2nd Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Debate resumed from11th October (vide page 5445) on motion by Mr. Watson -
That the present Administration does not possess the confidence of this House.
– Before last Thursday evening I should have supposed that there was not a single unprejudiced person in this community, who would not have admitted that the only effectual way out of the present complications was a direct reference to the people, and that now was the proper time for such a reference. The further the debate proceeded, the more evident it became to me, and I venture to say to us all, as well as to the people of the country, that we were fast entangled in a sort of Gordian knot, which nothing but the sharp stroke of popular decision could unravel. We have to ask ourselves, at the beginning, how has the position been substantially altered by the declaration of the honorable member for Wilmot. His was no declaration of love for the Ministry. It is quite true that he made a formal offer of his vote to . the Government, but he accompanied that offer with such expressions of contempt and disdain, and with such merciless castigation, that I can hardly understand how a self-respecting Ministry could accept . it.
– What about the Opposition ?
– It is the Ministry that is on its trial.
– The whole Parliament is on its trial.
– I hope that honorable members will not begin thus early in my observations to interrupt too much the course of my remarks. If there is any justification at all for the position of the Government on the Treasury bench, it is the restoration of parliamentary government in a better sense than we have had it previously in this Federal Parliament. But I ask honorable members to contrast the present ignominious attitude of the Ministry in relation to the vote of the honorable member for Wilmot with the most recent observations of the Prime Minister on the subject of parliamentary government. ‘ They are contained in his manifesto to the electors of Australia, and I shall read them -
The existence of three parties is also destructive of parliamentary government as all authorities describe it. Mr. Gladstone, forcing the general view -
The word in the report from which I am quoting is “ forcing,” but I take it that the word “voicing” is meant - defines such government to be the possession of executive power by the Ministry possessing the confidence of a majority of the representatives of the people. We have had no such Government in the Federal Parliament for a long time. Have we such a Government now? Further, can any one say that the Prime Minister has effectuated the. purpose of getting parliamentary government for which he declared he had set out - that is, of constituting a Ministry which would have the confidence of a majority in Parliament? Not so. Therefore, I say that at the very beginning of this matter the Prime Minister has swallowed his own words so recently uttered. He has shown that there is not even the one justification that was pretended for the formation of his Government, and he has, in a spirit which I think none of us envy, determined to cling to office in order to escape that certain expulsion by the people which alone was the avowed merciful consideration of the honorable member for Wilmot for adding his name 60 the division list on their side. The position of the Prime Minister in this regard reminds me of that of an individual who some years ago, passed through our Law Courts, and declared that he was honorably acquitted on a point of law. That is the position of the Ministry in reference to this matter. Does it justify their existence ?
So far from relieving their position, it only accentuates the need for an immediate reference to the people, and makes it all the more necessary for us on this side of the House to review the circumstances which, in the very brief period that has elapsed since we met as a Parliament, have brought us into our present situation. Nine or ten months ago three distinct parties were sent here to transact the legislative business of this country for three years. There was the Protectionist Party, which “was returned to power; there was the Labour Party, the other wing of the liberal parliamentary contingent, whose members came here as our friends; and there was the Free-trade group, under the leadership of the present Prime Minister. Whatever else may be in doubt regarding the instructions which we as a Parliament received from the electors of Australia, however much we may dispute among ourselves as to the meaning of the words, “fiscal peace,” this much, at all events, is beyond doubt, that for the duration of this Parliament the administration of the affairs of the Commonwealth was not to be intrusted to the present Prime Minister. Yet, in spite of that- undoubted mandate of the country, what do we find ? We find, after a marvellous transformation, the right honorable gentleman, in possession of the Treasury bench, in defiance of the declared will of the people.
– The honorable and learned member supported the Watson Administration, which was never dreamt of by the electors.
– If the right honorable gentleman will allow me to proceed, I think that he will himself admit, when I have finished, that I have at least gone a very long way to prove my case. I am about to ask the attention of the House to the manner in which that transformation took place. The dominant party has been deposed and divided. One part of it has been engulfed by the free-trade section. The other section of it has, I am proud to say, preserved its identity, although it is true that, standing alone, owing to its small proportions, it was almost absolutely helpless. But we have this consolation - which is fortunate for the country - that we have been able to enter into an alliance honorable, and I -believe powerful, and full of possibilities and advantages for the Commonwealth greater than our opponents are willing to concede - perhaps not greater than they are able to fear, but greater, I believe, than eve.n the most sanguine of its supporters can yet fully discern. I will show why : The alliance has been entered into for a limited’ term, and foi the present has a limited platform, but if, while the two parties forming that alliance preserve their respective identities and their own special aims, there can from time to time be something like a delimitation of a common standing ground, and the ascertainment of the extent to which mutual assistance and help can be given in the support of that common standing ground, what bounds, 1 would ask, can be set to the advantages this Commonwealth must derive from the union of the robust vigour and the dauntless enthusiasm of the Labour Party, with the deliberate, cautious, but no less progressive earnestness of the Protectionist Party? I say, further, that we are in agreement in all the main essentials, in all that is chiefly contained in the single phrase - a phrase that can never die, a phrase that must not be allowed even to slumber, a phrase that must .not be permitted to lose one tittle of its significance - a White Australia. That is the emblem of our alliance, and when a little later on I deal more particularly with the formation and platform of the alliance, it will be seen that that too was the spirit of our compact.
– Can the honorable member claim a monopoly in that respect?
– The situation in which we find ourselves to-day has, we all admit, been’ approached by a very thorny path. Difficulties began to spring up immediately after the elections. The then - Prime Minister, the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, appealed to the three parties in this House to compress themselves into two. He did so with the very highest intentions, but such an appeal is always, I think, better made to the electors than to honorable members, after they are elected. Of course, we all saw the difficulties in the way of carrying out the desired end of re-forming ourselves into two parties, and almost immediately the ferment commenced - I can describe it by no other words - which has eventuated in the present crisis. Parliament met and the Deakin Government went down on the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill - a Bill which seems destined to become the grave of Ministerial reputations. They went down because the Prime Minister honorably stood by his declaration that he would not, even at the risk of the resignation of office, permit the inclusion of the State servants within the scope of the Bill. Then what happened?
The Labour Party, who moved the amendment upon which the Government were defeated, plainly evinced that they had no desire to displace the honorable and learned member. They demonstrated that in more l ways than one,.
– They plainly showed that they did not care whether or not the Government lived.
– On more than one occasion they intimated plainly and directly that the amendment was moved not with a desire to displace the Government, and the hope was expressed that it would not be regarded as a vital matter. They went further. In order to divest the proposal of any party significance the amendment was moved, not by the leader of the party, but by the honorable member for Wide Bay. But, in addition to that, it was. known that the leader of the Labour Party was perfectly willing to take another course, that would not have had the effect of embarrassing the Government, if the Prime Minister could, consistently with the preservation of his honour, have seen his way clear to retain office. But - I think, unfortunately for the country - the Deakin Government went out of office. Then what happened? We have heard a great dear lately about ‘Socialism. Was there at the period to which I have been referring any fear expressed of any socialistic tyranny? Was it then believed that the advent of the honorable member for Bland to office would mark the beginning of a reign of revolution’ and confiscation ? No ; and we have the best proof of that. Does any one imagine for a moment that if the honorable and learned member for Ballarat had thought that to be the case he would have ever advised His Excellency the Governor-General to send for the honorable member for Bland to form an Administration? Does any one believe that the honorable member has not the interest of his country too much at heart to advise His Excellency to send for a revolutionary as his chief adviser? No. There was no thought of such a thing then. The socialistic bogy that we have paraded1 before us to-day was not then in evidence. The socialistic scarecrow was not then dressed up as it is now. The fact was that the honorable .member for Bland was sent for, and he formed a Government, and, what was more, when they came into this Chamber, the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, with the full consent of the whole of the members of his party, promised that the Government should receive fair play.
Surely that disposes altogether of arguments founded upon the socialistic danger and the revolutionary character of the Labour Party. Would it not have been far better for the honorable and learned member to advise His Excellency to send for the honorable member for East Sydney, or for any other honorable member not being a member of the Labour Party, if he had thought that the advent to office of the honorable member for Bland would plunge the country into the dire danger and distress depicted by honorable members? Therefore, not only were the conditions inconsistent with the story told today, but I say that the attitude assumed towards the Labour Party is an unjust one. Of course these fulminations are not directed against them alone, but also against those who are in alliance with them. Do those honorable members who have denounced the Labour Party believe what they say? I doubt it. At the time to which I have referred, the King’s Government was calmly and confidently entrusted to certain gentlemen, who to-day are branded as a dangerous band of political desperadoes, who are only waiting for an opportunity to loof their fellow citizens, and enter upon a career of robbery and confiscation. How far is that just; how far is that right? Since we have had this charge of confiscation levelled at us, not merely by private members but by at least one Minister - I am not sure that we have not heard it from more than one - I should like to ask what is meant by it. I ask this because the charge affects us no less than our friends of the Labour Party. I not only ask how far such a charge is just to us, but I assert that if confiscation means direct taxation - direct taxation up to the point of deprivation of land - the con.fiscators do not sit upon this side of the House, but upon the opposite benches. I intend to show that it is the Free-trade Party whose avowed’ programme is to impose direct taxation, and that one particular branch of that party, represented, I believe - I hope I am not wrong - by the honorable member for Lang, who, I understand, is a single-taxer, acknowledges that its real opinions are in the direction of the single tax, which means, according to the definition given from the Treasury benches, “ confiscation.”
– There are far more single taxers upon the other side of the House.
– I wish to show that when the Commonwealth was about to be started on its career, and while preparations fct 1 the first elections were in progress, a Conference of free-traders, representing foul States of the Union, was held, I think, in the Equitable-buildings, Sydney. There had been in this country, some years previously, a gentleman who I suppose was one of the greatest free-traders whom the world has ever seen - Henry George. He was the representative free-trader, the consistent free-trader, the free-trader who did not hesitate to avow his principles,, and te give full effect to them. Upon the strength of his teachings, a band of free-traders formed their opinions and announced their principles. There were other free-traders who did not go so far ; but I hold that they are not consistent. They are frightened of the logical result of their free-trade ; .but 1 am justified in saying - as I shall prove - that they travel very far in the same direction. Henry George, the model free-trader, held thai) private property in land is robbery, and he was - if I may use a common phrase - “ trotted round “ by my right honorable friend the Prime Minister.
– That is absolutely incorrect. Upon one occasion only was I present at a meeting which he addressed, and that was a free-trade meeting, not a single tax gathering.
– I at once accept the statement of the right honorable gentleman, but I am sure that Henry George was taken to the bosom of the free-traders of Australia, and that he founded a cult and school that claimed a great number of disciples in the free-trade camp.
– Was it not Mr. B. R. Wise who took him up ?
– When we hear so many shrieks of the wounded, it seems to me that there must be considerable accuracy of shooting. It is recorded in the Beacon of the 1st March, 1900, that a free-trade Conference, consisting of delegations from four Colonies, was held in February of that year. There were two parties of free-traders’, the democratic section,, as they were called - I presume that they were the single-taxers - and the conservative section.
– There was no such expression used.
– I am reading from the free-trade journal. The right honorable gentleman may well ask to be saved from his friends ; but I wish to show who thev are. These two sections met, and were re presented substantially by even numbers.
This Conference was called for the purpose of framing a free-trade programme for the whole of Australia. Amongst what was designated the “conservative” section, I find the names of the present Premier of New South Wales, the honorable and learned member for Parkes, and Senator Pulsford. I mention their names merely because they are representative free-traders. A committee was appointed to draw up a programme. It drew up a programme, clause 5 of which reads : -
That the Customs and Excise duties to be imposed by the Commonwealth be confined to intoxicants and narcotics.
Clause 6 is as follows : -
The Free-trade Party will advocate that any deficiency in Federal accounts, clue to compliance with clause 8 of the Commonwealth Bill (Braddon clause) be made good by fro rata contributions from each State, so as to avoid the imposition of direct taxation by the Federal Government, and consequent double expense of collection.
That meant, I apprehend, that the onlyrevenue to be raised through the Customs was to be collected upon intoxicants and narcotics, and that all the rest of it should be obtained as the result of direct taxation by the States. That was the proposal - practically the single tax. When that proposal was put to the Conference, it was not carried. The delegates struck out clauses 5 and 6, and carried in lieu thereof the following resolution: -
That while the Conference affirms ils ultimate object to be the abolition of all duties except those imposed on narcotics and stimulants, yet, under the circumstances existing in most of the federated States, it will support all candidates who pledge themselves to keep the Federal Tariff as low as possible, while opposing all duties giving protection.
– Did not they put in the a and b clauses?
– Before I finish my. remarks, the honorable member will learn something of the a, b, c, of his position.
– There are not two members of that Conference who are in this party today.
– So far as I can ascertain from the rather lengthy and somewhat confusing report contained in this newspaper, a compromise was eventually adopted, .but the following clause, I understand, still find’s a place in the free-trade programme: -
That the Federal Tariff should, as far as the exigencies of the several States will permit, embrace a number of duties somewhat similar to those in Great Britain, with the intention of, as soon as possible, establishing a free breakfast table, any deficiency of revenue in such latter case to be made up by direct taxation.
– That is absolutely not in the programme of the Free-trade Party, nor has it been during my leadership, which extends over a period of four years. The absolute contrary is the case.
– It is there, right enough.
– The Prime Minister’s followers still preach it.
– I now propose to read from a copy of the Constitution of the Free-trade and Liberal Association of Victoria, which was obtained only a few days ago. I particularly desire to direct attention to two clauses, which are taken from its objects and platform. They are numbered 4 and 5 respectively. No. 4 reads -
That Customs and Excise duties, imposed by the Commonwealth, should be imposed only with the view to provide for the wants of the Treasury, and in no way to give support to any special industry at the expense of the general community.
How, then, can the party be consistent in promising assistance to the farmers and others ?
And yet the right honorable gentleman stated a few moments ago that it was not in any platform of the Free-trade Party.
– That is not the Free-trade Party.
– I do not know whom the right honorable gentleman calls his supporters; but I do know that this was portion of the avowed platform of the president of one of the local free-trade associations in my constituency. He published it in the newspapers and it stands there to this day. This is the platform of the men who would oppose me to-morrow if the Prime Minister’s threatened opposition te me came, and who elect the members who support him. I desire to say to my honorable friends, the protectionist members of the Ministry, that this is the position in which they find themselves. They are supported by a party, the majority of whom were distinctly pledged to direct taxation as soon as they could secure it. When we have the followers of Henry George - and the secretary of the Free-trade Association is himself a follower of Henry George - supporting the Prime Minister, and when we find that an avowed object of the Free-trade Party is to impose direct taxation as far as they can-
– Absolutely incorrect.
– What warrant have that party for charging honorable members on this side of the House with being confiscators?
– It is easy enough to-
– I am treading on some corns. The single-taxers went round the country in, I understand, a red van, symbolical, I suppose, of the French revolutionary times. Having disposed, fairly effectively I think, of the charge of confiscation which was made against us–
Honorable Members. - Oh ! oh !
– My honorable friends opposite are consummate actors. The stage laugh, led by the Prime Minister, that we have just heard is charming ; it is the only thing in which the Government supporters are in unison.
– Why does not the honorable member be fair in dealing with facts ?
– He is the most solemn actor I have ever heard.
– What is this?
– I am just putting in a word.
– Let me for a moment refer to the position occupied- by the Watson Government. When that Government took office no one suggested that they were confiscators. That is merely a party cry which has since been raised for special purposes. The Watson Government, who took office with a promise of a fair trial, soon met their fate upon the Dark Continent of the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill ; but did they fall in a fair fight ?
– They did not. Despite the explanations and excuses we have heard from the other side, it was not a fair fight in which the Watson Government fell. With one reservation, I would admit that it was a fair contest. If my honorable friends opposite are willing to acknowledge that they intended to turn out the Watson Government irrespective of its merits ; that they intended to turn it out irrespective of the merits of the McCay amendment, or any modification of- it - that they intended to defeat the Government, regardless of the loss1 of time necessarily attendant upon a second change of administration in so short a period, and quite irrespective of the disarrangement of public business- then, I am free to admit on that condition, and that condition only, that it was a fair fight. But from the moment that the pre-arranged surprise of the honorable and learned member, for Corinella was sprung upon the Watson Government and this House, no one was so. blind as not to see that the intention was to insult the Ministry, to take the business of the country out of its hand’s, and to prevent it from carrying the Bill into Committee. It was further intended by some of my honorable friends opposite, that the position of parties in this House should be definitely and materially altered. From that moment, the change took place which has resulted in our present situation. It has been said that the vote which resulted in the defeat of the Watson Government was in reality a noble stand taken up by honorable members opposite, in the interests of the non-unionist workers’. Can any reasonable being believe that that was’ so? Some honorable members opposite have made that assertion, and I should like to place them, together with the honorable member for Bland and numbers of other honorable members on this side of the House, on a public platform before a mass meeting of the non-unionist workers of Australia and to call upon that meeting to say, “Who are your friends.” I think that there would be but one response. Honorable members opposite take refuge in the word “preference”; but there is really no refuge in it. If they were to approach the non-unionists of this country, and to say to them, “Our fight was in order that you should have equal rights with the unionist workers of Australia,” how would they prove their case? They would have to admit that under the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill non-unionists are not placed on as good a footing, independently of preference, as are unionists; that, for the sake of employers, more than for the sake of unions, non-unionists, whilst penalized and made subject to the liabilities of the Bill, are not given rights as nonunionists. A non-unionist who strikes in combination with other non-unionists may be fined, and, if need be, ultimately imprisoned; but if he went to my honorable friends, who pose as his champions, and inquired, “ Well, if I, as a man, am brought under the penal provisions of this Bill, do I, as a man, obtain a corresponding remedy?” they would have to reply, “ No, -for the sake of the employers chiefly we refuse to allow you as a man to go into Court to redress your grievances.” Then he might say, “ What am I to do ? Am I to join with my fellows? Can a hundred or a thousand of us now go into Court ?” The answer would be, “No,” and the man would probably inquire, “ Then, what have I to do in order to get into Court to secure redress ?”
– We tried to makeprovision for that, but honorable members opposite would not allow it to be done.
– The honorable member would not.
– Let the honorable and learned member say what is fair.
– The answer is- and I repeat it - that it would be necessary for that man, unless a special certificate were given by the Registrar, to join a union before he could obtain any rights whatsoever under the Bill.
– That was not a necessarv provision of the Bill.
– I should like to know how my honorable friend would view a proposal to alter it?
– He would form another organization.
– I showed how it could be done - put all men in, not some of them.
– I venture to say that the great object in view in inserting the provision in question in the Bill, was to give the employers what I think is a very fair and reasonable, if not a necessary, guarantee, that some power besides’ the deprivation of personal liberty,is within the reach of the Court, in order to compel men to obey awards. ‘ The great object was to give employers a hold on the funds and moneys of the unions. While that is so, how can my honorable friends turn round and say that we should put all men on an equal footing, when they would not dare to do it? I say that, even in the interests of the employers, they would not dare to do it.
– We would dare to do it.
– Then, if they dared to do it, they have been false to the matter, because they have not ventured to do it. If they know what it is right to do, and then do not do what is’ right, they are doubly to blame.
– We proposed it.
– Some of the sore points with honorable members opposite are made very evident by their interruptions. I propose to consider now what the result would be if there were no preference in the Bill. One of my honorable friends opposite, and
I think it was the honorable and learned member for Bendigo, suggested that there should be ‘no preference in the Bill, and I think he instanced the case of the Victorian Factories Act.
– I said that preference was not necessarily the essence of arbitration.
– I have no desire to take my honorable and learned friend’s argument further than he intended. I think I that what he contended was that, as this provision was not found necessary under the Victorian Factories Act, it could not be considered to be necessary in a Conciliation and Arbitration Bill. But the distinction between the two is evident. Under the Victorian Factories Act a decision come to is practically a common rule, and a common rule that does not require any preference - at least, it does not require it nearly so much as it would be required in connexion with a decision under the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill. It is. in order to relieve the Court of the necessity of doing a considerable amount of hardship to employers by insisting on a common rule that an alternative power is given to award a preference in certain cases. It seems to me that my honorable and learned friend must acknowledge, when ‘he comes to consider the matter more carefully, that the analogy which he suggested is altogether wanting. But why is a preference necessary? Why is the Court necessarily armed with a power to ‘ give a preference in proper and just cases ? Because since unions,, and unions alone, can bring their cases before the Court - unless in exceptional cases where the registrar chooses to make a special certificate, and we need not take them into consideration - if an award is made, that award may, to say the very least of it, be confined in its benefits to the members of the union. If we can imagine that the Court makes an award ordering that a particular organization of employers shall pay a particular organization of employes certain wages, give them certain hours of labour, and certain rights; what would be the result? The plain and almost immediate result would be that the employers, in order to get outside that award would take, care that the next men they employed were not unionists, but non-unionists.
Mr. Lonsdale. But they will come under the same conditions.
– Perhaps not. The Bill is not clear, and the award may not provide it, and then when they employed these non-unionists, although they are. forbidden to dismiss any employe merely because he is under an award, a fewmonths or a few weeks perhaps would see the absence of many of the men who had struggled and fought to gain the rights conferred by the award. This might be continued for a very long period of time, and the ultimate result might be that the very men who had fought for the rights of workers would be the only men who had lost them, and the whole trouble might have to be gone over again. Therefore, I say preference is necessary. When we come to discuss the vital question whether the honorable and learned member for Corinella proposed an amendment that is beneficial or detrimental in the interests of the Bill, I have no hesitation in saying that the honorable and learned gentleman’s amendment is absolutely fatal to the whole measure. The honorable and learned member for Ballarat is reported to have said that the difference between the two was as fine as a razor’s edge. To my mind the difference is vital, and I shall endeavour to show it. In the Bill as it stands, in the first place, preference must be understood to be only the right of a unionist to priority, “ all other things being equal.” If two men present themselves for employment, one a unionist and the other a non-unionist, the (unionist, if inferior in experience, . competency, or for any other valid reason, has no right of preference.
– Who is to decide that ?
– The Bill provides that. It contains the qualification “ all other things being equal.”
– Who decides that, the masters or the trade unionists?
– Who decides anything under this Bill? Then any union that has any political object cannot claim preference. I think that there is also a provision inserted, at the instance, I believe, of the honorable and learned member for Bendigo, that ample notice shall be given when any application for preference is made, so that all persons and organizations who may desire to oppose the application may come in and be heard. One would have thought that these safeguards would be considered ample1. Then came the amendment proposed by the honorable and learned member for Corinella, and it provides -
That no such preference shall be directed to be given unless the application -
Honorable members . will notice the words used - the application for such preference is, in the opinion of the Court, approved by a majority of those affected by the award who have interests in common with the applicants.
Not only must they show that, for various reasons, they are entitled to preference, that a grievance will remain unredressed unless it is given, that there has been, or will be, an evasion of the law without it, but they must satisfy the Court that the specific application before it has been brought to the notice of the majority of the workers of Australia who would be affected by the award if made, and they must give proof of it. I should like to know who would undertake that. The application must be approved by a majority. We know how difficult it is to prove that.
– It is impossible.
– It is a mere bogy.
– It is far from being a bogy. Imagine an organization of workers having branches all over Australia and coming to the Court with an application for preference. The Court will say. “ This is your application. You have to satisfy the Court that the application is approved by a majority of the workers in Australia who will be affected by. the award for which you ask.” How are they going to prove it? Men’ who may be affected by the award are to be found in every part of Australia. What evidence is to be given? Is the organization to send written notices to every man, and get a reply from each? It would be quite impossible to get the evidence required. What is to be done? How can any man go into the witness-box, and swear that a specific application is so approved. I say that to enable an organization to comply with that provision, unless some . extraordinary meaning is given to it by the Court, would be absolutely impossible, and I say that the Bill, so far as preference, and, through that, so far as prevention of evasion is concerned, is a legislative corpse. I wish to show how different that proposal was from the proposition of the honorable member for Bland, which ran in this way -
The Court, before directing that preference shall be given tothe members of an organization, shall be- satisfied that the organization substantially represents the . industry affected ‘ in point of the numbers and competence of its members.
Those applying for a preference under that provision would not have to say that the specific application had been brought under the notice of all the workers in the industry in Australia.
– They would have to prove competence.
– Undoubtedly. They would have to prove that they represented the competency of the industry; but how easily that could be proved by common knowledge, and by the testimony of men acquainted with the trade. Let me take the engineers, for instance. I have no personal knowledge of the engineering trade, but I assume that’ the members of the Engineers’ Union substantially represent the industry, not only in point of numbers, but also in point of competency. It is much easier, much simpler, and much more reasonable to satisfy the Court on that point than to march round to every man in Australia’ who might be affected by the award, and to satisfy the Court that the .particular application before it had been brought under his notice, and that the majority of those affected approved of it. The Bill, as it stands is unworkable, and if I were a worker, unionist or nonunionist, I would admit that the provision is a wrong one, while, as a unionist, I would declare it to be worthless to me. Knowing, as I have said, that the employers against whom an award ‘has been made will naturally - I do not blame them, for it - do the best for themselves, and will, if they have an opportunity to turn off a unionist, and replace’ him by a non-unionist, do so, do not my honorable friends opposite see that in proportion as they put obstacles in the way of the granting of a preference at the discretion of the Court to unionists, who have fought and won the battle for themselves and their fellow-workers, they are creating preference for non-unionists ? That is undoubtedly the position. The amendment of the honorable member for Bland met all reasonable and arguable objections. If it be the same in effect as that of the honorable and learned member for Corinella, does not that fact condemn those who supported the honorable and learned member? If it was substantially the same, why turn the Watson Government out on account of it ?
– Why did they go out?
– If honorable members opposite were sincerely desirous of carrying on the business of the country with economy of time, and with a due regard for the interests and welfare of the community, why did they not allow the Watson Administration to recommit the Bill, when they could still have retained the amendment of the honorable and learned member for Corinella if they desired to do so, or could have adopted the Government proposal, or some compromise or modification of it?. Why was not that course resorted to? Can any reason be advanced for not resorting to it? I should think not.
– The reason was the same as the reason for the treatment meted out by the Labour Party to the conpromise of the honorable and learned member, which they subsequently described as hypocrisy and fraud.
– I never heard of it, so that I think my honorable friend must be drawing on his imagination. No such remark was ever made in my hearing, and I do not know any man who ever made it.
Honorable Members.- - Hear, hear.
– It was made, and I repeated it on the floor of this Chamber.
