2nd Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– I desire to make a personal explanation. I was not present when the honorable member for Richmond spoke last week, and I have only just had an opportunity to read the report of his speech. It contains many statements of an extraordinary character, but that to which I wish to direct attention is as follows : -
I shall say no more about the honorable member for Hume at this stage, because I understand the honorable gentleman is shortly leaving the country.
That is an absolute misstatement, in which there is not the shadow of truth. I never heard it even whispered before, and I regret that it has been made.
Debate resumed from 7 th October (vide this page), on motion by Mr. Watson -
That the present Administration does not possess the confidence of this House.
– I was not able to conclude my remarks on Friday last, but I intend to give an opportunity to honorable members opposite to come forward to-day in justification of their action in changing their attitude towards the policy of the Labour Party. It is to be regretted that the honorable member for Hume has given notice of a motion relating to preferential trade, because it curtails the scope of this debate. When the honorable member for Bland gave notice of his motion of want of confidence, it occurred to me that a very wide field had been opened for an attack upon the Government; but Mr. Speaker has ruled that, as the honorable member for Hume has placed on the business-paper notice of his intention to move a motion relating to preferential trade, no extensive reference can be made to the subject.
– I am bound to administer the Standing Orders as they are, and they absolutely prohibit the anticipation of a debate upon a motion set down for a later day. As there is upon the business-paper a notice of motion in the name of the honorable member for Hume relating to preferential trade, I cannot permit the discussion on that subject now. I can allow, have so far allowed; and propose, if it be the will of the House, to continue to allow any necessary discussion of the attitude of the Government, of the Opposition, or of any section of the House in regard to preferential trade, though I must not, and shall not, permit any discussion of preferential trade in the abstract.
– Undoubtedly your ruling, Mr. Speaker, is the correct one. The effect of the honorable member’s notice is to prevent the discussion of proposals for preferential trade ; but, as the subject is mentioned in the programme of the alliance between the Labour Party and the Isaacs section of the protectionists, I presume a passing reference may be made to it by me. It is very clear that what the members of the alliance have in view in this regard is the establishment of higher protective duties than we have now. I have been interested in ascertaining to what extent the honorable and learned member for Indi would go in that direction ; but I am inclined to think that he would not go much further than this Parliament has already gone, because it is on record - and these remarks were published in the Argus of the 13th September last - that he said some considerable time ago-
– Fifteen years ago.
– In that period the honorable and learned member has had time to change his views, but he has not said that he has changed them, and therefore I do not think he will deny what he said on the occasion to which I refer. His remarks then were as follows : -
The miner, how is he on a level with the workers in the town?
– He explained those remarks.
-Whatever explanation he might have made would notaffect the meaning of his words.
– He showed that the meaning was affected by the context.
– It. will be seen that the words which I am about to quote have a full sense in themselves. Although the honorable and learned member for Indi may have explained that the people of Victoria were heavily taxed at the time he made this speech, that does not affect the meaning of what he said. The people of the Commonwealth are heavily taxed at the present time. The remarks of the honorable and learned member showed that he is not the rabid protectionist which some honorable members opposite would have us to believe him to be, and that he knows the effect of high protective duties. He said -
And the miner, how is he on a level with the workers in the town? He has a weight around his neck. We are told that the miners patriotically stood by protection in the past. Are we to whip the willing horse to death? .
No doubt the honorable member for Melbourne Ports would go as far as prohibition. Was it not shown during our last sitting that the chairman of the Denton Hat Mills once stated that a duty of 50 per cent, upon hats would be prohibitive of importation, whereas Parliament gave that firm, which had a monopoly of the hat manufacturing business in Victoria, a duty of 75 per cent.
– By the last Tariff.
– A duty of 30 per- cent, is the highest in the Tariff.
– Evidence given before a Royal Commission by the representative of the Denton Hat Mills showed that a duty of 28. would be sufficient to prohibit the importation of hats, but the’ duty was fixed by this Parliament at 3s. They said that a duty of 50 per cent would be prohibitive; they did not expect to obtain protection to the extent of 75 per cent. The honorable and learned member for Indi was “not far wide of the mark when he used the words I have quoted a few years ago, and no doubt he would repeat his statements today. He asked why we should work the willing horse to death. Then he went on to say -
Is protection to go on for ever to an unlimited extent, right on, as we are told, to prohibition? Are we never to stop taxing the miner ? He is the man who goes through the most arduous labour, the most dangerous pursuits, to win the wealth of the country ; and what does he get in return for it ?. A promise that more burdens shall be laid upon him.
The words of the honorable and learned member apply with equal force to what is now proposed by the alliance. He said further -
His pick is weighted with taxation, every article he wears is weighted with taxation, and when he goes home every article in his house, even his knife and. fork, is taxed.
The honorable member for Melbourne .Ports may sneer at the miners because he does not represent them.
– I never sneered at the miners; the, honorable member is absolutely misrepresenting the case.
– The remarks of the honorable and learned member for Indi apply to the working men of Melbourne, in common with the miner, and it is the honorable member for Melbourne Ports who is proposing to work the willing horse to death. If he truly represented the interests of labour he would not reduce the purchasing power of the workers’ wages, and thereby render it more difficult for them to procure the necessaries of life.
– They cannot get work to do, and therefore cannot earn any wages.
– A similar state of affairs exists in England. A great deal has been said there upon the subject of preferential trade, and it has been urged that, whilst Australia may be prepared to tax its own people, it must not impose further burdens upon the workers of Great Britain, nor should new industries be established in the Colonies. A cable message, published in this morning’s newspapers informs us that -
The distress in England caused by the lack of work is increasing. There are 6,000 unemployed at Poplar, 10,000 at West Ham, and an unprecedented number at Stepney.
These facts may strengthen the arguments which have been used in favour of providing a better outlet for the manufactures of Great Britain; but would those honorable members who support a protective policy for Australia be content to admit such goods to our ports, thereby making work for the unemployed of England? The honorable member for Melbourne Ports would subject them to imposts still higher than those already levied. He would not do anything that would assist to provide employment for the operatives of Stepney or other places in England, where distress is unprecedented. Some of the advocates of protection say that we could give a preference to England by increasing our duties against the foreigner. What relief would that provide if the duties are already prohibitory ?
– Could we not give preference to the old country by reducing our duties so far as British manufactures are concerned?
– I should advocate the teduction of duties so far as Great Britain is concerned, and allow them to remain as they are against the foreigner.
By adopting such a policy we should largely assist the English manufacturers. The operatives at Stepney would be provided with more employment, as would also those at Luton, in Bedfordshire, where the hat-making industry is largely carried on.
– Would such action on our part be consistent’ with the Constitution ?
– Yes, because we are quite free to alter the Tariff as we think fit. By giving Great Britain a preference in the way I have indicated we should assist the working classes of Australia by enabling them to obtain the goods they require at lower prices ; the cost of the raw material for manufactures would likewise be reduced, to better enable the colonial manufacturer to compete with imports. At Luton recently reference was made to the proposal to increase our Tariff, and in speaking to the producers of grain - Luton is an agricultural as well as a manufacturing district - the Honorable Joseph Chamberlain said that under the policy he advocated they would obtain higher prices for their products. He asked them, “ Would you not come in under the umbrella “ ? In other words, “ Have you not sufficient intelligence to come in out of the wet?” The Duke of Bedford, a large landed proprietor, occupied the chair at the meeting. Honorable members may remember the remarks of John Bright with reference to the landed proprietors of Great Britain, who opposed the repeal of the Corn Laws, because they feared that’ the dowries of their daughters would be affected by the lowering of their rents. Mr. Chamberlain appropriately asks the members of that class whether they have not sufficient intelligence to come in out of the wet, and embrace the monetary advantages offered. I am reminded of the agitation which took place in the forties, when every Liberal in Great Britain - I hear that the protectionists here call themselves Liberals - fought for the repeal’ of the Corn Laws. The honorable member for Maranoa is evidently amused at the idea of a protectionist being called a Liberal. Earl Beaconsfield, the protectionist, was called a Conservative, and yet honorable members opposite claim to be Liberals.
– Everything goes by contraries in Australia; here the free-traders are Conservatives.
– I am reminded of the words of Dr. Charles Mackay, who wrote on behalf of the masses during the free-food campaign. His lines upon the achievement of free-trade in England are effective -
Once we thought it right to foster
Local jealousies and pride ;
Right to hate another nation
Parted from us by a tide;
Right to go to war for glory,
Or extension of domain,
Right, through fear of foreign rivals,
To refuse the needful grain;
Right to bar it out till Famine
Drew the bolt with fingers wan.
Old opinions ! rags and tatters !
Get you gone ! get you gone !
It was the potato blight in Ireland that turned the current of public opinion in favour of the repeal of the Corn Laws ; it was the possibility of famine in Ireland, resulting in the starvation of millions of people, that gave the great impetus to the free-trade movement in England.
– The people of Ireland starved because they had to send away their produce to pay their rents.
- Sir Robert Peel not only repealed the Corn Laws, but fought hard in the cause of the poor, and succeeded in liberalizing the conditions of their lives, and enlarging their opportunities. It was the potato blight and the possibility of starvation to millions which won over the followers of Sir Robert Peel, and ultimately Sir Robert himself. I trust that we shall not have to fight the fiscal battle again now that the people of England, through their representatives in Parliament, are crying out to those of Australia not to tax their foodstuffs. Have we not all read the book of Jack London, upon the starving poor of England, in which he describes how he assumed the character of a pauper and gained admission to the charitable institutions of London and other parts of the mother country ?
– In free-trade England, one person out of every four dies in a charitable institution.
– The honorable member is perfectly correct. In a free-trade country it is true that many die of poverty, and yet it is now proposed to increase the taxation upon foodstuffs, so that the people of England shall obtain less of them. I should like to quote, for the benefit of the honorable member, who is a Socialist, and who fights under trie banner of Karl
Marx, what that author has to say in referring to his German friends and compatriots. He writes -
But remember that in Germany, where we have protection, the condition of things is much worse.
The condition of things in Germany, he declared, was much worse than that which obtained in England.
– It cannot be much worse when one death out of every four occurs in a benevolent institution.
– I do not dispute the accuracy of the honorable member’s statement, and therefore I appeal to him to extend no sympathy to an alliance which would take from the starving poor of England the only crust which they have an opportunity of getting After all, our output of grain is a mere bagatelle compared with the consumption which takes place in England. Although we appear to ignore it, it is a fact that the mother country produces one-half of the grain required for her own consumption. The principal part of the remainder is drawn from Canada. That country exports to England millions of quarters of grain annually, whereas we export only a small proportion of this import. A senator of New South Wales, Mr. Pulsford, in his book on Commerce and the Empire, shows very clearly what we should lose by giving effect to the alliance programme. We are an exporting country, and he has shown that our exports in wool, hides, sheepskins, wheat, tallow, and minerals, aggregate an annual value of £18,800,000. Of that volume of trade , £6,900,000 worth is reexported from London, and of this sum £6,800,000 worth goes to the Contnent, and we export from Australia to the Continent £10,200,000 worth of goods direct. I merely wish to make a few observations upon this aspect of the question, in order to show that, as the reexport trade from England to the Continent represents a value of £6,800,000, our trade with foreign countries is worth about £17,000,000. Yet the alliance proposes to increase the duties against the foreigner, so that he shall be unable to take this £17,000,000 worth of our staple products. How is the farmer and the miner in the country to progress, and our producers to thrive if we deprive them of the market of Europe which they at present possess? I have been impelled to address myself to this phase of the question by the remarks of the honorable member for
Bourke, who dwelt upon the pernicious effect of trade with the foreigner. It seems to me that he did not know what he was talking about. If we wish to progress we must extend our markets. What is commerce!? Is not its very essence the exchange of goods for goods? If the foreigner takes ;£i 7,000,000 worth of our products, must we not accept ^17,000,000 worth of his goods in exchange? Otherwise, how shall we get paid for our products? The Labour Party claims to be in favour of education in order that the people may be better able to understand and to remedy existing conditions, but it seems to me1 that honorable members opposite are fooling themselves in favoring an alliance whose policy would certainly be destructive to the interests of Australia. Our landed property owners, small farmers, and producers, who number some thousands, would be most injuriously affected by the operation of such a policy, and the working classes would suffer more acutely than would any others. Do honorable members realize what a duty of 10 per cent, upon our trade with Great Britain means? Do we not import from that country goods in exchange for the products which we send there? Assuming that we annually export ^18,800,000 worth of staple products, have we not to accept goods of an equal value in return ? We receive from them articles from the secondary industries, whilst they accept our produce from the primary industries.
– Some honorable members do not understand that goods are paid for with goods.
– It is evident that they do not. The home trade of Great Britain in itself represents a value of something like ^900,000,000, and it is proposed to levy a duty upon her manufactures in order to find” employment for the people. “ Will you not come in out of the wet?” asked Mr. Chamberlain. That question was intended to apply to the manufacturers as well as to the landed propertyowners. Ten per cent, upon ^900,000,000 represents ^90,000,000. Even assuming that only 5 per cent, of the duty was passed on to the consumers, that would mean that the working people of England would have to pay an additional ^45,000,000 annually, and the wage earners would- receive less of comforts by ^45,000,000 worth annually. Would not that money go into the pockets of the manufacturers? Consequently we can understand Mr. Chamber lain saying, “ Have you not sufficient intelligence to come in out of the wet?” Certainly they have been alert enough to do so in other parts, where they have contributed tens of thousands of pounds to prosecute the campaign which “Mr. Chamberlain has commenced. What does the alliance programme mean to the poor farmer? If the latter sends his products to England, and the price of manufactures is raised by 10 per cent., will he not receive 10 per cent, less in manufactures under the increased duty for our staple products, such as wheat and wool? Shall we not also get less for our minerals? Minerals , are the miners’ wages. The more of the good things he can get for them, the higher will be the purchasing power of his wages. Instead of such a policy assisting the farmer and the miner, we shall be penalizing them as well as penalizing the unemployed of England. If the purchasing power of the people of the mother country is reduced by ^90,000,000 or ^45,000,000, will not manufactures be reduced to that extent in Great Britain? It seems to me that the whole, proposition is based upon a fallacy, or else honorable members opposite have not the best interests of the country at heart. If they thoroughly understood what they were talking about, they would have nothing more to do with the alliance. I believe that the Labour Party are liberal in instinct if not in methodthey would go to the full extent of monopolizing everything, and would divide the wealth of the community equally amongst the people. That ideal state of things is not likely to be realized in our time ; it belongs to the millennium. Mr. Tom Mann, who has devoted a great deal of attention to the labour movement, has taken upon himself to speak on behalf of the Labour Party in both the States and the Commonwealth Legislatures. He has clearly told them that he is not going to suffer any more vacillation on their part ; that they must come out and say boldly what they are. He declares that they are Socialists, and that they must stand and fight under the banner of Socialism, even if that banner be all red.
– Did he say “all red”?
– I am not quite certain that he used those words.
– They are near enough, I suppose ?
– His doctrine is, at all events, revolutionary in character.
I intend to give the House a quotation from a printed statement of his views. In his pamphlet, The Labour Movement in Both Hemispheres, Mr. Tom Mann speaks fairly clearly to the working men of Australia, and latterly he has been lecturing the Labour Party, and endeavouring to spur them on to a full realization of the principles they profess. I made some reference to this matter some days ago. On that occasion, in answer to an interjection by the honorable member for Darling, I referred, on the spur of the moment, to a speech made by him, in which I thought he was inclined to repudiate Mr. Tom Mann. I find, at page 4435 of Hansard, that the honorable member for Darling, in discussing the Ministerial statement on 8th ult., said -
We have nothing whatever to do with what some labour newspapers may advocate, or with that which Mr. Tom Mann may say.
The honorable member holds that he and the party to which he belongs have nothing whatever to do with what the labour newspapers may say.
– Quite right.
- Mr. Tom Mann is the mouthpiece of the Labour Party.
– So the honorable member asserts.
– He is in the employ of the Trades Hall Council, and is paid for his services just as any man is entitled to be paid for work done.
– Does the honorable member acknowledge that he is responsible, in the same way, for the utterances of Mr. Walpole ?
– I am not acquainted with that gentleman, nor do I know what he advocates. If his views are contrary to those which I have uttered in this House from time to time, I can only say that I am not in agreement with him. I certainly do not believe in all that Mr. Tom Mann advocates.
– The honorable member ought to study the views of the one as well as of the other.
– I intend first of all to study the views of Mr. Tom Mann, because I desire to fight him and all who work under him. I do not believe in his policy.
– He is a free-trader.
– If he be a Socialist, I cannot conceive of his being a protectionist.
– All Socialists are free- traders
– But Mr. Tom Mann would go much further than would free-traders on this side of the House, and a great deal further, I am inclined to think, than would the free-traders of the Opposition. The honorable member for Darling is neither a free-trader nor a protectionist, but simply a labour member. I should like to read to the House some of the views which he expressed on the occasion to which I have referred, because, although he has denied it, I certainly thought at the time that he was endeavouring to repudiate Mr. Tom Mann. He said -
There has been a great deal of misrepresentation and misunderstanding with regard to the pledge which labour representatives in this House are required to sign. I have here a copy of that document, and I may as well read it in order to show the Minister of Trade and Customs how the Argus sometimes misleads the people. That newspaper has made it appear that every question is dealt with by the caucus, whereas the only questions upon which we are pledged to our constituents are embraced within what is called the fighting platform.
He stands by the fighting platform of the party, and that platform is very socialistic in some respects, because it provides for a State monopoly of all sources of production and distribution.
– Will the honorable member read the articles of the platform?
– I am going to point out to the House what the honorable member for Darling had to say on the subject. He went on to state on the occasion in question that -
Many of the platforms that are adopted in the States differ materially from the fighting platform adopted for the purpose of the Federal election.
I have consulted the platform of the Labour Party in the States Parliaments, and have also read in Mr. Reeves’ book of the platform of the labour-protectionists of Victoria. One of the planks in the Victorian State Labour Party’s platform provides, according to Mr. Reeves, that all the members of the party shall be protectionists. I believe that provision has been done away with since the publication of this book, but it has never been denied that such a plank existed. The platform of the Federal Labour Party, however, makes no reference to the fiscal question. The honorable member for Darling went on to say -
The former embrace proposals, some of which are admittedly socialistic.
Why should the honorable member single out the former - the platform of the Labour Party in the States Parliaments - and refrain from dealing with that of the Federal Labour Party? Both platforms are socialistic. This statement on the part of the honorable member for Darling was too much for the honorable member for Kennedy, who interjected -
Ours is a socialistic movement anyhow.
The honorable member for Kennedy would have none of the honorable member’s repudiation of Socialism, and the honorable member for Darling showed his presence of mind by at once saying -
Yes, but what I wish to emphasize is that in relation to the pledge signed by members of the Labour Party we go to the country upon what is called a fighting platform. There were seven items in the last platform, and we were called upon to subscribe to those.
He did not say that he would go to the full length advocated by Mr. Tom Mann in his support of Socialism; he merely said that there were seven planks in the platform of the Federal Labour Party, leaving the inference to be drawn that the Labour Party in this Parliament were not pledged to anything else. Mr. Tom Mann, however, will not hesitate to tell the members of the party of the principles to which they are pledged. The honorable member for Darling wert on to say -
Anything that may be done by outside bodies can have no effect upon representatives in this Parliament, who are pledged to their constituents upon the basis of the fighting platform. The pledge signed by members ot the Labour Party refers only to the matters included in that platform.
Only the seven planks comprised in the platform -
The fate of the Ministry is not included in that pledge. We can vote as we like upon matters affecting the fate of a Government, and we are very careful to act according to our constitutional powers.
After reading the pledge he proceeded to state that -
The pledge is confined wholly and solely to the questions upon the printed platform -
He was endeavouring here to show that the party was pledged to only the printed platform, and not to support Socialism to its full extent - upon which we run our elections, and we are not affected by anything which Tom Mann may say or which may appear in a labour newspaper.
We see here that the honorable member is not prepared to allow Mr. Tom Mann to act as his mouth-piece, and to pledge him to any particular course. The honorable member made a further reference to Socialism -
The speeches which have been made by both heads of the Government, whether they are called half or double Prime Ministers, have been devoted to an attack, not upon what the Labour Government had done or proposed to do as a Government, but upon something founded upon misrepresentations which have been made outside Parliament, and in some instances in Parliament -something that has no existence except in the imagination of some honorable members opposite -
According to the honorable member, the Labour Party is in no way responsible for the views expressed by Mr. Tom Mann, and which have been dealt with during this debate. The attacks which have been made upon the Labour Party as the advocates of Socialism amount, according to the honorable member, to misrepresentation - or of those outside who are attempting just now to prevent an accession to the numbers of the Labour Party in the event of a dissolution. . . People are daily becoming more educated, and largely through the propaganda work of the Walpoles and Tom Manns, who are all doing some good.
He was here endeavouring to patronize Mr. Tom Mann, saying that he and Mr. Walpole, whom the honorable member for Maranoa denounces, were doing some good.
– I have never denounced Mr. Walpole, but I shall do so.
– This attempt to shift the responsibility was too much for the honorable member for Kennedy, who interjected -
Tom Mann has been one of the best organizers we ever had.
We have here no word of Tom Mann doing “ a little,” but we hear of him as “ one of the best organizers we ever had.” The honorable member for Kennedy is a Socialist, and believes in Tom Mann.
– I said what has been quoted ; read on.
– I can find no other reference in the quotation.
– There is a context and a pretext further on.
– There is a great deal of the speech ; I have, however, given honorable members what the honorable member for Darling said upon this point. Outside of the House some honorable members are denouncing Tom Mann and repudiating him, while there are other honorable members who applaud that gentleman to the echo. Tom Mann himself seems to be aware of the position, and I shall now give a quotation from his book in order to let the House know what his opinions really are.
– Is there a motion of want of confidence in Tom Mann ?
– Tom Mann says -
I am aware that a number who are convinced that Socialism is the only means of salvation, consider it politic not to say so very plainly, as they say, “ The people here are not accustomed to it,” and, further, “ you may go as far in a socialistic direction as any one can wish, providing it is not called Socialism.”
That is the position of Tom Mann, and it seems to me that he has met those gentlemen and discussed the matter with them. Mr. Mann’s opinion is that those honorable members are attempting to deceive the electors. On Sunday last Tom Mann, who is the head of the organizing committee of this movement, and is paid for his services by the labour organizations - Tom Mann, whom honorable members by their interjections say that they do not repudiate - found it necessary to say on Yarra Bank -
When men are returned by a straight-out labour or socialistic party on a clear-cut programme, in which certain principles are laid down, they arc not expected to go asking, can we do this? The order is given to work and accomplish what they are set to do.
– Hear, hear ! What is wrong with that?
– Mr. Mann says that the Labour Party have a clear-cut programme - that the party have no right to enter into an alliance with the Isaacs Party. Mr. Mann says that the duty of the Labour Party is to do what they are told, and not to come back and ask “ May we do this with the Isaacs Party?” According to Tom Mann, the Labour Party have been given their instructions, and though they may negotiate with any party or section of the House in order to gain support for their proposals, they-
– So that the Labour Party are not dominated by the leagues, after all.
– Tom Mann says that the Labour Party may negotiate for co-operation in the furtherance of their proposals, and to that extent he would go himself. But he adds -
It is a matter of expediency there; but outside, where we have declared in favour of class war, where our policy has been straight-out independence and no fraternizing with the bourgeoise or the plutocracy, it is not for the parliamentarians to tell us what we are todo.
Evidently parliamentarians are trying to modify the declarations of Tom Mann on the platform, because that gentleman went on to say -
I will not subscribe to it. (Cheers.) We have declared for sturdy, independent action against plutocracy -
That is what Tom Mann is advocating, and what is applauded to the echo - and I am not going to be told by the parliamentary section that I must forgo it.
It is evident that some one has been trying to tame Tom Mann - somebody who dislikes the association with which he is identified. . It is evident that there is a desire that he shall be a “ milk and water “ gentleman, so that they may in Parliament take office when opportunity arises - that there is a desire he shall sacrifice his principles, and deceive the electors for the sake of the emoluments he receives. But Tom Mann will have none of such proposals. What he says is that the Labour Party are not to work for their own aggrandizement, but for the good of the people - that the Labour Party have not come into Parliament as individualists, but have been sent here by the workers as Socialists, and for the aims of the Socialists must strive. Tom Mann says -
Like it or lump it, I won’t do it. You’ll never get me locking up an alliance outside our institutions between any class of workers and anyplutocratic faction. The alliance would lead one to suppose that the Labour Party has agreed with the Liberal Party. Is that so? I don’t think it is. Can there be any alliance with men who, if not Socialists, are travelling in the direction of anti-Socialism?
There is a good deal of common sense in those words. We are running in the direction of anti-Socialism. There can be no alliance with us on this side, and there should be none with that section of the Opposition corner, who are now supporting the Labour Party, for the sake, I suppose, of getting into power. Tom Mann says to the Labour Party in Parliament -
You must not ask me to drop my straightout tactics. I won’t do it, not for the State or the Federal Labour Party, and not for the Trades Hall Council.
It will be seen from this that efforts have been made to modify Tom Mann’s tactics. He boasts of the reputation of having been turned out of all European countries, and he is not going to be talked to by a number of so-called Socialists who are afraid to announce themselves - who were returned as Socialists, and yet, for the sake of office, have made an alliance with gentlemen who can have no sympathy with Socialism. The honorable member for Bland has said a great deal on the question of Socialism, and I am inclined to think that he does not, always speak out quite so clearly as Tom Mann would like.
– The honorable member is giving Tom Mann a good advertisement !
– In giving Mr. Tom Mann an advertisement, I serve my purpose, because I wish the people to know what that gentleman is advocating. I want the people to know what the Labour Party are advocating, and what is the goal of that party. It is because the people do not know how far they are going to be taken by the Labour Party that they have voted in favour of the gentlemen opposite.
– The same tale has been told for the last fourteen or fifteen years.
