2nd Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Debate resumed from 12th October (vide this page) on motion by Mr. Watson -
That the present Administration does, not possess the. confidence of this House.
– It is with a certain . amount of diffidence that I enter upon this debate, and I feel my position somewhat more because of the specially able addresses which were delivered yesterday by those two oratorical giants, the honorable and learned members for Indi and Ballarat I think, however, that on a very important occasion such as this, when a motion involving the fate of the Ministry, with, perhaps, a dissolution and a general election to follow, is under discussion - because I would remind honorable members opposite that there is many a slip between the cup and the lip, and that accidents will occur in the best regulated political families - every honorable member is justified in expressing his views upon the situation. I am -not able to make any such interesting revelations as have come from honorable members on both sides of the Chamber during the debate, because the caucus of the Labour Party is an open meeting compared with the caucuses of the other parties which were held just prior to the assumption of office by the present Ministry. What we have heard, however, is now, tq some extent, ancient history, and after the exhaustive speech of the) honorable and learned member for Ballarat, I do not desire to say anything more on the subject. I think that every honorable member will agree with me that it is a matter of regret that this Chamber has been transformed into a laundry for the washing of the dirty political linen of New South Wales. The honorable member for Lang has told the House that the motion was dictated by hatred of and personal malice to the Prime Minister. Nothing of the sort. I profess to know as much as do other honorable members about the feeling generally in regard to the right honorablegentleman, because I have fraternized with honorable members of all parties, and I have, heard him discussed most freely and candidly by many, but I have never heard an unkind word said of him personally. I do not think that we have any reason to dislike him, though we distrust him politically. We have no faith in his political promises, and we think that his political career justifies us in viewing with a certain amount of suspicion his declarations as to his motives. I admit that he has said uncomplimentary and unkind things of the members of the Labour Party. His reference to the ship being steered from the steerage, although he has subsequently treated it in the lightest manner, was not intended to be complimentary, nor was his statement that, the Labour Party is a party whose members never laboured. He has made other uncomplimentary, and ungenerous remarks about us, both since we have been sitting on the Opposition benches, and when we were on the Ministerial benches and the Ministerial cross-benches; but I do not think that thefacts justified the honorable member for Lang in attributing the present motion of want of confidence to personal animus or hatred, because the right honorable gentleman has said far more unkind, ungenerous, and severe things about many who now belong to. his own party, such as his colleagues, the Ministers for Trade and Customs and Defence, the honorable member for Echuca, and the right honorable member for Swan. Did any one imagine, a few months ago, that the honorable member for Gippsland and the right honorablemember for East Sydney would ever be joined in the unholy bonds of political matrimony by becoming members of the same Cabinet ?
– There is bound to be an early divorce.
– No doubt it is coming. We heard them hurling invectives and abuse against each other on many occasions.
– I have differed from the right honorable gentleman ; but I have never, spoken a harsh or unkind word about him.
– What a’ pleasing thing it- is to have a short memory. I think that I could refute the honorable member’s statement by referring to Hansard,’ but I do not propose to do so. Yet,, notwithstanding the close political allianceto which I have referred, I think that it will not be long before one of the contracting parties will find that the other has beeneating biscuits in the nuptial couch. Onlyyesterday the honorable member “ for Gippsland was reported in the Argus as-, having expressed an opinion on the fiscal situation which I am certain his leaderwould not indorse.’ Consequently, I think that trouble is brewing, and that it W1 not be long before fermentation sets in. The Prime Minister a few days ago, speaking across the table, said that he would be willing to accept the support of any one, even of Old Nick. I should like to know whom he had in hismind when he made that statement. Was it the Minister of Trade and Customs, the honorable member for Denison, or the honorable member for Echuca? We do not know, but evidently the .remark was intended to have a special personal application. It would be interesting to know what was in the right honorable gentleman’s mind.
– Perhaps he meant the honorable member for Herbert.
– But I am not a supporter of the right honorable gentleman, and I am not likely to become one. During the course of this debate a good deal has been said with regard to the unfair tactics adopted by Ministers and their supporters towards the late Government. Their conduct has been characterized as unfair, but some honorable members have claimed that parliamentary practice justified the adoption of any tactics to oust the late Government. I have always held that the methods adopted were unfair. I do not propose to use the strong language that has been used by some other members, but I think that it will be sufficient to describe the treatment to which the late Government was subjected as ungentlemanly and unfair. It has been said that, no matter how the division had resulted, the ultimate effect would have been the same; that if the 48th clause had been recommitted members would have voted as they had done previously upon the amendment proposed by the Minister of Defence, and that the Government, after having declared their intention to resign unless that vote were reversed, would have been compelled to leave the Treasury bench. I contend, however, that the result would have been very different. Although the Prime Minister declined to allow the 48th clause of the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill to be recommitted, on the ground that that course was unnecessary, he adopted a different attitude in regard to the Papua (British New .Guinea) Bill. When that Bill was being passed through Committee, I will not say with indecent haste, but, certainly, in a hasty manner, I asked the right honorable gentleman whether, in view of the fact that the clauses were being agreed to without sufficient consideration - honorable members not having had time to look up the Bill, or having forgotten what had transpired previously - he would allow any of the clauses to be recommitted. He said “ certainly, if honorable members so desire, any of the clauses may be recommitted.” Thereby he acknowledged that it was only fair that clauses which had not been sufficiently considered should be again submitted to ‘ the Committee. Possibly the right honorable gentleman saw his chance in connexion with the motion for the recommittal of the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill. He may have been afraid1 that the office which had previously been almost within his grasp, might again elude him, and he took the opportunity, unfair though it was, to oust the Ministry from office. He recognised that there was a possibility of his not being able to secure a majority upon a straight-out motion of want of confidence. He said that the circumstances under which the vote was taken made no difference, because if he lost the vote of the Chairman of Committees, he would gain the support of the honorable member for Barker. It is to be remembered, however, that in view of the fact that the latter honorable member had not, up to that time, declared how he intended to vote, there was nothing to justify the Prime Minister in arriving at that conclusion. If the Watson Ministry had been beaten fairly in Committee upon the amendment proposed’ by the Minister of Defence, the present debate would never have taken place. The late Government would have accepted defeat with a good grace, and there would have been no factious opposition ‘ to the measures introduced by their successors. The time wasted - and I use the term advisedly - in connexion with this debate, and the possibility of a dissolution to follow would have been avoided. Therefore the results would not have been the same, and the right honorable gentleman’s assumption was not justified. I ask the Minister of Defence whether it would not have been better if the late Government had been defeated upon a straight-out issue .instead of being beaten as they were?
– I think they were defeated on a straight-out issue.
Mir. BAMFORD. - Then we differ in opinion. I think the country will agree with me when it is asked to express its view of the matter.
– And that will come about very soon.
– The honorable and learned member for Bendigo is one of those who hold that the result would have been the same. But I ask him whether he could honestly recommend the Amalgamated Miners’ Association to register under the Bill in the form in which it has been sent to .the Senate, embodying, as it does, the amendment adopted at the instance of the Minister of Defence ?
– Most decidedly.
– Does the honorable and learned member think that they will register?
– Yes, if they honestly want arbitration they will.
– I am quite certain that they will not register, and, further, that no other union will do so.
– Honorable members opposite are endeavouring ta. persuade them against doing so.
– One of the reasons why we object to the Prime Minister’s control of the affairs of the Commonwealth is that we distrust him and his policy. As one of those directly and deeply interested in the maintenance of a White Australia, I hold that that policy is not safe in the hands of the right honorable gentleman. As affording evidence of the soundness of that view, I shall read one or two extracts from his speeches and from newspapers which are evidently of opinion that the right honorable gentleman is, at any rate, “squeezable.” It is most unfortunate that the destinies of this Commonwealth should be controlled by a man who is not trusted by the people, whose word is not taken, and who is understood to have no particular political faith.
– He brings to this House seventeen supporters from New South Wales, where he is best known, and also six supporters from that State in the Senate.
– The honorable member knows very well - better than I do - how that support was obtained. However the right honorable member may be trusted by the people of New South Wales he does not possess the confidence of the people of other parts of the Commonwealth. Just prior to the last Federal election the Prime Minister, in addressing an audience at the Protestant Hall, Sydney, upon the White Australia policy, declared that he was the author of the “ White Austral ia “ phrase. He made that statement subsequently to the Ministerial declaration of policy by Sir Edmund Barton at Maitland. I do not know the date upon which the meeting was held, but the chair was occupied by the Mayor of Sydney, and those upon the platform included Sir William McMillan, Dr. Cullen, Mr. R. Jones, and a number of others of the same political belief. Upon that occasion t’he right honorable gentleman said -
I would like to say that there is one subject Mr. Barton took up that there can be uo difference of opinion upon - and I feel delighted that the Federal Ministry has taken up every item of the policy which I advocated for years.
Honorable members will notice how firm he is upon the matter. He continued -
I do not quarrel with them for doing it, as it is a grand thing to have your opponents doing your work - (laughter) - and *hat subj’ect is a “White Australia.” (Cheers.) When Mr. Bartor talks about a “White Australia,” may I say that I had the honour of inventing that expression some years ago? (Loud cheers.)
That statement was subsequently contradicted by the late Mr. W. H. Groom, who was an honoured member of this Chamber, and who affirmed that the author of the expression a “White Australia” was the late Mr. John Murtagh Macrossan.
The great leaders of the Free-trade Party have held to it, and it has been the watchword of responsible politicians who have carried out legislation in New South Wales on its lines when they passed the Chinese Restriction Act, which ileal t with the coloured races of the world. (Cheers.) So on that subject we are delighted to find Mr. Barton true to liberal traditions.
These are the utterances of the right honorable gentleman who stands here and condemns alien restriction.
– He has publicly declared that he intends to repeal certain sections of the Immigration Restriction Act.
– What are the sections?
– I repeat that he has announced his intention of repealing certain provisions in that Act which deal with the coloured races of the world. He does not confine his declaration to the exclusion of Chinese.
– Why, in New South Wales in 1896 he passed a law for the exclusion of aliens. He was the first man in Australia to take action in that direction.
– That is exactly what I am saying. Yet he now repudiates his own action. That is what the present Prime Minister said in Sydney just .prior to the first elections for this Parliament. Honorable members will observe what a determined attitude he assumed upon the question. There were no “ ifs “ or “ buts “ in .his speech then. He was emphatic upon the question of a White Australia.
– He is the same to-day.
– I shall show presently whether that is so.
– Then he has held to one opinion for a long time.
– It: was the late Sir Henry Parkes who introduced the Chinese Restriction Act.
– Shortly after having delivered the speech from which I have quoted, the right honorable gentleman visited Toowoomba. Mark the different opinion which he developed immediately he passed the Queensland border. Speaking at Toowoomba in connexion with this question, the late Mr. W. H. Groom said -
Now, Mr. Barton spoke at Maitland of a “White Australia.” When Mr. Reid replied to him at Sydney, he stated that he was very glad to see that Mr. Barton had taken up the liberal traditions of ten years ago, and had adopted his (Mr. Reid’s) phrase, “ A White Australia.” It was useful sometimes for an outsider whose memory was not altogether treacherous, to give a few facts from history. Now, long before Mr. Reid or Mr. Barton thought of entering public life, the words “White Australia” were used in the Queensland Parliament, and that by no less a person than the late Hon. John Macrossan.
That quotation has no particular reference to the subject at issue ) it merely goes to show that other persons laid claim to being the author of the expression “ White Australia.” In order that there may be no dispute as to the context, I propose to quote in full an extract from the report of the right honorable gentleman’s speech at Toowoomba on 16th March, 1901, bearing upon this question. He said -
Now, he supposed that some of them would be waiting for his views on the coloured labour question. He had always been one of the strongest advocates for what is called a White Australia, and, viewing the danger to be apprehended from the nearness to Australia of the native lands of many undesirable aliens - and especially this part of Australia - he looked upon a White Australia as a prime national necessity.
There is no ambiguity about that statement. The report continues -
He had, therefore, always taken up a position to legislate in that direction. He understood that Queensland had now an increasing number of Chinese and Japanese on the northern coasts, and, although their number was perhaps not very great, yet, if they left a hole in the dyke, the little trickle of to-day might become the flood of to-morrow.
All these sentiments I can thoroughly indorse. The right honorable gentleman proceeded -
Therefore, the necessity was apparent for a rigid policy of restriction to coloured aliens throughout Australia.
That was the “ yes “ ; now we come to the wobble -
However, since he had come to Queensland he had been treated with some figures, which, he must say, fairly astounded him. It had been stated to him that there were seven millions sterling invested in the plantations which were worked by kanakas. He confessed that he scarcely credited the statement ; he could not believe it to be true. But he would tell them what he was determined to do. He had been asked by some men, whom he respected, to go and study this thing for himself. Well, he thought it was the least that he could do. He would not at all conceal the strong views he held on the question, but he would £0 and study this problem for himself, and he hoped to go next April. (Applause.)
Evidently, as soon as he reached Queensland, some of those interested in the sugar industry in the north of that State interviewed him, and pointed out- the sum of money which was invested in it. He at once put upon one side his desire for a White Australia - put aside his humanitarian principles - and came to the conclusion that he mus[ make an investigation. Consequently he wobbled. He said -
Let them just look at the beautiful way in which Mr. Barton said nothing on a subject - (laughter) - of this kind. He told the meeting that “ The Federal Government would approach and secure the abolition of the kanaka traffic by just and wise legislation without any undue delay.” That sounded just beautiful. (Laughter.)
It sounded beautiful, and was beautiful. In that particular instance, at any rate, the Barton Government kept its word. He continued -
Well, lie would say, “ditto.” But he would not think much of their intelligence if they were satisfied with a statement like that. (Laughter and applause.) They knew he held strong views on the subject, but the -least thing a responsible man in Australia could do before he gave his final decision about it, was to go and study the problem for himself. He hoped to go to the canefields in the north, as he said - and he hoped to go further north than Bundaberg. He intended to go right through the bulk of the sugar plantations.
Which, by the way, he never did. Finding after this Parliament assembled that the Queensland representatives were in hearty sympathy with the White Australia policy upon which he had expressed such decided opinions, he found it convenient to assume a strong attitude upon it, and’ accordingly supported the policy initiated by the Barton Administration, which was afterwards carried into law. I now wish to show the opinion which is held by the people of Australia regarding the right honorable gentleman - a point upon which I was contradicted just now by the honorable member for Dalley. They believe that the right honorable gentleman’s professions are dictated more by the exigencies of the moment than by any denned opinions which he holds. They regard him as insincere - as one who, whenever he finds it convenient to alter his views, is ready to do so. altogether oblivious of anything which he may have previously uttered to the contrary. In this connexion I desire to quote from a newspaper which is published in one of the sugar districts of Northern Queensland - I refer to the Mackay Chronicle of 30th September of the present year. That issue of the journal in question contains a report of the meeting of the Chamber of Commerce, at which a letter was read by its president from the Townsville Chamber of Commerce as follows: -
In view of thelate utterances of the Federal Prime Minister on the subject of the black labour conditions inserted in the Australian mail contract, it is thought that he, and his Government, may be more disposed than their predecessors to listen to representations from tropical Queensland on the subject of the continuance of South Sea Island labour in connexion with the sugar industry, and with this idea in view, this Chamber is endeavouring to arrange for a conference here of representatives from the various sugar districts in the tropics. I therefore approach you with a request to arrange for some one or more representative men to come here and discuss the position, and assist in petitioning the Federal Government for the appointment of a Commission to inquire into and report upon the future of the sugar industry.
It is significant that the right honorable gentleman had scarcely been comfortably seated in office before these people came to the conclusion that he was- the man for their ticket, that he was the individual whom it was possible to squeeze in their own interests, and that therefore they should approach him at once, with a view to securing an alteration of the White Australia Legislation.
– The honorable member would not be afraid of a Royal Commission ?
– Not at all; I never was afraid of any commission of inquiry. But at the time the Kanaka Bill was being discussed and a Royal Commission was proposed, I recognised that the proposal was only intended to delay legislation.
– But now that . there is legislation, the honorable member is not afraid of a Royal Commission?
– I am not, because, on this as on the Tariff question, I feel sure that we on this side have nothing to fear from the finding of a Royal Commission. A man who opposes the appointment of a Royal Commission from the fear of light being thrown upon a subject takes up an unjustifiable position. In view of such opinions as I have indicated, it is not in the highest interests of the Commonwealth, or to the credit of the Prime Minister himself, that he should retain office. I now wish to say a few words in regard to the attitude taken up by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat. After Parliament met, the honorable and learned member, both in this House and at many places outside, expressed the opinion that responsible government must be restored - that it was highly advisable that parties in the House should be reduced to two. There was a great deal of scheming and intriguing, in order to bring about that desired result ; but, after all the underground engineering - after all the conclaves, caucuses., and secret meetings in a cave by the sea-side - we have not two parties, but five parties. There are two parties on the Government side of the House, and two parties on this side, and the honorable member for Wilmot holds the balance of power. In past times members who have since transplanted themselves to the benches opposite, used to complain, in season and out of season, of a party of sixteenmen who sat in the corners and held the balance of power. At the present time, however, those honorable members have not a word to say against the one man who now strides the political fulcrum and determines which side shall go down. The position which has been arrived at . by the machinations of the honorable and learned member for Ballarat must be extremely gratifying to that gentleman. After much trouble and waste of good breath in his efforts to establish what he calls responsible government - though for my part I entirely fail to see any particular virtue in two parties - he has succeeded in establishing five parties instead of three. The honorable and learned (member, especially in regard to the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, takes up what., in my opinion,’ is a most Quixotic attitude, and. his Sancho Panza is the right honorable and learned member for Balaclava. The honorable and learned member for Ballarat took up a most decided position on that clause of the Arbitration Bill which provided for the inclusion of public servants. The Bill, as we know, has already wrecked two Ministries, and it is very likely indeed that it will wreck another.
– Let us hope not !
– I am not prophetic, but there is something in the atmosphere which compels me to conjecture that that Bill may wreck another Government - whether the present Government, or one to follow, I do not know.
– The honorable member is looking a long way ahead !
– I hope the honorable and learned member for Corinella does not think I am looking a long way ahead, because quite the reverse is the fact.
– The honorable member is quite a Jeremiah !
– I am looking at the immediate future. The previous Ministry was wrecked over this particular Bill ; and when speaking on the motion of the honorable member for Wide Bay to include public servants, the honorable and learned member for Ballarat on the 19th April spoke as follows : -
I am not addressing the High Court, a Court of Appeal, or a Court of first instance. I am addressing a House of Parliament, which, though it contains a number of professional men, approaches these questions on grounds which include the legal and the constitutional, but which also embrace political considerations. Consequently, I have no complaint to offer, because the honorable member who moved this amendment thought fit to avoid what really will be the crux of this question - the strictly legal and constitutional issue - which must certainly be raised. I regard that issue as of immense importance; I regard the principle embodied in this amendment as lying at the very foundation of our Federal form of Government; if that be destroyed, in my opinion it will bring to inevitable wreck and ruin, the whole superstructure, so far as it is Federal.
Those statements are of the most decided character. The honorable and learned member, without any hesitation or qualification, expressed the opinion that the inclusion of public servants under the operation of the Arbitration Bill would wreck the Feder:il structure. The honorable and learned member went so far in his opposition that he resigned office and wrecked his Ministry ; he at the same time has practically wrecked the party which followed him, and has divided the protectionists into two parties in this House. One section of the protectionists have no cohesion,, though I am pleased to say that on this side of the House they are a solid little body : and every credit ‘must be given to the honorable member for Melbourne Ports for the faithful manner in which he has upheld the flag. After sacrificing himself and his Ministry, and splitting up his party in such a way as to prevent its being reunited for some considerable time, the honorable and learned member for Ballarat came into the Chamber and swallowed the whole Bill at one gulp. I do not know by what motives the honorable and learned member for Ballarat was actuated, but he allowed the third reading of the Bill to pass without one word of protest against the inclusion of public servants. The honorable and learned member’s attitude is most inconsistent - his attitude on this question has throughout been most Quixotic.
– He acted just as did the alliance.
– The honorable member for Parramatta, is welcome to his opinion, but I contend that the honorable and learned member for Ballarat was not justified in speaking as he did last night. After the determined attitude he assumed, he should certainly have attempted to defeat the Bill on the third reading.
– A man cannot always be fighting.
– A man is sent here to fight for his principles all the time, and not to haul down his flag immediately he suffers one defeat.
– Why did the Labour Partyaccept the Bill when it was mutilated?
– We did not accept the Bill ; we washed our hands of all responsibility. We refused to accept it. We hold that the Bill is of no substantial use, and are quite convinced that in its present form it can never come into practical operation. When the honorable and learned member for Ballarat was addressing himself to this question last night, and spoke of the communications which had passed between himself and the Labour Party regarding a possible alliance, he did not tell the House what was the real objection to an alliance between two parties from our point of view. At one time there was every probability of an alliance being effected. But the one point upon which the two parties did not agree was the inclusion of the States servants under the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill. If the honorable and learned member had then accepted the support of the only friends he ever had in this Parliament, apart from his own immediate fol- lowers - the Labour Party - he might have been in office at this time, and the business of the session would have been concluded. I daresay that wiser counsels would have prevailed if he had realized what was likely to follow from his course of action. The only difference between him and the Labour Party at that time was what I have explained. He has since accepted the Bill containing the amendment upon which we insisted. If he had accepted our view at the time there would have been a coalition, which would have been for the benefit of this Parliament and of the Commonwealth. Honorable members opposite are continually twitting us that we do not say anything about the alliance which has been formed. For my own part, I am in hearty accord with the alliance, thinking that the results which may accrue from it will be of the utmost value to us as a party, and to the Commonwealth as a whole.
– Tom Mann says that the Labour Party are simply smoothing the way.
Mr.BAMFORD. - I have a high respect for Mr. Mann, but he does not know everything. Honorable member s who sit on this side of the House are bound together by ties of homogeneity of political principles. There is very little difference in matters of opinion between the Labour Party and those whom I may describe as the sound, solid, wholesome Protectionist Party. But there aie some remarkable differences between honorable members opposite. Take, for instance, the honorable member for Dalley and the honorable member for Grampians. Fancy any political bond existing between them ! Again, is there anything in common between the honorable member for Lang and the honorable member for Wentworth? Throughout the ranks of honorable members opposite there are similar gulfs dividing member from member. No differences of that sort divide us on this side of the House.
– What about the tariff ?
– The statement made the other day by the honorable member for Maranoa clearly indicates the position of the Opposition party in reference to the tariff. We are willing to listen to reason. Indeed, there is only one honorable member in the whole Chamber who holds what may be described as positive fiscal opinions, and who makes rabid utterances concerning them. I allude to the honorable and learned member for Werriwa. Even he, according to his latest utterances, is willing to listen to reason on the subject. The greatest credit is due to the Prime Minister’s engineering abilities for having bridged the chasm between the sections of honorable members opposite even by means of such a temporary and flimsy bridge as he has erected. His engineering instincts have been taxed to the utmost. But the bridge is not likely to last long. As soon as any stress comes upon it down it will go. Much has been said regarding the caucuses of the Labour Party. The honorable merr.ber for Mernda, some days ago, repudiated the idea that caucuses were held by his party. He said, “ Oh, no ; nothing of the sort. We merely hold some party meet < ings.” The word caucus has been in use for a great many years. It was used before I was born. I have a very old dictionary at home which says that a caucus is “ a meeting for party or political purposes.” It does not matter how the honorable member for Mernda interprets the word, the fact remains that a meeting of a party in politics is evidently, according to recognised authorities, a caucus. It has been said that the caucus exerts so much pressure on us that we have to bow to it. Let me read an extract from the Melbourne Herald of 28th June of this year. It refers to the candidature of Mr. Beazley for the speakership of the Victorian Legislative Assembly. It will be remembered that there was considerable discussion upon the subject, Mr. Beazley, the former Speaker, having been rejected, and another gentleman elected to the position. I refer to the incident to show the pressure that is brought to bear in other parties besides the Labour Party. The Herald paragraph says -
Ministerialists who, in caucus, voted against the principle of spoils to the victors, state openlv that they regret that they have, in loyalty to their party, to vote against Mr. Beazley. If their hands were free they would support him, as he had done nothing to merit being thrust aside. One Ministerialist, it is said, did not sleep for two nights after the decision of the caucus, because he thought he would be going against what his conscience dictated in voting against Mr. Beazley.
Another matter to which the honorable member referred was the influence of the machine. He described the machine as something so relentless that every cog, pivot, and lever in its construction was there for the express purpose of crushing the initiative and the individuality out of every member belonging to this party. The organization, or the machine, is, on the contrary, so constituted as to merit the approbation of every man in Australia. At stated intervals a conference is held in one of the States, at which delegates from every one of the labour unions are entitled to be present. It is practically a parliament. It is open to the press and the public, and all its proceedings are conducted in the light of day. Persons who may subsequently become members of Parliament, and persons who are at the time members of Parliament, may be present at these conferences, and they have an opportunity of deciding for themselves what the machine is to be, by which, it is said, they are subsequently to be crushed. Various resolutions are carried by these conferences, often after very long and sometimes heated discussions. These subsequently become the platform of the party.
– The conferences select candidates.
– No; it is the local organizations that select the candidates. Though a great deal has been said about the Trades Hall Councils in this connexion, they do not frame any policy whatever, and have nothing whatever to do with the framing of the policy of the party. It is framed at these conferences, at which, as I say, delegates from every labour union are entitled to be present, if the unions desire to be represented.
– And honorable members have to support the programme approved at a conference.
– We have to support a programme which, as I have shown, many of us may have been instrumental in framing. I wish to compare “ the machine,” as it has been called, with the organization which supports honorable members opposite. Whilst we have an organization constituted as I have said, and carrying on its proceedings in such a public way, the organization supporting honorable members opposite is a secret organization of, perhaps, one ot two persons meeting in an editorial sanctum. Honorable members opposite, and especially those coming from New South Wales, dare not brave the opposition of the press, and they cannot call their political souls their own.
An Honorable Member. - That is the free-trade section, not the labour section.
– Of course I refer to the free-trade section.
– They would all “ dare to be Daniels” if they wished.
– Then, evidently, they do not wish to be. Not one of them dares to act in opposition to the dictates of the New South Wales press.
– Especially if it has a vellow cover.
– No, I do not say that. I make no reference to sectarian matters. The influence of the press is felt not only in New South Wales, but also in Victoria. I have here an extract from the Argus of 18th March last, which, in my opinion, is very applicable to the present situation, and which shows the influence exerted by the press, not only upon the members of political parties, but even upon persons in a higher sphere of life. The extract is from a report of a speech by the Chief Justice of Victoria, which was made evidently in reply to some press criticisms upon the delays of the law. The matter is referred to in this way -
The Chief Justice took the opportunity yesterday afternoon of replying to criticisms that have appeared in certain quarters on the work of the Judges in the Courts. The usual hour for adjourning had passed, but his Honor intimated his intention of continuing the case before him.
In reply to an observation of counsel, that late sittings led to inconvenience to clients,
The Chief Justice said that a good deal had been said by a section of the press as to the way in which the work of the Courts was being attended to. The press, he thought, said a good deal about things which they knew nothing of, and, in regard to the conduct of legal business, the press did not know what it was talking about. But, as nobody said anything to the contrary, hi: thought it a Judge’s duty to keep on sitting, even to the inconvenience of others.
– Does the honorable member think this has anything to do with the no-confidence motion ?
– Yes, sir; I say that honorable members opposite are influenced by the press, and I give this as an illustration of the way in which the influence of the press is exerted. The Chief Justice further said -
The hours of sitting of the Courts had been arranged by the Judges so as to be suitable, as they thought, for the public convenience, and for the convenience of counsel and solicitors, who were the public’s agents. The business of the Courts could not go on like a machine, and yet it should not be supposed that the Judges simply consulted their own ease and convenience. Speaking for himself, he would, while he was able, sit as long as necessary. He knew all about the difficulties that counsel experienced in being unable to make appointments with their clients, and he knew absolutely all about the work that had to be done outside of the Court, and that, if counsel and solicitors had not the time to arrange the work that had to be done outside the Courts, the business of the Courts would be strung out, and time wasted, and the public would complain.
One of the counsel at the table here interjected, “No one takes any notice of the press.’’
The Chief Justice (with warmth). - That is one of the evils of these times. Every one says that no one takes any notice of the press, and yet eery one does take’ notice of it, and says what the press says. Statements have been made bv a section of the press, in an outrageously unfair and grossly offensive manner, as to the’ way in which the business of the Courts is attended to by the Judges, and I am determined that they shall have no possible ground for saving such things of me at any rate.
These are the remarks of the Chief Justice of an important State like Victoria.
They were made, not at a smoke concert, or at any festive function, but from his seat on the Bench, and we are accustomed to look upon remarks made from the Bench as entitled to the greatest possible weight and consideration. Chief Justice Madden in these remarks acknowledges that to do as the press dictates would inconvenience the public, solicitors, and counsel, who are the agents of the public, and would cause a waste of time, and yet he deliberately obeys the dictates of the press. This should conclusively demonstrate that the press really exerts the influence of which I speak. I ‘ submit that honorable members on the other side are amenable to that influence, and that, when they speak of the machine regulating the conduct of honorable members on this side, they forget that the machine which regulates their conduct is far more drastic in its operations, is more secret in every way, and arrives at its conclusions in a manner which is not conducive to the best interests of the people, and which certainly reflects no credit upon those who have to bow to its decision. The attitude taken up here the other day by the honorable member for Perth is a most complete refutation of the argument that the machine is relentless in its operations. He showed most conclusively quite the reverse. His complaint was that the organizations were not sufficiently powerful, that whilst he was willing to bow to the dictates of the organizations, other members of the party declined to do so. I submit that in the face of that fact the assertion made by honorable members opposite, that we are in the grip of a machine from which there is no escape, is totally unfounded. When the Prime Minister was discussing the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill he made a statement regarding the number of men who were outside the organizations, and who would be influenced by a decision given in favour of a few persons, thereby creating minority rule. I forget the date on which he made that statement, but I know that on more than one occasion he has said that the majority would be subject to the dictates of the minority. I have obtained some figures which prove directly the contrary. The figures have been supplied by Mr. A. B. Spence, Secretary of the New South Wales Breadcarters’ Union, by whom they were taken from the Statistical Register of New South Wales for 1903.