– I have not heard it, and I judge by the cheers of the members of the Labour Party in denial of the statement, that they would not countenance it. The real rub was this: that honorable members opposite did not desire any more bridge building. They had had some experience of bridge building, and they were afraid that means would be found to frame an amendment which would allow the Watson Government to honorably continue the administration of the affairs of the country, which they desired to prevent. They were not prepared to face the Watson Government with a straight-out vote of want of confidence, and therefore, they took a side track, and played upon the word “ preference “ for all that it was worth. They succeeded in ejecting the despised Labour Party, and the result of the division was that the present Prime Minister came into office, and with his Ministers took his place on the seats of the mighty. About the personnel of this Administration, I say without reserve that I have the utmost respect for every member of it. I do not know one Minister to whom I would not be willing, to intrust my private affairs with the utmost confidence. Two of them were my esteemed colleagues for years, and nothing could have been better than the relations which existed between us. I would say a special word for the Treasurer. I think that he is a great Federal asset, and I should rejoice if some means could be found to make his office a non-party one, and to instal him in it in perpetuity. But we have to look a little further than the personal attributes of Ministers. We have to see how far we can support them politically, having regard to their leader and policy, and regarding them from that point of view, I do not hesitate for a moment as to the attitude which I think we should assume towards them. When their names .were announced, there was no news in the fact that they were a coalition government. The existence of a coalition was plainly discernible from the instant that the honorable and learned member for Corinella moved his amendment in concert with his friends. We did not, however, know the names of the Ministers, until they were formally announced. Now that we know them, I say, with very great respect, that we cannot understand why they sit there at the present moment. How, when, and where, was the bargain between such discordant elements made? How did the members of this Government, who came into this House the avowed antagonists of years, suddenly discover that they were in harmony with each other ? What were the terms of the bargain? How, for instance, did the Minister of Trade and Customs discover that he is so much in accord with the Prime Minister? To use his own catching phrase, did it dawn on him “ a’ of a sudden “ ? We all remember. the thrilling episode recounted in the works of the renowned American humorist, Artemus Ward, who tells us that one day, when exhibiting his show in Utah, a Mormon female rushed up to him, threw her arms round his neck, and exclaimed, “ At last ! At last ! My Affinity, I have found you at last !” We can imagine the Minister of Trade and Customs throwing his arms round the Prime Minister’s neck, and saying, “ At last I have found you, my Affinity.” When did the honorable member discover the affinity? And what were the terms of the bargain between them? Perhaps the Minister of Trade and Customs thinks it is not fair to regard him as a member of the gentler sex. Let us1 take, then, another illustration - one that is familiar to all of us upon the advertisement boards of this city. We have all seen a good stout, stalwart ox looking down at a little pot of bovril, and saying, “Alas! my poor brother.” I can imagine the Prime Minister in the Cabinet looking clown at his twin Minister, and saying, “ There is my brother, boiled down; bottled, and securely corked.” His protectionist policy and all his principles are safely hidden away from sight, and are under the domination of the Prime Minister. That is the position they are in, and when honorable members speak about equality that is the only equality we can discern amongst Ministers. I ask again, what are the terms of the compact entered into between honorable members opposite? In season and out of season, we have tried to discover them. Time after time we have tried to drag into the light of day for public inspection the terms of this precious treaty, but we cannot do so. Is it because there is none? Is it because my protectionist friends walked straight into the free-trade camp, and said, “ Here we are, we surrender at discretion.” I hope not. I can scarcely credit that.
– We have no a and b clauses.
– No; Ministers seem to use the deaf and dumb alphabet, and, therefore, we are still endeavouring to obtain some information upon this point. I hope that we shall find that members ‘of the Protectionist Party have not given away their position as fully as we fear they have. If they have not surrendered at discretion, what have they done ? Only two other conclusions are left to us. One is that they went in on the terms of the suggested agreement of May last, and the other is that they have made some bargain that they are afraid to disclose. Have they adopted the terms of the May agreement, with which the Protectionist Party would have nothing to do? If so, I would direct attention to two or three clauses which will impose upon my honorable friends the duty and obligation of proving their consistency. They taunt the Labour Party with being a _ machine, and allege that its membership involves the surrender of individual liberties to the whole caucus. Let us see how they stand themselves. They say, with regard to the existence of “the three parties, that they have thrown public affairs into confusion, and that an immediate remedy is called for. They assert further, that it is impossible to approach the Labour Party - a statement that has since been proved incorrect, because an alliance has been formed with that party. They say, further, that the great fault of that party, apart from any questions relating to its programme, is that it maintains control of its minority by its majority. Then- they say -
The fiscal question is the one insuperable obstacle, and a truce upon that question is imperative.
They do not mention a truce upon any other question. Has the country observed that there is no truce upon any other question - upon the White Australia question, for instance? Is it not apparent that honorable members opposite are perfectly free to vote as they please with regard to that, and that they could oppose it if they choose? It is only the fiscal question in regard to which a truce has been entered into.
– We do not need to enter into a truce upon a question which has been already dealt with.
– Then it is agreed -
That during the natural term of the present Parliament a truce shall be observed undisturbed by a premature dissolution. But no member of the united party shall be deemed to have forfeited his full liberty of action at the expiration by effluxion of time of the present Parliament.
Until that takes place, it is an implied term of this agreement that every member forfeits his full liberty of action. This agreement is proposed upon the basis that individuals shall forfeit their full liberty of action and be guided by the caucus, and that they shall only regain that full liberty of action which they were sent here to exercise on behalf of their constituents when the term of the present Parliament has expired by effluxion of time. What does that mean? A great deal more than appears on the surface. It means that a premature dissolution would not release honorable members. If a dissolution came about they would still be bound by the forfeiture of their liberty of action, and they dare not go to their constituents and say, “ We ask you to give relief to these industries.” An honorable member signingthe agreement, not only binds himself, but purports also to bind his constituents. He goes further than do members of the Labour Party, because here is an attempt to bind, not only honorable members, but the country behind them. Now, what becomes of the taunts levelled at the Labour Party, who are sought to be covered by the odium of having forfeited only their own rights, which they were frank enough to place in the hands of their own constituents? In this compacl there is a plain written invitation to honorable members to say that they will not even ask their constituents to do right and justice should necessity arise.
– What signatures are attached to it ?
– We are not talking about quibbles, but about facts, which have been placed before the country.
– The honorable and learned member has been quibbling ever since he began.
– I shall read another clause in the agreement -
It is neither desirable nor necessary to make any other question the subject of a binding party agreement, outside the Legislative Chambers, in which members should always be as far as possible free to deal with proposals on their merits.
That is to say, thatthose honorable members who are avowed opponents of the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, and those who are not only free-traders, but who advocate all that free-trade implies, are free to go their own way and to break down to a large extent the White Australia policy advocated by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat.
– Rubbish !
– It is easy to say that, but it is a kind of rubbish that seems to appeal to the tender susceptibilities of the honorable member. ‘ It is something for which he will have to answer to his constituents.
– It appeals to my unqualified contempt.
– Having made that agreement which - if it were upon the basis of the coalition agreement - included the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, they have to some extent carried it out. The general policy I have read. Certain terms were specifically mentioned in it, including the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill. I will admit that, so far as that Bill is concerned, the Ministry did what we expected of them - they gave it a decent funeral. They have also planted the seeds of the Transcontinental Railway, but so far as any other matter, mentioned in the coalition agreement is concerned we have seen very little indeed. The honorable and learned member for Bendigo has said that there is no coalition, and we have had conflicting statements in regard to it from many honorable members. Some have declared that there is a coalition, others, that there is none, and others again, including the Prime Minister himself, maintain that an agreement has been arrived at upon the basis of the old coalition proposals. I want to know if such a coalition exists, and, if so, what are the termsof it. The country is entitled to know them. If my honorable friends are unable, or ashamed to give us that information, they must accept responsibility for their action. In contrast to their position, I should like to refer to the alliance programme.
– Hear, hear. It is time that somebody did so.
– We have only to contrast that programme with the coalition agreement to form a just estimate of the position -which we occupy, and the work we have so far accomplished. When my honorable friends opposite affect to sneer at the alliance, I do not think for an instant that their gaiety is real. Like the forced laughter that we heard a few minutes ago, it is not sincere. I believe that they see a great deal more in that alliance which they are anxious about for their own sakes than they acknowledge. I wish to say at this juncture - because misrepresentations have been made in regard to it - that I have the utmost faith in the loyalty and honour of the Labour Party. I believe that they will honorably abide by that agreement. From first to last, with the exception of the open statements that we have heard - and which, I think, came from one quarter only - there has never been the slightest suggestion that the Labour Partywish to break away from it. The statements which appeared in the public press the other day are without any justification whatever. It is quite true - as some of my honorable friends have said - that the alliance has not been universally approved. But it has not been far short of it. I should like to ask, “ When was there a step of similar magnitude and importance consummated so swiftly, or one which attracted to itself such a large measure of public approbation?” When we regard the matter in that way, it is astonishing - not that we should have failed to secure universal approbation - but that our agreement should have been so speedily and largely approved. What was its justification ? I will tell honorable members. We found ourselves suddenly faced by a common foe. We regretted - and we still regret - the absence of our friends, but we hope and believe that their absence is only “temporary. We found in the fires of sudden adversity sufficient light to see, and sufficient heat to weld together, certain political points of contact, which demonstrate to me - and I think to the whole of Australia - that upon some of the chief ideals of liberal policy there is a substantial agreement between our two parties.
When we found that to be the case, our discussions were conducted, not like those which have evidently taken place between honorable members, upon the other side of the House, in secret, but in the open light of day, as far as such discussions could possibly be so conducted. The public have seen the result of our deliberations. They have. followed them from first to last. I claim that we have reason to be proud, not only of the manner in which we came together, but of the results of our negotiations,, as they appear in the formal document which the country now has in its possession. Honorable members have chosen to criticise the alliance agreement, I will not say severely, but without due regard to a. consideration of its terms. That agreement is as follows: -
Navigation Bill. Report of Royal Commission to be expedited, and, subject to this, Bill to provide for -
Legislation (including tariff legislation shown to be necessary :
Decide for himself how far the particular circumstances prove necessity, or the extent to which the proposal shouid be carried.
Let us consider the first plank in that agreement. It relates to the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, and is not a proposal to conduct a funeral march behind that measure, as the Ministrv have done. Instead it is a proposal that the Bill- shall be framed as nearly as possible in accordance with the terms’ of the measure as it was originally introduced by the Deakin Government, but any honorable member is to be at liberty to adhere to the votes which he has already given.
Honorable Members. - Hear, hear.
– Honorable members upon the other side of the House will presently begin to realize that the Labour Party is not a mere machine, and that it does not require everybody to become members of that machine. The supporters of the Government tell us in one moment that nothing can be done except by means of the machine, and that the majority are to coerce the minority. In the next breath they sneer at the statement in the alliance programme, that its members are to be at liberty to adhere to their former votes. If they do not realize the full significance of those words, perhaps they will allow me to explain them. When our agreement sets out that members of the alliance are at liberty to adhere to the votes which they have already given, it does not mean that they are to be coerced into repeating those votes without modification. It does not mean that we could not work together, and do what we should have tried to do had the Watson Government been allowed to take the Bill into Committee for the consideration of any modifications or suggestions.
– That is the rub.
– The honorable and learned member for Werriwa does not often grace us with his presence, and when he does I hope that he will allow me to proceed without interruption. This clause is evidence that we are anxious and willing for honorable members to have the fullest opportunity to. place their most mature views on the subject before the country. The next point in the programme is -
I wish to contrast that with the avowed intention of the Prime Minister to break down the essential portion of the White Australia policy at the first opportunity. Then, in the agreement we also find -
Navigation Bill. - Report of Royal Commission to be expedited, and subject to this Bill to provide for
We put in the forefront of our navigation proposals the protection of Australian shipping from unfair competition. Is there any proposal corresponding to that in the Government programme? The agreement then mentions the Trade Marks Bill, the Fraudulent Marks Bill, and the High Commissioner Bill. Why has the Government dropped the High Commissioner Bill? Is it because the alliance in this clause provides that the selection of a High Commissioner shall be subject to the prior consent of Parliament ? It is very singular that until this agreement appeared in the public press, there was no suggestion from the Ministry that they were not going on with the High Commissioner Bill. Then the. agreement goes on to deal with the Electoral Bill, the Papua Bill, and anti-trust legislation. Are my friends on the other side, who assume to be the friends of the people, prepared to pass this legislation? Or do they expect, in the event of an election, to have the weight and influence and money of the trusts behind them? I wonder if that is what they are looking for. Then we come to that part of the agreement which deals with the tobacco monopoly. I do not desire to anticipate any finding of a Royal Commission - I do not wish to say anything to prejudge the- matter - but there is sufficient ground for a very searching inquiry. And it will require a very searching inquiry to ascertain whether the tobacco monopolists of this country are, or are not, sweating the retail sellers.
– The honorable and learned member voted for the big difference between . the excise and the duty.
– The honorable and learned member for Werriwa always says something irrelevant. The agreement then goes on to refer to the question of the Iron Bonus Bill. I do not think that the Minister of Trade and Customs quite apprehended what is meant by this paragraph, and my desire is to remove any misconception the honorable member is under. The paragraph in the agreement means that all the members of this alliance are in favour of the introduction of and passing of an Iron Bonus Bill under any circumstances. The method of control is not a political machine matter, but an individual liberty matter, and that, I think, is made evident to the country. Without discussing who is right and who is wrong, at this juncture, we recognise that some honorable members believe the industry should be undertaken by the State, while others like myself believe it should be undertaken by private enterprise, subject to any proper control Parliament may think fit to impose. When honorable members reflect for a moment - honorable members who refer to this as a socialistic proposal - they must see that, no matter what Bills on this subject are passed by this Parliament, we cannot force the States to start the industry. If a State does not choose, it need nottake advantage of the Bill, and cannot be compelled to do so. Therefore, it is not in the hands of this Parliament to introduce Socialism in that way. I desire to say distinctly - I do not wish any misunderstanding about the matter - that so far as I am concerned I am in favour of having the industry undertaken toy private enterprise, with such supervision and necessary control as Parliament may desire to secure the interests of the people. Then we come to paragraph 12, which refers to a standing committee on trade and commerce and agriculture. I desire to say a word or two on this point, because the Minister of Trade and Customs has said that the Government sympathetically view the proposal of the honorable and learned member for Bendigo. I sympathetically viewed that pro-“ posal three years ago, and then, as I have recently, gave the honorable and learned member my strongest support, as did also the honorable member for Gippsland. I should be very glad to see the proposal then made adopted; but I say that the question, when it was presented to the last Government, was regarded by them as involving great expense. While still supporting the proposal for an agricultural appropriation, I find in Canada a most beneficent system, under which there is a standing committee, consisting of members of Parliament. That committee has rendered the greatest possible service to Canada, not only in furthering the interests of agriculture, but in developing immigration, commerce, and trade generally. Why should we not have, without any expense to the country, a committee composed of members of this Chamber, who would be only too willing and anxious to further such a work? We s’hould then have a body which would be of the greatest assistance to the Government, to the producers, and to the commercial world generally. Unless the Ministry have determined not to adopt anything but what is suggested by one of their supporters, why do they set their faces against something which has proved to be beneficent and inexpensive, and which would help us from time to time in any inquiry we desired to make regarding, the Tariff, agriculture, commerce, and immigration in all its phases and forms ? We now come to that part of the agreement which provides -
On that point, however, I shall reserve what I have to say until a later stage, when I am dealing with the proposals of the Government. The next clause is one which has excited varied degrees of attention from my friends opposite -
I wish to make our , meaning ‘ perfectly clear as to this clause- of the agreement.
– I ask the honorable and learned member to explain the words “shown to be necessary?”
– I think that when I have completed what I have to say. the right honorable gentleman will have no reason to complain that I have failed to make my meaning as clear as I can. We know that the party led by the right honorable gentleman look at any proposals for the development of -industry or the encouragement of manufactures from one stand-point. They ask themselves the one question - “ Is this a protective suggestion? If it is, we shall not look at it any further - there is an end of it. We do not look into the evidence,” they say, “ to see whether it will be of benefit in the circumstances of the particular industry or not; we do not regard it from the point of view of whether it is going to help labour - we do not regard the effect it will have on the industries of the country, primary or secondary - it is branded protection,’ and, therefore, it is anathema.” This paragraph of the agreement distinctly states that if any legislation - whether in connexion with the Tariff or otherwise - can be suggested and shown to be necessary for any of the purposes mentioned, the members of the alliance, whether they be free-traders or protectionists, will give it their honest, careful and unbiased attention - that they will not reject it merely because it is protectionist. They will deal with it on its own basis. Thev will see whether it will benefit labour, whether it will benefit industries, whether it will encourage production, and if it will, they will give it their support. I come now to what have been called the provisos. What is there wrong with them?
– They are very necessary.
– I shall tell the House what they are. They grant and secure to every member of the alliance the same rights that every member of the - Protectionist Party claims in regard to any protectionist suggestion. They say, in effect, that each member of the alliance, while loyally abiding by the compact that I have just mentioned, may do one of two things. Let us suppose, far example, that a pro tectionist proposal is made. Each member of the Labour Party will judge of it for himself ; he will judge of the evidence for this specific proposal, and if it will benefit an industry, if it will send, say, 500 men back to their work, if it will give employment he will vote for it. On the other hand1, he may say, “ I shall discuss it with my brethren jointly. I will take the assembled sense of the party, and if the majority think that this proposal will benefit labour, that it will advance the cause of industry, I will not oppose my individual opinion, which may be wrong, to the general sense of the whole of my party.”
– He may do the opposite.
– He may, of course, choose to exercise his own individual judgment. There is no qualification whatever in these provisos - no withdrawal or abridgment of anything that has gone before - but a clear indication to the people of the country, and more particularly to the constituents of the various members of the alliance of that which they have frankly and openly determined to do.
– Industries, in some instances, have been removed from one State to another.
– Quite so ; and my right honorable friend will not help us to alter the Tariff to restore those industries.
– Industries have gone from Western Australia to Victoria.
– The next paragraph in the programme provides for -
Old-age pensions on a basis fair and equitable to the several States, and to individuals.
I intend, a little later, to deal with that question, but I should like now to ask my honorable friends opposite, and particularly those who charge the protectionist members of the alliance with having given everything away, what is there in this programme to which they object ? I pass over the little Hibernianism of the Minister of Trade and Customs, who first told us that we had given away everything under paragraphs a and b, and then said he rejoiced that there was nothing further in the alphabet, for we should then have given away the rest. I call upon honorable members opposite, who charge us with having given everything away, to tell us what there is in our programme to which they object. Does the Minister of Trade and Customs mean to tell the people of this country that he objects to it?
– I say that there is nothing in it. There was a little stuffing, but it was taken out by paragraphs a and b.
– My honorable friend said that we had given everything away, and he now declares that there is nothing in the programme.
– Does it mean high duties or low duties ? That is what the country desires to know.
– I rejoice at the robustness of the honorable and learned member for Werriwa, but I wish that he would not concentrate all his energies into a few moments. We protectionists set great store by the clause in our programme with regard to legislation, including Tariff legislation, and I feel that a great work has been done for this country in embodying it in the alliance programme. We protectionists - or, at all events, those of us who have maintained our position as protectionists - feel that protection cannot be eliminated from a truly Liberal programme. We hold that protection to labour implies complete protection against unfair conditions. Whatever those conditions may be, and whenever they arise, although they may spring from any distance, if they reach and affect the worker, he ought to be relieved from them. If a man be attacked by disease, it is immaterial to him whether it has sprung up alongside him at his work or has reached him from thousands of miles away ; if it infects him, his peril is the same in either case, and I would ask whether we are to stop when we have protected the workers of this country by means of Conciliation and Arbitration Acts and other measures, and to leave the gates of the Customs House open in order that they may be injured by the goods that enter through those gates? Is not Milton’s great question entirely apposite 10 the present situation -
What boots it at one gate to make defence,
And at another to let in the foe?
I hold that it is impossible to maintain Conciliation and Arbitration Acts or Factory Acts in their integrity if goods, which the Prime Minister admits are the products of underpaid and sweated labour, are to enter our territory, and e’ther tame down the worker to the required degree of docility or abolish his occupation altogether. It is a part, and an essential part, of our policy that we shall not, either by the personal contiguity of the sweated labourer or by the unrestricted admission of his sweated goods, leave the workers on our soil to the wild mercy of unreasoning competition - competition that knows no point at which to stop in the process of paring down wages save that at which the human machine is just able to subsist and move. No part of the Ballarat speech delivered by the then Prime Minister, the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, aroused more enthusiasm than that which related to his programme for a White Australia. I should like to rea3 it to the House, because it is essential to understand the attitude in which my honorable friends opposite find themselves today -
You probably believe that a White Australia is secure. I hope it is, but it will not be secure unless a vigilant watch is kept upon proposals to tamper with it. None of a serious character has been put forward by anybody in a responsible position, but there are indications that we may have to defend the principle yet. So far as this Government is concerned, it will be ready for the emergency. (Cheers.) A White Australia does not by any means mean only the preservation of the complexion of the people of this country. It means the multiplying of their homes, so that we may be able to occupy, use, and defend every part of our continent; it means the maintenance of conditions of life fit for white men and white women ; it means equal laws and opportunities for all ; it means protection against the underpaid labour of other lands. It means social justice, so far as we can establish it, including just trading and the payment of fair wages. (Cheers.) A White Australia means a civilization whose foundations are built upon healthy lines, lived in honest toil, under circumstances which imply no degradation. Fiscally, a White Australia means protection. We protect ourselves against armed aggression, why not against aggression by commercial means? We protect ourselves against undesirable aliens, why not against the products of undesirable alien labour? (Cheers.) A White Australia is not a surface, but it is a reasoned policy which goes down to the roots of national life, and by which the whole of our social, industrial, and political organization is governed.
I have listened to and have read many speeches by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, but I confess that nothing I have ever heard from the honorable and learned gentleman has surpassed, for solid truth and glowing eloquence, the passage I have just read. What is the position of the present Governmentin relation to it? For this is the keystone of our liberal policy. We have been told that there is a fiscal truce. Is there a White Australia truce ? No. Indeed, the declaration of intention we have had from the present Prime Minister is that he is seeking to secure a majority to repeal an essential part of that White Australia policy.
– That is entirely incorrect.
– The right honorable gentleman undoubtedly said the other day that he was prepared, as soon as he could secure a majority, to repeal that section of the Alien Immigration Restriction Act which prohibits the introduction of contract labour.
– Good or bad, what has that contract labour section to do with a White Australia?
– If the Minister of Defence says that, the honorable and learned gentleman disavows the words of his late leader that I have just read. The words of the honorable and learned member for Ballarat were, that a White Australia is not a matter of colour only, but of the conditions under which white men and white women ought to live. It stands for civilization and fair wages, and will the Minister of Defence tell me that he does not regard it as an essential part of the White Australia policy that we should not be inundated with labourers imported like chattels for any length of time, at any rate of wages ? I say that that is an essential part of the White Australia policy, and if that one gate is to be taken off its hinges, and cast down, then good-bye to our White Australia.
– I agree that it is an essential part of Australian policy not to import labourers like chattels, but it is an abuse of terms to say that that is contrary to the White Australia policy.
– Let the Minister of Defence apply his phrase, “ an abuse of terms,” to his late leader. I have read a passage from the speech of the honorable and learned member for Ballarat with which I thought we all agreed, and I now say that if the Minister is going to part company with the honorable and learned member for Ballarat on that vital subject, the sooner we know it the better.
– This is magnificently fair.
– “Chattel”; it is a lawyer’s term.
– I am not surprised at these ebullitions on the part of my honorable friends opposite. I feel that they are just beginning to awaken to a sense of their position. They are just beginning to understand to what their policy leads them, and I intend to bring it yet more fully home to them. The words of the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, in the speech to which I have referred, re ceived remarkable corroboration a very few weeks ago from President Roosevelt. I wish to read to honorable members a few of the President’s words on the memorable occasion when he received a notification at Sagamore Hill of his re-nomination for the Presidency of the “United States.
– There is a man who is receiving the support of the trusts, if honorable members like.
– The honorable member is wrong again, because the trusts are all against President Roosevelt.
– I suppose there is not a man in America who is more relentlessly pursued by the trusts than is President Roosevelt, the man who commanded his Attorney-General to put in force the AntiTrust Law, and succeeded in doing what we hope to be able to do - to insure^ so far as legislation and administration is concerned, that we shall have no monopolistic trusts in this country. President Roosevelt said, with regard to Tariff readjustment -
We have enacted a Tariff law, under which, during the past few years, the country has attained a height of material well-being never before reached. Wages are higher than ever before. That whenever the need arises there should be a re-adjustment of Tariff schedules is undoubted.
This has a remarkable application to our present conditions.
But such changes can, with safety, be made only by those whose devotion to the principle of a protective Tariff is beyond question.
My honorable friends on the other side would have us believe that they are willing to have a Commission appointed, and that they are willing to re-adjust the Tariff. Can we trus’t them ? President Roosevelt adds -
For, otherwise, the changes would amount, not to re-adjustment, but to repeal. The readjustment when made must maintain and not destroy the protective principle.’ To the farmer, the merchant, the manufacturer, this is vital. But, perhaps, no man is so much interested as the wage-worker in the maintenance of our present economic system, both as regards the finances and the Tariff. The standard of living of our wage-workers is higher than that of any other country, and it cannot so remain unless we have a protective Tariff which shall always keep as a minimum the rate of duty sufficient to cover the difference between the labour cost here and abroad.
Those are wise words, and bear very strongly upon our present position ; but at the very foundation of the Prime Minister’s political thought, what do we find ? We find that doctrine of laissez faire - in plain English, a do-nothing policy. The right honorable gentleman says, “ Let unassisted nature take its course.” This is faith-healing - political Dowieism, if I may so call it. I wish to make some observations which some honorable’ members may think rather strong, but which are entirely justified by the position in which we find ourselves, and I, therefore, wish to make it clear that I have no personal quarrel with the Prime Minister. I intend to confine my observations to the political aspect, and, perhaps, I may be permitted at this juncture to say that I join entirely with my honorable friends who preceded me in the deprecation of personalities in a debate of this nature, or, indeed, in any, debate. I think that the time is fast approaching when Parliament may be called upon to curb that which is known as parliamentary privilege, and which is sometimes used in order to suggest personal infamy, which perhaps only requires a most cursory examination to demonstrate has no foundation. In curbing that privilege. Parliament may find it necessary to devise some remedy sharper and more calculated to meet the occasion than the mere disapprobation or even contempt of honorable members. I enter into no personal quarrel with my right hon orable friend ; indeed, I do not disguise my admiration for his capacity and powers of leadership. Opposing him as we do - and as long as he retains his present political mode of thought, I always shall - none of us can deny his great capacity for, at all events, persuasion, an ability to seize and make the most of all opportunities, and a curious power of attracting to his side and enlisting in his support men who, up to that moment, were thought to be his avowed and constant opponents.
– The honorable and learned member is going to lodge some shots at him after that.