– The same tale has been told for fifty years - that freetrade is the best policy for the people, and that the millions of England believe in that policy. The labour sections of the people of Great Britain, represented in the House of Commons by thirteen members, believe in free-trade, and they have taken the trouble to cable their convictions to the Labour Party in Australia. In the opinion of the representatives of Labour at home, protection means placing shackles on the working classes. Undoubtedly we have been fighting for the policy of freedom, ‘not only for fifteen years, but for fifty years; and for that policy I am prepared .to fight so long as I shall remain in public life. When I go out of public life I think it will be either because the people have become Socialists or that my work is finished. The honorable member for Bland has said -
Another question of difference between the present Government and ourselves is as to what we are told is Socialism.
The honorable member for Boothby interjected -
Everything is Socialism nowadays.
That is to say, that, while the Government declared such a policy to be Socialism, it is not really Socialism. To that the honorable member for Bland replied -
Everything that is proposed by the “ other fellow “ is Socialism. Everything that will benefit the “ other fellow “ is Socialism. But when a proposal is brought forward that will benefit, at the expense of the State, or with the assistance of the State, the farmers, for instance, who are so ably represented by the Minister of Trade and Customs, then we hear nothing of this cry about Socialism.
Tom Mann has said something on this point, and I should like to give honorable members the benefit of the views of that gentleman. He said -
I am aware that a number who are convinced that Socialism is the only means of salvation, consider it politic not to say so very plainly, as they say the people here are not accustomed to it.
– The honorable member read that before.
– I wish to emphasize what Mr. Tom Mann said on that point. The honorable member for Bland, in his capacity as a private individual, appeared upon the public platform last night and told the people, in an out-of-the-way place, where he had no reason to suppose that he would be fully reported, what Socialism is, and what are the Labour Party’s aims.
– Does the honorable member call Ballarat an out-of-the-way place ?
– The speech was delivered before the Cathedral Chapter in Ballarat.
– The honorable member is evidently innocent of these places. The speech was delivered to an association of young men attached to the Cathedral, not before the Cathedral Chapter. It was delivered to a small organization, and the honorable member had no reason to suppose that there would be a pressman present.
– In all probability a pressman went up from Melbourne with him.
– This is what the honorable member said -
Socialism meant that a State or municipality or some representative body of the collective forces of the community should assume control of the means of production and exchange.
Assume control of production and exchange !
– Horrid !
– That Socialism would take the holdings from all farmers and settlers, nationalize all manufactures, and stamp out of existence all retail business. Honorable members opposite are innocent of what the honorable member for Bland proposes -
And undertake the direction of all industry, and the distribution of the wealth which industry produces.
Here the honorable member is covering the whole ground -
It was said that Socialism would mean a loss of individual liberty, and that men and women would be subject .to the collective voice in the ordering of their lives.
Honorable members laugh with derision that the honorable member for Bland should make such a statement.
– We are laughing at the way in which the honorable member reads it.
– Honorable members opposite repeat their derision, because this is foreign to what they themselves have stated. But let us hear what the honorable member for Bland says -
Well, he was free to admit that it would mean the loss of some of the liberty that some people had to-day.
– I should hope so.
– Read on.
– It seems that honorable members opposite are not disposed to laugh now. They are innocent of the effects of what they are proposing. They are absolutely ignorant of what Socialism means. Especially so are the two honorable members who are taking such pains to prove that they are idiotic upon this particular subject. I should like to give them another quotation from this speech. The honorable member for Bland said -
Members of the Labour Party are put down as the ramping variety of Socialists, but as a matter of facttheir position in Australia was practically the same as that of the Labour Party in England.
Where now is the laugh of these gentlemen who take such pains to show that they are asses?
– The honorable member must withdraw that statement.
– I will withdraw it, Mr. Speaker. The honorable member for Bland further said -
They had their objective in political action, and in putting forward the socialistic ideal as the one to be aimed at because it was a good and a moral idea, and made for the happiness of the people as far as it moved at all.
That is the declaration of the honorable member for Bland. It is a declaration that is not consistent with what he has said on the platform in other parts of Australia. Several honorable members opposite have declared themselves to be Socialists, but at the same time we find them allying themselves with the Isaacs section in the Opposition corner for the purpose of getting into power. As the honorable member for Perth has said, this would make it impossible for them to carryout their programme. It would mean that they would have to compromise. They must give the Opposition corner Darty something and take something less than they desire for themselves. Therefore the honorable member for Perth says, “ I will have none of this alliance.” Yet he will not break away from the Labour Party. Notwithstanding the statement of the honorable member for Darling, who says that the members of the Labour Party can vote as they like upon a noconfidence motion the honorable member for Perth knows that it would be very unwise indeed for a labour man to break away from his party, howeverhe might be convinced it was in the wrong. They must stand or fall together.
– I should be going very far from my principles if I voted with some honorable members on the Government side.
– The honorable member is perfectly correct in what he says. I am endeavouring to show that our principles are the very opposite from those of the socialistic party. I wish the people to know that we are opposed to Socialism and to what the honorable member for Perth believes in ; because hehas come out candidly and declared that he will stand by Socialism because he believes in it. I respect an honorable member who stands by his convictions, even though I cannot agree with his policy. The right honorable the Prime Minister has said -
The honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne has evidently seen some reference of mine to Socialism, and it is perfectly true that I believe there are some aspects of what is called Socialism which are absolutely worthy of approval. But I can draw a line, and the difference between the Socialism of honorable members opposite and the view I hold is shown when one of the best principles in the world- when the principle of using the national power for ends of national good - is pushed so far as to convert the whole nation into an army of civil servants.
That is why I am opposed to Socialism - because we should make the people an army of civil servants, because we should take from them their initiative, and give no incentive to inventive genius ; because we should cripple industry, and because the people would suffer. The Prime Minister has made a very clear statement of what he believes in. He says . that Socialism means - destroying the initiative, the ability, the prospects, the property, and the opportunities of human beings with their intellects - their varying degrees of mental strength. There are some public services, such as those performed by our post-offices, which, we are all agreed, should be a national concern. By the way, some people, including myself, used to look on State railways as another phase of Socialism, but, on closer inquiry, State railways are shown to be an absolute negation of Socialism.
The right honorable gentleman has made his views upon the question very clear. He has said that at one time he was of opinion that the nationalization of the services so frequently referred to here, and which were referred to by the honorable member for Bland in his speech was a form of Socialism ; but he is now convinced that it is not Socialism at all. In this, Mr. Tom Mann agrees with the right honorable gentleman, because, quoting from the Fabian Essays, he says -
Although Socialism, involves State control, State control does not imply Socialism - at least in any modern meaning of the term.
There we have the position, and it must not be forgotten that it is an up-to-date socialistic party we have opposite, and that it is the up-to-date movement of which Mr. Tom Mann has spoken. He says further -
It is not so much to the thing which the State does as to the end for which it does it that we must look -
For what end does the State do this? It is not to secure a monopoly of the sources of production and distribution, or in order to destroy the initiative in every individual in the communty. It is not to establish a socialistic state. Mr. Mann says it is the end for which the State does these things to which - we must look before we can decide whether it is a Socialist State or not.
So it seems that while honorable members on the Government side ask for a movement of reform throughout the world, and commend State ownership of post-offices and railways, what they ask for, according to the Fabian Essays, is not necessarily Socialism. Mr. Tom Mann, in order that he may make himself perfectly clear, and that there shall be no misrepresentation, says that he gives the quotation in full, and does not rely upon his own words.
Socialism is the common holding of the means, of production and exchange, and the holding of them for the equal benefit of all.
That is not the object for which the nationalization of various services has been adopted by the State. The right honorable member for East Sydney in this House said -
We are absolutely opposed to the political methods of the Labour Party, and to the authority which their organizations have over Members of Parliament, and we are absolutely opposed to their extreme socialistic designs.
The extreme socialistic designs of this party are referred to in Mr. Mann’s publication on the labour movement. He says -
But what of the Labour Party? I am aware that some Socialists are criticising them as the enemies of labour, and consider them to be lacking in a knowledge of what international Socialism means, and unwilling to do anything to advance it, so far as they do understand it.
That is Mr. Mann’s statement of what is believed by the leading Socialists of Great Britain of the labour leaders in Australia. Then he gives his own opinion of them when he says -
I do not share this view. I have had the opportunity of associating with the labour members, and I consider them to be clear-headed, honest, and upright men, many of whom would be only too glad to go much further than they are going at this hour if the electorates would back them.
In these word’s Mr. Mann has given his opinion^ of what the Labour Party would do, and the extent to which they would go, if the electors would support them. Honorable members opposite have derived some satisfaction from a reckless statement of the honorable member for Wilmot, that were a dissolution to take place at the present time, the polls would be swept by the Labour Party. The honorable member might be able to let himself down softly in that way, but he could not deceive me, nor could he deceive Mr. Tom Mann, who has said that honorable members opposite would go further than they now profess to be prepared to go, and that if they were candid and honest, and said what they really believed in, they would go the full length of Socialism, according to the Fabian Essays, and of the socialistic movement of England and the Continent j but he adds that they are not supported by the people. The right honorable member for East Sydney also said -
Labour Socialists talk of a time to come when the workers will all be happy, when they will all be employed in a Government factory ; but attempts to carry such views to a violent’ extreme - an extreme which makes the very basis upon which property, enterprise, and labour rest insecure - are the worst things that can happen for the great mass of the workers who have to live by the expansion of industry under conditions of confidence and trust.
It would shock public confidence, and” the trust of our creditors in Australia. We should have the millions sent out here for investment withdrawn immediately if it were known that there was in power a socialistic party that would go the full length of the socialistic movement. While the Labour Party maysneer at the remarks made bv the honorable and learned member for Parkes, to the effect that capital is withdrawn from
Australia, it is quite a common occurrence to hear of large sums of money being withdrawn from the Commonwealth because of the influence of the labour movement. Though I believe this is done under a misapprehension, nevertheless the fact remains that we might all cite instances of very large sums indeed having been withdrawn because people in England are alarmed by the socialistic movement, at the head of which are men like Mr. Tom Mann. Under the heading, “He that will not work, neither shall he eat,” Mr. Mann says -
Now, I am amongst those who believe that the only correct reply to the question - “ What are the rightful claims of labour?” is given by the Socialists, which reply is that the entire produce of labour should go to those who perform the labour, less the necessary State charges, which would always provide adequately for the young, the sick, and the elderly.
From this we see that Socialists propose to pauperize those who are in the back-wash of society. There is to be a superior class in the socialistic community, and another class which is to be dependent upon the State for sustenance. There is, I believe, to-day a movement throughout Australia against the pernicious influence of the socialistic movement. The revolutionaries of Europe have gone to such an extent as to alarm all reasonable beings, and all well-balanced minds. Even within the last few weeks, we have had the information that the Russian Minister of the Inferior has been assassinated. It was not known who had assassinated him, but a socialistic body has come forward and announced that they were instrumental in his assassination. That has appeared in the public press.
– Not a socialistic body.
– A socialistic revolutionary party.
– Revolutionary, not socialistic.
– A socialistic revolutionary party. If the honorable member will read what Mr. Tom Mann has written on the subject, he will find that he refers to the leaders in every country of Europe, leaders under whose banners he has fought, and whose principles are the same as his, and some of whom are still living.
– Assassination is no part of Socialism.
– And the honorable member knows it, too.
– Assassination is no part of Socialism, but it shows the extent to which these revolutionaries will go when they come forward, and declare that they were instrumental in having this Minister of State assassinated because he had persecuted some of the leaders of Socialism. There is a movement afoot to combat this agitation. It is very necessary that there should be an organization to cope with the evil, so that the people may know what they are voting for. I presume that the Labour Party will promote, rather than condemn, such an organization if they are really desirous of the people being conscious of the programme for which they are voting. The following resolution has been carried by on; of these bodies: -
That, in the opinion of this meeting of delegates, it is desirable that each and all now assembled do unite with the Farmers’, Propertyowners’, and Producers’ Association, thus forming a strong organization to oppose to the utmost all socialistic or aggressive legislation affecting country interests, and to uphold the rights of property-owners and producers of all kinds.
The term “ producers of all kinds “ does not refer to the man of opulence, but to the farmer and the small settler. In New South Wales alone there are 110,000 small property-owners. The Labour Party would take the avocations of these men, and the fruits of their enterprise, and create a socialistic pool. They would throw these men on the resources of the State. According to their ideas, all persons should have the bare means of existence ; all men should be compelled to labour, but no man should have the incentive to provide for his family, because ultimately, when the socialistic policy is carried to its full length, the State will even take charge of the children and bring them up in an institution specially prepared for them.
– Who said that?
– Evidently, the honorable member is not aware of what has been written on this subject.
– I am not aware that it has ever been written.
– I have in my box a work on this subject, from which I shall make a few quotations, as honorable members appear to deny what this movement is.
– They do not like it.
– It is because honorable members do not like my remarks that I am enlarging upon the subject.
– Absolute rubbish.
– Honorable members opposite do not like my remarks, because they do not wish the electors to know that they hold such opinions. Mr. Mann has said that they would go to the full length of the socialistic programme only that they are afraid to move. That is Mr. Mann’s opinion of honorable members opposite. In addition to the110,000 small land-owners I mentioned, we have in New South Wales 82,000 persons in retail businesses.
– A very large proportion voted with the Labour Party.
– In that case they were deceived, as the Labour Party would stamp them out of existence. If honorable members opposite have read Karl Marx, they have forgotten what he has written. I advise them to read a book on Karl Marx, by Mr. William Morris and his collaborateur, Mr. Belfort Bax. It contains a summary of Karl Marx’s work, which is to be seen in the library. In all probability honorable members opposite know Karl Marx’s work very well. Mr. Morris and Mr. Bax are gentlemen who have a reputation, and who are quoted by the leading men of Europe. Essays on this subject frequently contain quotations from Mr. Morris’ writings. He is a prominent Socialist, and a man of great ability and keen insight, who speaks of the “ socialistic movement militant,” and the “ socialistic movement triumphant.”
– Triumphant !
– Although the honorable member has heard that word at the cathedral, still it does not follow that he knows anything about the “ socialistic movement triumphant,” as described by Mr. William Morris. This is what he says -
The present society will be gone, with all its paraphernalia of checks and safeguards; that we know for certain. No less surely we know what the foundation of the new society will be. What will the new society build on that foundation of freedom and co-operation ? That is the problem on which we can do no more than speculate.
Then he speculates. Karl Marx speculated also upon the same problem. Every other socialistic writer has speculated upon what the new conditions will be. Honorable members will ask a man “ to what goal will his conduct carry him? To what goal will this policy take him?” This is the goal that will be reached by the socialistic movement, according to such writers as Marx, Bax, and Morris. The last named says -
It must be understood, therefore, that in giving this outline of the life of the future, we are not dogmatizing, but only expressing our opinion of what will probably happen, which is, of course, coloured by our personal wishes and hopes. We ask our readers, therefore, not to suppose that we have here any intention of making a statement of facts, or prophesying in detail the exact farm which things will take-
– The honorable member is wrong again.
– No; I am quoting from Morris.
– The honorable member is destroying his own case. Let him go ahead.
– though, in the main, what we here write will be accepted by the majority of Socialists.
– I only intended to quote that which is pertinent ; but I shall read the next sentence to please honorable members -
As to the political side of the new society, civilization undertakes the government of persons by direct coercion. Socialism would deal primarily with the administration of things.
– Tell us about the babies.
– This is what Morris says upon that subject -
As to the particulars of life under the socialistic order, we may, to begin with, say, concerning marriage and the family, that it would be affected by the great change, firstly, in economics, and secondly in ethics. The present marriage system is based on the general supposition of economic dependence of the woman on the man, and the consequent necessity for his making provision for her, which she can legally enforce. This basis would disappear with the advent of social economic freedom–
– He does not say that marriage will disappear, but that the present basis of it will disappear.
– and no binding contract would be necessary between the two parties as regards livelihood ; while property in children would cease to exist, and every infant that came into the world would be born into full citizenship, and would enjoy all its advantages, whatever the conduct of its parents might be. Thus a new development of the family would take place, on thebasis, not of a predetermined life-long business arrangement, to be formally and nominally held to, irrespective of circumstances, but on mutual inclination and affection, an association terminable at the will of either party. It is easy to see how great the gain would be to morality and sentiment in this change.
– The State at the present time takes away children from careless parents.
– It is true that illegitimate children and the waifs and strays of the streets are taken care of now by the State, for the sake of humanity ; but in that ideal society which will come about when Socialism is triumphant, what is now exceptional would become universal, and all children would be cared for by the State. The leader of the Opposition applauds that idea.
– Certainly not. What I said was that the State now takes care of the children whose parents do not fulfil their duty towards them.
– It seems to me that the aims of the Socialists are just beginning to be understood, and those who have been advocating Socialist doctrines have consequently become apologetic. They are trying to explain every thing away, or to show that things would not be so bad as they appear.
– What member of this House has expressed views such as the honorable member has read?
– I have read the views of Mr. William Morris, who is at the forefront of the Socialist movement, and of Karl Marx, the scientific Socialist. Honorable members on this side of the House, however, would not go as far as he would like society to go, although we are in favour of the carrying on of certain services by municipalities, and of a good deal of democratic work for the benefit of our fellows.
– Does the honorable member impute the speculations which he has read to honorable members of this House?
- Mr. Tom Mann says that the labour movement in Australia is a socialistic movement, or it is nothing.
– We do not subscribe to the speculations of every philosopher from the beginning of time.
- Mr. Tom Mann shows that in England those belonging to the Socialist Party believe in going the full length of the Socialist programme; that the Labour Party will go the full length of that programme also, if they are “backed by the electors,” and I have quoted from one of the most respectable writers on the subject, if I may use such a phrase, to show what they believe to be the ideal State. Honorable members opposite would not have their constituents know that this is the goal of their party ; but Mr. Tom Mann says that he will tell them, and that he will have none of the domination of the party if they wish to curb him in the exposition of the principles of Socialism. The Prime Minister has shown clearly that the democracy in which the people of Australia believe is a forward movement for the betterment of the community; The welfare and progress of the nation, and the expansion, under liberal and enlightened legislation, of the trade of the Empire, came about chiefly in the reign of the late Queen; but he says that if the incentive to advancement is removed, the people will have but little enterprise, and the State will gradually fall back, so that we shall have corruption instead of progress, and chaos in place of advancement. Socialism triumphant would be very different from that state of liberty and freedom for which our fathers fought. Our party stands for freedom ! Whiftier. the Quaker poet, says -
Freedom hand in hand with labour,
Walketh strong and brave ;
On the forehead of his neighbour
No man writeth “ slave “ !
We, on this side, will not take from the people the incentive to initiative, but will give them every advantage for the expansion of trade, and development of natural resources, that there may be equal opportunities for all men. In that way a high state of civilization and progress will be attained such as would not be possible under the regime of the labour organizations.
– After listening to the long tirade of the honorable member for Robertson, one would think that he has a socialistic bee in his bonnet, and that honorable members on this side of the Chamber, instead of being wishful to recognise their marriage tie, and to bring up their children properly, are desirous of running harems, leaving the maintenance of their children to the State. As a labour man, an Australian, and a Britisher, I say that nothing is more sacred to me than the marriage tie. I am sorry that I have not my wife with me now. The longer I lived with her, the! dearer she became to me. For the honorable member for Robertson to say that we do not believe in marriage is a gross libel upon the whole party. Before expressing my views on Socialism, however,’ I wish to take to task the right honorable member for Swan, who took the trouble some’ three weeks ago to read to the House the Federal labour platform. He said that he could see nothing wrong in it, but he’ objected to the pledge by which we are bound. In explaining the’ reason for that pledge, I ask honorable members to carry their minds back a few years. At one time men like the right honorable gentleman would visit the electorates of Western Queensland, and tell the people there that they would do almost anything for them if they were elected to Parliament. We took their advice, and elected them, and saw no more of them for three years. If we asked for anything to be done for the district, they would inform us that the matter was under consideration, and in many cases it is still under consideration. Then came the maritime strike, when those who displayed strong leanings towards unionism, or spoke in favour of unionistic principles, were dubbed faction fighters, gin-case orators, and labour agitators. But it was those men who did the pick and shovel work of the labour movement, and it is to their efforts in 1890 and 1891 that we owe our positions on these soft benches to-day. It is useless for honorable members to rave against the Labour Party, because we have come to stay. It does not matter whether there are three, four, or five parties in this House, the Labour Party is the only solid party in politics to-day. During the 1891 strike, in Queensland, Judge Harding, when sentencing the prisoners who were convicted as the result of what are known as the great conspiracy trials, at Rockhampton, asked, “ Why do you take the law into your own hands? Why do you not seek redress through the ballotbox?” We took his advice, and immediately we began to return representatives direct from the ranks of labour. Every obstacle was placed in our way ; efforts were made to cram the rolls, in order to send representatives into Parliament who would be hostile to the aspirations of the workers. What has happened in the present case? An organization has sprung into existence to combat Socialism. We have had the same thing to contend against in Queensland for the past fourteen or fifteen years, and we have emerged from the struggle successfully, because, only a few weeks ago, half the members returned to the Legislative Assembly of Queensland were elected on the straightout labour ticket. This is one of the straws which shows how the wind is blowing, and I am confident that when we secure a State franchise upon the basis of the Federal franchise, we shall return a majority of labour representatives to the Queensland Legislature. Several seats were lost at the last election by only a few votes. Now, I desire to say a few words with regard to the pledge which honorable members of the Labour Party in this House are required to sign. This pledge was drawn up at a conference of delegates of the whole of the district organizations, and reads as follows1: -
I hereby pledge myself not to oppose the candidate selected by the recognised political organization, and, if elected, to do my utmost to carry out the principles embodied in the Federal labour platform, and on all questions affecting the platform to vote as a majority of the parliamentary party may decide at a duly constituted caucus meeting.
That is the pledge I have signed, and it is no more binding upon me than that which has been signed by the right honorable member for Swan.
– There is a platform attached to that pledge.
– The fighting platform of the Federal Labour Party contains seven planks, and the right honorable member for Swan is in entire agreement with six of them. The first plank in the platform is “maintenance of a White Australia.” The right honorable member believes in that. He also believes in the second plank - compul sory arbitration - because he introduced in Western Australia a Bill embodying that principle. From what I know of him I am sure that he would not have fathered such a measure unless he had believed that it was a good one. I have heard the right honorable member also state that he would vote in favour of old-age pensions - which constitutes the third plank in our platform - if he knew where to get the money necessary to provide for them. The nationalization of monopolies is the fourth plank in our platform, and that is the only one of which the right honorable gentleman does not approve. The fifth plank is “ citizen defence force,” and I am certain that the right honorable member believes in that, because times out of number he has told us so in this Chamber. The sixth plank is “ restriction of public borrowing,” and the right honorable gentleman is perfectly in accord with us upon that point, as he also is with regard to the seventh plank, having regard to the enactment of navigation laws. Thus he is prepared to go six miles with us, but refuses to accompany us over the seventh mile.
– The States programmes are wider than that.
– I am not dealing with the States platforms. I am speaking about the Federal platform. We are moving in the rarer and higher atmosphere of Federal politics.
– One plank in the Victorian State platform relates to the nationalization of industries, instead of the nationalization of monopolies only.
– I am not concerned with what is done in the States, but with what we are doing here. The right honorable gentleman agrees with six out of seven planks of our platform, and yet he quarrels with me because I have signed the labour pledge.
– I disapprove of the pledge, because those who sign it have to give their first allegiance to the Labour Party, instead of to the State.
– I owe no allegiance to any one but the constituents who sent me here. If I do not carry out my pledge to them, they will very properly give me my dismissal. My point in connexion with the pledge is this : No one doubts the loyalty of the right honorable member for Swan. Every one knows that he is an Imperialist of the first water. Every one acknowledges that, and yet when he comes into this House he has to sign exactly the same pledge that I have, or he would not be allowed to take his seat. In his oath of allegiance as a; member of this Parliament, he pledges himself as follows: -
I, john Forrest, do swear that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to His Majesty King Edward VII., his heirs and successors, according to law.
Then he has to say, “So help me, God.” and kiss the Bible. The Labour Party do not ask me to take an oath. They are satisfied to take my word and my signature.
– The right honorable gentleman does not derive his loyalty from a caucus.
– How does the Minister know? He goes to bed with his loyalty and gets up with it in the morning, and yet he has to swear that he will be loyal to the Crown. He has to go further than this. When he takes office in tha Cabinet he has to sign another pledge, as follows : -
I, John Forrest, do swear that I will well and truly serve His Majesty King Edward VII. in the office -
Then the office to which the right honorable gentleman is appointed is mentioned. Then he has to again say, “ So help me, God.” Therefore, he has to swear, twice in twenty-four hours, that he will be loyal to the King. And yet he blames us for pledging ourselves to our constituents in a manner no more binding than that in which he has to bind himself under the Constitution, when ,he takes his seat as a member of this House. Where is the difference between the two cases ? I fail to see it. The whole of the Judges of our Supreme
Courts’, and of our District Courts, our magistrates, and our justices of the peace, have to sign a pledge and take an oath that they will well and truly serve His Majesty in the offices which they assume.
– Not according to the decisions of a caucus.
– If Ministers do not act according to the decision of the Cabinet caucus they are thrown out.
– I did not quite catch the interjection of the honorable member for South Sydney, but I would point out that if we pledge ourselves as men, without taking an oath, we are just as much bound as is the right honorable member for Swan when he takes an oath as a Minister to the effect that he will not divulge Cabinet secrets. I hope that I have dealt sufficiently with the nature of the pledge signed by the members of the Labour Party in this House, and that we shall hear no more about signing away our liberties, or not daring to move one way or the other, except at the will of the caucus. Ever since I have been a member of the Labour Party I have exercised perfect freedom of speech and action upon every subject that has come up for discussion. I am sent here to represent my constituents, who have returned me by an overwhelming majority on two occasions. They . are quite satisfied with me, and so long as that is the case I do not care what any one else says or does. The right honorable member for Swan was left out of the present Cabinet, and no one was more sorry than I was. When the Prime Minister told the House that the two leading members of the Ministry were equal in all things, and that the best men had been selected by him, I wondered how it came to pass that the administrative abilities of the right honorable member for Swan were overlooked. He administered the affairs of Western Australia with credit to himself and to that State. Yet we find that the PostmasterGeneral is regarded as superior in administrative talent to the right honorable member. Reading between the lines, however, after perusing the files of some of the English newspapers, I have been, impelled to the conclusion that there was another reason for his exclusion from the Ministry. In the Daily Chronicle, of the 29th August last, I find the following cablegram : -
Sir John Forrest, who is to be the first High Commissioner of the Australian Commonwealth in London-
– What newspaper contained that?
