are in favour of preferential trade with Great Britain. That announcement was made from Ministerial platforms at the last general election. It is because the right honorable gentleman now at the head of affairs has’ announced exactly the opposite view that I say I haw. no hope that in the interests of the primary producers of the Commonwealth the right honorable gentleman will take this matter in hand.
– Can the producers of Australia secure any benefit unless Greac Britain gives them a preference?
- Mr. Chamberlain nas offered a preference with respect to wheat and other Australian produce.
– That is Mr. Chamberlain’s proposal, and not a proposal of the British Parliament.
– There could not, so far, have been such a proposal made by the British Parliament. Mr. Chamberlain is now conducting a campaign in England, with the object of educating the people on the subject.
– Unfortunately, nearly every election which has taken place in England recently has gone against him.
– Those are byeelections, and I dc not think we need take any notice of them. All that we need take notice of at the present time is the information with which we are supplied by thu cablegrams in the press, and through the Department of External Affairs. We know that Mr. Chamberlain is inviting the British people to agree to certain proposals which he has outlined. He proposes that wheat, meat, and, to some extent, wine, and other produce should be admitted into the markets of England free, while he counsels the Government of the day, whoever they may be, to impose a duty upon similar products sent to Great Britain from any foreign country. I repeat that that is the finest offer that has yet been made to the primary producers oi Australia, and we should assist Mr. Chamberlain to give effect to his views in order that the Imperial Parliament may . enter into negotiations for preferential trade with Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and owe British Possessions, and so make the British Empire not only self-reliant, but selfdefiant, because, having its food supplier under its own control, the Empire can defy the world. The present Prime Minister says that if the British Government should ask him to do this he will be content to consider the request. Possibly the right honorable gentleman would be content to attend the Conference which has recently been spoken of as a representative of Australia. But until on the floor of this House the right honorable gentleman has recanted the views to which he has given expression in connexion with the preferential trade movement, how can he be considered a fitting representative of Australia to assist in bringing about reciprocal trade relations with the British Empire? It is because of the right honorable gentleman’s statements in regard to this question that I have no faith in a Ministry of which he is the head, cr in some of the members of his Cabinet. Preferential trade is entirely at variance with their past policy and present professions. All through this debate 1 have waited’ quietly to learn what the policy of the present Government is.
– Did the honorable member find out what the policy of the last Government was ?
– Yes, I did. The policy of the last Government was the policy of the first Federal Government, and I believed in every one of the measures proposed by that Government. I . cannot claim any justification for approving the policy of the present Government until I’ know what it is to be.
– Taking money from the banks ! I suppose the honorable member approves of that. That was the policy of the last Government.
– 1 am not one of those who go beyond the present Labour Party and look into the d’im and distant future to consider something which may hereafter be proposed. It will be time enough for me to deal with those questions when they are brought before the House. All I have to deal with at present is what the party’ propose to do during this and the next Parliament.
– The Labour Government said they would deal with that matter next session.
– I ask the right hon.orable gentleman to say why I supported . the Barton Administration. It was because I believed in the men, and in their measures. I believed in the right honorable member fo;r Swan; I believed that he would be true and loyal as a member of that Administration to the policy that was announced.
– The fight honorable gentleman appears to have been always in a minority in that Administration.
– Not always.
