2nd Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. WILSON presented a petition from certain residents of Teesdale and Broadmeadows, Victoria, praying that further legislation be enacted to prevent the importation of opium for smoking purposes into the Commonwealth.
Mr. WILKINSON presented a petition from certain coloured farmers in the Nambour district, in the Moreton electorate, praying that for every year unexpired in their leases they be paid ; £100 as compensation for losses which they will suffer by their deportation from the Commonwealth.
Petition received and read.
– I wish to ask the Prime Minister if he has any objection to treating the motion asking that the correspondence and documents relating to the arrangements and expenses of the Justices and officers of the High Court be laid on the table, of which I have given notice, as an unopposed motion. To do so will save trouble, and another motion.
– I believe that the general rule has been for an honorable member who wishes the Government to treat a motion as unopposed to come to the Prime Minister and make the request to him.
– I have not had a chance to do that.
– I do not think that the motion to which the honorable member has referred is of such a character that it should be treated as formal.
Mr. DUGALD THOMSON laid upon the table the following papers : -
Pursuant to the Electoral Act 1902, report and maps of the Commissioners appointed for the purpose of distributing the States of Victoria and Western Australia into electoral divisions.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
Whether the Government have considered, or will consider, the desirableness of paying the servants of the State fortnightly instead of monthly to avoid the hardship many of the lowersalaried officers experience ; and if this concession cannot be given to the whole service, whether it might not be granted to the General Division or to such employes as are usually paid weekly in private service.
– I regret that during the recess I have not been able to devote to this question as much time as I should have liked to give to it; but I have made inquiries in regard to the matter ; have had consultations with the Public Service Commissioner about it ; and sent my accountant to Sydney to see the manner in which paying operations are actually conducted there, because I was told that the procedure followed there is better than that adopted in any of the other States. Mv accountant is preparing a report for me on the subject, and I propose to deal with the matter within a week or so. I have been informed that a very large number, if not a majority, of the public servants who are receiving the lower rates of wages, prefer to be paid monthly. That seems strange, but the information has come to me on good authority, and I therefore propose to give an opportunity/ to these particular servants to say whether they prefer to be paid monthly or fortnightly. If they prefer to be paid fortnightly. I shall do my best to bring the fortnightly system of payment into operation without much extra cost.
Debate resumed from 28th June (vide page 14), on motion by Mr. Fuller -
That the Address-in-Reply to His Excellency’s Speech, as read by the Clerk, be agreed to by the Bouse.
– As I indicated yesterday afternoon, when’ asking for an adjournment of the debate, the most significant portion of the speech of His Excellency the Governor-General, if I may so phrase my remarks, is that which has been omitted. There is, of course, no mistaking the purport of the position taken up by the Government. I aim not a sufficiently sound constitutionalist to be able to express a definite opinion as to whether the position they have assumed is in accordance with the traditions of parliamentary government ; but it certainly seems to me to be an extraordinary one for any Ministry to take up. I know of no precedent for it, and cannot remember to have heard or read1 of anything in any way approaching the present situation, when the Government, after a recess of six months, during which they have had every opportunity not only to formulate a programme for submission to Parliament and to the country, but to consider and ascertain their position in regard to the carrying on of business, has called Parliament together, and put before it the miserable apology for a programme which this Government put into the mouth of His Excellency the Governor-General yesterday.
– We cannot satisfy the members of the Opposition anyhow.
– Yes, the Government could satisfy us.
– My complaint of this Government hitherto.has been that they have no policy, and have not indicated that they possess a policy. The Prime Minister amused himself during the recess with taking up a purely negative attitude, and the position of the Government on the present occasion is quite in consonance with all that has gone before. It seems to me that there were two courses open to this Government - two courses which would’ have been open to any set of gentlemen occupying the Treasury benches under present conditions. They had first the opportunity to go on with the non-contentious measures which the Prime Minister has time and again outlined as the measures which the Government intended to propose this session. The adoption of such a course could have been easily understood, and the Opposition have given no indication of a lack of sympathy with such a proposal. We must all recognise that, owing to the disputes between the political parties in this Chamber, a large number of measures which are essential to the successful working of the Constitution have not yet become law. The Prime Minister has on several occasions. drawn attention to this state of things, and every member of the House has at one period or another adverted to the need of getting these measures passed. The other course open to the Government was this : If they had discovered, as the brevity of the Governor-General’s speech indicates that they had, that they were in a minority in the House, their obvious duty was to resign. If they are in a minority they should not attempt to continue to hold the reins of power, even to the extent of directing the allocation and arrangement of the electoral boundaries.
– As the honorable member’s Government did.
– This work, important as it is, should be undertaken only by a Government having a majority of the House behind it.
– And the confidence of the House.
– And the confidence of the House.
– Is the definition of electoral boundaries a part)’ question?
– It is not a party question in the ordinary sense, but a party aspect may be easily imported into its consideration.
– Hear, hear.
– It is too important a question to be left in the hands of Ministers who owe no responsibility to the House. The Government, by failing to put a programme of work before the Chamber, have confessed that they are in a minority, and do not possess the confidence of the House ; and yet they propose to take on their shoulders what, after all, is one of the most important kinds of parliamentary work, the arrangement and distribution of the representation of the Commonwealth.
– It is so important that the Opposition do not wish to do it.
– I think it will be proved, not only that we wish to do it, but that we shall do it.
– The people will make honorable members do it.
– I hope that the honorable member will be as satisfied with the position, when the work is done as the rest of us will be. The Prime Minister spoke recently at Hawthorn, and there, in addition to some remarks which he made with reference to the Labour Party in particular, directed attention to a number of measures which, in his opinion at the time, were absolutely urgent, and, in fact, essential to the welfare of the Commonwealth. He said -
There are a number of important measures which call for decision, no matter who is in power.
I ask whether the urgency of these matters has been in any way lessened by the fact that the right honorable gentleman now thinks that he no longer enjoys the confidence of this House?
– The honorable member said that he would not allow the present Ministry to carry on.
– I said nothing of the kind. The honorable and learned member is now making one of his usual inaccurate statements. I told the people of Newtown that I would assist the present Government to carry through a number of necessary measures.
– Then why is the honorable member now kicking up a row ?
– I complain that the Government are not prepared to go on with the consideration of the measures which the Prime Minister said were absolutely necessary, and I contend that their failure to proceed with them amounts to a confession on their part that they occupy an unconstitutional position, so far as this House is concerned. I think that must be plain on the face of it. I ask whether the urgency of the measures referred to has been in any way interfered with by the mere accidental circumstance that the Government have discovered that they no longer have a majority ? I contend that the interests of the people of Australia are just as much bound up in the passage of these necessary measures todav as they were when the Prime Minister delivered his speech at Hawthorn. Surely the fact that the Government no longer possess a majority does not affect the necessity for these measures? Therefore, the situation, so far as they are concerned, has not become changed in the slightest degree. The Prime Minister called attention to the grave necessity for new Standing Orders, and it seems to me that he should have been just as anxious to see them brought into effect, if necessary, bv some one else as by the Government of which he is the head.