– Has the honorable member the statistics for all Australia?
– No; only the figures which Mr. Coghlan has given for New South Wales, to which the Prime Minister particularly referred as being the most populous State, and having the largest number of workers. I did not attempt to get the figures in regard to other States.
The actual adult workers of the State number 423,592, ranging from the age of 17½ years to 65 years, and in order to classify these workers, and find out how many of them are unionists, and how many are not unionists who might, should, or could be, I must give the figures of the professions, trades, and callings, which, under present circumstances, it is almost impossible to bring under the influences of the Arbitration Act.
– Are they all in unions ?
– No; these are the persons who cannot become unionists under ordinary circumstances, and have to be deducted from the total number of workers in the State between the age of 17½ years and’ the age of 65 years.
– Has the honorable member got the figures for the Female Cooks’ Union ?
– These figures do not apply to unions at all.
– Has the honorable member got the figures for the Doctors’ Union ?
– Even the figures for the medical profession are not mentioned in this work.
– If the majority of the workers are in the unions interested why does the honorable member object to the amendment of the honorable and learned member for Corinella?
– We object to the amendment because we consider that it would be impracticable in its operation.
– The honorable member is mistaken.
– Events will, I think, prove conclusively that we are right.
– Let us await the event.
– The honorable member will have to make out a much stronger case than that against the amendment.
If you take 301,660 from 423,592, it leaves 121,932 persons to be divided amongst the different trades and callings throughout our State, and of that number about 75,000 have their names on the rolls of the different unions. Now, should you deduct 75,000 from 121,932, it leaves Mr. G. H. Reid and his verifier the grand total of 46,932, in proof of the statement that members of unions are only one-sixth of the wage-earners. I have not the time to classify the 46.932. Sufficient for me to say they are spread over the whole of the State, and take in hotel-keepers, watchmakers and jewellers, cabmen, market gardeners, orchardists, nightmen, Chinamen, chemists, and others.
So that the Prime Minister, in making the statement to which I have referred, was not speaking by the card. I propose now to make a few remarks concerning the Tariff. In the first place, I wish to define my own position. On the first occasion I addressed the House I described myself as a fiscal atheist. I am no longer a fiscal atheist. I am a convert I have come down heavily on the protectionist side of the fence. I expect that the party to which I belong will be compelled to come off the fence before very long, not individually, but collectively. I feel that it will not be left to its members to say what they are going to do. I believe that they will not be allowed much longer to straddle the fence in regard to the fiscal question any more than in regard to any other question. In my opinion they will have to take a decided attitude. Labour members will be pointedly asked by the people of this continent to say whether they are protectionists or freetraders, and they willhave to answer yea or nay. I wish to refer to the attitude which has been taken up by honorable members on the opposite side! concerning what they call fiscal peace. It is all very well for the honorable and learned member for Ballarat to say that he went to the country on the policy of fiscal peace, that he told the people that it would be inadvisable to disturb the Tariff for some time, because the commercial community desired fiscal peace for another year or two. But for the honorable and learned meinber to say that the electors indorsed that declaration of policy is to say what is not correct. How does he know that, if he had had the courage to ask them to vote for protection, they would not have done so ? If he had gone to the country with a protectionist policy, he would probably have come back with as strong a following as he obtained in consequence of his declaration for fiscal peace.
– That is so. His party lost more than anv other at the elections.
– Yes, owing, no doubt, to his vacillation on the fiscal question. The result might have been different had he, like the right honorable member for East Sydney, nailed his flag to the mash Then, instead of having followers of the shandygaff order in regard to fiscalism - and I admit that that was once -my position - he would have been supported by straight-out protectionists. The right honorable member for East Sydney went to the . country under the flag of free-trade, and was beaten. But the curious thing is that the man who was returned with a majority has now entered into a coalition with his defeated enemy. That seems to me to be a most cowardly action. The free-trader is at work all the time. The flag of truce may be flying, but be is organizing his forces in Victoria and in New South Wales, so that he can recommence the fight as soon as opportunity offers. What would be said of a general ‘who allowed his country to be raided, and his supplies to be cut off. under a flag of truce? Yet. although the Victorian industries are said to be languishing under the Tariff, the honorable and learned member for Ballarat is content to sit quietly under a flag of truce. The honorable member for Gippsland is in no better position. Although he is in the forefront of the protectionist movement, he, too, is content to sit quietly under a flag of truce while the enemy is knocking at the gates.
– Does not the honorable member believe in keeping election pledges ? I pledged myself to support fiscal peace.
– That is a most Christian policy. If any one smote the honorable member on the cheek, I suppose he would turn the other to the smiter ? In my opinion, if the protectionists had had the courage to ask the country to vote for protection, they would have done as well as they have done by their declaration for fiscal peace. I cannot understand the honorable member’s reference to the breaking of pledges, when I know that in other instances election pledges have not been kept.
– Honorable members opposite have a very convenient doctrine; they can absolve themselves from their election pledges.
– The Labour Party is more true to its pledges than is any other party in politics.
– The honorable member, if he thinks that, should read the articles on the alliance in the Tocsin.
– The Labour Party in forming this alliance broke no pledge.
– The Labour. Party is the only Simon Pure in politics.
– I take that as a compliment. It seems to me extraordinary for protectionists to declare for fiscal peace when native industries are being destroyed. The right honorable member for East Sydney, during the debates on the “Tariff, tore a passion to tatters in his endeavour to prove to the people of this continent that protection is an absolute curse to them. He spoke of the fetters which cruelly torture the fair limbs of young Australia. Now, however, he is taking a different position. He does not know that there are any fetters, and is willing to appoint a Commission to see if they exist. Both the members of the alliance and the members of the coalition have devoted some attention to the question of an iron bonus, and the Prime Minister has consented to allow the honorable member for Eden-Monaro to move in the matter. He has promised, I believe, to give him a week for its discussion. But why has he not the courage of his opinions in regard to it? He has expressed the opinion that it is desirable to grant a bonus to establish the iron industry ; but now that he has an opportunity to do so, he shirks the question, and leaves it to a private member. As the matter particularly interests the honorable member for Parramatta, I ask him if he can tell me why the Prime Minister has done this?
– I am not in his confidence.
– Theoretically the right honorable gentleman is opposed to bonuses and bounties ; but he has expressed himself in favour of the granting of a bonus for the production of iron. Let me read what he is reported to have said on this question -
The Minister of Trade and Customs was simply immense upon a policy which he hopes to introduce at some future date in reference to the iron industry. - I have always been one who would like to. see the iron industry firmly established, but my method of effecting this would be by giving’ it direct encouragement from the national exchequer. My reason for so doing would be that, as it is a national industry, the nation should pay the expense of encouraging it. The man who uses the iron ought not to be compelled to do that. A national benefit should be paid for out of the national funds. Why should not the whole community pay this bonus to the iron industry if the establishment of that industry confers a national benefit? Why should the man who is encouraging the industry, and who is buying the material, be the only person to pay for this national advantage? The’ Government proposal puts the burden upon the wrong shoulders. That is one of the radical fallacies of a policy of protection. A national advantage should be paid for out of the national exchequer, and not out of the pockets of the particular individual who happens to encourage the production of a particular article. Such an individual is encouraging trade. He is buying what others produce. Why should he be the only man to bear the burden?
The right honorable gentleman said a great deal more in the same strain, but T do not propose to trouble the House further bv quoting from his speech. I think that what I have read is sufficient to show conclusively that, despite all the Prime Minister may have said to the contrary, he is in favour of granting bonuses for the encouragement of the iron industry. Although so much contumely has been heaped upon the leader of the Opposition for having suggested that we should nationalize the tobacco industry, the Prime Minister has himself confessed that a great deal of money is annually being sent away from Australia to enrich the American firm which controls that branch of enterprise amongst us. Speaking upon the motion of censure moved by himself on 15th October, 1901, he said -
The effect of the Government proposal will be practically to kill the importation of cigarettes, and about ^30,000 will probably be lost to the revenue in the year. We must remember that persons are making enormous fortunes out of this industry as it is, and that one-half of the sum which that big company of Cameron’s draws - I am afraid to mention the amount, so enormous is it - goes straight away to New York every year. Half the capital is in the hands of Mr. R. W. Cameron, of New York; he takes an enormous sum out of Australia every year, and it is calculated that on these proposals, as to tobacco especially, his enormous revenue from Australia will be doubled.
I ask why the Prime Minister should, under these” circumstances, take exception to the proposal of the leader of the Opposition. Should he not as a patriot endeavour to keep that money in the country rather than permit it to be sent abroad ? I desire to read a passage from an article published in Life of January last, which will show the sort of “stuff” - I can characterize it in no other way - which the Prime Minister doles out to the people of New South Wales upon the subject of free-trade. In the journal to which I refer appears an article which forms one of a series entitled “ How it is done.” The right honorable gentleman, there points out that humour has a certain value in enabling a speaker to point an argument, and .as an illustration of how humourous illustrations “catch on,” he relates the following story : -
Some of the people whom I am addressing have families, or, at any rate, they know of families in which there is a member who never seems to be able to keep any employment he gets, but generally manages to live on his friends. Well, one of these gentlemen heard a protectionist orator one night dilating upon the benefits of protection. When he came home, he said to his brother, with whom he was living, and who was a very successful tradesman : - “ I say, Bill, things will be all right now, I have got something to do. I am going to start a colonial industry. I am going to make the boots for you, and the wife, and the children. I am not used to it yet, and you mustn’t expect them to fit as well as the other fellow’s; and you will have to pay me more. But you see, Bill, the beauty of it is we will keep the money in the family.” But Bill happened to have heard a free-trade orator, and he saw through the fallacy, so he said - “ Well, Tom, don’t you think the money will be kept in the family just as well if I keep it in my own pocket?”
This is the drivelling idiocy to which the people of New South Wales are treated from the free-trade platform. The Prime Minister, who has occupied a prominent position in New South Wales politics for many years past, confesses that he has talked utter rubbish to the people. He said, in the first place, that the man who offered to make the boots was being kept by his brother. Presumably his brother would have to keep him, whether he worked or not. In the second place, it is represented that the boots would cost more than they would if they were otherwise supplied, but no evidence is adduced to show that they would be more expensive or of less value than boots made by others. The greatest fallacy of all, however, is contained in the statement that “ Bill “ intended to keep the money in his own pocket. Of course, if he did so, he would have to go barefooted. That is the kind of “stuff “ which the people of New South Wales are content to swallow from the right honorable gentleman.
– They are a poor lot of folks in New South Wales.
– They are, if they are gulled by such trash as that. I shall conclude by making a suggestion in all seriousness. I frankly confess that I am not hankering after a dissolution, and I admit, further, that I do not see any positive necessity for going to the country., even though the Government may be defeated. But a short time has elapsed since the last election, and I believe that the public has confidence in the House, as a whole. I do not believe that any honorable member really desires a dissolution - not even the Minister of Defence.
– I should not mind it very much, although I should prefer to do without, it.
– If the Minister desires an election, I understand that the challenge of the honorable member for Melbourne is still open. I cannot understand how the Ministry can retain office under the humiliating circumstances in which they find themselves placed. The honorable member for Wilmot expressed his utter contempt for the Government, showed that he despised them, and almost spat upon them, and yet the Prime Minister is willing to accept his support, and retain office. So envenomed was the honorable member, that he described the Prime Minister as Fatima. The right honorable gentleman is always quoting the examples of Gladstone, Disraelli, Lord Salisburyand Mr. Balfour, and what has been done in the mother of Parliaments, and I fail to understand how be can continue in office under ‘ existing conditions. I should’ like to know whether the honorable and’ learned member for Parkes, who is alwaysreminding us of the higher atmosphere in which we move in this’ Parliament, appreciates the position of the Government which he is supporting. I think it is the bounden duty of the Prime Minister, if he has a shred of self-respect left, if he possesses any courage or manliness whatever, to tender his resignation.
– For an hour the honorable member has been attempting to show that he does not possess one of those attributes.
– Even if the Prime Minister should tender his resignation, I do not see any necessity for a genera] election. The country has perfect confidence in this House. The right honorable gentleman, I repeat, should tender his resignation, and this Chamber should elect a Government to conduct the affairs of the Commonwealth. That is my proposition, and I think it is one which is deserving of every consideration. The right honorable gentleman ought not to hold office under such humiliating circumstances. It has been stated in the press, and in this House, that the Opposition desire to force a dissolution at the present juncture, because they believe that they would strengthen their numbers, by reason of the fact that the farmers will shortly be engaged in harvesting operations, and would therefore be unable to record their votes. I give that statement an unqualified denial, and I shall quote a few figures in support of my contention. The last general election took place whilst harvesting operations were in progress, and yet I find that in the city and suburban electorates of Victoria . the percentage of votes recorded was only slightly in excess of that recorded in the country. In the farming districts of Corio, Echuca, Corangamite, Flinders, Grampians, Laanecoorie, Moira, Wannon, and Wimmera, the average number of electors who recorded their votes was 51*64, whereas in the electorates of Bendigo, Bourke, Melbourne, Melbourne Ports, Mernda, North’ Melbourne, South Melbourne, Kooyong, and Yarra, the average was 54.59. In other words, only 2.95 more of the electors in city and suburban constituencies exercised the franchise, notwithstanding the additional polling facilities which they enjoyed. In New South Wales, however, the figures were all in favour of the country constituencies. For example, in the seven farming electorates of Bland, Cowper, Hume, Hunter, Macquarie, Riverina, and New England, the average number of electors who recorded their votes was 50.42, whereas in the constituencies of Barrier, Dalley, East Syd ney, Newcastle, Parkes, West Sydnev. and South Sydney, the average was only 47.52, or nearly 3 per cent, less than in the country constituencies. Therefore the argument that we wish to force a dissolution because the farmers will shortly be engaged in harvesting operations, falls absolutely to the ground. So far as the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill is concerned, the Labour Party - desirous as they are of seeing it passed - do not for a moment hope- that it will effect an industrial revolution, or give that peace to industrial classes which every honorable member sincerely wishes to see brought about. We feel that all legislation is of a tentative and experimental nature. No one can foresee how certain Acts will operate when thev become law. They may operate in a manner quite different from that which was intended. For the most part we are groping in the dark. Sometimes we strike a fingerpost of truth, sometimes we obtain a glimmer of light, and sometimes we lay hold of a solid fact. Most of us are but as children ever climbing upon the ruins ofa yesterday to grasp at a brighter tomorrow. Whatever our hopes may be ii regard to the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, for my own part, I do not think that it will confer so much benefit as some honorable members upon this side of the House anticipate. It is legislation of a purely experimental and tentative character. We on this side are certainly not actuated by any feelings of personal aggrandisement. Both the Prime Minister and the honorable and learned member for Ballarat have declared that when thev were supported by the Labour Party there was never any question of self-seeking on our part. They acknowledge that our support was freely given, and that nothing was asked in return. We are here in the interests of the community, as a whole; we endeavour to do our best for that community, according to our lights, and if we fail, we fail in a good cause.
– I should like to have taken part in this debate at an earlier stage, because it is now almost impossible to say anything that has not been said by previous speakers. But during the past fortnight I have been so unwell, that I was unable to attend in my place in this House. I mention the fact, in order to express my sense of obligation to the honorable and learned member for Angas, who was good enough, during the whole of last week, to give me a pair.. I may say at once that I regret very much the circumstances which have placed the honorable and learned member for Ballarat and myself in different political camps. I hope, and believe, that the separation is only for a time, and for a short time, too. No one in this House entertains a greater admiration for the honorable and learned member than I do. He is not only a man of great ability - that is recognised throughout the Commonwealth - but he is also a man with a very high sense of honour, and it seems to me that that is a characteristic in a politician which should be appreciated quite as much as mere ability. I was returned to this House as: a supporter of (the Deakin Government. Their policy met with my general approval. It included preferential trade, fiscal peace, the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill - excluding State servants from its operation - and agricultural development. As regards the last item, I am reminded that one of the most earnest advocates of agricultural development is included in the Ministry - I refer to the Minister of Trade and Customs, and in this connexion I would also mention the name of the honorable and learned member for Bendigo. I loyally and gladly accepted Mr. Deakin’s leadership of the LiberalProtectionist Party, and at the conference when the coalition with the party under the present Prime Minister was proposed the reason I gave for objecting to the alliance was that I was a Deakinite, and that 1 would feel no confidence in transferring my political allegiance to another gentleman who stood at the elections for an entirely opposite set of principles. It seemed to me, then, as it seems to me now, that if coalition, were necessary as a solution of the problem raised by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, it was natural and more reasonable to seek it in the direction of an honorable alliance with the Labour Party than by combination with Conservatives and free-traders. I may say that I very frequently expressed a desire that the Protectionist Party should remain intact. Without wishing in- the least degree to make any sort of admission in regard to other members of the House - I should like to be very clearly understood on this point - I think the honorable and learned member for Ballarat will agree that I never deserted . him ; anything of that sort was very far from my thoughts.
I may add that I had nothing whatever to do with the preliminary meetings connected with the alliance, and that, before I joined it, the honorable and learned member for Ballarat had announced himself as a supporter of the present Prime Minister. I would repeat that I sincerely trust the time is not far distant when I shall be able again to work in association with the honorable and learned member for Ballarat. I am satisfied that there is no man - not even the honorable member for Bland - who has more genuinely at heart the welfare of the masses of Australia. As to the Watson Government, though I was unable to see eye to eye with them on some questions, the general character of their policy was such as to justify Liberals in adopting a friendly attitude. I was against them on the proposed modification of the McCay amendment, but I had no sympathy with the refusal to recommit the clause. The principle of the Bill having been accepted practically by all parties in the House, there was no justification for declining to allow the reconsideration of a complicated and contentious detail in Committee. In South Australia my vote has been represented as a vote in favour of the Government policy on the clause. It was nothing of the kind. It was a vote in support of the parliamentary principle of full deliberation, of free discussion, of the Ministerial right to fair consideration of a new proposal and of ordinary fair play. To my mind the coalition with the present Prime Minister’s party was objectionable in principle, because on the basis of husting pledges there was no common ground of policy for the two sides to occupy. The manner in which the coalition came to power was almost equally objectionable. This coalition, to have claims on LiberalProtectionists, should have been arranged with the consent of both parties. It should have been arranged on the foundation of a definite and publicly declared agreement as to policy. It should not have sought to gain office by a side-wind, but should have raised a direct issue, and stood or ‘fallen on it. Turning to the alliance, what do we see? At any rate, a fair and open agreement, and a platform. I have looked over the agreement again, and find in it nothing contrary to my hustings pledges. On the contrary, every member is left practically free to maintain his original attitude on such questions as the railway servants’ clause and preference to unionists. On some matters a positive programme is agreed upon, but it is a programme in conformity with the Deakin policy, and which the honorable and learned member for Ballarat would endeavour to carry out were he Prime Minister. Much has been said as to the alleged violation of the undertaking to preserve fiscal peace. The term fiscal peace has been greatly abused. The right honorable member for Swan has quoted from a report what I said on the subject to the electors of Barker. The quotation is quite correct, so far as it goes, but I said much more than was reported. As stated last night by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, fiscal peace was the battlecry of the Deakin party at the elections, and what it really meant is to be ascertained by consideration of the circumstances. The right honorable and learned member for East Sydney proposed that the whole policy of the Tariff should be reopened for debate with a view to its destruction. If he could have obtained a majority he would have torn the Tariff to pieces in the interests of free-trade. That was the declaration of fiscal war. The honorable and learned member for Ballarat declared for fiscal peace. The Tariff was to have a fair trial. The present Prime Minister said no ; the longer the Tariff lasted, the harder it would be to uproot the fundamental principle. He may have been right in that, but the Protectionist Party replied that there was to be no uprooting, the Tariff was to be left undisturbed for the present in order that any future action might be taken in the light, not of theory, but of experience. To that view of fiscal peace I assented. I also thought the public had had enough -Tariff worries for a time, but I told the electors of Barker that the Tariff issue would continue to be a fighting issue, and that I had no doubt it would be pressed into prominence by the protectionists seeking more protection, not being satisfied with the protection to Australian industries afforded by the existing Tariff, Well, the right honorable and learned member for East Sydney and his party were defeated. That defeat, I take it, secures fiscal peace. The notion which now seems popular in free-trade circles is that there was some kind of contract with the present Prime Minister, that if his party were beaten he was to be at liberty to give up advocating free-trade for a season, and join with the protectionists in a coalition Government ; that the protectionists were to forget all about protection, and to allow the Tariff to operate without caring whether it gave practical effect to their ideas or not; that nobody was to bother one way or another about the fiscal policy of the Commonwealth, and the changes or developments which might be suggested by experience as necessary - this notion, I venture to say, was unknown to the people at the time of the election. The party to which I belonged declared for fiscal peace, but did not declare” for fiscal indifference. Fiscal peace I would be no party to infringing. But I never undertook to support free-traders with a view of putting them into office and letting the fiscal issue slide. The proposal for a Royal Commission is not an attack on fiscal peace, but a protest against fiscal indifference. No one could fairly so describe a proposal which provided for a Commission of inquiry to ascertain the position and requirements of certain Australian industries. The Commission is to represent both Houses of Parliament, and the questions it is to consider will be specifically referred to it. I have no intention to violate any pledge I may have given, but where is there any departure from. fiscal peace in this? The term fiscal peace must not be used as an excuse for shutting our eyes to the facts around us, and the reasonableness of this view is apparent from the changed attitude of the Ministry in relation to this matter. Does any real necessity exist for such an abdication or stretching of political principles as must be involved in the coalition of protectionists and free-traders, of Liberals and- Conservatives? I am sorry that a difference of opinion as to the right attitude to be assumed towards the Labour Party has caused a split in the LiberalProtectionist Party under the leadership of the honorable and learned member for Ballarat; but if there must be a drawing together of parties in one direction or the other, personally I am satisfied that such approaches should be regulated by natural affinities rather than by mere considerations of political convenience. The alliance is united on. a positive programme, to which both sides are able to subscribe without any sacrifice of individual conviction.
– What is their programme on preference to unionists ?
– The honorable gentleman is just as familiar with their attitude on that subject as I am.
– Can the honorable member tell us why the programme was changed between the 5th and the 8th of September ?
– I must not divulge secrets. I was about to observe that, whilst the alliance has a positive programme, the coalition is, on the other hand, founded on mere negatives. It lacks the principle of life, which can only be derived from community of conviction as to the proper ends of national .policy. It is agreed only -as to what it will sink, or what it will oppose. It is destitute of a vigorous constructive spirit. This is not a coalition - and I make the statement with regret, because amongst its members are many honorable gentlemen for whom I entertain the very highest respect - that commands confidence or deserves it.
– At this late stage of the debate one may be pardoned for not following the beaten track that has already been so much trampled by the various speakers who have addressed the House. I wish to say, in opening, that 1 intend, as far as I am able, to make my few remarks with as few references to personalities as possible; and if I have to make some strong allusions and comparisons affecting honorable members opposite. I feel sure that they will not charge me with doing so from personal motives, but will believe that I speak purely from a political stand-point. I have a right to discuss the merits and demerits of those who compose the party which is opposed to the party to which I belong. The debate has been characterized by features such as were absent from any other parliamentary debate to which I have ever listened. The student of Australian politics to-day finds himself face to face with strange combinations, and in company with strange companions. The situation is so complex in its character that it requires all the genius of a trained public speaker to illustrate it adequately. I have not, nor do I pretend to have, the flow of language of the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, nor do I profess to be able to adorn my phrases and to round my periods in the masterly manner of which he is capable. Circumstances have not given me such advantages as he has had ; but I feel quite sure that if my remarks are not altogether couched in such phrases as are in accordance with the lines laid down by great authors, they will at least be taken as a sincere attempt to convey my meaning to the House. What is the position of affairs to-day? I venture to say that never in the history of any country - certainly never in the history of any party or Government in Australia - was there such a state of affairs as we find in the Commonwealth. This Parliament is only nine months from the people, yet we find the third Government occupying the Treasury benches. I venture to say - and I expressed the same opinion on the AddressinReply when the Deakin Government was in office - that there was no justification for the honorable and learned member for Ballarat making a clause in the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill vital to the existence of his Government. The opinion which I then expressed, and which I now repeat, has been to some extent indorsed by the fact that the Bill, having left his hands, has since passed through the hands “of a second Government, and into the hands of a third, whilst the provision which he made vital has been, practically accepted without any objection being raised. We have had the spectacle of a Prime Minister, while leading a strong combination, surrendering his high office from what I believe to be a mistaken idea of patriotism and honour, and to-day the measure on which he retired is being sent on to the Senate by the Government the honorable and learned gentleman is now supporting, though it still contains a provision for the inclusion of States .servants and railway men. I am at a loss to understand why, when the present Prime Minister was carrying the Bill through Committee, the honorable and learned member for Ballarat did not explain why he was not as sensitive upon the inclusion of that provision as he was earlier in the history of this Parliament. 1 expected to hear something from the honorable and learned gentleman as to why, feeling so strongly as he did upon the subject, he did not say, “ I continue to hold the same opinion in opposition to this provision from the high stand-point of constitutionalism and expediency, and I must still protest against its inclusion in this measure..” If the . honorable and learned gentleman had been consistent he would have submitted an amendment to erase that provision which, in other circumstances, he was not prepared to admit.
– I did not repeat my explanation on the point last night, because I have already stated it twice, if not three times, on the floor of the House.
– I have no recollection of the explanation which the honorable and learned gentleman has made. I propose to be candid to all parties in what I have to say. I realize thai the present i» t. most important juncture, and that the womb of the future contains that which we cannot interpret. Possibly it contains surprises not only for honorable members of this House, but for the people who have sent us here. The position of parties and of policies, and the welfare of the industries of this great Commonwealth, are hanging in the balance. I have no wish to exonerate the late Government from any blame due to its mistakes. I have no wish to screen from public view my opinion of any* sins or follies of which that Government may have been guilty. I say that the late Prime Minister showed that, for a layman, he had a comprehensive grasp of the duties of the high position which he filled. He was returned pledged to pass a Conciliation and .Arbitration Bill, which was expected by the people. He did his best, and did it ably, but he was taken off his guard, as I think I can show. When we came to discuss the Bill in Committee, and it was sought by various interested persons, some of them friends, and some only professed friends of the measure, to amend it clause by clause, I could plainly see that my leader was likely to be imposed upon by men who were not sincere in the amendments which they suggested upon vital clauses. When the honorable and learned member for Corinella was industriously endeavouring to frame amendments of so subtle a character that they were not only puzzling to the legal mind, but perplexing even to the honorable and learned member himself, I pointed out that he was only confusing the issue before the Committee, and I said-
The honorable and learned member for Corinella seems to have a f enchant for drafting amendments which are likely to provide work for the lawyers. He proposes that the Court shall not direct preference to be given to members of organizations except as ‘part of a common rule with the consent of such organizations and persons as, in the opinion of the Court, represent the majority of those engaged in an industry.
The honorable and learned member, bv interjection, made this reply to those observations -
No one suggests that. As a matter of fact, I do not propose to move that portion of my amendment.
That portion of the amendment was not embodied in the amendment originally submitted by the honorable and learned member. It was an addendum which had not been previously discussed, and which was not clearly understood by honorable mem- bers. I find that when the historical vote was taken, it is reported in Hansard, that after the present Prime Minister said a few words, and the honorable member for Bland made a few observations, the honorable and learned member for Corinella moved an amendment in the following words : -
I move that the following words be added -
That was, in addition to an amendment which had been discussed by the Committee for two or three days. The honorable and learned member proposed to add-
And, provided further, that no such preference shall be directed to be given unless the application for such preference is,’ in the opinion of the Court, approved by a majority of those affected by the award who have interests in common with the applicants.
In a very few moments afterwards the division was taken, and this is why I have no hesitation in saying that my leader was taken off his guard. The honorable gentleman felt sure that the Committee had adopted the view that a preference should be given, because it had been carried by one .vote in a division in favour of a general provision for preference. The honorable gentleman was justified in believing that honorable members would not hastily go back upon a vote of that character, and he allowed the amendment to which I have’ referred to go without discussion, with the result that an amende ment which, I say deliberately, had not been discussed and had never been before the Committee, and which honorable members had had no opportunity to analyze, was rushed through. Honorable members who gave their votes to carry that .amendment by a majority of five seemed to be pleased that they had an opportunity of putting the first nail into the coffin of the Watson Government. What was the position of the then Prime Minister ? Having, I think incautiously, allowed an amendment designed to produce an ‘ impracticable measure to be put to the vote, was he not entitled under the circumstances, and according to parliamentary practice, to have the amendment re-discussed in the interests of the people of the Commonwealth, and those for whom the Bill was specially intended? Was it not natural for him, believing that the other men were fighting with fair weapons, to expect that they would be prepared to deal out fair play to even the Watson Government?
When the honorable member for Bland first took his seat on the Treasury bench as Prime Minister, the honorable and learned member for Ballarat promised to give his Government an impartial trial, a fair deal, as it were. And yet the first time that the honorable member for Bland tripped, through trusting too much to those who professed to be friends of the Bill, what did we find ? We found honorable members ready with sand-bags to put his Government out of office, without showing any mercy or quarter.
– They committed suicide.
– The honorable member is one of those who drove the Watson Government into committing suicide, if they did. He was one of those who practically prevented the Government from being saved by refusing to allow them to go into Committee again with the Bill.
– What do the honorable member’s colleagues say of the bridgebuilders being guilty of hypocrisy ?