– With respect to the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, we know that it was introduced by the Barton Government ; it was taken up by the Deakin Government ; and it is now fathered by the present Government. We know also that it was the same Bill that was dealt with by the Watson Government. However, a change has been made in the Bill since it emanated from the first Federal Administration. It now includes the railway employes of the States, and on that provision it is ‘well known the honorable and learned member for Ballarat resigned office. The honorable and learned gentleman considered that it was beyond our powers under the Constitution to interfere with the affairs of the States in any way, and he would not be responsible for the provision suggested. I ask who backed up the honorable and learned gentleman in that view? Was it not the present Prime Minister? The right honorable gentleman did so, not only here, but in other places, and the Sydney press supporting him, declaimed against the action of honorable members who desired to interfere with the rights of the States Governments. Yet, when the right honorable gentleman gets into power he retains the very provision which he had previously condemned from one end of the Commonwealth to the other. He invited the House to consent to a recommittal of the measure, and why did not the right honorable gentleman then have the courage of his convictions, and invite honorable members to remove the provision to which he had so strongly objected, and on account of which the honorable and learned member for Ballarat resigned office? How are we to describe the action of the right honorable gentleman in this, connexion ? Imputations and charges have been levelled against one party and another, that they have raised opposition merely in order to secure office. It is a noble ambition to wish to reach office, but is there one honoi able member in this House who would feel himself elevated in his own eyes or in the eyes of the world, if he reached office by the forfeiture of his principles ? That is what the present Prime Minister has done. The right honorable gentleman had the power which he denied to the Watson Government of recommitting any clause in the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, which he wished to have reconsidered, and why did he not take out of the Bill a provision which he considered unconstitutional, instead of shirking the responsibility and imposing upon the people of Australia a provision which he still holds to be radically wrong? I should not have referred to the alliance agreement, were it not that some of the hireling press in the country have endeavoured to misrepresent matters, and T desire that the people should know the truth. To what have the parties to the alliance agreed? They have agreed on certain matters. The first is thus stated -
Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, as nearly as possible, in accordance with the original Bill, as introduced by the Deakin Government, but any member is at liberty to adhere to his voles already given.
Is there anything wrong in that? The proposal is for an adherence to. the principles of the Bill, as introduced by the Barton Government, and also by the Deakin, Government, and as carried by the Watson Government.
– And as agreed to by the right honorable member for Swan.
– Exactly ; the right honorable gentleman as a member of the Government who introduced the measure, is responsible for it.
– State servants and railway employe’s have since been included in the Bill.
– That is so; but under the alliance agreement every member is to be at liberty to adhere to the votes he has already given. Nothing could be fairer than such a provision. I feel certain from my knowledge of the members of the party to which I belong, and of the members of the Labour Party that: no attempt will be made to depart from’ the alliance agreement and what it implies. The next plank in the platform is -
White Australia legislation. Maintain Acts in their integrity, and effectively support their intention by faithful administration.
Is that not needed? I have always pronounced myself on the platform, through the press, and in my place in Parliament as being in favour of a White Australia. I have had occasion to-night to indicate that in one particular instance I have been misrepresented in connexion with that matter, but I need not refer to it again. What objection can there be to this proposal of the alliance? Are honorable members on the other side, and particularly members of the present Ministry, prepared to oppose it ? If so, why do they not join issue with us on that subject at once. We are in the somewhat unfortunate position that almost every honorable member who has spoken from the Government side has addressed the House, not with the object of defending the present Government against the motion of want of confidence, but with the object of attacking the alliance programme. From the part which those honorable members have taken in the debate, it would appear that the motion being discussed was one of want of confidence in the Opposition, and the alliance programme. The next matter referred to in the platform of the alliance is -
Navigation Bill. Report of Royal Commission to be expedited, and, subject to this, Bill to provide for -
The prolection of Australian shipping from unfair competition.
Registration of all coastal vessels engaged in the coastal trade.
Efficient manning of vessels.
Proper accommodation for passengers and seamen.
Proper loading gear and inspection of same.
If honorable members opposite challenge that we shall know where we are. As a member of the “Protectionist Partv I say that I am in complete accord with the members of the Labour Party in this matter. What is asked for is the application of humane conditions to those who have to earn their living at sea. and who are as much entitled to consideration as are those engaged in the various factories in Melbourne, Svdney. and elsewhere. These are proposals for legislation which demand the serious consideration of honorable members, no matter on which side they sit. The Trade Marks’ Bill is another measure upon which the members of the alliance are agreed. I know how necessary it is that that Bill should be passed as rapidly as possible.