– They are more necessary than ever now.
– Then we found the Prime Minister directing attention to the necessity for agricultural immigration, the establishment of a Department of Agriculture, the appointment of commercial agents, and the establishment of old-age pensions, the latter always with the important reservation that an old-age pension scheme should be adopted only if the States could be brought into line. He also then referred to the Navigation Bill, the proposal for the establishment of Federal quarantine arrangements, and a number of other measures, as urgently necessary in the interests of the people of the Commonwealth ; whereas he now considers that they should be allowed to remain in abeyance for an indefinite time - until, if he can secure his own way, he has had an opportunity to make an altogether impossible appeal to the people.
– The honorable member advised a dissolution ten months ago.
– I shall deal with that matter presently. A little while ago the Prime Minister entered upon an antisocialistic crusade. He started off months ago at Warragul, in Victoria, where he sounded the tocsin-
– The “ Tocsin! “
– What would pass with the right honorable gentleman for a tocsin was then sounded by him. He addressed the farmers, to whom he represented the enormities of Socialism, especially the kind of Socialism with which the Labour Party was associated. It is true that he made an important reservation - which would afford a means of escape in the event of his changing his opinion - to the effect that he was quite at one with those who had used the resources of the State to the fullest possible degree to advance and encourage private enterprise which would operate to the advantage of the public. That is one of those large and general statements which afford excellent means of escape to those who do not know quite how far they are going, or how far it may be necessary to retrace their steps in the future. Now let me address myself to the immediate results of the right honorable gentleman’s appeal. Immediately after he had addressed the farmers at Warragul they sat down to reconsider their work.
– They sat down to supper.
– Perhaps they needed some refreshment to sustain them after the wild charges made by the right honorable gentleman. However, they again proceeded to work, and notwithstanding all the warnings uttered by the Prime Minister they began to ask for more and more Socialism at the hands of the State Government. Then, again, a little later in this interesting campaign, the Prime Minister went to Adelaide and warned the people there of the terrible ruin and disaster that would overtake the community if the Labour Party were not scotched - if the tiger were not killed in its younger days. The people of Adelaide were so impressed with the right honorable gentleman’s remarks, and so carried away by enthusiasm in favour of his principles, that they immediately returned eleven members in favour of Socialism out of the twelve representatives of the metropolitan districts. If the Prime Minister had only gone to the country districts there is little doubt that the Socialists would have gained a still greater victory.
– Then Socialism cannot be a bogy, if it is as much alive as that.
– The public have evidently realized the effect of the right honorable gentleman’s attitude, so far as bogyism is concerned, and have seen through any criticisms that he has been enabled to level at the party with which I am associated. Then the right honorable gentleman spoke at Sydney and assumed an air of surprise. After years of association with the Labour Party in New South Wales he had at last discovered that they were Socialists. Repeating the same idea, he said at Hawthorn that it had come upon the community as a shock to hear the declaration of Mr. Watson at the January Conference of the New South Wales Political Labour League, that every member of that League must be a Socialist.
– Hear, hear.
– It may be possible that a number of persons in the ordinary community were rather surprised to find that that was so, but I was indeed astonished to hear that the Prime Minister was surprised, because he has not only been in close touch and association with the Labour Party, but has sufficient keenness in matters political to form a pretty good idea as to what every other person in the political arena is doing, and particularly as to what his own allies and assistants are doing. In
January, 1897, when the right honorable gentleman was in office as Premier of New South Wales, the Labour Conference adopted a socialistic plank of a much more decided character than they have since given their adhesion to.
– The Worker says that that took place in 1898.
– That is a mistake. The plank referred to was adopted in 1897, and in 1898 an attempt was made to remove it from the platform. This, again directed public attention to it. That attempt was defeated, and the plank remained in the labour platform for the two years and nine months during which the right honorable gentleman remained in power with the support of the Labour Party. The honorable member for Parramatta, another great antiSocialist, was a member of the same Government.
– It is strange that the Worker does not correct the mistake to which the honorable member has referred.
– The information given by the Worker is incorrect to the extent I have indicated.
– Why do not they correct the mistake?
– They are not complete letter writers, like the honorable member for Parramatta, and they do not bother themselves about comparatively unimportant matters. However, the point I wish to make is that the right honorable gentleman had no cause to be surprised by the declaration I made, because for nearly eight years previously our programme in New South Wales had contained a. socialistic plank, and therefore any man coming into our movement, who was not in principle a Socialist, had no right to be within our ranks. That was the clear and distinct position assured by the programme of the New South Wales Labour Party, and, as I say, during the whole of the time the right honorable gentleman was in office, he uttered no word of warning to the community as to the path upon which the New South Wales Labour Party had entered.
– Are the New South Wales Labour Party Socialists to-day ?
– They are, so far as their principles are concerned.
– Then I am against them.
– I am sure that that information will cause them some perturbation. I do not wish to weary the House with any attempt to define Socialism, or anything of that kind.
– The plank is there, and the honorable member has no need to define it.
– If the right honorable gentleman had directed his attention to the plank, and relied less upon his imagination, I think he would have conduced, to a clearer understanding of the position. After the Labour Party have had that plank in their platform for so long, it is utterly hollow for the right honorable gentleman to assume that he was ignorant of their aims and of what their programme meant. I also find that the right honorable gentleman himself dabbled in Socialism in New South Wales. In 1896, whilst he was in power as Premier, he issued, through the authority of the present Postmaster-General, a publication entitled New South Wales, the mother State of the Australias. This publication was intended for distribution at the Chicago Exhibition, and it gave an outline of the capabilities of New South Wales, of what she had accomplished, and of the occupations in which her people were engaged. It was published by the Government Printer, and issued by the present Postmaster-General. In this publication we find the authorized statement that the tobacco monopoly had assumed such proportions in New South Wales that the only position tenable was the nationalization of the industry. That statement was put forward with the direct authority of the Government, of whicli the Prime Minister was the head.
– Nonsense; there must have been a socialistic compositor at work.
– That publication was issued in 1896, and contained an article written by Mr. Lamb, an officer of the Department of Agriculture.
– I am not responsible for what’ Mr. Lamb mav say.
– I admit that if Mr. Lamb, in his private capacity, chose to make such a statement, the right honorable gentleman would not be responsible for it.
– Does the honorable member think that I ever saw the book?
– The right honorable gentleman cannot get over the difficulty in that way. That publication was sent to the United States, and the statement to which I have referred was made on behalf of the Government.
– Does the honorable member suppose that the Government states its policy through such a channel as that?
– I would ask the right honorable gentleman whether, in view of his present attitude against Socialism, he would now authorize any publication which advocated the nationalization of the tobacco industry ?
– Certainly not, as a Government publication, in any sense or form.