– I wish to make it perfectly clear that my quarrel with the right honorable gentleman is a purely political one. The reason why I oppose him is that he holds views which we, I think, as a united Opposition, must regard as fundamentally unsound, and as absolutely fatal to national progress. They are views which he as Prime Minister must of necessity impress upon the Government, and which, quite apart from any question of fiscal truce, touch so vitally on the general directive spirit of policy, that our acceptance of him as a leader is absolutely impossible. In order that we may judge of this, let us look round at this Continent, and ask ourselves what do we intend Australia to be? What will those who come after us demand of our memories ? Is Australia to be known for its square miles of desolation, or is it to be known as a hive of industry ? Are we to cultivate only the primary industries, knowing that they are subject to all the disadvantages which the varying seasons and other elements of chance must bring to a limited sphere of national operations, and to the expense and risk of complete dependence on foreign markets? Or are we to set about planting a busy population upon the land, both primary and secondary producers, one set winning the wealth above and below the soil, and the other set fashioning that wealth in every conceivable way into all the requirements of civilized man ? Are we not to start out and do our best to promote the diversification of employment and increase of population, to help the primary producers, not merely by encouraging production but by creating a home market - by giving them a better, quicker, safer, and cheaper outlet for their productions - and at the same time not to forget the secondary producers, affording them all the advantages of the material, the fuel, and the mineral which nature has bountifully placed within our reach, and which we have only to stretch out our hands to win ? That. I take it, is the ideal for Australia. Where we join issue with the Prime Minister is in this: He holds that, in spite of our sources of natural wealth, in spite of all our wool, tallow, hides, coal, and iron, Australia can never hope to be a great manufacturing country until - when? Until stress of competition has so lowered our wage rate as to bring it down, to the level of the pauper rate in other lands.
– The same old gag.
– It is the same story which the right honorable gentleman has told before, and which I shall not cease to bring before the country until it is placed in the fullest possession of Australia. This is the cardinal feature of his faith. It is not his desire, but is his belief. He thinks that under free-trade what I have just said must be the iron rule which governs our industries. He thinks, too, that protection will not better affairs; in fact, he opposes protection, because he says the acceleration of these industries only hastens the introduction of the evils which lie declares are attendant upon them.
– Why do not the free-trade members of the Labour Party cheer that?.
– Hear, hear; hear, hear.
– I should like at this juncture to prove what I have said as to the right honorable gentleman’s policy. I referred to it before, and I am going to refer to it again. It has received no contradiction from him as a policy ; it can receive no explanation or, I think, extenuation. In his speech on the 31st October, 1901, reported on page 6800 of Hansard, he alluded to the proposal of the then Prime Minister, Sir Edmund Barton, and the then Treasurer, Sir George Turner, to establish a woollen industry. If there is any industry in this community which could be established on a national basis is it not a woollen industry ? And if we cannot establish that industry what can we establish with advantage? The right honorable gentleman sneered at the proposal. He said -
It is a kind of policy that only a tyro in mercantile knowledge would venture to propound. . . We all hope that Australia will have a great woollen industry, but that will have to come when we are not so well off.
Of course, it is not his desire, but it is his belief that a time is coming when Australia will not be so well off. Is it not our duty toprevent that state of things from occurring? Is it not our mission to make Australia better off, not worse off? Then he says -
What is the hope of the great manufactures of Australia? How are we to manufacture cheaply or to compete with the cheap labour of other countries ?
And he goes on to show that we cannot have better machines, we cannot have better factories referring to British and German factories - and he says that the manufacturers of England and Germany can buy their raw material all over the world. Then he says this, and I commend it to my honorable friends who point out how much freetrade has done for England -
How arewe going to compete with these underpaid, sweated countries until our own labour is under-paid and sweated too ?
– It was a protectionist country, Germany, that he referred to.
– He referred to Germany, but he admitted that labour is sweated and underpaid in England also. He says -
There is no magic about production. It seems to me that the prospect of growing these noxious weeds of sweated industries,
The woollen industry is, I suppose, a noxious weed - on this bright continent should cause a man associated with the interests of labour to shudder.
Then he says - and these lines are what I regard as the fundamental root of his anticipations of Australian manufacturing eminence -
In the plenitude of time, when our millions become tens of millions, we shall have a crop of misery which will solve the difficulty in regard to cheap manufactures.
Sir, I should like to ask
– Read on.
– I am going to read more, but I should like to ask at this point - is it to be a crop of misery only that is going to solve the problem of our cheap manufactures? Are we not prepared to take some stand more worthy of men who have charge of a great continent like this? Surely, sir, that is a pessimistic doctrine that any man ought to fly from rather than acknowledge, bow. down to, and yield to in the way the Prime Minister does. Having said so much, he goes on to say -
Will the erection of a fence solve it? Never. We may run a ring round our own people, but we cannot bull-dose the markets of the world. When we come to compete with those markets, we shall have to do as all other nations do. That is why I have abhorred the policy of producing artificial industries, which belong to a period of human misery and over population.
He further says that he did not refer to all our industries.
I am not alluding to a large number of Australian industries, which are bound to come soon and be a source of prosperity to us.
– How differently the honorable and learned member read that passage, from the way in which he read the other!
– If I had all the eloquence and sweetness of tone of the honorable member for Parramatta, nothing could take away from the force of the words themselves. The Prime Minister says, “ As far as some natural industries are concerned, we can hope to do some good, but, as far as manufacturers are concerned, there is only one thing that I can see in the future, and that is cheap labour.” Cheap labour, sir, never made a strong nation. Therefore, it is just this deadly policy that I oppose. Are we to accept as an ultimate fact in Australian economics, that our labour is doomed to pauperization? Is it to be regarded as our inescapable fate that until that moment of degradation comes Australia can never hope to attain any eminence as a manufacturing country ? If that is to be the goal of all our efforts, if we cannot rise to a higher level than that, then we have striven in vain. Where I join issue with my honorable friends opposite is this : 1 say that we shall have national industries, but that we shall not have the sweater’s creed to rule them ; that we shall have national productions and manufactures, but that the brand of Cain shall not be their hall-mark. Unless we are determined, as, I believe, we are, to develop our industries, and unless we are prepared in developing them, at the same time to maintain and to raise the standard of life of those working in the ranks, unless we are prepared to raise and advance the cause of the workers in Australia - then I say without hesitation that -all this vast array of splendid Federal paraphernalia from the GovernorGeneral down to the humblest worker in the executive service of the country, is a hollow and a costly sham. And although it must be far from the personal desire of the Prime Minister, or of any honorable member who supports him, that this should be the result, yet,- I say without hesitation that such a deplorable eventuality is so necessarily the result of his creed, that his installation as the head of the Government of Australia is a direct violation of the best interests of this country. Passing away from the fatalistic beliefs of the Prime Minister to the officially declared programme of the Government, what do we find? The Minister of Trade and Customs objected the other night to the expression “sexless.” as applied to the Government. Well, of course, that term was applied to their policy. And I should like to know what other conclusion can be drawn from the absolute sterility of their programme? What is there in their programme that can arouse any hope or any enlightenment or cheerfulness in Australia ? Take away the noncontentious matters, take away those that are common to us all, and what have we? Do they wish to tell us that their union did bring forth some promising infants ? If so. thev have been strangled in the Cabinet before they, reached the light of day. We have seen one poor child emerge from the Cabinet bruised, battered, and mutilated almost beyond recognition - preferential trade ; and one they have decently buried, as they think, the Arbitration Bill. They have gone as far as they could go with the Transcontinental Railway survey ; but what other great questions have they dealt with? They have referred to Old-Age Pensions, and I wish also to refer to the subject, in order to say this - that I dissent from the Government proposal, because it seems to me that they have endeavoured to shelve the question. What did they say? Thev are going to do something only in cooperation with the States. I have a double thing to say about that. First of. all, I do not agree with the Minister of Defence, when he said there was no possibility of doing anything in this matter federally without direct taxation. We know perfectly well that the difficulty standing in the way of such a national old-age pension law, as we should like as a Federal Parliament to impose, prevents us at the present moment from giving all we wish. But, at the same time, if it is the necessities of the States that are preventing us from doing that, how much further advanced shall we be from consultation with those States? Are the States which are unable to surrender any portion of their three-fourths at the present time more likely to be able to do it after consultation ?
– I did not say that. I said that it was the limitations of the Constitution which prevented us from appropriating more than one-fourth of the receipts from the Tariff.
– But what could be gained from consultation with the States? The Minister does not explain that.
– They may consent to give up more.
– - Which of the StatesVictoria and New South Wales, which do not miss it, or the impecunious States? What does the honorable and learned member mean? Does he mean that the States which are less able to bear the strain of extra taxation, which are, in fact, short of cash for this purpose, will say to the Federal Government, “ We are ready to give up part of our three- fourths.”
– They might, if we gave them something in return.
– What are we to give them in return? Has any proposal been made? This is perhaps a new piece of patchwork on the Government proposal, a suggestion that has never before ‘been made, and one ejaculated now, I think, only to cover a retreat. Of course, we cannot go into details on the matter at the present time, and I do not wish to do so; but it is within the competence of the Federal Government to do a great deal in the way of establishing some tentative old-age pensions law without imposing one penny of further taxation.
We know that there is a comparatively large surplus left to the Commonwealth out of our one-fourth. We know, too, that in New South Wales and Victoria old-age pensions are provided–
– But not in the States which are impecunious.
– No; but the impecunious States already spend a comparatively large amount of money for the relief of their poor and destitute and on their charities generally, which they would be saved under a Commonwealth old-age pensions law.
– No; that has not been the experience of New South Wales. The charities of that State cost just as much now as they did before old-age pensions were provided.
– Has it been the experience of Victoria?
– My proposal, if carried into effect, would foe of advantage to New South Wales and Victoria. Those States would incur no loss, if we spent exactly the same amount of money in providing Federal old-age pensions for them as they now spend in providing oldage pensions for themselves. They could abolish their own pensions, and thus save the money. The honorable and learned member for Ballarat, in his Ballarat speech, said -
A Federal Old-Age Pension Bill will have to wait until the financial restraints of the Constitution have been removed.
I’ do not agree with him in that -
The experience of the States will then have taught the Commonwealth what to provide and what to avoid.
I agree with the honorable and learned gentleman to this extent, that we cannot at present go so far as we should like to go to put the whole thing on a complete basis. But we could put it on a basis which would enable old men and old women who have to go from one part of the Commonwealth to another, to be sure of something as Australian citizens, notwithstanding their movement from State to State, and it would enable us to get much more valuable experience of the operation of a Federal OldAge Pensions Act. Where I do agree with the honorable and learned gentleman is in this statement -
Such a Bill will impose no new expenditure upon the people, but will simply transfer the State expenditure to one Federal system.
– The experience of the two chief States of the Union is to the contrary. Their charity expenditure has not decreased since the passing of Old-Age Pensions Acts.
– That is entirely a matter for the States themselves. I do not wish to control the States in this matter ; but if we pass a Federal old-age pension law, the States will have it within their power to discontinue, fro tanto, their internal expenditure on pensions or other relief, and, therefore, no direct taxation will be required, nor need there be any further expense of any kind.
– Does not that involve differential old-age pensions?
– No. What I mean is that the Federal Government ought to consider for itself how far it can provide a tentative uniform old-age pensions system within the terms of the Constitution, one not involving, any additional taxation. If the Federal Government is not able to go to the full extent of some of the States, those States can continue to provide the difference between the amount now provided by them and that provided by the Federal law, and can save the latter amount. I do not wish to repeat what I have said, but I do not see why the Federal Government need act in co-operation with the States in this matter, and I wish to make some general observations on this portion of the polity of the present Government, because, if I understand it aright, it involves a great breach of the constitutional powers of the Federal Parliament. If we introduce an innovation into our Federal Government of the nature that is presaged by the policy of this Administration, we shall make a terrible mistake. We know perfectly well that the Prime Minister was one of the sturdiest fighters in the Convention for the representation of the people only. He was to a large extent adverse to the creation of a States’ House, or, at all events, desired a general referendum. In any case, the Constitution today provides in the Senate the proper means of guarding State rights and State interests. If we are going to give way to the Governments of the States, which are responsible to totally different Legislatures, elected on a basis in many cases not the same as ours, we shall introduce a very dangerous principle. The Government of Victoria, for instance, is responsible to a Legislative Assembly elected on a franchise which excludes the women of Victoria, while the Legislative Council of the State has a still more restricted’ franchise. Are we to say that, in addition to the responsibility of the Federal Government to this Chamber, and in another sense to the Senate, it must be responsible to the Legislatures of the various States as represented by their respective Governments? If we did so, we should introduce a great many serious clogs into the Federal machinery. Surely it is by the Senate, which is elected by the people of Australia, the smallest State having the same voice as the largest, that State interests and State rights are to be safeguarded. While I agree that we should, so far as national interests will admit, work in the most complete harmony with the States, we are not to subordinate the Federal action and national interest to the consideration whether the States Governments are prepared to concur.
– Otherwise the Federation is unnecessary.
– Yes, and a costly luxury. With regard to the only other question of any importance upon which the Ministryhave vouchsafed any information, preferential trade, it is a great question from whatever stand-point we regard it. It is great from the stand-point of those who oppose it, and still greater from the stand-point of those who favour it. What a melancholy spectacle the Government present in regard to this question ! The alliance, we are told, with some derision, proposes to consider it. The Government have considered it, and the conclusion to which they have come is, to put it shortly, in relation to that subject, to erect a tombstone upon the grave of responsible government. The situation was very indefinite - quite indefinite enough - when the Prime Minister announced his policy ; it became ridiculous when the Minister of Trade and Customs added his quota, and when, in this debate, the Prime Minister concluded his statement of the Government position, the coping-stone of absurditywas placed upon it. What is the position, according to the Government? First of all, the Government will take up the subject : secondly, they will only do that if England asks for it. In other words, they are prepared to say, “Yes, Mr. Chamberlain.” Next, England is not likely to ask, and next, therefore, the Government are not likely to take it up. Further, if the Government should by chance take up the question, they are absolutely resolved - to let each man go his own way. This is a strange commentary upon the criticism of the alliance. Upon that question, which, above all others, demands that corporate responsibility and a definite attitude should be taken on behalf of the people of Australia, the Government are hopelessly split up. Some of the members may support it, some of them may oppose it. Those who support it may advocate a reduction of duties, whilst others support an addition to duties. What a ridiculous spectacle is thus presented to the people of this country !
– Almost as ridiculous as that presented by the alliance upon that point.
– The final statement of the Prime Minister on this matter was that if the proposals clashed with his fiscal opinions, only one thing could happen, meaning that he would resign his position. I would ask whether that declaration does not sufficiently inform my protectionist friends in the Government, or, at all events, their protectionist supporters, that as long as the Prime Minister holds the reins of Government preferential trade is lost, because so long as the Government are allowed to sit on the Treasury benches, unable, as the Prime Minister has admitted, to speak in the name of Australia, so long will the people and public opinion of England be seriously influenced _ in the direction of believing that Australia is adverse to the proposal. Cannot the Government see that ‘the pathway of preferential trade is the high-road to the greatest alliance into which we can ever hope to enter ? Foreign alliances are important, but even the friendly ties that stretch across to the great Republic of the West are only secondary in importance to the closer and firmer bonds that ought to unite firmly and inseparably all the white peoples of this Empire. The Empire, as we know it to-day, is new, but silently and unconsciously, though none the less surely and permanently, there has been growing up, all over the globe where the flag flies, an intense desire for closer inter-Imperial communication, for some tangible and material recognition of the sense of preservation, and of the sentiment of patriotism, and even of the more sordid considerations of profit that attach to us. I say that the Prime Minister is blind to these things, and I cannot understand his blindness. He is like the Bourbons. He neither learns nor forgets anything. In this regard he clings slavishly to an effete fiscal theory of free-trade, the same fiscal theory that led Cobden, the grand apostle of .that faith, to declare in his letter, which is to be found in Morley’s Life of Cobden, that free-trade would “ gradually and imperceptibly loosen the bonds “ that bind Great Britain to her Colonies. That is the free-trade theory. That is the theory that is held by the Prime Minister and his free-trade followers. It was surprising to me when, the other night, he allowed such principles to dominate him even when he was considering the highest relations of our Empire. He refused to budge one single hair’s-breadth from the policy of Eis fiscal belief, even though he had an opportunity to do the grandest work he could perform, ‘ namely, that of strengthening the crimson thread of kinship with the material ties of mutual benefit and development, and the enhancement of our common greatness. This is a subject which may well excite one’s enthusiasm. To me it presents more than attractiveness; it has a fascination which no narrower line of policy could ever instil. Although I have not touched upon very many subjects to which I should have ‘liked to allude, I have taken up more than my share of the public time. I think, however, that I have said a good many things to justify our opposition to the Government at this critical period of our history. I feel that the people of this country may at any moment, notwithstanding the humiliating position of the Ministry at the present time, be called upon to exercise what I consider to be the highest .function of citizenship, namely, to decide for themselves many of those great questions that govern our daily life. For our part, we shall welcome that moment. We are prepared to face the future without fear, and, certainly, without regret. We came into this Parliament members of a victorious party, and it is not for us to surrender or to capitulate. When we go before our masters and return the commission they placed in our hands, I feel that we can say with truth and honour, “We have fought the good fight, we have finished our course, and, above all, we have kept the faith.”
– I hope that I shall finish my course this evening with the same vigour and effectiveness that have characterized my honorable and learned friend. I am one of those who are bold enough not even to regret the admittedly inordinate length of this debate, because, although I would willingly forget many features of it - and doubtless all of us would do so - it has taken place at a period when a review of the general position in which Parliament finds itself, and of its various parties in relation to each other, may be for our own benefit, and, at the same time, add to the information of the public. For a long time the waters of political life have been turbid. They are not yet by any means clear. Among the opportunities which are afforded to us to precipitate at least some of the solution which at present causes the turbidity, a discussion of this character has its definite value. For my own part, I hope to view the questions before us with that end in view, speaking from no merely partisan stand-point, avoiding every personal reflection and every party consideration that can be dispensed with under the circumstances. The speakers who have preceded me have, on several occasions, alluded to the circumstances under which this Parliament commenced, realizing that from that starting point even the briefest retrospect must necessarily begin. If we ignore the events of the past, we cannot well interpret or justly weigh the circumstances immediately under review. Ever since the commencement of this Parliament we have been slowly threading a labyrinth in order to discover the high road which, for the benefit of this country, we can most advisedly travel. It needed no gift of prophecy, even at the very outset, to foresee that the course before us would not be an easy one! In fact, before the results of the elections were announced - on the evening prior to polling day - speaking in the neighbourhood of Melbourne, I ventured to say. as the head of the then Government, that I viewed the situation with the gravest concern.. I reminded my hearers that I had lifted a voice of warning ten days previously, which had proved ineffective, that I did not fear for fiscal peace or preferential trade, but that I apprehended we should get a verdict upon side issues - a Parliament returned from wavering motives and wavering aims - with the consequence that the work of the public would not be as well, as clearly, and as promptly done as it should be. I feared that we should have a Parliament composed of discordant elements and containing no strong party. I made that statement prior to polling day. I venture to say to any careful student of the electoral returns for this Parliament, that in them the whole of its history lay capsulate. After polling-day, we saw a sum set for us, which we were left to work out, but which could be worked out only to one answer. There were different ways in which it could be dealt with ; but the result as it appeared to me then, and as it appears to me now, must necessarily be the same. What did we find ? We found three parties, not merely artificial accretions,, but separated by adhesion to three separate dominating principles. Upon our side, we sought fiscal peace and preferential trade ; upon that of the then direct Opposition, fiscal war for a revenue Tariff ; and .upon that of the labour candidates the programme of their party. We found these three parties embodying these three principles, returned in practically equal strength. It is true, that other issues, and great ones, were submitted to the country. They overlapped in the different programmes, and I do not allude to them because they formed, generally speaking, the common property of all parties. The combat we had to face was that of three equal parties, with three distinct programmes. That was the statement of the sum. What was its working out? An all-Protectionist Ministry was defeated ‘bv the vote of the all-Labour Party, plus that of a segment of the Revenue Tariff Party. Next we saw an allLabour Ministry defeated by the all-Revenue Tariff Party, plus a segment of the Protectionist Party. Had we subsequently seen an all-Revenue Tariff- Party in power, we should necessarily have witnessed a repetition of exactly the same procedure. As it was, a coalition was formed upon this side of the House, and it was immediately confronted - confronted indeed by anticipation - by- a coalition upon the other side of the House. If there had been no junction here there would have been none there - no alliance. This brief outline brings me to the point in our journey which we have reached to-day.
– There is no coalition upon this side of the House.
– I do not propose to involve the debate. I use the word “ coalition,” allowing each honorable member to place his own meaning upon it. Similarly, I shall use the term “alliance,” and leave honorable members ‘to attach their own interpretation to it, because for the life of me I do not understand most of the meanings which are here given to these words. We find ourselves in the position of coalition fronting coalition, alliance fronting alliance, or combination fronting combination, but we do not find the existence of the present Government challenged upon any one definite line of policy by honorable members opposite. 9d
– The Government have not got a policy.
– Then they could have been challenged upon that ground. But instead the leader of the Opposition expounded the programme of his party, and made that exposition the main basis of his attack upon the Government. After the leader of the Ministry had replied, the late Attorney-General, who was second in command in the Watson Administration, continued the debate. Neither of them raised, except by the remotest implication, the fiscal question in any form. Indeed, until the speech of the honorable and learned member for Indi, who has dealt with that question from his own particular stand-point, we have waited for any declaration, even by way of criticism, of what the fiscal views of honorable members opposite are, or may be. Consequently this debate has been turned aside from any one particular set of questions. What we have really debated in one way or another, ever since this motion was submitted, has been that situation in the House - which reflects The past situation of the country - with some anticipations as to what the verdict of the country would be if appealed to at the present juncture. As a matter of fact, it cannot yet be pretended - and I do not for a moment pretend - that upon either side of the House we have reached a fusion of parties. We have reached a confusion, but not a fusion.- We have had programmes put forward from both sides of the House, ostensibly, and, indeed, ostentatiously, temporary in their duration. There seems to be a general agreement that whatever we are to do ‘ has to be done today, but what to-morrow will bring forth the most enterprising prophet has scarcely seen his way to foretell. We are in process of that better adjustment which was seen to be inevitable from the moment the first electoral returns were published, and which, for my own part, I have endeavoured to hasten - whether for good or for ill - by all the means in my power. It appeared to me from the commencement - I speak foi myself only, though many others shared the same opinion - that the three equal parties in this House could not ‘ be maintained, that either with or without our will, wish or without our assistance, the machinery of the constitutional Government of which we form a part, the conditions of party warfare, the nature of the business transacted in this House, and the methods of thought of our people, would compel us to take sides and resolve these three parties into two. As I have already said, I do not pretend that this result has yet been attained. We are in process of attaining it. I wish that I saw a shorter road than I do at present to its completion. When I speak of two parties may I remind honorable members that I do not mean two hide-bound parties - two parties with a fixed programme from which none of their members are eligible to depart without apostasy - but two living parties, whose proof that they are living is that they grow, and adapt themselves to the circumstances by which they are surrounded. These major parties may, and1 often do, contain minor sections. When I spoke of parties, I made no such impossible suggestion as that this Parliament, or any other Parliament, could be divided into two bodies, each member of which accepted in every particular the policy of every other member with whom he acts. The idea of party which we all have is derived from our experience, of the mother country, where, every few years, there are transpositions, and where those who are allied with one party at the commencement of their career, often conclude by belonging to the opposite party. The great and magnificent record of Mr. Gladstone, who has been referred to more than once in the course of this debate, is a proof of what I say. In the country in which the party system has been brought to perfection, the door has never been shut against the development of individual thought. Each member is left with his responsibility, to find his way where his judgment and conscience lead ‘him, even though it be, if necessary, from one side to the other. Though a party is united by adhesion to some great principle - or, as may occasionally be the case, on some matters of urgency,, or immediate moment - its members are not prevented from minor divergencies or changes of opinion, as reason and experience may suggest. When I spoke of the resolution of this House into two parties, I ‘had no desire, at any time, to see a gulf at the gangway across which men might not freely pass if conscience called them. Starting with that view, what was the course which I undertook to follow? At no time have I been able to regard mv opponents as natural enemies. However remote their views have been from my own, I have never felt myself unable to meet with them, and freely discuss our differences.
Under those circumstances, I thought it perfectly natural, on finding three parties in the House, to cast about for some constitutional means of properly dividing the House into two parties capable of doing its work more consistently and effectively. For the moment, and only for a moment, I desire to refer to the proceedings of the late Parliament, when my distinguished chief Sir Edmund Barton was Prime Minister. We had then three parties in the House. But we had not three equal parties, and, besides, Parliament was called upon to do a work of construction in regard to which there was, or ought to have been, practically no party. The Barton Government lived because it embodied the views of the House on two great questions. First, there was the question of a White Austrafia, on which the Government received support all round the House, arid next there was the Tariff, on which the Government had the support of a majority of honorable members. That Parliament possessed three parties - as does the House of Commons to-day - but the third party in the Federal Parliament had not attained equality of numbers then, so that the Government, on the question immediately at issue for the greater part of 1901-2 - the Tariff - had a majority. On that issue the House was resolved into two parties; an.d the fact that even on the two great matters we were not definitely divided into two parties was shown on the two occasions when that Government were challenged on questions which they declared to be vital. The first was the Tariff, on which the Government were supported by a greater part of the Labour Party, as against the Opposition. The next question related to a White Australia, turning on an extremely narrow issue, as experience has proved. The issue was whether coloured aliens should be prohibited, as such, from entering Australia, or whether an educational test should be applied by means of which they could be kept out without naming them. The full strength of t’he Labour Party voted against the Government, , although both sides were pledged to a White Australia. In this regard I take a rather different view from that adopted by the late Prime Minister, the honorable member for Bland. When speaking a little while ago, from the other side of the table, and referring to the then Labour Government, I said -
But, for myself and others whom he taunts with having failed to exhibit fair play, the Ministry would not have lived for one day after being sworn in, not for a week after their recess, nor at later times when crises occurred.
Whereupon, the honorable member for Bland interjected -
If the honorable and learned member thought that the Ministry should have been turned out at that stage, he should have taken action accordingly.
To which, I replied -
So I would have done. and the honorable member said -
Then there is no obligation.
If that be the view taken generally by members on the Opposition benches, there can be no reproach levelled at members of the Barton Government if they expressed no obligation for the assistance they received at other times from a number of members of the Labour Party. The Labour Party, as the honorable member for Bland says, voted with the. then Government only when they thought it right - they voted to keep that Government in only when they thought it advantageous - and the honorable member for Bland draws the conclusion that there is no obligation. There, however, I cannot quite agree with him. Although there may be no obligation to forfeit conscientious opinions, it is impossible for men to act together for any length of time, even intermittently, without being drawn into closer relation, and without incurring what I may venture to call, in another sense, an obligation. It seemed to me that in that Parliament it was possible for a closer and more permanent relation to be established between the Government, headed by Sir Edmund Barton, and, at all events, that portion of the Labour Party who share our fiscal views. Indeed, in the State of Victoria, for years before, many of us had maintained that the Labour Party was properly the left wing of the. Liberal Party, though the former followed a line of action which the bulk of the liberals were not prepared to take. At the same time there was, or ought to have been, a closer alliance. I can say, without fear of successful contradiction, that in Victoria, the years in which the Labour Party recognised their alliance with liberals - and the same may be said of South Australia and New South Wales - were the years most fruitful in progressive measures. Consequently I did not see then, and do not see now, any reason why, at all events, what might be termed the right wing of the Labour Party should not become, in a more permanent fashion, the left wing of the Liberal Partv.