SirJohn Forrest. - Includine the trade union label provision I suppose?
– I do not think that the trade unions will obiectto that. Do not honorable members know that in conseauence of the extraordinary prejudice in (he minds of many people against Australian products, the manufactures of this country are unfairly handicapped in competition with goods that come from other parts of the world ? It is necessary to protect Australian goods by Australian trade marks,, and to endeavour to overcome that prejudice. Then there is the Fraudulent Marks Bill., concerning which we are agreed. Surely it is natural that we should join together in support of measures which are intended to put down fraud.
– The Government are in favour of that Bill.
– The Government will not tell us what they intend to do.
– They have done so, but the honorable member was not here.
– The honorable member must have been away.
– I have been a close and careful listener to the debate. The next matter is the High Commissioner Bill with the proviso that the selection of the Commissioner is subject to the approval of Parliament. The appointment of a High Commissioner will enable the Federal staff to be used for the benefit of all the States. That is absolutely, necessary. I dissent from the idea that there should be delay as contemplated by the Prime Minister.
– The Government are not helping the producers in that respect.
– No, the effect, is exactly the opposite. We do not need to wait for the opinion of the States. We have no right to delay the settlement of such a matter until the States choose to express their approval. It is our duty to appoint the High Commissioner as soon as we possibly can, and we can safely leave it to the electors to remove their superfluous Agents-General.
– Hang the expense!
– If I interpret the honorable member’s meaning rightly, I reply that instead of increasing the expense the appointment of a High Commissioner will decrease it. The taxpayers of Australia will have less to pay, because, instead of having an Agent-General for every one of the States, there will be a High Commissioner, representing; the whole of Australia, whose services will be available for all the States Governments. If the States desire to be represented in London they can have their General-Agents instead of their Agents-General, and the result will be a considerable saving to the people. As to consulting Parliament with regard to the appointment, the position to be filled is so responsible in its nature that it is only right that Parliament should know who the High Commissioner is to be before the selection is finally made. That “is all that is asked for. The Government should not be allowed to get into recess, and then make any appointment they think proper, asking Parliament to ratify it, when Parliament can only express its disapproval with the consequence of dislocating the machinery of government by putting the Ministry out of office. Prevention is better than cure. That is one of the principles of the alliance with which I am thoroughly in accord. I need say no more with regard to preferential trade, as I have already dealt wilh the subject at considerable length. In the interests of my constituents, apart from the interests of the whole of Australia, nothing has ever been suggested which will result in more lasting benefit than the establishment of reciprocal relations in regard to the interchange of commodities between Great Britain and the Commonwealth. I shall support any legislation that may be necessary to that end. While I told my constituents that I was prepared to support fiscal peace, at the same time I am not prepared to see the interests of this country neglected and ruined. I arn quite sure that no protectionist onthis side of the House has any desire to see the Tariff reopened from end to end, but what they do desire is that there shall be brought before Parliament the cases of industries that are being injured by the operation of the present Tariff, so that the anomalies may be removed. That is required in the interests not only of capital, but of the bone and flesh and sinew of the people, of this country. People are being driven out of Australia’ to seek for work elsewhere. We should be traitors to our country if we did not attempt so to readjust the Tariff that this ruinous devastation may be stopped.
– When did the Labour Party announce! its fiscal policy as a partv ?
– As a party they have-
– None !
– I do not say that.
– What does the leader of the Opposition say?
– I know him to be a protectionist. I also know that many members of the Labour Party are protectionists. I am quite sure that my honorable friend the member for Aloira, and the right honorable member for Swan, will agree with me that had it not been for the assistance of members of the Labour Party, we should not have had a protectionist Tariff in Australia to-day. They recognise that duties on certain articles were in the interests of labour, and they came to our assistance and helped us to pass the Tariff as it stands. It ill becomes honorable members opposite at this time to denounce the Labour Party for not having a fiscal policy either from the Jfree-tradt: or the protectionist point of view.