– The action of the right honorable gentleman in thus’ authorizing the publication of such a statement was encouraging the insidious growth of the socialistic ideas to which he now takes such violent exception.
– The Government knew nothing about it. This is the first I ever heard of it.
– I take it that the PostmasterGeneral, who was then in office as Minister of Agriculture in New South Wales, would, in an important matter of policy such as that, see to it that he did not take any action opposed to the general ideas of his colleagues, and I am sure that the right honorable gentleman had every confidence in him.
– Mr. Lamb was an officer of the Agriculture Department.
– What about Smith’s bull?
– That was more State Socialism. The Prime Minister was not only associated with the Labour Party during the time that they had in their programme this extreme form of Socialism - the very definition against which the whole of the oratorical artillery of the right honorable member is now directed, namely, the nationalization of land and the means of distribution, production, and exchange - yet the honorable member not only refrained from calling attention- to this condition of affairs, this trend on the part of the Labour Party, but by association with the Labour Party he evidently became contaminated.
– He said that he was in favour of their ideals.
– He did not merely say that. The Prime Minister, when Premier of New South Wales, publicly patted us upon the back and declared that there was no reason to be afraid of the Labour Party. He said that it was composed of men who, though they might bark, did not bite to any considerable degree. He added, that we had always displayed an anxiety to do the right thing. I merely wish to direct attention to the influence of evil associations - to the manner in which even a gentleman like the Prime Minister, who lives in daily horror of any advance in the direction of Socialism, can be influenced by his surroundings. He went out of office in New South Wales in 1899, I think.
– I have forgotten the date.
– Within a year or fifteen months from that time we find him not only tacitly approving of Socialism, but actually advocating it. I should like to recall to his recollection a speech which he made at Toowoomba during the election campaign for the first Commonwealth Parliament - only a comparatively brief period after he had vacated office in New South Wales, and after he had ceased to rub shoulders with the Labour Party. The main feature of that speech was his advocacy of free-trade, the ideal towards which he then directed the attention of the people,, but which latterly has faded almost out of sight. On the occasion to which I refer he said -
If industries could not be established without protection let the Commonwealth Government establish them, and then we can be quite sure of the condition of the factories and of proper wages being paid, and of decent hours being kept. There would be no one to sweat, because there would be no one to make a profit.
That is certainly curious language coming from a gentleman who has been touring the country as the head of the anti- Socialist movement. Where, then, was his fear of the effect that would follow the establishment of Government monopolies?
– Will the honorable member give me the reference to that speech?
– The speech in question was made at Toowoomba and reported in the press of the day. Speaking at Newtown the other day the Prime Minister declared that a Government monopoly would be the most ruinous of concerns j but only a year or so ago he was advising the people of the Commonwealth that, if they were determined to establish new industries, rather than impose protective duties, he would establish them as Government monopolies.
– I would never be a party to establishing anything of the kind.
– I do not say that the right honorable gentleman advocates the adoption of that course now. I am merely pointing out what he had stated at the time to which I refer, and suggesting “that his utterances then are out of harmony - to say the least of them - with his present opinions. At any rate, they appeal to me as a direct contradiction of the position which he now takes up.
– I deny that I employed the words which the honorable member has quoted in the sense in which he has made use of them.
– I was about to say that the Prime Minister cannot deny that he made the statement in question, for the reason that in the records of this House, for 2 1 st May, 1 901, a similar statement will be found.
– The honorable member must have been pretty busy lately.
– Others have been busy besides myself.
– As long as it is not a bogy, it is all right.
– The most significant feature in reference to the Prime Minister’s declaration from the socialistic stand-point is not so much’ his advice that the Government should establish industries, as the reasons which he advanced why that course should be adopted. He said -
Then we cnn be quite sure of the conditions of the factories.
Surely that is a scathing commentary upon the conduct of the factories by private enterprise. Surely it implies that existing conditions are such that the community cannot be sure that industries will bs carried on in a manner that thev can be proud of. “ Then “ he added- we can be quite sure of the condition of the factories, and of proper wages being paid and of decent hours being kept.
There, again, are indictments of the existing system to which the Prime Minister committed himself by that declaration. His last and most significant reason was -
There would be no one to sweat, because there would be no one to make a profit.
– There would be no profit to be made.
– That may be the opinion of the honorable gentleman, but it was not that of his chief. Since that time, however, the opinions of the Prime Minister have changed very considerably. Today he contents himself with the statement that he is prepared to take some steps to regulate monopolies. He states that he recognises the evils of trusts and rings just as keenly as do members of the Labour Party, but he refrains from giving us the slightest indication of how he would deal with combinations of that character.
– By amending the Standing Orders.
– I do not know that an amendment of the Standing Orders would meet the position. It would be interesting from the public stand-point to learn what course the Prime Minister would follow in order to meet the effects of these combinations. I do not intend to weary the House with long statements which might be made showing not only the point which these combinations have reached in other parts of the world, but also what they are achieving today in Australia. In my view, nothing short of the nationalization of proved monopolies will be of any value in restraining the evil effects which they exercise upon the community as a whole. Nothing short of that will prove efficient. It is all very well to point to the efforts which have been made in the United States ; but to what have they amounted? They have failed miserably. All the acumen that the various State Legislatures and the Federal Congress in America has brought to bear has been of no avail in restraining the evil effects of these trusts. The latter have simply snapped their fingers at the laws and law makers. For two years there has been an injunction in force against the great beef trust in Chicago. What effect has it had? The trust has simply snapped its fingers at the law, and has gone upon its way rejoicing. There is no possible means of restraining these trusts unless the State is prepared, when the evil becomes apparent, to take over the industry concerned, and to run it upon business lines.
– Is the tobacco monopoly to the advantage of the people?
– Surely the honorable gentleman can distinguish between a monopoly which is conducted on behalf of. the people and one which is conducted to fleece the people.
– The only State industries, so far as tobacco is concerned, are those which do fleece the people. They are a means of taxation.
– They are a means of taxation, it is true ; but if there is to be a choice in regard to who should fleece the people, I would prefer that they should fleece themselves rather than that they should be fleeced by private individuals. I d6 not admit, however, that that position need be approached.
– But it does happen.
– The whole of the people cannot fleece themselves.
– That is perfectly true. In other parts of the world the tobacco monopoly has been used as a means of taxation, but we impose a very considerable measure of taxation at present upon tobacco, and the opinion of those who are able to form a sound judgment upon the question is that if the industry were nationalized a larger revenue than is represented by the excise duties would accrue to the State without the price of tobacco being increased to the consumer. However, that is a matter which has to be proved. There is one aspect of the campaign of the Prime Minister in regard to which I feel it incumbent upon me to say a word or two. The right honorable gentleman stated that I was responsible for having introduced a comparison between the ethics of Christianity and Socialism in the campaign upon which we have lately been engaged.
– The honorable member said that the two subjects were closely allied.