– The Daily Chronicle of the 29th August of the present year. From another journal I learned that the right honorable member ‘had actually written to some friends in London asking them to select a house for him there. Under these circumstances, I can readily understand why he was excluded from the Ministry. But, somehow or other, the plot failed. It did not come off, and consequently he is still a private member of this House. In his address the other evening, the honorable member for Melbourne read some extracts from the Western Australian Hansard, which made it appear that the right honorable member was in favour of lowering the age of consent in that State. I could not believe that he would be guilty of such conduct.
– Does the honorable member think that that matter has anything to do with this debate ?
– A statement was made by the honorable member for Melbourne, in the course of his speech last week, which, I think, has a lot to do with the present discussion.
– Perhaps the honorable member will recollect that whilst the honorable member for Melbourne was speaking, I had occasion to call attention to the fact that the matters to which he was referring were outside the scope of the debate. As the honorable member for Melbourne was not permitted to proceed, it would not be fair to allow the honorable member for Maranoa to proceed. I must therefore ask him to confine his remarks to the question before the House.
– I bow to your ruling, sir, but having read the statement in Hansard, I thought that I was entitled to refer to it. All I desire to say is, that knowing the right honorable member for Swan as I do, nobody can convince me that he would be guilty of the action attributed to him. I hold in my hand an extract from the Sunday Times of 30th December, 1900, which contains the following paragraph in reference to the right honorable member : -
Sir John Forrest was a certainty for the Swan before he became a Federal Minister, and he is doubly so now, though we are not at all disposed ti rejoice with our daily contemporaries over this fact. We regard the immense influence of this colossal charlatan as being infinitely mischievous, and we regret that it is about to be transferred tj a wider sphere.
I think that comes with very bad grace from any newspaper, in view of the right honorable member’s services to Western Austra lia. As far as I am concerned, I entertain nothing but friendly feelings towards him, and if we are called upon to vote for the selection of a High Commissioner, I shall willingly accord him my support. I consider that no man is better qualified for the office. I now wish to congratulate the Prime Minister upon his inclusion in the Ministry of a representative of Queensland. I am convinced that if it were not for the Labour Party, the machinations of the right honorable gentleman would result in the absorption of the smaller States. With the exception of Queensland, not one of those States is represented in the Government. It is all very well for him to declare that the most able men in the Ministry are representatives of Victoria and New South Wales. As far as the Queensland representative is concerned, I merely wish to observe that his acceptance of office, in the face of what the Prime Minister publicly said of him, is beneath contempt. At any rate, that is my feeling about the matter. As far as the coalition is concerned, I have nothing to say against it, but from my experience of coalitions in Queensland, I should say that they were generally rotten. Every word uttered by the honorable member for Brisbane, the other evening, in regard to the Queensland Coalition Government was perfectly true. There was nothing but corruption connected with that coalition from first to last. Singular as it may seem, that Government made use of exactly the same words as the Prime Minister has employed. He has declared that he lives to “ down “ Socialism. At various times, in the history of Queensland, Sir Thomas Mcllwraith, Sir Hugh Nelson, Sir Horace Tozer, and many other leading politicians, have laid themselves out, with money and organization, to “down” the Labour Party. But what is the position to-day? Even under the old franchise, which still obtains there, the Labour Party has been able to secure very nearly one-half of the representation in the Legislative Assembly. I am pleased that the Prime Minister has taken up his present position. He has occupied a “Yes-No” attitude towards the Labour Party for years. I look up to him as my leader in fiscalism, and I regard him as the staunchest and strongest free-trader in Australia to-day. But we have come to the parting of the ways. He has said that, altogether apart from fiscalism, he is opposed to the Labour Party. In passing, I may mention that the Political Labour League of Victoria has adopted a resolution disapproving of this alliance. By so doing it has allied itself with the Prime Minister, and little does it know it. As far as Queensland is concerned, that State will derive no benefit from the alliance. The only wail against the alliance comes from Victoria, notwithstanding that it was entered into upon the distinct understanding that it would benefit this State. Personally, I do not believe in alliances, or in coalitions. I claim that the Labour Party should stand or fall upon their own platform. The honorable and learned member for Bendigo, the honorable member for Laanecoorie, and the honorable member for Eden-Monaro, have all informed the Government that they must not rely upon the stilt of anti-Socialism to keep them in power, because if they do it will prove to be a reed. My only fear of the present Prime Minister is prompted by his declaration of policy prior to the last general elections. At that time he affirmed that he would excise a certain section from the Postal Act. and alter the provisions of the Immigration Restriction Act, in order to change the character of the legislation which was enacted by Parliament at the instance of the Barton and Deakin Governments.
– He also said that he would fight for free-trade, did he not?
– Yes; the right honorable gentleman has declared that an arrangement was arrived at for a fiscal truce. But what did he say to the electors of Australia? He appealed to them to rally round the free-trade banner, and to fight till the death. Every free-trade candidate who went to the country at the last election did so with the idea of a fiscal revival fresh in his mind. I know that I did. I was not satisfied with the Tariff, and if the right honorable gentleman ,had tabled a motion adverse to the Deakin Government, I should have voted with him. In order to obtain possession of the Treasury benches, he has abandoned, not only his fiscal faith, but every other principle that he professes. By whose grace is he permitted to retain possession of those benches ? So far as he is concerned., it is not “Yes, Mr. Chamberlain “ - a phrase that the right, honorable gentleman coined - but “Yes, Mr. Cameron. Will this suit you Mr. Cameron” ? The honorable member for Wilmot entered this House, went up like a rocket, and came down like a stick. He has shot his bolt. He has told us that he holds the Ministry in the hollow of his hand, and that he can make six men happy and sixty-eight unhappy. Is it not a remarkable state of affairs that the right honorable member for East Sydney should be Prime Minister by the grace of one honorable member, and that honorable member half a lunatic?
– I must ask the honorable member to withdraw that remark?
– I willingly withdraw it. I only wish that the Prime Minister could withdraw much that he has said. The right honorable gentleman has stated, in referring to the Labour Party, that -
They wish us to muddle public affairs : to do everything at the wrong time, and in the wrong way. We are here, not to oblige them, but to do our best in the public interest. I think I fairly represent even honorable members who do not belong to the party which I lead when I say -
I wish to emphasize the point that the right honorable gentleman was speaking for the whole of his supporters, including the honorable member for Eden-Monaro. So far as I am aware, the political opinions held by the honorable member for Eden-Monaro and those of the Prime Minister are as widely divergent as are the poles. They have nothing in common, and I cannot understand why the honorable member for Eden-Monaro should support the present Ministry. The Prime Minister went on to say that -
We are absolutely opposed to the political methods of the Labour Party, and to the authority which their organizations have over members of Parliament, and we are absolutely opposed to their extreme socialistic designs.
This statement agrees almost word for word with statements that were made by the late Sir Thomas Mcllwraith, Sir Samuel Griffith, now Chief Justice of the Commonwealth, Sir Hugh Nelson, and other leaders of political parties in Queensland, and I believe that in the case of the Prime Minister, it will be attended by the results which followed the utterances of the politicians of Queensland to whom I have referred. It is absurd to raise the socialistic bogy. I intend to put before the House the view which I take of Socialism, and to ask honorable members opposite whether they share that view. This is the Socialism in which every member of the Labour Party believes -
Socialism is a state of society where every person able and willing to work, mentally or manually, will have secured to him a comfortable existence in an elevating and sanitary environment. Where the loafer will have the alternative of work or starvation. Where the infirm and old will be attended to as a duty, not as a charity. Where industry of all forms will be equitably - not equally - rewarded. Where vested interests will be subordinated to vital interests. Where no person will be permitted to live in luxury at the cost of degradation to others. Where individual effort, mental, moral and manual, will be fostered and encouraged to its highest extent, and suitably rewarded. Where persons with criminal instincts will be controlled in such a way as to be rendered harmless. Where offences against the person will be treated with a greater severity than offences against property. Where the “ bulling and “ bearing,” and rigging of markets, and the adulteration of merchantable products, will be treated as a crime, not as evidence of business acumen. Where public and private morality will be of the highest possible standing. Where maternity will be considered honorable and patriotic, not as unfashionable. Where selfish and unscrupulous rings, monopolies, trusts, and combines will be considered criminal conspiracies. And where deeds in general will be compatible with practicable Christianity.
I believe in endeavouring to leave the world a little better than I found it, if it be possible for me to do so, and every other member of the Labour Party’ has the same object in view. I care not for that which may be said of us by such extremists as the honorable and learned member for Werriwa, and the honorable member for Robertson, who have so denounced us in this House. We go before the people, and the people know what we are. Let me give an illustration of this by quoting the remarks made by a resident of the district from which I come, when he was asked by my committee, whether he would vote for me. This gentleman is the holder of a selection of 60,000 acres, and when he was asked whether he would vote for me, he said, “Certainly. Why should I not vote for Jim Page. I have known him for thirty years as an honorable and honest fellow. He has got on in the world, and we want men of that kind to represent us.” Another man came along and said to him, “ Do you know what you are doing. You are voting not for Jim Page, but for Socialism.” “Well,” replied the selector, “ God send Queensland a big dose of Socialism like that which Jim Page would give us.” It is useless for honorable members to “blather” of” what the Labour Party would do. The people who know us, who have lived side by side with us, and are familiar with our daily lives know very well that we are not likely to go to the length of proposing any legislation calculated’ to turn society upside down. We all know that it has taken hundreds and hundreds of years to build up the British Constitution, and it is idle for any one to imagine that the Labour Party could destroy it in twelve months. When the people review the history of Great Britain, and remem ber the stock from which we have sprung, they cannot possibly imagine that we ‘are going to burst up the Empire in a solitary year. No sane man would believe such a thing, and such a suggestion is simply preposterous. The honorable member for Denison said in a patriarchal manner that he gave the Prime Minister every credit for his self-abnegation. That is more than the Prime Minister was prepared to do in the honorable member’s own case. The right honorable gentleman said that the honorable member for Denison was a crooked friend, who deserved to lose his billet. The honorable member for Denison, who poses as a great Liberal said, in effect, the other day, “ We Liberals looked’ upon these labour men, when they came to Tasmania, as persons who desired to wreck the Constitution, and to turn society upside down We did not want any of them there, for the laws of the State were’ already liberal.” He proceeded to enumerate those laws which he had introduced into the State Legislature, and, in order to show what the Liberalism of the honorable member really is, I shall read an extract from the Electoral Bill which he introduced in the State Parliament, and succeeded in passing.
– The question before the chair is a motion of want of confidence, not in the honorable member for Denison, but in the Government. I hope, therefore, that anything which the honorable member may desire to say will first be connected with the question of want of confidence in the Government.
– The honorable member for Denison is a supporter of the Government, and, I believe, a disappointed candidate for office in the Ministry. I do not think I shall be our or order in dealing with the politics of the honorable member, seeing that he is a supporter of the Government. The honorable member says that the Labour Party are not Liberals, but form the Conservative element in the House. If, however, sir, you say that I must not deal with him, I am quite willing to pas’s him by.
– The honorable member is perfectly in order in dealing with any utterance of the honorable member for Denison relating to the present crisis, but he is not in order in discussing acts of the honorable member in some other Parliament.
– But the honorable member himself referred to those acts.
– If the honorable member for Denison referred to those acts, then the honorable member for Maranoa is quite in order in dealing with them.
– The qualification imposed was a monetary qualification, so that any humbug who had a university education, but was as shallow-Dated as a lunatic, got off scot free, whereas a citizen born in Tasmania could not, under certain conditions, vote at an election for the Legislative Council. Doctors, ministers of religion, retired military and naval officers - all persons born with “ silver spoons in their mouths “ - were exempt, while the individual born in a cottage had to have a monetary qualification to entitle him to vote. I am quite satisfied with the liberalism of the honorable member for Denison - he takes it about with him in his carriage. We have only to look at the honorable gentleman to know that he is liberal - liberal to himself only, and not to the Commonwealth. I should like to quote what the Prime Minister said on one occasion about the honorable member for Echuca. The Prime Minister said that that honorable member was guilty of political “ snobbishness,” and yet the honorable member is a supporter of the present Government. On the 29th October, i.por, the Minister of Defence said -
It will be seen that Sydney, north, south, east, and west, is joined in condemnation of Victoria and everything Victorian.
We now find the honorable and learned member for Corinella sitting with every one of the representatives of those constituencies, with the exception of the honorable and learned member for West Sydney.
– Two of them are colleagues of the Minister of Defence.
– That is so. The Minister of Defence has for colleagues the representatives of East Sydney and North Sydney, and he is supported by the honorable member for South Sydney. Furthermore, how do honorable members think the Prime Minister described the honorable member for Eden-Monaro? He described that honorable member as “ Sir William Lyne’s maid of all work.” That was in a speech delivered at Fremantle in 1903 ; and now we find “ Sir William Lyne’s maid’ of all work “ a strong supporter of the present coalition Government. Either the honorable member for Eden-Monaro has “ sacked “ the honorable member for Hume or the honorable member for Hume has “ sacked “ him - I do not know which. The Prime Minister went on to say -
No one ever suspected Sir John Forrest of ever making a deep study of the question of free-trade or protection. All Sir John Forrest’s blandishments have failed him in Federal politics.
I never knew that the right honorable member for Swan had blandishments until I read of them in the speech of the present Prime Minister at Fremantle. In that speech the Prime Minister went on to say -
This Tariff, I venture to say, is a mere edition of the Victorian Tariff. . . . It is a Tariff which puts protection first and revenue last. Whilst it contains a thousand contrivances to destroy revenue, there is no proper system to adjust even the revenue duties in regard to which there is no temptation even to be a protectionist.
Then the Prime Minister accuses Sir George Turner of submitting Estimates which were “admittedly inflated and admittedly extravagant,” and at page 6041 of the Hansard reports of the first session, the present Prime Minister referred to the then Prime Minister, Sir Edmund Barton, as follows : -
The highest ideal of the mission which the Prime Minister had in reference to protection was to save the little feet of Australia from pattering bare along the streets in front of deserted factories.
In all seriousness, I should like to ask honorable members what higher ideal a man could have. Who wants to see starving thousands or millions in Australia, such as there are in the old country? As a freetrader, I do not want to see such a state of affairs ; and God forbid that any vote of mine should tend in that direction ! If a man is influenced by such a high ideal all I can say is he could not have a nobler one. The Free-trade Association of Victoria do not believe in coalition, but hold the opinion that the Free-trade Party should remain separate and distinct. They do not believe in a Ministry which is “equal in all things.” How can the Government be “ equal in all things “ ? There is a divorce already impending.
– It is a violation of the Constitution.
– It is a coalition which represents everything that is bad and rotten. I should like to read the following newspaper extract : -
The Free-trade Association held its usual monthly meeting at its rooms, 416 Collins-street, last evening. The president (Mr. F. T. Hickford) occupied the chair, and there was a large attendance of members. The present political situation was discussed, and great gratification wa? expressed at the developments which have recently taken place. Especially satisfactory, they considered, was the attention now being given to Tariff matters, and the likelihood of the’ next general election being fought on the fiscal question. The development of industries which is taking place under the reduced duties of the Federal Tariff would make available such a valuable array of arguments in support of greater freedom of trade as will greatly help the party in its propaganda work.
I never got such a shock in my life as when I came to Victoria, and observed the men who were advocating protection, and the men who were advocating free-trade. In the old country, free-trade and liberalism were synonymous ; but in this, as in other things, Australia is upside down. Here we find free-trade and conservatism allied ; we have only to look at a freetrade meeting in order to have fear struck to our very marrow. All the “boodlers” of Melbourne are free-traders, while the men anxious for advancement, and for the liberalizing of the laws of Australia, are-
– Also free-traders
– Are they? If they are, it is only in name. As soon as ever they get a chance to do any good they “ jump the hedge,” and there is a “truce” at once. As a military man, my idea of a truce is a cessation of hostilities, not after a fight, but before a fight. The question of freetrade and protection was fought at the polls, and the free-traders to a man wanted the Tariff question re-opened. It is a new ethic in politics that the right honorable member for East Sydney here expounds. He said a few nights ago that he had given up the fight, because he had not a majority. In Great Britain, when a party is knocked out on one occasion, they do not cry, “ Hold, enough ; we will have a truce.” If ever there was a scramble for office in this or any other country, such a scramble was commenced palpably and earnestly by the right honorable member. He would sacrifice any body or any thing, so long as he could get to the Treasury benches. Paney a man of the political calibre of the Prime Minister coming down to the House and practically trying to hoodwink his followers by telling them - “ I have formed a Ministry; first of all, I tried the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, but he would not have anything to do with me. Then I tried the right honorable member for Balaclava, and he would not consent to form a Ministry with me. Then I tried the honorable member for Gippsland, and he did not mind taking on the job.” The Prime Minister is merely Prime Minister in name. He has said in the House that the honorable member for Gippsland jb his better half. The protectionist half are undoubtedly the better half of the Government. The nominal Prime Minister has subordinated his free-trade principles to a scramble for office, and, as he said, to “ down “ the Labour Party. Speaking at Bowral, the right honorable member said, concerning the White Australia clause of the Post and Telegraph Act -
I will take that clause out of the Act if I have the power to do it.
He has the power now. Why does he not propose it ? He is not game to try while he has the honorable member for Eden-Monaro the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, the honorable and learned member for Bendigo, and other protectionists and liberal men sitting on his side of the House.
– The honorable member for Eden-Monaro a liberal?
– Yes; and that honorable member is only nominally supporting the present Government. He will be here with us when the proper test comes. The moment the White Australia policy, or the protectionist policy, is attacked, we shall find him ranging himself under the banner of the Labour Party and the Liberal Protectionists.
– Too late then.
– Oh, no; he will be here when the time comes. The Prime Minister, speaking at Warrnambool, stated -
There must be no ambiguity as to his position. The Government was unpopular, and thousands of protectionists would support him, only they were afraid of what he would do. They would put him into power if they could do it without danger to their cause, but he was not to be bought or bribed by their support from his allegiance to the cause to which he was pledged.
What do honorable members opposite say to that? They have practically bribed the Prime Minister to put him in . office. They have sold themselves to him. He has thrown that fact at them, and they have licked the hand that has smitten them. The right honorable member also said -
That was at least a straight declaration.
So it was at the time. But when the chance to take office came, the Prime Minister said to a protectionist, “ You shall be equal in all things with me, as long as you support me in this position.” The Prime Minister also said, in reference to protection -
As long as I am in politics I am square against it.
That was his declaration at Warrnambool, but twelve months afterwards we find him crawling into office over the backs of the protectionists. He would kiss their boots in order to get into power. I wish now to quote an extract from the Pall Mall Gazette, which has been reprinted in the South Australian Register - not the Advertiser, but the Register, the conservative journal of Adelaide, which you, Mr. Speaker, know well. This passage shows what the people of England think of the Prime Minister. We may be biased, because of our political views, but the people of England are not biased against him. They have seen him only a few times, and know him simply from what they have read. This is what the Pall Mall Gazette says -
The Right Honorable G. H. Reid was recently the subject of a character sketch in The Pall Mall Gasette, which says he runs in circles, and nobody knows his opinion on any subject. He favours both a white and a coloured Australia, and on almost every important question he has expressed two opinions - sometimes three. Having all the privileges of the proverbial “ funny man,” he is a kind of pet throughout the Commonwealth, his only annoying habit being that of going to sleep, like the fat boy in Pickwick, on all possible occasions. He has a lofty scorn for ideals, and never had a policy.
As long as honorable members opposite are satisfied with a leader who is so described by an impartial journal, I am quite content that they should be led by him. But it is a peculiar thing that the Prime Minister has such a “set” on the Labour Party, considering his past relations with us. I will read what he said about the Labour Party in the Sydney Daily Telegraph, of the 23rd July, 1898. If I wanted a testimonial to recommend me to a position in any part of the world, this would satisfy me. The right honorable gentleman said -
So far as the Labour Party was concerned, although he was not a member of it, he regarded it as one of the greatest honours that had ever fallen to his lot in political life to know that the Labour Party found it consistent with their public principles to give him a loyal support. There were some gentlemen who sought the suffrages of the people, and who looked down upon other candidates because, forsooth, they “were only bricklayers or artisans, but speaking for himself he could say to that great meeting that he was proud of his connexion with the Labour Party. As an indication of his gratitude for the support of that party during the past four years, it would be noted that he had not allowed a single candidate to go into their electorates and wear his colours in opposition to them.
That was a satisfactory recommendation.
– The Labour Party were not steerage passengers then.
– No, and they were not described as meeting in the vaults then.
He believed that when men stuck to him, he should stick to them. And he also believed that the Labour Party and the Liberal Party combined -
The same as we are now, Mr. Speaker, would sweep all those new-blooded Tories out of existence.
Where now are the new-blooded Tories whom the Prime Minister intended to sweep out of existence?
Before those two parties used their great strength together, it was a mere scramble for office, so far as Parliament was concerned, and no good work was done, -
We have the same position now - but he could point to dozens of useful Acts now upon the statute-book placed there since, which bore upon their faces plain indications of a proper concern for the interests of all classes of the community. In this great fight now in progress, he and those with him were not striving merely for the manhood of the Australia of to-day, but for the manhood of this great country for all the ages to come.
We were not class representatives when we were supporting the Prime Minister, and keeping him in office. But times and the scene have changed, and we are now tigers, whose claws should be clipped. We are now everything that is bad, whilst in 1898 we were everything that was good. The right honorable gentleman went on to say -
In this great fight now in progress he and those with him were not striving merely for the manhood of the Australia of to-day -
And I wish honorable members to pay special attention to the right honorable gentleman’s concluding sentence - but for the manhood of this great country for all the ages to come.
That is what the present Prime Minister said in 1898, and I ask honorable members how it fits in with the right honorable gentleman’s statement concerning the Labour Party, when this motion was moved some three weeks ago?
– Does not the honorable member think that we should strive for the manhood of the country ?
– It was not the honorable and learned member for Werriwa who was fighting for the manhood of the country. The right honorable member for East Sydney was not referring to that honorable and learned member, because he knew he had him in his pocket, but to the men who represented men and women, not bricks and mortar, or cattle and sheep. The right honorable gentleman knew that he was speaking the truth then. What have we to gain? What do we get out of it?- We are sent here by the masses, and not by the classes, and our votes prove it every time. In the Daily Telegraph of 19th July, 1895, I find that the present Prime Minister is reported to have said, at Newcastle -
The Labour Party in the last House was a truer and more intelligent one than that in the preceding House.
What a reflection on the honorable member for Parramatta, who was leader of the Labour Party in the preceding House, and who is now a supporter of the right honorable gentleman. The party to which the right honorable gentleman was then refering was the party led by Mr. McGowen. This is the hide-bound party that is unable to move or breathe unless the executive outside permit it, according to the doctrine which is preached by the honorable members for Gippsland, Swan, Wannon, and Kooyong. Those honorable gentlemen are never tired of referring to the Labour Party as a hide-bound party that cannot move without the consent of the caucus. I say that it is not we who are hid’e-bound, but the Conservative crowd in the opposite corner. I cannot better conclude my references to the present Prime Minister than by quoting Macaulay on Chatham. This is what he says -
He is an actor In the closet, an actor at council, an actor in Parliament, and even in private society he cannot throw aside his theatrical- tone and attitude.
That is the present Prime Minister, if ever there was a picture painted without figures. What the right honorable gentleman cannot do by persuasion and cajolery he will try to achieve by funny tricks When T. say “ funny tricks,” I refer to those acrobatic performances to which the light honorable gentleman is so addicted. I desire further to say, before I leave this subject, that I have no personal bias against the Prime Minister. I look up to the right honorable gentleman as one of the leaders of men in Australian politics to-day. I was sorry, indeed, to hear it suggested that he was an unclean Prime Minister financially. If we consider the right honorable gentleman’s record, and compare it with that of other Prime Ministers in Australia, we shall find that if he is not at the top, he is very near it. The right honorable gentleman loudly protested at Warragul and Kyneton that it was his intention to restore constitutional government, but if there ever was a travesty upon constitutional government, it was that which was enacted here the other night with such dra matic effect. To think that one man should hold the whole of the Commonwealth in the hollow of his hand, should delight in it, and tell this House that he was in that position, and that he could send us all to the country by his vote. That is the greatest travesty on constitutional government that I ever heard of, and I feel constrained to say that from this time out I shall advocate the Swiss system, in and out of Parliament, as far as I can. I find in yesterday’s Age, an account of an interview with the honorable member for Wilmot. It is in the form of a cable message, dated from Launceston on Sunday last. It is headed “ Mr. Cameron’s Vote,” and reads as follows: -
Mr. Norman Cameron, M.P., returned from Melbourne to-day by the Pateena, and he leaves again on Tuesday to be present at the division on the censure motion. During an interview, he said nothing but death would stop him being present to record his vote with the Government, which would have a majority of two, and be able to carry on.
I never heard of such a thing in my life. Surely to goodness the Prime Minister, if he is made of the material I think he is, will tell the honorable member for Wilmot to take his vote where he likes, because he does not want it.
– Not ‘he.
– I am aware that some honorable members believe that the right honorable gentleman is not politically honest, but I have faith in him even yet. I believe that he will not hold office only with the consent of the honorable member for Wilmot. I cannot believe that the right honorable gentleman will so humiliate himself as to live under a threat of being put out of office by t’he honorable member for Wilmot, or will’ allow such a threat to be thrown in his teeth. I am confident the right honorable gentleman will not accept that position. In the course of the interview to which I refer, the honorable member for Wilmot is reported to have said -
Only one man knew how his vote would be cast.