– I have nothing to do with what my colleagues say. There is too great a tendency on the part of some honorable members to quote what an honorable member may incidentally or accidentally say on a question, and nail him clown to that expression, believing that they have a straw to cling to. If the right honorable member for East Sydney, the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, and the honorable and learned member for Bendigo were earnest in their profession of a desire to give to the people of this country a Bill which would secure peace instead of causing strife in the industrial world; if they were desirous of passing a Bill which would be practicable and achieve its objects, they did not prove their sincerity when they sought to prevent the Watson Government from making the Bill as perfect as possible by the only means which a House of legislature has at its command, by allowing full and deliberate discussion, so that the best thoughts. of honorable members could be transferred to the statute-book. I made an incidental remark while the debate was going on, because I could see the anxiety of the honorable and learned member for Corinella to be the instrument to create a situation which would at least bring into power another party. I am sorry that the honorable and learned member for Ballarat is i0[ present this afternoon, because I had intended to deal with the light which he let in last night on this very interesting question of alliances and coalitions. He sits on the other side and supports the Prime Minister, but any one who did not know where he sits would at once decide, from a perusal of his speech that his. proper place was on this side. If his utterances last night really represent the ideas for which he is prepared to fight, he has no right to sit there with the Conservatives. If he is the friend of labour, which he professed last night he has always been, he should be sitting here with the Labour Party, and not conniving with those who form the leading part of the Ministry to defeat liberal legislation. What did he say last night? After quoting, extracts from Hansard, newspapers, periodicals, and books, and giving a long history of his movements during the last six or nine months, which we all knew nearly by heart, he went on to explain how he came to leave his party and coalesce with the right honorable member for East Sydney. He told us that he did not leave his party, but that they left him. All I can say is that while the negotiations were going on, he professed to be equally favourable to a coalition with the Labour Party or the Free-trade Party socalled, or, as he called them, the revenue tariffists. According to his own admission, he was prepared to coalesce with either party, or, as it was put last night, he was courting two girls at one time. If he was sincere in his effort to bring about the abolition of the three-party system of Government, and create two parties in this House, he adopted a most peculiar way to bring about the desired result. How could it be believed that the leader of the Protectionist Party in this State for many years - a man who has always been regarded as a consistent advocate of that policy - would join a pronounced freetrade Prime Minister as readily as he would join the Labour Party, who at least had no predilections with regard to fiscalism on their platform or in their policy ? The honorable and learned member for Ballarat was practically endeavouring to bring about an alliance or a coalition with the Labour Party ; but whilst we were discussing the question we found that he had already got an agreement with another party framed, and practically signed, before the time had arrived for us to give a reply to him. That of itself is sufficient to prove the insincerity of a man who professed to be desirous of obtaining an honest alliance or coalition with either party in the House. But that is not the real reason for his conduct. He let the cat out of. the bag last night. When his Government was defeated he advised tlie Governor-General to send for the honorable member for Bland, and “ even then,” he said - what I never knew before - “ when Mr. Watson was sent for I expected some suggestion with regard to a coalition to come from him.” We never heard of any such proposal at that particular juncture.
– Is that the reason why the honorable and learned member is on that side of the House?
– Having lost the power to control the protectionist movement, the honorable and learned member thought that it would be better to have onehalf of the power than to have no power at all - to have some security for the maintenance of the protectionist policy which he had so long championed in this State.
– But he stood aside.
– That is true. The honorable and learned member had his eye on a star that is rising. He is expecting to come along later as the champion of preferential trade; consequently he can well afford to wait, believing that his star will rise higher in the horizon, and shine more brightly, than any other star.
– I do not think he has acted in such a way as not to be entitled to get full credit for his courage.
– I do not need the honorable and learned member for Werriwa to tell me anything, because I could not rely upon what he might say, owing to the bias which he has in reference to this matter.
– I cannot be said to be biased in the honorable and learned member’s favour.’
– The honorable and learned member for Ballarat said that he had expected the honorable member for Bland to come to an arrangement whereby some protectionists would be taken into the Ministry which the Governor-General had commissioned him to form ; but, finding that the honorable member was not prepared to agree to that, the honorable and learned member fell back upon the only alternative, and declined to allow the Labour Party, which consisted, as he said, of fiscal atheists, to control the destinies of the protectionist party. The honorable and learned member himself threw up office on a mere 1 pretext, and was prepared to undo all that he had done by coalescing with either of the two other parties. He said to the other parties, “ I invite you to consider the propriety of forming a coalition with me.” Was that the action of a leader ? No ! A leader who was sincere, and who believed in his policy and his principles, would not invite a coalition, though he might declare the conditions under which he would join with another party. The honorable and learned member’s attitude evidenced the lack of a characteristic which belongs to all leaders, who are never ashamed to come out into the open, and to fight to the death for the opinion or principle which they favour, no matter what the circumstances. I am a little dubious, after the declaration of the honorable and learned member for Ballarat last evening, as to the attachment which exists between the various members of the Protectionist Party, about the arrangements which have been come to in this Chamber. It seems to me as though, when they could not enter into a coalition with the Labour Party on terms which would suit them, the protectionists determined to mark time. They seem to have said, “ We will use the ambition of the Prime Minister to tie him up. Some of us will join with him in a coalition which shall be pledged not to interfere with the Tariff during the existence of this Parliament, while others of us will go to the other side of the Chamber, and keep the brake hard down on the Socialists. Then when the proper time comes, we can join hands again, and deal with the Tariff, in the meantime, keeping the Labour Party in its proper position.” But the Labour Party is the growing party. That fact is shown by the confidence of the public in it during the past twelve months or two years. It has no need to fear the future, and can stand alone. I think, however, that the right honorable member for East Sydney, who has boasted of his cleverness in instituting free-trade in New South Wales with the aid of protectionist votes, is trying to repeat the movement here by getting into his ranks protectionists who have been liberals, but who in the process of time, as happens with all men, have become conservatives, and are lagging behind in the march of progress. He is using them until he can get an opportunity to appeal again to the electors as the champion of free-trade. The present position of affairs is largely due to the strange combination on the Government benches. But those who have come over to us to assist us in framing and carrying into effect legislation, not to benefit the monopolistic manufacturers or the members of the chambers of commerce, but those who have been ground too long under the Juggernaut of capitalism and monopoly, and to defend the rights, the lives, and the liberties of those who are working in our factories, our mines, on our lands, and in the multitudinous callings of this great continent, and to give them the right to live in a reasonable and a proper manner, will in return be assisted by us, inasmuch as we shall not heap trouble upon the manufacturers who were not fairly dealt with in the framing of the Tariff. I have something to say about the Prime Minister, which I shall reserve until he enters the Chamber. In the meanwhile, I would point out that we are face to face with a peculiar set of circumstances, so far as honorable members upon the Government side of the House are concerned. There is some unity to be- found amongst honorable members upon this side of the Chamber - unity of effort, of ideals, and of aims and objects; but what is to be said in regard to honorable members opposite?
– They are a bad lot.
– I think that the Minister has properly described them, and’ that he is an authority who is entitled to some respect. The Minister was not in the House when I made some observations with regard to his conduct in connexion with the amendment that brought about the defeat of the Watson Government. I regarded his attitude towards the Bill throughout, the discussion in Committee as absolutely insincere and unreliable. He has said time after time that the amendment proposed by him and embodied in clause 48 was fully discussed, and that no catch vote was taken. He has represented, further, that it expressed the thoroughly well-considered opinion of the majority of honorable members. I have quoted from Hansard to show that the proviso ultimately adopted was not embraced in the amendment originally proposed by the Minister, and that he stated, by way of interjection, that he did not intend to move fhe proviso that was subsequently adopted.
– Does the honorable member state that I said I did not intend to move the proviso?
– Hansard says so.
– Hansard says nothing of the kind.
– I am reported, at page 2671 of Hansard, as having said -
The honorable and learned member for Corinella seems to have apenchant for drafting amendments which are likely to provide work for the lawyers. He proposes that the Court shall not direct preference to be. given to members of organizations except as part of a common rule, and with the consent of such organizations and persons as, in the opinion of the Court, represent the majority of those engaged in an industry. I do not see that any advantage is to be gained by making such a proviso. The Court could not direct that preference should be given to unionists beyond the area covered by the common rule. They would never attempt to do anything so idiotic as to extend it further.
The Minister then interjected -
No one suggests that ; as a matter of fact, I do not propose to move that portion of the amendment. ‘
– Yes, that portion; that was the portion I did not move.
– That was the portion that was moved’ by the Minister at a later stage.
– Nothing of the kind.
– But it is on record in Hansard. When an honorable member is prepared to dispute the official report, I cannot place much- reliance in his veracity, or his honesty. The Prime Minister has stated that he is not ashamed of his ambition to attain the position of Prime Minister. I admit at once that that is a position to which any man might aspire, and one which should be ever respected. The right honorable gentleman stated that he was proud of his ambition; but if I had been in bis place, I should have sought to achieve the object of my ambition by ‘ honorable methods, and not by such means as would expose me to charges of trickery, or of having taken an unfair advantage of my opponents. The right honorable gentleman does not, however, care how he attains any position to which he may aspire, provided that he gets there. He now holds office subject to the will of one man, who spurns him, and who treats his policy and his promises with contempt, and he is prepared to cling to office under undignified conditions such- as have never been endured by any other man in Australia. At a previous stage of his history, he condemned others for doing the very thing of which he himself is now guilty. When he was Premier of New South Wales, he said -
I am happy to think that this party is made of different stuff.
That remark referred to an interjection made by one of his opponents. He went on to say -
I am happy to think that this party casts its personal convenience to the winds, that it will not sit down under this wrong done to this House and to the people of this country. We know well that any honest course I can take will not meet wilh the approval of the honorable gentleman. We know well enough that there is nothing more that the honorable gentleman wants than to be able to approve of something that I can do, because he knows that if he does approve of it it. will be an absolutely immoral political act.
That is the kind of political badinage which the right honorable gentleman uses in lieu of arguments. He continued -
And so with the leader of the Opposition, his twin political brother. When office looms in the near distance they are arm in arm.
The right honorable gentleman and the Minister of Trade and Customs now occupy a very similar position. He said further -
When the sweets of the Treasury benches seem’ to soften their lips they embrace one another;
The members of the coalition Government are now doing the same thing. but when the sugar disappears-
I hope that honorable members will notice the terms used by the right honorable gentleman to describe the emoluments of office.
But when the sugar disappears they resume their haughty attitude. We have no more theatrical entrances into the Opposition room, no more affectionate breakfasts upstairs. “ We are now entirely at issue; we do not know the gentleman opposite,” and the gentleman opposite does not know the honorable member for St. Leonards, politically. The fact of the matter is this : when these two venerable opportunists saw a chance of the sweets of office they sank every principle that they had ever preached, and were prepared to debase the political life of this country to its lowest possible depth, in order to be able to run its Government.
These were the words of the Prime Minister at a certain period in the history of New South Wales. He was then speaking of a Government, two sections of which had previously been opposed to each other. At that time he was leader of a third party, which practically occupied a similar position to that which was recently occupied by the Labour Party. He was the democrat who was fighting for majority rule, and who was prepared to accept the verdict of the electors. He ridiculed the idea of these two opposing sections entering into a political embrace and hanging on to office at the sacrifice of every principle which they had preached. It is well that we are able to look into history, because we are told that it repeats itself. ‘
To-day the right honorable gentleman stands convicted out of his own mouth of playing the same political farce that he condemned at the period to which I refer.
– What is the date of the compilation from which the honorable member has quoted ? Is it the last century or the century before?
– These things happened just after the honorable member was born. I have no desire to reply to juvenile, interjections, but if a question is relevant I am prepared to answer it. Upon the occasion to which I was referring the same methods were adopted as have been adopted here. The same deception was practiced to effect the downfall of the then Government as has been practised to compass the defeat of the Labour Administration and to bring about the present coalition. The PostmasterGeneral stands charged by the late Sir Henry Parkes practically with conniving to bring that gentleman and the late Sir George Dibbs together, so that his leader - the present Prime Minister - would be in a position to prove in the Parliament of New South Wales that they were desirous of entering into a coalition. The honorable gentleman was prepared to betray the late Sir Henry Parkes into the hands of his -newly-found chief, notwithstanding that the former had lifted him out of the political mire and placed him in Ministerial office, and despite the fact that his present chief was unworthy to unlatch that gentleman’s shoes. These are the words of the late Sir Henry Parkes in referring to the present Prime Minister -
The honorable member who has just sat down has indulged in repeating a paltry’ libel against me, which, I think, I ought to be permitted to explain. The honorable member has been repeating a stupid story that on some occasion I took breakfast with the honorable member for Tamworth. Suppose I did, I should have been i’l better company than in his. But one of his colleagues, the Secretary for Mines and Agriculture-
That office was then held by the present Postmaster-General - come down into the library where I was reading, and urged me to take breakfast with him. I did not desire to take breakfast with him, for one very good reason - I had breakfasted at home. But he urged me, and, from some lingering feeling, I consented to go with him. I was Mr. Sydney Smith’s guest, and he took me to a table where Sir George Dibbs was sitting, and had already nearly finished his breakfast. Now, what is to bc thought of a Minister of the Crown who in- ited me, the person who had given him office, to take breakfast with him, and then circulated a story against me in the newspapers?
– Who did that?
– The present PostmasterGeneral. He is the individual who brought the better half of the Government into contact with the present Prime Minister, and who united the Protectionist and Free-trade Parties in a solid body. It is said that he accepted a portfolio in the Parkes Administration, and that he was so pleased with being lifted from the political ruck that he gave the emoluments of his position to charity, the said charity being Sir Henry Parkes himself, with whom charity always began at home. I do not say that the statement is true, but at any rate it is a matter of common rumour regarding the conditions under which he was elevated to Ministerial office.
– Sir Henry Parkes always kept himself poor by giving to charity.
– That is the position occupied by the honorable member who was called upon to assist the Prime Minister in bringing about the coalition which exists to-day ; and if he would so treat his old chief who had lifted him from political obscurity into place and power, how can his present protectionist allies expect to be treated later on? We have to discuss the Prime Minister as we find him; and, avoiding ancient history, I make the following quotation from his speech in the course of the present debate in reference to a White Australia : -
That is surely a very proper thing to do ; but under the Post and Telegraph .Act the men who owned Australia, or their children, are debarred fi om performing this work.
That is merely a bit of the honorable gentleman’s by-play -
That is a lovely extreme to push a great principle to. Upon the oceans of the world, which :.ie as much their property as ours, the coloured subjects of the great Indian Empire should occupy as good a position as any Australian. Now I come to the matter of contract labour. I am absolutely in sympathy with the intention of the clause as expressed at the time it was adopted.
The right honorable gentleman later on says -
I am with honorable members opposite upon that point. But it is absurd to say that a man who, instead of coming out here as a pauper, without a prospect, secures a job before he starts, conies out here in shackles.
That is the position, of the Prime Minister with regard to a White Australia. He pleads for the right of the coloured races of the Empire to take their places on mail steamers and other vessels trading in Australian waters - he pleads for a piebald Australia so far as our control of the ocean is concerned. Yet we find in coalition with him the’ honorable and learned member for Ballarat; and when I have read some words uttered by the latter gentleman, at the Australian Natives’ Association banquet in Victoria, he may be able to explain how he comes to sit behind one who is sworn to eliminate from our present law the provision which he himself advocated.
– The honorable and learned member for Ballarat said that he would not allow the present Prime Minister to tinker with the measure.
– On. the occasion to which I have referred, the honorable and learned member for Ballarat said - . . . the white standard would be lowered. It was for those reasons that the Federal Government had become advocates of a “White Australia.”
He was then speaking of the Barron Government -
By following that policy, advantage would accrue to the whole of the Empire. This was the British Empire, and he hoped it would always remain so. (Applause.) It was a “White Empire,” and would remain so. (Loud applause.) White labourers, not kanakas, were wanted at Bundaberg, Queensland. White miners, not Chinese, were wanted at Johannesberg. And white seamen, and not lascars, were wanted for the mail steamers.
Those are the sentiments and utterances of the honorable and learned member for Ballarat at’ a public meeting in Victoria.
– Those were his sentiments.
– The honorable and learned member for Ballarat maintained last night that he held the same opinion. How are we to reconcile those utterances of the honorable and learned member with the position which he occupies to-day? .How are those other honorable members, who also advocated a White Australia, going to explain why they now sit behind a Prime Minister, who declares that he would allow lascars to work, not only in the stoke-hold, but also on deck, as on the vessels of the Peninsular and Oriental and Orient Companies ? We find the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, the honorable member for Moira, and others waiting for a time when the protectionist flag may be again hoisted and they may sever themselves from the coalition. The honorable member for Moira and others have declared in the House that there is no coalition, though the Prime Minister says something quite different. The Prime Minister states that there is no written agreement - that an agreement was never submitted to the party when the Government was formed. But the agreement drawn up originally is as binding to-day as it ever was’ on both parties who constitute the coalition. The Prime Minister not only takes that view, but adds the significant remark. “ So long as I have alongside me the honorable and learned member for Balaclava, that is a guarantee that the agreement will not be broken.”
– The Prime Minister cannot go wrong while the honorable and learned member for Balaclava is on deck with him.
– It seems to me that the Protectionist Party have, in effect, put a break on the Prime Minister. It would appear as though four protectionists had been sent into the Ministry to keep the Prime Minister from going beyond the agreement which has been drawn up, if not signed. The protectionists feel secure while the honorable member for Gippsland is at the Customs House, and the honorable and learned member for Balaclava is sitting tight on the Treasury bench.
– And look at our military strength secured by the presence of the honorable and learned member for Corinella in the Ministry !
– If the honorable and learned member for Corinella is as cunning and keen as Minister of Defence as he was when professing to be the friend of my leader on the Arbitration Bill, I can only say that honorable members opposite are leaning on a reed. We find that inconsistency has been the crowning characteristic of the career of the Prime Minister. The right honorable gentleman who now declares that he would like to see lascars allowed to work in the stokeholds and on the decks of mail steamers, is the same gentleman who some time ago, when Prime Minister of New South Wales, indorsed the action of” the State PostmasterGeneral, the present honorable member for Parramatta, in agreeing to the following resolution arrived at by the Postal Conference : -
The Conference, having considered the reply of the London Office to the stipulation of the Hobart Conference, with regard to the manning of the mail boats by white instead of coloured labour, recognises fully the force of “the reason given by the Imperial Government against insisting on the exclusion of coloured labour, viz. : - the necessity of not discriminating between various classes of British subjects; but, in reply, would respectfully point out that by some steam-ship companies the labour of the contributing Colonies is excluded from employment, and an invidious preference given to the labour of countries ‘which do not contribute to the maintenance of the service. No injustice would thus be done by the stipulation that the labour of the countries subsidizing the service only should be employed. And, therefore, this Conference is of opinion that the mails to and from Australia and Great Britain should be carried by ships manned with white crews only.
That was when the right honorable gentleman was in power in. New South Wales, and supported by the Labour Party. That was when, . as he admitted, he was squeezed by the Labour Party. His PostmasterGeneral at that time was a democrat, holding advanced ideas in the matter of coloured labour, and he absolutely supported the policy of placing an embargo upon the employment of. black labour upon our mail ships. I feel sure that the honorable member for Parramatta, after taking up that stand at that date, must feel uncomfortable as a supporter of the present Government. No man in this House can be more unhappy. As a radical who has been in the forefront of the Radical Party, he must feel ill at ease at being associated with politicians like the honorable member for Wentworth, the honorable member for Kooyong, and others of that type, who are here not because they possess that ability which would in itself win for them a place in Parliament, but because they have the influence of money behind them, and had the good fortune to choose constituencies where that influence predominates. A family contribution to the fighting fund of the great Liberal and Reform Party of New South Wales is able to pave the way to a position to which the persons so assisted could never attain if they had to take a bluey on their backs and go out into the bush to make their own way.
– Does the honorable member infer that subscriptions were paid in order to gain selection by constituencies ?
– I say that the people who have the means to pay these subscriptions are initiated into electorates which are largely constituted of the elements which pay regard to wealth.
– What on earth does that mean ? .
– I do not expect , the honorable member to understand what I mean. It would take something like a mallet and chisel to drive an idea into his brain. I have seen in a newspaper that during, the recent fight in New South Wales one W. H. Kelly, or the Kelly family - I would not call them “ the Kelly gang,” because that would not be right - had contributed ,£1,500 towards the fighting fund of the Reform Party. Therefore I presume that some one of the honorable member’s family - and I know of no other family of his name able to contribute to such an extent, or so anxious to down the Democratic Party - had contributed this sum.
– If all the honorable member’s “ facts “ are as far from the truth as that statement, he is not very reliable. His statement is absolutely incorrect.
– It is a statement for which a newspaper is responsible.
– The gutter press, I suppose?
– I think I read it in the Daily Telegraph.
– Does the honorable member think that that has anything to do with this debate?
– I certainly do. As a dissolution appears to be within sight, I think we have a right to discuss those affairs that affect the electorates which are to return members to this Parliament.
– I would point out that the one question before the House is as to whether it has confidence in the present Government ; and I really do not see how a matter concerning somebody’s contribution to a certain fund has anything to do with the question of confidence in the Government.
– I do not desire to debate the matter, but I take it as a fact that when we speak of the Government, we do hot mean merely the members of the Cabinet. The Government, as I understand it, could not exist, except for honorable members sitting behind it. It appears to me that the party supporting the Government is a fair subject for criticism.
– The statement which the honorable member has made was absolutely incorrect.
– The honorable member for Gwydir has not clearly apprehended the standing order if that is the view which he takes. The motion before the House is one of r.o-confidence in the Government. It deals with the Government in power, and therefore the conduct of members of the Government may fairly be discussed. But the conduct of members supporting the Government may only be discussed in so far as those honorable members have spoken during the debate, and have publicly expressed views one way or the other. 9 f 2
– I have no desire to dispute your ruling, sir. But when we hear declarations from honorable members opposite, as to how the Labour Party fight elections, and when we know that the charge levelled against the Labour Party in connexion with the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill was that we wish to turn the trade unions into political organizations, and to use their funds for party purposes, I think that the matter to which I have alluded, is a fair subject upon which to challenge honorable members opposite. Therefore, there is nothing, so far as I can see, that should prevent me from discussing the sources from which the Government are to be supported during the coming campaign. They have supported an amendment providing that industrial unions under the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill shall not be political organizations, and shall not use their funds for political purposes in any way. If that be the position honorable members opposite take up, I think I am entitled at least to refer to the action they have (taken which is Calculated to bring grist to their political mill, through organizations that are standing behind the Government at the present time. On the subject of a White Australia, the Prime Minister made these remarks at Swan Hill :-
The policy of a White Australia was going too far in seeking to break up a mail service, because there were some lascars in the stokeholds. If he got sufficient power he would repeal such a provision.
That is a distinct delaration by the right honorable gentleman.
– The right honorable gentleman says that now.
– Undoubtedly, but when the honorable member for Parramatta was Postmaster-General in the right honorable ‘ gentleman’s Government in New South Wales, he said exactly the opposite. He contended that the ships which carried mails between Australia and Great Britain should be manned by white men. The present Prime Minister then had the Labour Party in New South Wales behind him, and he had to obey their behests. He saw that he could not continue to. hold office unless he accepted the principles enunciated by the Labour Party. But now that he has separated from that party and is fighting with those who are opposed to labour, now that he is the champion of monopoly, capitalism, and all that oppresses the multitude, he is prepared to do what the honorable and learned member for Ballarat has declared time and again, and what he reasserted last night in the most emphatic language, should never be done. The right honorable gentleman is prepared to do what is calculated to undermine the future »f the British Empire. The honorable members for Robertson and Wentworth greet that suggestion with a laugh, but it should not be forgotten that the British seaman is now very largely in a minority in the carrying trade of. the Empire, and that, his place has been filled by alien and coloured seamen. When the time of stress and trial arrives, as it may before long, we shall require every seaman manning British ships to defend the Empire, and we shall find that the aliens, who are now employed merely for the purpose of bringing profits to the ship-owners, and who have taken the place of the British seamen, cannot be relied upon to defend our vast Imperial commerce. We shall then recognise the mistake we have made in not following the example of Germany. The Germans do not allow men of other nations to man their’ ships, nor do they permit their ships to be manned by black labour. They are patriotic enough to employ men of their own nationality, knowing what a source of strength those men will be should a time of trouble come when they will have to defend the commerce of their country against those who are jealous of it, and who would destroy it if they could. Yet, when I make reference to what should . be a patent fact, we have the honorable members for Wentworth and Robertson breaking out into a loud guffaw. I could not expect anything else from the honorable member for Wentworth, who cannot possibly have much information on the subject, but I did expect more from the honorable member for Robertson, who has given some study to the question, and who professes to have made a great study of the relation which the preferential trade question bears to the interests of the Empire.
– Are not these black men British subjects,- and have they not fought for England?
– The honorable and learned member for Ballara: is also aware that they are British subjects, but he would not counsel their employment in a way which might be fraught with danger to the Empire. The honorable and learned gentleman realizes that the question is of more importance than the saving of a few pounds to ship-owners. He realizes that the question is one which deeply affects the future of the Commonwealth, and which, as I have said, is likely to affect still more seriously the future of the Empire, when the call comes to defend it, as it some day will, against those who are threatening our supremacy in the commercial world.
– Has she not relied upon these same coloured people in. times past?
– I am not here to speak of that. Some honorable members opposite appear to think that we should be guided in our action to-day by what occurred fifty years ago. The world is continually changing, but honorable members opposite do not keep pace with its changes. They have been produced in some irresponsible way that prevents them from having any clear idea of what a progressive policy is. They confine their reading to ancient history, and desire to tie up the future of this Commonwealth in some of the precedents laid down in times past, when the conditions prevailing were quite different from those by which we are surrounded to-day. On the question of a White Australia we have a clear statement from the Prime Minister that he will, if possible, repeal the section of the Alien Immigration Restriction Act, which prevents the employment of lascars on our mail steamers ; whereas the honorable and learned member for Ballarat is prepared to stand by the policy of a White Australia in its widest sense, and to the fullest extent. The honorable member for Parramatta really was the first to bring this question into practical politics in Australia by .indorsing the policy at a Conference of Postmasters-General, when he was himself Postmaster-General of New South Wales, and yet both those honorable members are now supporting a leader, one who is prepared, ‘on the first opportunity, to repeal this policy. Where is : their consistency or honesty? Where are we to look for sincerity in politics when we find honorable members of such diverse views on the White Australia question- joining the same party? How can they agree, unless it be that they know that the Prime Minister is prepared to bend to them, and to be squeezed. He is only playing to the gallery, the ship-owners, and the capitalists ; and if the party behind the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, and the democrats who sit on that side, and who, in mv opinion, have not chosen their proper seats, declare that they will not submit to his will, I suppose that he will drop the question, as he would drop anything, rather than forfeit the position which he occupies, and to which he aspired so long. Now we come to his consistency on the question of arbitration. He tries to argue that the amendment of the honorable and learned member for Corinella is practically the same as the one which the honorable member for Bland desired to move when he asked to be allowed to go into Committee again. It has been stated by . the honorable and learned member for Ballarat that the difference between the amendments is so fine that it could hardly be touched by the keen edge of a razor ; but, in spite of his statement, I submit that the difference between them is such as to create an impracticable measure. When the Prime Minister sat on this side, he was opposed to the inclusion of railway servants, and since he crossed the floor he has accepted their inclusion without a murmur ; in fact, without a twinge of conscience he has accepted the Bill, with other provisions, to which he objected, and sent it to the Senate. I admit that if I had had any voice as regards the attitude of the honorable member for Bland on clause 48 it would never have been made a vital question. I should have allowed the House to mould the Bill, according to its wish, sent the measure to the Senate, and when it was returned, fought out the issue on the floor of this House. That would have avoided the difficulty which occurred by reason of the error of judgment of my honorable friend in allowing a division to be taken when honorable members had no time to discuss the amendment or consider what they were doing. The honorable and Teamed member for Ballarat has said that if the clause had been recommitted he would have practically voted for the amendment suggested by the honorable member for Bland, and other honorable members on his side have made a similar admission.
– He said that he preferred the amendment of -the honorable and learned mem’ber for Corinella to the other.
– The honorable and learned member for Ballarat said last night that there was no difference between the amendments, and that the only difficulty he had was that he had already given a vote which he could not reverse, but that bad the Watson Government been allowed to go back into Committee he would have been prepared to support the amendment foreshadowed by its head. If the honor able and learned member had done so, the Bill would have been passed on to the Senate in such a form as would have done credit to this Parliament, and it would have been effective for the purposes for which it was framed. These are indications of the inconsistency of the Prime Minister. We also have similar indications in his action with regard to . monopolies. . Here again he is playing his old game of see-‘ saw. He never changes except when he gets into a tight corner, and then he turns a somersault. Speaking in this debate on the 20th September, at page 4727 of Hansard, he said -
The first thing is, as the leader of the Opposition has done, to speak of the evil of monopolies and combines. In that I quite agree with him. We, on this side, are as willing as he and his Government were to introduce legislation to suppress any abuses of that sort.
On the same page, and only an inch lower down, we find a corrective -
Senator Pearce, speaking of the full socialistic programme at a public meeting, said - “ We cannot do all this at once ; but there are some plums ready for plucking now, and one is the tobacco monopoly.” Those steps towards revolution we will oppose.
Where is the consistency of the right honorable gentleman, who, in one breath, says that he is prepared to agree with the honorable member for Bland in his efforts to suppress monopolies, and in almost the next breath, says, “ Those steps towards revolution we will oppose.” I need not say any more on that point, because, to quote the right honorable gentleman’s utterances at any time is to bring evidence sufficient to convince any man that there is neither sincerity .nor honesty in his political professions, when he speaks here as Prime Minister. On the other side of the House we have, I suppose, the most peculiar combination that has ever existed in Australia. On that side we see protectionists of the most pronounced type, freetraders of the most pronounced type, and unrelenting land-taxers, who have again and again asserted that there is only one way to happiness and prosperity, and that that is by means of a single tax. On that side, also, we see’ honorable members who represent sections of the community antagonistic to the principle of a single tax. We see singletaxers sitting alongside land monopolists, free-traders sitting alongside protectionists, radicals and democrats sitting alongside the most conservative and non-progressive men in this Parliament. Such a combination has, I venture to say, never before existed in the King’s Dominions. We see in. this Chamber to-day, men who have thrown over the principles of a lifetime in order to obtain place and power. We hear of a coalition under a dual leadership, in which both parties are supposed to be equal and co-ordinate, but when the Prime Minister issued his manifestoes to the people of Australia and to the people of New South Wales, with that little bit of a postscript to the other infinitesimal States which have given him so much trouble during this debate, did he confer with his better half? No. His better half is so only in name. He issued ‘ his manifestoes, not as one of two leaders, but as the head of the Government. This is a beautiful coalition, such as we have never before seen in the political history of Australia. But one ceases to wonder at the association of the honorable member for Gippsland with the right “honorable member for East Sydney when one looks at the combination behind them. The net was spread to catch every one of conservative tendencies, and all who are prepared to support a monopolistic programme. The people of Australia await the time to declare their opinion of this coalition, and it is a pity that the honorable member for Wilmot did not hasten, instead of delaying their verdict.