– I did; but I was charged with having introduced the subject. I merely wish to say that the responsibility for the introduction of that matter lies at the door of the honorable and learned member for Werriwa, the honorable member for Robertson, and other honorable members belonging to the party which is led by the Prime Minister.
– To what “others” does the honorable member refer?
– Perhaps I was wrong in saying there were others.
– Nothing of the kind. Let the honorable member read my speech.
– The Daily Telegraph said enough to the honorable member upon that matter, although it is upon his side. I can read what it stated in that connexion if the honorable member wishes me to do so.
– I wish that the honorable member would read it.
– The Daily Telegraph expressed in very clear terms its disgust of the honorable member’s attitude.
– Let the honorable member read my letter.
– I have read it; and I know that the journal in question gave the honorable member a foot-note, which simply made him curl up. The responsibility for instituting any comparison between the ethics of Christianity and those of Socialism lies at the door of some honorable members who are upon the side of the Prime Minister, and certainly does not rest with us. The matter was put forward by the honorable and learned member for Werriwa during the debate upon the policy speech which I placed before the House when our Government assumed office. I replied to him at the time, and afterwards accepted an invitation from the Bishop of Ballarat to speak upon Christian Socialism. I do not wish to pursue this subject further.
– The honorable member might as well speak of a Christian protectionist, or a Christian free-trader.
– Surely a man can be either? I merely wish to deny that the matter to which I refer was introduced by myself as has been stated by the Prime Minister.
– I did not say that the honorable member first introduced it. What I quoted was in reply to the honorable member’s statements.
– Of course to advance arguments against those which were put forward by me was a perfectly legitimate thing to do.
– The honorable member has not got an argument, and does not understand the subject.
– I do not know that the honorable member is capable of perceiving an argument if one is advanced. I have no desire to say a great deal more, so far as the question of Socialism is concerned.
– If the honorable member believes in it, why does’ he not advance something in its favour.
– I cannot allow this irregular procedure. I must ask the honorable member for Robertson to await his opportunity to reply when the leader of the Opposition has resumed his seat.
– I was proceeding to say that there is another side issue which the Prime Minister has introduced, and which merits some attention.He has chosen to assert that Socialism is synonymous with disloyalty. I do not know what is the Prime Minister’s conception of it, but I hold that there is nothing in Socialism which is in the slightest degree antagonistic to monarchical institutions.
– Does the honorable member really say that?
– I do. I assert that there is nothing in it which tends in either one direction or the other. A republican form of government could be carried on in consonance with Socialism, and so could a monarchical form of government. My conception of State Socialism - the kind of Socialism in which I believe - is that it does not necessitate the slightest alteration in the structure of our governing institutions. It no more interferes with the institution of Royalty than it does with the institution of Parliament. There is no more connexion between Socialism and disloyalty than there is between Socialism and the abolition of parliamentary institutions.
– Can the honorable member say that that is the view of every member of his party?
– The proportion of honorable members of the Labour Party who are loyal is just as large as is the proportion of loyal members in the party to which the honorable member belongs.
– The honorable member cannot prove that.
– What is the use of the honorable member interjecting in that way?
– I regret to have again to call attention to the fact that it is practically impossible for the leader of the Opposition to proceed with his speech in the way that he desires while honorable members persist in interjecting. I would point out that the honorable member is speaking this afternoon, not merely as the representative of a large constituency, but as the leader of a party, and I particularly request ‘honorable members Ito give him every opportunity to state his views in the way that he desires.
– I did not know that I was putting my views in a way that was at all offensive, or calculated to cause honorable members to become excited ; I have enU………..1 to advance them without treading on the corns .of honorable members to any unreasonable extent. I repeat that my conception of Socialism is that it has no connexion with disloyalty or the removal of monarchical institutions from the life of the community. The honorable member for Dalley inquired by way of interjection a few moments ago, whether we were Socialists. I say that we are-
– The honorable and learned member for West Sydney has said that the Labour Party are not Socialists.
– The honorable member must admit that the many speeches made by the Prime Minister contain a number of definitions of Socialism, and it does not follow that, because we are Socialists, we are in accord with every definition of Socialism that is put forward. In some parts of the Continent, and also to a certain degree in England, many of those who are regarded as leading Socialists are social democrats. I, for one, am not a social democrat in the sense in which some understand that term. I do not believe that those engaged in any particular industry should control it. I am a State Socialist; that is, I believe that the whole community should manage whatever industries they take over. The members of the Labour Party in this Parliament are not bound to Socialism at the present time, even to the degree to which the members of the party in the New South Wales Legislature are committed. During the eight years preceding January last, the members of the party in the New South Wales Legislature had a plank in their platform - plank No. 17 - providing for the nationalization of land, and the means of production, distribution, and exchange. Last January, however, they transferred the leading idea of that plank from amongst the proposals for immediate realization to the position of an objective. They stated the plank in these terms -
The securing to the producer of the full reward of his industry by the nationalization of. monopolies, and the extension of the industrial and economic functions of the State and the municipality.
– Is not that the old plank in other words?
– Not in the same degree.
– Have the Labour Partyabandoned any part of the old plank ?
– Yes; the plank itself has been struck out of the programme.
– Why did they drop it out, if it were such a good thing?
– I do not say that, even as first proposed, it was something that was for immediate realization. When it was first adopted, I said that to agree to it as a proposal for immediate realization would be to agree to something that was simply valueless.
– If it be such a good thing, why not realize it?
– I hope that some day the community will see fit to realize it.
– Gradually ?
– Gradually- like the right honorable gentleman’s advance towards free-trade.
– My advance towards freetrade has been as good as I could make it.
– And so with us in regard to this matter. We are making as good an advance as we can make.
– Hear, hear. That is a fair statement.
– The Labour Party in the Federal Parliament, however, is bound not to the plank adopted by any of the State Labour Parties, but to the plank for the nationalization of monopolies. They are bound to vote for the nationalization of monopolies wherever it can be shown that such a course will be to the advantage of the community, and will relieve the people from an incubus under which they are it present suffering, or are likely to suffer. I believe that Socialism will find its greatest development through the municipalities - that municipal Socialism is likely to grow considerably in. these States, as it has already advanced in the old land.
– Look at what has been done in England.
– In England to-day they are doing things by way of municipal action, which, if proposed here, would arouse the horror of the Prime Minister. In such a contingency he would immediately point out the ruin which would follow to the people in so far as the ideals of the arts, science, and progress were concerned. And yet the people of England, through the municipalities, have been doing these things for some years. Except in regard to great monopolies, which can be better administered by the central government, the development of the socialistic ideal will certainly come through the municipal organizations, and in that way will be of greater advantage than would any proposals on a larger scale. The Prime Minister has invited the discussion of the principles of Socialism, and I should like to know from him at a later stage how far he feels the Federal Parliament could go in the direction of socialistic enterprise. I was quite prepared to assist him in awakening interest in this question, for I believe that the more attention the people give to the study of this and other suggested solutions of the social question the better will be the result, and the better armed will they be to deal with each problem as it arises. But I assert distinctly that I cannot see how we can touch Socialism, except to a very limited degree, in the manner indicated by the Prime Minister.