Honorable members have read a little yarn which appeared in the Argus about the honorable member meeting one of the press reporters outside, and asking him whether he could keep a secret. The honorable member is like all the rest of humankind, and he cannot keep a secret. It would have killed him if he had not told some one. We know that the honorable member was rushing in and out of the lavatory, and up and down the lobbies, with a wet towel round his head, and he had to tell some one his secret. He admits that just before he came into the! Chamber he did so. He is human, as are the rest of us. There was something gnawing at his vitals, and he had to confide in a newspaper reporter, above all men in the world. What have newspaper reporters to do with secrets ? They do not wish to have any secrets. It is their desire that the whole world should know what they know, and the honorable member for Wilmot went with his secret to the very man who he knew would tell his secret. The honorable member had subsequently to tell that he had done so; he could not keep even that secret. He has explained, according to the interview, that it was the action taken by the honorable and learned member for West Sydney that decided his vote. Every honorable member is aware that the honorable and learned member for West Sydney made his speech on the want of confidence motion on the first day on which it was debated, and the (honorable member for Wilmot threatened a dozen times that he would send us to the country, between that date and the day on which he spoke in the debate. The honorable member required some peg on which to hang his hat, but we know that the real reason for the decision to which the honorable member has come, is that his constituents were putting on the screw. It is all very well for the honorable member to say that we were! organized, and would sweep the poll. That is all “Mother Hubbard.” It is all very well to tell people outside that kind of thing, but as old politicians we know that it is mere twaddle, and none of us believe! in it. The honorable member’s excuse that it was the action of the honorable and learned member for West Sydney in connexion with the six potters case that decided him, is all “ Monkey Soap “ - “ it won’t wash clothes.” The report of the interview to which I refer, concludes with this statement -
Mr. Cameron intends moving a motion shortly abolishing the coloured labour clause in the Federal mail contracts. He says he is certain of a majority.
I do not know where the honorable member is going to get his majority. He may secure the assistance of the honorable members for Oxley and Grampians, and perhaps four or five honorable members in the opposite corner. There are about only five honorable members who would be game to vote with him.
– Only four on the previous occasion.
– I give them one or two in because they have a great “chuck in” in the honorable and learned member for Wannon, and the honrable member for Corangamite. There might be from seven to nine in a House of seventy-five members.
– What about the Prime Minister ?
– The Prime Minister knows that directly he starts to tinker with Acts passed at the instance of Sir Edmund Barton, and the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, Walker will be his name, and he will have to “get.” The honorable member for Eden-Monaro, the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, the honorable and learned member for Bendigo, and the honorable member for Laanecoorie, will give no vote to alter that for which every man and woman in North Queensland blesses the name of Sir Edmund Barton. When he made his famous Maitland speech it fairly staggered me to think that he would take up the cudgels as he did. With the noble support of the right honorable member for Adelaide, and the Labour Party were behind him, he knew very well that he could command a force which would push the chariot along.
– Surely a White Australia does not mean a White Ocean?
Mr. PAGE. I do not believe in any piebald policy. If a man has any colour in him he is a piebald. That is my definition of a White Australia. I am not in the least degree afraid of the White Australia policy, while the honorable members I have just named sit on the other side, because, directly any tinkering with the law is started, then the tug of war will begin, and out this Ministry will go.
– Hear, hear.
– I am very pleased, indeed) to hear my honorable friend say, “hear, hear,” to that remark, because I know his feelings on this subject, as well as I know mv own. It will only be a little while before we shall be on the same side with him again. I desire to deal with a few remarks made yesterday by the Minister of Trade and Customs. He is reported to have said -
He supposed that on an occasion such as that he should speak with bated breath, because the Government with which he was associated, like the Russians at Port Arthur, had been under fire for the past few weeks. (Laughter.)
That was very funny, and therefore his audience laughed. Our hale and hearty friend, the right honorable member for Swan, interjected - “ You have returned the fire, too.” What we are here for is to get the fire returned. What sort of a debate would this be if it were carried on by one side of the House. Let us have the fire returned by all means, and the hotter the better. The honorable gentleman went on to say -
It was somewhat amusing to him, having spent nearly a quarter of a century in the place, when he remembered the work that had been done by the Legislature in Victoria - when he remembered the liberal franchise that had been conferred upon the people - to hear people, who were only the result of that work, who had come into operation only as a result of that liberal franchise, claiming to be its authors, and to be what were grandiloquently termed “advanced liberals.”
If the honorable gentleman means that remark for the Labour Party, let me tell him in this House, where we have a chance of defending ourselves, not at a banquet of boodlers, where every word is applauded to the echo, as long as it is directed against the Labour Party, that he is making a great mistake. We are not advanced liberals, but extreme radicals, if that is any news to him.
– Extreme conservatives.
– No; it is the other way about. The honorable and learned member always has a peculiar way of looking at things. With him. everything is upside down. It was not to the liberal franchise that the Minister of Trade and Customs helped to give that I owe my seat in this House. I came here before it was granted. As regards the franchise for Victoria,, of course the honorable gentleman can speak, but as regards the first elections for this House, the members for the various States were returned on . different franchises. So that we have not to thank the honorable gentleman for being in this House.
Therefore, to hear people who only claimed to represent one class of the community -
I wish to ask the honorable gentleman which class he is referring to. If he is referring to the Labour Party, let me tell him that we do not represent a class, but the masses of the people. He must not think, as an honorable member on the other side tried to make out, that we represent the members of trades unions. Not only the members of unions, but the great mass of the people vote for us; otherwise we should not be here - but who in reality represented but one section of that class calling themselves advanced liberals reminded him forcibly of the man who when his attention was called to an individual who stood very upright, said, “ Oh, I know a much straighter man than that,” when asked how that could be possible, seeing that the individual in question stood absolutely perpendicular, he said, “ Oh, but my man leans backward.” (Laughter.)
I fail to see the joke. It must be a Scotch joke which has to be hammered in before it can’ be seen. How a man can be perfectly straight if he is leaning backwards I cannot understand.
– That is the joke.
– I am very pleased indeed that the honorable member can see where the joke comes in, because I fail to see it.
– The- joke is that the honorable member fails to see it.
– I can see the joke now that the honorable gentleman has told’ me where it comes in. The Minister goes on to say -
So it was with the gentleman he had referred to.
He does not refer directly to the Labour Party, so that I do not know whether he means us or not. But if he thinks that ihe Labour Party are leaning backward he never made a bigger bloomer in his life, as he will discover at the next election. He will then get a taste of our going forward. The people of Australia are just getting ripe for a change ; they know very well that this talk about taking their land and their boodle is all “tommy rot.” Of course, if honorable members think that they can frighten people with this bogy, it is their place to do it.
– It is not fair tactics.
– All is fair in love, war, and politics. If honorable members on the other side can “ down “ us, let them do so. They tell us that we are working machine politics. Who taught us how to work machine politics? Honorable members opposite. The Labour Party’s machine was copied from the Free-Trade Party’s machine, only that it is a little more effective. If it was not so effective as it is, it would be all right. So long as they could keep us in a minority, labour would be all right, because we should be harmless - because, as the Prime Minister said, our claws would not be grown, and our teeth would not be sharpened. Directly we can bite, of course, they wish to deprive us, and quite rightly, too, of’ the power to bite.
He recognised that that was not the place in which to go into party politics.
This is about as “cute” a piece of work as I ever heard of. After he had trounced us all round, he finished by saying that he did not wish to decry us. The report continues -
Cries of “ Go on, go on.”
He was giving them what they liked, plenty of boodle sentiment. He was rubbing it into the Labour Party, and, therefore, they cheered. He went on to say -
Had they been represented he might have said a great deal more.
He had said all that he could, and then he told them that if any of us had been present he would have said a great deal more. I notice, however, that they always keep us away from these functions, because they do not like to hear the truth, and do not wish a discordant note to be sounded. If the honorable gentleman means that our party are a crooked-backed party, the sooner he withdraws that statement the better, because if he strips us he will find that each one is as straight as an arrow. The pledge keeps us straight. As regards our party-
– Is that the alliance party ?
– The honorable member has been in the House since last February. He is one of the most regular attendants, being often almost the only occupant of the benches. Why, then, does he ask me such foolish questions? We are the true Liberal Party in this Chamber, while honorable members opposite are conservatives. The sheep have separated from the goats, we, on your left, Mr. Speaker, being the sheep, and those on the right the goats.
– A higher authority speaks of the goats as being on the left.
– I am not quoting an authority, I am making a statement of my own. I recognise that if we, on this side, are to become the governing party, we cannot continue in haphazard fashion with regard to the fiscal question. I should like to see the Labour Party a free-trade party, and if they uphold the traditions of the Old Country, they will be the Liberal Party. Honorable members opposite, however, are, as the honorable member for Wilmot has said, liberal-conservative free-traders, or liberal-conservatives. They are just as divided as we are in regard to the fiscal question. If the Labour Party is to assume control of the Federation, it must adopt a fiscal policy, and, I hope, will adopt free-trade. If it adopts total prohibition, or total protection, I shall not be here; I am confident of that. But I am not such a hide-bound free-trader that if I saw industries languishing, which a little, or even a fair amount of protection would re vive, so that they would give employment to hundreds of thousands of men, I would vote to destroy them.
– The honorable member would rob Peter to pay Paul.
– I am patriotic enough to say that if we keep the blackfellow out of Australia, we should do something to keep out his products, too. I hope that before we again face the electors, we shall have a defined fiscal policy.
– It must be very weak just now.
– If the honorable and learned member wishes to test our strength, he can do so only by bringing forward a motion, and taking a vote upon it. Disraeli, when asked what was the most eloquent speech made during a debate in the House of Commons, said the voting in the division. If the honorable and learned member wishes to test our strength, let him take a vote. I will help him, quick and lively.
– The honorable member’s speech on the Tariff was very effective. He voted for free-trade every time.
– The only item in regard to which I went wrong was bananas, and I will tell honorable members how that came about. A protectionist member, the honorable member for starch - I mean the honorable member for Mernda - got up very late - I think at about 2 o’clock in the morning - and protested against the imposition of a duty on bananas, because it would put an end to a tri-weekly steamboat service which carried his products to Fiji. 1 thought that if he was ready to pit a tri-weekly service against the great State of Queensland, I would stick up for my State by voting for a duty on bananas. But what was the attitude of certain protectionists opposite in regard to the duty on glue pots ? We heard a great deal from the honorable member for Echuca, and others, about the industries of Victoria, but, according to their own showing, the manufacturers of this State, even after they have imported the iron, cannot manufacture a glue pot. The honorable member for Dalley satirized their contention by suggesting a duty of 5 per cent, for one leg, 10 per cent, for two legs, 15 per . cent, for three legs, and so on. His speech reads like part of a comic opera. Protectionist members opposite wished to put as high a duty as 30 per cent, on electrical machinery, which could not be manufactured here, and five minutes afterwards voted to admit glue pots free of duty.
Honorable members are always running down Socialism, in which they can find nothing good. Before I say anything on the subject, I should like to read the following statement from the Baltimore Labour Advocate, headed, “ An industrial paradox “ -
There are more doctors being turned out than can secure patients.
There are more lawyers graduating than there are clients.
There are more bookkeepers, stenographers, and typewriters qualifying than there are positions.
There are more mechanics, electricians, and engineers than there are places to fill.
There are more labourers than there are holes to dig.
There are too many farmers producing too much to eat.
There are more houses built than the people can occupy.
There is more clothingproduced than the people can well wear out.
There is an over-production everywhere.
Yet thousands and thousands die from the want of medical care.
Men lose their little homes because too poor to pay lawyer fees.
Men die from the want of things to eat, that the farmers produce.
Some freeze to death in the street because they have no money to pay house rent.
Some perish from want of sufficient clothing to protect their bodies from the winter’s blasts.
Yet, there is an over-production everywhere, and enough for the poor nowhere.
– It is not a matter of overproduction, but of under-consumption.
– That is one way of putting it. There is food on the bench, and yet men are starving because they dare not take it. If the honorable and learned member approves of that condition of affairs he can go his own road.
-The great masses of the people cannot obtain what they require cheaply enough.
– A good deal has been said against Socialism. Two reports published side by side in to-day’s Argus present one of the most peculiar contrasts I have ever known of. If I were running the show I think that I should arrange matters differently. One of the reports relates to a meeting of the Australian Women’s National League, which was addressed by Mr. Frank Madden, the Speaker of the Victorian Legislative Assembly, and by Mr. Varley, who seems to have a bee in his bonnet with regard to Socialism; whilst the other report records the proceedings at a meeting held at Korumburra, in the electorate represented by the honorable mem ber for Flinders, at which resolutions were passed asking for the further encouragement of the local coal industry.
– The honorable member would not have a newspaper shut out everything with which it did not agree.
– I was not speaking about shutting out anything, but referred to the printing of the two reports side by side. I admit that the Victorian press is much fairer than that of Queensland. One honorable member remarked that the honorable and learned member for West Sydney craved for the support of the Sydney press, but I would tell him that the best advertisement the Labour Party get in Queensland is the opposition of the press. I do not want the newspapers to support me, because if they started praising me, the electors in my district would say, “ Hullo ! What is up with Jim?” The platform of the Australian Women’s National League contains three planks, two of which are “ Purity of home life,” and “Loyalty to the Throne.”
– The honorable member does not find fault with those, I suppose?
– I hope the day will never come when any labour man will find fault with those two planks. As I stated early in my speech, we have so much faith in the advantage of the marriage tie, and so much regard for the sanctity of home life, that: every member of the party is married. Webelieve in one! man one vote, one woman onevote, and one man one wife, and most of themembers of our party have the best asset that any man can possess in the shape of a family. Although we are merely labourmen, we think as much of our wives and ourchildren as do many people who are dressed in purple and fine linen. We believe in themarriage tie, and in the sanctity of the home, and every one of us is loyal, although opinions may differ amongst us as to the way in which our loyalty should be expressed. The third plank of the Australian Women’s National League is “antiSocialism,” and evidently the members of the association regard the labour members as monsters. I desire to tell honorable members a little story which I heard about three years ago. The honorable member for Denison was sitting in the gallery with some ladies, and one of them, a little more excited than the others, wanted to know where the labour men were. The honorable member pointed out several of them and then the lady asked, “ Which is their
Leader - which is Mr. Watson?” The honorable member for Bland was sitting beside me, and turned round to speak to me. The lady then said, “Is that Mr. Watson?” The honorable member for Denison replied “ Yes,” and then she said, “ Why, the labour men do not differ in any way from other members.” I thought that very funny. We can behave ourselves as well as any other honorable members, and have done so, and we live as good and as clean lives as do other honorable members. I am proud to be called a labour man. Every member of our party pays his way, and does the best he can for his country, and I do not know that we could be better occupied. Mr. Madden, the Speaker of the Victorian Legislative Assembly, prefaced his remaks by saying -
Although he was supposed, being Speaker of the Legislative Assembly, not to mix in party politics, he did not consider that he was in any way prevented from expressing his opinion on the objects of the National Women’s League which dealt with Federal politics.
I always understood that the Speaker of a Legislative Assembly or the President of a Legislative Council was supposed to be unbiased whilst he was sitting in the Chair, but Mr. Madden has shown himself specially prejudiced against the Labour Party. He endeavoured to shield himself behind the fact that he was not dealing with the State Labour Party, but with the Federal Labour Party. I do not think that you, Mr. Speaker, could be induced to address a meeting of that League. Then Mr. Madden went on to say -
Women had had the vote thrust upon them, but he was glad to see that the ladies were taking an active interest in organization.
That appears to me to be a particularly “ cheeky “ statement. The honorable member for Kooyong a few nights ago told us that the women would settle the difficulty now confronting us. No one tried harder than he did to prevent them from obtaining the franchise. Now, the members of the party to which he belongs are running after the women at all their tea-fights and bunstruggles in the hope that they may influence their votes. That is all that they are after. Good luck to them. The report proceeds -
The vote must be carefully and fully organized, and while doing that the league might also organize for State politics, which were as important to us as Federal’ politics were. While Socialists, anarchists, and those who wanted to wreck society were always organized.
I askyou, sir, to look at the labour representatives in this House. Do they look like anarchists, or bomb throwers, or persons who would revolutionize society? No. Mr. Madden proceeds -
He was sorry to say that the people of the constitutional way of thinking were not so well organized as they ought to be. The world’s great struggle was to contend with the wave of Socialism. The name “ Socialism “ was adopted because it was attractive, but really the system ought to be called anarchy.
Evidently he thinks that it is anarchy, because he can hear his own political deathknell sounding. He continues -
Once the Socialists took into their hands all lands, mines, machinery, and capital, and said, “ We will administer them as we please,” that was anarchy. A great deal of power had slipped out of our hands, and it must be regained with the assistance of the ladies.
When this class of politician is in trouble, to whom does he fly ? To the ladies.
He urged the ladies present to join the league, and each become an advocate to stem the socialistic movement.
No doubt the people whom he was addressing believed every word that he uttered. But if the ladies wish to rope in the wives of the workers they must invite the labour representatives to address their meetings. They will then hear both sides of the question, and not merely that which has been presented by Senator Dobson and the right honorable member for Swan. One has merely to look at the names of those who attend these meetings to understand their character.
– They invited the leader of the Labour Party to address them at Ballarat. Was not that quite fair?
– Who asked him?
– The Bishop of Ballarat.
– I do not know who invited him, but I do know that he visited Ballarat, and upset their little apple-cart. The same meeting was also addressed by Mr. T. E. Varley, who said -
Government interference in Australia had reached the high-water mark. If we went further there would be devastation. Water was all right within the river banks, but when it rose above them there would be loss and damage by flood. Legislation had reached the boundary. Wherever Socialism had been tried there had to be written across it the most absolute and ghastly failure. Socialism was impracticable for financial reasons. According to Coghlan the property held by the six Australian States and New Zealand was 1,083 millions sterling. If we wanted to start a socialistic society all private property-owners had to be bought out.
When a gentleman talks like that it shows how much he knows about Socialism.
If any Treasurer went home to try and float a loan of 1,083 millions he need only take his ticket one way. He would be confined in the English equivalent of the Yarra-Bend Asylum. (Laughter.) Socialism, by its very nature, was anti-Christian, and even anti-religious.
Evidently he wishes to work upon the religious feelings of the people, and induce them to believe that it is an irreligious proposal. He is a latter-day saint all right. He continues -
We have recently had an avowedly socialistic Federal Government. Its members in three or four months drew between£3,000 and£4,000 in salaries.
It will thus be seen that he blames the members of the Labour Party for drawing their salaries. What else have many of them to subsist upon, and is not the same remark applicable to honorable members opposite? He continues -
It was possible that they shared this very handsome payment with their fellow Socialists of the Yarra Bank and Sydney Domain ; but if so, the fierce light that beat upon a Labour Government had not been able to discover it. (Laughter.) At the conclusion, a large number of ladies enrolled themselves as members.
This report furnishes really good reading. I should like to have burst into this little dove-cot and to have told them another tale in regard to the matter. I have just read what the opponents of Socialism say in regard to it. I shall now read what those say who want it. For this purpose I shall quote from the Argus of the 10th instant. The report in question is headed “Railway Coal Contracts,” and “ Disappointment in Gippsland,” and reads as follows: -
Korumburra, Monday. - A meeting was held in the Mechanics’ Hall on Monday afternoon to consider the advisability of inducing the authorities to give more consideration to the Gippsland collieries in connexion with the railway coal contracts. Councillor G. W. Mitchell was voted to the chair, and there was a large attendance. The chairman stated that the Outtrim-Howitt Company had been offered by the Railway Commissioners 10s. 4d. per ton for 30,000 tons of coal ; and the Coal Creek Company os. rod. per ton for 11,000 tons, the latter having offered to supply 25,000 tons at the old price - 12s. per ton.
In other words, they want 2s. 2d. per ton for their coal in excess of what the Government are prepared to give them. What do they call that ? The report continues -
– “ That this meeting strongly urges the Government to further consider the allocation of the coal supplies for the Victorian railways, which, under the present proposal of the Commissioners, threatens the extinction of the Gippsland coal industry, and the loss of employment to some hundreds of men.” This was seconded by Mr. J.T. Jones, and carried unanimously.
– Is that in the Flinders electorate ?
– I am surprised to hear that they want Socialism.
Mr.PAGE.- They do not. They merely want an additional 2s. 2d. per ton for their coal. That is what they call collective individualism - helping themselves over the stile with other people’s money. Then I find that-
Councillor Alp moved, - “ That in view of the policy of the Government in fostering local industries, the question should be viewed from a broad stand-point, and not from that of the railways only.” Mr. J. N. Uren seconded the motion, which was carried.
What does that mean ? It means that these people want a little bit of State Socialism which will put into their pockets 2s. 2d. per ton more than the Government are prepared to give them.
On the motion of Messrs. R. A. Kelly and W. Saunders, it was resolved that it he pointed out that the stability of an important asset, the Great ‘Southern line, would be seriously threatened by any action that would involve the closing of the Gippsland collieries, to say nothing of the immense damage to the townships concerned. It was decided to telegraph to Messrs. Downward, Mackey, Boyd, and Prendergast, M.L.A.’s, to request them to endeavour to induce the authorities to stay their hands for the time being, and a deputation, composed of Councillors Mitchell, Alp, and Messrs. J. N. Uren, H. Gillard, and A. P. Lloyd, was appointed to wait upon the Premier to present the resolutions.
Who is Mr. Prendergast may I ask? He is the leader of the Socialist Party in the State Parliament, and yet these people are appealing to him to induce the Government to givethem2s. 2d. per ton extrafortheircoal.
– Is he the Socialist who would give that assistance to the Gipps-. land mines, and shut out the Newcastle coal ?
– I do not know ; I leave the honorable member to deal with that matter. The report continues -
Outtrim and Jumbunna have been communicated with, in order that meetings may be held, and gentlemen appointed there, to accompany the deputation to Melbourne.
Then it proceeds -
Outtrim, Monday. - Extreme disappointment is felt here at the result of the Railway Department coal tenders, and there is some probability that a public meeting will be convened, as in Korumburra, to offer a protest to the treatment meted out to the Victorian coal industry by the railway authorites. The opinion held locally is that the Railway Commissioners, instead of placing in a secondary position their consideration of the Victorian tenders should have dealt with them first, and should then have placed the residue of requirements in New South Wales hands. It is claimed that no coal supplied to the Victorian railways has been of equal quality to that now being turned out from the OuttrimHowitt colliery, and there is something akin to a feeling of bewilderment to know why this splendid fuel - leaving no ash, and burning with a strength and brightness that have been the subiects of favorable comments for months past - should have been discarded in favour of the product from Newcastle The position is an extremely serious one for the entire South Gippsland district, and, unless a sufficient quantity is soon assured to the local companies, the consequences must be disastrous, because the whole population of the district is, more or less, directly or indirectly, dependent on the profitable development of the pits.
I would remind the honorable member for New England that some few weeks ago I read an extract from one of the local newspapers, showing that non-unionists absolutely refused to work with unionists in this mine.
– Has the honorable member ever heard of a unionist refusing to work with a non-unionist?
– I have. It is singular that, although honorable members opposite are so anxious to protect the non-unionist, and to forget the unionist, not one of them has made any reference to this case. In one column of this newspaper, we see a statement that certain men are anxious to secure the benefit of a little bit of Socialism, while in the next, it is said that the same men will have nothing to do with Socialism. What sort of a position is that to take up? These men must either be for or against Socialism. Their attitude savours too much of the “ Yesnoism “ of the Prime Minister. The honorable member for Bourke, in the early part of this session, and also in the last Parliament, submitted a motion in favour of the creation of a Federal Life Assurance Department, and I have a valuable piece of information on the subject to bring before him and the House generally. Under the Victorian Railways Act, the railway servants of the State are compelled to assure their lives, and, as the Department collects the premiums, the insurance companies have no difficulty whatever in obtaining them. I find that from the 1st February, 1884, until 18th September, 1903, no less a sum than . £295,058 10s. 2d. was paid by way of premiums by these employes. How much do honorable members think the insurance companies have paid in respect of the policies so issued? I think that the figures will constitute a staggerer, so far as some honorable members are concerned. During the period named, all that the companies paid away in respect of policies issued to the employes of the Department was £64,400, leaving a balance of £230,65s 10s. 2d.
– From what is the honorable member quoting?
– From an official letter from the Victorian Railways Department, dated! 24th September, 1903. It is now the property of the House, and the honorable member may peruse it. The sum of £64,400 was paid by the companies to the relatives of 449 employes who were either killed or died in the railway service during this period, so that in nineteen years they made a profit of nearly £250,000.
– That profit went to private companies.
– To private enterprise. It was derived from Government servants, and in these circumstances, I fail to see why the Federal Government should not establish a State Department of Life Assurance. These figures speak volumes in favour of the establishment of such a Department, and I should advise the honorable member for Bourke to study them, as they furnish one of the best illustrations of the value of State Socialism, of which I have yet heard. A Federal Life Assurance Department is a little bit of State Socialism that we desire to bring about, and I do not suppose that even honorable members opposite would oppose a movement in that direction. The honorable member for Robertson went to a lot of trouble this afternoon to decry Mr. Tom Mann. He told us of nearly everything that Tom Mann had said, but he did not tell us of the utterances of Mrs. Mann, or of all the little Manns. It was “ Tom Mann, Tom Mann,” from first to last. Tom Mann was in the honorable member’s bonnet from the beginning to the end of his speech, and he unwittingly gave that gentleman the best advertisement that he could have given him. The anti-Socialists have organizers at work. The Prime Minister recently sat onthe same platform with one of these organizers, Mr. Walpole, but I feel confident that he does not indorse all the views expressed by that gentleman. Honorable members opposite are much impressed with the views of Mr. Mann, but Mr. Walpole is their organizer.
-Those honorable members on this side of the House who do not believe in Mr. Walpole say so straight out. We repudiate his doctrines, but the Labour Party do not repudiate those of Tom Mann.
– Honorable members opposite are ashamed of their organizer.
– We are not ashamed of Tom Mann.
– Surely the honorable member for Franklin does not think I am a flat to be led into a trap? Does he think that because he repudiates the views of Walpole I shall repudiate those of Tom Mann ?
– But honorable members opposite do not repudiate the views of Walpole.
– The honorable member for Franklin says that he does not believe in the doctrines preached by Mr. Walpole, and that is enough for me.
– He might as well repudiate his leader, for the Prime Minister recently sat on the same platform with Mr. Walpole.
– I do not think that the Prime Minister believes in everything that Mr. Walpole advocates. I am satisfied, for example, that he does not think that marriage is a luxury for the workers, or that it is a luxury for the working man to have a glass of beer.