– That is very ungrateful.
– Some honorable members have a great deal to say about the chances of others in the event of a dissolution ; but I am quite prepared to meet any Government supporter in the electorate which I have the honour to represent.
– I will meet the honorable member at Marrickville. He got six votes there, did he not?
– Those votes were cast for me after I had retired from the contest. I have explained the circumstances before in this Chamber, and the unfairness shown by the honorable member in referring to the matter is characteristic of the party to which he belongs. I have fought longer in the ranks of labour than he will live in political life, and I have no fear of going back to my constituents. They placed me in the State Parliament when I was a stranger, without money, carrying my bluey on my back, and after I had represented them for three years there they returned me to this Parliament by a majority of 1,900 votes. It any one opposite, from the Prime Minister downwards, wants to fight me, let him come to Gwydir.
– Honorable members opposite would , never have entered Parliament if they had had to do what the honorable member has done.
– The honorable mem-‘ ber for Wentworth, if he had had to do it, would have been left upon the track a mere wreck. The Prime Minister, speaking upon Socialism, used these words -
There are some public services, such as those performed by our post offices, which we are all agreed should be a national concern. By the way, some people, including myself, used to look on State railways as another phase of Socialism ; but on closer inquiry State railways are shown to be an absolute negation of Socialism.
That is a queer position to assume. He agrees that the Post Office is a socialistic institution, but he says that the railways and tramways are not, because they have been put under the control of Commissioners to be managed as a commercial concern. But when, a year or two ago, stock were dying because of the drought, the Government of New South Wales put aside all commercial considerations, and ordered the Railway Commissioners to carry fodder for the relief of the settlers who were in dire distress, at rates which were unprofitable. Yet the right honorable gentleman says that our railways are not a socialistic institution. Furthermore, about two years and a half ago, when I was a member of the New South Wales Parliament, the Railway Commissioners of the State were opposed to the granting of an - eight hours’ day to the railway and tramway employes. They reported that, owing to the fact that they had to be guided by commercial considerations, they could not afford to introduce the change. In spite of the Railways . Commissioners, however, the Parliament recognised that the men asked for bare justice only, and they decided to accede to the request and to make up any deficiency in the railway revenue by a contribution from the public Treasury. Yet the right honorable gentleman who twists and turns and wriggles out of every position he assumes, whose opinions are never fixed for twelve months together, denies that the railways and tramways are socialistic institutions. In Victoria the railways are in the hands of the State, but those in authority are attempting to grind the very life, out of the men who carry on the respon sible work of conducting the passenger and freight traffic of the country. What is Socialism ? What was Socialism yester day is not Socialism to-day, and the Socialism that is advocated on this side of the House is not Socialism as it has been denned by the Prime Minister and the honorable member for Richmond. Both those honorable members turn and change with lightning rapidity, and still present a brazen front to the people of the country. They talk about the socialistic party desiring to bring about a revolution. The Prime Minister said that if the tobacco monopoly were suppressed it would be tantamount to a revolution. Let me remind the right honorable gentleman and the Minister of Home Affairs that in England, where they have no Labour Party such as we have here, the county and shire councils have proceeded leagues beyond us in the direction of providing socialistic institutions for the convenience of the people. Honorable members tell the monopolists of this country that we are threatening to overthrow the Government, to revolutionize everything, and to bring about an equal division of wealth among all the members of the community. That is not the Socialism we are advocating. We desire only to proceed along the lines adopted in the mother country, and to confer upon our own people some of the blessings that have been bestowed upon the working classes of Great Britain. Yet we are told that we are revolutionaries, that we desire to upset society. That is a base slander, worthy only of a political party that is trying to impose upon the people.
– The propagandist of the Labour Party does not express the /same views as the honorable member.
– Does the Minister approve of everything that has been said by that eminent personage who has been engaged to advocate the cause of the employers ?
– Would the honorable member accept my repudiation?
– Does the honorable member repudiate what is said by the official referred to?
– Does the honorable member repudiate the propagandist of the Labour Party?
– I shall tell the honorable member what I do. Outside of Parliament the province of a propagandist is to educate the people up to certain ideals which may be reached during the present generation, or perhaps not for many generations.! It is his duty to set an ideal before them, so that they may proceed by degrees towards its realization.
– Then the honorable member is on the road to the attainment of his ideals.
– Undoubtedly. Our social system is built up on the changes which have taken place from time to time. Socialism has been in existence for many years past, and will continue long after we have passed away.
– It has been in existence for 2.000 years.
– Yes, 2,000 years ago we had a leader of men who preached and practised Socialism.
– In the “ Sermon on the Mount,” He also taught individualism.
– Socialism is practically the outgrowth of the experience of the nations. The conservatism of to-day was the liberalism of yesterday, and the liberalism of yesterday was the Socialism of the day before. Honorable members opposite were the liberals of ten years ago, but owing to the advance of the great radical movement they are the conservatives of to-day. They have entered upon the stage of decay. Yesterday the Labour Party were the reformers who were preaching the doctrine of equality and common justice, and today they are in the van of the liberal movement. If they do not keep abreast of the development of the times they will inevitably become a conservative party. It is a question of evolution, and one over which we have no control. There are one or two other matters connected with the career of the right honorable gentleman to which I desire to refer. He has already announced that he is willing that a private member should introduce a Bill providing for the granting of a bonus upon the production of iron. Upon that subject he is not prepared to nail his colours to the mast by making the measure a Government one. In order that he may escape all responsibility and remain secure in the position which he now occupies,- he is willing to allow that important matter to be dealt with by a private member. Is that his idea of responsible government? It would naturally be thought that if, at any period in his history, the right honorable gentleman had proclaimed his willingness to assist industries by means of bonuses, he would have had no compunction whatever in, abiding by a similar policy to-day. But I find that whilst he held office in New South Wales he offered an advance of 15 per cent, upon the prices submitted by foreign, competitors to any persons who were willing to establish iron works in that State, and to turn out 150,000 tons of steel rails.
– The honorable member is wrong as to the percentage.
– I do not know whether at that time the right honorable gentleman was dependent upon the votes of two or three protectionists.
– He offered an advance of 15 per cent, upon the cost of the rails in England.
– That is a variation without a difference. Any practical man would understand an advance of 15 per cent, to mean that measure of advantage over the cost of landing the rails in New South Wales.
– The honorable member might as well say that I offered an advance of 50 per cent.
– The New South Wales Ilansard is the authority for my statement.
– The! honorable member is quite wrong.
– I do not understand how the Hansard reporters could have made such a mistake. But even admitting that the right honorable gentleman’s statement is accurate, it makes very little difference to his position.’ It is only one of the multitude of inconsistencies associated with his . political career. In this connexion I would direct attention to his action upon the occasion of taking the first Federal referendum. As honorable members are aware, he makes a very strong point of majority rule. He affirms that trade unionists and those, who represent them are enemies of that principle. But what did he do when he was endeavouring to gain a position in New South Wales which was filled by an infinitely better’ man? After a solemn compact had been entered into with the Premiers of the other’ States thai the minimum affirmative votes necessary for the adoption of the Federal Constitution should be 50,000, he assisted in the Tarliament of New South Wales to raise that minimum to 80,000. The right honorable gentleman broke the compact into which he had entered ‘with those gentlemen who met him as the representative of the mother State.
– In what year was that?
– It was the year in which the right honorable gentleman was so eager to secure the position of leader of the Federal Government- which was then held by Sir Edmund Barton. It has been denied that the present Prime Minister was responsible for what took place in connexion with the referendum on the Federal Constitution ; but I do not, as a rule, make statements unless I have taken the trouble to, as far as possible, ascertain their accuracy. I may be mistaken, as we all may be, but I can assure honorable members that it is not intentionally. In this case, however. I happen to have here an extract from the New South Wales Hansard containing the report of the discussion on the Enabling Bill, and in that discussion the Prime Minister used these words -
I represent this Parliament in reference to the other Colonies in a peculiar sense, and it is with reference to the faith which this House has to. keep with the other Colonies that I have to address myself to this matter. When a people enter into bargains, or pass Acts of Parliament on the faith of which other people, other communities, pass important Acts of Parliament, then I think we have to pause before we seriously disturb the compact upon which the movement ia based. I appeal to my honorable friends to meet me to the extent of 75,000 or 00,000 votes.
An Honorable Member. - No, 100,000.
– All I can say is that 100,000 makes me an utter opponent of the whole proposal right through, from start to finish, because - mark “because” -
I think. that 100,000 would amount to too serious a “breach of the compact with the other Colonies
– The language shows that the right honorable gentleman was seeking to compromise.
– I care not what the language shows. I do not deny that the right honorable gentleman was seeking to compromise - his whole attitude has ever been one of compromise.
– Is not all legislation compromise ?
– This was not a question of compromise in detail. The Prime Minister is prepared to compromise .on principles which he has enunciated throughout his political career. He is prepared to compromise even to-day in a most humiliating way, and to sit as Prime Minister, under conditions to which Sir Henry Parkes would never have submitted. Although he had previously agreed to fix the maximum number of votes at 50,000, he, because of pressure - which, by the way, he said could not be exercised on him - practically broke the compact into which he had entered with the Premiers of the other Colonies, and he did so to the extent of making it practically impossible to carry the Enabling Bill. It is useless to say that because he was asked to do this by Parliament - that because other members of that Parliament desired that a larger number should be made the maximum - he has any excuse. He, as Minister, was responsible for his action, and he ought not to thrust that responsibility upon the shoulders of those to whose demands he acceded, and whose proposals he thereby adopted. The right honorable gentleman, who claims to be such a strong supporter of majority rule, as applied to unionists or non-unionists, absolutely violated the principle on the most important question that was ever submitted to the people of Australia, and made it impossible for the majority to determine the question submitted by referendum. Where is the right honorable gentleman’s sincerity? His advocacy of majority rule, as applied to unionists and non-unionists, is a hollow ! mockery, and yet that is only characteristic of his action in regard to every policy he has advocated at one time or other in his political career. I am not about to give my own opinion, but the opinion expressed by the newspaper which supported the light honorable gentleman during his long, though I will not say successful, career as Premier of New South Wales. The Sydney Daily Telegraph, in speaking of the right honorable gentleman, said -
With respect to the Federation movement, Mr. Reid was most unhappily an opportunist.
The Daily Telegraph had found him out, and had branded him with the only term which properly described him -
Nobody expected that Mr. Reid would assume a “ Yes-no “ attitude on the first referendum.
Who would have expected that the right honorable gentleman would assume a yesno attitude on his great principle of freetrade? -
This halting policy was partly a. concession to the anti-Federal section of his supporters in Sydney - theright honorable gentleman has always pandered to the other side - and partly personal jealousy of the Convention leader, Mr. Barton. The game of an opportunist is a game of calculation,- and Mr. Reid miscalculated. Had he decided to run a straight course -
Fancy the Daily Telegraph doubting whether the present Prime Minister was going’ to run a straight course ! -
– How long ago was that written ?
– I do not want any interruption from the “ corner man “ of the Government.
– The honorable member is the “corner man”; he is “cornered.”
– The newspaper extract proceeds -
Had he decided to run a straight course when he returned from the Convention, his personal advocacy would have secured the statutory majority at the first referendum, the Commonwealth would now be in existence, and Mr. Reid now be Prime Minister of the Comomnwealth.
– He is not dead yet.
– I am not saying that he is dead. When he dies the honorable member will die with him. There are some men who arc like the parasites referred to recently by the honorable member for Hunter, that cling to other plants. In this case the plant is the Prime Minister. He has put some honorable members opposite where they are to-day. They have sailed under his flag, no matter how many colours he might have upon it, nor how often he might -change it. Whether his colours were black, or white, or blue, or yellow, they sailed under his banner at all times. The extract from the Daily Telegraph, which I have read, proves the right honorable gentleman to be a “yes-no” advocate, and convicts him of delaying the desire of the people. It practically tells us that he was actuated, not by a desire to support a principle, but to please his anti- Federal supporters in New South Wales. The right honorable gentleman was dissatisfied because the Convention did not choose him as its leader, but preferred to choose the gentleman who has been described as “ Australia’s noblest son.” He was the great leader of the grand Federal . movement. When he addressed the people of New South Wales with regard to the Commonwealth Bill, the Prime Minister delivered a wonderful speech, in which he exhibited his unstable character in politics, and caused himself to be described as assuming a “yes-no” attitude. He then said that he condemned the Bill because of the Braddon “blot,” and because it would heap burdens upon the backs of the people bv extracting from their pockets ^4 for everv one that was necessary for the legitimate purposes of Federal government. But his subsequent conduct showed that he did that because he had not been chosen leader of the Federal movement. When subsequently circumstances enabled him” to play a leading part in Federal affairs did he advocate the abolition of the Braddon “blot” ? Did he go into ecstacies regarding the rights and privileges of the people, or show any desire to protect them from the burdens that he had formerly said would be placed upon them on account of Federation? No. He dropped that attitude, because he knew that, as a Federal advocate, he could never evade the provisions of the Constitution when he. entered this Parliament. What a mockery it is for honorable members oppo- site to talk of free-trade in this Parliament, when we know that the people have accepted the Federal Constitution, which permits us to take from the people four times as much revenue as is required to defray the cost of the Federal Government.
– It does not say so.
– Practically it does.
– That provision applies only to revenue from Customs.
– Certainly it applies to the Customs revenue. But there is a possibility of imposing direct taxation. If the Prime Minister were a sincere believer in the free-trade policy which he promulgates, would he not advocate the substitution of direct taxation for Customs and Excise duties. But he himself has stated quite recently that he regards direct taxation as an invasion of the rights of the States because he maintained that the land revenues are sacred to the States, and must be safeguarded to them. As he is not prepared to accept the only alternative to Customs duties, what a mockery it is on his public professions to advocate a freetrade policy ! I wish to deal with another matter before I leave the right honorable gentleman. The Prime Minister has been charged with paying over moneys to Senator Neild, which .ought not to have been paid. It has been asserted that in that matter he did something which he had stated previously ‘ in unmistakeable language that he would not do - that he had given his promise, as Premier of New South Wales, that he. would never stoop to make payments of the character referred to. When standing at this table, he excused himself, and endeavoured to wriggle out of the difficulty in his usual way.
– The honorable member knows that there was nothing iri the charge.
– I know quite as much as the honorable member does about this question. I say here, that when the right honorable gentleman stood at this table, he said, concerning the. report produced by Senator Neild, “ I. never paid Senator Neild anything for his services ; I never paid him anything personally, but I agreed to give him ^350 to cover the cost of printing
– Which was repaid to the Treasury.
– It was repaid after they were convicted, like a thief caught in the act. He was prepared to put back or give back that which he had stolen, provided they would let him go without’ punishment.
– Order ! Does the honorable member say that the Prime Minister stole something?
– No, I did not say that.
– I understood the honorable member to say so;
– He said that Senator Neild did.
– I never said anything of the kind. I have my right to speak, and I take the responsibility of what I say.
– Misunderstandings would not occur if the honorable member would address the Chair, instead of turning to other parts of the Chamber.
– I rise to order. The honorable member for Gwydir made an imputation upon Senator Neild to this effect - he said that, like a thief who stole money, he paid it back after he had been convicted. I ask if the honorable member is in order in saying any such thing?
– r understood” the honorable member to make the remark concerning the Prime Minister, but if he made it concerning any member of this Parliament, he must withdraw it.
– I never made it in respect of any honorable member.
– The honorablemember is wriggling now.
– I am not wriggling.
– If the ‘ honorablemember made that remark as applying in any sense to a member of this House, or of the Senate, it must be withdrawn.
– I can only say that I did not do so, but if it is considered necessary for the maintenance of order, I am prepared to withdraw what ! did say-
The honorable member for Parramatta thoroughly understands the application of the remarks which I made. I have been wondering lately what has come over the honorable member.
– I rise to order. I ask whether an honorable member is supposed to withdraw a. statement in this way ?
– The honorable member says that he did not make the statement as applying to any. member of this House or of the Senate. If he did not do soand I am bound to take the honorable member’s word- there is nothing to withdraw. I ask the honorable member for Gwydir to address the Chair, and not honor, able members at the other end of the Chamber. That might prevent some misunderstanding.
– I am surprised at the position taken up during this debate by the honorable member for Parramatta. I think he must have been bitten by the Prime Minister’s dog, before it was sold, to have become $0 rabid in his’ interjections. That is the only way in which I can account for the honorable member’s conduct. Only a few nights ago the Prime Minister stated that be paid nothing for the personal services of Senator Neild in connexion with the report which he produced, and which, with the right honorable gentleman I am prepared to admit, is a very valuable report. The right honorable gentleman said that he had paid only the cost of the production and printing of the report. .
– Money out of pocket.
– To show that it was not his Government, but himself, who authorised the payment of this money, th? right honorable gentleman made the state ment that what he said was, “ Now, Neild, we will pay your expenses in connexion with this work, and I will give you £250 for your personal trouble.” The expenses in connexion with the work amounted to
– No; to £350, There were two items, one of ^250, and the other of j£35°-
– The Prime Minister’s words were, “I will add £250 to the £100,” and he paid altogether .£350.
– And that was refunded.
– In any case, the Prime Minister did not fairly represent the position in saying that the payment was merely for the production and printing of the report. Rightly or wrongly, ably or Otherwise, I have endeavoured to show that the past public conduct of the. Prime Min.ister does not warrant honorable members in placing confidence in the Government he leads, I have attempted to show that politically the right honorable gentleman is one in whom no reliance can be placed. He is consistent only in his inconsistency, and is prepared when in office to bend to every wind that blows, if it is likely tq affect his position, What is the policy of the present Government? The Prime Minister has told us in effect that it. is only a man who has. had no political experience who could expect a Government tq come down with a policy at a time like this ; and that he would not be worthy of his position if he attempted to bring down a’ policy which could1 npt be carried into law during the present session qf Parliament. There was a time when the right honor? able gentleman held a very different view, although he was then in a responsible position as Premier qf New South Wales, and there were only three months of the session to run, Referring tq the policy which the right honorable gentleman then submitted to the New South Wales Parliment, the late Sir Henry Parkes said-=~-
I want to point out, and I shall do it briefly, how, on the face Qf it, it is a fraud and a delusign- How can he or any body of reasonable men crowd into the three months before the 1st July, ‘fee measures he proposes. If he were an arch-angel, instead pf being the very opposite, it would be impossible for him tq crowd in. to that time the measures which he has f ore-shadowed to this House, with an insolence, which, considering, the small-minded man he is, is most amazing to me.
That was the criticism qf the late Sir Henry; Parkes upon the statement of the present Prime Minister to the New South Wales Parliament, that he proposed tq carry out a policy which he had foreshadowed under cover of a motion for adjournment, and which he could not compass during the whole of his political career as a1 Prime Minister iq that State. At that time, the right honorable gentleman came forward with a policy for a land tax, an income tax, local government, mining legislation; and almost everything which had been included in the policy qf every other political party in the State, and he declared that his Government was going tq carry that policy into effect during the remaining three months of the session. The right honorable gentleman had such an experience at 1 that time, that he has never forgotten it.
He was then going to perform a miracle,and failed, and to-day he says that he has no policy at all. We are asked to trust the right honorable gentleman with the administration of the affairs of this Commonwealth during th° recess. Honorable members will agree with me when I say that the administration of the laws which have already been passed by this Parliament is just now of more importance than fresh legislation is likely to be for some time to come. It might not be so much to ask us to trust the Government for the remainder of the session, but we are being asked on this occasion to say that we have confidence in them, as men who are qualified to administer laws which they have sworn ‘to alter at the first opportunity. How can the right honorable gentleman be trusted by honorable members who believe in a White Australia, in protection, and in preferential trade, when they know that he’ has denounced the policy which has favoured each of . these proposals ? But while the right honorable gentleman is bound to administer the law, it only means that he will do so according to his lights. He is not responsible for any act of maladministration unless it be corrupt. No error of judgment on his part will bring upon him any punishment. Therefore, we have to consider, not merely whether we are prepared to hand the destinies of the people into his keeping, and intrust him with the formulation of a programme for next session, whenever it may take place, but also whether we are prepared to intrust him and his colleagues with the administration of the Departments and of laws which, he has practically stated, without any qualification, that he is going to alter when the opportunity presents itself. We have an instance in the case of the six potters. Some persons think that we should refer to that case with bated breath. I am not of that opinion. I remember how the right honorable gentleman, during a fierce electioneering campaign, caricatured the Barton Government on the question of the six hatters. I remember well how he appealed for the liberty of the subject, for freedom of contract, for allowing the white man, because he was a white man, who belonged to the same country as we did, to be admitted, irrespective of the injury which he might do to citizens who had been helping to build up. the Commonwealth to its present state. The honorable and learned member for West Sydney, in his place here, said that the Prime Minister had as a matter of fact indorsed the prosecution having for its object the investigation of the terms under which the six pollers arrived under contract to a firm of pipe.makers and pottery manufacturers, and that he must take the responsibility of his action. The right honorable gentleman cannot evade his responsibility by simply saying, “ I did not initiate the prosecution, and therefore I cannot be held to ‘be responsible.’.’ Do we not know that when he took over the administration of the Department he had the power to rescind his predecessor’s instructions if he believed them to be antagonistic to the best interests of the. Commonwealth ?
– And to the policy of Parliament.
– And to the deliberatepolicy of this Parliament? If the right honorable gentleman had been honest in his declaration - df he had not been playing, to the gallery, as he always is, and trying to throw dust in the eyes of the populace by professions which he does not intend to carry out - the moment he took his place on the Treasury bench he would have given notice that he intended to bring in a short Bill to amend the Immigration RestrictionAct in order to give effect to his declaration. Where is the sincerity or the courage of a Prime Minister who dares on a public platform to declare that - he is absolutely op>posed to some question of policy, and who, when he gets the power, shields himself behind his predecessor? He has not the courage to go on with the prosecution or strike it off the list. Is he waiting for the vote to be taken on this motion of noconfidence before taking action, which will’ bein keeping with his promises on this question ? Or is he shielding’ himself in a? coward’s castle in order to evade the responsibility of carrying out his public declaration at the earliest possible moment ? This- is the policy of the Government-
– I thought that thev had no policy.
– They have a so.-called policy. The Prime Minister indicated briefly in his speech that he intends to follow the course which he so admirably pursued in New South Wales - the policy of sitting tight, and drifting. While’ he was Premier of New South Wales, he never hurried. He was never anxious to pass legislation ; it always had to be dragged out of him. To show how hard it was to get any legislation from him, hehas stated publicly in Melbourne that the
Labour Party got tired of him because he would not go fast enough, and that they then took on the honorable member for Hume, out of whom they could squeeze more reform in two years than they could have squeezed out of himself in 200 years.
– Those were not his words.
– This statement has been contradicted by various honorable members, but when it was quoted only the other night by the honorable member for Barrier, the Prime Minister interjected from his seat at the table, “ I said that they could not squeeze me like they squoze Sir William Lyne”?
– What is the difference? Did he say “squoze”?
-“ Squoze “ is one of the good old Lancashire words which mcn in my county understand, if some of the very intelligent academic members on the other side do not. I have not one, but several, reports of the right honorable gentleman’s utterances at the meeting of the Producers’, Farmers’, and PropertyOwners’ Association - a fine democratic audience for him to address ; the acme of liberalism !
– No place for the working man.
– There was no place there for the working man, or the socialist, The right honorable gentleman was appealing to men who, of all others, are prepared to grind the last drop of blood and sweat out of the working -man. . I have a copy of the report which appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald, Melbourne Argus, Sydney Daily Telegraph, and Melbourne Age, and each report contains practically the same statement - that the Labour Party could squeeze out of the honorable member for Hume more in two years than they could squeeze out of the right honorable gentleman in 200 years. Some honorable members have referred to this utterance, and entered upon a mathematical calculation to discover how much reform they would be likely to get out of the right honorable gentleman at that rate of speed.
– He meant that they could squeeze more nonsense out of the honorable member for Hume.
– After the experience which the right honorable gentleman has had with the honorable and learned member, he may be an authority about nonsense. I am speaking to the intelligence of the House, and not to the apology for intelligence as represented by the honorable member for Wentworth. The right honorable gentleman said, “ We are also going to pass the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill as it stands,” although the railway servants come under its operation,” and he voted against that provision.
– As did some of the allies of the honorable member.
– He intends to postpone the High Commissionership Bill until he has consulted with the States as to how the work now done by their representatives in the capital of the Empire could be done by a representative of the Commonwealth. That delay may or may not be justifiable. There is, I think, some reason for a conference on a subject of that kind, and I shall not quarrel with the Prime Minister for any steps he may take in. the endeavour to secure the economic administration of the affairs of the Commonwealth and of the States. The proposed Transcontinental Railway Survey Bill is not a very important measure, and it would have been passed in a very short time if the Labour Government had been allowed to remain in power. They pushed the matter further than any previous Government had done, and further than their successors have done. They were sincere in the desire for a survey of the route of the proposed line, in order that the possibilities of the country which it traverses might become known. Some of the members of the present Ministry, however, were content to sit for three years behind the Barton and Deakin Administrations without doing anything to advance the matter. Then comes the Papua Bill. That is, I admit, a measure of great importance, but the Labour Government would have passed it had it not been for the intrigues which brought about its downfall. They would have given New Guinea a democratic form of Government; and, no matter what the Territory may be to-day, it will, in the comparatively near future, require a constitution just as liberal as that of the mainland. Two other measures on the programme of the Government are the Bills relating to trade marks. They are very important measures, and are destined to prevent the imposition upon the public which is practised by the commercial world in the falsification of descriptions of goods which are offered for sale in both the wholesale and the retail trade. We desire that buyers shall get what they pay for, and we wish to protect the public from’ the imposition of the trading community. The Labour Government would have passed those Bills had it not been for the - I will not say unconstitutional, but unBritish - way in which advantage was taken of an opportunity to thrust them from office when they were proving that they could sit on the Treasury bench with dignity, and when respect was being paid to them by every journal in Australia. The tribute of admiration paid to the late Prime Minister was such as any Prime Minister might be proud of.
– The Ministers who were supplanted by the Labour Government never whimpered in this way.
– The supporters of the present Ministry presented a pitiable sight when, on these benches. As I have already said, the Prime Minister has been ready to sacrifice principle to obtain power. That was clearly shown by his action with regard to the Seat of Government Bill. I admit that a considerable amount of time was spent in inspecting the various proposed sites, but, in my opinion, still more time should have been devoted to that purpose. I think that if the site last investigated had been properly placed before honorable members of both Houses, the Federal Parliament would not have made a mistake which will redound to its perpetual discredit.
– The honorable member, in saying that, is condemning the Government which passed the Bill.
– No, I am not; but had I had anything to do with the arrangement of the business of the House, the Seat of Government Bill would not have been passed until the Arbitration Bill had been got through Committee. I saw clearly, as no doubt other honorable members did, that in spite of the pretended anxiety of the honorable member for Macquarie and the Prime Minister to have the capital fixed somewhere in the neighbourhood of Orange, they would no longer stand to their guns when they knew that their attainment of office depended on the getting of one vote, and that that vote could be obtained only by hastening the decision of Parliament in favour of the site advocated by the possessor of it, who hitherto has always been opposed to the general policy of the Prime Minister. When we were discussing the Bill in Committee I endeavoured to induce the then leader of the Opposition to agree to a postponement of the consideration of the measure for a day, because I thought that we were about to select the worst site that could possibly be chosen. He turned a deaf ear to my request; he would not delay the consideration of the Bill for even one day. He knew that the position of the Prime Minister was almost within his grasp. Heads had been counted, and all those honorable members’ who were willing to support him had been driven into the fold. The day of his deliverance was at hand, and he was to be the next Prime Minister. Therefore, the interests of New South Wales in connexion with the Federal Capital site were absolutely sacrificed in order that his advent to office might be hastened. I tell the people of Orange, of Bathurst and of New South Wales generally that they have been deluded and deceived, and that the rights of the people with regard to the choice of the Federal Capital site have been sacrificed for a mess of pottage - the attainment of the ambition of the Prime Minister.
– The Prime Minister was once allied with the Labour Party, and it is not fair to attack him in this way.
– Heaven save us from our friends ! I know the history of the right honorable gentleman, and of his relations with the Labour Party, which had better not be quoted by his supporters. After five long years, all we got from him was an apology of a Bill for imposing a land tax. I wonder how the honorable member for Lang, the honorable member for New England, and the honorable and learned member for Werriwa, -who are land taxers, can sit behind the Prime Minister. When the right honorable gentleman had the power in New South Wales to carry through a Land Tax Bill, similar to that placed upon the New Zealand statute-book by Mr. Seddon, and which would have had the effect of breaking up the large estates and bringing them under close settlement, he failed to take advantage of his opportunity. He compromised upon all questions of principle, and missed the chance of making his name resound throughout Australia . as that of a public benefactor. He was not prepared to give any more than he could avoid in return for the support he received. He has stated that the Labour Party could rot squeeze as much out of him in 200 years as they succeeded in obtaining from (he honorable member for Hume in *wo rars. If the demands made upon him were of a legitimate character, why should he want squeezing? Why should he not have given the people an evidence of his good faith by placing upon the statute-book an Act which would have been r,f a comprehensive and beneficial character? Such a measure would have afforded a sharp contrast to the policy advocated by the Minister of Trade and Customs, who favours the resumption of land at ihe owner’s valuation. That system is coolly advocated by an honorable gentleman who says that he is a great democrat, that he supported womanhood suffrage, and placed the Factories Act upon the statute-book. He would buy land at the owners’ valuation, without any regard to the uses to which it could be profitably put, and without consideration of the rent which would have to be paid to cover interest on the cost of resumption. The Minister of Trade and Customs is in good company when he is associated with the Prime Minister. They are well met; they are a pair of democrats and reformers who have never moved any faster- than they could help. The question with them is, “ How long can we retain office, and how little can we pay for the privilege? We are going to give as little as we’ can, and to give that little with a grudging hand.” The greed for the emoluments of office has proved too strong for both those honorable gentlemen who have violated their principles, in order to retain their positions. Mow we come to the so-called policy of the Government. The Prime Minister will not have anything to do with the Manufactures Encouragement Bill; he is content to hand it over to the honorable member for Eden-Monaro.