– The Labour Party had no fiscal principle.
– One of the reasons why I cannot help to maintain in office the present Prime Minister is that, although to-day he denounces the Labour Party, I know that for five years in New South Wales thev absolutely kept him in power. He could not have lived for five months without them.
– He is always paying them compliments.
– I said that I would not dig into the political grave yard; but I must give one or two instances-
– Just a bone or two !
– The Protectionist Government in New South Wales imposed a duty on wheat in the interests of the farmers, and with the object of saving them from the rapacity of the importers. The right honorable member for East Sydney, on coming into power, declared that he stood for the policy of a free breakfast table. He immediately swept off this duty on corn. But when the Government of New South Wales got into financial difficulties, and more revenue was wanted, who gave it to the right honorable gentleman?
– The unfortunate taxpayer.
– The despised Labour Party came to his assistance. The Prime Minister came to the Labour Party as he came to other members of Parliament at that time wilh a proposal to impose a duty of 3d. per pound on tea. The Labour Party said - “ No, we -will not consent to that, but by way of compromise we will agree to a duty of1d. per pound. The Prime Minister said - “Yes. Mr. McGowen, I will take the penny.” What other Premier would have done that? Neither Sir George Dibbs nor Sir Henry Parkes, nor Sir Patrick Jennings would have continued to occupy the Treasury bench for a moment if. on a financial proposal, they had had to give way to the behests of a section of the
House in that manner. When the Reid Government was in danger again on another occasion, and more revenue had to be obtained, it was necessary to impose a duty upon sugar. To the shame and’ the discredit of men who belonged to the Protectionist Party, because they saw their way to get a little bit of protection for the sugar-growers for the northern part of the country, they left us, and kept a free-trade Government in power. Men are known by their political acts as well as by their personal acts. If a person is known to be immoral and untrustworthy we would not associate with him in personal matters. Similarly, if we know a man to be politically untrustworthy and unreliable, we cannot have any confidence in him. An honorable member has no right to give a vote expressive of his confidence in a Ministry when he has no confidence in ils head.
– A duty of 3d. per lb. on tea was proposed in this House, but the Government could not get even1d. Yet nothing happened.
– The honorable member voted forthe reduction at that time, I think.
– How easily my honorable friends opposite are caught in a trap ! It is said that I voted to abolish the duty on tea, but I was Chairman of Committees atthe time, and exercised no vote whatever.
– The honorable member supported it all the same.
– How did’ I support it?
– We knew that he was in favour of it.
– This shows another instance of the manner in which actions are imputed to me which I was not in a position to perform. The Barton Ministry, at all events, did not go to the Labour Party, and sell themselves for a dutv of1d. or 3d. per lb. upon tea. ‘ They would rather have gone out of office. There was no agreement between them and the despised Labour Party, as there was in New South Wales.
– The honorable member knows that the Dibbs Government would not be kicked out when a vote of censure had been carried against them. They prorogued Parliament, and would not go out.
- Sir George Dibbs is dead; but no more honorable politician ever held office in New South Wales. He would have sacrificed himself a dozen times for the sake of principle.
– Can the honorable member deny what I have said ?
– I do deny it. As an old friend and colleague of the lat.p Sir George Dibbs, I say that during the whole of his political life he did nothing to justify such a remark, and his memory is revered by the people - of New South Wales as that of an honorable and upright man.
– I did not refer to Sir George Dibbs personally. I merely said that when his Government was defeated they declined to go out, and prorogued Parliament.
– I am sorry that that rash statement has been made, because it requries me to go back–
-The matter has nothing whatever to do with this debate.
– Then I ask the honorable member for Parramatta to withdraw what he said, because otherwise a statement detrimental to Sir George Dibbs will appear in the pages of Hansard, while I, his old friend and colleague, will not have an opportunity—
-The honorable member has already dealt with the matter, and denied the statement.