– The Labour Party propose that the State should take over the tobacco monopoly. If that could be done the same course could be followed in any other business.
– We propose to have the Constitution altered, if the people agree, so as to permit of that being done.
– That is definite.
– Certainly ; but to listen to the Prime Minister in his efforts to alarm the people of Australia one would imagine that all that was necessary to enable the Labour Party to at once initiate Socialism holus bolus was for them to secure a majority in this Parliament. Such an impression is absolutely erroneous.
– The honorable member for North Sydney said, “ Let it come at once; let us get it over.”
– I said that if it were such a good thing we should have it at once.
– Then the honorable gentleman should be prepared: to give the people a taste of free-trade if it be so good.
– I am quite prepared to do so.
– The honorable gentleman has never advocated free-trade in the Federal Parliament. He has certainly advocated a revenue tariff, but that is not free-trade. This gives us an indication of what is] his idea of marching towards an ideal and giving effect to it at the first opportunity.
– A revenue tariff is free-trade if it does not hamper trade.
– How could a revenue tariff have any other effect than that of hampering trade? I shall, however, leave this subject, and devote a little attention to two or three other matters that are not mentioned in the Governor-General’s speech. The first and most important of these, in view of all that has gone before - in view of the struggle for the approval of the Constitution, in view of all that constitutionalism means to the Federal ideal - is the dispute which the Government has succeeded in creating in reference to the High Court. I say straightway that I altogether fail to appreciate the attitude assumed by the Prime Minister in regard to the production of the papers relating to this matter.
– There is a notice of motion on the notice-paper, in the name of the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne, for the production of the correspondence and documents relating to the arrangements and expenses of the
Justices and officers of the High Court, so that the question whether the papers should or should not be laid on the table is excluded from any prior debate. The general question, however, has been a matter of public notoriety, and the honorable member, therefore, is not precluded from speaking of that aspect of the matter.
– Perhaps I shall be permitted to express my extreme regret that honorable members should be. hampered in discussing a matter of such great importance as this necessarily is, involving as it does very large issues, by the fact that the papers are not available. From the Federal stand-point, the High Court is not only a necessary adjunct of Parliament, but an essential feature of the whole Federal structure, and it should be the duty of the Ministry of the day, whatever its constitution may be, to do nothing to derogate from the position that that Court occupies in the public mind. I, for one, desire to say at once that I have no quarrel with the Attorney-General or with the Government because of any action which may have been considered necessary, with a view to insure economy. It was the duty of the Government to do whatever may have been necessary in that regard, and I express no opinion, in the absence of details, as to whether the action of the Attorney-General in that connexion was or was not justified. But, even if the action of the AttorneyGeneral were justified to the fullest extent, the fact that he has dragged the High Court into a public controversy is still a matter to which we have a right to take exception. That is the point on which I base my objection.
– -Why did the members of the High Court Bench initiate the trouble?
– I do not know, at the present moment, that they did so; but, in any event, the fact that one person does wrong, offers no excuse for another following in his footsteps.
– Why did the members of the High Court Bench strike? Why did they not attend the sittings of the Court in Melbourne?
– In my view the High Court is an institution which should be kept apart from any public controversy.
– And an institution, too, which should be kept out of a party fight in this Chamber.
– It is an adequate reason for criticising the attitude of the Go- vernment that they have taken a wrong step in regard to the High Court. It is a question of administration that I am discussing. Surely this is the proper place to express an opinion on a question of such grave importance to the Commonwealth.
– But to make the High Court the subject of a party fight is a different matter.
– I am taking this opportunity to express my opinion upon the dealings of the Government, with the High Court. Furthermore, I expressed the opinions that I am expressing now a considerable time ago, before the party developments which we have had since were known of. I did not then anticipate what has occurred. It is not with a view to dragging the High Court into a party fight that I have brought this matter forward. I consider that the attempt of the Attorney-General-
– I rise to order. I call your attention, Mr. Speaker, to the ruling; which you have already given.
– It is a new thing for the Labour Party to be so fond of the High Court.
– If the honorable member for Lang had listened to my ruling, he would know that it precludes debate upon the question whether the correspondence between the Government and the High Court should or should not be laid on the table, but in no way precludes reference to the general subject with which the papers deal. If it were permissible to prevent the discussion of any question by putting on the notice-paper a motion more or less distantly referring to it, the House might be prevented from entering upon any debate at all.
– I was about to remark that, in my view, the action of the AttorneyGeneral, in seeking to prevent the High Court from going on circuit, was distinctly un-Federal, and against the law. As I read the Act, it is laid down that the Court shall sit in the several States.
– When required.
– Yes ; and of course the Court is to be the judge as to when it is required. Section’ n of the Judiciary Act, which was passed in 1903, says that there shall be a district registry of the High Court in every State except the State in which the principal seat of the Court is situated - that is, that there shall be a district registry in each of the five States other than Victoria. The principal seat of the
Court has been determined by proclamation in Victoria, and therefore there must be a district registry in each of the other States. Section 12 of the Act says that sittings of the High Court shall be held from time to time, as may be required, at the principal seat of the Court, and at each place at which there is a district registry. Therefore, it is as clear as it is possible to be, that Parliament laid it down in no uncertain language that the High Court was expected to go to the various States, and to bring the machinery of the law as close as possible to suitors, so that litigation might be cheapened to them.
– The Act does not say that the Justices of the High Court shall fix their own expenses.
– No; and so far as I know they have not fixed their own expenses. One of the main arguments put forward for the establishment of the High Court, and one which weighed with me as a citizen of New South Wales when the subject was under discussion, was that the Privy Council was distant and expensive to reach, whereas the High Court would be practically at the door of every Australian citizen, so that by appeal to it finality could be reached in the most expeditious fashion. I contend that, not only is it against the letter of the law, but distinctly opposed to the spirit which influenced the creation of the High Court, to attempt in the slightest degree to prevent the Court from going on circuit. But, while we find that it is proposed’ to do away with the circuits to the other States, the Prime Minister has been careful to inform the people of Sydney that there shall be no interference with the sittings of the Court there. I quite agree with the right honorable gentleman that the High Court should visit Sydney ; but his statement seemed to me not to go far enough. It is true that at the present time the great proportion of the cases brought before the Court arise in Sydney. We in New South Wales are, perhaps, given to legal proceedings to too great an extent.
– We are able to afford litigation, whereas the people in the other States are not.
– Litigation is a very expensive amusement ; but the Prime Minister might have been as generous to the other States as he was to New South Wales, and might have assured them that it is not proposed to prevent the High Court from visiting them as often as may be necessary.
Mr.Robinson. - May I ask the honorable member if he justifies the action of the High Court in peremptorily adjourning its Melbourne sitting without notice.
– How wrong it is to talk in that way of these august persons !