– That is “ freedom as to method of control.”
– It is freedom of action in extricating one’s self from a difficult position. What wonderful men these lawyers are when they wish to wriggle out of a tight corner.
– Sometimes their clients are very glad of that.
– Their clients are more sorry than glad as a rule. It has amused me very much to hear the discussions which have taken place amongst honorable and learned members during this debate with regard to the meaning of the amendment in clause 48, adopted at the instance of the Minister of Defence, and the amendment suggested by the late Prime Minister. One would think that a simple clause of only four or five lines written in the English language would be readily understood by men who have passed through the University. One would think that the honorable and learned member for Indi and the honorable and learned member for Ballarat would be able to give a correct interpretation of such a clause, and yet the widest difference exists between them. The same thing took place in connexion with the discussion of other provisions in the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill. The honorable and learned members on both sides of the House quibbled over the details of that measure until the ordinary layman was positively bewildered. It is impossible ‘ to get two lawyers to agree upon any given subject Their profession ruins them. They are taught to argue both ways, and, as a result, they become so imbued with the spirit of opposition, that they can never get away from it, even in Parliament. They array themselves one against the other, and obtain a big public advertisement in the newspapers for their efforts on behalf of the party for which they hold a brief.
– That is rough upon Indi.
– It is also rough upon Corinella. I am not in the habit of making fish of one and flesh of another. The Government do not propose to bring forward the Manufactures Encouragement Bill during the current session. 1 doubt whether they will submit it during the next session. 1 1 is too big a contract for them. They are pursuing a policy of drift, and of non-progression. Yet, as custodians of the people’s welfare, we are asked to trust the Government and their administration for several months whilst .Parliament ‘Is in recess. I say to those who give them their support upon such conditions, that they may yet live to repent of their action. I now propose to deal with another matter, having reference to the present PostmasterGeneral. When Ministries are about to be constituted, he is always in the vanguard of the free-trade movement. His present position is wholly attributable to his support of the so-called free-trade doctrine, and to the fact that he clings to the Prime Minister just as persistently as a child does to its mother. At the last general elections he was opposed by Mr. Sandford, the proprietor of the iron works at Lithgow, who is very desirous of securing a bonus upon the. production of iron. If any honorable member desires to obtain some interesting reading, he has merely to consult the files of the local newspapers whilst that campaign was in progress, and he will marvel that anything in the shape of the honorable gentleman could be produced from man or woman. To-day, because Mr. Sandford wishes to obtain a contract from the New South Wales Government, which is in sympathy with the Reid Administration, he sits cheek by jowl with the gentleman .who opposed him last election.
O, what a tangled web we weave, When first we practice to deceive.
How applicable are those lines to the gentlemen who have been so deceitful in their public life. Immediately upon taking office, the Postmaster-General found a tender in his Department for certain postal and telegraphic supplies which were already protected by the Tariff to the extent of 20 per cent. What action did this emblem of free-trade take - this gentleman who opposed the arch-protectionist of New South Wales, who hunted him from pillar to post, and denounced him practically as a monstrosity so far as fiscal-ism was concerned? f know that it takes a good deal to bring the blush of shame to the faces of some men.
– The honorable member has been blushing for three hours.
– I shall be blushing when the Postmaster-General is pale. This free-trader of the pure merino type gave the contract for the supply of these materials to a gentleman whose tender was 15 per cent, higher than those received from persons outside the Commonwealth. As a protectionist, T. do not object to that, but how will the honorable gentleman reconcile his conduct to the electors of Macquarie?
– As soon as this is over we are going to have a caucus meeting on the question.
– The real caucus will be when the honorable member for Macquarie goes back to his constituency. He will then have to explain why he voted to put a Government out and to exclude the railway men from the operation of the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, and then voted in favour of a Government, and also in favour of including railway men within the operation of the Bill. Now he is prepared to send a Bill to the Senate-
– Which includes the railway men, and for which the honorable member refused to vote.
– The honorable member is now prepared to send a Bill to the Senate which he knows to be a delusion and a sham. The railway men in the hon orable member’s constituency have had to pay for their experience. They have had to contribute to the unions for years, and have sacrificed much to attain the position which they at present occupy, and they expect something more than a mere sham from Parliament. They will know that he is only following the example so determinedly set by his leader ever since he came into public life. I have now done with the honorable member for Macquarie, except to say that he will have a difficulty in explaining why he voted for fixing the Seat of Government at Dalgety instead of at Lyndhurst. When he makes the admission that the! position of PostmasterGeneral was to him far more important than the establishment of the capital at Lyndhurst, they will gauge him at his proper worth. I desire to refer to another honorable member who, I am sorry to say, is not present, but for whose absence I am not responsible.
– I do not know about that !
– I may be responsible for the honorable member’s absence, and, of course, he cannot know whether or not he is missing anything of interest. On the Government side we see the member for Lang, who from both sides of the House has lectured the Labour Party often. I do not want to do that honorable member any injustice, and therefore I shall quote from his remarks as reported in Hansard. I shall not quote all the honorable member has said in reference to the caucus, because to do so would occupy me till morning. On Hansard, at page 4751, the honorable member for Lang is thus reported -
But what is the position of honorable members opposite ?
That is the Labour Party -
Some of them belong to a party which is governed by the caucus, and it does not matter what pledges they may have given to their constituents if the caucus decides that it is not in the interests of the party to keep them, they must break them.
That comes from one who has professed to be a democrat in the past - from one who has been a member of the Democratic Party for years in the State to which I belong, and who, so far from not understanding the labour movement, claims, though not rightly, to be the father of that movement. fs it known to most honorable members that the honorable member for Lang signed the labour pledge in 1894, and under that pledge was prepared to run for Parliament? That was not the pledge we have to-day, but one more stringent by far ; and it was signed by the honorable member in his ambition to climb into politics.
– The. honorable member for Lang is present now.
– I never like to speak of a man behind his back. Nothing gives me greater pleasure than to meet an opponent face to face. The honorable member for Lang should be the last man to charge the Labour Party with having to act as the caucus may direct. As I say, the honorable member signed the caucus pledge in 1894.
– The present pledge?
– No ; a more stringent pledge.
– I signed it with a special reservation.
– The pledge which the honorable member then signed was much more stringent than that now in operation in the State of New South Wales, and certainly more stringent than the pledge in the Federal Parliament.
– What has all this to do with the motion?
– When an honorable member criticises the Labour Party I have the right to reply, and I shall exercise that right. The honorable member for Lang tells us here, as he has told people elsewhere, that he signed that pledge in 1894 because on the forefront of the platform was land taxation.
– Did the honorable member not oppose a selected labour candidate after he had pledged himself to stand down ?
– Never !
– The honorable member did.
– Honorable members will not lead me off the track by these interruptions, because I have been too long used to such treatment. The honorable member for Lang screens himself behind the justification that land taxation was in the forefront of the platform. The honorable member, however, does not tell us that the fighting planks of the platform . he then gave adhesion to, incorporated nearly every principle which can be found in the fighting platform of the Federal Labour Party.
– That is absolutely incor- rect.
– Further, at that very time every other aspiring land-taxer in New South Wales refused to sign that pledge.
He did not go into Parliament, in the same way as did the honorable member for Parramatta and others, who were equally as sincere in regard to the land question. They made the single tax the beau ideal of their political religion just as the honorable member for Lang does, although he now sits cheekby jowl with land monopolists. These men were quite able to decide whether they should sign the pledge or not. They refused to sign it. But this self-styled father of the Labour movement considered himself 10 bp better capable of judging than Mr. Frank Cotton, Mr.Gardiner, the honorable member for Parramatta, and a number of others, every one of whom was as sound on the land question as he was. But the position was that the honorable member for Lang was seeking election in a constituency where there was already a free-trade candidate in the field. There could not be two free-trade candidates.
– The honorable member ran as a free-trader that time.
– The honorable member did.
-The question before the House is whether the House has confidence in the Government. Unless the honorable member can connect what he is saying with that question he is not in order. It does not seem to me . to be possible for him to connect his remarks with the question.
– I am criticising the remarks of the honorable member for Lang.
– Remarks made during this debate?
– Yes. Surely if an argument is permitted to be used by an honorable member opposite, a representative on this side of the House has a right to reply to it.
– Will the honorable I member indicate which remarks he refers to?
– If the honorable member for Gwydir assures me that he is simply discussing a speech made during this debate by the honorable member for Lang, of course he is in order, but not otherwise.
– I am criticising the remarks made by the honorable member for Lang, as reported in Hansard, page’ 4751. Owing to. the circumstances which I have explained, the honorable member had to run under some other colours than those of the Free-trade Party. That explains why he signed the pledge, and was prepared to enter the caucus and abide by its decisions. On page 4752 of Hansard the honorable member is reported to have said -
Our object in New South Wales was to reduce the Customs duties, and to get rid of all those who were responsible for the Tariff, or who were likely to seek to increase imports under it. So that I was pledged, first of all, to get rid of the Deakin Government, and when the opportunity arose-
He meant to wipe 6ut the protectionists.
– That is the interpretation the honorable member puts upon the passage.
– It is the interpretation which the honorable member for Lang puts upon it. During the last week I have been reading with interest some correspondence, which the honorable member for Lang has been so indiscreet as to enter into, in a newspaper in his electorate, as to his attitude with respect to free-trade. As the statements to which I allude are published over his own name, I must accept them as his deliberate opinion. I wish the protectionists to observe what he says. It is evident that the free-traders have made use of the protectionists under the pretence of a truce, not to raise the fiscal question during this Parliament, but they did not hesitate to put out the Deakin Government, in order that they might prepare the way to put in power a free-trade Prime Minister.
– The honorable member helped them.
– Yes; 1 was pledged to give a certain vote upon a certain proposal, and could not agree to vote in a contrary direction. I could no’t humiliate myself and degrade the principles which I had professed, even though my vote involved putting the Government out of office. When this Parliament is dissolved there will be no hesitation on the part of the free-traders in disregarding the truce which has enabled the Prime Minister to take office. They will make war on the principle of protection, as they have always done in New South Wales, where the people, have hitherto believed them to be in earnest. But the New South Wales people are awakening from the delusion under which they have been for so long. _ They are awakening to the deception practised by some honorable members in this Parliament - the Prime Minister and freetraders and land-taxers supporting him, who are now sitting cheek by jowl with honorable members who are opposed to land taxation and all other forms of .taxation which touch the pockets of the monopolist. These honorable’ members will have to answer to their constituents and the people of New South Wales, who are beginning to realize that they have been duped in the past, and will not stand it in the future. There is one other element which has exerted great influence in the political history of New South .Wales. Members of . Parliament have not always been returned in that State because )they have supported free-trade. Men have been returned to Parliament in that’ State because they have degraded the sacred name of religion by dragging it into the political arena. During the Federal elections some good and faithful servants of this Commonwealth were displaced by men who carried the yellow flag. Since that time a State election has taken place, and those who thought that they would sweep the polls and come back with a majority of twenty, have come back with a doubtful majority of two. This gives some indication that the people are realizing that they have been deceived in the past. I trust that’ the day is not far distant when no man will dare to drag religion down into the arena of politics in the endeavour to shelter himself beneath a flag which should be emblematic of Christianity and justice. I trust that the time will come when no man will be allowed to enter Parliament on either side merely because he happens to represent a section holding a particular religious belief. The honorable member for Lang has reason to be proud in this connexion, because he was forced to face a gentleman who was put up in the same interest, and who ran under the Protestant Defence Association’s nomination ; but there are other honorable members on the other side who were returned by the objectionable influence to which I have referred. There were liberals and reformers who were prepared to support either side, irrespective of religion, provided they could down a labour man. The Protestant Defence Association put their brand even on a Roman Catholic, in order to down a labour candidate. The honorable member for Lang said that the present Prime Minister was practically bound to vote with the Government, because he had spoken so strongly in favour of the attitude they assumed, and he also thought that all the members of his party would follow him. The honorable member was referring to the Labour Party’s anticipations with regard to the vote -that put the Deakin Government out of power. He said that the Prime Minister was bound by some utterances in this House to vote with the Government, as he did on the amendment to the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill submitted by the honorable member for Wide Bay. Yet, although- the Prime Minister professes to be a free-trader, and the honorable member for Lang is a freetrader, the honorable member thought he could act differently from his leader on the ground that he was under some other bond.
– I was under no bond.
– It was a bond of honour, if the honorable member pleases, but it was a bond all the same. The honorable member has told us that his strongest pledge was to put the Deakin Government out of office. The honorable member’s leader was not pledged to put out the Deakin Government, in order that he might carry out the principles to which the honorable member for Lang was pledged, but he was determined to bring the Labour Party to their knees, and put them out of power if possible. *
– That is the pledge of the honorable member’s own manufacture. It has no existence in fact.
– I have already shown that it has, by quotations from the honorable member’s speeches, and I do not propose to quote from them any more. I have a word to say with respect to the honorable member for Laanecoorie. In speaking on this motion, and dealing with democratic tendencies, and his wonderful ideas of the rights and wrongs of unionists and working men in general, the honorable member made some observations to the effect that as a democrat he was more worthy of support in Laanecoorie than any labour man.
– I never said anything of the sort.
– That is practically what the honorable member’s remarks implied. I can show that the honorable member has not been a consistent advocate of the democratic principles which he now professes. When he was in the State Parliament of Victoria, there was a Bill before the Legislative Assembly providing for women’s suffrage, and in speaking en that question, the honorable member made these remarks -
I hold in my hand a small pamphlet which deals with the female suffrage question. One of its arguments is that women are entitled to the franchise because they are governed. The same argument might be applied to the brute creation. They are governed, and, therefore, they ought to have the franchise.
– What is the date of that?
– That was said in the session of 1894.
– Is a reference to something which was said ten years ago in order ?
– I am replying to the observations of the honorable member for Laanecoorie in connexion with his attitude with regard to female suffrage.
– I do not think I mentioned it.
– r am sure the honorable member mentioned it.
– I am quite” sure I did not.
– I have at least read the honorable gentleman’s statement on the subject. The honorable member was opposed to female suffrage, and in dealing with the argument that women are entitled to the franchise because they are governed, the honorable member said, “The same argument might be applied to the brute creation. They are governed.” That is a remark which cannot be considered complimentary to the ladies of the Commonwealth. Those who have advocated female suffrage have always done so because women are governed - because they are human beings and are subject to the laws.
– Can the honorable member connect what he is now saying with the question before the House?
– Yes, sir. I am replying to the statement of the honorable member for Laanecoorie.
– A statement made during this debate?
– I deny that I referred to womanhood suffrage during this debate.
– I accept the denial of the honorable member, because it is the parliamentary rule to do so, but I know that what I am saying is correct. The honorable member cannot escape, however, from being declared as one of those who are opposed to reform, liberty, justice, and equitable legislation. He is opposed to all those measures which make for the betterment of the people.
– The Labour Party opposed womanhood suffrage in 1891.
– Order !
– At that time the honorable gentleman was opposed, and he must still be opposed-
– At that time the Labour Partv were opposed to it.
– I hope the honorable member for Gwydir will proceed to his next point.
– I have just got on to mv next point.
– As long as the honorable member continues to refer to womanhood suffrage, after accepting the assurance of the honorable member for Laanecoorie, there will be interjections all round the Chamber.
– I fully expected that, sir, and therefore I do not intend to discuss the subject. I propose now to refer to a remark made by the honorable member for Dalley in this debate.
– Were they unanimous?
– I do not know. They were unanimous at the meeting which was held, with the exception of the honorable member for Dalley, who did not express any objection to the negotiations.
– I was not in favour of the coalition, but I would not join the Labour Party.
In the Legislative Assembly of New South Wales the honorable member for Dalley, unpledged, religiously supported most planks in the platform of the Labour Party. In this House he supported the Labour Party on the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill up to a certain stage, but when he could not get that which was impracticable, he turned round, and said that for that reason he was prepared to reverse the vote which had kept the Labour Government in office. I regret that by his vote they were put out of office, because he represents what is practically a labour constituency. For the first time he has forgotten the allegiance which he owes to the men who have supporter] him.
– He is quite prepared to take the risk.
– While the honorable member is prepared to take the risk, he will have to explain to the large body of unionists in his electorate, why, because he could not get something which was impossible,- he was not prepared to support that which was practicable. However, at the caucus which was held by the’ Opposition members to discuss whether they would join the Deakinites in a coalition, they all agreed to join except the honorable member for Dalley, and he has said nothing. He was waiting. What was he waiting for?
When did he decide to. . throw in his lot with the conservatives? I must compliment the Prime Minister upon having selected a very capable and energetic whip, who fulfils other functions very religiously and faithfully. I should not like to say that the appointment of a whip was delayed for rather a lengthened period, and that after a selection was made, the honorable member for Dalley made up his mind to throw in his lot with the conservatives.
– Did the honorable member think that the honorable member for Dalley would go over to his side? ‘
– I am only reviewing the circumstances.
– There is nothing in that.
– I do not’ suppose that there is. . Whom have the Government sitting behind them? They have behind them the honorable member for Dalley, who has been a radical and liberal.
– He is a better one to-day than the honorable member.
– The honorable member for Dalley is about as much a radical and liberal as the Postmaster-General is a free-trader. Of course it is only natural for the honorable gentleman to stand by his able successor in the whip-ship. The Government have sitting behind them the honorable member for Dalley, who has fallen from grace, the honorable member for Lang and the honorable member for New England, who are land-t’axers, and the honorable member for Parramatta, who originated the idea of employing only white labour on the mail ships. What a satire it is that the originator of the idea of keeping a White Ocean, so far as our mail service is concerned, should be sitting belli d the right’ honorable member for East Sydney, who has declared that he intends to remove the whitelabour provision from the statute book ! We find sitting behind the Government a motley crowd, comprising all sorts and conditions of men, and representing all sorts and degrees of political doctrine. It is surprising to me Ho find that these honorable members ever expected that, with a Government party constituted as this is, they could go back to their constituents as democrats. They must all go back to their constituents as men who have been prepared to oppose the Labour Party, and to join the individualistic party who are for self all the time, and do not care what becomes of the other man. “ The victory to the strong “ is their doctrine all the time. The weak man may go to the wall for aught they care. According to their view, if a man is born weak, he must carry that defect through life; he must pass away if he is not able to keep pace with the strong.
– The honorable member does not know :he meaning of the word democracy.
Mr-. WEBSTER.- Apparently I do not know anything. The honorable member knows everything ; it is a wonder to me how he holds all he says he knows. This quotation clearly expresses my feelings -
Labour is right in despising, as an enemy and a traitor, any workman who, enjoying the higher standard of wages which union has secured, turns “ scab “ and takes a striker’s place.
We, on this side, wish to insure by means of the arbitration law that those who have borne the heat and burden of the day, and have fought for and upheld the dignity of labour, shall obtain the rewards which are its right. Then again -
In a union the workman has as his own the strength of all his fellows when he asks for better wages and better treatment. Out of a union the workman has only the strength of a single individual.
Honorable members opposite profess to think that it is the non-unionists, those who have done nothing and contributed nothing, who should reap the rewards which have been gained by unionists at the sacrifice sometimes of their liberties, and even of their lives. The amendment of the honorable and learned member for Corinella is absolutely impracticable.
– That settles the matter.
– That is my opinion, and I have had more opportunity to study the subject than has the honorable and learned gentleman, who, although he belongs to one of the closest unions in the world, spent his youth in colleges and academies, and knows nothing about hard toil or industrial unionism. Both he and his leader belong to a union whose conditions are more exacting than those of any other in the world. If one of its members dared to work for less than the minimum wage, he would be reported to the Law Institute. It is rarely, however, that they work even for the minimum wage. I once read that when . the complaint was made against a lawyer that he had not charged his client enough, he replied, “ I may have been to blame, but I took all that he had.” That is the religion of a lawyer. Yet these honorable gentlemen who have the privilege of taking from their clients all that they possess, for services the value of which is. questionable, refuse to the common toilers in our factories, our workshops, and our streets, to the men who are building up this great Commonwealth, even a small proportion of the privileges which they enjoy. ‘
– The honorable member’s leader said that the principle of preference was not in question.
– I am not responsible for anyone’s utterances but my own. Here is another extract -
When battling in defence of the union principle, labour battles for higher wages, shorter hours, and everything ‘ that separates the free worker from the serf.
Is not that i noble ambition for labour to have? For giving up the right to strike, which, though a barbarous weapon, is labour’s only protection against oppression, some return is expected. Honorable members opposite, however, would put the nonunionist on the same level as the unionist, and by allowing the non-unionist to get for nothing what the unionist has toiled and fought for, all incentive to progress would be taken away from the latter. The honorable member for Richmond referred to commercial Socialism. He at one time represented in the State Parliament an electorate in which a railway was subsequently constructed, which has not yet paid interest on its cost
– I remember that the honorable member for Richmond referred to the matter, and that I prevented him from proceeding, on the ground that it was outside the scope of the motion. Therefore, it would be unfair if I allowed the honorable member to refer to it.
-Very good, Mr. Speaker. The Prime Minister stated that what is involved in the management of our railways” is commercialism, not Socialism. Let us see to what lengths this has been carried in the country of the stars and stripes. Baron Rothschild has refused to grant to his men. who are working upon the under - ground_ railways, in New York, a sufficient wage to enable them to support themselves decently. And yet he has paid 5,000 dollars for a flea.’ This cormorant, this millionaire, who is the result of an individualistic system, this outcome of the growth of the system advocated by honorable members opposite, is not willing to pay his men a decent wage. This man, who is grinding his millions out of the sweat and toil of the poor, invests some of his money in buying fleas. In the newspaper I hold in my hand he is pictured with a flea under the microscope. I do not know the object of his investigation, but perhaps he is endeavouring to discover why the flea bites rich and poor alike - why it is a Socialist, and no respecter of persons. The position, summed up, is this: We cannot express our confidence in the Government. Why? Because they belong to the party of retrogression, and have no definite policy, and no definite principles. They are a job lot. which it is absolutely impossible to describe. They belong to the monopolistic party, and represent all that is oppressive and opposed to progress, all the forces of the employers’ unions and other organizations which are bound together with the object of bringing about the humiliation of the Labour Party, so that they may be able to again prey upon the workers, as they have done in the past. It is an honour to belong to the minority upon this side rather than to the majority upon the other side of the Chamber, constituted as it is. The Prime Minister has nothing to be proud of, in view of the fact that he is holding office by the aid of the vote of one man who spurns him and heaps contumely and ridicule upon him because he has no policy such as he has indicated by his public speeches. The right honorable gentleman is prepared to cling to office like a parasite. If Sir Henry Parkes had been spoken to in the way that the Prime Minister was addressed by the honorable member for Wilmot, he would have told him to go further, that he did not want his vote, and that he would not hang on to office by the aid of his support. The cost of a dissolution would scarcely be worth considering in comparison with the humiliation to which the Commonwealth is being subjected by the action of .the Prime Minister.’ So far as honorable members generally are concerned, the question whether or not they remain in this Parliament is not one of much concern, because if we are not here others will be. But if we lower the dignity of this institution, and place at the head of the Government a man who has no respect for the high and responsible position he occupies, the country will lose more by far than would be represented by the paltry expenditure incurred in making an appeal to the country, and enabling the people to send to this House men whom thev could understand, some one with a policy, men consistent and honest, and determined to fight for the liberties of the people.
– I do not desire to exercise my right of speech in this debate, which I think has already been drawn out at too great length, except to reply, by way of personal explanation, to one or two of the statements made by the honorable member who, for the last four and a half hours, has, with such dignity and force - physical force - addressed this House. The honorable member stated that I had paid the trifling sum of .£1,500 as a subscription to the Reform League of New South Wales.
– I said “ a party by the name of Kelly.”
– The honorable member distinctly mentioned my initials. In the first place, I desire to say that that statement is absolutely, untrue. I should not have taken the trouble to contradict the statement, coming as it did from the honorable member, but for the fact that other endeavours of a similar character have been made to drag my private affairs into politics, with a view to damage my political reputation. I am glad to say that I am in a position to give the honorable member’s statement a complete denial. By interjec tion during another portion of the honorable member’s speech, I find that I have done the honorable member a grave injustice. I said that at the State election for the district of Marrickville, in New South Wales, in 1898, he had polled only six votes. I find that the number was nine. The honorable member, when I referred to the matter, told me that I was distinctly misleading, because he had withdrawn from the contest on that occasion. I have here a letter from the returning officer at that election, which will show that the honorable member’s memory is not in accordance with the facts, mie letter was written by Mr. Robert Anderson, who was the returning officer at Marrickville in 1898, is dated 9th July, 1904, and is as follows: -
In reply to your letter of the 5th inst, I beg to inform you that Mr. Webster did not retire from being a candidate for the electorate of Marrickville at the general elections, 27th July, 1898. He was duly nominated, his name appeared on the ballot-papers, and he received nine (9) votes. I enclose the result of the polling.
As affording further evidence that the honorable member’s memory must be extremely defective, I need only say that after the declaration of the poll, the “honorable member addressed a multitude of 2,000 people, which, presumably, included the nine persons who voted for him. I do not propose to detain the House- any further.
I wish to reiterate my explanation, and I deny the soft impeachment as to the£1,500. I desire to make full reparation to the honorable member for having minimized the great vote which was cast in his favour in the Marrickville election in 1898. But I would remind him of the time when he contested an election upon his own merits, and not in the interests of a party. The honorable member distinctly stated that he retired from that election. I think I shall be in order in repeating that he did not retire, although I am, of course, willing to believe that his memory is at fault when he states that he did; and that when the honorable member was not standing under the aegis of the Labour Party, but on his own merits, he established a marvellous record by securing nine votes when seeking to become the representative of Marrickville.
– In the course of his remarks, the honorable member for Gwydir made certain misstatements respecting a pledge which I am alleged to have signed. As the honorable member is aware - because I have already explained this matter - the pledge which I signed upon the occasion referred to, was not identical with the Federal labour pledge. Moreover, the platform upon which I stood at that time was an absolute free-trade one, and I made an express reservation that in. the event of my being called upon to vote against my free-trade principles I should resign my seat. Several other misstatements were made by the honorable member, but I shall deal with them upon another occasion, when I shall have an opportunity of referring to them, and also to some of his extraordinary political somersaults.
– I also desire to make a personal explanation. Whilst the honorable member was addressing the House I made an interjection, and also a statement, the accuracy of which he denied.
– I accepted it.
– The honorable member was careful to qualify his acceptance of my denial in a way that is easily understood by honorable members. I have carefully gone through my speech, and I find that he was guilty of misleading the House and of misrepresenting me.- He stated twice that he was referring to a matter which he alleged I introduced whilst I was addressing myself to this motion. I have gone through say speech very carefully, and I now ask him as an honorable man to produce the proof that he was.
– I permitted the honorable member for Wentworth to go beyond the limits of a personal explanation, because he had not previously Spoken, and was entitled to speak. I am not sure that the honorable member for’ Lang did not also exceed the limits of a personal explanation; but the honorable member for Laanecoorie must see that if he proceeds upon the lines he is pursuing, he will not be making a personal explanation, but replying to the remarks of the honorable member for Gwydir. It is not in order to speak a second time to reply to a speech by another honorable member.
– The honorable member also quoted from a speech which I made in the Legislative Assembly of Victoria some ten years ago, and which had reference to the enfranchisement of women. In doing so I hold that he misrepresented me, and I desire to place myself right before this House and the country. In answer to my interrogation, toe said that I made that speech in 1894. I believe it was the second speech delivered by me during my parliamentary career. The honorable member made it appear that I was an out-and-out opponent of woman suffrage. Had he been fair he would have quoted that part of it in which I stited that I approached the motion relating to it with an open mind. But instead he conveyed the impression that I had stated that because the brutes were governed, they were as much entitled to a vote as were the women. That is an absolute misrepresentation of my remarks. At the time I was dealing with an argument which had been advanced by the advocates of the motion, and one to which very great prominence had been given. In fact, some honorable members were prepared to base their whole support of that motion upon the argument that because women were governed they should have a vote. It was then that I used a ridiculous analogy to show how utterly absurd was that argument. I went on to say that I denied the premises of the argument.
– I read that statement.
– The ‘honorable member may have read it, but in introducing a matter which was quite . foreign to the debate he misrepresented me. I therefore j desire to put upon record my explanation, and also the statement that upon every subsequent occasion when the question of woman suffrage came, before the Victorian Parliament I supported the reform and voted for it.
– The honorable member for Wentworth has declared that I received only nine votes when I was a candidate for the electorate of Marrickville, and that I did not retire from the contest. I desire to say that I knew the returning officer for that district would not permit me to retire after I had once been nominated. Consequently it would have been idle for me to have intimated to him that I intended to retire. Nevertheless, the fact remains that upon polling day I attended my work, some seven miles distant, and also recorded my vote in favour of another candidate. During that day the candidates who went to the poll were very careful to inform all my supporters that I had retired. For all practical purposes, I repeat that I did retire from that contest.
– Not a single advertisement was published notifying the honorable member’s retirement.
– Not being a man of means, I had no money to throw away upon advertising. Concerning the observations of the honorable member for Lang, who says that he signed a pledge-
– This is endless repetition.
– I wish again to point out that there is a vast difference between a personal explanation and a reply to allegations. The honorable member is going beyond the limits of a personal explanation, and is replying to a speech. The Standing Orders expressly set out that no explanation can be discussed. I must therefore ask the honorable member not to exceed the limits of a personal explanation.
– The fact remains that the honorable member for Lang signed a pledge.
– That is an answernot a personal explanation.