– May I be permitted
– The honorable member mav make a personal explanation, if he feels it necessary to do so, when the honorable member for Riverina nas finished.
– As an old friend and colleague of Sir George Dibbs. I deny the truth of the allegation of the honorable member, and leave it to the people of New South Wales to judge between us. Thev will remember Sir George Dibbs a hundred years hence, while perhaps the honorable member for Parramatta will be forgotten not long after he has gone.
– The honorable member is talking “tommy rot.’’
– No doubt the honorable gentleman is a good -judge of that. At all events, 1 do not indulge in interjections, offensive or otherwise, and as I do not interfere with other honorable members when they are speaking, I ask for similar treatment for myself. Another reason why I have no confidence in the present Administration is that I believe that some of its members are misrepresenting the feelings and aspirations of the Labour Party, with whom I am in alliance, by terming them Socialists, and by telling the farmers that, they are in favour of the confiscation and re-subdivision of the land. I do not believe that that is so. If I thought that the Labour Party would attempt any such thing they would receive no support, from me. On the contrary, I would oppose them. But I cannot forget that when I, as a land reformer, endeavoured to have land thrown open to the people of New South Wales. I met with the opposition of the Prime Minister and those associated with him, while I was assisted by the members of the Labour Party, whose aim was to give people an opportunity to settle on the land, not to take it away from them. The honorable member for Eden-Monaro then stood shoulder to shoulder with me. We strove to burst up the large estates, but we met with the opposition of the Free-trade Party all through. Not one Minister, except when protectionist Governments, such as that of Sir George Dibbs, were in power, did anything for land reform in New South Wales.
– Then who opened up the land for the people?
– The protectionists, with the assistance of the Labour Party-
– Under what land Minister ?
– I shall be out of order if I go into details; but I could give the names of Ministers, if I were not anxious not to occupy more time.
– Why does not the honorable member say that most land was thrown open to the people when Mr. Carruthers was Secretary for Lands in New South Wales?
– Because that would be untrue.
– There has been more land settlement under the provisions of the measures which he introduced than under any other.
– There was more settlement under the Dibbs Government when thev imposed low protective duties, than ever before or since. I am sorry that the honorable member for Parramatta mentioned the name of Sir George Dibbs, because I am forbidden from replying to him ; but will he deny that some Ministers, instead of assisting the protectionists and the Labour Party to get land for the people, allied themselves with the proprietors of big estates? I could give instances pf that kind of thing which would shock honorable members who are not beyond being shocked.
– Then why not give those instances ? No one else but the honorable member knows of these things.
– From my knowledge of the “Prime Minister I am convinced that the farmers of Australia have nothing to expect from him. What did he do? He removed the protective duties upon wheat and other produce, which had conferred great benefit upon them, and substituted a land tax.
– He had the Labour Party behind him.
– I “beg the honorable member’s pardon. He was the first Minister in New South Wales to impose a land tax.
– With the Labour Party behind him.
– Even so. The Labour Party make no secret of their intention-
– fs the honorable member going to control the Labour Party in the interests of protection, and as an opponent of the land tax?
– I am not in charge of the Labour Party. If I were I should possibly be able to point out certain mat’ters to them upon which I believe we should be perfectly in accord.
– The honorable member has suddenly developed a warm sympathy for the Labour Party.
– And the honorable member for Parramatta lias lost it.
– That remark is not worthy of the honorable member for Parramatta. There are several honorable members opposite who know that every vote I gave in the State Parliament was in the interests of the workers.
– I do not know it.
– If I criticised the actions of the honorable member, he would probably feel called upon to make a personal explanation, because I should say something very nasty.
– Say it.
– I have no intention to do so. I have to consider, not only my own feelings, but the pledges which I gave to my constituents. I told them before they voted for me that I would not follow any Government led bv the Prime Minister. That was after the Deakin Ministry had been ejected from office, and the Watson Government had come into power. I had no hesitation in telling my constituents that I was glad that the honorable and learned member for Ballarat had promised to give the new Government fair play, and that I would do the same.