– I am not familiar with the details of the dispute between the High Court and the Government, and refuse to enter upon a discussion of them at the present time.
– We have notyet had a chance to read the correspondence relating to the subject.
– We have not yet had a chance to find out what the dispute was about. If my memory serves me rightly, the first public intimation of an authoritative character of any trouble between the High Court and the Attorney-General was the publication of an interview with the Attorney-General. That was the first intimation of it I read, and beyond what has appeared in the newspapers, I know nothing of the matter.
– The interview was forced upon us by the statements which appeared in the newspapers ; the honorable member must not forget that. I am sure that he will not prejudge the Attorney -General.
– I am not at all impressed with the action of the AttorneyGeneral in this matter, but, in justice to the Prime Minister, I wish to say that I read with pleasure his defence at the Hobart Conference of the members of the High Court. I think he took an attitude then for which he deserves commendation. He did that which a Prime Minister should do in standing up for those who occupy such high and honorable positions. That made me the more surprised that he seems to approve of the action of the Attorney-General in regard to the Court. I wish now to pass from the general to a more particular aspect of this case, and to draw attention to the terms of an Order in Council which was passed and published the other day. It seems to be phrased in language which is not creditable to the Administration, nor to the community, so far as the dealings of the Government with the High Court are concerned.
– Have copies of the order been distributed?
– I have managed to secure a copy of it; but I believe that it was published in the press in practically the form in which it was issued.
– lt was published in the press as it appeared.
– This Order in Council, which was passed on the 19th June last, provides that, from and after its issue, the amount of the expenses of the High Court, calculated from the principal seat of the Court, which is at present Melbourne, shall be so much,, and goes on to say -
Provided that whilst sittings of the Full Court are held in Sydney a concession shall be made of Melbourne expenses for sittings in Melbourne, as an equivalent for Sydney expenses during sittings there, to such of the Justices as may reside in Sydney - this concession to cease upon the establishment of the permanent seat of Government, and to be subject to revision when circumstances require it.
There are two phrases there which appear to me particularly unfortunate. The use of the word “concession” is in itself objectionable. To put the Justices of the High Court in the position of receiving anything by way of concession is to put them in a position which I do not think they should have to occupy. It is laid down in the Judiciary Act that they shall receive certain salaries, and such expenses as may be determined by the Executive Council. The use of the word “ concession “ in regard to the allowance, whatever it be, and the statement that the allowance shall be subject to revision when circumstances require it, are unworthy of the Administration, and the language which has been used is such as it is improper to use in connexion with the High Court. I trust that before very long we shall have an opportunity to read the whole of the correspondence relating to this matter, when, no doubt, we shall be able to arrive at a clearer perception as to who is in the right. But I put aside any question as to what the expenses of the High Court should be ; I do not wish to express an opinion as to whether they are too high or too low.
– The Government will have no objection to the production of this correspondence if the House by motion declares that it desires that it be produced. I wish to separate the High Court altogether from our political fights.
– The Opposition do not cheer that.
– The Prime Minister means to say that he will produce the correspondence if the House tells him to do so.
– We owe him no thanks for that.
– The honorable member for Parramatta implies by his interjection that there is no enthusiasm amongst members on this side of the Chamber for the High Court. It does not affect the question under discussion, so far as I am concerned, whether the High Court goes in my direction or not. I believe that we shall always have as members of the Court men who will be able to, and will feel themselves, bound to, carry out the law, and it will be our fault if the law is not as we desire it to be. I do not think that any honorable member on this side of the Chamber will dissent from the position that it is our duty, if the law requires alteration, to awaken the people to the need for the alteration, and to have it made at the earliest possible moment. There is one other matter in regard to which the Government should, in my view, have made a declaration before this, and that is the continuation of the sugar bounty. The Prime Minister went to Queensland, and travelled through a portion of the sugar districtsthere, making some inquiry on the subject. I give him all credit for what he did in that direction. But the peculiar circumstances of the sugar industry are such as to require that the people engaged in the industry shall know for a considerable time beforehand what its future conditions are likely to be. They have to plant their cane about eighteen months before it is ready for cutting, and the initial cost of planting is very large in proportion to the total expense in connexion with the three crops of cane which are obtained, and as in some districts more than three crops are obtained from one planting, that increases the proportional cost of the planting. From one planting the growers get three or more cuttings of cane, and consequently their expenditure in the year in which they plant is heavier than in the succeeding years during which the crop lasts. For that reason it was necessary that they should have a declaration as to the attitude of the Government in regard to the sugar bounty at an earlier date. Surely it was a fair thing for them to ask to be informed a reasonable time ahead how far they could go in preparing their land and planting their cane. I do not wish to occupy time by discussing the question whether the bounty should be continued. That may be the subject of another discussion. But, in my view, the Government have failed in their duty in not making an earlier declaration as to their attitude in regard to the sugar bounty.
– Why did not the honorable member make such a declaration ?
– I did.
– After I had been through the sugar districts.
– Why did not the honorable member make’ such a declaration when he was in office?
– That was months ago ! Is the honorable member going back to ancient history? Had we continued in office, we should have been under the necessity of making a definite public announcement on the subject before this.
– The growers were asking for a declaration when the honorable member was in office.
– They were asking for a declaration even earlier than that ; but there is a considerable difference, so far as the bounty is concerned, between the position which existed twelve months ago, and that which exists at the present time. We are now within eighteen months, of the expiration, by effluxion of time, of this bonus law, and every day that passes is of material importance to the persons affected. For that reason some declaration should have been made. It is significant in this connexion that the Sydney Daily Telegraph, which is. one of the strongest journalistic supporters of the right honorable gentleman
– I think the Age is the next best.
– It is significant that after the Prime Minister- returned from Queensland, where he was inquiring into the conditions of the sugar industry, the following statement appeared in the Daily Telegraph : -
With reference to the sugar bonus the position of parties is such that a stand and deliver policy on the matter would seem to be out of the question. Therefore it is likely to be made a non-party question.
That is a rather significant utterance on the part of the chief journalistic supporter of the right honorable gentleman, and it seems to me that if that was the motive behind, it was a most pitiable thing. All I can say now is that the Government should have declared its attitude before this, so that the persons interested might know where they stood.
– Fancy giving a bonus in order to keep rich lands in cultivation.
– Even that may be necessary under some conditions. Now, I wish to say a word or two with regard to the present situation. The Government have come down practically with ,a threat of dissolution, and without any programme.
– They have not come down yet.
– That event is quite imminent. It is only a matter of time.
– We do not want to linger over it.
– All this seems to justify the contention I put forward ten months ago. I then said that, so far as this Parliament was concerned, in the then disposition of parties I saw no chance of carrying on successfully the government of the country.
– That was when the honorable member was defeated.
– Prior to that time I had no indication that we had not a majority behind us. There were many threaten.ings
– The majority was not behind the honorable member’s Government, but in front of it.