– Why not the right wing ?
– I used the words “right wing “ as meaning always the nearer section to us.
– I am speaking of the Liberal Party.
– I am using the word “right” in the sense in which it is invariably understood in the old world - that is, in chambers, where there are no changes of place with changes of Ministry, the liberals always sitting on the left and the conservatives on the right. When I speak of the “ right wing “ of labour, I mean that portion of the party which approaches more closely to the liberals, and by the “left wing” those who are the more removed. I use the word “right,” not in its moral significance, as contrasted with wrong, but in its physical significance as contrasted with “left.” I saw no reason why, even in the last Parliament, the right wing of the Labour Party should not have been drawn into closer relations with the Government. I regret to notice the absence of my late colleague, the honorable member for Hume, to whom I should like to recall some conversation I had with him prior to my acceptance of the office of Prime Minister in succession to Sir Edmund Barton. I then pointed out, as doubtless the honorable member will recollect, the possibilities of the situation. I said it was probable that the alliance could not be brought about with myself as head of the Government, as well as it could be with some other colleague in that position. I then expressed my entire willingness to stand aside out of the Government altogether, if by that means there could be promoted the establishment of a party able to appeal to the country on a united platform. That, however, proved impossible of realization, for reasons with which I, personally, am not acquainted. But, upon accepting the grave responsibilities that consequently fell upon me, I was obliged, from my knowledge, of the situation, to proceed without alliance, simply propounding a programme which my colleagues and I thought ought to commend itself to the people of the Commonwealth generally. We placed before them as a short and simple summary of that programme - although it comprised a great deal in a few . words - the statement that our policy was fiscal peace and preferential trade for a White Australia. I think we can claim, as a result of the election, that a considerable majority’ was returned to this House in favour of each of these three most important planks.
– Including fiscal peace.
– Why does not the Government accept the verdict of the country on two out of three planks ?
– Although that was a short and simple summary, it was not the whole essential platform. In language which admitted of no mistake, I announced at Ballarat, to the whole country, that, in reference to bringing States servants under the control of the Federal Court, to be provided in the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, we accepted the position that the Barton Government had previously taken up, and that there would be no alteration in our attitude on that question. ‘ Consequently, every member on both sides of the House was perfectly aware of that broad and inevitable stipulation. If we wer-e returned, and were to remain in office, there could be no trespass by the Federation on the Federal rights of the States. It will thus be seen that for the position that has since been created, a large share of responsibility lies with those who, being well able to foresee all that has necessarily followed, pledged themselves before their constituents to take a view opposite to that the Government submitted, which must necessarily occasion its retirement. I am not challenging, even by implication, their right to adopt that course’; I am merely pointing out that they made it with their eyes open. The election returns showed us not only three equal parties, but many certainties. They showed us a clear majority of this House, pledged to follow a course which members knew would mean the retirement of the Government of the day. The responsibility for our resignation, therefore, does not rest upon our shoulders. We offered our opponents and supporters a fair choice, and they accepted it. We have no reason to . complain, and never will. The election returns proved not only in that respect, but in others, that we had what I at once publicly termed an “impossible” Parliament. They showed us the Protectionist Party divided in regard to certain clauses in the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, the Labour Party divided on the fiscal question, which was outside its programme, and the revenue Tariff party divided on certain issues in regard to the employment of labour. They showed us not only three equal parties, but the Government of the day with only a third of the House behind it, and each of the three parties internally divided on some of the issues that had been prominently before the country. Could there be any doubt that, in these circumstances, we must not expect the ordinary line of business to be pursued, and ordinary results to follow ? Was it not absolutely certain, from the very outset, that those figures and those divisions meant, as I said the night before the elections, wavering returns, and a Parliament with a wavering majority ? We were sent here, as we have often been reminded, by the electors, to work out that sum, as best we might, and we are working it out. It was my duty, as I thought then, to point out from the very first - and I think honorable members will recollect that I did - the hopelessness of the position, and the fact that, painful as it was and dangerous, and trying to all of us, we had to look forward to a severance of parties. We had1 to promote a re-grouping in order that the business of the country, as far as it could be represented by a majority in this Chamber, might be carried on. I took a very early opportu nity in the year - at the Australian Natives’ Association luncheon - to put the homely parable of the three cricket elevens, and one or two other illustrations, with a view so far as was possible, to prepare the minds of the people and of their representatives for what was likely to follow. From that time forward, in an informal way, I proceeded, as I had indeed for some time previously, to indicate to a number ofrepresentative members of the Labour Party, that, so far as I could judge, the time had come for their party to realize the new responsibilities of their position as a third of the. House. I pointed out that it was necessary for them to look round for those who were nearest to. them in sympathy and in programme, and to ask themselves whether they could not propose of their own accord, and in the public interest, to make those changes in their platform and organization that would enable them to combine with men in the House who were most in touch with them in regard, at all events, to the immediate practical work before us. I spoke in this way, not to one, but to a number of the party, many of them being amongst its most influential members. Individually all of them agreed more or less, and, so far as I could judge, much more than less, with that view. They all looked upon the proposal as’ a very practical one, which ought, if possible, to be realized, but they had grave doubts, and experience has proved that they were justified in entertaining those doubts, as to whether it could be realized. Speaking at the Australian Natives’ Association luncheon, . I had foreshadowed an alliance, and made the one condition that it must be open, public and honorable. I had said that there must be no secret treaty, and that the alliance must necessarily be honorable to both parties, or the country could not be expected to approve of it. I have never made any secret of that. What I said and did is sometimes spoken of as an overture, and it was an overture, if that word ‘be used in the sense of an invitation. I was never able to make a practical overture as to particular details or conditions, but invited proposals from those who I thought understood the position of their party much better than I could, who would be able to propose a basis for discussion. The correct statement would be to say that I invited overtures. At the same time, I do not quarrel with the general version that has been given to this House by the honorable and learned member for West Sydney, previously given by him with a good deal of detail at Ballarat at an early date in the session. The honorable and learned member is so oratorically gifted that he coruscated, especially in this House, to an extent that would require me to quote some three columns of Hansard in order to give honorable members all that he said on this point. I think I shall be doing the honorable and learned gentleman no injustice if I quote a passage referring to the same matter from his Ballarat speech, because it is briefer. It was the speech to which I at once replied. Speaking of myself, the honorable and learned member said -
He was willing to ally himself with us only six months ago. He was willing, yea, he was anxious, to do so. He was ready to form a coalition. He invited a coalition. It stands written in letters of brass that all men may read : he was willing to ally himself. He said it was a natural coalition. It was the only thing possible. On the one side, he said, the Liberals; on the other side the reactionists. He tried to form an alliance, not in the future, not when we had amended our organization, but he proposed it before Parliament met, and while it met. He was ready and willing to ally himself with us then.
As I say, allowing for the coruscations and little adornments to which I have referred, that is substantially correct.
– The honorable and learned gentleman was courting two girls at that time.
– And for a wonder, the older one got the best of it.
– The honorable and learned gentleman will live to regret it.
– At this particular time I was courting no girl. I was doing what would have been impossible if the Prime Minister’s parable is to be approved.
– Perhaps it was leap year, and the girls were courting the honorable and learned gentleman.
– Exactly. I was doing something which would have b”een possible only in leap year. I. . was inviting courtship from others. I was at that time inviting overtures’ only from my honorable friends opposite, because I thought they were entitled to be given the opportunity to make the first offer. I am happv to be able to say that in this course I had the approval of the present Prime Minister. At page 91, of Hansard, for this session, it will be found that the right honorable gentleman is reported to have said, referring to myself -
I agree with the Prime Minister that there is no objection to an alliance between the Labour Party and the Ministry.
And the right honorable gentleman went on to add -
And that was my policy in New South Wales.
The honorable and learned member for West Sydney, at Ballarat, made the statement to which I have referred. Speaking a week later in Ballarat, I said that the honorable and learned gentleman’s statement was substantially true. I referred to the matter later in this House. If honorable members care to refer to what I said, they will find at pages 1335 and 1336 and more recently at page 4237 of Hansard, that oh different occasions in this House, I have made no secret whatever - as I never did - of this transaction. I made no secret of it to this extent : that what I was inviting was a proposal from one side or the other on which we could commence a discussion as to policy and details which might lead to a profitable decision. As I never obtained any such proposal, I was never in a position to submit anything on the subject to the Cabinet, of which I was the head. I received, as I have said, the utmost encouragement from individual honorable members, but it was not until a subsequent date, to which I shall presently allude, that we received any formal overture from the Labour Party with members of which I was then in communication. That followed as the result of a caucus held long afterwards, to which I shall refer at the proper time, I wish to make it quite clear that I believe that every one of the honorable members with whom I communicated spoke with the utmost sincerity. I am not in the slightest degree imputing that when they favoured my suggestion, that there should be some such alliance, they were pretending the thing that was not. On the contrary, I believe they were quite sincere in what they said to” me at the time, and I should not be surprised to find that they are of the same opinion still.
– Why did not the honorable and learned gentleman make overtures himself ? .
– Because, as I have explained, especially in relation to the Labour Party, I “knew the many difficulties by which they were surrounded - the organization and platform to which they were bound. I, therefore, left it to them to make proposals as to what should be done. What the honorable and learned member for West Sydney said in this House was perfectly true - not that I offered any terms, but that I went so far as to say] “ I dictate no terms. I ask you to make any proposals you please as a beginning of negotiations. You may propose equal representation in the Cabinet, or that your party should have the. whole of the representation in the Cabinet. Anything you please; what I wish for is a beginning which we may discuss, with a view, if possible, of arriving at a reasonable basis.” Thus I offered, as the honorable and learned member for West Sydney has truly said, most liberal terms, or, rather, I was ready to receive any proposed terms. There was no response, and nothing was done. When the House met, and during its preliminary debate, the situation was discussed, and I ventured to repeat some of my warnings as to the future of this Parliament. Whether they were heard or not, they proved unavailing. No proposals were received from either the Labour Party or the Opposition during the time the House was sitting, prior to our retirement from office. I must here add to the explanation given the other evening by my honorable friend the member for Melbourne Ports.
– The honorable and learned gentleman does not mean to infer that he had a Cabinet conclusion as to bis sounding of the labour members?
– No, certainly not. I have pointed that out.
– It was the honorable and learned gentleman’s intention to submit these matters to his Cabinet?
– Yes; I have said that what I asked for was proposals that I could submit to the Cabinet. I never had any which I could submit to the Cabinet. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports the other evening referred to an occasion on which, in the course of a conversation relating only to myself, I made some reference to sitting in the Ministerial corner. I am happily able to deal with the matter, more particularly as I notice that the right honorable member for Adelaide is not at present in the Chamber. Honorable members will recollect that, realizing the entire instability of the Ministerial position, I made it quite clear to the House that if a certain decision were arrived at in connexion with the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, the Government which I led would leave the Treasury benches. We were, therefore, naturally considering who could replace us. At that time what was in every one’s mind was that it would be the right honorable member for Adelaide, the author of the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, whose views were well known, who would probably move the amendment which would ‘dispossess the Government, of which I was the head, or that, if the right honorable gentleman did not move, he would be recommended to the Governor-General” as The person to be sent for to form an Administration. It was felt that in that event the right honorable gentleman would form a Liberal Administration, probably including labour members, which would give, in another form, the alliance which I had been discussing. On a certain occasion the honorable member for Melbourne Ports was sitting with me on the Treasury bench conversing about the ^possibilities, and in view of the possibility that the new Government would b’e a Kingston Government, and not a Labour Government, the honorable member asked me where I would sit. I pointed at once to this corner, saying, “There, and I will help them all I can. But on this State rights question I shall be absolutely opposed to them or to any other Government.” That was the occasion when the allusion was made to my sitting in the Ministerial corner. The Ministry of which I was the head was put out, as Honorable members will recollect, upon an absolutely non-fiscal question, relating only to the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, and the inclusion of State servants in that Bill. We were put out by the votes, amongst others, of some honorable members who thoroughly supported every other article of our programme, and also by the votes of the whole of the Labour Party, who knew the consequences of the action they were taking.
– We were pledged at the elections, equally with the honorable and learned gentleman.
– That is so. I am not mentioning this by way of reproach in the slightest degree, but because I intend in a part of my argument to draw a parallel. We were put out by the votes of some honorable members who were supporters of ours on every other subject, and we should have been defeated by the votes of a greater number of our supporters if a division had been taken on the inclusion of the railway servants instead of on the inclusion of the public servants of the States generally. We were put out also by the solid vote of the Labour Party, and by the votes of some of the revenue tariffists.
– Who would get no black looks from the right honorable member for East Sydney.
– Has it come down to that - that honorable members notice my looks? I suppose they will be counting my hairs yet.
– Every man who voted in that way was carrying out a pledge to his electors.
– As far as I know, yes. We were told that my honorable friends in the Labour Party had no desire to take office. I am sure they had more desire to take office than I had to retain it in the circumstances mentioned. When they came in, as they have reason to know, without the faintest trace of resentment on my part, I looked forward to an evolution in the direction in which I had all along been hoping they would find themselves called upon to move. I hoped that when the responsibility of forming an Administration had been placed in the hands of the honorable member for Bland, he would be able to get the authority of his party to form it so as to command at once a majority in the ‘ House, by taking with him half, or some fair number of the re?presentatives, of the Protectionist Party who would be able to support him. But my honorable friend, for reasons best known to himself and his party, thought fit to follow the other course, which he needed no premonition to know was one necessarily thickly strewed with perils. He preferred to form his Government practically .from his own party.
– All but one.
– My honorable friend was fortunate enough to secure the assistance of one distinguished, able, and learned member of the House, but, of course, the programme of the latter had always been, either identical, or almost identical, with that of the Labour Party, and except as to its organization he was always considered as one of themselves. He did not, on that account, alter the colour of the Government in any respect. It was on these grounds that an all-Labour Government was formed.
– What about the right honorable member for Adelaide?
– Circumstances over which nobody had any control, rendered it impossible for that- right honorable member to join the Ministry, though it is quite probable that he was asked to join.
– I consulted his medical advisers.
– No Administration which could obtain the services of the right honorable member would be likely to pass him over. The Ministry met the House, and honorable members will recollect the extraordinary picture which was presented. Ministers sat here with a third of the House behind them, and two-thirds of the House temporarily crowded on the opposite benches. It became my duty to pointedly call the attention of the Prime Minister to this fact, because, although his first opportunity of forming a majority Government by coalition had been passed by, I felt quite confident that the possibilities and the necessities of taking some such step must press themselves upon my honorable friends, as soon as they really felt upon their shoulders the full burden of carrying on the business of the House. When I spoke upon that occasion I used words which have often been quoted since, in which I undertook, on behalf of the members with whom I was associated, that Ministers should have fair play. I shall presently give my reasons for thinking that, so far as we were concerned, t’hey always obtained that fair play in every sense of the words, and especially when measured by their standards. That statement did not stand by itself. I called attention to the many problems by which they were surrounded, to their position as a minority, to the new developments which were bound to take place, and to the difficulties of having a programme which,, so to speak, was beyond their immediate reach, and which none of the rest of us could accept as a whole. I pointed to the hazardous circumstances surrounding them, and pressed them in so many words to take whatever steps they felt right and necessary to command a majority in this House if they hoped to carry on with satisfaction to themselves. I pressed that clearly upon them here. They were also warned for some time in the most friendly manner in the Melbourne press that their position could not be maintained, and that unless they introduced some new elements into their ranks in a solid and permanent way, they could not hope to carry on. The Prime Minister and I met on the oth May.
– That was some time after we had assumed office.
– Certainly. I have spoken of my honorable friend taking office, and am now coming to the time subsequent to that event. But in order to refresh the recollections of honorable members, I maymention that on the 28th April my right honorable friend, the member for East Sydney, had received the authority of his party to make overtures to us, with a view to an alliance; and that fact was notified in the press. It was on the 9th May that the Prime Minister, the member for Bland, lunched with the Lord Mayor in the Town Hall. I only remind him of this luncheon because there I spoke out even more freely. I told my honorable friend that the obstacles in his way were, first the organization behind him, with which others would have to deal if they entered into an alliance, and then the character of its programme. I reminded him that we had an impossible Parliament, and warned him that there could be no surety of his retaining the command of . the House unless he was prepared for that radical step of which I have spoken, and which, of course, I did not venture to dictate. There was more than one contingency open to him, but it was possible for him, as I pointed out. to take steps which would bring behind him a majority in the House. Again I appealed to him, for the sake of the Government, the continuity of administration, and the work of Parliament, to take those steps.
– If he had received from the Protectionist Party as much loyal sup port as it had received from the Labour Party he would have had the majority.
– The loyal support we got was a solid vote to put us out merely because we would not exclude coloured aliens by name, though we absolutely excluded them by other means.
– In favour of a White Australia.
– And that was a question quite as narrow as the one upon which the late Government went out. I never complained of the Labour Party voting against the Barton Ministry on that question; they had taken that ground from the first.
– Nor do some of us complain of the honorable and learned member.
– Exactly. These votes are necessary when one is pledged ; but that claim cannot be made on one side only. Up to that time I still cherished the hope of an alliance, and did so until the nth May. I’ had just seen a leading member of the Labour Party favorable to an alliance, and had reason to believe from what he said that he and others who thought with him were prepared to bring the Ministry to their way of thinking - a process which I thought would not involve much difficulty. In the Herald of the nth, the then Prime Minister announced, first, that he had no knowledge of these approaches which had been made towards a coalition, and went on to say that in his judgment the time was hardly ripe ; and, finally, that the time had not come at present. Up to that date I had received no overture or invitation from my right honorable friend the present Prime Minister.
– He said in the House that he was waiting for an offer.
– The caucus instructed me that I was to receive offers, but not to make them. Up to that time the whole of the communications which had passed, between myself and others as to a coalition were with different members of the Labour Party. . They put me under no misapprehension. They never pretended to speak officially for their. party or to bind any one but themselves and others whose names they mentioned to me. They did not mislead me in any way. I could not obtain any offer from them, nor would my friends opposite have obtained their present alliance with them but for the action I have taken. It has been forced on by the coalition here. After that time the present Prime Minister and myself met. I may, perhaps, be pardoned for reminding the
House that the first matter which we put into writing at that meeting, in a document which was afterwards published, stated the position with perfect frankness -
That the existence of three parties in the Federal Legislature of nearly ‘equal strength has thrown public affairs into confusion, makes parliamentary government on constitutional lines impossible, and calls for some immediate remedy. Under the extraordinary circumstances at- present obtaining, it might be said that all parties in Parliament could have been invited to unite, so far as their principles would allow, for the purpose of carrying on the Government. Unfortunately, the party now in office, quite apart from any questions relating to its programme - maintains a control of its minority by its majority and an antagonism to all who do not submit themselves to its organization and discisions, which seems to make it hopeless to approach its members upon any terms of equality, even under the present exceptional ‘ conditions.
It will be noticed that we merely said “ seems,” because we recognised that it was always possible that these matters might be reconsidered.
– Had these matters been mentioned to the Labour Party ?
– They had. Then we said in this agreement -
A coalition between the two parties sitting together in opposition to the present Government appears, therefore, to be the solution most in accordance with the views of the members themselves, and of a great majority of the electors of Australia.
So that we then put in writing in the very fore-front that if honorable members opposite were content, we were perfectly prepared to consider proposals which would give us a Government, representative of all parties, who would be able to carry out the work on which those parties were severally and collectively pledged to the country. “We should thus have obeyed the behests of the electors. But we were not able to do that. Honorable members now see in successive order the steps that brought us to this point - to that draft proposal for a coalition between the Prime Minister and his present Treasurer and Postmaster-General, and myself. That agreement was drawn up, and signed.
– The honorable and learned gentleman was dealing with the party opposite when the Labour Party’ were considering his proposals.
– If the honorable member looks at the Herald, of nth May, he will see that any anticipation of an agreement with his party was expressly abandoned, because the honorable member for Bland said that that was not the time for the Labour Party to make a coalition, and that it could not be done at present.
– That remark was dictated by the result of a conversation with the honorable and learned member.
– The position is not ambiguous; it is perfectly plain.
– The honorable and learned gentleman was dealing with two parties ; that is what it means upon his own admission.
– Never till after nth May, ‘and my return from New South Wales. On the 17 th May the Labour Party, according to the press, held a caucus, in which they considered whether they would approve of any coalition. I was officially informed of the result by the honorable member for Bland. It was that they had decided against any coalition.
– Having in view the fact that the honorable and learned member had arranged a coalition programme with the present Prime Minister-.
– We had arranged a draft coalition programme, but no such explanation ‘as that was made at the time, nor for a long time afterwards..
– We were influenced by the fact - and it is an absolute fact - that two parties were being considered by the honorable and learned member at one and the same time.
– That is not what was conveyed to me by one or two of those who were present at the Labour caucus, whose reading of its determination was that there was then, and always had been, a large majority against a coalition on any terms, though there might have been a larger minority in its favour, but for the negotiations which had proceeded between the present Prime Minister and myself. Probably this is the caucus which was alluded to by the honorable member for Perth in his letter, which has been published, when he referred to the decision of the caucus as being unanimous, or practically unanimous against any coalition. On the 19th May the House again met. Here again, when it fell to my lot to speak, I went through the whole gamut of the considerations which had to be taken into account in proposing or giving effect to an alliance with the Labour Party. Some honorable members appear to be under the delusion that when I spoke at Ballarat some time afterwards on the methods of the Labour Party, I broke new ground. May I ask them to refresh their memories by a glance at my utterance, of 19th May, where they will find that I referred to the organization of the Labour Party, to its local committees, to its caucuses, and its dangers ; and they will also find that then, summing up their cumulative effect, I contended that its machinery by ultimately becoming a machine was dangerous.
– The honorable and learned member did not refer to the machinery as dangerous before 19th May.
– Not in public definition.
– The honorable and learned member was willing to deal with the machine before 19th May.
– Quite willing to deal by discussing terms.
– Did not the honorable and learned member express these views to members of the Labour Party, and make them aware of what he thought?
– I will come to that.
– The machine was misrepresented all the same.
– The machine now is the same as if was then.
– If honorable members will allow me to continue my story - after a number of party meetings which we protectionists held, the draft proposals were laid aside. There was to be no coalition at present!. Finally, on 27th May, the Labour Party having reconsidered its position and having decided upon consenting to a coalition on certain terms, the ex- Prime Minister wrote a letter, which has been published, in which he made a general overture. He will remember, perhaps, that we had a conversation at the time, and he will also remember that I wrote him a letter acknowledging the receipt of his letter, and that mine has not been published.
– There was no necessity for its immediate publication. If I had wanted it published, I could have asked for it. I left it to him because I did not know whether . he would desire to answer it at a later, time. I wrote of the chief matters referred to in my speech. I pointed out the . admirably effective organization of the Labour Party in the constituencies, with the large measure of independence boasted by its local committees in each constituency, the number of persons chosen from them who joined with those who sat in Parliament to frame or to alter its programmes ; and objected that any party making an alliance with the Labour Party knew that the men with whom they made the alliance, were not necessarily in a ma jority in the conferences of the party, and were not necessarily able to bind their local organizations. ,,
– That applies to the honorable and learned member’s organization also. He could not bind his supporters.
– I do not think the parallel is quite just. It is true that I could not bind my supporters, but why ? Because they have too much freedom. Honorable members opposite could not bind their supporters because they are too much in shackles.
– That is a poor hit, and an unfair statement.
– I will not be led into exaggeration. Shackles are not at all pliable. There is pliability in the organization, and it can adapt itself. But I shall have something to say about that presently, and if honorable members will reserve their criticism until then, they will find that I am not consciously or willingly unfair.
– The Labour Party is the only partv which suffers from prejudice.
– I do not agree.I think that all political parties suffer from prejudice. What is obvious is that, although other parties have their organizations, none has an organization so difficult for its political chiefs to control as is that of the Labour Party. No other party is so autonomous in the constituencies. That is all that I am now arguing. This makes it very difficult for other parties to enter into arrangements with the Labour Party, whose members, as I have already said in this Chamber, I have always been prepared to trust. But they have had frankly to declare that they could not insure effect, being given to any arrangement in any such, fashion as would justify another party in breaking away from its safe moorings and joining with them upon an uncertain voyage. At the same time I urged that the programme covered a long period of time. I referred to that, amongst other’ things, at the Lord Mayor’s dinner, when drawing a distinction between its prophetic; and its practical parts. I thought it was necessary that the prophetic, far off, and ambiguous part of the programme should’ be put on one side, and.. that the practical, parliamentary part should be expressed as precisely as possible.
– It has always been precisely expressed.
– It takes a vote of the caucus to determine what the programme. means, and when any question as to its interpretation arises, instead of individual members being allowed to exercise their own judgment, they must vote as a majority in caucus decides. If one’s fellows are against him, he has to accept their reading.
– The Navigation Bill is hardly a case in point.
– The caucus expressly gave freedom to the members of the party in regard to that measure.
– The overture from the honorable member for Bland, although more favorable than that which has since been accepted by some of my friends in the Opposition corner, was at the time laid aside by the unanimous vote of the protectionist party meeting.
– How was it more favorable?
– I do not wish to discuss the alliance at length, and I shall not discuss it at all now. That is my view. The proposal of the honorable member for Bland was laid aside at the same time as the amended proposals of the right honorable member for East Sydney.
– -Have they been published ?
– Yes; everything was published, and a good deal more.
– A previous meeting of the Protectionist Party had decided that its members would not be Satisfied unless the right honorable gentleman would agree that the Minister of Trade and Customs should be a protectionist, while an undertaking was desired from him that the Protectionist Party should not be overwhelmed, as its representation would be numerically smaller than that of his own party, in the event of any great or new principle arising. The right honorable gentleman most courteously anc] generously conceded both points. They were notified at the time, and were all the additions which were made. But even with those additions, the party to which I belong laid both proposals aside - those of the present Prime Minister, after a very long discussion, and those of the leader of the Labour Party after next to no discussion. The decision arrived at was that nothing should be done at that time.
– Was there not another condition, namely, as to the leadership of the coalition?
– I put that on one side, because the question arose at the first meeting, and the party was instantly informed that under no circumstances would I consent) to accept that leadership.
– It was never abandoned by the party.
– It was very vital to every one of us.
– The statement of the honorable and learned member for Ballarat! put it out of court.
– Yes; it became meaningless.
– Did it not mean opposition to the present Prime Minister?
– It meant opposition to either. In the minds of the majority then, I believe that it meant opposition to the Prime Minister.
– We did not trust him.