– Why did the lion- orable member enter into the alliance?
– The reason was perfectly clear. The party to which I belonged agreed deliberately not to’ enter into any alliance or coalition with the Freetrade Party. When I afterwards found that certain members of the party had joined forces with the Prime Minister, and that some were included in the new Administration, it behoved me to look round and ascertain whether there was not some party with which I could enter into an alliance. I am sorry that caucus secrets have been disclosed, because I think that the proceedings at such meetings should not be divulged. However, as certain statements have been made with regard to what has taken place at the meetings of the Protectionist Party, I desire to explain my position. At the meeting at which resolutions were passed against entering into any alliance with the Freetrade Party, I gave my reasons for agreeing with the view generally taken by the members present. What would be said of me if, after having agreed to such a resolution, I had deliberately allied myself with any party, without consulting my leader? I did not hear anything further from my leader, and when I found that the new Government embraced two or three members of the party, what could I do? I had to declare myself a supporter of the Government, or go into opposition. There was no room for any third party. The honorable and learned member for Ballarat sacrificed ‘himself, his Ministry, and the protectionist cause, in order to reduce the number of parties in this House to two. I have no desire to say one harsh word against the honorable and learned member. I have a very great admiration for him, and it was a pleasure to me to be one of his followers. I cannot, however, understand’ the motive which induced him to refrain from calling a meeting of his followers to discuss matters before he joined the Prime Minister.
– The honorable member quitted him before he had a chance to do so.
– I did nothing of the kind. I had no knowledge of any meeting. No intimation was sent to me.
– Then why did the honorable member send an apology ? .
– Because circumstances over which I had no control compelled me to be absent. I was ignorant of what had taken place, and I forwarded a letter to the secretary of the party, asking that I should be excused from attendance at any meeting which might be held.
– The protectionists of Australia will follow the honorable and learned member for Ballarat to the end.
– I have not one word to say’ against the honorable and learned member. But I am seeking to defend myself against the charge of being a deserter from my party.
– So the honorable member is a deserter.
– The honorable member is a good judge of desertion, because whilst he was leader of the Labour Party in New South Wales he deserted it in order to join the Prime Minister in office.
– That is absolutely incorrect.
– “History record’s the fact.
– That is about as correct as most of the other statements made by the honorable member.
– The honorable member for Parramatta was a very advanced protectionist before he entered Parliament. He wrote numbers of letters to the newspapers, and declared himself a believer in that form of fiscal faith. He was believed to be a protectionist all the time.
– That is an absolutely incorrect statement.
– The honorable member deserted the Labour Party in order to join the Reid Government, and it ill becomes him to taunt me with being a deserter from my party. I absolutely deny the allegation.
– And I repeat it.
– I have not deserted my party. I was a protectionist when I entered public life, and I am a protectionist to-day, more strongly convinced than ever I was of the soundness of my political principles. I look upon the honorable and learned member for Ballarat as one of the truest protectionists that Australia has produced, and I am at a loss to understand how the present combination was brought about. However, what has taken place has not lessened my respect for the honorable and learned member. I do not pro pose to give up my principles. If I had fifty leaders who went wrong I should still stand to my principles.
– Does the honorable member say that the honorable and learned member for Ballarat has gone back on his principles ?
– I do not say anything of the kind, and no such inference can bo drawn from my statement. I do not understand what the honorable and learned member has done, and I am waiting for him to throw some light upon the subject. I want to hear what he has to say, because at present I do not know whether or not he is in the alliance. But I do know that he had hot sufficient confidence in the Government to become a member of it.
– Does the honorable member know the reason?
– I do not, and I am waiting to hear it.
– It was stated plainly last night.
– If the honorable and learned member for Ballarat had been a member of the Ministry, it would have made a great difference in my attitude, and that of other honorable members, towards the Government. His refusal to join a coalition Ministry was one of the causes of the disruption.