– At any rate, the majority indicated to us that they were prepared to support us on our general programme without making any conditions,, either objectionable or otherwise, and there was no indication, even from the Prime Minister himself, that he intended to take active steps to show that we did not possess the confidence of the House. The contention I put forward was that, as1 parties were then disposed, it was not likely that .any effective work would be done, and I ask whether the history of the last ten months has not proved the correctness of my conclusion? What has been accomplished by the Prime Minister and his colleagues1? They have accomplished practically nothing. They certainly got into recess, but I do not know that that is a matter upon which the country may congratulate itself.
– It was a very difficult thing to do.
– At the time to which I am referring, no party, in my view, had amajority sufficient to enable it to carry on the Government. The Prime Minister has stated that if the Opposition were not prepared to allow non-contentious legislation to be passed, he was ready for a dissolution.
– He could not help it.
– Just so- there would be nothing else for it. That was a cheap boast to make, so long as it rested only with us to say how soon the House should go to the country. My own feeling is that, if it can be shown that there is a sufficient majority to carry on the business and to dispose of the work which the Prime Minister told us a week or two ago was necessary and urgent, and was called for by the country, that work should be done. If a majority can be found, on honorable terms, to carry on that work, I for one shall be satisfied.
– Another alliance.
-The right honorable gentleman has had considerable experience of alliances.
– No; I have not.
– The right honorable gentleman has had experience of a considerable number of alliances. Surely he will not deny that there was an alliance - although not of a formal character - between himself and the New South Wales Labour Party during the time he was leading the Government in that State.
– I was never in a coalition Government.
-No ; but still there was an alliance - one of which the right honorable gentleman has no reason to be ashamed.
– It was a very honorable alliance, and although nothing was put in writing, it was honorably kept for five years.
– It was an alliance, and for that reason I say that the right honorable gentleman has had some experience of alliances. Therefore, I do not see why he should suddenly discover an abhorrence of them. Of course, the parties to an allionce make all the difference. If the right honorable gentleman is one of the parties, then the alliance is apparently quite justified; but if any one else dares to hint at such a thing, all kinds of objections can be urged - of course, in the public interests The right honorable gentleman states that if the opportunity presents itself he will have a dissolution. For the life of me, I cannot understand what he imagines he will gain by a dissolution.
– He will gain the honorable member’s seat.
– I think it is probable that we shall gain one or two of his seats.
– That is a good argument in favour of passing the Redistribution of Seats Bill.
– It will require some one with longer political experience than the honorable member for Robertson to express an accurate opinion with regard to depriving me of my seat.
– It has gone already.
– No; it is only temporarily eclipsed. I do not know what the Prime Minister can hope to gain by a dissolution. The only argument for a dissolution that can appeal to the sense of the community is that there would be a likelihood of the right honorable gentleman obtaining a majority at the polls. Now, does any one here, even in his wildest dreams, imagine that the right honorable gentleman, as the head of the present Government, without the support which he admits he has lost up to the present, has any chance of obtaining a majority at the polls? He has not the slightest possible shadow of a chance.
– What chance has the honorable member got?
– I think that our chance is a little better than that of the right honorable gentleman.
– The honorable member should show by his acts that he thinks so.
– That is an extremely alluring prospect, but I think that one must beware of the voice of the tempter. So far as a dissolution is concerned, I do not think that we, on this side of the chamber, have anything to fear, but I say that if it can be shown, as I believe it will, that the government of the country can be carried on, and that the good work that the community requires can be accomplished, I for one have no anxiety to see a dissolution. I have never shirked an appeal to the country, and I need only refer to the attitude which 1 assumed a few months ago.
– The honorable member hung on to office.
– I do not think I hung on to office.
– Hear, hear.
– I think the honorable member’s statement is unfair, and I hope that before my political career is ended it will be shown that I am not anxious for office. I contend that the condition of things which existed ten months ago was such as to justify an application for a dissolution. Parties were so evenly divided that there seemed to me no prospect of any alteration that would allow of either section securing a working majority. If, however, it can be shown now that such a majority can now be obtained, I am quite prepared to assist in carrying on the business of the country, and putting off the dissolution until the ordinary! period of our parliamentary existence has expired. I do not want to see the country put to the extra expense that would be involved by a dissolution, if it can be avoided.
An Honorable Member. - That is economy.
– I do not put that forward as a matter to be always insisted upon, but I say that it must be borne in mind, if other things are equal and no question of dishonorable conduct is involved. I do not think any one will regret the disappearance of the present Government. It has accomplished nothing during the whole period of its existence. It has not even placed a policy before the country. At Hawthorn, the Prime Minister stated that the time for putting forward the policy, of the Government was when the Governor-General’s speech was delivered. Have we had that policy ?
– You do not put the policy* of the Government forward in the GovernorGeneral’s speech - that is the wrong place. What I said was that the policy for the session was declared in the GovernorGeneral’s speech, and the policy for the people in the manifesto to the electors before a general election.
– The right honorable gentleman was not so reported, and it is just possible I have been led into an error. During the whole period of its existence the Government has indicated nothing of a positive, distinct, or tangible character, and I think we shall all welcome the disappearance of a Ministry that has neither achievement in the past, policy in the present, nor prospects in the future to justify its existence.
– I think that the closing words of the leader of the Opposition show that he has neglected an obvious duty. If the Government are not in a position to command a majority in this House, and if the leader of the Opposition thinks that no useful purpose is to be served by their continuance in office, there is one very simple method of testing the question, and that is by the honorable member assuming his proper constitutional responsibility, and moving an amendment on the AddressinReply. If my honorable friends opposite would be more mindful of that upon which they) have always prided themselves, straightforward fighting, they would also remember that when the Government meet Parliament, and the subject of the GovernorGeneral’s speech is before the House, and the leader of the Opposition thinks that no useful service can be performed to the public by the continuance of the Government in office, it is his duty, if he thinks the numbers are right-
– Why did not the right honorable gentleman do that on a recent occasion ?
– I am dealing with the present Address-in-Reply. I merely say that after the speech of the leader of the Opposition, it was his duty to the House and the country to take this opportunity to move an amendment upon the Address-in-Reply, and that if he does not move that amendment we must understand him to mean that he will not challenge the position of the Government, or that certain underground negotiations are not yet complete. I approach this most interesting and important situation with an absolute absence of any unkindly feeling towards any honorable member opposite, or, in fact, any honorable member in an>i part of this Chamber. I think that the best way in which public -men can prove the sincerity of their professions as to indifference to office, when it cannot be retained with honour, is by refraining from any exhibition of -ill-temper, when their positions are threatened. I wish to say to my honorable friends, whether they be direct opponents, indirect opponents, or indirect, friends, that I am prepared to meet the political development of the hour in a spirit of perfect good feeling without making, any nasty imputations in regard to any honorable gentleman in public life, and being simply desirous of performing my duty.
– Will they treat the right honorable gentleman in the same way? That is the point.