– I do not know whether the honorable and learned member trusted him or not. We trusted him, but, as the majority did not quite agree with his platform, there was some hesitation about joining him. With that, the meetings of the party closed, as did the meetings of the Freetrade Party, while whatever caucuses were held by the- Labour Party did not, as far as I know, deal with those particular issues. The Watson Government went on with the -Arbitration Bill, relying upon the fact that, although they had not nearly a majority behind them, they could hope to obtain it in regard to most of the provisions of the Bill. Speaking from memory, their expectations were realized in fourteen or fifteen divisions out of seventeen. But as they proceeded, and the consideration of the critical parts of the Bill was entered upon, it became obvi’ous that they had from time to time to patch up arrangements by which to carry on the measure, and themselves with it. Under the most favorable conditions which could have existed, that is to say, with a Bill in regard to the practical workings of which my honorable friends opposite were better informed than the rest of us, some of them having studied the operation of ,a similar Act in New South Wales, while we had dealt with it only theoretically, arid, notwithstanding that in respect to. .it they had the sympathies of the greater part of the House, the ‘ strain imposed upon the Government was becoming too great to be borne. May I be permitted to say at this point that rasher members of the Labour Party occasionally make untenable claims with regard to industrial legislation. Industrial legislation was not initiated by them, anc! most of that now in force in Australia was not passed by them.
– Because they were not then in existence.
– That is so. I think that in this very Chamber sat the first labour member elected to any Australian Parliament - Charles Jardine Don, the stonemason of Collingwood. He was elected before the Payment of Members Act was passed, and sat here at night, earning his living at his trade by day. His reputation has always been unsullied ; he was a worthy precursor of those who have foi lowed him. Then in 1873, long before there was a Labour Party - Mr. Don having passed away - the first Victorian Fac tory Act was passed. It was a measure of six clauses, of which three were formal, while three were operative. I allude to this measure because the honorable mem ber for Echuca, who made a statement in regard to it, was contradicted by some honorable member sitting on the Opposition side of the Chamber, There were only three effective clauses in that Bill, but of course prior to 1873 practic:ally no industrial legislation had been passed. The first clause provided that every manufactory in which ten persons were employed should be considered a fac tory for the purposes of the Bill. The second provided that females should not be employed for more than eight hours daily, but no age limit was imposed as to males or females. The third clause gave the Boards of Health, constituted of members of municipal bodies, control over sanitary and other conditions. That was the whole of the Bill, and in 1873 it marked an important advance. There was no other Factory Act in Victoria until I had the honour of introducing a Bill in 1884. I had been a member of the Shops and Factories Commission of 1881-2, which found itself obliged to report that the old Act had broken down, that the provision for bringing factories iri which ten persons were employed within the scope of the measure had been rendered nugatory, because large employers had distributed their hands over a number of small buildings, and had thus evaded the law, and that the provision with regard to females had also largely failed to accomplish its purpose, because no age limit had been imposed. It was also reported by them that the control of the Boards of Health everywhere outside of the city of Melbourne had little effect, and over the greater part of the country, no effect at all. Therefore it became necessary to pass my Bill. This not only laid the foundation of the Acts passed in other States and in New Zealand, but still constitutes the most substantial part of the Victorian Shops and Factories Act of today. The Bill introduced by me contained sixty-three clauses instead of six, and instead of occupying one page of the statute-book, extended over twenty-nine pages of the .edition of 1890. I endeavoured to have the number of employes constituting a factory reduced to two, but the Legislative Assembly raised the number to four, and the Legislative Council increased it still further, to six. We fought the matter out in the upper Chamber, but rather than lose the Bill, surrendered. We provided that every place in which machinery was used was to be regarded as a factory, and also that every work-room in which Chinese were employed, should also come within the scope of the Bill. It was further provided that all associated buildings used by a common employer should be regarded as one factory. The Bill also provided for the registration and inspection of factories. Further, it was enacted that children should not be employed unless a medical certificate was furnished to the effect that they were physically fit to’ follow the occupation in which they were engaged. The factories were to be regulated, and work was only to be carried on for a certain number of hours per week. Records of the work were to be kept, also a register of all those employed in the factories. In addition to that, the first blow was struck at sweating by a provision which required that a record should be kept of all work done outside the factories. The buildings were to be supervised as to their construction, and sanitary requirements were to be fully met. Children under the age of thirteen were not to be employed, and the employment of boys and girls under the age of fifteen was permitted only in cases where certificates’ were furnished as to their fitness for employment, and to the effect that they had passed the educational standard. Furthermore, boys under the age of fourteen, and girls under the age of sixteen, were not . to be employed between the hours of 6- p.m. and 6 a.m. Provision was also made for the protection of machinery, for safe.guards against accidents, and for the penal’ compensation of workmen who might be injured whilst at work in the factories. Finally, for the first time in any country, it was provided that, subject to certain condi- tions, the shops in a given district should be closed at a definite hour in the evening.
– That was all good socialistic legislation.
– Yes, in the sense that all social action is socialistic. I have carefully avoided the use of the word “ Socialism,” because of the hundreds of meanings attached to it.
– Then the honorable member will not be able to agree with his new leader.
– Yes ; because every man adopts his own meaning. My honorable friends opposite object to what they call “ anti- Social ism,” and my honorable friends on this side are opposed to what they call “Socialism.”
– The honorable member for Richmond calls State Socialism “ Commercialism.”
– There is direct support for the name chosen by the honorable member for Richmond, who, as a matter of fact, is supported by the dictum of one of the greatest socialists at the Berlin conference. Liebknecht said that State Socialism is “ a State capitalism which would join political slavery to economical exploitation,” while the great Italian Socialist, Professor Enrico Ferri, in his “ Socialism and Modern Science,” added- that State Socialism would “ strangle to death vigorous contemporary Socialism.”
– There are Socialists and Socialists.
– Exactly. If one looks to the past masters of Socialism one finds a conflict in their definitions that may well warn ott one like myself from using such an indefinite and vague term.
– Walt until the honorable member for Gwydir gives us his definition.
– That promises to be “ Webster unabridged.” I do not think that there was a labour member in the Victorian Assembly when we passed the Shops and Factories Act in 1884. Yet we were able to pass that and much other liberal legislation. We opened up the lands to the people, gave selectors holdings free of cost, generously, and perhaps foolishly, without survey ; established public schools ; introduced manhood suffrage, direct taxation, and the encouragement of industry. All this was done before those who afterwards became the Labour Party separated from the good, sound Liberals, and set up for themselves as a separate body.
– Was not the legislation referred to passed under pressure from the labour bodies outside?
– No, at the time to which I refer no labour, bodies existed politically. The Trades Hall acted, it is true, but I then represented a country constituency, which the, Trades Hall influence could not affect, and the number of. members returned from constituencies immediately affected by it could be counted upon the fingers of two hands, if not upon those of one hand.
– Was not Ballarat affected by the Trades Hall influence from the verv earliest stage?
– Yes; but I then represented Bourke West, which extended from’ North Melbourne into the country districts. Now, to return to the Arbitration Bill. I have listened with patience to my critics on the other side of the Chamber, who have thought fit to comment unfavorably upon my action in regard to that measure. I desire to remind them that my connexion with legislation for conciliation and arbitration did not begin in this House. In 1891 I was one of a minority of twelve, at the Federal Convention, who voted in favour of conferring/on the Commonwealth Parliament the power to deal with conciliation and arbitration. That proposal was made by the right honorable member for Adelaide. In 1897 and 1898 I again voted for the same proposal being embodied in the Constitution. In 1901, I was a member of the first Commonwealth Ministry, which made conciliation and arbitration legislation a prominent feature of its first programme. In 1903, it fell to- my lot to take charge of the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, when the right honorable member for Adelaide, unhappily for us, withdrew from the Cabinet. I turn now to the Bill, as it was transferred to my’ honorable friends opposite. By a disorderly interjection during the progress of the debate, I promised to quote to the late Prime Minister five instances in which he had departed from the gospel according to Kingston, as it was delivered into his hands. I shall not reckon the first provision excluding the States Public Servants, though it was included in the Bill, nor do I dwell very much upon the attempt to include domestic servants within the scope of the measure. I desire, however, to specially refer to the proposal under which employers would have been liable to unlimited penalties for breaches of an award - a marked departure from all previous legislation. Then the honorable member succeeded in crippling the Court, by striking out the provision for the appointment of lay members, who would have given permanent services, in addition to those rendered by the experts appointed from time to time.
– That conclusion is not justified by experience.
– The honorable and learned member should have regard to the experience of the Victorian Appeal Court.
– Then it was sought to make the Bill applicable to disputes which were likely to extend beyond the limits of any State. In my judgment, that was one of the most embarrassing and dangerous proposals which could be included in the measure - even . if it were constitutional. Then an alteration was attempted in the definition of “ industrial disputes,” which would have prevented those so declared in the public interest from being considered bv the Court, if they could not be technically brought before it.
– Where was that?
– In clause 4.
– Our proposal would not have prevented that. Any person could still have been declared an organization by the Governor-General, and that would have had the effect of bringing him within the purview of the Bill.
– But meanwhile the strike, would be going on. The honorable member would have had to wait until the GovernorinCouncil had been moved, and the organization proclaimed, and then he would have overcome the difficulty by indirect means.
– That is a very lame excuse.
– I knew that I should not be able to satisfy my honorable friend, but I hold very strongly that the proposal in question constituted a serious innovation.
– I think I. can convince even the ‘ honorable member that it was a most justifiable one.
– I am open to conviction. Then, as regards minor matters, the honorable member was loth to make it quite clear that the awards of the Court could not be overridden by its own Judge, as had been inadvertently provided in the Bill. Eventually, however, he allowed an amendment to be made.
– Then the honorable and learned member should withdraw that complaint.
– My argument from the first has been that the Bill, as framed by the right honorable member for Adelaide, strained the possibilities of the Constitution to the utmost, and that, therefore, these additions - most of them serious - decidedly over-strained it.
– Were all the additions unconstitutional ?
– I do not say that all of them were. I think that the proposal in reference to disputes, which were likely to extend beyond the limits of any State, was unconstitutional.
– Has not the honorable and learned member recently stated that he was prepared to trust the High Court to decide the matter ?
– I stated that, not only recently, but often. The question is suggestive of the confidence trick. We may trust, but how much do we trust? The first point on which I disagreed with the Ministry; and agreed to amend the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, was that associated with the attempt to permit the introduction of the political element. The honorable member for Barrier, addressing a meeting at Bendigo a few days ago, pointed out that the difference between the new unionism and th old unionism is that the old was simply devoted to trade purposes, while the new is actively political, and he, like many other honorable members opposite, is a strong advocate of ‘ the introduction of political influences. Our opinions on this subject are immaterial. Trade unions are created under States Acts, and if they are free to become political bodies, that is not a question with which we are concerned. But I venture, with all modesty, to hold the opinion that it is decidedly undesirable, from the trade unions’ own point of view, if they prize their industrial objects, that they should impart to. them a party political colouring. The trade unions, it appears to me, will do their work far more efficiently as trade unions only, than if they attempt to mix their efforts for betterment as workmen with their activities as political partizans However, the question we have to consider is one within our province, and very much more serious. Trade unions, after all, are created only for general trade purposes. Organizations under the Bill are created for trade purposes, but, in order to enable them to complete the scheme of the measure, are also intrusted with very exceptional powers. Unions are given authority over their members, and are placed in a position which enables them to exert very great influence to their own advantage, and to the detriment of those who are not members. These organizations, in point of fact, are agencies of the Court, and, as such, are charged with many semi-judicial functions - among others with the execution of judicial decrees. It seems to me, in the highest degree, unwise, in this as in other instances, to confuse those industrial and semi-judicial functions with party politics. Such confusion threatens to destroy, or limit very seriously, the utility of the organizations as industrial co-operative bodies, assisting the functions of a purely industrial Court. Members of organizations have all the opportunities for taking part in politics that the rest of the electors have, and suffer nothing by this condition. However, I do not propose to dwell on that matter at this stage, because it obviously is not deemed of great importance, even by those who are the highest authorities on unionism. The honorable member for Darling pointed out that it would be a “ mere inconvenience “ if this provision were introduced, while the honorable member for Bland admitted that nine-tenths of the unions in New South Wales at the present time do not have political objects.
– Not specifically, though some unions take part in politics.
– Exactly; but it is! intended that whatever power is given to our organizations shall be used, and that all power not expressly given shall not be used. It is important, if those bodies are to work effectively, that they shall not be led out of the broad road that leads to industrial peace into the by-paths of political controversy. Outside the organizations their members may be as active in politics as they please. It is only when they are exercising their special industrial functions that they are confined to those functions. . It must not be forgotten that this restriction on tlie organizations does not apply to anything except the granting of preference. An organization maybe, metaphorically speaking, political from the crown of its head to the sole of its foot, and it may for all that obtain awards as against employers, and those awards can be enforced, and it may even obtain a common rule, which will have a vast operation.
– That was not the idea of some honorable members.
– No. I think it is undesirable. But I am pointing out that, while the Bill allows those political bodies to obtain awards and common rules, the only limitation in the Bill is that they shall not be able to obtain preference.
– That may be altered.
– On that point the right honorable member will have to consult those who represent us in another place. However, the Government have accepted the provision, and. it now forms part of the Bill, and I do not propose to dwell further on it. But a question of great and peculiar interest arises with regard to the other conditions attached to preferences. The granting of preference in itself is, undoubtedly, the most serious and most far-reaching power in the Bill. It is very difficult, indeed, to say to what extent it is not capable of being extended. The Bill certainly does confer a power which cannot, I think, be whittled away as attempted by the honorable and learned member for Indi to-night. Preference means the power of allotting employment first to members of an organization, who can only obtain that priority of employment by its being taken away from others’ outside the organization to precisely the same extent.
– Not necessarily.
– Unhappily that is the choice in nine cases out of ten. There is, in nearly every department of labour, even in this country, more than a sufficient supply ; consequently every grant of preference is accompanied by a corresponding diminution of opportunity for employment to those outside an organization. Abraham Lincoln once said that no man is good enough to govern another man without that man’s consent, and subject to the abstract character of the maxim, it surely applies with double force to preference - no man is good enough to take away another man’s employment without that man’s consent. It is on such grounds that we so strongly contend that, if preference is to be granted, it should be coupled with the condition that its grant shall be approved by the majority of those affected. I say, “ if preference is to be granted” because, personally, I still hold the opinion, that it should. The honorable and learned member for Indi to-day stated the grounds on which preference is asked. It is a weapon of offence, as I have just pointed out; but it is not granted for that purpose. Its justification is that it is a weapon of defence, and is employed, as the honorable and learned member very properly showed, to prevent those who take advantage of the privilege conferred by this law of obtaining an industrial judgment, from being penalized by employers because they have acted as representatives of their fellow workmen.
– What about the others?
– I recognise that this protection is so important that, in order to complete the structure of the Bill, the inclusion of the provision is justified. But none the less do I recognise that the provision is capable of being used as a weapon of offence, though, in that regard, my fears have been largely removed by the amendment introduced, at our request, which provides that the Court may review or qualify any preference which has been granted, if it be abused in the manner I have indicated. Admitting the very exceptional nature of this power, Ave have to ask ourselves whether the restriction of its use to cases where the majority of those concerned so desire, is reasonable, or unreasonable. Mav I first point out that here, again, as in the “preceding case, the power of award is untouched. We leave it in the power of the Court to make an award, granting preferences asked for only by a minority - it may be a mere handful of those concerned. We leave it in the power of the Court to make a common rule within certain limits at the request of a minority - not a minority in the area named, but a minority of those engaged in the industry. We leave the power of obtaining preferences by agreement now often used in New South Wales. What we have done here, as in other cases, is only to put a limitation on the power of the Court when a genera] preference is being granted. What does the restriction mean? An award is made when definite parties are before the Court - an organization of employes on the one side, an organization of employers, or a single employer, on the other- and in all industrial matters, the judgment of the Court is to be binding. That marks an immense advance for which there is as yet comparatively little precedent. But beyond that we provide for a common rule. As I pointed out, the granting of a common rule over the Commonwealth, or any large part, of it, is very different from the granting of a common rule within a State. Do we realize how far this is taking us beyond anything vet experienced ? I must say that I listened this afternoon with something like amazement to the honorable and learned member for Indi, as I have listened to other honorable members, speaking lightly of the granting of preference by a common rule throughout Australia, and making the vastness of its area and the number of its people an objection to majority rule. Are the greater number of the people of this country to be ignored, or the circumstances of, say, Western Australia or of Queensland to be forgotten, while there issues from some central spot, at the request of a minority, an order that all employment throughout Australia in a particular industry shall be vested first in the members of an organization ? No one could have stated more strongly my own case, or proved the dangers and risks attendant on the giving of preference when the grant is to apply, not to one State only, but to the whole of this Commonwealth,- with its immense territory, and scattered population. It may be said that the Court will not lightly or readily grant preference. I admit that. We have to trust the Court. But have we taken into account .the practical difficulties of climate, of employment, and of situation, in the conditions of living, and in the conveniences of life? When honorable members talk lightly of our placing difficulties in the way of granting preference, it is well to ask whether they have considered how many other difficulties the Court will have to surmount before it will be able to grant a preference, and how serious will it be when, if it can overcome them, it sends forth its ukase to more than 3,000,000 people, and over 3,000 square miles, to say that members of an organization in a certain industry, and no others until they are satisfied, are to obtain employment. It is the consideration of those’ very circumstances and conditions that show us how unreal such a contention is in the Federal sphere when pushed to its extreme. A dispute cannot come within the jurisdiction of our Court until it extends beyond one State. In special cases, of course, there may be a comparatively small dispute on each side of the border-fine of two States, but those, we are assured will be rare. That assurance is probably correct. The honorable member for Darling with his great experience, tells us that, in his opinion, this Arbitration Bill will be used only by the great Inter-State organizations and in relation to their disputes. If it be used only in great Inter-State disputes, how serious; a thing it will be for the Court to exercise this immense power to grant a preference over it may be two or three States, or the whole Commonwealth.
In my opinion, the physical and outlying conditions generally will be such as to necessarily condition the granting of preference, and that, therefore, very considerably diminishes the importance which is at present being attached to this question. The practical course will be the granting of preferences only within certain defined areas. I think we may safely assume that this will be the practice of the Court. It will not attempt, when dealing with a dispute on the borders of New South Wales and South Australia, to extend a common rule for preference to Western Australia on the. one side, or to Queensland on the other, unless in very special circumstances.
– That is already provided against in the Bill.
– I am perfectly well aware that it is; and the fact buttresses my argument in this way : That when the Court has to deal with only a definite area - a part of two States, or parts of three States or more, as the case may be - the difficulties which my honorable friends opposite have been conjuring up as to satisfying the Court that an application for preference has the approval of a majority of those to be affected are largely removed. If the Court chooses to grant a preference to cover the whole of the desert interior of Australia, and to search through that desert to find the odd man or two in some pastoral pursuit to be affected by its award it may ; but it is practically preposterous to imagine such a case. What the Court will have to deal with will be disputes between great organizations in contiguous districts, and affecting a large number of persons, and in these circumstances the difficulties of showing a majority which have been conjured up in regard to preferences applying to the whole of Australia practically disappear.
– That is a complete reply to the honorable and learned member for Indi.
– There may be preferences in the case of the seamen, who follow a special occupation, and of the shearers, with a possible differentiation of the rule to two or three different classes of cases in different parts of the country. We can think of two or three cases like these, in which a preference may possibly be applied to the whole of Australia, and in those I see no great difficulty in fulfilling the requirements of clause 48. Outside those cases, if we commence to construct imaginary ones, we find that the limitations im posed by the very circumstances of the situation get rid of the difficulties as to satisfying the Court, which were thought to exist. Among the professional members of the House, the honorable and learned members for Indi and Darling Downs are two to whom I have always listened with the greatest respect. Now, having expressed my appreciation of their standing, allow me to say, that, with all diffidence, I utterly and absolutely disagree with their legal reading of clause 48 and its supposed implications. I take the responsibility of my opinion by expressing it in public, and assert that a Court constituted for industrial purposes with the mandate set out in the Bill - a Court which is to be a judicial body of a new type, dealing with industrial questions with a free hand, and in a new way - would be false to its duties, and to the whole spirit of the measure, if it endeavoured to insist upon the mathematical precision of calculation as to majorities which the honorable and learned member for Indi mentioned, or to make the elaborate searches which he would impose upon it. What is the only case in which, so far as we know, a Supreme Court Judge has complained of having a difficulty cast upon him in administering a measure of this kind ? It is that in which a Judge of the Supreme Court of Western Australia, when sitting in the State Conciliation and Arbitration Court, protested that his position there required him to put all his legal knowledge behind him, to set aside all restrictions as to evidence, to pay no regard to conditions that he must ordinarily demand, so as to decide the question before him, not according to legal forms, but in good conscience and common sense. That being so, what becomes of all the fine, technical, legal cobwebs which the honorable and iearned member for Indi has spun? I hold that no Judge whom we might select would be worthy of his position if he allowed himself to suppose that Parliament, when it provided that this Court should see that a majority of those affected approved of an application for preference, required him to turn to statistics, to take a referendum, or a count of heads. The Judge will have to be satisfied, in his own mind, that the application before him is approved by a, majority of those affected. I go further, and say that, in my opinion, he will not even need to ask himself the question whether it has been expressly approved, but whether, on the evidence before him, it is of such a nature as to commend itself to them.
– “ On the evidence before him.” The trouble is to get the evidence.
– The honorable member should keep off the rails, or he will be run over.
– I recognise the responsibility of expressing opinions contrary to those of my honorable and learned friends, but say emphatically, taking into account, first of all, the conditions under which the Judge will be called upon to decide this question, that, except in two or three cases, he will never be asked to determine a case applying all over Australia. He will look at the districts to. which he will be limited, look at the physical conditions within those limits, and remember also that the dispute before him is a matter of business, to be handled by business methods in a businesslike way. It cannot be imagined that we shall have Inter-State disputes between three men in different parts of one State, two men in different parts of another State, and six men in a third, and that the Court will have to go round to all of them and inquire their views. We are not to suppose that the Federal Court will be concerned with petty squabbles of that sort. What we are to suppose is fhat considerable bodies of men in different States will be affected, and it will be perfectlv competent for a few of the leaders of their organizations to be brought from different parts before the Court to give their testimony as to the opinion of the workmen in their districts; and if it appears to the Court that a good case has been made out, it will be perfectly justified in disregarding any attempt to count heads. So, for all these reasons, I say that with respect to a provision for preference, believing that the condition of majority rule is a most proper condition, in addition to all the others, I foresee no more difficulty in securing compliance with this condition than with the other conditions which must be complied with under the clause. It provides that sufficient notice shall be given, and also that there shall be the possibility of repeal or qualification, if the award of preference be misused. The inquiry before the Court under these two subclauses will not, in a number of instances, be much easier than the inquiry which it will be called upon to make as to a majority. If this power be as drastic as I have said - and there is no doubt thatit is. inasmuch as it may take employment arrl bread from one man and give it to another - while we are called upon to protect the rights of the majority, we must recognise that the minority have some claim to be heard. When we have shown the Court that a majority in any industry within any given area are in favour of a certain preference, I undertake to say that a Judge worthy of the position in which he will find himself as President of the Federal Conciliation and Arbitration Court, will Took very carefully to the effect of the proposal on the minority. If it be just and right, and if there be a duty cast upon the strong to protect the weak, and upon us to protect a minority against a majority, how much more are we called upon here to protect the majority against the minority? What has been proposed is not simply to override the minority - that would be bad enough - but to override the majority. I believe that the members of the late Government recognised the weakness of their position when they came forward with their amendment. They felt that first of all they were offering us next to nothing, because as one of my favorite authorities on Socialism, the honorable member for Darling - I honestly believe that he is one of the greatest studentsof the subject in this House - said most explicitly -
The Court’s authority would be exercised for the most part, if not wholly, in regard to disputes in which large Inter-State organizations are involved.
And the honorable member went on to say that -
The unions which will come within the scope of this Bill are so strong that there are practically no men engaged in the same industries outside of their ranks.
If we are content to accept the high authority of the honorable member for Darling, what is all this fuss about ? First the disputes will be confined almost entirely to large Inter-State organizations, and next the organizations concerned will have not merely majorities of those affected, but absolutely every one affected, within their ranks.
– It is the honorable and learned gentleman who is making all the fuss.
– No. Then we find that the late Prime Minister - and perhaps I should have quoted the honorable gentleman first, as fhat was his due - said -
In the great majority of cases a majority of the men employed in a given trade or calling are within the ranks of unions relating to it.
So the great majority of cases are not being fought for by the honorable gentleman and those with him, because they will be provided for in any case. He fights, in his own showing, for a small minority of the disputes expected.
– I do not say that can be mathematically proved. I believe it is so.
– The honorable gentleman went on to say -
The practice in nearly every case in all the Arbitration Courts-
The honorable gentleman referred to those of New South Wales and New Zealand - has been to grant preference only when the majority reasonably ascertained are in favour of such a preference.
– That is not so.
– It is so.
– The honorable member for New England can settle his difference with the honorable member for Bland, but I am content to accept the statement of the latter honorable member. He says -
I am not so foolish as to anticipate that the practice laid down by the Arbitration Courts of New Zealand and New South Wales will be departed from by the Judges appointed to the Federal tribunal.
– In the saddlers’ case a preference was given to one-fourth of the employés in the trade.
– The honorable member is not correct, as usual.
– Here we have the fact admitted by the leader of the Labour Party that, without the introduction of this proviso at all, in the great majority of cases the unions would not be affected by the requirement of a majority, because they have a majority of the employes in the trades concerned. In a large majority of the late Prime Minister states, the Courts, without the much-debated proviso, would require a majority to be proved.
– No, they do not require thai it should be proved. Thev require some reasonable assurance.
– What is the difference between reasonable assurance and the proof required ?
– There is a big distinction between them.
– There would be som1.difference if we were talking of reasonable assurance outside and proof in an ordinary Court of law ; but we are here talking about the reasonable assurance of a Court directed to accept reasonable assurance as sufficient in all cases.
– But under particular directions as to the proof which the Court is to be asked to get.
– Again, the honorable member for Bland said, and the statement has often been repeated, because it is a very pregnant saying -
The Government do not desire that preference should be granted to minorities.
The honorable gentleman also said -
The Court, if it followed the precedents which have been created in New South Wales and New Zealand, would be bound to interpret the words as implying a majority. In New Zealand it has been insisted that a majority, so far as that can be reasonably shown, shall be shown to be in favour of the granting of a preference.
– Hear, hear.
– I am sorry that the honorable member for Darling is not present, because he was first of all so satisfied with the administration and power of the union, and with the fact that the Court would impose these requirements whether expressed or not, that he went on to make this significant statement on the question. At page 4064 of Hansard it will be found that the honorable member is reported to have said -
There is no principle involved in the present case.
What then was this knife-blade distinction between the amendment favoured by the late Government and that which we had already placed in the Bill? The children, the apprentices, the Chinamen, of whom we have heard, come under the amendment of the honorable member for Bland, just as much as under that now in the Bill. The honorable and learned member for Indi put it with his accustomed cleverness, when he said -
It cannot be too distinctly emphasized at this stage - having regard more particularly to the possibilities of the situation in the near future - that both proposals -
That is the proposals of the honorable member for Bland and the honorable and learned member for Corinella - assume preference to be given to unionists under certain conditions. .There should be no misunderstanding in regard to that point. It is a question, not of refusing preference, or of voting that there shall be no preference, but of admitting preference, and of saying what are the fair terms under which it shall be allowed.