– I do not wish to make a reply, but-
– That is exactly what the! honorable member is doing, and exactly what he may not do. If he is making a personal explanation concerning something he has said or done he is in order, but if he is explaining something which the honorable member for Laanecoorie has said, or making some statement as to some pledge which that honorable member signed, he is replying, and not making a personal explanation, and is, therefore, out of order.
– I do not wish to be unfair to the honorable member for Laanecoorie. .
– Does the honorable member wish to make a personal ‘.explanation?
– I desire to say that if I have done the honorable member for Laanecoorie an injustice, I have done so unintentionally. I quoted from Hansard words which, in my opinion, bore the construction which I placed upon them. If the honorable member says that, by the construction and interpretation which I placed upon his words, I have done him an injustice, I apologize and withdraw anything that I may have said.
– I believe that on one occasion I exceeded the limits of a three hours’ speech. To-night I have listened to a speech for four hours or more ; and I humbly apologize to the House for my own offence, the enormity of which has been brought home to me. At the present time, throughout the country, there is no doubt much reflection cast on the House on account of the length of our discussions. It seems to me, however, that if the people would only consider, they might take a great deal of comfort to themselves. This is the only Australian Parliament for many years past which has sat for seven months, and has not by any law it has passed added to the cost of administration, or deprived anybody of a portion of his earnings. That fact is unique, in the history of latter day Australian Parliaments, and one over which we may very well re’joice. I am not one who complains of the want of legislation in this House. It appears to me we are only too faithfully reflecting the indecision of the electors, as shown in December last, when they were unable to make up their minds as to which policy should be pursued. Although three separate lines of policy we’re placed before them, the electors were unable to definitely decide in favour of any ; and the result is seen in the three parties within this Chamber. One is very greatly surprised to hear members of the Labour Party - though, I am thankful to say, not members of the late Ministry - complaining that the late Government had not a fair chance. If the late Government desired one provision more than another in the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, if was preference to unionists; and on that issue the Government were distinctly’ defeated. I cannot understand, therefore, why there should be; any complaint from that Government because they had to resign office. No one can pretend that there is a majority in this House in favour of giving a preference to unionists unless it is clear that the whole of the workers connected with a particular industry is in favour of such a step. All this talk about want of fair play to the late Government is, under the circumstances, very surprising. Challenge after challenge was issued by the late Government to the then Opposition to meet them in the House ; and that course was taken, and the Government were defeated. Every honorable member was allowed to make only one speech, and not two or three1; and that was the reason the Government were challenged in the House. The course pursued placed some limitation on the debate, and confined members to the particular motion before us. However, all this has been dealt with before, and I shall not go fully into it again. It is also surprising that, in the course of this long debate, we have heard nothing but whimpering and complaining because certain forms of the House were followed. If honorable members do not agree with those forms they may be altered. We are asked now to show by our votes whether we support the present Ministry, and it is perfectly clear that if we do not there must be a dissolution. Two parties in the House have already been exhausted, and a third party is now on trial. It is the duty of all of us to prevent, if possible, a dissolution, not merely on personal grounds, which, of course, and rightly, have a great deal of weight, but especially because that course would involve the country in an expenditure of something like ^60,000.
– Sufficient to make a substantial addition to our salaries.
– The cost of a general election would be quite enough to give 60,000 working families provisions for a month, though that is a point the Labour Party appear to have forgotten. I assert that we have every right to try to prevent a dissolution. The present Government and honorable members on both sides have had to give up, not their principles, but the assertion of their principles for the time being. They have had to recognise, as we always must recognise in legislation, that unless there is a distinct majority on one side in favour of a certain line of policy, that policy ought not to be pursued, though other classes of legislation, on which a majority do agree, ought to be passed. 1 should have liked to deal with other subjects, but I understand that many honorable members are desirous that the debate shall close this evening, and, in order to give the leader of the Opposition an opportunity to address the House, and have his remarks reported, I shall confine myself to stating that at the present time it seems absurd to plunge the country ‘into the turmoil of a general election. It. is especiallyridiculous when we remember that, supposing a similar House were returned, the Senate might deal with the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, and so alter it that this House would not be able to accept it. That would mean another dissolution. Whatever our feelings may be with regard to the lines of policy to be pursued - and nobody on either side can feel satisfied when he does not see his own ideas carried out - we can have no hesitation in recording our votes against the motion. While I do not pretend that this Ministry has my full confidence - or, indeed, that any Ministry, of which I was not a member myself, could have my full confidence - I shall feel no hesitation in voting against the motion.
– After three weeks of debate I do not know that it is necessary for me to contribute any remarks. Enough has been said to “ chuck out “ half-a-dozen Governments. So far as I am concerned I only wish to let those on the other side know how I shall vote. I do not pretend to be like the honorable member for Wilmot ; but I believe that I am the last speaker in the debate, except the leader of the Opposition. I am rather reluctant to give a vote which might plunge the country into an expenditure of ,£60,000. That is not so much on account of the other States - it is my own State I feel for. We know ‘ that since Queensland joined the Federation she has had deficits every year. Therefore I do not desire that my State should be involved in an extra expenditure of ;£ 1 0,000 or j£i 2,000 on account of a general election. But at- the same time I must cast my vote against this iniquitous Government. I do not hesitate to say how I am gong to vote, as the harlequin from Tasmania did. It appears now that the present Government is to remain in office for some time longer. The present position of affairs has been brought about largely by the action of the honorable and learned member for Ballarat. He was anxious, as he explained, to do away with a state of ‘ things which left us with “ three elevens in the field. “ Well, there are two parties in politics now. He has succeeded to that extent. The liberal protectionists have come over to the side of progress and liberty, and he has left the fiscal-issue-sinking protectionists with the free-trade supporters of the Government. The honorable and learned member for Ballarat is responsible for the present situation in more senses than one. When he went out of office he put the Labour Party into power through his own action. He .told us last night that he expected either the Labour Party or the Free-trade Party to make overtures to him in order that, a coalition Government might be formed. But that was not done, and the result was that the Labour Party were driven out of office, and the present Government came into power. The Arbitration Bill has already wrecked two Governments, and may wreck a third. The object of that measure is to put an end to such disastrous industrial conflicts as have occurred in the past. We are aware of the strikes which took place in 1891 and 1894, and cost Australia hundreds of thousands of pounds. But in consequence of the action of the traitors on the Government side, who pretended to be the friends of the workers, the Bill has been made absolutely ineffective. I have nothing to say against the Prime Minister personally. As a private gentleman I do not think there is a better man in the Australian States. But I oppose him politically. I regret the language which he used concerning the Honorable and learned member for Corio, which was a disgrace to the Commonwealth. Some of his language has been erased from Hansard, but I heard it myself, and I think that the leader of a great party holding the position that the right honorable gentleman occupies ought to set an example to the House and to the country in that respect. I am new to political life, but I must say that never before have I listened to such a lot of trash and rubbish as has been trotted out by honorable members on both sides of the House in the course of this debate.
– On the Ministerial side?
– I say by honorable members on both sides advisedly. I do not condemn the Ministerial side only in this respect. I do not think that some of the language that has been used, was becoming in honorable members of long experience. Much has been said concerning protection and free-trade in the course of the debate. The honorable member tor Macquarie and the honorable member for North Sydney have not spoken during this debate for fear that they should make some mistake in connexion with the protectionist supporters of the Government. The Labour Party have been classified as “ fiscal atheists.” It has been said that we have no fiscal faith. That cannot be said of me. I stand as a protectionist to-day, and intend to use every opportunity that occurs to forward the cause of protection. But, at the same time, I am a labour man first, and a protectionist second. I believe that protection is the natural policy for labour to pursue. Without protection wages cannot be kept up, nor can hours of labour be kept down. The policy of the trade unions in this country is to keep up wages and to keep down hours of work. That is what they are formed for. If we are not prepared to protect the workers of this country against the cheap manufactures and the cheap labour of other countries, it is of no use to have trade unions. We have passed an Act prohibiting the immigration of coloured aliens. What is the use of passing such measures if the goods produced by coloured aliens in other parts of the world can be dumped down in Australia and be sold here in competition with goods produced by trade union labour ? But while our position is a consistent one, it is difficult to understand the position of the sup.porters of the Government. For instance, the honorable and learned member for Werriwa is, in my view, a free-trade fanatic. Yet he supports a Government whose Minister of Customs has imposed a 40 per cent, duty on harvesters imported into Australia. Why does not the honorable and learned member ask the Minister a question on that subject ?
– Surely that is not correct. The honorable member would not allow the Minister .to break the law ?
– It is correct. I intend to cast my vote on all occasions to increase protection” on Australian industries. It shall never be said that I am a fiscal atheist. Throughout my election campaign I said that I was a protectionist, and I stand on that platform to-day.
– What, then, becomes of the alliance?
– We are charged with being Socialists. I did not know that I was a Socialist .until, as a member of the Labour Party, I was recently taxed with it. If Socialism is going to benefit the people, and to .do what the Labour Party is endeavouring to do, I am a Socialist right down to the ground. Further, I have no hesitation in saying that nearly every man in this country is a Socialist. When they advocate State railways, schools, water conservation, and fifty other similar things, there can be no doubt that they are Socialists. I am content to be called a Socialist. Honorable members opposite may, if they please, tack that name on to me, and I am prepared to carry it anywhere in Australia. When reference is made to the alliance on this side, I must say that the protectionist members on the opposite side look as lonely as a bandicoot on a burnt ridge. I have no doubt that the vituperative speeches which have been made by some of them, and by free-trade members on the other side, have done more to solidify the alliance with the liberalprotectionists than anything else that could be mentioned. Protectionist members opposite cannot any longer hope that those on this side will join them. They will certainly have to come over to this side, after the speeches which have been made bv the freetraders and free-trade-protectionists on the other side. My great objection to honorable members opposite arises from the opposition they have shown to the Labour Party. They have, at bun scrambles and social ,’gatherings, availed themselves of every opportunity to denounce the Labour Party. They have said that we are going to destroy the trade and commerce of Australia. That is the way in which they talk to people who know no better. It is a scandalous misstatement, and, unfortunately, the men who make it, know that it is not true. Our object is to make the country better than it is. We are told that we have no stake in the country. What do honorable members opposite mean when they say that we have no stake in the country ? I can speak for myself ; I have a wife and ten children, and I consider that they represent a greater stake in the country than all the money in the banks, and all the shares and property in Australia. Human beings are of more importance than wealth. The stake of honorable members opposite is wealth, whilst our stake in the country is human beings. The anxiety displayed by honorable members opposite at the progress of the Labour Party is ‘due to their belief that it may re sult in decreased dividends. That is what they have in mind. That is just the cry that was raised in olden times by the people who. were sweaters of human beings, who worked women and little children in coalmines, and in insanitary factories. When the first steps were taken to alter the conditions of the people in those times, the cry was raised that those who employed them were going to be ruined. Sympathetic legislators, however, were successful in carrying laws which improved the conditions of the workers, and no matter what honorable members opposite may strive to do, they will be unable to sweep back the tide of progress. The onward march of Socialism cannot be checked bv the right honorable member for East Sydney, or by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat. The people of Australia are determined to improve the conditions of the workers. The great anxiety on the other side is that the workers’ conditions will be improved, and that they will in future get more of what they produce than they have hitherto received. I say, in conclusion, that in my opinion the time is not far distant when honorable members opposite will be cast into oblivion by the votes of the people.
– I am, sorry that this debate has taken longer than some of us anticipated that it would. It must be apparent to any unprejudiced observer that the Government can have derived but very little satisfaction from the speeches even of most of the honorable members who have spoken from their own side of the House. At most it can only have been the very negative satisfaction of finding that it is possible that an infinitesimal majority will enable them to retain their’ places on the Treasury bench. The position that we on this side took up was that the present Government had in the first place declared no tangible programme, and in the second place had done no more than indicate, so far as their speeches were an indication, that their administration would be against the spirit of the legislation that this Parliament had been engaged in passing for some time previously. How have those who have spoken in support of the Government attempted to meet that position? They have professed to meet it by ejecting a cloud as the octopus does, in order to cover their own deficiencies, and transferring the attack to the alliance programme. There has been, no attempt on the part of honorable members opposite to justify what they have dignified bv the name’ of a programme. There has not been even the mildest pretence that it constitutes a policy. All their efforts have been directed to discrediting the position taken up by those in opposition. It seems to me that the electors will require a much stronger justification than has so far been given before they will be content with the political views of the honorable gentlemen who make up the present Administration. The Prime Minister stated that it was a singular thing that my speech in attack contained no reference to the programme of the alliance. I contend that in present circumstances we on this side of the House are under no obligation to put a programme before the country. That obligation certainly lies upon those who are charged with the administration of public affairs. It is for them to indicate clearly, distinctly, and without reservation not only what is their programme for the few remaining weeks or months of the present session, but what they propose to do in the immediate future. If they are competent to lead not only this House but Australia, surely the electors have a right to know to what kind of programme honorable gentlemen opposite are committed, and seek to commit the electors of Australia? So far as we are concerned, while, as I say, there is no obligation upon us to put a programme before the electors, we have, nevertheless acted in the most frank and open manner with this House and with the people of Australia. There has been no concealment about our actions, or about the programme which resulted from the conference between the different members on the Opposition side of the House. No matter how long it may take for its accomplishment, no matter though it may occupy more than- one session, the programme is there. Of course I do not say that that is all that will engage the attention of the alliance.
– Nobody is committed to it.
– I state distinctly that the alliance is committed to it, and our honorable friends on the other side need not hug the sweet delusion that the alliance is going . to break into a thousand pieces, despite all their hopes in that direction. Thev will be bitterly disappointed at the solidarity of the honorable members who sit on this side. Thev will find that there is a community of principle-
– What is it - A or B ?
– There is a parrot-like trait about honorable members on the other side, who persistently reiterate what they think are magic letters - A and B. I would invite them to devote their attention to. the wide discrepancy - to which I shall allude presently - between the Prime Minister and some of those who are associated with him, as to what their position is at the present time. There is a community of principle amongst those who sit on this side of the Hquse. We are at one in recognising the right of the community to interfere on behalf of the poor and oppressed, and in desiring to remove grievances which are remediable by legislation. That principle obtains in its fulness on this side of the House, and it will be the guiding line of thought and action that will keep together the members of the alliance.
– It is the same on this side.
– Does the honorable member mean to say that his individualistic ideas can be so stretched as to allow the State to interfere between capital and labour, to intervene in the conduct of industry ? Will’ the honorable and learned member for Parkes stretch his individualistic ideas to that extent?
– Certainly not.
– “ Certainly not,” says an honest man.
– He may have an opinion as to which is best.
– There are no halfmeasures about the political programme of the honorable and learned member. We know where he is all the time.
– What a great admiration the honorable member has developed for the honorable and learned member lately.
– I have never concealed my admiration for a straight-out opponent. I expressed it whenwe first arrived here.
– The honorable member takes him as a shocking example.
– From my point of view, the honorable and learned member is a shocking example as a politician, but still one can appreciate an honorable member who has some idea of what he is aiming a: in politics, and who acts consistently in support of his view. The Prime Minister twitted me with having taken office after having declared some months previously that the Labour Party did not desire to sit on the Treasury bench, unless they were sure of the support of a majority in favour of . the principles of the labour platform. It is quite true that I made that remark, but I would remind the right honorable gentleman and the country that a very great deal has happened since that time. It is true that there has not been in all respects a change in the principles or opinions as expressed by the right honorable gentleman, but there was no prospect when I made those remarks that he would come into office. There was no prospect then that he would have an opportunity to carry out that which he had declared to be his intention a month previously. He said then that if he had the power he would abrogate the legislation on which this Parliament had been engaged. At that time the honorable and learned member for Ballarat was Prime Minister, and the members of the Labour Party were not anxious to depose him. They were quite satisfied that he should remain in office, and were prepared to assist him in passing legislation which they conceived to be in the interests of the country. But the present position is quite different. We have in office a right honorable gentleman who has declared that the very breath of his existence depends upon the destruction of the party which I have had the honour to lead for some time. He says that he ha« thrown himself right across the path of the Labour Party. He declares open war against us, and he now blames us because we are prepared to resist the tender attentions which he promised us in that way. I imagine that we should be something more than human if we failed to resent, not only actions, but expressed intentions of that description. I have no fear as to the result when the war commences, because, after all, what is done here is only an affair of outposts. When we get before the country rhe battle will begin, and so soon as that occurs there is- very little doubt as to the position which the right honorable gentleman will occupy. Even the honorable member for Robertson said the other evening, “The other side are too well organized ; we must not have a dissolution.” He is aware that the feeling of the country is against the present Ministry, and he does not desire a dissolution.
– I said nothing of the kind.
– The honorable member said that we on this side were too well organized.
– I did not say that honorable members on the other side were “ too well “ organized.
– The honorable member said that we on this side were too well organized, and that, therefore, it would not be wise to have a dissolution.
– I said that in some of the States we should sweep the polls when we were organized.
– The honorable member will find out the feeling of the country byandby. From the honorable and learned member for Ballarat last evening we had a history of the negotiations which have taken place, and the events which have happened since this Parliament met. When he got to the stage at which he resigned, and I, on his advice, was sent for by His Excellency the Governor-General, he stated that he had hoped that I would have chosen protectionists for one-half of my Government.
– So the honorable member did.
– Of course, I was not aware what his hopes were. I do not take it fhat he meant protectionists as such, but members of the official Protectionist Party. I was rather disappointed at that statement, though I could take no exception to the general tone of the honorable and learned member’s speech. In fact it did not seem to me a speech that could give much balm to the Ministry to whom he is, temporarily or permanently, acting as wetnurse. But while I do not complain of the general tone of the speech, I was a little disappointed in it, for this reason : The honorable and learned member well knew that the feeling which had prompted him to make a vital matter of the amendment for the inclusion of the public servants was operating with all the other leading men in his party.
– Not with all.
– With nearly all of them. Surely, then, he’ did not expect that I should go to ex-Ministers or to other members of his party who had considered that question so important that they had been ready to cast in their fortunes with those of the honorable and learned member rather than accept the amendment. I do not conceive that I could have done anything of the sort. Neither would I have been justified in agreeing, and in asking colleagues chosen from my own party to agree,to sink our opinions on the subject in order that honorable members of the
Deakin party might be asked to join my Administration. It seemed to me at the time - and this explains the remarks which I made to the Herald reporter, published on the nth May, which the honorable and learned member quoted last night - quite impossible that there should be any official fusion of his party with the Labour Party at that time, in view of the fact that we were pledged to the electors in regard to the question at issue in exactly opposite ways, and could neither of us retrace our steps. How could I then ask the members of the Deakin Party, unless it were some of those who had voted with me-
– Who suggested that the honorable member should ?
– The honorable and learned member for Ballarat.- If the right honorable member had been here last night, he would have heard that statement. I always regarded the members of the Protectionist Party, or most of them, notwithstanding the presence among them of the amiable but rather conservative representative for Swan, as the natural allies of the Labour Party, and I think that the greater number of the members of the Labour Party, including myself, were always prepared to work heartily with them. Taken all through, we showed that in our actions, during the early history of this Parliament.
– Yes; but not after our defeat.
– Oh, no. I have just explained why I could not ask the members of the Deakin party to join my Administration at that period.
– Hear, hear. I quite agree with the’ honorable member.
– The honorable and learned member for Ballarat complained that the Labour Party took no step towards an alliance up to- the 17th May.
– Later than that. It was about the 27th. On the 17th the honorable member declined.
– As I understood the honorable and learned member, he complained that nothing was done by the Labour Party.
– I did not complain, but I stated that nothing was done.
– The honorable member seemed rather disappointed that nothing was done.
– I think that it would have been more advantageous if the proposals for an alliance had been made then.
– It might have been. But in view of the fact that each of us was compelled by circumstances to insist upon his own views in regard to the ‘Arbitration Bill, it was not to be expected that an immediate attempt at an alliance would be successful. But before the 17th, when our party met to consider the question, the honorable and learned member had proceeded a very great distance in his negotiations with the right honorable member for East Sydney, so that the impression naturally got abroad that all was arranged, and that the political wedding of these two interesting young people was only a matter of a few days. The honorable and learned member last night seemed disappointed that more did not come from his invitation at that particular stage. If so. he was prepared to ally himself, or see his party allied, with those whom he now contends were worked, controlled, and governed by the machine. The machine, whatever its virtues or defects may be. was just as strong and effective then as now. No change whatever has been made in that connexion.
– Nor will be made.
– Nor will be made in the immediate future. Goodness only knows what will come by-and-by.
– I had already pointed out, when I asked for overtures, that it would be necessary for arrangements to be made to get rid of the machine, so far as the alliance was concerned, and to amend the programme.
– I am not aware that there was any condition.
– I imposed no condition upon the honorable member- I could not do so - but I said what our condition of acceptance would be.
– Quite so. But I was not aware that the honorable and learned gentleman had laid down any condition of acceptance on his part, other than that there must be an arrangement by which the two parties would not ,assault each other. That, of course, would have gone without saying. No alliance can be yprked upon any other basis. That seems to me to rob of its point all the criticism which we have had about the immunity from mutual attack, to which the members of the present alliance are committed. An alliance would not be worthy of the name if its members did not agree to stand by each other when confronted bv the common enemy. I think that that goes without saying. So far as machinery is concerned, I have no intense admiration for any party machine. I admit frankly that I have never looked upon party machines as, at the best, anything better than expedients. It is only because we are compelled, like every other party, to use a machine that we must have some organization if we are to be successful. It seems to me that it savours of “Satan reproving sin” for honorable members on the other side of the House to be continually talking about the machine of the Labour Party, whilst they, just as carefully, and as effectively as may be, use a machine themselves on -all possible occasions, and regret, of course, its comparative ineffectiveness. The honorable and learned member for Ballarat, when speaking last evening, brought his historical resume to a close at what seemed to me to be the most interesting point. We heard a great deal as to the position taken up by the different parties. All details were given up to the point at which the present Prime Minister was sent for by the GovernorGeneral, but with regard to what took place after that, silence was preserved. I do not know whether the honorable and learned member had no more information to give to the House and to the country, but it certainly would be interesting to know exactly what were the negotiations which led to the formation, of the present Ministry, and. above all, upon what understanding that Ministry exists - if there is an understanding at all.
– The honorable member knows everything that I know.
– I am surprised to hear that, but if that is so the country at least has the right to know a great deal more than it is aware of at present.
– It knows everything. The whole of- the facts have been published in the newspapers.
– The right honorable gentleman has evidently been asleep. He is a sort of political Rip van Winkle. He has evidently forgotten, if he ever knew, or if he has been awake all the time, that there has been an express disavowal on the part of the Ministry and their supporters of the May agreement - the agreement arrived at tentatively between the present Prime Minister and the honorable and learned member for Ballarat.
– Some of them only have disavowed it.
– The Prime Minister has said that he will respect it.
– The Prime Minister said, at Ballarat, that the coalition was going to work on the lines of that agreement; but the Prime Minister stated on the occasion of my accepting the commission of the Governor-General to form a Ministry, that I had no right to take office without being first assured that I had a majority of members behind me; that I had no right to mislead the Governor-General, or to run the risk of misleading him, by taking office without a distinct and definite assurance that I had a majority of honorable members behind me.
– That is the constitutional usage.
– That was the position taken up by the Prime Minister on 27th April. Did the right honorable gentleman in this instance obtain any assurance that he had a majority of honorable members’ behind him? Did he have any assurance - other than the natural assurance that we all possess in a greater or lesser degree - any promise from, or understanding with, any honorable members as to the position which he and his new Government would occupy ? We have the declaration of the honorable and learned member for Ballarat that the agreement was never ratified by his party, and we have also heard the honorable member for Laanecoorie state that there is no understanding of which he is aware. The honorable member for Echuca, the honorable and learned member for Bendigo, and the honorable member for Moira have also stated that there was no understanding of which they knew, and no arrangement. If that is so, then we assume what I can hardly believe, that the Prime Minister, in spite of the declaration made by him in regard to my position, in spite of the high-souled patriotism which we know him to possess, and which would certainly influence him upon an occasion of this description, dispensed with any such assurance. He must have had some understanding. I do not say that he has an understanding with those honorable members who have denied it, but some understanding must exist with other honorable members. If so, the country is entitled to know what it is.
– It is an intuitive understanding.
-SON. - Some telepathic influences have been at work perhaps, but we are not accustomed here to deal in intuitions, and I think that we are justified in . assuming that there was something definite and tangible that should have been given to the country in a clear and candid manner. The Prime Minister was utterly disgusted with my attitude on behalf of the Opposition, because I did not clearly and definitely state our proposals ; but it seems to me that he is quite content to allow the country to remain in ignorance of the understanding upon which he took office. I cannot conceive that honorable members, with the records of the Minister of Trade and Customs, the Treasurer, and the Minister of Defence, would enter the Ministry without a clear and distinct understanding as to what their positions were to be, and as to what were to be the positions of those for whom they stood. The honorable and learned’ member for Ballarat stated last night that he had every confidence in the honorable members of .his party who had joined the Ministry. Because of their presence he looked forward, if not with fulsome hope, ‘ at any rate, with some degree of equanimity, to the performances of the present Ministry.
– But he would not take a position in the Ministry himself.
– I do not wish to comment upon that. It seems to me that only a negative kind of satisfaction is to be derived by the right honorable gentleman, because, in the absence of any declaration from the Government that they are going to announce their policy, and as to the kind of policy it will be when it is announced, the most he can hope is that the protectionist members of the Government will occasionally put the brake on, and that nothing will be done of which he would not approve. That is the most for which he can hope from these gentlemen in the absence of an understanding or declaration as to what is to be done.
– The honorable and learned member stated in January last that he would insist upon a definite agreement.
– I am sorry, in the interests of the public, that the honorable and learned member has not insisted upon that. Now, there is another point. The honorable and learned member for Ballarat last evening contended that all the credit for labour legislation does not lie with the Labour Party, especially in Victoria. Well, I admit frankly that Victoria was considerably ahead of other States for years in the matter of factories legislation. We protectionists in New South
Wales used to say that that was because there were factories in Victoria, while there were none in our own State.
– But free-traders used to say that protection caused the necessity for the legislation.
– Perhaps so; but in any case I admit that Victoria led the way in Australia before the existence of the Labour Party in any of the States. I, for one, have never claimed that the Labour Party have initiated all that is good ,in legislation. What I. have claimed is that in the States that were backward the Labour Party acted as a spur to the older political parties, and forced their hands, with the result that the electors got legislation which otherwise they would not have got for many years, if at all. But even in Victoria the creation of wages boards was, I think, largely due to the influence of the Labour Party.
– The Labour Parly supported wages boards, but we endeavoured to obtain them unsuccessfully at an earlier period.
– I do not wish for one moment to rob a gentleman with the ‘record of the honorable and learned member, or to rob other honorable members, of the credit due to them in this connexion.
– I was making no claim, but merely replying to what I thought was unfair criticism.
– I have never made any criticism of that character. In regard i.o the Conciliation and Arbitration .Bill, the honorable and learned member for Ballarat stated last night that he had only voted twice in favour of alterations of the Bill as originally introduced.
– I was speaking from memory.
– I have not had time today to look over the records of the divisions, but I am quite willing, from my knowledge of the honorable and learned member, to accept that statement.
– I made the calculation up to a certain date, and gave it to the House, but there were one or two divisions afterwards about which’ I was not sure.
– The point of the criticism which I levelled against .the honorable member was not so much in regard to the active opposition that he showed to his own measure, as to the absence of that assistance towards carrying the Bill through which I think we had a right to expect from him.
– I spoke against almost all the members on my own side on several occasions.
– With all respect, I think we were entitled to expect more help from the honorable and learned member in regard to this particular measure. In moving the second reading of the Bill, the honorable and learned member bestowed upon it every eulogy of which with his great oratorical ability he was capable. When, however, it came into Committee under the care of the late Government, the honorable and learned member’s attitude became severely judicial. On many occasions, when this Bill was assailed by secret and open enemies, it could have been triumphantly carried through if we had had the warra assistance of the honorable and learned member ; and on that score I think that, in the interests of the Bill, wc have a right to complain. I would not for a moment insinuate that the honorable and learned member did anything, or refrained from doing anything, from any but the purest motives, but I do say that, considering the position the honorable and learned member occupied towards the Bill, and the feature he had made of it in the programme of his Government’, we had a right to expect, not only from him, but more especially from his colleagues, a different kind of treatment.I do not place the honorable and learned member on the same plane as his colleagues, because he did give us some support - he gave us his vote, though not his voice so frequently as I could have wished. On the other hand, his colleagues, or a number of them, seemed to lose no opportunity to disclaim all responsibility for the Bill which they had, with brazen effrontery, put before the country as a proper measure.
– That is exaggeration.
– It is not exaggeration ; it was neither more nor less than absolute effrontery for the right honorable member for Swan and others of his Government to recommend the measure to the country while they were in office, and. immediately they were defeated, to discover all kinds of faults in it, and be prepared to slaughter it.
– How many times did I oppose the measure ?
– The right honorable gentleman voted on almost every occasion against the Bill for which he was partly responsible.
– I voted against the bad clauses. A great many new clauses were introduced.
– The honorable and learned member for Ballarat stated that the Government of which I was the head were responsible for five serious divergencies from the original Bill. First of all there was the proposal to take away the limited penalty against an employer for breach of an award. But I did not regard that as an important matter.
– It was very important for the employer.
– That would all depend. I do not wish to argue the question, but I repeat that it would depend on circumstances. It was a question, not of the imposition of a penalty, but of a maximum penalty being fixed by the Court , to guide the lower Courts or the Court itself in the interpretation of the award. But no member on the Government side regarded that as a very important matter - it was merely a detail, and they thought their proposal would more effectively work than any attempt to fix the maximum penalty for an individual employer. That was a matter of comparatively small moment.
– But it destroyed the balance between employers and emploved.
– The Bill, as ‘drafted, was rather faulty, inasmuch as it provided no maximum penalty for an employer who broke an award, and it was to get over that difficulty that the amendment was introduced in the shape it was. The constitution of the Court was an important matter, but still the honorable and learned member allowed that provision to pass without a division.
-i think not; I fought it with all the power I had.