– If it be not watered.
– A little mixture may be good for those who like it, but I prefer water. We see in the Argus every morning paragraphs to the effect that splendid meetings of the farmers have been addressed by Mr. Sievwright, the1 organizer of the Farmers and Property-owners’ Association. Until a few weeks ago this Mr. Sievwright asserted on every platform on which he stood that the main plank of hi? association was anti- Socialism. On his own showing he earns £5 a week, but he was summoned before the Brighton Court on the 1 6th ult. to show cause why he should not contribute to the cost of an oldage pension for his father. This is the man who is organizing the people against Socialism.
– That is pretty rough.
– Had it not been for the passing of the Victorian Old-Age Pensions Act, there would have been nothing for Mr. Sievwright’s father to do, according to the doctrine that this gentleman preaches, but to die of starvation. If that old man were in Queensland to-day, he would have to go to the poorhouse at Dunwich, or starve. If he were in Queensland, that is what Mr. Sievwright, the organizer against
Socialism, would allow him to do. Is he a worthy son of a worthy father ? I would to God I had my father to keep ; as long as I had a crust - as long as I had a potato - the old man should have half.
– Is the honorable member sure that this is the same man?
– I am positive. Does the honorable member think that I would attack a man in this way, without full knowledge ? Here is the newspaper report -
At the Brighton Court this morning, Charles Francis Sievwright, of New-street, Middle Brighton, was summoned to show cause why he should not contribute towards the cost of the pension of his father, Mr. Marcus Sievwright. Mr. Sievwright fo’r many years practised as a solicitor in Melbourne, and his name is a familiar one to members of the legal profession and in business circles.
I feel sure that many times this father had denied himself for the benefit of his family ; and yet his son is now behaving in so mean and contemptible a manner that I feel I could kick him. He allows his father to be dragged into Court over a paltry amount required for an old-age pension, and he refuses to contribute one shilling; whining about his family, and what he had to do with his money. If he had had any pluck at all, such a position could not have arisen, and I repeat that he deserves kicking.
– Tom Mann does not do that sort of thing !
– That is the organizer employed by the Farmers, Property-owners’, and Producers’ Association, at a salary of £5 per week, and travelling expenses. The newspaper report proceeds -
Marcus Sievwright, his father, was in receipt of an old-age pension.
– Are you not in a position to pay that?
Witness. - No, for the reason that my employment is only temporary.
How long have you been in their employment? - Since ist May, this year. I am engaged by the week, and may be discharged at any time.
Are you a married man ? - Yes ; I have five children dependent upon me. Their ages range from five years to seventeen years. My eldest child, a girl, is learning to enlarge photographs, and gets as. 6d. per week.
Here in marvellous Melbourne, a girl, seventeen years’ of age, is receiving 2s. 6d. per week for learning to enlarge photographs. The report goes on -
Hav; you any property or investments? - No; and no money in the bank.
One would think a man receiving ^5 a week, and travelling expenses, ought to be able to pay his father’s pension? - I am in this position, that
I contribute so much to keep my family here in Brighton while I am travelling in the country all the time. I provide for my family, and also for my mother, and my two sisters, who are not able to take employment. They tried to get employment, but failed.
What are their ages? - One is forty and the other forty-three. My mother is in the seventies - about seventy-two years of age. I allow £1 a week for the three.
And before you were employed by this association what did you do? - I was in Western Australia looking for employment.
Looking for employment would not keep you? - That was my position there. Prior to that I was employed in Melbourne at a salary of£3 per week.
Have you any . encumbrances now ? - Yes ; I am backward in my debts about£50 to local tradesmen and the like. I am paying them off in periodical payments.
How much do you pay a week in that direction? - On the average about £2 per week. I have nothing left out of my salary when I provide for them all.
Then your family is living on about £2 a week? - Yes, that is all.
Sergeant Robinson. - You pay rent where you live ? - Yes ; 5s. per week.
Do your sisters and mother live apart from your father? - They all live together at St. Kilda. My brother pays the rent of the house.
Does your brother allow them anything a week for maintenance, or are they simply dependent on you? - They are simply dependent on me. My brother pays the rent out of the small salary he receives as a law clerk. I think it is 30s. a week.
Do you save anything out of your travelling expenses ? - No ; the money is all absorbed in expenses.
That£50 in which you are indebted, is that still owing, or has it been reduced? - It has been reduced by about £20 since the 1st May.
Has Mrs. Sievwright any money ? - No. She has been endeavouring to carry on a registry office business, but without success.
That is his wife.
– I do not think there is any use making an order against you for the present. I will let it stand over for two months, which will give you an opportunity to reduce the debt, and we will then see what can be done. Possibly you may be able, in the meantime, to make arrangements that will prevent the matter coining into Court at all.
The matter was then adjourned for eight weeks.
That action by the magistrate gives Mr. Sievwright a chance to provide for his father in his old age. This man, if he had a scrap of manhood in him, would, instead of going round the country preaching against the Government which provided old-age pensions by way of practical Socialism, be keeping his old father. The elder Sievwright occupied a high and honorable position in his professon, and I make that statement after full inquiry. Some honorable members may have seen an appeal for subscriptions for this aged and infirm solicitor, but what response there has been, I do not know. The point is that this Mr. Sievwright preaches against Socialism - he holds out his left hand for Socialism, and waves Socialism away with his right. It is such humbugs and men like the honorable member for Robertson who talk a lot of twaddle about taking away from those who have, and giving it to the “ have-nots.” That is not our ideal. Our ideal is to have a better and fairer organization of society. Our faith is strong that the time will surely come - and it will come the sooner for our efforts - when the dull grey clouds, under which millions of our countrymen are monotonously toiling, will break and vanish for ever in the sunshine of a new and nobler age. These are the aspirations of the great Labour Party. Whatever honorable members opposite may say, we are going on, and gathering force as we go. Our lives show - and the people of our electorates know - that we are not self-seekers. What have we to gain ? What have we to achieve ? We have a mission to perform ; and so long as I have a voice to raise, and so long as I have health and strength, I shall - Sunday, Saturday, or any other day - in season or out of season - preach the labour cause.
– At this late stage of the debate I do not intend to occupy the House at any great length - three or four hours will serve for the remarks I have to make. First, I desire to extend my hearty congratulations to the leader of the Government on the position he has attained - on his efforts which have resulted in bringing together the whole of the Conservative sections of the House under his leadership. The right honorable gentleman deserves the congratulations of every man of progressive thought. We can readily understand the difficulties that had to be surmounted - the amount of energy and argument which would have to be gone through before the elements opposite could be welded into one compact body. There are, however, one or two honorable members opposite who have my deepest sympathy. There are members opposite who believe neither in the coalition which has been formed nor the policy adopted by the Prime Minister in bringing about that coalition. I know honorable members opposite who are opposed to the whole business - who do not believe that the Freetrade Party should have sunk one atom of their principles. To those men, I say, I extend my deepest sympathy, because I know the uncomfortable position they must be in. We may certainly say that in the history of Australia there has never been got together such a conglomeration as we now see on the Treasury benches.
– What about the Opposition side? They are all protectionists over there now ?
– We did not put free-trade first, did we?
– The honorable member put himself first.
– I repeat that never in the history of Australia has there been such a conglomeration as we find at the present moment on the Treasury benches.
– It is a Scotch mixture on the Opposition.
– A very good mixture, too.
– It is more like an Irish stew on the Government side.
– As an honorable member says, it is more like an Irish stew opposite, though from that description we must except the honorable member for Dalley. The position seems to be that there is nothing in common between honorable members who sit on the Government benches.
– There are two sections.
– There are about six sections there. There is the free-trade section, who still believe in the principles of free-trade, and who would adhere to them even supposing their present leader were to declare himself in favour of a Protectionist Tariff. Then there is the protectionist section who are prepared to maintain the principles of protection, no matter what happens. There is also a number of honorable members who do not care whether they are associated with free-traders or with protectionists, so long as they sit on the Ministerial benches. Fiscal policy does not trouble them. There is another section of honorable members who, we were led to believe, would be strong supporters of the Government, but who now say that they do not support the Government, excepting in a sort of backhanded fashion. They say, “We support you at present, but you must not rely too strongly upon us, because we may desire to leave you on any proposal which does not please us.”
– They are not red-hot supporters
– No; they are very luke-warm supporters, and the Government cannot lay claim to their assistance permanently.
– Are honorable members on the Opposition side all of one mind ?
– I will deal with that question presently. The Government are placed in a rather unenviable position. No Government that had any selfrespect would consent to occupy such a position. They have gone through a peculiar series of events in which probably the Prime Minister was the prime mover, in order to get to the Treasury benches. What they have done was not creditable either to this House or the Commonwealth. The Prime Minister has had one ambition since he has been in this Parliament. That has been to become the head of the Commonwealth Government. I do not blame him. It is a laudable ambition for any man to aspire to become Prime Minister of Australia. I cannot find fault with the right honorable gentleman for entertaining that desire. But I do find fault with his methods. They are not calculated to bring credit to the Commonwealth, or, to the position which the right honorable gentleman holds. What are the facts of the case? While he was leader of the Opposition the right honorable gentleman fought the Deakin Government, and never lost an opportunity to intrigue for the ousting of that Government. After a considerable amount of trouble and intrigue he was in a position to bring about their defeat, thus clearing the way, as he thought, to his occupancy of the Treasury benches.
– The Prime Minister had nothing to do with the defeat of the Deakin Government.
– I say that he had everything to do with the defeat of the Deakin Government, although he voted with them. He never attempted in any way to lead his party to vote with him on that occasion. He merely said that, personally, he intended to vote in a certain direction. But he well knew that a number of his supporters were prepared to adopt any course to defeat the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, or bring about the downfall of the Deakin Government. Indeed, they stated that they voted against that Government, on the occasion to which I refer, for the purpose of wrecking them.
– They were asked to do so by the honorable member for Macquarie.
– That is practically true, because the honorable member for Macquarie was at that time whipping amongst all parties. I had conversations with him myself on the subject. His whole object was to defeat the Deakin Government. The Arbitration Bill was made the stalking-horse for that purpose.
– The honorable member’s own party defeated the Deakin Government.
– The honorable member’s common sense should tell him that our party could not defeat the Deakin Government, because we were not strong enough.
– The honorable member’s party moved the amendment upon which the Deakin Government went out of office, and voted solidly for it.
– We went to the country on a certain issue. We pledged ourselves to vote for the inclusion of the civil servants, and the railway men in the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill. We “ made no bones “ about it. We did not shuffle about it.
– Yet honorable members opposite did not include all the civil servants.
– We told our constituents in the plainest manner what we intended to do if we could. In accordance with those pledges, we recorded our votes. But there are honorable members opposite who came to this House pledged to wreck any measure of conciliation and arbitration, and to do anything in their power to wreck the Deakin Government.
– Who were they?
– The honorable and learned member was one.
– I am not so mad as that.
– The honorable members to whom I refer cared little for the manner in which the defeat of the Deakin Government was brought about. We, on the other hand, recorded our votes in accordance with our pledges.
– So did a great number of honorable members on this side of the House.
– I am quite prepared to agree with that.
– Then, what? the honorable member aiming at?
– I wish to show that there are a number of honorable members sitting behind the Prime Minister who voted in a certain direction upon the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill for the sole purpose of suiting the Prime Minister’s purposes.
– The Prime Minister told his own constituents that he would vote against the amendment referred to.
– I am not saying whether he did or didnot.
– Surely the honorable member does not blame other people for keeping their pledges?
– I do not blame honorable members for keeping their pledges, but I blame them for openly saying here that they were prepared to do anything they could to wreck the Watson Government, and also the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill. We had an exhibition here the other night from an honorable member who took that course. After the present Prime Minister succeeded in wrecking the Deakin Government, the Watson Government came into power. In spite of all that has been said against that Government, honorable members cannot get over the fact that the honorable member for Bland was sent for by the GovernorGeneral, not because of his own seeking, but on the recommendation of the’ honorable and learned member for Ballarat, who was then retiring as Prime Minister.
– And on a promise that he would be supported also.
– The present Prime Minister is now in coalition with the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, who at that time said, “ As a party we are retiring from office, but although the right honorable member for East Sydney has voted with us, we cannot trust the right honorable gentleman, and will not have anything to do with him. We shall consequently advise the Governor-General to send for the honorable member for Bland to form a Government.”
– It was not a personal matter. The honorable and learned member for Ballarat followed a constitutional precedent.
– The honorable and learned gentleman did nothing of the kind. The ordinary constitutional procedure would have been for the honorable and learned gentleman to advise the GovernorGeneral to send for the leader of the Opposition.
– For a man who had voted with the retiring Government?
– That made no difference whatever. In the circumstances, according to constitutional practice, if the honorable and learned member for Ballarat did not feel justified in recommending the Governor-General to send for the right honorable member for East Sydney, he should have allowed His Excellency to take his own course. That is my view of the procedure, which the honorable and learned member for Ballarat should have adopted on that occasion. The honorable and learned member was so disgusted with the action of the present Prime Minister that he said, “ No ; I will take the responsibility upon myself of advising the GovernorGeneral to send for the honorable member for Bland.” That was done, and what happened then? Did not the present Prime Minister go whining around the country because he had notbeen sent for? Did not the right honorable gentleman make statements to the effect that it was an unconstitutional proceeding on the part of the Governor-General to send for the honorable member for Bland, when he was himself the leader of the. Opposition? In the circumstances, it is idle for honorable members opposite to say that the right honorable member for East Sydney did not expect to be sent for when the Deakin Government was defeated. When the honorable member for Bland was sent for, and formed his Government, and when the right honorable member for East Sydney had finished whining about not having been sent for, on every occasion when he could secure the insertion of a few words in the press in the shape of an interview, he did so, and he set to work to find some method of defeating the new Government. On every conceivable occasion, through the press and even in this Chamber, the right honorable gentleman said that he was going to move a motion of want of confidence in the Watson Government. In order to try to force matters, he solemnly warned honorable members who were then sitting in the Opposition corner, that he proposed to move such a motion, and that if they were not prepared to vote with him on it he would not be a party to overthrowing the Government on any other pretext. From day to day we had paragraphs appearing in the different newspapers to the effect that it was expected that the motion of wantofconfidence would be moved by the right honorable member for East Sydney to-morrow or the next day, and so forth. That went on so long that it degenerated into a farce. All the talk and bluster of the right honorable gentleman ended in nothing, and he waited his opportunity and ousted the Watson Government on a side issue in connexion with clause 48 of the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill. There has been a good deal of complaint urged against the right honorable gentleman and’ honorable members opposite for having taken that course, but I am not one of those who have any complaint against them on that ground. I hold that honorable members opposite had a perfect right to take advantage of any weapon placed in theirhands by the Standing Orders, to defeat the Watson Government. I do not blame them at all for their action in that connexion, but I hope they will not take umbrage if honorable members on. this side of the House should adopt the same tactics. I personally intend to do so. So far as I am concerned, I shall make what use I can of the Standing Orders, to prevent the present Government remaining where they are for one day longer than is absolutely necessary.
– That will be a long time. The necessity will continue for the next four years.
– The honorable member for D alley says that the Government may be in office for four years, but let me remind the honorable member that if the course I suggest had been adopted Ministers would have been defeated by eight votes on the first day they sat on the Treasury bench. Let me also tell the honorable member that, on the next day on which they met the House, if honorable members had accepted my advice, they would’ have been defeated by four votes. We are able to discover the attendance which honorable members gave in this House. We know how many are always present, and there can be no doubt that we can defeat the present Government just whenever we think proper.
– Surely the honorable member would not play that game, and Into defeat the Government by a snatch vote ?
– I propose to play exactly the same game as that which has been prayed by honorable members opposite. In nine cases out of ten, if your opponents play a low-down game, you must do the same kind of thing in order to defeat them.
– How often could we have done that with the Watson Government ?
– The only occasion on which honorable members opposite had the chance was that on which they succeeded, and I have said that I find no fault with them for taking advantage of it. I say, further, that they cannot find any fault with us if we adopt similar tactics to defeat the present Government, and I shall personally avail myself of every opportunity to do so. What was the first thing which the present Government did when they came into office? They tried to find all sorts of excuses and apologies for the haphazard combination which we now find on the other side. The right honorable gentleman told us that his desire was to bend his individual opinions to the national will. He said that the national will had ordained a fiscal truce, and that, so far as he was concerned, it should last during this Parliament. He went on to say that he told his constituents that he was prepared, if defeated at the last general election, to sink the fiscal issue. And yet he comes down and quotes the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, and the honorable member for Bland, as having taken a similar course. I maintain that the right honorable gentleman, in the first place merely set up a truce, and that then he looked about for arguments with which to try to substantiate his position. But he never believed that the honorable and learned member for Ballarat had proclaimed a truce. He was of the opinion that; there was no such thing as a truce in existence. When he went to New South Wales he found that, among his own supporters, there was a very strong feeling against the re-opening of the Tariff: He did not know how to get out of the awkward position he was in. He had only one plank upon which he could fight, and that was the fiscal issue. He felt that with that issue taken away it was absolutely hopeless for him to make an appeal to the electors of his State. In doing that he made the excuse - not that he was desirous of sinking the fiscal issue - that the honorable and learned member for Ballarat was re-opening the Tariff question, and that under these circumstances he and his party had no alternative but to fight on that issue. He did not believe that a fiscal truce was in existence, or that the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, who was appealing tothe country, really advocated it. What did the right honorable gentleman say when a meeting of the Freetrade Party was held for the express purpose of considering its policy? He went to some pains to point out the attitude which he was taking up, and finding that in New South Wales it would be a very bad policy to re-open the Tariff question, and that he had only one issue on which to fight, he is reported to have said -
He denied, however, that the Opposition was re-opening the Tariff question. The Government, by pledging itself to a preferential trade policy, had done that, and the revenue Tariff party had no option but to meet it on its own ground.
– So that the Tariff question is open now, and the truce is off?
– I maintain that the right honorable gentleman, in taking that course, knew that the honorable and learned member for Ballarat had not gone to the country on the question of sinking the fiscal issue.
– The right honorable gentleman would be blind if he did, because the Protectionist Party was placarding New South Wales in advocacy of fiscal peace.
– The right honorable gentleman took up the position that because the Opposition advocated preferential trade it was re-opening the Tariff question, and that, therefore, as a revenue tariffist, as he then called himself - having abandoned the higher ideals of free-trade - he had no other course to follow than to fight on fiscal lines. No other conclusion can be drawn from his words. It does not become him to come down tothe House and talk to us about a fiscal truce, when he himself did not believe that it existed. Practically he fought on those lines, and when he got here he was prepared to sacrifice principle as far as free-trade or any other trade was concerned, so long as he could get on to the Treasury bench, and he would not scruple to sacrifice any principle so long as he could stay there. I maintain that the fiscal truce has practically been “ off.” From time to time we have heard a good deal about honorable members on this side being shackled. I wish to point out that honorable members opposite are in a very unenviable position. When we refer to the document for the terms on which the coalition was formed, we find that it is distinctly stated that neither a Minister nor a Ministerial supporter is allowed, either on a public platform or in this House, to advocate the principles which he so dearly loves. It will be seen, therefore, that the shackles are on honorable members opposite.
– I deny that, absolutely.
– We have been distinctly told that the basis of the alliance between honorable members on the other side was practically the agreement which was drawn up in May last by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, and the right honorable member for East Sydney, and in which this condition is laid down -
The fiscal issue not to be raised by the Ministry or any Ministerial candidate at any general election held prior to the next ordinary “general election, and the policy of the Ministry upon all fiscal questions intended to be submitted at such election to be made public before the 1st May, 1904.
The head of the Government which is supposed to occupy the Treasury bench has shrieked in melodramatic tones about the shackles on the Labour Party. I wish, therefore, to refer to the shackles which are worn by the right honorable gentleman and his supporters. On that side of the House we have honorable members, some of whom have for the last twentyfive or thirty years been preaching the doctrine of free-trade, who have bound themselves by an agreement which shackles them and prevents them from dealing with the subject on any public platform in Australia. They have so shackled themselves that, if they attempted to raise the fiscal issue in any shape or form, they would be branded as traitors to the agreement which has been entered into between the honorable and learned member for Ballarat and the right honorable member for East Sydney. They are bound and shackled to a degree unparalleled in the history of Australian politics. Not only must they not mention the fiscal question during this and the next Parliament–
– The agreement is not for this and the next Parliament.
– The agreement provides that the fiscal question must not be raised during the term of the present Parliament, or, in the event of an election taking place, before the time when this Parliament would ordinarily expire.
– To what agreement does the honorable member refer?
– To the coalition agreement, to which the right honorable member is a party.
– That statement is without any foundation whatever.
– Now we are getting at the truth of the matter. I did not expect that a sturdy champion like the right honorable gentleman would be bound hand and foot by this agreement. Now he repudiates it.
– There has never been any agreement submitted ; I have never been asked to sign an agreement.
– Then what becomes of the coalition? What becomes of the attempt of honorable gentlemen to form two parties in this House? Instead of dividing the House into three parties, they have divided it into a dozen factions. The right honorable member for Swan is now setting up a faction of his own.
– The honorable gentleman misunderstands me. There has never been an agreement suggested or submitted.
– As the right honorable gentleman has accused the liberalprotectionists on this side of deserting their leader, I ask him if he will take the word of his leader?
– Well, the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, speaking in public the other evening, said that the agreement which was come to in May last was the basis of the agreement on which the coalition of honorable members opposite is founded. Does the right honorable gentleman accept that statement?
– No agreement has ever been submitted, anyway.
– That may be true. When the Labour Party comes down with a pledge, it acts very differently. There are certain fixed principles embodied in the platform of the Labour Party, and candidates are asked if they believe in those principles. If they do not believe in them, they do not sign the labour pledge, and do not become members of the Labour Party ; but if they do believe in them, they sign the pledge, and become members of the party. But what does the right honorable member and those associated with him do? They follow, meekly and humbly, leaders who make alliances, and lay down programmes for them, and by whom they are treated like a flock of sheep.
– We are all free men here.
– I shall deal with the honorable member presently. We now find that what has been referred to as an honorable agreement is repudiated by one of the sturdiest champions of the party opposite. It is further provided in the agreement that it is not to be terminated without six months’ notice, so that honorable members will not be free from its shackles even after the expiration of the time for which it is to last, unless they give six months’ notice.
– They are chainriveted to it.
– Chain-riveting is a fool to it. Under these circumstances, honorable gentlemen opposite should cease from talking about the shackles of honorable members on this side of the Chamber. Ihave at different times heard of individual members of Parliament wearing political shackles, but I have never before seen a whole body of men, such as the free-traders in this House, bound in the manner in which they are bound. But while I can understand the attitude of the honorable members for Dalley and South Sydney, who repudiate the statement that the fiscal issue has been sunk, I cannot understand the honorable member for Parramatta, that sturdy champion of democracy, who says, “ Rather than be bound by the shackles of the Labour Party, and sign a pledge, I left them.” Now, he is meekly wearing shackles which are a dozen times worse than those of the Labour Party.
– There are no shackles on the members of this party.
– Yes, there are. The leader of the Government has stated that he is not going to be dominated by the liberal section, or, to quote his own words, he has “ declared emphatically against the domination of the Labour Party, and asserted that he would never prove the weak and willing tool of that corner, as the Barton Government did.” Now the right honorable gentleman has associated with him in the Cabinet four honorable members who were in the Ministry which he denounced as the willing tool of the Labour Party.
– They are changed men.
– The right honorable gentleman went about the country shrieking to the people, and telling them that all the legislation that had been passed in this Chamber had been introduced by the Government, acting at the dictation of the Labour Party. He said, further, that the Deakin Government were merely creatures of that party. As one who has attended every caucus meeting, I should be in a position to ‘ know if any pressure had been exerted upon the Deakin Government, and I challenge the Prime Minister to quote one case in support of his statement. I regret that the honorable and learned member for Ballarat is not here, because I desired to ask him if, at any time in the history of the Barton or Deakin Governments, they had passed legislation at the dictation of the Labour Party. The right honorable member for Swan has told us on several occasions that the Labour Party exercised pressure upon the Government of which he was a member, and I challenge him to mention one solitary case in point. I am heartily pleased to see the right honorable member for Adelaide enter the Chamber. I hope that he is very much improved in health, and I am sure that every honorable member will join me in giving him a most hearty welcome.
Honorable Members. - Hear, hear.
– I renew my challenge to the right honorable member for Swan.
– My answer is that, judging from the statement of the honorable member, any one would suppose that the Labour Party had been asleep and had done nothing.
– I asked the right honorable gentleman a straightforward question, and honorable members have heard his very intelligent answer, which is thoroughly in keeping with his statements in regard to the Labour Party.
– The Labour Party did all they could - I know that.
– The right honorable gentleman practically repeats his original statement. He is continually repeating it, not only in this Chamber, but outside of it, and yet he cannot say that he knows of one case in point. I can only come to the conclusion that he is unable to quote one. I see that the honorable and learned member for Ballarat is now in his place, and I would ask him if he can call to mind one instance in which the Labour Party brought pressure to bear upon his Ministry, or upon the Barton Government, of which he was a member.
– Never any pressure Outside the House; only the pressure of their votes inside the House.
– I am grateful to the honorable member for his honest and straightforward answer. I sought in vain for a similar reply from the right honorable member for Swan. I think that we are justified in coming to the conclusion that there is no foundation for the statement of the Prime Minister that the Barton and Deakin Governments were merely creatures and tools of the Labour Party. Apparently his object was to deceive the people, and to injure our party. What can we think of the members of the Deakin Party when we find them willing to sit behind the Prime Minister after he has denounced them as creatures and tools of the Labour Party and as political hypocrites, humbugs, and shufflers. The Prime Minister has stated that the Labour Party have violated every constitutional principle, and yet he has been guilty of a grave departure, from constitutional usage. When he was sent for by the Governor-General, presumably he gave His Excellency to understand that he was in a position to form a Government. When he came back and found that he was unable to do so, he farmed out half of his commission to some one else. Thereby he violated his trust. This great champion of liberty, this great political leader, approached the Protectionist Party. He wanted to be Prime Minister, and was prepared to give up all his political principles if he could only occupy office in that capacity for even a short time. He went, cap in hand, to his political opponents, and said, “ If you join this Government with me I am prepared to allow you to allot four of the portfolios.” The Labour Party have been spoken of as a politcal machine.