– Hear, hear.
– I undertake to say that a very large percentage of unionists outside this- House do not understand that yet.
– And their representatives inside the House are not trying very hard to make them understand it.
– I think that every one understands it.
– The honorable member for Bland also put it with equal clearness, when he said -
Under the proposal of the honorable and learned member for Corinella, the Court could not dispense with rigid proof of the existence of a majority in favour of the granting of a preference while, under our proposal, if they were reasonably assured of the fact, it would not have to be mathematically demonstrated to them. ‘That is the only difference between the two proposals, but it is of very great importance, so far as the practical working of the measure is concerned.
– Hear, hear.
– There we have it. Preference is, for Australia, almost impossible, we are told, if the Court requires a majority to be shown to be in favour of it, yet the only difference between us is as to whether it shall be what is called reasonably ascertained or reasonably assured, or whether, as we decided to put it, the Court shall be of opinion that a majority of those affected are in favour of it. That is the whole difference. On the assumption of the honorable member for Bland - which, of course, I accept as being quite honestly stated, but from which I entirely differ - that what is called rigid proof and mathematical demonstration would be called for, he has unwittingly sacrificed his Government without need. So far from anything like rigid proof and mathematical demonstration being required, what will be asked will be reasonable assurance reasonably ascertained.
– There is no danger of this crowd going out like that. They crawled in, and will stay in by clinging.
– We are not lunatics entirely.
– I have said that the amendment as it is worded is open to improvement. I have also said that the amendment as worded is, in my opinion, much less open to improvement than the odier amendment which the honorable member for Bland himself desired to introduce.
– I anticipate that it will be improved.
– PossiBly; but, however’ it may be improved, there is one thing on which I hope we shall continue to stand firm, and this is that the principle of majority rule shall not be implied, but stated on the face of the Bill, so that there may be no doubt.
– It will be improved.
– Shady democrats !
– The right honorable member is a good judge of what is “ shady.”
– I must ask honorable members on both sides of the House to avoid interrupting the honorable and learned member who is in possession of the Chair. The right of free speech demands that he or any other speaker shall be heard without interruption.
– I do not think, sir, that honorable members were interrupting mc, but each other. Going over this clause as I have thought it my duty to do; reading - and many of mv sins should be forgiven for doing this - the debates over again with close attention, I have been, and I believe the political student will be, at a loss to discover why it was that the heat overcame the light to such an extent that we actually had a Ministerial crisis upon a question of such narrowness that a microscope is needed to discover the difference between the amendments about which we fought, and on which the Labour Ministry fell.
– We ought not to have gone out.
– The honorable member for Melbourne Ports was In error if he was referring to me, as from Hansard, at page 5121, it appears he was, when he said I had received a private intimation that this clause was going . to be made vital before the public were informed. If it does refer to me, it is incorrect. I knew nothing of the decision until I read the statement in the newspaper.
– I do not think it did refer to the honorable and learned member.
– If the honorable member for Bland, after he had made his unfortunate and uncalled for declaration that he would make his amendment of this clause vital, felt as he must have done that there was no excuse for taking such a stand, I could comprehend the heat and the exasperation afterwards, but I think he ought to be as generous as he often is in the House, and admit that the heat and exasperation were not due to us, but provoked by his own blunder in having made that unpardonable mistake.
– I do not think that I showed much exasperation over if.
– But the honorable member afterwards fought for his alternative amendment as if it meant something different.
– So it did.
– I venture to say, with all resp”ect to my honorable, friend, “that 56 meant nothing. Supposing that before any conflict on this question had arisen, the honorable member had come down with the amendment which he afterwards proposed, and had put that in the Bill, and that the honorable and learned member for Corinella had challenged it with his amendment; as far as 1 can throw my mind back, and put myself in an impartial position, I should say that the latter was distinctly better, because it stated exactly what it meant - majority rule. But if Mr. Watson’s Government had put it in the Bill as he has explained it, and objected to its alteration, making that a vital question, certainly I could not have quarrelled with them about it. The reason why we could not go back was, first, because we believed in this principle, and, secondly, because we were asked to reverse a vote which would have meant a denial of that principle. That is a thing which we should not be asked to do except in the last resort, and upon a matter of the utmost magnitude.
– I should have preferred the Bill in this instance.
– Possibly, but the honorable member, by his own statement, has very fairly admitted that the Bill, without any proviso, would have been interpreted by the Court practically in the same way as it will be now that the proviso is in. Was the whole Act to be imperilled and was industrial peace to be indefinitely postponed for a trifling inconsiderable imaginary distinction ? The whole proceeding was incomprehensible. Now, in relation to this Bill, there was another matter which was, and continues to be, a mystery, and that was the manner in which the Government dealt with the proposal with regard to seamen and the Navigation Bill. The right honorable member for Adelaide thought so much of the inclusionof the seamen, not only in the Bill, but without the delay of the recess which has passed, that at the end of last year it was the turning point which impelled him to leave Ministerial office and go practically into opposition. He was then supported by all the labour members who claim to speak for those affected by the Bill. They agreed with him that it was a question of the utmost moment which could not be postponed, and the Government of which I was a member was within an ace of being defeated because of the delay. Although we were within an ace of being defeated by them, because we made no provision last year for the seamen, yet a Government which included in its ranks members who believed that they specially represent these classes has now calmly laid aside the Bill for twelve months more by appointing a Royal Commission. It recently brought down a set of clauses which we were unable to accept. Although the Government had the votes of men, like myself, who believed that as drawn the clauses were utterly ineffective, but who thought so much of the possibility of the situation that they voted for them the Government then allowed the clauses to be struck out, without uttering a word of protest, because some of their own friends and associates could not find it in their hearts to vote for them. I do not say that this was not a legitimate concession to make to good supporters.
– To only one, not to some.
– I am speaking from memory, and referring to members of the alliance as well as members of the Labour Party. It was extraordinary ‘that just at the very ‘time when this infinitesimal difference about preference was being made a vital question, other proposals which had nearly wrecked the preceding Government were set aside calmly for a year. The seamen were left in” the lurch outside the Arbitration Bill, and the clauses were withdrawn without a word of protest. I am not saying that the Government were not quite right. I am not acquainted with the reasons for their action. All I say is that at the time when they were open-minded enough to deal with such important clauses in that way, it is extraordinary that they should put up their backs on this particular matter. I am not going to speculate as to what is going to become of either of those Bills under the terms of the alliance. I have studied1 the question as to adherence to votes, and the situation as it is likely to present itself, and, speaking candidly. I do not know where it would lead us. I am unable to say what the “Conciliation and Arbitration Bill would be like under the terms of that alliance. I am equally unable to say what the Navigation Bill would be like. I am making no complaint, except that as they are put in the forefront of the agreement, it is highly essential that we should knowwhat thev mean. But, working out the votes which have been given, and the effect of the retention of those votes, even with the possibility which has’ been indicated to us today, that honorable members mav reverse or modify them, it gives us no present indication of what either Bill would be like.
– The honorable and learned member gave very little indication in his second -reading speech as to the shape he desired the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill finally to take. It was no criterion as to his attitude later on.
– Speaking from memory, there were sixteen divisions’ on the Bill. I voted for the Bill on fourteen occasions. I voted against the Bill as far as I can remember on only two occasions, which I have explained at length. One was with reference to the political element in unions, and, by the way, I am indebted to the honorable member for Moira for reminding me that I did give a clear indication on the second reading during the speech of the honorable member for Wentworth. When he intimated that possibly under the Bill an organization might be used for political purposes, I assured him that there was no such intention in my mind, and that it would be made perfectly clear. That leaves me with only one vote qualifying the Bill, as it stood, which was not indicated in my secondreading speech. As I told the House when the subject was under discussion, until we came to close quarters on that question, I had not realized its magnitude. But if any one will read the Arbitration Bill through, and weigh it in the light of the discussions and the divisions we have had - I have studied it, in the light of the speeches of the honorable member for Darling and others - and if they will consider the greatness of the subject, the novelty of the Federal ‘ situation, and the perplexities with which we had to deal, they may well be amazed to find that on only one occasion did I vote to amend the Bill, and that when I did so, the question involved was not vital. I gave my vote when the question was not vital, and when I had no expectation that it would be vital ; and that vote was not cast against anything in the Bill, but simply to put in a proviso clearly stating what honorable members opposite admitted would, in the vast majority of cases, be read into the measure by the Court itself. I venture! to say that there are few Ministers who have kept so closely to Bills of which they have been in charge. But the members of the late Government., as I have shown, laid sacrilegious hands on the work of my late colleague and their great exemplar in a variety of serious matters. Fortunately we were able to prevent those attempts to impair it, and usually prevented them without a division. But honorable members opposite when they take credit for the moderation which they assumed in regard to that and other matters, have to re collect that in a House consisting of three parties, whichever party is in power has to study moderation. When labour members opposite and their colleagues sat upon these benches they were doomed to moderation beforehand, because they’ had only a minority of their own party behind them. In fact, it was not moderation, it was minority-ration, that ruled. This checked honorable members opposite, and checked them not only in connexion with the Arbitration Bill. I am free to admit that, so far as the leader of the late Government and his colleagues were concerned, without exception they exhibited a fair spirit and showed a good grasp of the situation. But, as we have reason to know, £Hat moderation, if they had behind them a majority of their own party, would not have been allowed to have the free play which it obtained under the then existing circumstances. Leaving that part of the subject, I have no new contention with my honorable friends’ opposite, but feel it to be necessary to put myself right in regard to objections which I have always maintained on some points in the constitution and methods of the Labour Party, which promise ill for their future, and, as they become more powerful, will promise ill for the future of the country. The honorable and learned member for West Sydney - whom I am pleased to see in his place - was not in the Chamber when I was alluding to his utterances at Ballarat; and1 I wish to say now that in those utterances - if permitted to say so, with all respect - in my opinion^ he caricatured rather than criticised the speech which I delivered in that city shortly before. It may have been under the pressure of those caricatures that I permitted to myself a rather flippant remark, which I learn has been somewhat misunderstood. I made a “ tart “ reply to the honorable . and learned member, but wish to say that if it is supposed that any personal reflection was intended in that remark the supposition is utterly incorrect. It was merely a political retort. I recognise the honorable and le’arned member’s achievements, and honour him for them. He started where I did, as a teacher. He earned his living as I did by that means. He has now joined the’ profession to which I am proud to belong; and any man who could achieve his present position under the difficulties which he had to surmount is entitled to the respect of every honorable member in this House. But I venture to say that he did not deal fairly with my complaint against the Labour Party; and, as a consequence, it has not been fairly presented by many other critics in this House, including the honorable member for Kennedy last night. I criticised the machinery of the Labour Party, but commenced by saying that admittedly every party had machinery, and that other parties had abused their machinery. What I was criticising was not the use of party machinery, but its abuse when the machine became the master, instead of being controlled by men who were using it for proper purposes. I think that this criticism has been fully justified by subsequent events. For instance, I pointed out that every political organization, to be effective, must have local committees; but I also pointed out that in the Labour Party - not in all cases, I was careful to say, but in some cases - a mere handful of men, without any standing out of their own party, or perhaps in if, without any knowledge outside their own particular localities, were exercising authority over the choice of candidates, and stepping in between candidates for Parliament and the people, in a way which ought not to be permitted to bodies of that kind. Now, I find that the late Prime Minister has lately confirmed - not intentionally, of course - that statement. The honorable member said - ‘
It was true that the labour members of Parliament were the result of organizations, were governed by the rules of organizations, worked by a platform prepared by organizations, and had to abide by decisions in caucus.
So far so good.
– I said more than that.
– That is a statement which in itself shows how dangerous the possession of such great power is in the hands of any body of men who are not numerous enough to be thoroughly representative of the constituencies to which they profess tq hold the right to open or close the door.
– I said also that once they entered Parliament labour members were the sole interpreters of the platform under which the party was elected.
– Exactly ; I will come to that in a minute. ‘ My complaint is not against the local committees of the Labour Party. A .large number of them are representative,’ and speak’for a large body of constituents. But the power lodged in them is a dangerous one, and when, as I have known instances, thirty or forty men gathered together in one constituency arrogate to themselves the right to say who shall stand, and who shall not, the organization deserves the criticism which it has received.
– What about a single newspaper not merely nominating candidates, but dictating the policy of a country ?
– That is just as objectionable from the public point of view. I have said that every party uses political machinery, and that in connexion with nearly every party there have been abuses, but that the great strength of the organization of the Labour Party, and1 the small number of men by whom it is controlled in particular districts, make it exceptionally dangerous.
– There is no arbitrary limitation upon the size of the local organizations. They are open to all.
– Yes, but all do not choose to join them. If every one joined them, the difficulty would be settled. The leader of the Opposition went on to say -
In regard to none of these things did the alli ance in the Slightest degree ‘ infringe upon the authority which the organizations undoubtedly possess. The labour members of the Federal Parliament had agreed to use their influence towards securing to those who were members of the alliance immunity from opposition. If an organization desired to put forward a candidate in opposition to those who were combining with the Labour Party, there was nothing to prevent them doing so ; but if a man who, by some means, was technically kept outside of their movement, though voting straight with them, had the best chance of winning the seat, in his view of the case, it would be suicidal to oppose him.
– Hear, hear.
– The applause comes very properly from those who are safe inside the party. The allies of the party, if they cannot be beaten, are to be regarded as good friends, but if they can be beaten, the party is entitled to beat them.
– What the honorable and learned member has read is only an abridged newspaper report. It does not contain all that was said.
– My quotation contains all that was reported in the newspapers, because I have checked it with the newspaper reports. I am not speaking in hostility to the alliance. Far from it - its terms are not at all sufficient for me; but then I am not a member of it. I am simply pointing out that it is not what it ought to be, because of the, difficulty which must be confronted, to which I called attention at Ballarat. If a local organization chooses to exercise its right to run a candidate against an ally, it can do so, and the implication is that, if it can beat him, it has the right to do so. I believe that the members of the Labour Party in this House will render all the assistance they have promised to their allies, but if the organizations chooseto take a different view,, and a fight occurs between labour members fighting for their allies as against a local labour organization, a light will be let in upon the party which will presently expand and increase. My sympathies are with the members of the party in this House, who, with their better training and fuller knowledge of the circumstances, are aware that they can never seize and retain the keys of powei without the support of a majority, and know that the country will never give them that support unless moderate views prevail, and a practical programme is put before it, while at the same time fair play is extended to their allies. In educating their party to moderation they have a difficult task to perform, but I wish them well, because it is to the interests of their party, and of the country that they should succeed.
– Our enemies are not likelv to see such a fight.
– If my honorable friend can accomplish’ this, as he has accomplished so much in this House, by quiet suasion, we shall have even a better opinion of him than we have now.
– Let him begin on Mr. Anstey.
– I have said enough to indicate where I discriminate between the proper and the improper power of local organizations, ‘ and point to other dangers which confront the party. In some places its organizations are so strong that they are entitled to speak for the party, but in other places they are merely parts of a machine. I regard the written pledge required by labour members as an unnecessary indignitv. There is no member of the Labour Party from whom, if we had relations with him, we would require a written pledge.
– Do not all members sign a written pledge of loyalty when they enter the House?
– That has nothing to do with our political opinions, and places no restriction upon our action here.
– Why cannot our word be taken for our loyalty?
– It is permissible to make an affirmation on entering Parliament. Then, as to the caucus control, the honorable member for Barrier put the whole situation in a nut-shell when he said that the caucus is the labour Cabinet. We, on this side, say that our system of government provides for only one Cabinet. We recognise that all Cabinets at times’ demand difficult sacrifices of their members, but to impose Cabinet conditions upon men returned as representatives, who are without executive authority and responsibility, opens the way to an abuse of the Constitution.
– We do not do that.
– The honorable member for Barrier says that it is done.
– Each member of the caucus is responsible to his constituents, who can punish him if’ he does not act as they wish.
– That is no excuse for creating a second Cabinet. Of course, every member must observe his election pledges. If he does not, his constituents will deal with him. There. is no reason why a man who represents the people should be subject to the domination of a caucus Cabinet. Look at the effect of this machine control. The honorable and learned member for West Sydney supplied me with an illustration. When speaking of the support given by members of the Labour Party in New South Wales to the Prime Minister when he was Premier of that State, he said -
Mr. McGowen and Mr. Arthur Griffith, and other men who were solid protectionists, gave his Free-trade Administration for five years their consistent support . . . their faithful and unswerving support.
– Not under the compulsion of the caucus though.
– Under what compulsion then?
– Under no compulsion.
– Yes, unquestionably they were under the compulsion of the caucus.
– No; the honorable member does not know as much about it as I do.
– If itwas under no compulsion I cannot understand those honorable members voting against their principles.
– A man must sometimes vote against some of his principles.
– That is exactly my point. In New South Wales . a low protectionist Tariff was in existence, and the members referred to were returned as pledged protectionists.
– No; pledged to the Labour platform.
– I refer to ‘the pledge given to their constituents.
– The members mentioned were no’t returned as anything but fiscal “ sinkers.”
– That was on the second occasion, when they appealed to the country, but before that, when they were supporting the present Prime Minister, who, as a free-trader, was taking off all the duties, they were returned as pledged protectionists.
– They were not returned as pledged protectionists at any time.
– Yes, they were.
– I am not sufficiently informed to be able to say what the position was, and shall not press the point any further if it is a matter of dispute. I do say, however, that this may happen any day in the Labour caucus.
– No, it cannot happen.
– If the present Prime Minister Had been able, during the last Parliament, to grant the requests preferred by the Labour Party, and to adopt their programme, they would have put him in power and compelled their protectionist members to sink their fiscal views, to assist in keeping the right honorable gentleman in office.
– Thev could not do it.
– They could do it, because the majority in the caucus have the power to compel the minority to do as they think best.
– No, the honorable and learned member is quite in error.
– When the platform is at stake. We have it recorded in Hansard. The honorable member for Canobolas read the State and Federal labour pledges, and contrasted them. He pointed out that the Federal labour pledge to submit to the caucus was binding upon members of the party only so far as their platform was concerned. If tha caucus considered that by sacrificing something else, they could secure the adoption of their programme, they would order that the something else should be sacrificed.
– Oh, no.
– At least there is nothing in the pledge to prevent the caucus from treating anything as being related to the platform. Honorable members are now indicating limitations of which I am only too delighted to hear, but which have not yet been under stood by the public. Therefore, even the pledge requires to be re-edited, and to have attached to it an explanatory footnote. Honorable members have admitted that they are absolutely in the hands of the caucus, so far as their programme is concerned.
– Every member of every party should occupy a similar position.
– He should be bound by his pledges to his constituents, and by nothing else.
– Among the pledges to our constituents is one that upon all questions affecting our platform we shall vote together.
– Exactly ; and that is a part of the pledge that has no right to be embodied in it. That is one of the things I am now challenging, because I hold that it interferes with the right of the individual to exercise his free judgment in regard to matters affecting the’ relations between himself and his constituents. Even the fact that the constituents indorse the pledge affords no justification, because we are dealing with a matter which affects the basic principles of representation. Honorable members opposite will now recognise that I have not been engaging in any wholesale denunciation of the Labour Party. I have pointed out the relations which, in my opinion, should exist between representatives in this Parliament and their constituents. That is what I have done repeatedly in this House, as recorded in Hansard, and also at Ballarat. Months ago. in this Chamber, I laid down the lines of the criticism which I merely amplified when speaking at Ballarat. The speech addressed to my constituents did not contain a single new idea, but was merely an amplification of views which I had already expressed in this House. The objections I then indicated still hold good. I offer these criticisms in all sincerity, because it is my firm conviction that if the Labour Party amended their methods, they would be a stronger, and not a weaker power in the Commonwealth. They might have initial difficulties to overcome, because it would probably be far from easy for individuals to educate their constituents to such a point that they would be ready to adopt a higher view of the responsibilities of Members of Parliament. But if that were once done, the Labour Party would possess much greater power, not only in this House, but outside of it. Therefore, the criticisms I. am offering are not to be suspected of being designed to undermine the Labour
Party. I recognise that they represent a stratum of opinion in the community which is entitled to be represented here, and am anxious to see the representatives of that party joined with those who voice the opinions of other sections of the public in carrying on the business of the country in a constitutional manner. I believe that if this could be done it would prove of the greatest advantage to the party, and to the community generally. It would remove the obstacles which now bar the Labour Party’s way to alliances with other parties, both inside and outside of the House. When reasonable criticism is offered, which discriminates between that which is commended, and that which is, rightly or wrongly, condemned, it should be clearly distinguished from wholesale tirades of abuse such as are sometimes indulged in. I am recognising the Labour Party as an integral element of the community, and am anxious that it should combine with other elements in carrying on the business of the country to the best advantage of all classes. The difficulty is that the mischief does not end with the Labour Party. The success of their organization and methods will lead to their adoption elsewhere. Just as intolerance on one side begets intolerance on the other, so one machine invites another. I have deprecated the formation of machines as rigid and inflexible as that of the Labour Party threatens to become. I do not desire- to bring about a condition of affairs in which we shall have machine fighting machine.
– And yet the honorable member started a machine organization at Ballarat.
– I pointed out that it was not to be a machine, but only machinery ; that every man should be free to leave the organization, and that it did not claim the sole right to nominate candidates, or to bind them to obey a majority of colleagues, or to sign their independence away, but that it should undertake the work of political education upon liberal lines.
– With the power to reject candidates.
– Not at all. As I have previously pointed out, that organization had drafted its own programme, and had appointed its own officials without consulting me.
– And the honorable member did not approve of all of % I think.
– I did not approve of. some words which were added to a mo tion that had been shown me, and which I had been asked to move. I refused to move that motion, with the addition of those words, because they were ambiguous and might be misleading. I wish now to glance for one moment at the programme which has been submitted by the alliance in opposition to that which has been presented by the Government.
– Let us hear something about the Government programme.
– I notice, in the first? place, that the alliance programme has received great elaboration to-day at the hands nf the honorable and learned member for Indi. For himself, he has supplied a great many serious omissions, but I have yet to learn how far his individual views - with many of which I thoroughly concur - are shared bv those with whom he is associated. He said a good deal in reference to protection, bonuses, and preferential trade, but the references to these subjects in the programme of the alliance are as shadowy and unsubstantial as they well could be. For instance, he made very merry at the expense of the Government, because they are going to do something in reference to preferential trade-
– Because they are not going to do anything.
– And because they are noc going to do it until a movement has been made abroad.
– And then in a most specific direction.
– But what does the honorable and learned member offer as an alternative in the alliance programme? Preferential trade is to be “ discussed “ by the joint parties. That is least of all. There may be many discussions without agreement. We are conducting a discussion now, but, although discussion may have its uses as a practical step towards the adoption of a scheme of preferential trade, there is no advantage in that alone. So in regard to the other items of that programme. The only three great matters about which we were anxious to know the views of the alliance were protection, the iron bounty, and preferential trade. After the publication of the alliance programme wi’.h all its clauses, sub-clauses, qualifications, and disqualifications, we were just as much in the dark upon these three important subjects as we previously were. It was not that the honorable and learned member for Indi did not submit to the joint Committee proposals relating to them which might have proved satisfactory, but that when they came out of the wash into the authorized programme, all the colour, starch, and substance, had departed from them. They might have been very useful as they went into the wash, but they certainly came out of it in a form which was neither useful nor ornamental. Upon these subjects, the alliance programme is practically a blank. Further, I have not noticed any reference to a number of other important subjects, which should have been included in that programme. For example, there is no reference to the problem of how we may best attract population, or decrease our debt. No proposals have been submitted for dealing with the water rcources of the States, so far as they come within Federal authority, or for assisting in the settlement of disputes which approach’ its jurisdiction. ,
– This is not a motion of want of confidence in the alliance.
– It is. That is what it becomes. Of course, it may be said that in this respect the programme of the Ministry is not all precision and definiteness. The Government offer a programme of practical work for this session, which constitutes quite as much as we can do. Beyond and behind that programme, we have the Government itself, and I have no hesitation in saying that the four members of the Ministry who represent the party to which I have always belonged, possess our unqualified confidence. We know them, we have tried them, and we are quite content to trust to their loyalty to their principles. We could not find better men. And so of the four members headed by the Prime Minister - they are equally representative of their party, and rank as its very ablest men. We are satisfied that we can trust the Government. Further, we retain the right of free criticism of the Government which we sit behind. We do not move under any bond, shackle, or compact. All our engagements are known to the public. I am certain that the honorable and learned member for Indi, who has served with two out of the four protectionists in the Ministry, will admit that no more trustworthy men have ever represented us in Parliament, and certainly no men whose adherence to that policv has been stauncher. What better guarantee for its future can we obtain than their presence in the Cabinet? They are there to give effect to their pledges. When they cease to do that, it will be time enough for us to reconsider the situation. But I do not anticipate that any such occasion will arise. The other members of the Government represent the revenue Tariff doctrines as well as the protectionist members represent protectionist doctrines. There are no more competent men in this House. Consequently I claim that we have something to inspire us with confidence as to the future. We are not pledged, and we are not asked to pledge ourselves for an indefinite period, to proposals of which we know nothing. On the contrary, we have the assurance that whenever this Government takes an important step, or develops new principles, it will be with the approbation of the whole of the members sitting behind them.
– With the approbation of the honorable member for Wilmot.
– The honorable member’s party was glad to get rid of him.
– My late colleagues and myself occupy quite a paternal position in this House, because we may fairly claim - looking back to the Ballarat scheme - to be the fathers both of the policy of the late Government and of the present Administration. Both policies are carved out of that programme, but the one submitted by the present Government is more substantial than that which was offered by the late Government.
– We were united upon our programme.
– The honorable member’s party is bound to be united. Its members cannot help themselves.
– That is the trouble with honorable members opposite.
– I think that the honorable member’s point is a good one. From my point of view his party is overorganized and over-united. Organization is a good thing until it. kills individuality, and unity is a good thing until it destroys personal initiative and freedom. The danger of the party to which the honorable member belongs is that it- will become overorganized and over-united. We, upon our part, suffer from an opposite complaint, and must endeavour to get more organization and more unity, but not too much. Then I wish to say a word or two upon the vexed question - because it still vexes some ‘ honorable members upon the other side of the House - of the motion which resulted in the defeat, of the late Government. They urge in the first place that it should not have taken the form that it did, because it amounted to wresting the control of business from the hands of the Government.
In my view that statement is incorrect. Certainly when I was first informed that the motion was to be submitted it did not for one instant strike me that it was equivalent to taking the business out of their hands. What is the meaning - in a parliamentary sense - properly attaching to that phrase? It is used only when an improper advantage is being taken of some colourless motion which forms part of the ordinary business of the House - and which has no meaning in itself except as one of the procedures of the House - to defeat a Government.. That has often been done in the States. Those were instances when the business was taken ou£ of the hands of a Government. In our case the circumstances were not the same. The proposal was not one of form only, but also of substance. It was not a question of what the House should do in order to proceed to business, but it was itself business - a reiteration of the principle of majority rule already embodied in the Bill. It was a perfectly legitimate motion, because it was not a question of form, but a question of substance, though associated with a question of form.