– The honorable and learnedmember spoke against the provision.
– More than once, and stiongly.
– Then there was the question of the insertion of the words “ likely to extend.” So far as we were concerned, that was an attempt to make clear what, in our view, was the meaning of the Constitution. However, I think that is provided for in another way, so that it is not a very important matter. The only other important point was as to the definition of “ dispute “ in clause 4. The amendments made in the Bill, even without the” last one moved by the honorable and learned member for Corinella, have seriously altered the complexion of the measure - have taken away many safeguards, or, at least, proposals, which the right honorable member for Adelaide had originally inserted. Unions under the Bill were, and are still, prevented from striking, and the Bill proposes that a comparatively unimportant officer, in the shape of a registrar, shall have the right to proclaim an industrial dispute.
– He is a very important officer.
– I say that he is comparatively unimportant.
– Take the work that officer does in New South Wales.
– The experience in New South Wales has been that it is not wise to leave in the hands of that officer that important power.
– We gave an appeal in every case.
– I speak of the registrar in New South Wales without desiring to reflect in any way on the calibre or capacity of that officer. The point is that, in our opinion.the difficulty is sufficiently provided for by clauses 62 and 19 of the Bill. Under the former, the Governor-General can proclaim any set of persons, an organization, notwithstanding their objections. Then, under clause 4, a dispute occurring between that organization and another person would come within the definition of “industrial dispute,” and would, under clause 19, come within the arbitrament of the. Court.
– But if a dispute had already occurred the Court would be powerless.
– Not at all. There would be an organization which could be brought within its jurisdiction.
– I doubt it.
– I do not wish to deal with that question at any greater length. Last evening, the honorable and learned member for Ballarat stated that the granting of a preference to unionists is tantamount to taking work from nonunionists. I contend that, in many instances, the withholding of a preference will mean taking work from unionists. Honorable members who have had any experience of the working of trade unions must know that the victimizing of those who take a prominent part in industrial disputes - the discharging of those who . have the temerity to stand up for what they conceive to be a fair thing - is the most common of practices. Every honorable member who has inquired into the matter knows that, as a rule, if a trade unionist takes part in any industrial struggle it is most difficult for him subsequently to obtain employment or to receive any consideration.
– The Victorian State Government treated the railway employes in that way.
– Cases of the kind occur every day.
– What does the absence of a preference to unionists mean? It means that unions which have already won a preference - and to my knowledge there are not less than twenty in New South Wales to-day which have gained it without an order of the Court - may be deprived of it. Unless the power to grant a preference in an effective way be given to the Court, these organizations will be robbed of it, and robbed of the means of insisting upon it.
– Because they are not to be allowed to strike, and therefore cannot employ the means which secured them a preference.
– But the . honorable member says that they already have it.
– But it can be taken away from them.
– How ?
– If the Court has no power to grant them a preference it will be taken away from them bv the employers, because they will not be at liberty to strike.
– The State law will still enforce their right.
– I am not speaking of New South Wales only.
– Did not the Teralba case demonstrate that the Court cannot prevent men from striking?
– No. In that case the honorable and learned member must know that the men did not break any award of the Court by striking. He must further be aware that after they had been upon strike for some time, the pressure of the unions was a very strong inducement to them to resume work.
– It was the unions and not the Court which compelled them to return to work.
– The honorable and learned member must recollect that the Court had fixed no penalty for a breach of its award. It had not attempted to use its power to compel the men to resume work.
The honorable and learned member himself admits that the organizations very materially assisted in inducing the men to return to work, and that is one justification for the granting of a preference to unionists. The organizations have a duty to perform under the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, and can impress their members with a sense of their responsibilities in a wav, that no non-unionist can be impressed bv any outside power.
– The Bill has not staken awav that power.
– I contend that it has, so far as any effective work is concerned. The honorable and learned member for Bendigo attempted to institute a comparison between the Wages Boards legislation in Victoria and the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill. I am surprised that a gentleman of his acuteness should endeavour to put the two proposals upon the same plane.
– Hear, hear. I stand by it.
– The honorable member will fall by it if he seeks to use that argument with sensible people.
– The miners of Bendigo wish to be brought under a Wages Board.
– Very likely they do. But I would point out that a Wages Board does not attempt to abolish strikes, although its establishment may tend to minimize them. It is not even contended on behalf of those boards that they can abolish strikes.
– They provide for compulsory arbitration.
– Nothing of the sort. The honorable and learned member knows that the object of compulsory arbitration in the Bill which was recently before this House, and in all measures of a similai character, is to settle disputes and to prevent strikes.
– Has there ever been a strike against an award ?
– Yes; with the cabinetmakers at Messrs. Foy and Gibson’s.
– Even if there had never been a strike against an award, that would not affect my argument. The point is that this Bill clearly and distinctly says to the men, “Thou shalt not strike.’’’
– But we cannot command armies of men.
– But we do. The honorable and learned member reminds me of the man who was sentenced to be hanged, and who said that the authorities, as a matter of law, could not hang him. Nevertheless, he was hanged. It is useless for the honorable and learned member to institute any comparison between the two classes of legislation. They are altogether distinct in their orbits. Wages boards are good so far as they go. But apart from the question of preventing strikes, the big deficiency under a Factories Act is that, lacking the guarantee of organizations, there is no opportunity of policing it by the men who are engaged in any particular occupation.
– Let the Government police the Act.
– Does the honorable and learned member realize what that means in the way of expense, and how ineffective it would prove in operation ?
– That is where the whole weakness of the Act comes in.
– Of course it is. The weakness of the Factories Act is the inadequacy of the means provided to enforcean award. I repeat that no comparison can be instituted between the two systems. Thev attempt totally different objects, and arrive at them by different means. The Prime Minister, who was absent from the Chamber a little time ago, has lamented the fact that, in submitting this motion, I did not refer to the alliance programme in detail.. I have already said that by a flank movement, which is characteristic of the righthonorable gentleman, he evaded all discussion of his own inadequate programme byattempting to discover deficiencies in the arrangement of the alliance. There is one feature, perhaps, of last night’s debate which was not too satisfactory to the Prime Minister. The honorable ‘ and learned member for Ballarat, in common with a number of other honorable members opposite, seemed to be more concerned about the programme of the alliance than about that of the Government. I do not think that that is too complimentary to the Ministry. It simply amounts to this declaration upon the part of those honorable members- “We shall put up with this Government until a better programme is discovered upon the other side.”
– If that is thecase, the honorable member should set to work to make a better programme.
– I do not know that there is any necessity for us to go beyond what we have already done in that respect. I can only say that I have no intention to-night to say much in regard to the alliance except this - that at any rate its programme has been put clearly before the country, and that the arrangements under which it has Been arrived at have been clearly stated to the people. Further, notwithstanding the hopes of our friends on the Government benches, the organizations behind the Labour Party are approving of the alliance from one end of Australia to the other.
– What is the honorable member going to do with Mr. Tom Mann ?
– Our friend Mr. Tom Mann seems to crop up, like King Charles’s head, on every possible occasion; but when the battle comes to be fought, Mr. Mann will be found doing his share like the rest of us. There will be no trouble on that score.
– They are asking for an opponent for the honorable member for Bourke now.
– We have settled much more difficult questions than that without fighting amongst ourselves. The right honorable gentleman at the head of the Government, replying to my observations a few weeks ago, stated that the country should not judge the programme of the Labour Party by their expressed intentions for the present, but look to our ultimate aims. Those, he said, were the matters to be considered by the people of Australia, and therefore on their behalf by the members of’ this Parliament.
– The honorable member altered the rotation of the planks in the platform.
– We have never hidden our programme in the slightest degree. Thank goodness, we have always had a programme. The present Government is content to do without one. But I should like to ask the right honorable gentleman, who told the electors to judge us by our ultimate aims, and who takes as his criterion of those ultimate aims casual expressions of opinion that may be uttered outside this House, whether he is prepared to be bound by the ultimate aims of the honorable member for New England, the honorable member for Lang, and others?
– And by his own?
– I do not know what the right honorable gentleman’s ultimate aims are.. But is he bound by the ultimate aims of honorable members who are confessedly single-taxers ? I do not know whether he is prepared to say that their programme of confiscation-
– I do not know any two men in the world for whom I would like to be responsible at any time.
– Why then attempt to judge the Labour Party by its ultimate aims rather than by its immediate programme?
– Because they are the aims of a party, and not of two men.
– Oh, then the fight honorable gentleman has “ gone back “ on the principle of free-trade?
– If I had, the honorable and learned member for Indi would be supporting me.
– I can quite understand the right honorable gentleman accepting a revenue Tariff policy as his immediate programme, but are we to understand that he has “ gone back “ on his free-trade principles? I hope not. I have always respected him for the pertinacity that he has displayed in regard to free-trade.
– He put it - as the honorable member did the tobacco monopoly - at the tail end of his programme.
– The honorable member for Parkes, if we had said nothing of the tobacco monopoly, would have said that we were concealing our ultimate intentions with regard to that industry, but if we had put it in the forefront of. our programme he would have said that we knew quite well that we were unable to do anything in the matter in the time at our disposal, considering the other work we had on our hands.
– I objected to the. honorable member changing the rotation of the measures in his programme.
– We can do that at anytime. The honorable member for Richmond made some remarks about Socialism and the Labour Party ; and” I am sure that, coming from an honorable member who betrays occasional gleams of intelligence, his utterances were the most awful nonsense or “ hogwash “ to which I have ever had the misfortune to listen. I say that it was simply disgraceful that an honorable member of this House, who has read somewhat, and who does know something of economics, should get up and purvey this “pap,” suitable only to the mental capacity of men who would support him, rather than to this House which represents an intelligent community. He talked of confiscation. He talked of the abolition of private ownership of land. Is he not aware that some of the honorable members who are now associated with him believe in confiscation as single-taxers ?
– That is not true.
– Does not the honorable member believe in taking the whole rental value of land?
– I will explain if I am allowed.
– The honorable member for New England must withdraw the remark that a statement by the honorable member for Bland “is not true.”
– I will withdraw it, and say that it is not correct, ‘ and if the honorable member for Bland repeats his statement, I repeat mine.
– If an honorable member is called upon to withdraw a remark, he must simply withdraw it, and not repeat it.
– I withdraw it.
– I do not know whether the honorable member knows the doctrines of ‘Henry George.
– I do.
– I think they go to the extent of taking possession on behalf of the community of the whole of the rental value of land. Personally, I never could subscribe to that doctrine. I say that if if is in the public interest that any man’s property should be appropriated by the State, the State should compensate him to the uttermost farthing. I believe, of course, in land taxation.
– We do not believe the State should take possession of the land.
– But the honorable member believes that the State should take possession of the value of the iand. That is not ‘my view. I am not a supporterof that doctrine. It is utterly idle for the honorable member for Richmond to talk of Socialists believing in dividing everything.
– There are singletaxers on the Opposition side also.
– They have shed their heresy years ago.
– What about the honorablemember for Barrier?
– He is a Socialist, not a single-taxer. One is the antithesis of the other, if the honorable member but knew it. The honorable member for Richmond was saying what he ought to have known was not. correct when he charged Socialists and the Labour Party with being anxious to divide between the “ Have-nots “ all that is possessed by the “ Haves.” No such charge tan lie at the door of the Labour Party, because, on every occasion when any matter has come up involving action by the Government, no one has stood firmer than have the members of the Labour Party in insisting that reasonable compensation should be paid to all who are deprived of property by the State.
– No one took the honorable member seriously.
– Perhaps it was one of those elephantine attempts which the honorable member for Richmond thinks display humour, but which have not been very successful in that respect. Then we have the Prime Minister on this question of Socialism betraying expert knowledge of the subject. The right honorable gentleman stated that the appointment of Railways Commissioners was a negation of Socialism.
– The word “negation” is one I do not often use.
– I think the right honorable gentleman will find from Hansard that he did use it.
– It must have been because this debate muddled me. It is a word I do not like.
– It is a good word enough, and does credit to the right honorable gentleman’s ingenuity. But I cannot see any negation of Socialism in the appointment of Railways Commissioners. The manner in which’ a’ State enterprise is run can- have no possible bearing on the question whether it is Socialism or not. The honorable and learned member for Parkes, I am sure, would be the first to admit that. It is equally socialistic whether the enterprise be run by Commissioners, the Federal Government, a State Government, a municipal council, or any other person or set of persons representative of the collective opinions, feelings, and action of a community. It is Socialism in either case, and it is therefore idle to juggle with words by suggesting that the appointment of Railways Commissioners is a negation of Socialism. I have no wish to detain the House at very much greater length, but there is one matter on which I should like to say a word. I refer to a matter in connexion with which, I am sorry to say, there has been a deliberate attempt to fasten a most undeserved reproach upon a member of the Labour Party and one of my late colleagues - the case of the six potters.
– If the honorable gentleman will take that up he will take up anything.
– I am certainly going to take that up, and I think that when I have finished it will be shown that there was not the slightest justification for an expression used - outside of this House certainly - by the honorable and learned member for Wannon in this connexion.
– I intend to use it at the coming elections as much as I can. It was the most disgraceful episode that has ever taken place in this Chamber.
– It will redound to the honorable and learned member’s discredit if he does. The honorable and learned member for West Sydney brought up this question, and he certainly inadvertently-
Honorable Members. - Oh, oh !
– The honorable and learned member certainly inadvertently omitted to state that he had initiated’ the prosecution.
– The honorable and learned member had an opportunity to say that, and he would not say it.
– The honorable and learned member stated that I had done it.
– Perhaps honorable members opposite will wait a moment. The honorable and learned member for West Sydney brought an accusation against the Prime Minister.
– The honorable and learned member tried to get the vote of the honorable member for Wilmot bv that statement.
– No; the honorable member for Wilmot had other reasons for the decision to which he has come with respect to his vote. I say that the point that was being made by the honorable and learned member for West Sydney was not in the slightest degree affected by any question as to the person who had initiated the prosecution. The point was this : That the Prime Minister, after travelling New South Wales from one end to the other, and exhausting his vocabulary in criticism of the Barton Government for their administration in the case of the six hatters, had allowed this prosecution against the six potters to go on. The opportunity was there for the right honorable gentleman to have stopped it when it was brought under his notice by the Secretary of his Department. I am glad the right honorable gentleman did not stop it, because I believe in the administration of that law. I believe it is a proper law, and, as a matter of fact, I moved the insertion of the particular section under which action was taken. I am glad the right honorable gentleman did not stop that prosecution, but I say it is not a consistent attitude for the right honorable gentleman toassume.
– Not consistent? Should I not have administered the law which I was sworn to administer?
-I say it was not consistent for the right honorable gentleman toremain there, and allow that law to continue
– That is the trouble - “ remain there.”
– And allow the law tocontinue without alteration after the way in which he had denounced it throughout Australia.
– In other words, the law-maker should also be the law-breaker?
– I have made a perfectly plain statement, and the honorablemember cannot put that interpretation upon it. I have expressly admitted that thePrime Minister, under his oath of office, would not be justified in attempting to administer the law in any other way, but T say that in view of the strong attitude hetook up before the country, it is a most Inconsistent position for him to occupy toadminister that law, and make no attempt to alter it.
– If the honorable and learned” member for West Sydney had said that, whowould have objected to the statement? I should not have objected to that criticism.
– The honorable and learned member said three times that the present Prime Minister had ordered the prosecution.
– The position which thehonorable and learned member for West Sydney took up was one of criticism of theposition occupied by the Prime Minister.
– Let the honorablegentleman read the speech of the honorable and learned member for West Sydney, and’ he will find that he said three times that the Prime Minister ordered the prosecution - and he knew it to be false when he said it.
– Will the honorableand learned member for Wannon withdraw that statement?
– Yes, I withdraw theword “false,” and substitute the words- “ absolutely incorrect.”
– Mr. Speaker-
– Order. The honorable and learned member for West Sydney cannot speak now.
– I say that the statement of the honorable and learned member for Wannon is a most unworthy statement to make.
– - There it is, in Hansard.
– I do not care if it were there forty times.
– Of course the honorable gentleman does not care.
– I do not believe that the honorable and learned member for West Sydney would lie in that fashion, and the honorable and learned member for Wannon does not believe it either.
Honorable Members. - He did.
– I cannot allow remarks like that to pass without notice. Several honorable members - I am not able to name them - cried out in response to a statement by the honorable member for Bland, “He did,” meaning that the honorable and learned member for West Sydney had lied. Such remarks must not be made by any honorable members, even by interjection.
– I rise, sir, to draw your attention to the fact that, if I did not misunderstand the leader of the Opposition, what the honorable gentleman said was that he did not believe that the honorable and learned member for West Sydney would lie like the honorable and learned member for Wannon.
– The honorable gentleman never said such a thing, and the honorable and learned member knows it. (Interruption.)
– Order. This shouting from one side to the other by honorable members on both sides is quite out of order. The Minister of Defence was appealing to me on a point of order, and I ask honorable members to leave the point of order to my decision. My decision is that the honorable member for Bland did not say what the Minister of Defence has suggested he did say.
– I hope that the honorable and learned member for Wannon does not for a moment think that I said what the Minister of Defence has suggested. What I wish to convey and to prove, is that the honorable and learned member did not lie, which is a very different thing from a man overlooking a fact in the heat of the moment. Every one knows that a man is not calm when he is speaking on an occasion of this sort. For a man to deliberately state what he knows to be false is quite different from inadvertently overlooking something. The clearest and surest proof that the honorable and learned member for West Sydney did not intentionally misrepresent the position is that immediately upon going outside the Chamber he gave to the press the whole statement for publication next morning.
– Why did he not make the correction in the House, so that it could go into Hansard, where the misstatement appeared ?
– Surely it could appear in the press.
– That is a nice way of libelling a man.
– Perhaps some one could have suggested that.
– Would not the honorable member have made the correction in the House ?
– Probably I should have thought of it. If the honorable and learned member had desired to misrepresent any one, he would not have spoken to the representatives of the press on that occasion, or for some days.
– -He knew that he would be found out.
– The report in the press would be read before the report in Hansard.
– Undoubtedly ; before Hansard was published.
– I am surprised that there is not a little more charity as to intention, and so on.
– The honorable member for West Sydney has a lot of charity for oilier people.
– The honorable member for Parramatta has never displayed a great deal of charity for any one.
– As much as the honorable member or the honorable and learned member for West Sydney ever did.*
– I do not know, and I shall not argue the matter.
– The honorable and learned member has not yet said that he forgot when he was at- the table to state what the facts were. If he had made that statement, I should have accepted it at once.
– The point of the criticism directed against the honorable ‘and learned member is not affected in the slightest degree by the question of who initiated the prosecution. That is not the point at issue. The question is whether the right honorable gentleman is true to his hustings’ declarations in the attitude which he has since taken up.
– In administering the law ?
– No. I recognise that the right honorable gentleman must administer the law, and I should be the first to criticise him if he did not.
– That is all he was talking about.
– The right honorable gentleman felt strongly on this point a few months ago, but he is now quite content to allow matters to simmer indefinitely.
– I do not complain of criticism of that sort.
– Now, what is the position which the Government occupies? We have been treated to some remarks by the honorable member for Wilmot. I do not think that there could have been any utterance more humiliating to a Government who are promised support than his remarks. To me it is an extraordinary thing that the Government should be prepared, as there seems every indication that they are, to sit on the Treasury bench, dependent upon the support of an honorable member who has expressed his contempt for them.
– And his contempt for the Labour Party, too.
– But we are not getting his support.
– The Labour Party were most anxious to get it.
– I do not wish any misapprehension to exist. All that we on this side desired was to take honorable members opposite to their masters. What kind of support could any one expect to get from the honorable member for Wilmot? I propose to quote the opinion of an organ which is generally a slavish supporter of the Prime Minister - the Sydney Daily Telegraph.
– A very powerful newspaper.
– Of course, it had a lapse for a year or two. when it was just as virulent in opposition as previously it had been slavish in adulation of the right honorable gentleman.
– It goes strong all the time.
– At present it is with the right honorable member. Writing of the possibility of a small majority, it says in its issue of the 5th October -
But a majority dependent on the wobble-
That is rather an expressive word - of one or two political nondescripts,
That, I think, may be fairly taken as describing the position- although- quite good enough to put the Government out, would not be sufficient, under present conditions, to justify their remaining in. The issue now is-
– Their remaining in is the only trouble - it is so nasty to remain in !
– The only trouble with our honorable friends on the other side seems to be to remain in, and they are quite content to accept any support, no matter how contemptuously it is tendered, rather than go out.
– I know of only one Premier rejecting a supporter, and that was when he had a majority of fifty.
– The article proceeds-
The issue now is, whether Socialism or its antithesis should become the policy of the Commonwealth.
There is a call to arms for the right honorable gentleman. He has told us that he has entered upon a war with the Labour Party, because of their socialistic ideas. He has thrown himself right across the path of the Labour Party, and, in clarion tones, the Sydney Daily Telegraph calls upon him to take up the gauntlet. But no, he is not concerned.
– The honorable member will find that I shall take up the gauntlet at the right time. He will have enough before he is done with me; but I should first like to get the rolls in better order.
– The Daily Telegraph goes on to say -
And unless the Government, as representing such a policy, can get -
Not a majority of two - an absolute working majority of the House which will enable them to rule witha strong and determined hand-
Fancy the right honorable gentleman, who, a few weeks ago told us that if there was any other measure which there was a strong anxiety to pass, he would be quite willing to give time for its consideration, displaying a strong and determined hand !
They would do more harm than good by attempting to carry on.
This is the opinion of a supporter of the right honorable gentleman -
Either the House must give them such a majority, or their duty will be to appeal to the electors for it. Consequently, the lime for considering the wobbler as of any account in the settlement of the dispute, if ever it existed, has gone by. Unless the Government can win, irrespective of wobblers, their chance of doing any good in the present House is at an end. On any particular question of legislative policy, wnich is settled and done with, as soon as the vote is taken, a majority of one is sufficient. But when the issue is broadly, confidence or no-confidence in the Government, the position is entirely different.
I think that those words state the position much more eloquently than I could. I wish to ask this one other question. What has become of that mysterious entity known as responsible government, whose restoration was, a month ago, the chief object of the right honorable member for East Sydney? Responsible government; as now interpreted, seems to mean that a Ministry may remain in office, no matter what opinion is expressed about it and its policy, and no matter what attitude may be taken by those who support it.
– This comes well from one whose Administration was in a minority of forty.
– That fact was never demonstrated. Although the right honorable gentleman perpetually spoke of having a fight, he never gave us one, and we had to commit suicide, in order to oblige him.
– I know that if I gave honorable members on that side a little rope, they would hang themselves.
– The right honorable gentleman was never able to demonstrate that we had not a majority, and if assurances go for anything, we had a majority, because the honorable and learned member for Bendigo, speaking in his electorate a little while ago, stated that if a direct motion of want of confidence had been submitted - and it is only on such a motion that a Government can be judged - he would have voted against it. in which case we should have had a majority.
– It is a pity that the honorable member has discovered that fact a few months too late.
– I am not concerned about the matter, but I think that that is a fair reply to make to the right honorable gentleman’s taunt. I am quite prepared to allow the position to remain as it is. If the Government, as seems likely, remain in office by virtue of the vote of an honorable member who certainly cannot be looked upon as a supporter, I do not think that anything can be accomplished by them except the retention of their positions. 1 do not grudge them those positions; but, in my view, it is opposed to the public interest that we should have in power a Ministry whose sole excuse for existence is a policy of “ do nothing,” a policy of stagnation, or which, at all events, has not so far given the slightest indication of movement. I hoped that after this chaos we should have an opportunity to appeal to the people to settle matters, and I believe that it would be wiser in the interests of all parties to allow the country to declare, whether it approves of the opinions of honorable members opposite. In view of the declaration of the honorable member by whose grace the Government will retain office, that he votes with them, not because he believes that they should be there, but because he thinks that if there were a dissolution the Opposition would win-
– Would sweep the polls.
– Yes. In view of that declaration, it seems to me thatwe on this side are justified in using every legitimate means that present themselves to turn them out of office.
Question- That the present Administration does not possess the confidence of this House - put. The House divided.
Majority … … 2
Question so resolved in the negative.
Mr. REID (East Sydney - Minister of
External Affairs). - I move -
That the House do now adjourn.
I should like to make a short statement to honorable members with regard to the business with which we propose to deal during the next two or three sitting days. I propose to-morrow to go on with the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta Railway Survey Bill, and I hope we shall dispose of that measure without much difficulty, because the matter was fully threshed out on a previous occasion. My honorable colleague, the Treasurer, intends to deliver his Budget speech on Tuesday, and it is proposed that there shall be the usual adjournment of the debate, to enable ‘honorable members to consider the Treasurer’s statement and the financial position generally. After that, we propose to afford the honorable member for Eden-Monaro an opportunity to proceed with the Manufactures Encouragement Bill.
– I do not see any objection to the course proposed by the Prime Minister, except that it seems extraordinary that the honorable member for Hume, who has been associated with the Manufactures Encouragement Bill from the beginning, should have it taken out of his hands. I do not know whether the action of the Prime Minister is prompted by the fact that the honorable member for EdenMonaro is now sitting upon the Government side of the House ; but upon a question of this kind it seems to me that such a consideration should not operate. If it is to be regarded as a non-party question - and I hope that Ministers will continue to so regard it - I think that the honorable member has a prior claim to take control of the Bill. I do not think that it isproper to take the Bill out of his hands. We ought to pay some regard to appearances, and to observe that courtesy which is due to honorable members. Ever since I have been in Parliament, it has been understood that, where an honorable member has: been identified with a certain cause for a considerable length of time, he should have the prior claim when the question of bringing the matter before the House arises. That understanding has been observed in all similar cases in New South Wales, at any rate, and I do not think that any departure from that practice will help forward the object in view.
– I strongly support the views put forward by the leader of the Opposition. We all have great respect and esteem for the honorable member for EdenMonaro, but, at the same time, I think he must feel that he is jumping the claim of the honorable member for Hume. The latter honorable member introduced the Bill, and, undoubtedly, his name is identified with it, so far as this House is concerned. Why, then, has the matter been taken out of his hands?
– Surely the honorable and learned member does not think that an exMinister has a special claim in regard to any particular measure.
– I am not advancing any claim for the honorable member, as an exMinister, but I hold that, in view of the fact that the honorable member personally identified himself with the measure, and exhibited the greatest interest in it, he has a strong moral claim to precedence in regard to it, and that the traditions of Parliament demand that that claim shall be recognised. No reason has been given by the Prime Minister for departing from a course that is well recognized and respected. I should like to ask the Prime Minister whether he will afford a favorable and early opportunity, for proceeding with the motion on the notice-paper that is identified with my name. That is a matter of extreme urgency.. The right honorable gentleman will understand that we regard this matter as so urgent and important, that he cannot think of attempting to go into recess before dealing with it.
– That is a nice way to put a matter to a Government ! The honorable and learned member will find that the Government will meet him in exactly the same spirit - we will accept no dictation.
– I do not want the right honorable gentleman to attempt to fasten on my words any meaning that is not properly attachable to them. I want to ex-‘ plain that there are far more important measures on the paper than the one which the right honorable gentleman has given to the care of the honorable member for EdenMonaro. Why the right honorable gentleman should select this one measure out of the whole of the measures on the paper–
– It is quite enough, anyhow.
– I wish to say again that we regard the measure to which I have referred, as extremely urgent, and I ask the right honorable gentleman not to let any feeling stand in the way of his doing his duty to the country. I ask the right honorable gentleman to provide some public time for the full and adequate consideration of a measure which involves–
M.r. McCay. - A measure?
– A question, leading up to a measure, which involves the welfare and happiness, and it may be the lives, of tens of thousand’s of the people of Australia.
– If the me’a sure to which reference has been made is to be regarded as non-contentious, it has certainly given very early evidence of being quite the reverse, more particularly in view of the remark macle by the leader of the Opposition. That honorable member said that there would perhaps be a considerable difference in the result.
– What I said was that the change would not help the measure.
– When it is suggested that there will be a difference in the result arrived at in consequence of the choice of the person to introduce a measure, more particularly when it is of a non-contentious character, there is, I think, evidence that some party feeling is going to be displayed.
– I hope there mav be.
– I am no apologist for- the action of the Prime Minister, and, In any case, two wrongs do not make a right. If the Prime Minister has made a mistake in his selection of the gentleman to submit this Bill, there is no reason why the leader of the Opposition should suggest that that selection may have some materia! result on the fate of the measure.
– The honorable member with his experience ought to know that under such circumstances that is always the result.
– So far as I am concerned, that has never been the result.
– Why should the measurebe taken out of the hands of one honorable member and given into the charge of another.
– I am not aware of the motives actuating the Prime Minister.
– Surely there ought to be some explanation.
– I incline to the opinion that in a proposal of this sort, admittedly of a non-contentious character, there ought to be some evidence of the spirit of alliance and ‘ coalition which has been so strong during the ,last few weeks. As to two members taking control, if necessary, we have had a good deal of that on both sides of the House; and whether such a course is right or wrong, is just now immaterial. But I do regret that at this very early stage of. an important measure which we are told will have serious consequences on the people of Australia, feeling should be displayed on account- of the individual who will introduce it to the House. It is a measure to which I am anxiously desirous to give assistance as far as possible, and I trust that an honest effort will be made to suppress any friction. Knowing the honorable member for Hume as I do, I feel sure that if any sacrifice is to be made, he will be prepared to suppress his individual rights in the matter; and I ask the honorable member for Eden-Monaro to do the same if necessary. It is regrettable that we should have so much party feeling displayed on a measure of the sort. It is evident to the casual onlooker that differences of opinion on some principle or other, are flung in the teeth of honorable members, who, on some issues on which they are agreed, join with other honorable members. We are told that we are renegade to our convictions, and to our’ duties as representatives, because, while differing on some vital principle, we join with some honorable members in carrying out other principles upon which we are mutually agreed. It is to be deplored that this feeling should be fostered in this or any other Chamber.
– The measure ought to be introduced by the honorable and learned member for Adelaide.
– That may be so; but I think that the personality of the honorable member who may introduce a measure, should not be permitted to inflict any injury on the prospects or welfare of the people of the Commonwealth.