– It is a machine that is well oiled.
– As the honorable member for Darwin reminds me, our machine is well oiled, in good working order, and thoroughly up-to-date. Our opponents on the other side of the House would use the same form of machine if they could. The great difference between us is that the Labour Party and their supporters are prepared to make any amount of selfsacrifice for the cause in which they believe, whilst honorable members opposite cannot obtain a vote unless they pay for it. They can scarcely induce a supporter to walk across’ the road for them, without paying so much for the service rendered. Our adherents are prepared to assist us upon all occasions by personal sacrifice. Honorable members opposite talk about machine politics. Was not the protectionist organi zation, which supported the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, a machine to a greater or less extent? Was not the organization behind the Free-trade Party a machine? Did not the Federated Employers’ Union, the various Chambers of Commerce, and a number of other organizations, band together, for the express purpose of breaking down the growing power of the Labour Party? But, although they have attempted that task time after time, the fact remains that their efforts have been unsuccessful. . I now come to the other cry, of which the Prime Minister has made so much. He has repeatedly spoken of minority rule. In addressing the farmers and other sections of the community, in various parts of Australia, he has informed them that the Commonwealth Parliament was practically dominated by a minority, and that the Labour Party believed in minority rule. I do not know exactly what he means by that, but since I have occupied a seat in this House - and that is from its very inception - I have never known a single measure, or a line, or a clause in any Bill to be passed without the assistance of a majority of honorable members. It is simply idle for the Government to urge that measures have been forced through Parliament by minority rule. If they intend to convey that there was a majority of honorable members in sympathy with our methods it merely goes to show that the Labour Party was the ruling power of the Commonwealth. What is the use of denying it? If that party could submit amendments which were adopted, it conclusively proves that it was the dominant power in this Chamber for the time being. Consequently there is very little in the talk about minority rule. The right honorable gentleman defends majority rule, upon the ground that it forms a part of the Constitution. It does nothing of the kindHe knows well enough that he himself voted against the very proposal which would have made majority rule paramount in this Parliament. At the Federal Convention he supported the granting of equal representation to the states in the Senate, which means that Tasmania, with 140,000 inhabitants, possesses the same voting power in that Chamber as does new South Wales, with a population of 1,300,000. Thus, when he had an opportunity of supporting the principle of majority rule, he declined to do so. Again, when in New South Wales he desired to impose a duty of 3d. per lb. upon tea, and the
Labour Party said - “ We shall give you a duty of only1d. per lb.,” did he not say, “ Yes, Mr. Watson, or yes, Mr. McGowen, I will accept it.” Likewise, when he was desirous of bestowing adult suffrage upon the people of that State, did he not refrain from doing so, upon the plea that two or three members of his Cabinet did not approve of it? That was minority rule with a vengeance. Evidently he is prepared to submit to minority rule when it suits his own purposes to do so. I would further point out that his Government and the members who support it are in a minority. Several honorable members, who occupy seats in the Ministerial corner, represent minorities, whilst honorable members opposite represent a minority of 20,000 votes, as compared with the votes ‘ polled by honorable members upon this side of the House. There is one matter, however, upon which I desire to congratulate the Prime Minister. He has at last declared his true position in the political life of Australia. For a long time he has posed as a democrat, and has been very successful in deluding the people that he is one. Now, however, he has assumed the role of a politician who intends to break up the party upon this side of the Chamber. Somewhat tardily he has informed us that his special mission in life is to destroy the Labour Party. He has made that the leading plank in his platform - the plank upon which he is prepared to go to the country. I congratulate him upon having assumed that position, and I congratulate honorable members opposite upon having found a leader who is prepared to take up the cudgels on behalf of the Employers’ Federation and fight the growing influence of the Labour Party. He has declared -
I have set myself the task of leading a national movement aimed at the restoration of parliamentary government.
Since parliamentary government has never been violated, where is the need for that plank in his platform ? Since parliamentary government has not been infringed in any shape or form, where is the necessity for this great national movement which he intends to lead? As far as I am aware, the only provision passed by this House, the constitutionality of which has been in any way questioned., has reference to the inclusion of railway servants within the scope of the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill. Yet, what do we find? The leader of this national movement has swallowed that doubt ful provision, and has forwarded the Bill containing it to the Senate. It is evident, therefore, that in order to remain upon the Treasury bench for a few days longer he is willing to sacrifice his convictions.
– Did not the Labour Party resent that?
– We as a party do not say that we are leading a national movement aimed at the restoration of responsible government. Before putting such a proposal in their platform, it was incumbent on the Government to show that the principles of parliamentary government had been violated. I challenge any one to show one instance in which parliamentary government hasbeen violated. The next great plank in the right honorable gentleman’s platform was described by him in the statement that he had -also undertaken the task for - the vindication of the greatest of all democratic ideals, the political and legal equality of man.
That is a fine plank to appear in the platform of any Government ! We have already secured the political equality of the men and women of Australia, but no thanks are due to the right honorable gentleman, nor to any member ofthe party behind him, for it. The Labour Party forced on the enfranchisement of the people. For yearsit never lost an opportunity either inside or outside Parliament to advocate that desirable reform, and the political freedom of the people of the Commonwealth was brought about practically as the result of its energy and vigour. While I freely acknowledge that we now have political freedom, I hold that we have not legal freedom for the people. On that point we may possibly differ from the right honorable gentleman.
– Why did not the late Government repeal all these laws in a batch?
– The honorable and learned member talks of legal equality. Where is it to be found ? What chance has a poor man to establish a case against a rich man? He has no hope of doing so. When the right honorable member says that he has taken upon himself the task of vindicating the legal equality of the people, he talks mere rubbish, which is only in keeping with his customary claptrap. The people of Australia do not possess legal equality, but I hope that the time is not far distant when they will. The Prime Minister said in one breath that he was opposed to Socialism, while, in almost the next he said that -
The great distinction between Mr. Watson and myself is that whilst on my platform of universal equality, men of all classes can, and will, support me. . . .
The right honorable gentleman and his followers say that the members of the Labour Party desire to bring all classes to a dead level. That is the charge which he makes against us in one breath, and yet in the next he states that one of the primary planks in his platform is to bring all to one standard of equality. What does he mean by “ universal equality ?” Does Re mean that he is going to bring humanity to a dead-level - that he is going to wipe out all individuality? Does he mean to say that he is prepared to accept all the doctrines of the anarchists in regard to the equality of man ?
– Only two of us do.
– Only one. The honorable and learned member conscientiously believes in this equality of freedom. He is the only honest and legitimate supporter of the Prime Minister, because he is the only anarchist in the House who believes in universal equality.
– In that respect I have always classed . the honorable member with myself.
– The Prime Minister has also told the people that he is going to repeal this and that provision in various Acts of Parliament. He has said that he is prepared to repeal the section of the Post and Telegraph Act relating to the White Ocean policy, and also to repeal the contract labour provisions of the Immigration Restriction Act. But what position does he now take up? He has practically abandoned his promises in regard to these matters. He has told us that for the time being, owing to the fact that he holds only a nominal power as the leader of the Government, he is prepared to abandon all the principles to which he pledged himself when seeking re-election on the hustings of New South Wales. He has told us that for the present he will pass by that which he considered to be one of the most important matters to be dealt with. He is equally emphatic in his condemnation of the contract sections in the Immigration Restriction Act. He stood in this House with a great show of indignation the other day, and declared that the honorable and learned member for West Sydney had been guilty of misrepresenting his position in regard to the case of the six potters. We have heard a great deal about the six patters, and now the incident of the six potters has to be discussed. When the honorable and learned member for West Sydney accused him of having violated his own pledges in regard to the contract sections of the Immigration Restriction Act, by his action in reference to the six potters, what did the Prime Minister do? He remained silent; but next day he came down to the House with a long departmental statement, and sought to vindicate his personal honour. There was no personal question involved. It was simply a matter of everyday politics, and I repeat that the Prime Minister is, equally as guilty as is any other man in regard to the case of the six potters.
– I am glad that the honorable member uses the word “guilty,” and thus acknowledges that it is an offence to debar good workmen from landing in Australia.
– When the right honorable gentleman assumed office he had the power to reject any proposal that was made, or anything that was being done, by his predecessors in office when they resigned. It is all rubbish for him to say that he had to respect everything done by his predecessors in office. A Ministry on taking office may either allow themselves to be bound by the actions of their predecessors, or refuse to recognise those actions.
– Even to the extent of stopping law proceedings?
– Let me explain my point. When the Minister of External Affairs appointed a magistrate -for New Guinea–
– The appointment was not made, but only recommended.
– The honorable and learned member for West Sydney, as Minister of External Affairs, recommended the appointment of an administrator in New Guinea; and the present Prime Minister, when he took office, said that he approved of the action of his predecessor. But when the case of the six potters came before him, he did not express any such approval ; he merely accepted the whole of the responsibility for the act of his predecessor, and when the papers were shown to him, he said he would allow the case to proceed. The case had proceeded only sofar that the Collector of Customs had received instructions to take the necessary proceedings, and, before anything had actually been done, the present Prime Minister assumed office. Did the Prime Minister take any steps to reverse the decision which had been arrived at? Did he in any way try to prevent the law taking its course? No ; the right honorable gentleman allowed the case to proceed ; and I maintain that under the circumstances he practically took upon his shoulders the prosecution of the employers of those men, exactly the position taken up by the Barton Government in connexion with the six hatters. But when the Barton Government allowed the six hatters to enter Australia, what did the present Prime Minister do? He went about the country raving, almost in a state of frenzy, about an Act of Parliament which he practically said had been introduced by the Barton Government at the dictation of the Labour Party, and which he described as the shutting out of men of our own flesh and blood from the other end of the Empire. The free-trade newspapers and other capitalistic journals took the same attitude. It must be remembered, however, that the Barton Government did not prevent the hatters from entering Australia, but merely said that they must enter according to the laws of the Commonwealth, which must be maintained. The honorable and learned member for West Sydney, when Minister. of External Affairs, took exactly the same action that the Barton Government had taken - the law had to be administered, and he issued the necessary instructions. But the present Prime Minister is in an altogether different position. The right honorable gentleman denounced the Barton Government, and the section of the Act under which they had proceeded ; but what did Tie do when he came into office? He allowed the prosecution in the case of the potters to go on simply because he was at the head of a coalition Government, and dare not move hand or foot in a different direction.
– Does the honorable member say “ persecution “ ?
– I say that the Prime Minister allowed the prosecution to go on ; at any rale, I have, never heard that the proceedings have been withdrawn.
– - The proceedings could be withdrawn now ; but the Prime Minister is doing neither one thing nor the other.
– That is the worst feature of the matter. The proceedings could be withdrawn if the Prime Minister so desired, but he knows that if. he took any such action it would be a violation of the law; and, under the circumstances, he is prepared to allow matters to drift - not to administer the Department at all. The Prime Minister ought to be the last to adversely comment on the action of the late Minister of External Affairs.
– It was not the action of the late Minister of External Affairs, but the statement of that gentleman to which the Prime Minister took exception.
– I am not talking about any statements, but about the action which was taken. The Prime Minister, in indignant tones, tried to avoid all responsibility, and that is what I object to.
– It was the statement of the late Minister of External Affairs to which the Prime Minister took exception.
– I am not objecting to what the right honorable gentleman said. The honorable and learned member, for West Sydney, if he had had any intention of misrepresenting the Prime Minister, would not have been so stupid as to immediately inform the reporters of what had been done a few days previously.
– The Prime Minister was like a squid swimming away in his own ink.
– There is another matter to which I desire to refer. The other night there was in this Chamber an exhibition which pained me very much as a representative - in fact I felt myself humiliated. An honorable member stood at the table, and, arrogating to himself great power, evinced an amount of conceit which, to my mind, verged on insanity. The honorable member stood there, and told us that he held the present Government in the “ hollow of his hand.” The Prime Minister talks about his personal honour, and yet he allows a statement of that kind to pass. I make these remarks for the reason that since the honorable member for Wilmot spoke, we have not heard a solitary word from the Prime Minister on the point.
– The Prime Minister was not in the Chamber, was he?
– The Prime Minister has since been interviewed by a Sydney newspaper, and he could’ have referred to this matter had he chosen to do so. I suppose, however, that he felt so humiliated that he did not care to refer to it. The honorable member for Wilmot told us that he could do what he liked with the Government.
– And with the Opposition.
– No, the honorable member for Wilmot did not hold the Opposition in the “hollow of his hand.” Had that honorable member decided to vote with the Opposition, there would have been an equal number on each side, and probably a dissolution would have followed. But that honorable member finished his remarks by telling us that he was going to vote with the Government, who would thereby have a majority, and be able to carry on the business of the country. Immediately after that announcement had been made, the other leader of the Government, the honorable member for Gippsland, went to a reporter outside and stated that now the Government had a majority they were going to carry on, and he expressed the hope that there would be no factious opposition. I do not know what the honorable member for Gippsland takes us for? Does he take us for a lot of children? As I have already stated, so far as I am personally concerned - and I think a number of other honorable members think with me - I shall take every advantage of the Standing Orders to force the Government to the. country if I possibly can.
– And that is where the honorable member for Wilmot says the Government ought to go.
– The honorable member for Wilmot, in referring to the action of the Labour Party in voting for the inclusion of the railway employes and other public servants in the operation of the Arbitration Bill, described that action as practically the cause of the defeat of the Deakin Government. The honorable member accused the Labour Party of acting the part of Judas, who sold his master for twenty pieces of silver, and then went out and hanged himself. The honorable member informed us that, throughout his life and political career, he had always gone straight, and would continue to do so. but it appears to me that it was he who acted the part of a Judas, though he was afraid to politically hang himself. This honorable member, who is going to save the Government, points out in an interview reported in this morning’s newspapers, that the reason why he intends to take that course is this : He, first of all, makes the dramatic statement that nothing but death would prevent his voting with the Government. Then he says -
That was owing to the falsities of Mr. Hughes in regard to the six potters.
It will be remembered that the honorable member referred to made his speech relating to the six potters on 20th September. On 26th September - six days later - we find the honorable member for Wilmot making use of these remarks in Tasmania -
The Federal Parliament has been in existence for three and a quarter years. I have been a member during the whole of that time, and I have noticed that Tasmania has been ignored, slighted, and insulted upon every occasion.
Yet the honorable member intends to vote with the Government which has ignored Tasmania. He is prepared to desert his State and his constituents to enable this Government to carry on a little while longer. Further on in the interview the honorable member speaks on the various measures that have been passed, which he considers to be detrimental to Tasmania -
When the first Federal Ministry was formed, Tasmania was allowed an honorary portfolio. When a paid portfolio was given to one of her members, it was given very much after the style that a man throws a bone to a dog.
Further on, speaking of the motion of the honorable member for Bland, the honorable member for Wilmot said -
I wish to be clearly understood, that I am firmly of opinion that Mr. Reid cannot carry on the Government of Australia with a very small majority he would have, even if it included my vote, and an appeal to the electors must take place, if not at once, within a very short time.
That is thoroughly recognised by the Opposition themselves. Even if I do vote with the Opposition this time, it is done solely with the object of appealing to the electors themselves to return a workable Parliament on the other side.
Here was a clear statement that the honorable member intended to vote with the Opposition. Yet he makes a paltry excuse in reference to the six potters for voting with the Government. We can only come to the conclusion that after the honorable member had decided to vote with the Opposition a certain amount of pressure was brought to bear upon him to induce him to vote with the Government. It was threatened that a member of the Tasmanian Parliament would resign his seat and contest the electorate of Wilmot against the honorable member. Therefore, he changed his tune to save his political neck.
– The honorable member does not know the man.
– I know him thoroughly well. If the honorable member himself can support the Government after a statement of that kind I am sorry for him.
– Would the Opposition have accepted his vote?
– The position was totally different. If the honorable member for Wilmot had voted on this side, he would simply have done what he had already announced that he would do. It would have shown his courage had he voted to bring about an appeal to the country, so that the electors might say whether we were right or wrong. The statement which I have read is clear proof that the honorable member intended to vote with us. Consider the position of the Government. After the speech of the honorable member for Wilmot, the “ better half “ of the Government - the honorable member for Gippsland - announced that the Government intended to carry on with their majority of two. It is a very precarious majority. When the House goes into Committee, and the Chairman of Committees has to take the chair, the Government will lose 50 per cent, of their majority, because the honorable member for Laanecoorie will not then be able to assist them with his vote.
– Some of the honorable member’s deputies will act for him.
– That was tried once before when we were dealing with the salt duties, but nothing was gained on that occasion because the best part of the day was wasted in waiting until I could get out of the chair. The present Government propose to carry on the government of this country with the precarious vote of the honorable member for Wilmot, an honorable member who, during this session, has attended only thirty-nine out of eighty-one sittings of the House.
– That is all the better ; we can pair an honorable member like that.
– That will be all very well if an honorable member can be found on this side who will be fool enough to pair with the honorable member for Wilmot.
– Will not honorable members opposite give him a pair ?
– No, we will not. We have here a Government prepared to hang on to office at any price on the precarious vote of the honorable member for Wilmot ; and it is the most degrading spectacle that has ever been exhibited in the political history of Australia. Let honorable members listen to what the right honorable member for East Sydney said when he was at the height of his power and glory, with the Labour Party supporting him, in New South Wales. The right honorable gentleman was at that time pre pared to submit to any pressure by the Labour Party, and to give them anything they asked. I direct the attention of honorable members to the statement which he made when he had the full strength of the Labour Party behind him. Some one had been taunting the right honorable gentleman’s Government with being the mere tools of the Labour Party, and I find that he is reported, on page 37 of the New South Wales Hansard of 17th August, 1898, to have said -
When our position arrives at a stage approaching humiliation I shall not sully our grand record by imitating the example of any predecessors in clinging to office like a row of ring-tail possums to a bough.
Now we have presented a most painful spectacle, and we find the right honorable gentleman in the most humiliating position in which any Prime Minister has ever been in the history of Australia. He is prepared, so we are told by the other half of the head of the Government, to carry on with the assistance of the precarious vote of the honorable member for Wilmot.
– Does the honorable member charge the Government with altering their principles to catch a vote?
– I do not think that the Government have altered their principles to catch a vote. I do not think that they ever had any principles. But if they had I think that the present Prime Minister would sacrifice them forty times over to catch a vote on this particular occasion. So long as the Government are able to remain on the Treasury bench they will be prepared to carry on under the most humiliating conditions.
– A majority cannot be humiliating.
– Why all these tears ?
– It is the right honorable gentleman at the head of the present Government who shed the tears when he was speaking on the Tariff. Honorable members will recollect the tears which were dropped on the table in this Chamber by the right honorable gentleman when he cried over the 30 per cent, duty sought to be imposed on children’s boots. The right honorable gentleman referred to the poor little barefooted children who would have to run about the country in danger of the frost biting their foes. I have no doubt that if he thought it necessary to shed tears in order to secure his position on the Treasury bench, the right honorable gentleman would be prepared to do it in connexion with any of his measures. In the manifesto which he issued to the people of Australia, the right honorable gentleman did not in any way attempt to criticise the administration of the Watson Government. In that manifesto he practically admitted that everything that was desirable had been done by the late Government.
– What did they do, I wonder?
– During the time they were in office they so administered the affairs of the Commonwealth that those who took office after them had to admit that there were no ariears of work, and that everything had been kept up-to-date. Not a finger could be pointed at their administration. And if anything could have been said against the administration of the Labour Government, full advantage would have been taken by the present Prime Minister of the opportunity to say it.
– They only marked time while they were in office.
– The only real objection to their administration was that taken by the right honorable member for Swan. He condemned the Watson Government for insisting that no notice should be taken of military titles in the ordinary Civil Service, and moved the adjournment of the House to call attention to the matter.
– That was all they did out of the common.
– That is the solitary objection which has been urged against their administration.
– What did they do?
– Ask the honorable member for Eden-Monaro what they did ?
– We know that the present Government have only a majority of two.
– How does the honorable member know that there will be a majority of two in favour of the Government?
– I am accepting the statement to that effect which has been made by the other half of the head of the Government.
– The honorable member is not generally so ready to do that ?
– I must accept the honorable gentleman’s word on this occasion. I shall be very much mistaken in the Prime Minister, if he carries on with the vote of the honorable member for Wilmot. He will not be the man I take him for if he does. And certainly he will have humiliated himself throughout the length and breadth of Australia. The right honorable gentleman has also taken it upon himself to break down the power of the Labour Party, but that is a bigger task than he realizes. The Labour Party did not come into existence on a feather pillow. It has been built up by an amount of hard work, which is without parallel in our political history. It has become so powerful that it is the greatest political party in the Commonwealth to-day. It has compelled the two former political parties to sink their life-long principles, and combine in order to break down its influence throughout the country. That is, I think, one of the highest compliments which have ever been paid to the Labour Party.
– Did the Labour Party sink life-long principles?
– The Labour Party has never sunk one of its principles. We advocate our principles as earnestly to-day as we did when we began, and I challenge the honorable and learned member, or any one else, to show where we have ever attempted to violate any principle that we professed.
– All through the Labour Party consented to the taxation of the masses.
– The honorable and learned member has free-trade on the brain.
– I am speaking of taxation, not of free-trade.
– The honorable and learned member is prepared to support in this Government the very men who imposed a duty of 40 per cent, on boots, and of 30 per cent, on hats.
– I merely resist any further increase of taxation.
– The honorable and learned member is prepared to accept the Tariff which he denounced as robbery, and to sink the fiscal issue.
– I am not prepared to accept it, nor am I supporting it, as the honorable member knows.
– Here is another honorable member who has kicked over the traces. He now tells us that he will neither support the Government-
– No ; I said I was not supporting the Tariff, which is a different thing.
– Do I understand that the honorable and learned member accepts the fiscal truce?
– I have to accept what I cannot avoid.
– He is obliged to accept it ; the people made him.
– We know well that the honorable and learned member has not accepted the fiscal truce. We know that if there were an election to-morrow he would go out and fight as hard for his free-trade principles as he did on the first occasion.
– No doubt.
– Do honorable members think that the compact which puts the shackles on them could bind the honorable and learned member? They have no possible hope of binding him to the compact.
– We are free men here.
– We know all about honorable members on the other side being free men. I regret very much that the right honorable member, who held such a long record for good administration in Western Australia, should allow himself to be gagged and bound in this matter.
– No fear.
– I offer the right honorable member my deepest sympathy. The Labour Party, I repeat, did not come into existence on a feather pillow. It is the result of many years of toil and hard work. The principles of the Labour Party are very dear to the people of Australia.The fact that in Queensland hundreds of men are prepared to ride a distance of 200 or 300 miles, and that some persons are willing to trudge a distance of 100 miles to record their votes, shows how deeply rooted are the principles of the Labour Party.
– I wish that their enthusiasm was better rewarded.
– It is for them to say whether they are satisfied. The Labour Party is something more than a mere organization. It represents a deep-rooted sentiment which has grown up in the people, owing to the maladministration and iniquitous actions of other parties. The Labour Party did not spring into existence by a mere accident. It was forced into existence by the rottenness of the different parties in power. It has done very much to purify our political life, which, I regret exceedingly, is not yet as clean as it might be. Immediately we come along, we are accused of being Socialists. I do not deny that I am a Socialist. I declare that every member of the Labour Party is a Socialist. Any labour man who does not acknowledge that he is a Socialist knows very little about the labour movement, because it has been organized on socialistic lines. We know very well that we cannot bring the whole of our doctrines into force within twenty-four or forty -eight hours. We recognise that there are many obstacles which have to be cleared away before we can achieve that result. In the meantime, we have to fight reactionaries like the present Government. We all know the great difficulty of clearing away the obstacles before we can put our highest ideals into practice. What are those ideals? As the Prime Minister has said, we have our political freedom, and now we want our economic freedom. Until we get our economic freedom, the working classes will not be benefited’ very much.
– Let all the members of the Labour Party join in with that view, and it will have a great many supporters to-morrow. I, for one, should be with them.
– The support of the honorable and learned member would be so erratic that it could not be depended upon for very long, because we know that he is a rank individualist, or, as I might almost say, an individualist gone mad. He believes in the theories of Spencer to such an extent, that he has practically become an anarchist. He believes in the wiping out of all law and order.
– Not of all law and order.
– The honorable and learned member believes that if individualism were carried to its fullest extent, no man would do wrong to his neighbour.
– I believe that no man should lord it over, or impose his will upon another.
– Just so. That is a pure anarchical doctrine, and I aim glad that the honorable and learned member accepts the position.
– . Most of us will become anarchists if Parliament makes such laws as it has been making.
– What are we aiming at? We contend that the means of production, distribution, and exchange, should be placed in the hands of the people, and used for the common good, and not for class purposes. The Labour Party is organized to accomplish that object. We have been accused of being a class party. I, for one, frankly acknowledge that we are a class party. What we are engaged in today is a class struggle - in other words, a struggle of the masses of the people against the classes. The fight is against those who represent vested interests, and’ who are only 10 per cent, of the people, by the 90 per cent, who own nothing. It is with the 90 per cent, who own no wealth themselves, but who produce all the wealth, that we are fighting. All we ask is that labour shall get the full reward of its toil. It does not get that to-d’ay. It is fleeced and robbed by means of rents and profits of the greater portion of that which it produces.
– If that be so, why not repeal the laws which allow such a robbery?
– If such legislation were proposed, the honorable and learned member, and other honorable members opposite, would offer the strongest’ opposition to it. The Labour Party has been organized for the purpose of fighting for labour. We take up the cudgels against vested rights and vested interests. The Prime Minister, in agreeing to lead a party to break clown the ramifications and organizations of the Labour Party, undertook a great and a mighty work. I am, however, pleased that he has done so, because the greater and the more bitter we can make the struggle the faster will be our progress. The surest sign that we are progressing is the continual raving against the party of newspapers like the Melbourne Age and Argus,, the Sydney Morning Herald, and the Sydney Daily Telegraph. I hope that the right honorable gentleman will make the fight as bitter as he can. I shall make it as bitter as I can. As we are going to have a battle, let us appeal to the country, and’ let honorable members opposite take up the cry of anti- Socialism, while we take up the cry of Socialism. The last State elections in Queensland were fought on that issue, and the result was that the Labour Party swept the State, from the Gulf of Carpentaria to the borders of Queensland. Since then, on a limited franchise, which is inferior to that of the Federal Parliament, we have won a by-election on the same cry. The last Federal elections, too, were fought in Queensland on that cry, when the supporters of the present Government had behind them the Federated Employers’ Association, with its huge capital of ^10,000. In New South Wales that association is supposed to have had a capital of , £23,000, and in Victoria a capital of £20,000.