– Cannot we trust the right honorable member for Balaclava and the honorable member for Gippsland ?
– I can only say of the honorable member for Gippsland, as I have said of the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, that I have always looked upon him with admiration as a protectionist, and still do so.’ So far as protection is concerned, I can trust him, and also the right honorable member for Balaclava; but I cannot trust the Prime Minister, the Minister of Home Affairs, or the Postmaster-General, who are honest, conscientious men in their fiscal principles, and will do their level best both inside and outside the Cabinet to carry those principles into effect. At present we have what may be called a nullification Cabinet - a “ YesNo “ Cabinet.
– What is there on the other side ?
– We have a number of men banded together, not on fiscalism, but on something closely allied with fiscalism, namely, the uplifting of humanity. People inside Parliament echo the opinions expressed outside Parliament by people who have a dislike to the Labour Party - who talk about Tom Mann, Fleming, or some other advocate of extreme ideas.
– Does the honorable member believe in Tom Mann’s teaching?
– I am not discussing Tom Mann’s teaching.
– The honorable member has allied himself with Tom Mann’s disciples.
– The honorable member for Moira is usually very . fair, and I may tell him that I have never asked a member of the . Labour Party whether he believes in Tom Mann, or not. I can only repeat that if the Labour Party, with whom I am at present allied on a clearly defined programme, attempt to carry put confiscation doctrines, or any anarchial proposals, they will not receive my support
– Was the honorable member not sent here to support the honorable and learned member for Ballarat?
– I was not, and I am glad the honorable and learned member has given me the opportunity to deny the statement. I was asked to attend only two meetings of the party, at which a decision was arrived at.
– What I meant was that you were returned at the election to support the honorable and learned member.
– I was returned at the first election to support the policy of protection. The programme was laid before the people by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, when he, did me the honour to attend meetings at Deniliquin and Moama, and explained matters, apart from myself. I said that I was very glad to be in agreement with him, and to follow him. On the question of fiscal peace, not only myself, but the honorable and learned member for Ballarat made it absolutely clear to the people of Riverina that if it meant any stoppage of preferential trade, ! we would haveno peace.
– The honorable and learned member did not say that. What he said was that there would be no reopening of the Tariff, except in connexion with preferential trade.
– The honorable member may now see a report of the speech tomorrow. I had already dealt with that question, and expressed the opinion that, now I know the effects of the Tariff, I would be criminal if were not prepared to afford relief at once. The question is one of the gravest moment to Australia. I suppose there is no one in the House who has any particular desire for a dissolution ; but I would scorn to give a vote to prevent such a result. The honorable member for Wilmot posed here very dramatically tonight but I can say that the intriguing for votes in connexion with this motion is greater than I have observed on any other occasion in my twenty years of political life.
– Nobody has ever asked me for a vote, I declare on my honour.
– As I cannot conclude my speech to-night, I ask that the debate be adjourned.
– I desire to make a’ personal explanation. The honorable member who has just resumed his seat imputed to me, very improperly, I think, a desire to impugn the memory of a dead man. I absolutely repudiate any such intention. I simply related a fact of which the honorable member,. with his knowledge of New South Wales politics, ought to be aware - a fact well known to any one associated with the New South Wales Parliament. I refer to the time when a motion of censure was lodged against the Dibbs Government on account pf Sir Edmund Barton and Mr. R. E. O’Connor accepting retainers against the Government of which they were members. When the Government were defeated, instead of resigning as any self-respecting Government would have done, they came down to the House next day, and dramatically flourished in the faces of honorable members a pro-‘ rogation notice. The honorable member for Riverina knows all this, and yet he denies it in point-blank fashion. If my statement can be construed into a reflection on a dead man’s memory, I have yet to understand the meaning of language.
– Political memory ; I did not say personal memory.
House adjourned at 11 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 6 October 1904, viewed 6 July 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1904/19041006_reps_2_22/>.