– Having regard to the magnitude of the question of preferential trade, I appeal to the sense of honour and rectitude and magnanimity which always characterizes the honorable and learned member for Indi, as to whether it is not reasonable that the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, who has been identified with this question, should continue to take charge.
– The honorable member is speaking of the wrong motion. I was not referring to preferential trade, but to the Royal Commission on the Tariff.
– Even the question of Tariff reform has been identified with the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, who is regarded as the exponent of Australian national life and national industry.
– If the honorable and learned member for Ballarat will submit the motion I shall be delighted.
– The question of preferential trade might also, with great advantage, be left with the honorable, and learned member for Ballarat.
– Hear, hear !
– If the question of “the Tariff Commission be left with the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, it will be in the hands of the best and truest protectionist in Australia. As to the Manufactures Encouragement Bill, whether it be in the hands of the honorable member for Hume, or those of the honorable member for Eden-Monaro, it will, I am sure, receive fair treatment. The Prime Minister, in his statement to-night, said that after the Treasurer’s Budget speech, there would be an adjournment.
– That is, an adjournment of the debate.
– Do I understand that there is merely to be an adjournment of the Budget debate?
– I appeal to ‘honorable members to recollect that there is a Government in power.
-Order! During an early part of the debate which has just closed I stated that special liberty must of necessity be allowed to honorable members during its continuance. Now that the debate has concluded, I trust that proper decorum will be observed. The honorable member for Parramatta had no sooner made a remark than there was at least six interjections. That is distinctly out of order, and after making all due allowance for any excitement which may prevail at the present time, I must ask honorable members to pay due attention to the rules of the House.
– I was reminding honorable members that there is a Government in power, because it seemed to me, from ‘ what was passing, that honorable members believed the Ministry are not responsible for the course of public business in this Chamber. Here, we have three questions of supreme importance, and members all round the House are clamouring for permission to take charge of them. I think it is about time that the Government took control of the public business. Surely it is for them to say what shall be done with the measures in question’. Already the Ministry have promised to institute a Tariff inquiry. Surely they should take the initial step in connexion with a matter of that kind, -and not the honorable and le’arned member for Indi or any other member, be he whole leader or half leader. It is about time that this farce was played out.
– Does the honorable member call the Government a “ farce “?
– I do not, but I call the honorable and learned member one every time. I am- speaking of the farce which is being played in this Chamber by private members clamouring for the privilege of being permitted to take charge of measures of first-rate importance.
– Is not the Manufactures Encouragement Bill a measure of first-rate importance ?.
– It is, indeed. I think that the Government can very readily put an end to the present rivalry between two ex-Ministers. If the Government will not take up the measure - and I do not think that it can, having regard to its composition - there is a ready means of arbitrating as between these two ex-Ministers. I suggest” the Minister of Defence. He was a member of the Royal Commission that investigated the matter. I think that the Government ought to come down upon proposals from all round the Chamber regarding such matters as a Tariff Commis sion, preferential trade, and other questions of first-rate importance. They should assert their right- as no doubt the Prime Minister will - to take control of the business of the House.
– I think it is a pity that in his first statement to this House,, after the disposal of the noconfidence motion,- the Prime Minister should exercise his authority to deal with a matter like the Manufactures Encouragement Bill in a way that is evidently designed to assist his own party. It is usual in all Parliaments with which I am familiar to extend to any honorable member who has a motion or a Bill upon the business-paper, the courtesy of allowing him to take charge of the matter to which they relate.
– What about the right honorable member for Adelaide?
– Unfortunately, he is at present too ill to take charge of a Bill. It is notorious that the Prime Minister and the honorable member for Hume are anything but friendly. I hope that has nothing to do with the action of the Government in this matter, but it is certainly an evidence of the way in which’ business is to be carried on. The honorable member for Parramatta has stated clearly that there is a Government in power, which intends to inforce its will upon this House. I am very glad to know that, and I am pleased that he has been authorized to make that statement. It is a pity, however, that it did not come from the Government.
– We have had no caucus.
– I am satisfied upon that point. I understand that honorable members opposite are to have absolutely no knowledge of what the Government intend to do. Upon a previous occasion ‘the Prime Minister declared that he could answer for every one of his followers, and undoubtedly he was able to carry every one of them with him. I trust that the honorable member for Eden-Monaro will see the wisdom of gracefully retiring from the position which he has taken up, if only for the advantage of the measure which he seems to have so much at heart.
– This is the most extraordinary spectacle that I Gave witnessed during my political career. We have in power a Government which has just been given a new lease of life by a very narrow majority, and which now proposes to hand over to the charge of a pri vate member a Bill involving an expenditure of£300,000 of the tax-payers’ money. I am satisfied that the Prime Minister cannot cite a similar case in constitutional history. When a Government comes into power it is usual for it either to take up thebusiness which appears upon the paper or to reject it. The Manufactures Encouragement Bill is of sufficient importance to warrant the Ministry in assuming control of it, and any Government which is willing to hand it over to the charge of a private member should not be permitted to remain twenty-four hours upon the Treasury bench. I quite agree with the honorable member for Parramatta that it is about time honorable members displayed some little decency. From the way in which’ business is being conducted honorable members would appear to be losing all self-respect, and to care very little for their constituents or the country generally. The Government say that they cannot carry on any business of a contentious character, and yet business of a contentious character involving hundreds of thousands of pounds is handed over to a private member. Whatever position the honorable member for Eden-Monaro may have held under the Deakin Government- he is now but a private member of the House, and it is not right that he should take charge of a measure of such importance. I agree that the Government would have no more right to hand this measure over to the honorable member for Hume. If they are prepared to assist in the passing of the Bill they ought to have taken it up themselves. When the Prime Minister sanctions this sort of thing, I very much question the sincerity of the right honorable gentleman’s regard for the welfare of the community.
– I have a decided recollection that just before this debate commenced, in answer to a specific question asked by the honorable member for Eden-Monaro, the Prime Minister distinctly promised that honorable member that he would be given an opportunity to bring in this measure. The right honorable gentleman is now merely redeeming that promise, and, in the circumstances, there is no other course open to him but to keep his word.
– I may be permitted to ask the House to consider the position in which I am placed by a remark made in connexion with a matter upon which the leader of the Opposition has spoken this evening. I have now been in politics for some ten years. I do inot for a moment pretend that during that time I have not said some very hard things of other men, and they have said very hard things of me, without our being any the worse friends. But I defy any man to say that I have ever stated in the House that which I knew to be untrue. I sayhere and now that I should despise myself if I thought myself capable of such a thing. Apart from the fact mentioned by the leader of the Opposition, that I went out and gave the details to the press, I should like to say that at the time I went out I had not the faintest idea that the facts had not been fairly represented to the House. I say now that, while it is quit-? untrue that the present Prime Minister initiated that prosecution, the whole gravamen of my charge was that he continued the prosecution when he had an opportunity to suspend it. I am not now concerned with the political but with the personal aspect of this matter, and I wish to say to the Prime Minister, and particularly to the House, that I am the last man in the world to misrepresent any man in a matter of this kind. I wish, therefore, to give the House to distinctly understand that I utterly repudiate the statement which one or two honorable members have permitted themrselves to make - one honorable member at all events - to the effect that I intentionally misrepresented the facts to the House. Though I do not deny that I have said very many bitter things of the Prime Minister - and the right honorable gentleman has never been backward in repayment - I am sure he will acquit me of any deliberate intention to misrepresent him in that particular. For the truth of what I say I do not wish merely to rely upon the fact that I gave the details to the press, but I desire to say that there was in my mind at the time no idea that there could be drawn from the remarks that I made anything but the facts as they are and were ; namely; that the Prime Minister, when he had an opportunity - the matter having been brought under his notice by the secretary to the Department - of either approving or disapproving of what had been done, elected to allow the action of his predecessor to remain undisturbed, as he did in at least two other cases, one in connexion with the appointment of the New Guinea Judge and the other in connexion with the arrangements made for permitting Japanese and Indians to come into this country under altered conditions - a very important alteration in administration. In the circumstances, I trust the House will accept the explanation I make, and that it shall not be said that any member of this House, under any circumstances or under any provocation, deliberately made a misstatement to this House which he knew at the time to be a misstatement.
– Reference has been made to me in connexion with this matter. The statement which I characterized in this House as “ absolutely incorrect “ is a statement which was made by the honorable and learned member for West Sydney in this House on the 20th of September, 1904, and which will be found reported in Hansard for this session, at page 4739. The honorable and learned member is there reporred to have said, referring to the Prime Minister -
The first thing he does after he has the opportunity is to give instructions for a prosecution under it.
Later on in the speech the honorable and learned gentleman said -
The right honorable gentleman not only gives orders for a prosecution under the Act -
And again, on the same page, the honorable and learned member is reported as saying -
He orders a prosecution under the Act.
I characterized that statement that the Prime Minister ordered a prosecution tinder the Act as “ absolutely incorrect.” Outside this House I used language with respect to that statement which is unparliamentary. I think I was justified in the language I used here, and I think I was perfectly justified in the language I used outside, because I can assure honorable members that it was heartfelt. On the next day, the 2 1 st September, when the ‘Prime Minister gave his explanation, and showed that he did not order a prosecution, the honorable and learned member had an opportunity of withdrawing his statement. He made no withdrawal, but, on page 481 1 of Hansard, he said -
I say, most emphatically, that my statement was clear - the reference was unambiguous.
Not content -with reiterating his statement, he told the House that the Prime Minister w.as endeavouring to crawl out of something.
– How can the honorable and learned member say that?
– The honorable and learned member ought to have known that his statement that the Prime Minister had ordered a prosecution was absolutely without foundation. He had the fullest opportunity of withdrawing it.
– How can that be said in the face of the statement in the newspaper on the same day?
– The honorable and learned member refused to withdraw the statement.
– Mr. Speaker-
– The honorable and learned member cannot speak at this stage.
– But the honorable and learned member is making a statement which is not true.
– That remark must be withdrawn. The honorable and learned member knows that he cannot speak during the speech of another honorable member.
– But the honorable and learned member is now making a statement which is not in accordance with the fact.
– That the honorable and learned member may say, but he must withdraw his statement that the honorable and learned member for Wannon was saying that which is not true.
– The honorable and learned member is making a statement which is not in accordance with the fact when he says that I have refused to withdraw a statement. I have not refused to withdraw a statement. I have just nowstated
– Order. The honorable and learned member cannot proceed to make a speech.
– What I said- and I thought that I made myself clear - was that on the 20th September the honorable, and learned member charged the Prime Minister with ordering a prosecution, that on the 2 1 st September he made a personal explanation, and it was in his power then to correct the misstatement, but that he did not do so.
– I say again-
-Does the honorable and learned member rise to make a personal explanation?
– Yes, sir. I repeat that I came in on the following day, after having given to the press on the previous night a full statement of the facts, which are not questioned. I believe that the Prime Minister will accept that statement.
– One of the worst features of this business is that the honorable and learned member makes two statements on the same night - that he puts in Hansard a statement which is not correct, and corrects it in a newspaper.
– The whole thing turns on the words “ordering the prosecution.” After I had had an opportunity of hearing about the right honorable gentleman’s, personal explanation, I said , that evening when I came in that I, not he, had ordered the prosecution in the first instance, but that after the matter had been brought under his notice he had elected to go on with the case, ordering the Secretary to let matters go. I submit that, under the circumstances, the language was unambiguous.
– I wish to make clear my position with regard to the Manufactures Encouragement Bill. If honorable members will make an inquiry, they will find that there has been a motion in my name on the noticepaper for a considerable time. I was quite prepared to withdraw the notice of motion, and give the honorable member for Hume that loyal support which one protectionist should give to another on an important matter of this kind. I have not the faintest desire to put myself in front of any one. My only wish is to test the opinions of honorable members, and see whether this bonus is to be given or not. I hope that we shall have no more of the humbugging that we have had about this business. I propose, to explain the reasons which, I believe, led up to the Prime Minister giving me leave to go on with the Bill. The right honorable member for Adelaide was responsible for its introduction ; it was then taken up by the honorable member for Hume ; and when the Watson Government came into powerthey did nothing. The honorable member for Wide Bay seems to have discovered a new-born zeal for protection. Several months went past, and the ironworkers of Sydney asked me to introduce a deputation to the head of the Watson Government. When he was pressed to do something for the industry, he was reminded bv the deputation that he had spoken against the project in the House, and said that he had to consider the land-holders who were using iron and wire. When I introduced the deputation, I pressed him to do something to prevent the industry from being closed down in New South Wales, as it had already been in Victoria. I told him, both then and afterwards, that I was prepared to. give the honorable member for Hume every help I could, so that the measure might’ be’ pushed along. A few days afterwards an intimation was made that the Government proposed to give the honorable member for Hume, as the Prime Minister now proposes to give me, time to push on with the Bill. Did any loud-mouthed protest come from the honorable member for Kennedy then about the Government giving time to a private member? No, he was quiet on that occasion ; he took no objection to the statement of the then Prime Minister. He has reserved his fighting attitude for this occasion. I ask him to be fair, because this measure does not involve any party issues. I am surprised to think that the honorable member for Bland should make a threat against the industry. It might be, however, because he is largely responsible in this House for the delay in passing the Bill. I am surprised at the new-born zeal of the honorable member for Wide Bay, who indorses this threat. What have I ever done that a threat should be held out to me? I ask those two honorable members to submit my speeches, my votes, and my actions- as a protectionist in this country in contrast with their own, to the judgment of any impartial man. I should be quite prepared to abide by his verdict. I desire no credit for pushing along this Bill. I have no personal interest in its passage, and the people in my district are not particularly interested in the establishment of this industry. If any member of the Government, or any other member of the House, would take the matter up, I should be only too glad to support him. I would be just as loyal in helping the honorable member for Hume as any one else.
– Then, why does not the honorable member allow the honorable member for Hume to deal with the matter?
– The honorable member for Boothby should not show so much party spleen. I have been reading to-night his declaration against the granting of a bonus, but, apparently, he wishes now to pose as a friend of the proposal. I understood that the honorable member for Hume intimated to the Prime Minister that he would not accept anything from the Government.
– That is not correct, and I told the Minister of Defence so when he spoke to me about the matter.
– I told the protectionists in Sydney what I had heard - that time would be given by the Government for the consideration of the matter ; and I suggested that they should ask the honorable member for Hume, with whom I was not then on speaking terms, to take up the matter, and I would withdraw my notice of motion. I was then told by the secretary to the Protectionists’ Union that the honorable member for Hume had informed him that, if I could obtain time from the Prime Minister, I ought . to go on with the matter, and he would help me in every way that he could. Consequently, I shall be surprised if the honorable member for Hume takes the same view as the late Prime Minister, and the late Minister of Trade and Customs. It seems to me that, as the question is an open one, it does not matter who deals with it. What we desire is something definite on the part of the House in regard to it. The honorable and learned member for Indi jumped to his feet with new-born zeal to point out the horror of the proposal to hand the matter over to me.
– No, I did not.
– Such statements do not come well from the honorable and learned gentleman. One who aims at being a leader in this House should walk warily, and should show that he is prepared to give fair play to others ; because those who are on the opposite side of the gangway to-night may be on his side of the gangway tomorrow night. I think that, instead of party feeling being introduced into the consideration of matters of this kind, all such great questions of national importance should be dealt with as open questions, so that each member may vote on them as he pleases, without regard to party ties. Why did not the leader of the Opposition, the honorable and learned member for Indi, and the honorable members for Kennedy and Boothby discover this terrible injustice before, since for weeks past the newspapers have been announcing that the Prime Minister was willing to give me time to go on with this matter ? I wish it to be taken up by some one who has a reasonable chance of success. If the leader of the Opposition and the late Minister of Trade and Customs say that they are in favour of granting bonuses, and that the fact that some one on this side of the House is moving in the matter will prejudice their votes, and prevent the measure being passed, I shall be quite willing to hand it over to some one else. But threats of that kind are contemptible. What have I done to deserve then:? Is it because I had the courage to vote as I thought right ?
– The honorable member has jumped another man’s claim.
– The honorable member should be a good judge of that. What have I done that the leader of the Opposition, two or three ex-Ministers, and the honorable and. learned member for Indi, who aspires to be a leader, should jump to their feet, and pitch into me? I defy them. I can put my votes, my speeches and my actions to a comparison with theirs without fearing the result. It is unfortunate for this great question that we should have these veiled threats. I am loth to believe that the honorable member for Hume is a party to what has taken place. I understood that it was his wish that I should go on. with this matter. Thai is the only reason that has made me ask the Prime Minister for time. I hope that in his calmer moments the honorable member for Bland will regret that he made a threat.
– I did not.
– The honorable member spoke against my having charge of the measure in the interests of the proposal. What was that but a threat ?
– It was a mere statement of fact.
– I am very pleased that the honorable member did not intend it as a threat. I have given the history of the whole matter. I placed a notice of motion on the business-paper, and pressed the Prime Minister at a deputation to do something. He said a few days afterwards that he would give the honorable member for Hume time to have the subject discussed, and I expressed my readiness to help. I was then informed that the honorable member for Hume had said that he would accept nothing from the Government.
– He denies that.
– He stated it in this Chamber.
– Then I asked for time, and decided to withdraw my motion so as to proceed with the Bill. The announcement has appeared in the newspapers for some weeks that I would move in the matter, and no exception has been taken to that arrangement until tonight, when the leader of the Opposition jumped to his feet, and said that it was not in the interests of the measure. This statement was indorsed by three or four other honorable members, including the other leader of the Opposition.
– Well, the other leader said that he thought it was not right. The honorable member for Richmond put the case fairly and clearly when he pointed to other actions that might well be put on the same plane. I was very glad about the stand which he took. If the honorable and learned member for Indi aspires to lead the House, he had better not show so much zeal in little matters of this kind. I do not desire to tread on any one’s corns. My only wish is that the Iron Bonus Bill sUdll be in the hands of the man who will do the best for it. . But do not let honorable members, for party purposes, or because they are piqued at the result of a vote, damage a great industry out of mere spleen. I am glad that what was said was not intended as a threat, but that was the only construction which I could place upon it at the time.
– I should not have risen but for an interjection made by the honorable member for Hume. The honorable member for Eden-Monaro stated that he had been informed that the honorable member for Hume had said that he would not accept anything at the hands of the Prime Minister. The honorable member for Hume interjected that that was not correct, and that he had so informed the Minister of Defence. It is quite true that the honorable member for Hume did say that that was not correct.
– I said it in this House.
– I think that the honorable member said it to me in the course of a f riendly conversation. I do not know how the matter arose, but I said, “ But you said you would not accept anything at the hands of the Prime Minister. You may not have meant it, but I am sure that you said it.” The honorable member for Hume was satisfied that he had not made the statement, and on the other, hand I was quite satisfied that he had - by way of an interjection, made probably on the spur of the moment.
– I understood the honorable member to say that he would not ask for anything.
– Then is the Prime Minister to go to the honorable member? That is a nice reversal of the proper positions.
– I only wish to say that I confirm the honorable member in his statement that he told me he did not make the remark attributed to him, and that I, rightly’ or wrongly, persisted in telling him that I thought he had said it.
– I was rather surprised; to hear the somewhat heated remarks of the honorable member for Eden-Monaro. No one has made any reflection upon him. He has accused honorable members upon this side of having been actuated by a partisan spirit,, but the objection taken by the leader of the Opposition, and by other honorable members who shared his views, was to the introduction of a party spirit in connexion with the measure. As the Bill, had been in the hands of the honorable member for Hume for some time past, it was felt that a party complexion would be imparted to it if it were transferred to the charge of an honorable member who happened to be on. the Government side of the Chamber. It was only in that sense that the leader of the. Opposition referred to the matter.
– Are there two Bills on the notice-paper?
– No, there is a Bill and a motion,; the Bill stands in the name of the Honorable member for Hume.
– As a matter of fact, it stands in the name of the Minister of Trade and Customs.
– Exactly , and the honorable member for Hume was the Minister of Trade and Customs when the Bill” was introduced”, and so far as this Parliament is concerned, his name alone has been identified with it. The late Government were willing that the Bill should be allowed to remain in the hands of the honorable member, and if he were deprived of the opportunity of proceeding with it, honorable members might suppose that an attempt was being made to serve some party object. That is what, the leader of the Opposition meant by saying that the passing of the measure would not be assisted by any such” proceeding.
– What does the honorable member infer from that?
– Exactly what was said.
– Are we not justified in presuming that the leader of the Opposition meant that he would adopt some special measures in connexion with the Bill?
– The honorable member knows perfectly well that it is absurd to suggest that any one would vote against the Bill because it had been transferred to his hands. Our claim is that the Bill should continue to be regarded as a non-party measure, and that that would be the best course to adopt in the interests of the project itself. Honorable members are inclined to put themselves- to some trouble in regard to a measure in which they believe if it is being treated fairly, but not otherwise. No one intended any reflection upon the honorable member for Eden-Monaro, but some honorable members felt, at the same time/Thai no slight should be put upon the. honorable member for Hume.
– I am af raid that the iron tonic which has been administered to honorable members has had a somewhat unsettling effect, and that it would be advisable for us to adjourn at once, and meet to-morrow, after honorable members have had a good sleep.
– I almost regret that so much heat has been shown to-night in regard to ‘ the Manufactures Encouragement Bill ; although I am quite sure that the leader of the Opposition referred to the matter out of consideration to myself as one upon whom he conceived that some indignity was intended to be placed. Whatever my own feelings may be, the interests at stake are so. large that I hope I shall never allow any personal and private considerations to prevent me from assisting to pass a mea’sure for which I have fought, not only in this Parliament, but for many years in the State Parliament of New South Wales. When I was. Premier in that State, I very nearly brought the proposal to a successful issue, and I think I am safe in saying that no public man has fought over a long political life as I have for the establishment of the iron industry.. When I left the State, an agreement had been prepared, and was awaiting signature, with a. powerful company to establish extensive works, and if that had been carried to a conclusion by my former colleagues, the iron industry would now be established in New South Wales. I was not asked to consent to the Bill being placed in the hands of the honorable member for Eden-Monaro. After it had been publicly stated that he was going to take charge of the measure, the secretary of the Protectionists’’ Union in Sydney asked me if I intended to combat the proposal. My reply was that whatever my feelings might be, I should certainly not do that. I should not allow a consideration of that kind to influence my attitude towards the Bill. At the same time, I desire it to be understood that 1 assisted the right honorable member for Adelaide, when he was Minister of Trade and Customs, in regard to the Bill, and that when I took charge of his Department, I slightly altered the measure, and re-introduced it. When the Watson Government came into power, and announced that they would not deal with the matter - I agree with the honorable member for Kennedy that such a measure should be taken up by the Government - I asked that an early opportunity should be afforded me to bring it forward. The Prime Minister gave roe that promise, and had it not been for the vote which displaced the Government, I should, have dealt with the matter the following week. I do not say that this is a proper thing for a private member to do. If there is a Government in power in sympathy with the matter, they ought to take up a measure of the kind; but I feel that we may resort to any means a Ministry is prepared to allow, for the purpose of obtaining the desired result.
– Is the honorable member prepared to go on with the matter if the Government will give him time?
– It is rather too late to make a suggestion of that kind.
– The other day, when I was speaking on this matter, the Minister of Defence interjected what I regarded as a technical -remark. The honorable gentleman said to me, “ I thought you said you would not take anything from the Government.” I at once replied that I would not take such an attitude on a question of this kind. It is, true that I should not like to be under an obligation to the Government, but in this instance I should propose to give the Government something - to give them this important measure which is lying dormant at present. Personally, I shall do nothing to thwart or prevent this measure from being carried. Any feeling I may have in the matter, I shall “be prepared, as I always have been, to disregard. I have been “ there before “ - I have been associated with the right honorable gentleman in a State Parliament.
– The honorable member for Hume always seems to be under the impression that his political life has consisted in heaping on me gracious kindnesses, which have been repaid not only by indifference, but by ingratitude on my part. 9 h 2
My impression is that the honorable member has used language in regard to myself which makes it impossible for me to have any intercourse with him, except such which the duties of a public position compel. As a public man occupying an official position, I sink entirely any personal feeling I may have - it is my duty to do so. To show my anxiety not to make any difference between the honorable member for Hume and any other honorable member, in a matter of such importance, I should like to make a short statement to the House. The honorable member for Hume has stated that he approached the Prime Minister of the late Government, and asked for time in which to deal with this Bill.
– That was when I found that the Government were not going to take it up.
– The same courtesy is due to the Prime Minister of the present Government. If any honorable member wishes Government time, he ought to approach the head of the present Government, as the honorable member for Hume approached the head of the late Government. What I have to say is, that I was certainly informed that the honorable member for Hume, when this same matter was discussed some time ago, made a statement from his seat to the effect that he would accept nothing at the hands of the Government. But putting that aside, I wish to say that a man must show even his bitterest enemy the same courtesy that he shows to his friends, and if an honorable member desires Government time in which to consider, a measure, he ought to approach the head of the Government with a request. The honorable member for Hume, neither directly nor indirectly, approached me with any such request. On the other hand, the honorable member for Eden-Monaro, who also has a resolution on the notice-paper dealing with, this subject, did come to me, as an honorable member ought to. and asked for Government time in which to consider his proposal.
– The honorable member also made the same request on the floor of the House.
– To oblige the honorable member for Hume, I presume !
– I do not know; I presume honorable members act for themselves unless the contrary is stated. In the absence of any request from the honorable member for Hume, I certainly did not feel that I ought to run after that gentleman. Would any one expect me to do so,, especially under recent circumstances? It is not the public duty of a man in my position to approach those who may desire Government time in which to discuss a matter. The honorable member for Hume did not approach me, and, therefore, I hold myself quite free from any appearance of discourtesy. As has been said, the honorable member for Eden-Monaro did on the floor of the House ask me to give him time to consider this measure, and the request was granted, not because he sits on this side of the House - nothing of the sort - but because the honorable member had been sufficiently connected with . the matter to entitle him in the absence of any request from the honorable member for Hume, to take charge. I hope it will be seen that there has been no attempt on my part to treat the honorable member for Hume discourteously.
– The right honorable gentleman will admit that a very unusual course has been taken.
– I do not wish to say that it is not a usual course, but the position is that I .was not called upon to approach the honorable member for Hume. Honorable members cannot expect me to do so, but if .they do, they will be disappointed every time. When any honorable member of the House has a public request to make to me as Prime Minister he must approach me. I wish now to deal with the statement which was made by the honorable and learned member for West Sydney. I regret that that honorable and learned member has again brought up the matter cf the six potters. He might have terminated the incident long ago by expressing some sort of regret that he had, undesignedly I have no doubt, done me wrong by placing on the permanent records of Parliament language which no person of ordinary intelligence could misunderstand, and which he must have known to be false, unless he was in a state of mind which is not common to him. But I have a more serious complaint to make. After three or four times saying that I had “ordered” a prosecution - and I suppose there is only one English language - and after having caused his words to be placed in the national records, to be sent throughout Australia to my injury, he, within the hour, made to a newspaper reporter the statement, “Oh, I ordered the prosecution.”
That statement, however, would never appear in the pages of Hansard. Three times did the honorable and learned member say that I had ordered the prosecution, and yet within an hour he admitted to the representative of a public journal that it was he who had made the order, but he added that I then became responsible. I admit that in the legal sense - a view which has recently dawned on the honorable- and learned member - I am responsible for the acts of my predecessor. That is a general constitutional principle; but it is not customary amongst Ministers and exMinisters in any part of the British Empire to say. that a successor has done what a predecessor has done, and then to add, “ Oh, I did it myself, but you can undo it.” Such proceedings are rare in connexion with British Parliaments.
– What was the right hon- 01 able gentleman’s attitude in the matter?
– On the following day, when there had been plenty of time for reflection, I quoted the words of the honorable and learned member as follows: -
The right honorable gentleman is pledged on this question. “ If I have the opportunity,” he said, “ I will strike this iniquitous section out of the Act,” and the first thing he does when he has the opportunity, is to give instructions for a prosecution under it.
That is an act with a definite purpose - prosecution. I then said, “ That is not true,” and the* honorable and learned member retorted, “It is true.” The very next day in this House, when I directed his attention to that statement, he said, “ It is true.”
– So it is.
– If the honorable and learned member will continue to urge that, I. have nothing more to say. But days afterwards, when he recollected that statements which were calculated to damage the public character of a man had been uttered by. himself, and put upon the permanent records of the Australian Parliament, one would expect some little dawning sense of regret. Instead,, at a public- gathering, before a large audience - I refer to the Eight Hours’ celebration, which was held this very month - the honorable and learned member again returned to this matter. He returns to it again and again, and without any expression of regret.
– I should think so.
– He stated to the gathering in question -
I made no deliberate misstatement. I made no essential misstatement -
I think that there is an essential misstatement involved in the allegation that another man did what one did himself, or else the wrong man might be hanged for murder. The honorable and learned member continued - and that I made any misstatement to deceive any one, was disproved by the fact that there appeared in the same issue of the press which reported the occurrence in the House a full statement made by me to the reporters.
I hope that in the public life of this country we are not going to establish a system of using the stiletto in Parliament, and then withdrawing it outside, where the wound cannot be healed. That was the worst feature of the matter, in my judgment. If the honorable and learned member had been carried away by excitement - as we all are at times - I could have understood his action. I have myself often made use of expressions which I afterwards regretted. But when the honorable and learned member recollected outside the wrong which he had done me, and then stated to the press, “ I did it, but he could have undone it,” he might at least have come back into the House, and made his statement at the table. Had he done so, and then added, “ The two things are the same,” we could have arrived at an appreciation of the mental methods of the honorable and learned member, which would deprive, his statements of any weight in future. I do not say that he acted deliberately. But, if he did it. inadvertently, he has not yet expressed the slightest regret for maligning me in the’ presence of the House and the country. In conclusion, I hope that so long as I occupy my present position, I will not do any unkind or ungenerous thing to any honorable member under any circumstances whatever.
– Will the right honorable gentleman allow me to say again-
– Order, order! The honorable member has already replied, and it is quite impossible for me to allow any further speech now.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 1.15 a.m. (Friday).
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 13 October 1904, viewed 6 July 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1904/19041013_reps_2_22/>.