– That is totally absurd.
– I say that on the authority of the statements of Mr. Walpole, the secretary to the Federated Employers’ Association, as to what its members are doing. If they did not get the whole of that money, they got a considerable portion of it.
– Why not say that they had a capital of£230,000.
– I wish that they had paid my election expenses.
– If they did not obtain these huge sums, they attempted to obtain them for the purpose of fighting the Labour Party. What was the result of the Federal elections jn Queensland in December last? The candidate opposed to us whose name stood highest upon the list polled 16,000 votes fewer than were obtained by our lowest candidate, while our leading man beat the man highest on the list by 22,000 or 23,000 votes. That shows the feeling of Queensland on the subject. A similar result has been obtained in Western Australia. Four out of the five representatives of Western Australia in this House were returned as Socialists, while the one individualist - the right honorable member for Swan - has not too certain a position at the present time.
– It is as certain as that of any other honorable member.
– The Labour Party regret that they did not oppose the right honorable gentleman. If they had done so, all the representatives of Western Australia in this House would be labour members. In South Australia, on the cry of Socialism versus anti- Socialism, three labour members were returned to the Senate, while the labour representation of that State in this House was increased. In New South Wales, at the recent State electionsthe Labour Party increased its numbers by over 50 per cent, in spite of the opposition to its candidates. Similar results were obtained in Victoria at both the State and the Federal elections. The Labour Party is growing to such an extent that our opponents are becoming afraid. They see that their powers are slipping from them, and that they are likely to lose some of the privileges and advantages which they have so long held and wielded against the interests and progress, not only of the community, but of the individuals composing it. Naturally they make a noise. Since the Federal elections a by-election has been fought out in Victoria on the cry of Socialism verses anti-Socialism, and the Labour Party again won by the return of the honorable member for Melbourne. Considering the natural political genius of the right honorable member for East Sydney, he might have been expected to get a more tangible and forcible weapon with which to fight the Labour Party than an old gag which was used against us sixteen years ago with very poor results. Nothing gives me greater pleasure than to know that the right honorable gentleman intends to fight the Labour Party. We, as a party, should be extremely grateful to him for having at last come out in his true colours as the leader of the Conservative Party in Australia.
– I suppose the honorable member would call a man who had saved a house from being burnt down a conservative ?
– If the right honorable gentleman is not a conservative, he has allied himself with the conservatives, and is backed up by all the conservative organizations in Australia.
– The honorable member has also some curious associates.
– The right honorable gentleman has, time after time, appeared on the platform with other conservatives, and with the secretary of the Conservative Party backing him up.
– Addressing one of the nicest assemblies of ladies I ever saw.
– The right honorable gentleman will go to the Women’s National League meetings and talk about the purity of the home.
– I scorned and repudiated that sort of talk at that very meeting.
– Then the right honorable gentleman repudiates the platform of the Women’s National League?
– I repudiated all talk upon that feature of it.
– Then the right honorable gentleman has refused to accept the fundamental principles of that organization. Yet he is prepared to address the members of that organization with a view to securing their votes.
– Every elector in Australia is free to vote for me at any time, and I should like to see the honorable member re- ject any vote that came his way.
– There was never a party in existence that was bound hand and foot like that led by the right honorable gentleman.
– The right honorable gentleman has bound the members of his party so that they are not allowed to mention free-trade or protection on the hustings.
– That is absolutely incorrect.
– What is the matter with the honorable member to-night? Every member of my party is absolutely free.
– I am very glad that the right honorable gentleman has returned to the Chamber.
– The honorable member would make any one ill in ten minutes. The members of my party are free to do as they like, and are not bound up in a bullock team like the members of the Labour Party.
– I must ask the Prime Minister not to make the honorable member’s speech for him.
– My action is accounted for by the fact that I am sitting on the wrong side of the House. I shall move to my proper seat.
– The Prime Minister has stated that the members of his party are not bound, and I shall have to repeat something of what I have already said. He has formed a coalition, and we are told by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat that the agreement which binds the parties together is based on the understanding arrived at in May last.
– If that is not so, the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, evidently does not knowanything about the matter.
– An agreement was entered into between the honorable and learned member for Ballarat and myself, but the members of the party were left absolutely free.
– Am I to understand that the basis of the agreement that was arrived at between the right honorable gentleman, and the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, does not form the basis of the coalition that has been entered into?
– Every member is absolutely free.
– Then, to all appearances, the free-trade section of the coalition has been swallowed by the right honorable gentleman.
– I do not know why honorable members should put all the. swallowing down to me.
– Probably they have been impressed by the capacity which the right honorable gentleman has shown for swallowing his own statements.
– I have been swallowing the statements of the honorable member for about ten minutes, with great difficulty.
– Probably theywill give the right honorable gentleman a nightmare. Honorable members opposite have repudiated every item of the coalition policy agreed to in May last.
– And they have knocked the stuffing out of the honorable member’s arguments.
– Of course, if they repudiate the policy laid down in May last, my arguments have no weight ; I admit that frankly. But what becomes of the coalition? We were told that a coalition had been formed, and no later than a night or two ago the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, when speaking at Scarsdale, stated that the agreement entered into in May last was the basis of the coalition. Honorable members now repudiate his statement. The Prime Minister accused the members of the Deakin Government of being tools in the hands of the Labour Party.
– Surely I could not have used such language.
– It is useless for the right honorable gentleman to attempt to turn the matter into a joke, because I am seeking a direct statement from him with regard to it. I challenge him to mention one instance in which the Labour Party brought pressure to bear upon the Barton or Deakin Governments to introduce legislation.
– The tea duty.
– I am challenged to make a statement, and I know that it would be disorderly if I were to do so. It is very cruel.
– The right honorable gentleman is adopting this attitude because he has been told that the honorable and learned member for Ballarat stated this evening that no such pressure was brought to bear upon his Government. The right honorable gentleman has been making a stalking-horse of the extent to which the Deakin Government were amenable to the influence of the Labour Party, and he is unable to bring any evidence to bear in proof
Df his statements. We have not heard one word from him with reference to the vote about to be given by the honorable member for Wilmot. He has not told us whether he intends to carry on the Government and go into recess upon the strength of a vote given him by an honorable member who made a most humiliating exhibition.
– It must have been most offensive to the honorable member.
– It was most humiliating to this House. The Government are apparently prepared to carry on the Government under the most humiliating conditions. The honorable member for Wilmot says that he holds the Government in the “hollow of his hand,” and that he can squeeze the Prime Minister just as he thinks proper. If the Prime Minister thinks that the people of Australia will tolerate such conditions in this Parliament he will find that he is much mistaken.
– I desire to make a personal explanation. In the course of my speech this afternoon I said that I had seen a. paragraph in which it was stated that the right honorable member for Swan had engaged a house, or had asked some one to engage a house for him in London. The right honorable member assures me that he was not the individual referred to, and I wish to apologize for having said that he was.
– It seems to me that the Ministerial guns have been silenced. At any rate, we have heard nothing from them for some time.
– Honorable members opposite have not got the range now.
– Although I should be very glad to see the debate terminate as early as possible, and to that end am prepared to sit late, I still deem it to be my duty to give some reasons why I have no confidence in this double-headed, twintailed monstrosity of a Government, which depends for its retention of office upon the honorable member for Wilmot, who is an Islsmaelite with his hand against the Government, and also against the Labour Party.
– Is it not a wonder that honorable members opposite said nothing about him during three weeks?
– We have had a great deal to say about him during that period, and the right honorable gentleman may have a good deal to say about him within the next three weeks. He is not out of the wood yet, and I ask the Prime Minister to remember that. We all know that the honorable member for Wilmot travelled around Tasmania announcing that he was anxious for a dissolution, and declaring that it was advisable to have a dissolution. But what is his position at the present time? The honorable member quoted an improvisation of a portion of Tennyson’s Charge of the Light Brigade. I am sorry that he is not present, because I am quite sure that he is familiar with an old Jacobite song, entitled Hie March of the Cameron Men. In that song there is a line to the effect that a Cameron never can yield. Whenever I hear that line in the ‘future, I shall be tempted to exclaim “ Rats !” because I know a Cameron who capitulated at the first breath of criticism, and the very moment he realized that his own seat was in jeopardy. The honorable member for Wilmot has no more confidence in the Government than have honorable members upon this side of the House. I admit that he declares that he has no confidence in the Labour Party. After -.telling us ‘that the one thing for the country was a dissolution, the honorable member, who has hitherto been regarded as a straight-goer, intends to vote for a Government in which he admittedly has no confidence. In August last, the Prime Minister declared war against the Labour Party, and I, for one, am prepared to take up the gage of battle. What does it mean ? It means war against the masses on the part of the right honorable gentleman and of every one of his supporters. It means war against humanity and upon the side of the privileged classes. I am not afraid to face the country with such a battle-cry. I do not fear the result, nor does any honorable member upon this side of the House. I hold in my hand a few statements which the Prime Minister has made from time to time in various parts of the country. At Kyneton, upon the 30th June, he said -
The time has come when it devolves upon me to set myself right across the path of this Labour Party. Why? Because they have got beyond the legitimate realm of healthy political agitation for healthy national ends, and they have embarked upon a political career of conquest, which is attended by the worst vices of the ancient tyrannies.
I ask him, where is the legislation to justify such a charge against members of the Labour Party? I venture to say that he cannot point to one Act of advantage to the country which did not receive the support of every honorable member upon this side of the House. As was pointed out by the honorable member for Maranoa, even the right honorable member for Swan is in agreement with six out of the seven planks of our platform. Where, then, is the evidence of an attempt on the part of the Labour Party to institute the ancient tyrannies? I wish to say that not one letter of our platform will be altered until we have first consulted our constituents. We have put that platform in black and white, and our strength is increasing for the reason that the people place reliance in us. They know that we do not go before the electors, as some honorable members who oppose the Labour Party have done, and after making all sorts of pledges, repudiate them as soon as we enter the walls of Parliament. The Prime Minister, I maintain, was simply mad with the Watson Administration, because they did not bring down a thunderbolt policy which would enable him to go rampaging all over the country talking of their revolutionary aims. He dare not take up our platform, discuss it plank by plank, and state his objections to it. Even the right honorable member for Swan will not do that, because the only plank to which he objects is that relating to the nationalization of monopolies. We are not likey to get very much from the present Prime Minister, according to a statement which he is reported to have made on the 31st August last. Upon that occasion he is credited with having said that the Labour Party had got as much out of the honorable member for Hume in twelve months as they would get out of him in 200 years. The right honorable member is fast approaching the allotted span, so ‘hat we can almost reckon to a nicety how much we may expect from him. I desire to ask him if he repudiates that statement, tecause it has been said that he denies having made it. I should like the attention of the Prime Minister for a moment.
– I wish to know whether I shall be in order at the present time in answering the honorable member who is asking me a question? I am quite willing to answer any questions that may be put to me, if it is not disorderly to do so, but I must be allowed to rise and answer them in my own way.
– It would certainly not be in order for the Prime Minister, or any other honorable member, to rise whilst another honorable member is speaking, or to interpose with a view to making any speech to the House. It would be in order, however, so long as the interjection was within reasonable bounds, for the right honorable gentleman to reply to a question by saving “ Yes “ or “ No.”
– The Prime Minister has answered questions by interjections hundreds of times without being specially asked to do so.
– Let the honorable member put it to me at a time when I can answer it.
– I do not care whether the right honorable gentleman answers it or not. I take it for granted that it is true that the right honorable gentleman stated that the Labour Party had got as much out of the honorable member for Hume in twelve months as they would get out of him in 200 years.
– I have already answered that question. What I said was that the Labour Party squeezed a certain gentleman more in one year than they could have squeezed me in 200 years.
– I propose to read an extract from Hansard of a speech delivered by the honorable and learned member for West Sydney. Referring to the Prime Minister, he said -
The right honorable gentleman never in the whole course of his political career held office in New South Wales for twenty-four hours unless the Labour Party kept him there.
– Absolutely untrue.
The right honorable gentleman is very good at repudiation.
– It was not true in that sense.
– I heard the right honorable gentleman the other day repudiate an interview. I wonder whether he will be prepared to repudiate an article from his own pen, which appeared in the Review of Reviews of 15th November, 1899. Let me read what he then said of the Labour Party. I think when I have concluded this quotation the House will be satisfied that the statement made by the honorable and learned member for West Sydney was not absolutely untrue, but absolutely correct. In this article the Prime Minister said -
During those five years, there was a party in the Parliament of New South Wales, distinct from all others, known as the Labour Party ; to the present Assembly of 125 it contributes nineteen members. For the period of my Premiership they held the balance of power, in any party struggle, nearly always.
I think this shows fairly clearly that the right honorable gentleman could not have held office for twenty-four hours without the support of the Labour Party. The article continues -
The transfer of their solid support from one side to the other meant a difference of thirtyeight votes. I can testify, with pleasure, to the singularly consistent support the party gave to the late Government from first to last. There was no sort of definite tie, or formal alliance. Our policy met with their approval, and they did not expect to further their political aspirations or part)’ platform better by opposing us. From that point of view, there is no call for gratitude. They supported us simply because it seemed to be their duty so to do. The ground upon which I feel deeply grateful to the labour members, and especially to their able and high-minded leader, Mr. J. S. McGowen, is this : having great power, they never sought to use it in an objectionable manner. The connexion was always, therefore, on both sides, an honorable one; and the absence of any attempt at pressure during my term of office is a fact which I have the greatest possible pleasure in recording.
That is incontestible proof that the interjection made by the right honorable gentleman while the honorable and learned member for West Sydney was speaking was not in accordance with fact.
– What rubbish !
– Does the right honorable gentleman repudiate his own statement ?
– The honorable member is not competent to understand it.
– That is the position of the right honorable gentleman. He could not have held office for twenty-four hours in the New South Wales Parliament without the support of the Labour Party, and, according to the honorable member for Wilmot, he cannot hold office for twenty-four hours in this Parliament in the absence of that honorable member’s support.
– The statement made by the honorable and learned member for West Sydney was perfectly true in respect of a considerable part of the five years, but it was not true in respect of the whole period, or of anything Tike it.
– But in the article to which I have referred the right honorable gentleman said that the party held this power during the whole period. I invite him to read for himself what he wrote for the Review of Reviews.
– But what has that to do with’ the world in 1904, and with another Labour Party altogether?
– I am going to tell the right honorable gentleman.
– They were as different as possible from the honorable member and his party.
– The right honorable gentleman had not a word to say then about socialistic legislation.
– There was none at that time.
– He had not a word to say against the organization of the Labour Party, and yet they have to-day the same organization, the same caucus, and the same aims and objects in view as they had then.
– The honorable member is wrong. At the general elections in 1894 - ten years ago - I publicly denounced the system of caucus, and the muzzling of Members of Parliament. That denunciation was reported in the public newspapers.
– That was before the right honorable gentleman obtained the support of the members of the Labour Party. He was satisfied as soon as he secured their support. I have no confidence in this hotch-potch Ministry, for a reason well stated in The Biglow Papers. There is not a member of the Ministry who cannot say -
Ez to my princerples, I glory In hevin’ nothin’ o’ the sort.
At all events, we have not yet heard of their having any principles. One-half of the Government has thrown over free-trade, while the other half has thrown over protection. What have the two parties in common ?
– And the honorable member swallowed it all the time.
– What do they say in regard to preferential trade? They have sunk the fiscal issue for two years.
– And the honorable member has sunk it for all eternity.
– The right honorable gentleman will possibly find very soon that it has not been sunk for many hours. So far as I am concerned, it has never been sunk; and I shall have no hesitation in assisting those who desire to re-open the Tariff, and to help our industries. The members of the Government have thrown aside their fiscal principles for two years. On preferential trade they have no agreement whatever ; on the Manufactures Encouragement Bill no agreement whatever, and on the Trans-Australian railway line no agreement. Where are their principles? What is their policy? Their hope is to get into recess, so that they may concoct something that may pass for a policy.
– We will sit all the year round, if the honorable member is so rabid in his desire for such a session. None of this make-believe. All the members of the Opposition are dying to get away.
– I would remind the Prime Minister that a famous British Minister once said that confidence is a plant of slow growth. In the case of the Prime Minister and his Government, I think it is going to be shrivelled up beyond revival.
– The poor little plant has only just shown one shoot above the surface of the earth, and the Opposition are endeavouring to trample it under foot.
– I shall tell the House what is the policy of the six potterers.
– Do not talk of the six potters.
– The six potterers who occupy the Treasury bench have but one policy - a policy in which they will not succeed - and that is to smash the Labour Party. The one purpose of the combination is to injure the Labour Party.
– The so-called Labour Party. It is the other fellows who do the hard work.
– I know that the Prime Minister would rather reign in a commercial hell than serve in a socialistic heaven. What did he say at Mosman’s Bay on 9th May last? He had the brazen impudence - I cannot describe it by any milder term-
– Call it South Australian assurance.
– The Prime Minister should wait until I have read the quotation. He had the brazen impudence to say on the occasion to which I have referred that-
The principle of parliamentary government had been sacrificed, and the ideal of parliamentary representation had been sacrificed, by the intrusion of a party in national politics which did not stand for the people, but stood for a class.
– Hear, hear; and only part of a class.
– Am I not here by the same right as is the right honorable gentleman? Am I not here by the votes of the people?
– The honorable member is tied up to a part of a class.
– Is not every honorable member on this side on an equality, in the eyes of the electors of the Commonwealth, with the right honorable gentleman as a member of the Parliament? He ought to be ashamed to make such a statement. I think he should withdraw it.
– You must stand criticism, my infant.
– I shall not retaliate by saying anything so offensive as that.
– What about “ brazen impudence “ ?
– That is the mildest term I could use in regard to the charge made against certain members of this House, that they are intruders in the Commonwealth Parliament.
– Not the men; they are not intruders.
– The Prime Minister would endeavour to explain away this statement, and everything else, just as he tried to explain away his statement about steering the ship of the State from the steerage.
– And the six potters.
– I do not mind these offensive remarks.
– Is it offensive to be in the steerage ?
– Those are the sort of epithets which are levelled at men who are admitted to be just as good as honorable members behind the Government. We on this side have our faults like everybody else, but the Prime Minister accuses us of standing, not for the people, but for a class. I maintain that we on this side stand more for the people as a whole than does the Prime Minister, according to the principles which he has lately professed. It is very evident that, as compared with his opponents, the Prime Minister represents a very narrow section. We, on the other hand, are sent here by every section of the community to legislate for every section, and the statute-book is our record, showing, as it does, thatthe legislation supported by the Labour Party Ras been in the interests of the whole community. The Prime Minister has been going about the country poisoning the minds of the people in regard to the Labour caucus and Socialism. The fact is that honorable members opposite are afraid that the electors of the Commonwealth may ultimately come to know the true meaning of Socialism, and fear the result. At the Athenaeum Hall, Melbourne, the other day, the Prime Minister told the public that the Socialists desire to bring every. one to a dead level. The right honorable gentleman is reported to have said -
He did not believe they could reconstruct men and women on a uniform manner, all with the same wages per week.
I ask the right honorable gentleman to point to an honorable member on this side of. the House who believes in such a doctrine. I go further, and ask the right honable gentleman to name one member of the Labour Party throughout the Commonwealth who believes in such an absurdity as placing the people all on one level. We believe in rewarding each according to his deeds - that is the principle in which the Labour Party believes.
– Some people are “ sharks,” and some are not.
– If what the right honorable gentleman stated at the Athenaeum Hall had been true he would have found the Labour Party, week in and week out, advocating that the Postmaster-General should receive precisely the same pay as the postman, and that the Government Printer should receive exactly the same pay as the compositor. Has the right honorable gentleman ever heard anything of the kind advocated by the Labour Party ?
– What does the honorable member mean by “ each according to his needs “ ?
– I said “deeds,” as the honorable member would have heard had he been listening.
– Who is to judge of the deeds ?
– Each man is to be his own judge.
– The Prime Minister must admit that if he cannot find one member of the Labour Party who believes in the doctrine he outlined at the Athenaeum Hall as his view of Socialism-, he is misrepresenting the party. And what makes it worse is that the Prime Minister knows he will get that publicity which no member of the Labour Party can get in refutation.
– At the Athenaeum Hall that night I was not discussing the Labour Party in any shape or form.
– I have said that the right honorable gentleman was discussing Socialism.
– Is Socialism the Labour Party?
– Certainly, the Labour Party is Socialism.
– Will the honorable member define what he means by Socialism? There have been fifteen different definitions.
– Socialism has been defined a hundred times over.
– And in a hundred different ways.
– Socialism has never been defined but in one way by any member of the party to which I have the honour to belong.
– Wait until we hear the honorable member for Gwydir !
– I have challenged the right honorable gentleman to show that any definition of Socialism, given by any member of the Labour Party, corroborates his definition given at the Athenaeum Hall.
– I have done so over and over again by reference to the utterances of Tom Mann, the paid representative of the Political Labour Council of Victoria. Does the honorable member repudiate Tom Mann ?
– What is the honorable member’s definition of Socialism?
– I shall tell honorable members what Socialism is. In South Australia we have a Chamber of Manufactures, composed of employers who are the bitter opponents of the Labour Party, of arbitration, and of Socialism. But the members of that Chamber of Manufactures take a subsidy of ^200 a year from the State Government, and occupy free premises. That is Socialism. The trades unions in South Australia occupy their own Trades Hall, for which they pay rent. Those who denounce Socialism are always the first to take advantage of Socialism.
– That is a somewhat imperfect definition of Socialism - it has local colouring.
– The post offices, the railways, and the hospitals represent Socialism.
– Those institutions are public utilities.
– What is a general definition of Socialism?
– Honorable members opposite cannot trap me in that way. I am at present dealing with what is not Socialism. I am dealing with what honorable members opposite have represented to be Socialism, when they knew perfectly well that it was nothing of the kind. Those honorable members are simply poisoning the minds of the people.
– I have a vague recollection that it is somewhat unparliamentary to impute to honorable members that they make statements which they know to be untrue, and make them for the purpose of poisoning the minds of the public. I certainly object.
– I did not hear the honorable member for) Hindmarsh make such a statement, but if he did, I ask him to withdraw it.
– I said that the statements made were untrue, but I cheerfully withdraw, because it is only one withdrawal as against the thousands which the Prime Minister has had to make in a similar way. I say that they are absolutely incorrect - that the statements themselves are absolutely untrue.
– If the honorable member is referring to statements made by honorable members of the House, he must not say that they are absolutely untrue.
– I shall not apply the remark to honorable members opposite. The same statements, however, are made by others outside. I am now dealing with employers’ unions, who are bitterly opposed to Socialism. The members of those unions make precisely the same statements.
– The honorable member is a bit of a “navigator” himself.
– I withdraw the remark with regard to honorable members opposite, but precisely similar statements to those made by the Prime Minister and honorable members opposite, are made outside, and they are absolutely untrue. They are simply a pack of lies intended to deceive people - nothing more nor less.
– Tom Mann’s language is coming in now !
– Surely, we may differ without misrepresenting each other? I have no desire to misrepresent any honorable member opposite, and I am quite sure I have not done so up to the present. I wish I could say the same of other honorable members.
– Self righteousness !
– What did the Prime Minister say to the farmers at Warragul? He said -
The Ministers of the people of Australia had to go down to the vault every week, as members of the caucus, which had absolute control and supremacy over them.
Yet the Prime Minister tells us that the Watson Government brought , in a “crawling policy.” How was it that those whom he describes as our masters - the leagues outside - did not insist on our bringing in the “ thunderbolt “ policy which he would like to see? How was it the caucus did not insist on a different policy ? That only shows that the Prime Minister is going about the country misrepresenting the Labour Party on every occasion. The right honorable gentleman went further, because at the same meeting he said -
If he succeeded in ousting the Labour Ministry he must scatter all his private business to the winds. If he lost he had a much more profitable contract on hand.
Is not that a proof that there has been a scramble for office on his part? The right honorable gentleman would allow the country to go to the dogs - all he cares for is office. He will not come here to take his share in the battle against a Government in which he has no confidence, but says he will attend to his private affairs. I have quoted the right honorable gentleman’s own words - will he deny them? I am astounded that a gentleman with the reputation of the Prime Minister, should make such a sordid remark as he did at that particular meeting. I should like to say a word or two about the Prime Minister’s followers. I find that the right honorable member for Swan, accompanied the Prime Minister to a meeting of the Women’s National League, held in Melbourne on 29th August. The right honorable member for Swan objected to the Labour Party, because - it includes lawyers, doctors, and parsons, and other persons who have never done a day’s work with their hands in their lives.
Then up jumped the Prime Minister, who said that his objection to the Labour Party was -
That it had appropriated a trade-mark which belonged to every one. The term labour belonged to every person in Australia, rich or poor, that did some honest work.
It did not matter how the Labour Partywas constituted, these right honorable gentlemen had a ground of complaint against it. In the one case it was objected to because it includes too many classes of persons, and in the other case it was objected to because it does not embrace all classes. The Prime Minister took the opposite view to that of the right honorable member for Swan. The one said “ Yes,” and the other said “ No “ on that occasion. Which of the two is correct? ‘ I am rather astonished that the honorable and learned member for Ballarat should have come down from his high pedestal and misrepresented the Labour Party at Ballarat. He did so to a degree that would even shame a Turk. When he found that the Labour Party would not accept his invitation to walk into his parlour - the door of which he said he had left open - the moment he found we were not prepared to form an alliance with his Government, he denounced the Labour Party, its methods, and its machine. But he went to Ballarat to construct another machine to fight it.
– What is the date of that speech ?
– I have not got the date at the present moment; but I can easily turn it up.
– Was it delivered this year or last?
– This year; it was delivered after the Deakin Government had gone out of office.