– Would the honorable member carry on under similar circumstances if he were Prime Minister?
– I undertake to say that when the last Government permitted the navigation clauses to be struck out, they allowed the business of the House to be taken out of their hands.
– That does not answer the question.
– There may have been good reason for what was done with those clauses, and I can offer no criticism, because I do not know the reason ; but it was a much more serious matter. Again, in taking a vote of want of confidence on a question of form, the unfairness lies in the fact that votes are given against the Government by members merely from a desire to remove the Government. But in the recent case the Opposition, instead of gaining votes, actually lost the vote of the honorable member for Barker.
– But they gained the vote of the Chairman of Committees.
– They gained the vote of the Chairman of Committees, but that did not balance the loss of a vote actually recorded against them.
– No, it did not.
– At all events the sting of the complaint about taking the business out of the hands of the Government,, lies in the fact that a vote’ is given, not on a question of substance, but on a question of form. On .that occasion, however, it was a motion of substance and of form, and was fair to the Government, because it gave them the advantage of one vote ; and those two points ought to be taken into consideration. Every vote given, except one, in favour of the Government was on the merits of the proposal. That was not the case when my Government went out of office, and yet we did not complain. The late Government said that they were not challenged on a vote of want of confidence, on which they could not have been defeated. But my previous Government could say the same - the circumstances were precisely similar. I do not notice that there has been any requirement by either party in the new alliance for a written pledge.
– Hear, hear ! there is no “ machine “ about the alliance.
– That is an excellent beginning, which has my entire approbation. The Labour Party are to be felicitated on having abandoned one of the cranks of the machine. The fiscal question was in the most noteworthy manner - in the most striking fashion - omitted from the speech of the leader of the Opposition in submitting this motion, and also from the speech of his first lieutenant, the honorable and learned member for West Sydney.
– It was a studied omission.
– The fiscal question has scarcely been touched on until now. I do not complain of that, because the honorable member for Bland spoke as the leader of his party, and, I presumed, was confined within the limits of its platform, though I had expected that some protectionists would have supplied the deficiency before to-night. I understand1 that the alliance gets a good deal of support outside, because it is supposed to be bringing the Labour Party gradually into the protectionist fold. If that be so, the effort has my hearty good wishes. But I fancy the alliance, in this connexion, has work before it, even with labour members who are called protectionists. I remember that after the Tariff had been dealt with, the present leader of the Opposition, when he visited his constituency, expressed his pride at having helped to reduce the duties to 15 per cent., and he was the recipient of congratulations from the present Prime
Minister on the service rendered by the Labour Party in Tariff reductions generally.
– Hear, hear ‘
– There will have, to be a great improvement from the protectionist stand-point. The late Government, when in office, were, as it happened, fiscally in equal strength, but during their short term they managed to declare themselves very clearly on a number of points. There was to be no Tariff revision. There was to be no preferential trade . until an offer came from Great Britain - not even an Imperial Conference until a request came from the old country. There was to be no iron bountygranted except to the States, and in the Departments not even a little’ preference to locally manufactured goods. That is fiscal atheism in excelsis. There could be nothing more colourless than the late Government was on the fiscal question, if we take colour to necessarily mean protectionist colour. Their policy was an absolute negation, so far as we are concerned, in point of administration and promises of legislation. Under the circumstances it is not surprising that the protectionist journal, the Melbourne Age. if my memory serves me right, on the very day of the division which decided the fate of the Government branded it as “ hostile to protection,” and asked how a protectionist could support it. That is a fiscal record which has to be outgrown.
– We owe the Age nothing.
– I think the honorable member owes the Age a great deal.
– I owe the Age nothing.
– I do not think the Age appreciates the honorable member as much as it ought to do, speaking generally. I am not jesting.
– I want no sympathy from any newspaper.
– What I mean is that the honorable member, though a consistent free-trader, is a free-trader with a heart, and he occasionally listens when we have a case to put before him. It is in that respect that I do not think the honorable member has been sufficiently appreciated. This fiscal atheism may not exist to the same extent in the new combination, but it does so very nearly. The alliance, as I understand it, in one of its many excellent aspects is a missionary enterprise. If it is not a missionary enterprise it is nothing. Under its active influence the leader of the Labour Party, who formerly spoke cheerfully about reducing the duties to 15 per cent., has turned to a white-hot protectionist. Speaking only the other evening, he referred to himself,
As one who has always been inclined to a protectionist Tariff when matters more important to the Labour Party’s platform were not involved. . . .
That is the point to which the alliance has screwed up the leader of the Opposition at the present time. If there is nothing more important in hand the honorable member is going to be a protectionist - if there is something more important on hand he is not going to be a protectionist. What is baffling beyond all description is to find the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, who is a protectionist par excellence, cheering and reiterating the views of the leader of the Opposition. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports frankly tells us that this motion is not merely a fiscal movement - not at all. He, like his leader, say that the movement is only fiscal when more important questions are not involved’.
– I have not said that; but I believe there are more important questions.
– Let me read what the honorable member for Melbourne Ports has said. The following is an extract from page 5129 of Hansard: -
– The protectionists who have joined the alliance are in the ranks of the Opposition only because of the Tariff.
– Nonsense ! certainly not.
– Hear, hear ! Surely the honorable and learned member agrees with that?
– The report continues -
– Then, matters which are m,ore important to them are involved in the issue.
– Most decidedly.
That came as a shock to me.
– It came as a shock to many of the honorable member’s friends to find, more particularly at this time, that there was anything more important than protection. I understood that the very origin of the alliance lay in the desire to secure more protection. On some matters there were differences of opinion, and certain agreements were made in regard to others ; but the tie which bound the newalliance together, and distinguished honorable members in the Opposition corner from their old protectionist friends on this side of the House, was the contention that the latter were not sufficiently prompt in their protection. What has the alliance done? It has put some undefined and unknown matters in the forefront of its programme.
– No. The honorable and learned member does not take the articles of the agreement to be in their order of importance ?
– The wrong men are talking.
– I am speaking at present of the alliance.
– The honorable and learned member is talking of both.
– That is so. I say most distinctly that, judging by the part of the programme which I have just read, this confession of the secondary place allotted to protection in the alliance, is most astonishing.
– Surely the policy of a White Australia is just as important?
– When the policy of a White Australia is threatened, the honorable member will not find it left to him or to any honorable member of the Opposition to protect it.
– Will the honorable and learned member permit me to explain, in order that there may be no misapprehension, that it is our intention, as evidenced by the notice-paper, to make the Tariff question a very live one this session.
– It is to be made a live question by a motion that relates to an excellent object, but can have no immediate practical effect. That motion is to be carried by the votes of those who will support it only if there be nothing more important in their platform going at the time. We cannot treat the alliance as being complete; it is not complete. It is in embryo, and an embryo is never a pretty thing to look at. An embryo, however, has immense potencies. It may grow; it may become fully fledged and play an important part. It is quite possible that this may grow into something most satisfactory, but at present it is a case not of alliance, of programme, of proof, or of substance, . but a case of hope, belief, expectation, trust, confidence - anything you like, except the actual facts.
– What is the coalition?
– Despair, desolation, and death.
– On the contrary, it is at least as positive and potential as the alliance has become, after a long and anxious incubation. My own position in regard to the fiscal question is absolutely unaltered. I have no desire to weary hon orable members, but have before me a report of the policy speech that I delivered at Ballarat on 29th October last, at the opening of. the election campaign, and I desire to read an extract from it -
One of the great results of the unremitting labours of the Parliament has been the passing of the first Federal Tariff. During the whole of the period while it was being discussed business was disturbed, uncertainty prevailed, and trade was paralyzed. If that Tariff is to be wantonly reopened now, precisely the same conditions must recur. Importers and manufacturers are becoming adapted to it. The public have just learnt to’ look below that label which used to be put up at first, “ Raised in consequence of the Tariff,” only to find very often that the article was on the free list. The public, purchasers and ‘ traders, have come to understand the Tariff, or most of it, and are living under it, to the amazement of some of our free-trade friends, without finding the cost of living enhanced. Yet, just at present we are met with the proposal that this Tariff is to be torn up, and we are to be launched once more on the sea of uncertainty. A proposal of that kind is neither wise, statesmanlike, nor reasonable. The Tariff, whatever its defects, and I don’t deny them, is entitled to a fair trial. At all events, the community is entitled to rest, and the business people to know where they are. Of course, the proposition is being steadily whittled down. First, the whole Tariff was to go; then all the protectionist duties were to go; now some of them are to go. At last it is a mild Tariff revision ; it is only a little one. But the question whether the Tariff -
That is, the Tariff discussion - if it begins, shall be a little one or a large one, does not rest with the people who propose a little one.
That applies to the present time -
That Tariff was accepted by us simply because some Australian Tariff must be passed, ‘and because of the losses incurred in consequence of the prolonged discussion. For these we sacrificed much. This is not the protectionist Tariff to which we have been accustomed, and for which we hoped. Some industries have been destroyed by this Tariff; some others have been injured, and many have not been assisted. Of course they had the extra opportunities afforded by InterState free-trade. But for its compensations others might not have survived. If the Tariff is torn open we shall, of course, employ every means we possess to repair the omissions and mistakes in the present schedule of duties. They are numerous. The strife will be long. Relying upon the energy of our people, and the operation oi Inter-State free-trade, we accepted that Tariff for want of a better. On the same public grounds, putting aside our own desires and beliefs as to what is best, we are prepared to preserve that Tariff, because we “believe that the best boon to this community that its public men can give it is fiscal peace. The clean-cut issue then in the contest now to be commenced lies between those who hold with us that what we need is time to adjust ourselves to our new conditions without another Tariff campaign in Parliament. Experience is being gained of the real operation of protectionist duties in centres where they were taught to expect nothing but baneful influences. The very fact that we are willing to wait and trust to this experience shows our confidence in the working of the protectionist part of this Tariff. Those who are in haste to alter it before it can be fully appreciated prove that they realize that the tide of public opinion and experience will be against them. They know, and have reason to believe, that it will be easier for them to alter it now than ever again. For the same reason those who cherish fiscal peace, or have faith in the principle of protection, should realize that this is not the hour when we should again commence to tinker with the Tariff - to indulge in a wasteful kindling of the fires of strife, when trade is beginning to follow the new channels it has made - and to undo for the purpose of undoing. These are the aims of those who oppose the Government. When I last addressed you I estimated that at least half-a-million people in Australia, directly or indirectly, were dependent on the protected trades. That number has- now been much increased, and is being increased, especially in Sydney. It is the operation of this Tariff which will inevitably strengthen in the future the protectionist knowledge and sentiment of the whole community. Those who are engaged in our industries have no right to see their earnings threatened at the very time they are promised good seasons and revival of business. The tide of prosperity is just beginning to flow, and it is indefensible to prevent it by a renewal of fiscal strife. The permanent planks of the Liberal and Ministerial policy are the maintenance of the Tariff and fiscal peace. As a valuable corollary we hope to pass in the next Parliament a measure which we were prevented by time alone from passing last session. I refer to the short Bill to prevent the growth of rings and trusts in Australia, or, if any such exist, enabling us to cope with them. We seek protection for the people, and for the employee as well as the manufacturer.
I have not a word to retract or to qualify.
– Save that great changes have since taken place.
– What changes have taken place that I did not mention in that speech? Did I not say that industries were being destroyed under the Tariff ; that others were being injured ; that we were suffering ; that it was not our protectionist Tariff? I did, and knowing all this, we advocated fiscal peace.
Mr.Mauger. - But the honorable and learned member could not have had information as to the state of affairs which at present exists.
– We did not know the details.
– We did not then know the extent of the suffering.
– I did not pretend to know it ; but I knew that under the Tariff many trades must be destroyed, and particularly those now so severely affected. Every one could foresee that a duty of 12½ per cent, must strike a heavy blow at the iron trade, and so with other manufactures. It was plain that this must be the effect of the Tariff, although we did not know the details of the distress.
– Nor didwe know of the immense number of people that we were losing.
– That had ‘been going on for ten years.
– But not to anything like so great an extent as since the passing of the Tariff.
– I spoke then not only for myself, but for the Cabinet to which I belonged, for the party which I represented, and for the press which supported us - the Age, the Adelaide Advertiser, the Launceston Daily Telegraph, and the Ballarat Courier, the out-and-out protectionist journals.
– All of which have changed, in view of the altered circumstances.
– The Courier and the West Australian, on other grounds, also ‘ supported our policy.
– Which Courier - the Ballarat Courier?
– I refer now to the Brisbane Courier.
– It did not support the honorable and learned member’s Ministry ; it attacked it.
– It did not support our Ministry but it supported fiscal peace. The Ballarat Courier is a great protectionist journal in this State, which supported us ; but on different grounds the Brisbane Courier supported fiscal peace. It was not put as some of my honorable friends opposite have suggested - that we were in favour of fiscal peace, if we came back with a minority, but that if we came back with a majority, we were in favour of taking the utmost we could get by fiscal force.
– Nobody suggested that.
– That was the Prime Minister’s attitude.
– The right honorable gentleman’s attitude was fiscal war. We fought him on that, pointing out its dangers and losses, and, as I have just shown, we resisted, and promised to resist, every attempt to rip up the Tariff in this Parliament.
– In whose interests?
– In the interests of the country and of the Protectionist Party.
– And of the industries.
– But especially of the Protectionist Party. The country was weary of a too lengthy fiscal strife, and all my honorable friends, without exception, and every counsellor I had in this House or out of it, strongly urged that in the interests of protection, fiscal peace should be proclaimed at the elections. We actually claimed, and secured, a number of what were ordinarily free-trade votes on that occasion, because we were the party of fiscal peace.
– What was the fiscal peace for?
– I shall deal with that question presently. I am dealing with the matter historically now. We knew that by insisting on fiscal peace we were insisting on the Tariff we had got.
– I am afraid we did not know.
– Then the honorable member should have objected at the time to the strong words in which I expressed myself.
– On the contrary, the honorable member cheered the honorable and learned gentleman.
– I went to Sydney, Brisbane, Toowoomba, Glen Innis, Hobart, Launceston, Seymour, and other places.
– And to Armidale and Tamworth.
– That is so. I have not been able to find in the telegraphed reports of my speeches at those places that I alluded to this subject. T have no doubt that I did, but as the telegraphed reports of my speeches there do not show it, I have left them out. I say that in all the great centres to which I have referred, I expounded the doctrine of fiscal peace, and attacked the right honorable member for East Sydnev as the advocate of fiscal war.
– Hear, hear; bitterly.
– As bitterly as I ever do. I do not propose to depend solely on my own recollection, but turn to an authority which I believe the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, and the whole Protectionist Party will accept. I can show how clearly my views were understood by quoting some extracts from articles which appeared in the Melbourne Age, explaining and recommending them to the public. On the 30th October, the day after I spoke at Ballarat, the Age, in a leading article referred to the proposals I made in this way -
The first and foremost necessity of the time is a truce on the fiscal question. So long as that struggle goes on it bars the way to any progressive legislation on other national and social questions. The Opposition proposal for renewed strife on the Tariff is directly opposed to the Deakin policy of fiscal peace.
Lower down in the same article I find this -
And if, as is certain, the electors shall decide against any present re-opening of the Tariff question, that will not deter the protectionists at some future time from a further revision of the Federal Tariff in perfecting our protective system. Therefore, the Prime Minister’s declaration for a present truce is a very convenient dividing line of parties. There is a time to draw the sword and a time to sheath it. All the interests of trade and industrial development demand for the present a cessation of fiscal hostilities. The Commonwealth asks for the opportunity to gain experience of the Tariff as it exists, so that the next revision may be based on practical knowledge rather than on intangible theory.
– We have gained a lot of practical knowledge since then.
– I agree with every word of that quotation. On 2nd November, the Age, in carrying on the protectionist campaign, said -
There are two points which stand in the full front of the Government and Opposition programmes. Mr. Deakin is as clear as crystal on both. He is emphatically for a policy of Imperial reciprocity which will differentiate against the foreigner, and is equally pronounced against any Tariff revision during the next Parliament.
– The whole point is that since that was written disaster has overtaken us.
– Merita] reservations again.
– I thoroughly agree with every word I am reading. On 7 th December the same paper said -
They wish either for a fiscal peace or fiscal war again. They would have the present Tariff let alone pending the Imperial preferential proposals, or ripped up again as soon as Parliament meets.
I direct attention to the words “ pending the Imperial preferential proposals.” On 12th December, just before the election, the same, newspaper said -
The watchword of the Deakin Ministry is “Fiscal Peace,” and all Australia should, at the present juncture, cry a truce to the Tariff question, while the great issue of Imperial preference is being fought out in England. To insure a fiscal peace there must be a strong rally for the Deakin Government.
At the same time this newspaper very properly supported candidates for the Senate who, like the Honorable W. McCulloch, announced himself as opposed to any reopening of the Tariff for seven, years, and the
Honorable J. L. Dow, who announced himself as opposed to the re-opening of the Tariff for some years. I could give references to a very large number of articles, but those are enough. As lately as 10th May, 1904, just after we left office, under one of the cross-heads devoted to the existing situation, not in a leading article, the Agc said -
Mr. Deakin is bound to insist upon a fiscal pence agreement, which will cover, not only the life of the present, but that of the next Parliament, practically a binding contract that, except as regard preferential trade, the Tariff shall remain unaltered for the next five years.
On 12th May I uttered similar sentiments at Deniliquin. I may say that the article to which I have referred as appearing in the Age of 10th May was published at a time when the right honorable member for East Sydney and myself were about to exchange views, and when it was known that the right honorable gentleman was about to make a proposal. On 13th May, in a leading article adverse to the acceptance of the proposals then suggested, the same newspaper said -
The suggestion that the Protectionist Party may consent to suspend Tariff amendment beyond the life of the present Parliament must be carefully guarded against.
I use these quotations to show that 1 have made myself explicit whenever an opportunity has occurred. Having quoted at length from my own speech- at one place, I have preferred to quote from a newspaper whose loyalty and devotion to protectionist principles can never be questioned in any way, because the citations I have made show that those who conduct that newspaper thoroughly understood my views, and put them to the public as I understood them myself.
– What changes have faker place since then?
– The honorable member professed to know all about it at that time.
– Why does not the Government adhere to the other mandates of the people?
– That is to be discussed “at an early date.”
– When the House met I said -
We inherited the fiscal issue from the States, mid in a federation of a group of States, with differing policies, it had to be fought out ; it could not be avoided. It has been fought out to a.i issue in a form which is unsatisfactory to both sides. But, by the verdict of the public, the question has been deposed from its high place as the first article upon our programme, and laid aside altogether for this Parliament. Perhaps it has been disposed of in perpetuity, in the sense in which the fight has hitherto been waged.
I made that statement at the opening of this session ; it was reported in the press, and commented upon, and some of the leading articles I have read were written after that date. It shows right from its first enunciation up to date0 what was meant by fiscal peace. The duration of fiscal peace for this Parliament was put before the country not only by myself, but by leading newspapers, in the clearest and most unmistakable fashion. Of course, I am not going to allude to my right honorable friend, the honorable member for Bland, the honorable and learned member for Darling Downs, and others, who, in the same debate, made a similar statement.
– Did the people say that preferential trade was tobe laid aside?
– No, they said the very reverse, as I shall show. It is admitted in these statements of mine, and in the leading articles’ of the Age, that the next alteration of the Tariff requires to be based on practical knowledge and research. That means an inquiry, which is not only no breach of fiscal peace, but can be asked for just as heartily by each party in the House. If those who believe that the industries have sufficient protection, can find anybody in the industries concerned to hold that view, they will have the opportunity of putting it forward. And if those in the industries concerned, think that they have not sufficient protection, and can show the damage done by the existing Tariff, they can do so. That will mean an accumulation of knowledge which will enable Parliament to deal with the fiscal question by a revision of the Tariff. All that we, as protectionists, require, is that it shall be impartial and thorough. We cannot shut the door in the face of any industry that appeals to us. Every one must recognise that an inquiry into the Tariff, when once commenced, will be long, but it does not follow that the Tariff Commission should not have power to deal with the different industries in what it believes to be their order of urgency. And having so dealt with those industries, and with the allied industries affected, there is nothing to prevent them from laying their reports before Parliament.
– -Will the present Go- vernment take up the matter afterwards ?
– Will the honorable member address that question to me?
– We must allow the present Government the opportunity of seeing what the recommendations are before we can reasonably expect them to give us the faintest indication of what they will do. I am satisfied that with a case made out, if it be as represented, even that clause in the proposed coalition between the Prime Minister and myself, to which the honorable and learned member for Indi alluded this evening, may be brought into play. It is quite possible that both free-traders and protectionists may find that certain duties were altered . in an injurious fashion, and may agree to raise them at once. That clause, so far from being a limitation upon any member, either of the Ministry or of the party, as the honorable and learned member supposes, was placed there simply because of the extracts which I have just read, which show not that the Prime Minister and I had made a compact which binds anybody, even ourselves, on this head, but that having promised the country fiscal peace for this Parliament, in the matter of Tariff revision, we put into the programme the pledge which we had given to the constituencies. I am surprised that my honorable and learned friend, when he was turning his powerful artillery on that clause, did not see that he was attacking not something’ which the Prime Minister and I had done of ourselves, but something which the country had approved by a huge majority. .
– But the words “ without the consent “-
– That is as far as the Government is concerned.
– How can the Government have the right to break the order of the country ?
Mr.DE AKIN. - It will not be breaking the order of the country if both great parties agree that particular industries can be dealt with. What we declared against was fiscal war and fiscal strife on the floor of this House.
– Will fiscal war be justifiable to save industries if the free-traders will agree to it?
– We are not justifying any fiscal war. That would not be fiscal war.
– Is war never justifiable?
– Breaking pledges to one’s constituents is never justifiable.
– Will the honorable and learned member say that what the Ministry could not agree to the House could agree to?
– I am not saying what the Ministry could’ not agree to. I am putting no limits on its powers of agreement or disagreement. I am only saying that it was a proper and reasonable thing to provide in that undertaking that the pledges given to the country should be carried out, so far as the Government is concerned.
– Surely the pledges were given to the country in its interests ?
– I hope so.
– It will be in the interests of the country to break them.
– I cannot treat such a proposition as serious. The honorable member wishes to be judge and jury to decide how far his own agreements shall bind him. He forgets that there is another party to the agreement - his constituents. His is a most delightful doctrine, as far as he is concerned, but such a mode of discharging an honorable obligation belongs to that far-off time when the State will manage everything for us except ourselves.
– The country did not know the present facts.
– Then the country will have to be consulted on the present facts.
– Let us consult them at once.
– And the sooner the better.
– They are all very anxious to go to the country now that they know that there is no chance of a dissolution.
– If I may be permitted to interpose a word, I would- say that an indefinite postponement of this Tariff issue would be cruel to the verge of criminality, while its annual revision or perpetual tinkering would be destructive of all business industry.
– Nobody wants it.
– When my honorable friends go into an alliance for protections:, purposes in the future, for they have not done so yet, they should remember that it is not sufficient for a man to call himself a protectionist to give what will be necessary to these industries. In the last House we had a majority of so-called protectionists, and this Tariff, which has wrecked so many industries, was the result of the votes of a large number of men who called themselves protectionists. It is of no use for the honorable member for Melbourne Ports simply to receive from his friends smooth assurances that they are protectionists. We know them - the 5 per cent, protectionists, the 10 per cent, protectionists, and the 12 per cent, protectionists.
– Some of them were ieturned for Victoria.
– I am afraid so; but it was not my fault. What we must have when the Tariff is revised is efficient protection. We must raise the duties sufficiently high to make them effective aha*’ no higher. I propose to say next to nothing on the question of the iron bounty, relying on the statement I read in the press that the honorable member for Eden-Monaro is to take charge of the measure at a very early date. We shall then be able to deal with it in fact and in effect.
– Will the Ministry support it?
– The alliance does not know yet what it is going to do.
– Yes it does.
– It is keeping it dark.
– What is the coalition going to do?
– The coalition ‘ is, I am sure, going to help on the consideration of the Bill, which, I hope, will be carried. Touching as far as I may in this debate on the question of preferential trade, which was expressly excluded from the operation of fiscal peace, I find that it was dealt with at quite inordinate length in my Ballarat speech, from which I propose to make a few quotations. I said -
Our maxims are that trade is a powerful tie making for unity ; that common investments make common interests; strengthening us when built up within the Empire, and weakening us when transferred to our rivals. As a man’s first duty is to provide for his own family, it , is a statesman’s first duty to provide for his own people. No nation in the world has feared to raise its protective duties against Great Britain; but now we are told Great Britain should hesitate to raise its duties, because of the danger of reprisals. Are we then so much more at their mercy, so much more dependent upon them than they are upon us with all our commerce? Our conviction is that we are free enough, and powerful enough, to protect ourselves without asking permission. We do not look only to price. The new economy looks to honest wares, truthful labels, fair wages, and the distribution of profits of barter, as. far as possible, among our fellow citizens. It is national, as well as human.
Again, sir -
If the . Empire is to advance, it must be by the advance of all its parts. It is too huge, scattered, and diverse in conditions and character to be treated as a simple unit. We are told by the foreign trader that to speak of selfdevelopment in parts of the Empire is a doctrine which is selfishly Australian. Well, the late Secretary 9 e 2 of State for the Colonies, and the Prime Ministers of all the over-sea possessions, met in London last year, and by resolution declared that free-trade within the Empire was impracticable, and that each of the Dominions must look to its own development. We are pursuing the lines laid down in these resolutions when we seek to make Australia a part of the Empire, whose trade is worth having. A protectionist Tariff is essential to Australia, but there is nothing in that antagonistic to close trade relations with the mother country. It is true patriotism which trades with its kindred and prefers its own productions. I was present at an Imperial Conference held in London in 1887, when Mr. Hofmeyer made a most statesmanlike proposal. He suggested that a duty of 2 per cent, should be levied by Great Britain and her Dominions upon all foreign goods. It was calculated that from that small duty a revenue of some £7,000,000 would be obtained annually, which could be devoted to purposes of general defence. Not felt by the Empire, not felt by the Colonies, and paid by the foreigner, it would have enabled us to protect ourselves against the foreigner. Heartily supporting the proposal then, I support it still. There arc ‘more modest proposals before us now from Mr. Chamberlain, who has defined them with characteristic courage and resource.
I go on to describe them, and conclude -
When these proposals are made they will receive most cordial, most hearty, and most generous consideration at the hands of any truly Australian Government.
And again -
When Mr. Chamberlain made his proposals the Australian Government would be prepared to treat them generously, item by item, considering all the circumstances and the importance of the industries to the Common wealth. If we are offered such a boon as his tentative scheme promises, we can afford to Took with a liberal eye at the concessions which are asked from us.