– Then, how could it have been delivered because he found that the Labour Party would not ally itself with him?
– I intend to give the honorable and learned member’s words. The objection of the Minister of Defence is merely a lawyer’s quibble.
– The honorable member made an inaccurate statement of the motives of the honorable and learned member for Ballarat.
– I am going to make an exactly true statement. I intend to show that the ex-Prime Minister made a statement of which he ought to be ashamed. He said -
If, in accepting every article of the programme, supporting every proposal which they put forward, you once endeavour, as many of their own members have proved in this and other States, to assert your individuality, you once try to have an independent mind on other subjects, or in relation to party arrangements, you are a heretic, banned with bell, book, and candle.
– The Labour Party are going to oppose him to prove that that is true.
-The honorable gentleman does not know what he is talking about. Here is a statement made by the ex- Prime Minister, with whom the Labour Party was on most friendly terms. He had merely to ask the Honorable member for Bland a question with regard to our methods, our caucus, our platform, to get- any information he desired. He would have learnt that the truth was the very opposite from what he had stated. He should have recollected that while his Government was in office I made a statement in reply to an interview with the present Minister of Trade and Customs which was published in the Age, and explained precisely in his hearing, and in the hearing of the Minister of Defence, what was done at our caucus meetings. I stated that we do not vote on subjects outside our platform, and that such subjects are very seldom discussed. I put that point clearly, as can be seen from Hansard Indeed, honorable members will recollect the stand which I took up in regard to the amendment of the honorable and learned member for Darling Downs, which affected one plank in our platform. I had a free hand, as other members of the Labour Party had, and voted accordingly. The present Prime Minister, having some dirty work to do, refused to call for a division himself, but got the honorable and learned member for Werriwa to do so. No other member of his own party called with him, so there was no division. Had a division been taken, I and a number of other labour members would have voted on the opposite side from some of the other members of our party.
– That was the amendment which the Watson Government cheerfully accepted .
– I am sure I never accepted it. I do not think that the Labour Party would accept it, and I am sure that the unions would not accept it.
– All of them, except the honorable member, accepted it.
– No; it was carried on the voices; there was no division.
– I called for a division, and it was carried by one vote.
– I voted for the amendment of the honorable and learned member for Darling Downs to knock out the amendment of the Minister of Defence. If there was a division, how is it that my name is not recorded in Hansard as voting against the amendment of the honorable and learned member for Darling Downs?
– The amendment of the honorable and learned member for Darling Downs, which inserted words instead of the words in my amendment, was carried, and that involved the whole question.
– Carried on the voices.
– No; on a division.
– There was no straight-out division on “the amendment of the honorable and learned member for Darling Downs.
– On his amendment there was, but not on mine, as amended.
– My point is that the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, in spite of an explanation of the whole working of the caucus having been given publicly, has stated that if any member were to swallow the whole of the labour platform, unless he voted on all subjects, as the majority of the caucus declared, he would be banned with bell, book, and candle. That is an absolute misrepresentation. But he went further and said -
I say there can be nothing more derogatory to a representative or injurious to his standing in Parliament than to see a body of men required to pledge themselves to vote and act as their judgment would not direct them to.
I challenge the honorable and learned member to give an instance. I think that is fair. I deny that I have ever been asked, far less compelled, to vote as my judgment would not direct me to do, and I am not going to do it. I do not believe there is any member of the Labour Party who would. But the honorable and learned member went further. He said -
Every party has its caucus.
Honorable members opposite try to make us believe that they never have any caucus meetings. Yet the leader of the Protectionist Party opposite says that every party has its caucus. That is clear and definite. Does the Minister of Defence deny the statement that his party has had caucus meetings ?
– The minority was at liberty to disregard the decision of the majority.
– Then, the honorable member admits that his party did have caucus meetings? The minority in the Labour Party is in precisely the same position as is the minority in the caucus of the honorable gentleman’s party.
– Not in matters in the party’s platform.
– On matters in our party’s platform.
– The minority is bound by the decision of the majority ; the platform says so.
– Has the honorable and learned member been at a meeting of our caucus? Ought he to know better than I do? How is it, then, that I have not been taken to task for the stand I took in regard to the amendment which I have mentioned ?
– Because the honorable member did not vote.
– Order ! The Standing Orders do not provide for dialogues. They provide for speeches. It is difficult for honorable members to refrain from interjecting if the honorable member, who is addressing the House, puts his observations in the form of questions. I would ask the honorable member for Hindmarsh not to put questions to honorable members, but to continue his speech.
– I had no intention to transgress the Standing Orders, and I apologize. The honorable and learned member for Ballarat said -
Every party has its caucus, and I have not a word to say against them, but no caucus, except that of the Labour Party, seeks to compel the minority to vote against their convictions and good judgment.
I give that a flat contradiction, and I say that it is not honest political warfare. It is warfare in which no honorable member of this House should indulge, no matter on what side he sits. We should be fair to each other. If I had any doubt in regard to any of the organizations connected with honorable members opposite they would never find me going round the country misrepresenting them. I should first go to one of their leading members to know what the constitution, of their organization was. I think that is the least we had a right to expect from honorable members on ,the other side. I have not been surprised at the position which has been taken up by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat. After hearing the honorable and learned gentleman, make his first address in this House this session, on the first occasion on which I spoke, I said that I had listened with intense interest to the exposition by the Prime Minister as the honorable and learned gentleman then was, of the new development of fiscal thought when he said that the gulf had become so narrow between the free-trader and protectionist that I almost expected to see the honorable and learne”d gentleman fall upon the neck of the right honorable member for East Sydney. He has done it. I was not so very far wrong. Any one who listened to that speech by the honorable and learned gentleman could see it was coming. They could see that there was to be a parting of the ways, when there would be a combination against the Labour Party, and when we could no longer run together with the party led by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat. I have yet ringing in my ears the honorable and learned gentleman’s denunciation of the extraordinary statements, or the extraordinary misstatements, of the right honorable member for East Sydney in regard to the Petriana sailors and the six hatters ; but to-day the honorable and learned gentleman, is prepared to take the present Prime Minister to his arms or to allow himself to be taken into the right honorable gentleman’s arms. I refer now to the honorable member for Dalley, to show the conglomerate kind of Government we have, and the kind of supporters they “have. The honorable member for Dalley, who I may say voted for preference to unionists, voted the Watson Government out because the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill did not go far enough. Where is the honorable member to-day ? We find him accepting the Bill as it stands, without so much as one word of protest. Where are the principles of honorable members opposite? If this is an example of devotion to principle, I have no desire to see it followed on this side. I am very sorry that the honorable member for Laanecoorie is not present. I was charged by that honorable member with being a Sabbath breaker. I am very glad the honorable member made the charge. I suppose that most honorable members will admit being Sabbath breakers at times, though their Sabbath breaking does not take the form of delivering addresses from a public platform on a Sunday. The honorable member for Laanecoorie accused me of being a Sabbath breaker, because I went to the Trades Hall in Melbourne, and delivered an address there on a Sunday. I may tell honorable members that my text on that occasion was a quotation from an address delivered by the Rev. Dr. Rentoul from that very platform on a Sunday.
– I am afraid the honorable member did not keep to his text.
– I stuck to my text, but what was reported in regard to the alliance was said after my address was finished, and by special request, because I did not intend to refer to it.
– The honorable 1 member left his text then.
– Will the honorable member for Laanecoorie dare to say that Dr. Rentoul is a Sabbath breaker, because he delivered a political address on a Sunday afternoon? These are the words I used as my text, and honorable members opposite would do well to bear them in mind -
If you saw a fellow-man sinking in the flood you would risk your life to save him. For the sake of wife or child, or comrade a man can do and die. And for the sake of “this new country of our own,” to make it free, to put down and make impossible here what kills and destroys men - the class greed, the brutal militarism, the intemperance, the lust, the disease, the cruelty to womanhood, the insolence and pride of property, the falsehood of the press, the wanton luxury of the wealthy, the intolerance of party and of tribal religious hate - to destroy these foes of God and of man, and to bring God’s love, and His spirit of justice and mercy and helpful toil and humanity and self-denial and peace into the upbuilding of this wide new nation of Australia - “ this country of our own.” That is something worth living for, and worth dying for.
Will the honorable member for Laanecoorie say that the Bishop of Tasmania was a Sabbath-breaker, because he delivered a magnificent address on Democracy on a Sunday? Will he say that the Bishop of Bath and Wells, at the time he was Bishop of Adelaide, was a Sabbath-breaker, because, with his approval, the President of the Senate, Sir Richard Baker, explained his Arbitration Bill to the members of the Adelaide Democratic Club on a Sunday; or will he say that the present President of the Senate was, on that occasion, a Sabbath-breaker? If he will not, I wish to know what was the object of his attack upon myself? I know that the honorable member dare not say that the gentlemen to whom I have referred were Sabbath-breakers. Let me tell honorable members that I have been speaking on political and social questions in South Australia for the last twenty years on a Sunday, and I hope to do so for thirty years longer.
– And also in Scotland.
– I did not do much lecturing in Scotland, but I have spoken on social and political questions in South Australia for the last twenty years. When I went over to that State some weeks ago, I received a telegram asking me to come down and explain the political situation to my constituents on a Sunday. I did so, and it must be clear that if the honorable member for Laanecoorie desired to injure me he has absolutely failed in his miserable attempt. However, the honorable member’s remarks have caused a controversy in South Australia in regard to the words I used, and which I stand by, to the effect that tha churches were the sanctuaries of the sweater, the oppressor, and the Customs defrauder. Let me tell honorable members what the position is. In a letter which I wrote to the press I made a quotation from Great Thoughts, for 30th July, from an interview with the Rev. F. G. Selby, who is a prominent Wesleyan minister, and this is what he had to- say -
I am bound to say that all the Evangelical churches are flat and inert. The churches will yet have to fight the cause of the working man. They must affirm the principle of a living wage, and get on better terms with the toiling masses through real practical sympathy. The reason of the massive indifference, of which so much is heard, is that there is a widespread grievance - a collective grievance - against the churches. The people are indifferent to the churches, and, in a great measure, because they imagine that the churches are indifferent to them.
Let me tell honorable members that in South Australia we have a Factories Act, which was passed by both of the State Houses some four years ago, and its operation has been suspended because the Legislative Council in that State has refused to pass the regulations framed’ under it. An appeal was made by the Trades and Labour Council to every one of the church assemblies in the State for their help. We were promised that something should be done; resolutions of sympathy were passed, and what has been the result? After a lapse of two years, in some cases, we have had a public address from only one reverend gentleman, and’ no practical help whatever. A commission is coming to Melbourne this very week to inquire into sweating, because they cannot get sufficient: evidence of it in South Australia to satisfy the State members of the Legislative Council ; although, as I stated in the letter to which I have referred, the leader of the Labour Party in that State and myself took certain clergymen to the homes of the sweated workers, and into the factories. These gentlemen ascertained the hours they had to work, what they paid for the material they used, and what they got for making it up. They said they were simply astounded by what we had to show them, but we got no help from them. Am I not right, then, in saying that the churches are on the side of the oppressors of the poor? I do not refer to individual clergymen, because I am glad to say here, as I have acknowledged from many a platform, that we have been given practical help by several clergymen, but not by any one church as a church. I have been a good churchman, and I am still a believer in, and know the power of, the churches ; but I say that the churches are on the side of the man who puts the biggest cheque into the collection-plate. I repeat that if it was the intention of the honorable member for Laanecoorie to injure me, the honorable member has miserably failed. I deny the charge of being a Sabbath-breaker because I delivered the address to which the honorable member referred. I am afraid that I may sometimes be guilty of Sabbathbreaking in taking recreation when I might bri attending a church, but I believe that most honorable members will plead guilty to Sabbath-breaking to that extent. The honorable member for Flinders, who, I see, has left the Chamber, in speaking the other night about the proposal to bring agricultural labourers under the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, said that the reason he objected to the proposal was that they could not pay more wages than the industry could afford. Let me mention one or two things. In South Australia, there lately died a gentleman - the Hon. J. H. Angas - who left, no one knows how much. He must have left ?1,000,000, and he paid his servants very poor wages indeed. Did he pay them all that his industry could afford? I should like to have a tribunal which could look into such matters. We had another gentleman, Mr. Scarfe, who carried on a large ironmongery and other business. He paid very poor wages’, but he left over ?500,000. I should like to know if that was all that his industry could afford. We had. in the other House, a gentleman - the late Sir Frederick Sargood - who, I find, left over?500,000. I do not know what wages he paid, but I suppose that if he had been asked in his life-time, he would have said that he could not afford to pay more. Then, the Hon.Robert Reid, who defrauded the Customs, left over ?100,000.
– It was stated in the press that Mr. Reid left over , ?100,000. I do not know what wages he paid, but from what I could learm from the Adelaide branch of his firm, they were not too high. I wonder if that was all that his industry could afford to pay. It is monstrous that men should be able to leave behind them such enormous sums, while their employes are, some of them, practically in beggary, without having a tribunal to see that they get justice. That is all we ask for in the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill. The honorable member for Flinders was wrong when he said that there was any proposal on the part of the Labour Party to insist upon an eight hours day for agricultural labourers. According to what I have read, in the fifteenth century an eight hours clay was pretty general, so that we should only be following an old precedent if we did establish an eight hours day for the Commonwealth. But we do not say that we desire to do anything of the kind. We merely say thai we wish to give power to a Court to declare that the conditions are such that the agricultural labourers need not work more than nine, or ten, or eleven hours a day, and for such wages as the industry can afford to pay. No industry should be asked to pay more than it can afford. The Prime Minister pretended to be in favour of the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill. I remember reading, before I was a member of the House, what I thought was one of the most eloquent addresses which had ever been delivered on an industrial measure. In the course of that address the right honorable gentleman used these words -
It reflects infinite credit upon the labour bodies of Australia that they are willing to intrust their liberty - aye, even their subsistence - to judicial decision. I cannot understand the position taken up by persons who are not closely identified with the labour bodies of Australia, and who find in this attitude of those bodies something to denounce as if it were unwholesome, as if it were selfish, as if it were endangering the stability of our industrial or political fabric. It is, in my opinion, one of the grandest displays of intelligence and a readiness to sacrifice the one weapon which labour has, that certainly has no parallel in any other part of the world.
Yet the Prime Minister, the Minister of Defence, and some of his supporters - I am pleased to say not all of them - would ask the unionists to surrender this one weapon, and take nothing in return - to give nonunionists the preference. Let me say that unionists are not going to do it. They will say, as the Prime Minister said, using Abraham Lincoln’s expression -
Thank God, we live in a country where men can strike.
They will not give up the little power they have to enable them to get fair conditions of work, when nothing is offered to them in return. When the honorable and learned member for Bendigo was accused of having assisted to emasculate the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, he said that they had made it a workable measure. It is so workable that the union of whose executive I have had the honour to be a member for a good many years, and which is one of the largest in Australia - for, taking the whole industry,’ the Shearers’ Union numbers between 20,000 and 24,000 - told me distinctly that they would not register under the Act. I know that many of them would rather go to g”aol than accept the terms which are sought to be thrust upon them under the measure as it stands. They would not register, nor would they be forced into registering. What is the use of offering them a mockery of a Bill like that? Do we not know as well as the opponents of labour what is a fair thing for a union ? The Prime Minister showed that he is an opponent of labour when he said that he had declared war against the Labour Party. This is one of the ways of declaring war. lt is a repetition of the old game which we have seen played in the State Parliaments. When our opponents dared not oppose an industrial measure, of which they knew the people were in favour, what did they do? Every time they emasculated the measure by inserting amendments which either made it worthless, or so costly that it could not be availed of. That ‘ is precisely the game which the Prime Minister wishes to play with the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill. But he will find that he is making an error.
– What amendments does the honorable member refer to?
– I am. referring to the amendment moved by the honorable and learned member for Darling Downs, and the amendment moved by the Minister of Defence.
– The honorable member for Bland accepted the first amendment.
– The honorable member for Bland accepted it.
– And the Labour Party voted for it.
– I never voted for it.
– I am talking about the Labour Party.
– I know that about one-half of the Labour Party would have been most likely to follow me if there had been a division. No doubt the Prime Minister would have liked to know that on the night I announced my position. There would have been no split in the Labour Party over it.
– The honorable member was the only one who called for a division, and there was no division taken.
– The honorable and learned member for Werriwa was the only one who called for a division.
– I thought it was the honorable member who did.
– I was rather too old to be caught in that way by the Prime Minister. Why did he not call out for a division? Because he thought that he was going to do something dishonorable. The opinion of the House was that it wanted only one vote to turn out the Watson Ministry, and that that vote would be mine. They thought it would be a shameless thing to do. I believe they knew what I discovered.
– The honorable member thought more about the Ministry than the clause.
– In all probability one of their supporters would have come over to neutralize my vote. The Prime Minister would have been astonished with the result of the division, if he had had the courage to put his opinion to the test. I know that half-a-dozen labour members announced that they were going to vote with me. But in regard to the acceptance of the amendment by the Prime Minister, that does not make the Bill workable. He found out that he made a mistake. He had not foreseen the result of it at the time. Why should it be necessary to form another union to take advantage of the Act ? I am sure that the only Minister in the House at the present time will admit that without a union its provisions could not be availed of. The unions are in existence now, and I am sure that even the Postmaster-General will not deny that the unions are doing today nothing which is not absolutely legal and just, and which would not be upheld in any Court. Why should it be sought to take away any privilege that belongs to unions ? Talk about freedom ! Ministers do not want to give unions freedom to act as they think best. Every man is free to join an organization if he wishes; but what Ministers wish to do is to compel a union to cease to take political action. Why should they do that? Are they going to make ‘ bond-slaves of unionists? At the present time unionists have a right to take political action, and why should any difference be made as regards the future? This is only another evidence of their attempt to smash up the Labour Party. “Oh,” they say, “the way to strike a most vital blow is to make the unions inefficient as regards political action.” Here is a full proof of their intention. But I contend that they are not going to do it. What would be the result if they did? We know that the squatters have not been too scrupulous in the past. It has been proved in the Arbitration Court that the Machine Shearers’ Union was a bogus affair, which the squatters supplied with funds, and it might happen, if the Arbitration Bill were passed into law as it stands, that while the Shearers’ Union was expunging from its constitution the clauses under which it is now allowed to take political action, the pastoralists would induce 300 men to combine together, and ask the Court to fix 1 6s. per 100, instead of £1 per 100, as a fair rate of wage, and make it a common rule. The unions will not take advantage of the measure if the amendment of the honorable and learned member for Corinella remains in it, and the Government may as well know the fact. The honorable and learned member, who has taken exception to my interjections - though I do not interject with the desire to interrupt speakers, but merely to obtain the elucidation of obscure points - has stated that an opportunity was given for the discussion of his amendment. Nothing of the kind. Every honorable member now on this side of the House took it for granted, when the present leader of the Opposition moved to postpone it, that the question would be discussed again in Committee. No doubt it might have been discussed on the motion to go into Committee, but if advantage had been taken of that opportunity to discuss it, it would still have been impossible to move any amendment to ascertain the feelings of ‘honorable members in regard to any suggested alteration. The honorable and learned member said further that his amendment does precisely what the amendment which the honorable member for Bland was willing to accept would do. I challenge him to show how the views of a majority engaged in an industry could be ascertained. I have been returning officer of the South Australian Shearers’ Union for some years, and I know how difficult it is to get a record of the votes of the members of that union. I do not know how the opinions of all the persons employed in the industry, some of whom are not unionists, could be obtained. Not only that, but a further difficulty arises by reason of the fact that a man may be a shearer to-day, and be working at another occupation a week later. It is all very well to say, “ Leave the matter to the Judge.” If I were to go before the Judge and say. “ I believe that the members of the Shearers’ Union represent a majority of the industry,” the representative of the pastoralists would say, “ Nothing of the sort.” Whom should the Judge believe? He would, of course, ask me to bring evidence to prove my statement, and I could only reply that it was impossible to prove it, in which case he would say, “Very well, then, I cannot give you a preference.”
– Would not the same difficulty exist if proof were required that the members of a union “ substantially represented “ those employed in connexion with an industry?
– I believe that it would. I am entirely with the honorable member Ihere. The leader of the Opposition, in his anxiety to pass a Bill which would prevent great strikes from occurring in the near future, gave way as much as he could, and, in my opinion, and in that of many of the unions, he gave way too much. However, it is not too late to retrace our steps. If we do not retrace them, I hope that the Bill will be thrown into the waste-paper basket. The Prime Minister has told the House that if he were an artisan he would be one of the first to join a union, but would stop at making use of the powers of government and legislation to create distinctions by force between one man in a trade and his fellow workmen. Yet as a lawyer he uses all the machinery of government to prevent, not a non-unionist or a “ black-leg,” but a member of the legal union, from earning his bread in any Stale other than that in which he is enrolled.
– It cannot be said that the right honorable gentleman does that, although the legal fraternity does it.
– The right honorable gentleman countenances it. In the course of his long political career, he has never attempted to alter that state of affairs. I have had some experience of law reform in South Australia. We were able to make very little progress with it there, and I am sure that if we were to attempt it here, the
Prime Minister would be one of our bitterest opponents. At any rate, the union to which he belongs does that which no union with which I have been connected has done. The statement about unionists preventing non-unionists from earning a living is absurd. There is work only for so many, and the unionists and non-unionists are doing that work now. If preference were given, not one man would be thrown out of work, nor would any additional man get work. Besides, the non-unionists are free to join unions if they care to do so. [ wish now to say a word about the Prime Ministers attitude in regard to the Immigration Restriction Act. This is what he has said in this Chamber -
We do not want any use made of contract labour at strike time, nor do we want any frauds or impositions to be practised upon people in distant countries with regard to terms of labour and wages.
We have had some experience of that in South Australia. There, Parliament voted £36,000 tq establish a pipe-making industry under private control. No objection was raised then to the subsidizing of private enterprise. A number of men were brought out from Glasgow to make pipes, and were paid about £2 for a hard week’s work. That was all that was given to them for the maintenance of their wives and families, and they were absolutely misled as to the conditions of labour here, the standard of rent, and the cost of living generally. The .Immigration Restriction Act prevents that kind of thing, yet the Prime Minister would alter it. It is not desirable to prevent the importation of contract labour merely during times of strikes. If six men come into the Common wen 1th, and take the places of six other men, those other men are without employment, or have to compete with persons engaged in some other occupation. A similar result happens if twelve or 1,200 men come into the Commonwealth, whether there is a strike or not. Honorable members can see that we are not likely to get much good legislation from the Prime Minister. At any rate, he has not told us what he would do to prevent what has happened in South Australia, and what has happened in regard to the six hatters, and to the six potters. Coming now to the question of fiscal peace, I say that every free-trader who agrees to it now, will break his election pledge, because they all promised to continue the fiscal war in this Parliament, and they had no mandate from their constituents to agree to fiscal peace. The honorable and learned member for Indi, as a protectionist, admits that he had no mandate from the people to preserve fiscal peace for two years. The free-traders came into this House pledged to re-open the Tariff question, and I ask why they are not doing it ? As a protectionist, I am quite willing to assist them to revise the Tariff ; but it seems to me that the Government are prepared to eat, drink, and be merry during recess, whilst our industries are being rushed to destruction on account of /he unfair foreign competition to which they are subjected. What do the Government care ? If 500 or 600 men were to come from Ballarat, and say that they were out of work, and ask the Government what they would do for them, what would they be told? “We are very sorry that you and your wives and families are starving, but wc can do nothing for you, because we have entered into a pledge not to re-open the Tai iff question for two years.” If a manufacturer represented that he had invested £10,000 or £20,000 in his business, and that he was being driven to ruin he would be answered in similar words. If the proprietor of a large business instructed his manager to pursue a certain line of policy for three years, and the manager saw, after a little time, that things were going’ wrong, and at the same time saw he could devise means to bring about a change for the better, would he not disregard his instructions and apply the remedy ? We are here as managers for the electors of the Commonwealth, and, even supposing that we gave them a pledge not to re-open the Tariff question, is it not our duty to da what we conceive to be best in the general interest, and to admit that we gave the pledge under a misapprehension ? We were sent here to manage the affairs of the country to the best advantage, and to do all we can by legislation to bring about prosperity. If I had given a pledge to my constituents not to re-open the Tariff for a certain time, I should be prepared to break it, as I would be sacrificing no principle, to tell them that I had seen my error, and had applied the remedy, and ask their approval of what I had clone. What would be the position of honorable members who told the electors. “ We saw the blunder that we had made, and recognised that our industries were being ruined, but we felt that we were I bound to stand by our pledge to you.” I think that many of such honorable members would be replaced by men better capable of acting as business managers for the general community. I think that I have given a good many reasons for my want of confidence in the Government, and several of their supporters. It is not surprising that the words of Milton should apply to the Prime Minister -
On all sides, from innumerable tongues,
A dismal universal hiss, the sound
Of public scorn.
That is why the right honorable gentleman Is afraid to go to the country.
– He is too fond of going to the country. That is the trouble.
– That is not the case on this occasion. The honorable member was just as much afraid as was any other honorable member, or he would not have acted as he did with regard to the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill. A good deal has been said with regard to the expense which would be incurred if a dissolution took place. I would ask, how much money we are wasting, owing to the donothing policy which is nowbeing followed? The loss to the country will be three or four times as great as the amount mentioned if we go on much longer as we are now doing. Further than that, what will be the cost to our manufacturers and cur workmen ? The Prime Minister ought to be ashamed of himself if he carries on the Government without a majority. I contend that he has not a majority. The honorable member for Wilmot, who thinks that he has saved the situation, denounces the Government just as strongly as do members of the Labour Party. Then, again, the honorable and learned member for Parkes is rarely to be seen in his place. The Prime Minister will frequently find himself in a minority, and unless he can secure the support of honorable members on this side of the House, he will experience great difficulty in transacting the public business. The best and cheapest way out of the difficulty would be a dissolution. Honorable members on this side would have nothing to fear from an appeal to the country, because I Iam quite sure that if the Prime Minister submits his policy to the electors, he will suffer a drubbing even more severe than that which was administered to him upon the last occasion.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Bamford) adjourned.
House adjourned at 10.26 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 11 October 1904, viewed 6 July 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1904/19041011_reps_2_22/>.