Once more -
In this matter the interests of Australia are one, and they are bound up with those of the rest of the Empire. My appeal is not to Victoria only, but lo the whole of Australia.
And so on. And to show that the position i.i regard to preferential trade was distinctly understood, I quote from leading articles in the Age. On 36th October the Age said-
Along with this peace policy, and as complementary to it, the electors have to decide whether they are prepared to accept preferential trade or not. Mr. Deakin invites Australians to embrace the preferential policy should England find herself in a position to offer it. . . . But on this point there is no need for Australia to leap before she comes to the fence. Details at this stage are premature. Mr. Chamberlain may not succeed in his mission. That is a matter which rests in the future. Should he carry the mind of England with him, it. cannot be done for the next twelve months. Therefore, any overtures from Australia would be completely out of place.
And again -
Mi. Deakin says his Government will take no leap in the dark as Mr. Reid is urging should be done. If the time for negotiation ever arrives in consequence ot Great Britain accepting the new policy, then will be the occasion for saying in what particulars ‘our Tariff should be modified in favour of England.
Again, in the same article -
Mr. Deakin’s preferential policy is crystallized in a sentence, “ Great Britain must make the first move.” This is the sound position to assume.
In an article on 2nd November, the Age said -
Mr. Deakin’s position is lucidity itself. He says that, should Mr. Chamberlain find himself in a position to make that overture to the Colonies, he would respond heartily to Imperial reciprocity against the world, and be prepared at once to negotiate the details. There is a candour,’ clearness, and definiteness in that. One knows exactly what it means.
On 2nd March -
It may be very fairly argued that Australia has done all that is incumbent on her in returning a Parliament’ pledged to an Imperial reciprocal preference in trade. It now remains foi England to say whether she desires it. It may be, as Mr. Chamberlain himself once anticipated, that England will not accept preferential trade with her Colonies on the first time of asking. This is quite conceivable.
And the article goes on to say that this Parliament can either pass a resolution or a measure dealing with the subject, to help Mr. Chamberlain. On 3rd March the Age said -
Whenever this question of preferential Tariff comes to be discussed, which is not likely to be at an early date, seeing that it does not press for settlement as other subjects do, a perfectly invincible case will be made out for it from a protectionist point of view.
Those who are further interested in the subject can turn to articles in the Age of 19th and 23rd October, 26th and 27th November, 19th December, 1903, 1st January and 4th March, 1904. The same journal also pointed out, as late as 6th March, that this Parliament was elected for fiscal peace, and not for the consideration of a second Tariff Bill. Preferential trade is a great question, with which neither my time nor my strength - even if the patience of the House would permit - will enable me to deal as it deserves to be dealt with. It opens up a number of vast problems, and can be considered in many aspects, quite apart from fiscal strife. We have to ask ourselves - Do we desire closer relations with the mother country ? What material benefits can be reaped from them?
What mutual sacrifices, if any, are required ? How will the proposal affect each partner? How will it affect the Empire as a whole? Honorable members will take notice that my official announcement - and the press repeated it - was that we should wait for an offer from Great Britain, but I think I am breaking no secrets when I say that that delay was forced upon me by the opinions of others, and that my own desire - I did not propose anything else to the country, and consequently am bound to nothing else - was that we should take the industries of the Commonwealth, and consider them at once in regard to the granting of preferences, in some such fashion as .New Zealand has done. But at that time I received no encouragement from any source. Neither in Parliament, nor out of it, was it con- ‘ sidered that the time was ripe for such an advance. Consequently, ‘ I put the matter now merely as a personal view. But, during the time I was in office, and after the elections, I did take preliminary steps - of which probably the present Minister of Trade and Customs is aware - by which the Customs Department was asked to take the New Zealand Act, together with the returns of Australian trade and commerce, so as to study all the items upon which preferences could be granted, either by increase or reduction of duties. The object was that when this Parliament thought that the question was sufficiently advanced to be dealt with we should have material ready at hand. I (should hope that the course of that inquiry has not been interfered with, and that some considerable progress has been made by the Customs Department. If it has, we are so much nearer an opportunity for discussion, and consequently we ought to be prepared eventually, if the Customs Department itself cannot discharge those duties, or if it has only discharged a part of them, to call in the assistance of the Tariff Commission, when it can spare the time from other matters, to deal with this also in further ‘detail. Because there are three different aspects of this subject. Remembering your warning, Mr. Speaker, I shall not deal with them at any length. The first consideration is: What can be done for the mother country as a free gift, by means of’ the imposition of increased duties upon goods which we import in a large measure from foreign countries ; but which we could obtain from the mother country in sufficient quantity, and at a fair price? That is the New Zealand plan, and involves no consultation with the mother country. It may not take us far, but it will take us some distance. In the second consideration there are two elements, the desire to make a gift, and the desire to make a gain. That makes it a question of bargain and exchange, which will require the examination, on both sides, of a large amount of details into which we must look carefully, and upon which we cannot enter until we have made some progress in exact knowledge of our import trade. Then comes the third consideration, which, in some respects, can be dealt with before the second - the possibility of taking advantage of the preference offered by South Africa, and other Colonies with whom we trade, for Imperial reciprocity which may be of benefit to the various parts of the Empire.
– There is nothing to prevent us from doing that right off.
– No. To work out the whole scheme completely will take time, and thought, but in this, as in other questions, I trust time, thought, and the people. I believe that when all the possibilities are realized - and I alluded to some of them at Ballarat, while others were ably developed by the honorable and learned, member for Indi to-day - we shall find time, and sentiment clearing away many of the obstacles which our friends here at the present time fear, and trust that we shall’ receive their aid in taking the first steps - which can be taken without delay - to achieve these great ends. Of course, as I have previouslypointed out to the House, this question depends verv much for its development upon political events in the mother country. These have already affected our dealing with proposals of the kind, and the omens up to date continue rather unfavorable. Still, we can. and should, support Mr. Chamberlain by demonstrating our zeal in the great cause he is upholding at home. I am not a fiscal ist merely for the sake, of fiscalism. I look at the question as inseparably bound up with a whole series of issues, local as well as Imperial, to which we were committed in the Ballarat programme. I hold that labour legislation’ fs impossible, or cannot be carried to its full, or to anything like its full, effect, without protection. It is the necessary corollary of a White Australia, dealing as it does with goods of coloured manufacture, as well as with the coloured person himself. The great national aims associated with our future expansion are ‘ not to be achieved in a day, but only after a thorough and fair examination of all the conditions. There will be vicissitudes and alternatives; but I hope to see the fiscal issue buried in Australia, as it has been buried in the United States and Canada, by becoming part of the accepted policy of the country. I hope that even those who now regard it with suspicion, whatever their theoretical views or opinions may be, will at last realize that it has been woven into the fabric of our national policy. While consenting that, in view of its operation throughout the whole area of national life and production, it should be allowed to go untouched, as in the United States, by either party, their aim will simply be to prune it, and keep it within reasonable limits. But for the settlement of these questions we are necessarily looking to the far future. I am content to-day, as I was a year ago, with the policy embodied in the words, fiscal peace and preferential trade for a White Australia. The history of that policy has been checkered. The Government which propounded it is no longer upon the Treasury benches. Its members, and the party which supported it, are divided. In conclusion, I have to consider the circumstances under which that division took place. When the Watson Government displaced us, it occupied its attention with matters in its’ party programme which were only of an industrial nature. That was only one segment of our policy. As I have already shown, protection was entirely set aside by the Labour Party. The present Government have adopted practically the same attitude in that regard. They advocate fiscal peace, as the Watson Government did. They go on with that segment of the Ballarat policy just as the Watson Government did. They put protection aside, so far as it relates to immediate Tariff revision for its own sake, as the Watson Government did. I see no loss, from a protectionist point of view, in the change of Government. The party to which I belong was founded in 1901, under Sir Edmund, then Mr. Barton, on the principle of protection, its members holding diverse views on many other subjects. There was a minority, even in the Cabinet, which did not subscribe to protection, as we in Victoria understand it. The same difference existed in the party to such an extent that, as I have shown by recent references, many men who call themselves protectionists voted against us more often than with us. and for duties which were utterly ineffective.
When our time as a Government came, we fell on another question, and with us fell an all-protectionist Administration and an all -protectionist party. At the time, it was pointed out in the House, ‘especially by those who voted against us. that the members of the party were free to deal with the Arbitration Bill as they pleased, since the bond which united us was the fiscal bond. That was their justification for the vote which displaced us. We were defeated as protectionists upon non-fiscal grounds by a coalition of fiscal atheism. What course did I follow when the life of my Government was threatened? I called no meeting of the Protectionist Party, and sought to use no influence as leader of that party. I realized that on the Arbitration Bill honorable members might vote as they pleased, and yet remain full members of the Protectionist and Liberal Party. My Government went out of office, and party meetings were held immediately afterwards to consider the position. I took personal care that those who had voted against us, and others who intended to do so on the next amendment, but who belonged to the Protectionist Party, should be invited to those meetings, because I recognised that protection was the bond of our party. No man who had voted me out of office on another question was debarred from having a voice - some of them had a large voice - in our after proceedings. On the 2 8th April, Mr. Reid was authorized to make overtures, and on the 17th May the proposed coalition was declined. We had a series of meetings in April and May. All this has appeared in the press, and therefore I am not revealing anything that has not already been disclosed. I have refreshed my memory by reading the press reports, which, in many respects, are untrustworthy. I shall quote only those parts that are correct. From the first it became evident that the difference between us on the Arbitration Bill was not going to be the only difference. It was made clear that in connexion with the proposed coalitions with the Labour Party on the one hand and with the Prime Minister on the other, certain honorable members were determined to vote for a particular coalition under any circumstances. No attempt was made to check- them, and they were allowed to go free and without reproach. Absolute liberty was accorded us to vote against each other, both in regard to the coalition and in connexion with the Arbitration Bill. As the Age remarked, the one party bond was protection; upon all other questions the members of the party were free. As late as 2nd June the Age, summing up the resolutions of the last caucus, said -
Members of Mr. Deakin’s party can take any course in ordinary politics they please, remaining solid on the one bond of fiscal unity.
During these caucus meetings, as the reports show, no proposal was submitted by any one for Tariff revision or for a breach of fiscal peace in that respect. The subject was never raised, discussed, or considered.
– Hear, hear ; it is a mushroom growth.
– Both the coalition overtures were set aside, and we remained allied as protectionists to await events. At the conclusion of ‘these meetings, I was asked to again accept the position of leader. In doing so, I rose to remind my associates that upon every other question except the fiscal issue the position of leader was merely nominal, and asked how I could possibly lead two bodies of men who had declared their intention to fight against each other upon the Arbitration Bill and the proposed coalitions. I made it clear that the. only leadership possible was that which existed in connexion with protection, because that was the only bond left to us, and subject to that condition I agreed to retain the position. We decided to act together as a party as long as possible. Now we come to the. time when the fall of the Watson Government was approaching. That was heralded by a series of paragraphs in the Agealways exceptionally well informed upon matters of this kind - which pointed to the discussions going on amongst certain members of our party, with a view to the adoption of an independent attitude.
These paragraphs are toonumerous to read, though I recently scanned them in order to refresh my memory. They begin by recounting the first difficulties into which the Watson Government fell. These difficulties were not of a fiscal character, because no Government could have been in a more hopeless position with regard tothat question than was the Watson Administration. The difficulties related to the Arbitration Bill and to nothing else. It was. in connexion with thevotes given upon the Arbitration Bill that statements appeared from time to time with regard’ to what were called meetings, or consultations, or discussions, or chats, or whatever term might be used, the result being in every case the same. I find that long before, as early even as 9th May, after the Government, of which I was a member, went out of office, the names of practically every honorable member who has since separated himself from the main body of the party were given amongst those who were considering the desirability of taking separate action. That was three months before the last change of Government took place. As we closely approached the final and fatal division on the Arbitration Bill, no member of the party suggested to me, as its leader, that meetings should be called to consider the action to be taken. Not even a suggestion was macie by honorable members on this side of the House, or by those upon the opposite benches.
– Will the honorable and learned member read what was said on 9th May ?
– I have not the statement here, but the names given were practically those of the honorable members who have since formed themselves into a separate party.. So far as I remember, the paragraph stated that they considered the advisability of taking separate action, in view of a possible coalition with the present Prime Minister, in opposition to the then Labour Ministry.
– Oh ! If there was a. coalition with the right honorable gentleman?
– Yes, some proposal of that kind. I am speaking from . memory, and as I have read innumerable newspaper files, cannot pledge my memory. There was no request for a meeting of the party, and as we were united only as a protectionist party, and I was leading the members of the party upon that question only, it was not my duty to call a meeting to consider the action to be taken with regard to the Arbitration Bill, which hail been specifically ruled out of our party affairs, and upon which every member had claimed the right to exercise a free hand. Then, as the honorable member for Melbourne Ports has said, I had at different times certain private conversations with him, during which he expressed his own views and opinions, but naturally refrained from betraying any confidence reposed in him by other members. Naturally, also, he had nc proposals or overtures to make to me. He spoke to me as a friend, and although he had decided to take a course different from my own, he did so in an entirely friendly way. These were the only communications worth mentioning made to me by any individual, although the honorable member for Bourke, and the honorable and learned member for Darling Downs, often discussed the situation in a general way with me. They, however, made no remark with regard to the action likely to be taken by other individuals. Now we come to the quotation read by the honorable and learned member for Bendigo, with which I need not again trouble the House. These statements were to the effect that the present alliance, or separate division, was the outcome of negotiations which had been quietly proceeding . ever since the Watson Government had taken office. These were in accord with the statement made on 9th May, that at the very first suggestion of a coalition with the Prime Minister certain honorable members met to consider the position.
– We never met on that date.
– Had we-
Never met or never parted,
We had ne’er been broken-hearted.
If honorable members desire to refresh their memories, they have only to turn to page 5138 of Hansard, where they will find certain other passages from various issues, of the newspapers, which were read by the Minister of Defence. Before the vote was taken which proved fatal to the Watson Government, and before the present Administration was anything more than a matter of speculation, the Melbourne Age of nth August “ was requested to announce “ that a new liberal progressive organization was to be established’, and that -
Progressive legislation of a cautious but thoroughly democratic character of protection is to be the main objective of the new body.
– Did I not tell the honorable and learned gentleman at that time that the statement was absolutely without foundation ?
– The honorable member told me nothing that was. not true, but, of course, he spoke only of his own knowledge. When the Age spoke of protectionists, it did not necessarily include the honorable member, or any other individual member, but . it included some who made the request.
– We have never been able to discover anything with regard to that report.
– It was merely a curious coincidence.
– It has nothing to do with the honorable member, anyhow.
– The next day- I suppose that would be the 12th August - the following paragraph appeared : -
The members who are expucted to attend the meeting include the following : - Sir William Lyne, Mr. Isaacs, Sir Langdon Bonython, Mr. Chanter, Mr. Crouch’, Mr. L. E. Groom, Mr. Higgins, Mr. Mauger, Mr. Storrer, and Mr. Wilkinson.
That was the day the Watson Government were defeated. Then, on the Saturday, we were told that -
The Liberal-Protectionist Party, as an effective engine of fiscal truth and progressive legislation, stands in dangerof being temporarily, if not permanently, split by yesterday’s division in the House of Representatives.
That division took place upon the Arbitration Bill. Then we were told about more meetings that” took place, and of the members who attended them. It was after these statements had appeared that the newspapers referred to what was called a round-robin, but which was not a roundrobin, presented to me. A statement was read to me replying to the newspaper paragraphs to which I have been referring, to the effect that a number of honorable members had no desire for a separate party. Some reference was made to my leadership, and the protectionists who indorsed it stated that they were satisfied with my action. I believe that the honorable member for Eden-Monaro and the honorable member for Moira presented me with this vote of confidence. It was mentioned to the press as a counter-blast to the detailed statements made with regard to the formation of a new party. I have no wish to detain the House at much greater length. I do not complain of any action that has been taken by members of the Protectionist Party who are sitting in opposition; but merely desire to narrate the sequence of events accurately. The last stages I get with absolute correctness from the speech delivered by the honorable member for Bourke. I quote from his remarks, in order to lead up to my own position. Upon page 5067 of Hansard he points out that on the afternoon of the 16thof August, whilst walking down Collinsstreet with the honorable and learned member for Indi, the honorable member for Coolgardie, and the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, he met the honorable member for Bland.
– I was not present. He excluded me subsequently.
– The honorable member for Bourke informed the honorable . member for Bland of a separatist meeting which it was proposed to hold the next day, and made an arrangement to meet the Labour Party on the evening of the 17th of August. In the Age next day appeared the first formal notice convening a meeting of the . new Protectionist Party. That was the first intimation which I received that any such absolute severance from our party was intended.’ It was only after everything in reference to the meeting had been decided, after a conference with the Labour Party had been arranged, and the meeting advertised, that on the afternoon of the 17 th August, as leader of the Protectionist Party, I received a verbal intimation of the meeting from the honorable member for Bourke. I make no comment. I merely wish to state the facts. Now. honorable members can judge between the course which was followed when the Government, of which I was the head, relinquished office, and that which was adopted when the Watson Ministry were defeated. Upon the former occasion we called into our meeting those who had voted us out of office upon the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill., because they were entitled to act freely upon that question. But when a meeting was called by honorable members opposite, not a single member of the Protectionist Party, except myself, was notified. We had the pleasure of reading in the newspapers that, because of another division upon the same Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, members with whom we had no quarrel whatever, were proceeding to separate themselves from us, to set up their own tents, to create their own party, and to frame their own policy.
– There was a general invitation in the newspapers that all were cordially invited to attend.
– No other invitation was extended to anybody.
– I merely wish to show how different was the measure which was meted out to us’ from that which we meted out to others. We were defeated upon a non-fiscal question, and we uttered no word of censure, but when upon another nonfiscal question the Watson Administration relinquished office, not only was I not asked to call a meeting of the Protectionist Party, but I was not even notified of the intention to hold any such meeting, until after a notice had appeared in the newspapers. By whose authority that notification appeared,
I do not know, and do not care. I subsequently learned that the meeting had been held, and certain action taken. What I wish to make perfectly clear is, that if, in future, the Protectionist Party suffers from this severance, that severance does not result from the action of any honorable member upon this side of the House. It has been severed upon a question which had nothing whatever to do with protection. This separatist movement was started before the division upon the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill took place in the House, before it was known that the honorable member for Bland would not be granted a dissolution. Consequently it was not known that a new Administration would be formed. The intention was to separate from the Protectionist Party there and then, and to go to the country in support of the Watson Ministry, though its fiscal policy was not protectionist, and opposing the remainder of the protectionists from whom they differed on a non-fiscal vote for majority rule. Therefore, to connect the new party with protection is a mere afterthought, which has no justification in date or in the actual facts. I have nothing more to say upon that point, but felt myself bound to say thus much. I called no meeting when the Administration which I led’ was defeated because no fiscal question was involved, and in the second crisis, when the Watson Government relinquished office, behaved in exactly the same manner. Upon that occasion I did not use any influence with a single member, because the matter involved was not fiscal. I merely gave my own vote according to my conscience, because I believed in majority nile controlling preferences. Yet upon that division on the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, my honorable friends opposite have been misguided enough to separate from us, not only discourteously, but without any warrant from the members of our party. That” is the utmost limit of my complaint. Their conduct, however, will not prevent me from acting with them in the future upon common principles. I regret that they have thought it necessary to take the course which they have adopted. We ought to have stood together.
– Does the honorable and learned’ member say that anything we did, or did not do, was responsible for the coalition ?
– In answer to that question I say “ No.” But the coalition on this side is responsible for theirs, because without my action the Labour Party would never have made even the slight concessions upon which the alliance has been started. I do think, however, that no members of any party had a right to stand apart and impose upon its other members a condition in regard to which they had not been consulted before permitting them to enter a meeting with them. They chose to post a notice that any honorable member who would refuse to support the free-trade Prime Minister might attend’.
– The protectionist caucus had decided that previously.
– But the caucus did not decide that, if an equal position with the free-trade Prime Minister were given to a protectionist, and if the Prime Minister accepted the doctrine of fiscal peace, so that his free-trade views could not operate within a certain time, a coalition should not be formed.
– Oh, yes, it did. It decided that the Protectionist Party should have nothing whatever to do with “the right honorable gentleman.
– The honorable member had formed his party before he knew that there would be any other Prime Minister than the member for Bland. The only question which should1 have been discussed by the separatist meeting which was called was the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill. Any other question should have been considered by a party meeting of the whole of the protectionists. At all events, we should have been invited. Had it been suggested to me that a meeting of that party should be called, I should have been bound to convene one. Honorable members opposite would then have been free to argue out the question from a fiscal stand-point, that is, if they had at that time thought of raising ‘ it. ‘ They might have persuaded honorable members upon this side of the House to adopt their views, or we might have persuaded them. At any rate, the Protectionist Party would then have been given the opportunity of standing together, if it wished to do so. We can still act together. We are not sitting together, and the severance of honorable members opposite from our party is entirely voluntary and uncalled for.
– Did not that partY decide to preserve its integrity and pronounce against any coalition ?
– It decided to preserve its integrity, and to act together upon the fiscal question.
– Did it not decide against the coalition?
– Nothing of the kind.
– The Minister of Defence knows that it did.
– It decided only against the two coalitions on the particular terms offered, and at that time. Even if that had been decided in a positive form, honorable members opposite had no right to separate themselves from their party without first meeting its members and discussing the question.
– That would be regarded as only common courtesy by even the Coal Lumpers’ Union.
– I want to get away from the question. All I say is that no member of a party has a right to withdraw himself without notice to th”e other members - without giving his old comrades and friends the opportunity! to discuss the situation. What is a party for? If a party will not meet and discuss its common interests, and if notice of such meetings is not given to all the members, there is no party.
– Surely it is not a party meeting if it is not called by the leader ?
– But there may be a new leader and a new party ; and what we say is that both sides -should have been heard.
– Before the honorable and learned member passes away from that question, may I ask whether it is a fact that the amendment of the honorable and learned member for Corinella meant the downfall of the Watson Government - that it was moved without any consultation with the party, and had the result of breaking up the party?
– Am I not to be allowed to move an amendment in the Arbitration Bill without the consent of the honorable and learned member for Indi?
– The honorable and learned member for Corinella acted in concert with the Free-trade Party.
– My conscience, in regard te the Arbitration B’ill, belongs to no party.
– Did the honorable and learned member- for Indi consult his party when he “built bridges?”
– Order !
– The express’ agreement made iri this party, as I have stated over and over again, was that every member should have an absolutely free hand on the Arbitration Bill.
– On the Bill, yes. This is too transparent !
– It is not so transparent as other things we see.
-I ask both die Minister and the honorable and learned member for Indi to refrain from conversing across the Chamber.
– It seems to me that in this debate we have attached far too much importance to the mere conditions of trie Arbitration Bill, which has resulted in the removal of two Governments. As a member of one of those Governments, I have never been able to feel that what followed was anything but the natural and inevitable result of the circumstances under which we were returned with three equal parties. I hold that the removal of the Watson Government was equally inevitable when once they . determined to act as a Government representing a minority. If the right honorable member for East Sydney had not taken the lesson to heart, the same result would inevitably have followed in his case. But there is no reason why bitterness should prevail. Why should there be any resentment?
– There is no bitterness on this side.
– We have been attacked, and called traitors.
– That was in a Pickwickian sense. There is no reason why animosity should be allowed to grow out of the results of the verdict of the electors. The present situation has not been brought about by intrigue or tactics, but is due to the fact that there are three equal parties in the House. I cannot sufficiently convince honorable members that there can be no security for constitutional government until we have a Government with a majority much bigger than that which the present Prime Minister has yet gained upon the questions to be submitted to the House.
– My majority is steady at the same number.
– The Prime Minister has now the same opportunity which the late Prime Minister threw away - the opportunity to increase his majority by his policy an3 administration. I sincerely hope that the Prime Minister will be able to increase his majority. That is my hope, because I agree that we are no longer confronted, or ought no longer to be confronted, with merely contentious questions. Australia’ is waiting for something from this Parliament which she has not yet received.. Our population is not increasing, but our States debts remain, and have grown larger, and very little has been done to advance settlement on the land. Nothing has been done to make us better known, or to draw more capital and enterprise to Australia, and nothing has been done to assist the producing interests.
– The honorable and learned member himself made a promise.
– We became involved in other important discussions at the time which, partly by my own fault, to-night, have been prolonged to undue length.
– The honorable and learned member is rivalling .the achievement of the honorable member for Darling,
– I confess to having made an inordinately long speech.
– It is a pity that the youngest member in this House should make such a remark.
– I had many arrears to make up.
– And a lot to explain away.
– I have been the target for months for just the sort of heedless suggestion the honorable member for Yarra has been gracious enough to make. I had to speak at length, not because of merely personal interest, but because I held formerly a quasi official relation to one party, and had to justify the action which myself and others had taken. This has been done at great length, because of the infinite detail to be dealt with ; but I can assure the House that I have spent more days in the study of my facts and data than I have detained honorable members hours. I have spoken once and for all, and hope’ that no more words relating to the matter will pass my lips. I have no concern with the dead past, as to which I feel no animosity, nor desire to preserve any recollection. ‘ I had, in justice, to put. my case for once, and plainly, and am anxious to get back to practical work - anxious to assist the Prime Minister as I should have assisted the late Prime Minister. This country may be over-governed instead of under-governed, but, if so, it is in regard to matters, many of which do not affect its vital interests. The immense importance o’f the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill I never undervalue. If by means of that Bill, as I hope, we obtain industrial peace, this Parliament will wear a chaplet all. its days, and long afterwards. Such a result is worth almost any .sacrifice. But, at the same time, there are all kinds of contingent interests - rivalries which spring up, and the ashes of a dead past blown about which ought to have been buried out of sight a long while ago. If this debate does nothing else, I hope it will serve as a cemetery in which the bid State personal controversies will be buried once and for all under tombstones not to be desecrated in the future. Let us be content to deal with Federal affairs and issues from Federal times. Our Constitution makes1 us a united people, but I am afraid that result has not been attained in spirit and in truth. Our Parliament is necessarily Federal in its operation, and yet, every day almost, there arises in it the spectre pf the conflicting interests of the States. Provincialism is rampant outside, its echoes are heard within these walls. Not until we get away from those considerations, and with “Australia facing the dawn “ - to use the flowery phrase of a former Minister of Public Works in New South Wales - set ourselves to the business we were sent to do, ‘ will this Parliament succeed In justifying itself. I hope that we shall succeed in justifying it sufficiently to go to the country with a clear and unmistakable issue, for a clear and unmistakable verdict. Personally, I am prepared to bow to that verdict, whatever it may be, content so far as my pledges permit, to accept the Government principles and policy, which the electors choose, and to be satisfied with my own small share in the public life which helps in some measure to shape the great destinies of this new country. If. I can add ever so little to its progress, whether in office, out of office, or out of public life, I shall. seek no other and no nearer reward.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Bamford) adjourned.
House adjourned at 10.20 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 12 October 1904, viewed 6 July 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1904/19041012_reps_2_22/>.