– That is not the question. I think that we all owe a certain duty to our positions in public life, irrespective of how we are treated by others. That is altogether an immaterial issue. The material question is this - and my honorable friends and the public must gather the meaning of the situation very soon - the Ministry feel that the time has arrived when they cannot retreat from office with honour. Somebody has asked, “ Why did you not resign ?” If the Ministry had resigned their offices behind Parliament after administering the affairs of Australia for six months, should we not have been justly censured for running away from our responsibilities ; and would that not have been a perfectly fair charge to level against us? What answer would I have, if with the aid of my honorable friend the Minister of Trade and Customs, and my other colleagues, I had controlled the public affairs of Australia for half a year, and had then surrendered my high position and my serious responsibilities, and run away from Parliament? Such a course would be a course of dishonour, and I am prepared to undergo any humiliation rather than submit to that. I have come here with my colleagues prepared to answer for our administration of public affairs during the period that Parliament had no control over us. That is one good answer to the suggestion which has been made by one honorable member. In the next place, is there a member of this House who has any doubt that in acting as we have done we have adopted the right course? Is there any honorable member who, under the circumstances, would have expected us to come to this House, and to proceed with the plan that we had outlined .only a few days ago, as if nothing had occurred since the delivery of my speech at Hawthorn last week. Before I say any more, I wish to thank my honorable and learned friend, the member for Ballarat, and those who have followed him, for their generous and consistent support during the last few months that we were assembled in Parliament. The strain imposed upon us at that time - even with the loyal, frank assistance and co-operation which they gave to us - perhaps nobody will ever truly appreciate. Even with that ardent and loyal support we were only in a majority of two, and the strain imposed upon the Government under those circumstances was no light one. I have also to acknowledge that on more than one occasion several honorable members of the Opposition, as well as several others who sit below the Opposition benches, showed a most generous disposition towards the Ministry in time of difficulty, by assisting to maintain a quorum for the despatch of public business. I wish, therefore, to acknowledge that during the last session we had absolutely nothing of which to complain. We were treated in the most loyal way by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat and his friends, as well as by some honorable members who are numbered amongst our strongest opponents, and I left that session with no sense of grievance. I must admit that when I took office I did hope that one or two gentlemen who were not supporting, us might possibly throw in their lot with us. I took the responsibility, with my friends, of forming the present Administration with that narrow majority, and I was prepared to continue my heavy responsibilities under those conditions. But whilst there was no doubt an understanding, which had been committed to writing, and published to the world, between the honorable and learned member for Ballarat and myself, there, is a difference, I think, between the understandings arrived at between public men and contracts between trades-‘ men. In the case of a contract between” business men, if any breach occurs, or if any failure or misunderstandingarises, there is an easy remedy obtainable in the law courts under the heading of a question of damages. But between men of honour these written agreements have really no force. If the spirit of an agreement goes out of it, the agreement is gone. The spirit of the agreement to which I refer was loyal, friendly support. Even with’ that we were in a desperate condition, but I might perhaps not have occupied so strangea position before the House and the country if I had had some knowledge of what was to be said at Ballarat upon Saturday night last. If I had known that the honorable and learned member for Ballarat had been in communication with his friends - if I had known upon Saturday morning that that speech was to be delivered - I might perhaps have occupied a different position. But up till that very day mv old relationsof loyal, frank, cordial, friendly intercourse with the honorable and learned member continued. Upon Wednesday afternoon last week, before I left for GeelongI had the honour of a long and friendly interview _ with him. Upon the occasion that I visited Geelong I made the announcement that I was prepared, during the twoor three years that I remained in public life, to sink the fight upon the Tariff-
An Honorable Member. - The newspapers did not report that.
– A portion of the announcement was omitted from one journal. I donot propose to remain here and pass the’ last years of my life in the bitterness of political struggle. Every man desires te* have a few years of quietness and peace, and I said that I was prepared to devote the two or three years that I proposed to give to this painful struggle in public affairs to a cause which I thought a still greater one than that with which I had been so long associated. Presuming upon the continuance of the frank, loyal, and, I must add, delightful intercourse which I had from first to last enjoyed with the honorable and learned mem!ber for Ballarat, I looked upon his support - whether it was given to me for one month, two months, or ten months - as a great honour; and I am happy to say that there was no sort of breach or strain - personal or otherwise - between him and myself when the speech at Ballarat was delivered. The Government had framed the outlines of the ordinary vice-regal speech, in pursuance of my address to the electors at Hawthorn, which was only delivered a few nights ago. The draft of the speech to be submitted to the Governor-General was1 prepared, and the Cabinet was summoned to meet last Monday in order to settle it As my colleagues are aware, I had ready to submit to them the outlines of His Excellency’s speech, which would have followed upon the lines of the address which I delivered at Hawthorn, and would have included a number of other questions to which I had not time to refer. When, however, I read the. speech, of the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, as it was reported in the public press of Australia, I felt that a situation had arisen - of course I had not then consulted my colleagues - which compelled me to seriously consider the position of the Government. Until last Monday morning I had not the remotest suspicion, or visionary conjecture, that the state of things which existed last session “had been altered in the slightest possible degree.
– Hear, hear.
– We were prepared to carry on our responsibilities in the ordinary and usual way. We met in Cabinet, and we had at once to consider the situation which had arisen. We have unanimously arrived at the conclusion that the speech delivered last Saturday by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat was not that of a frank and loyal supporter of the_ Government, and that the basis of our existence as a coalition Ministry was put in a position of the gravest possible difficulty. T think that every one will admit that. I think that if my honorable friends opposite occupied our places they would have had to view the matter as we did. It was a question of resigning, of running away from Parliament, and that we felt to be degrading, humiliating, and impossible. Had we adopted that course, we should have been under the imputation that there was something that we feared to face - that there was some charge from which we had to run away. I say that these are dishonorable imputations, from which every man desires to keep free ; and we have kept free from them by meeting this House. I say frankly that in meeting the House and submitting our proposals, the significance of which nobody can overlook, we were guided by something more tangible than feelings; we were guided by the positive declaration of the honorable and learned member for Ballarat. If there were any basis of principle upon which that honorable member could have joined with my honorable friend at the head of the Opposition benches, there would seem’, perhaps, a very easy solution of all these troubles by the friend and supporter of yesterday, becoming the friend and supporter, or the principal, in a new arrangement of political parties. My honorable and learned friend might have suddenly reappeared in spite of that infirmity of his health which compelled my right honorable and learned friend the Treasurer, to take his place in this coalition Government. Stricken down with illness, the right honorable gentleman was forced into this Ministry as a substitute for the honorable and learned member for Ballarat.
– How could he be “forced” into it?
– He was forced into it in al sense, which some persons cannot understand. Now I wish to dismiss this matter with the one observation that when the honorable and learned member for Ballarat was encountering so many geographical difficulties in consulting with his friends and former supporters all over this vast Continent of Australia, I do think that he might have remembered that one of his most loyal friends and supporters for a quarter of a century was living in the metropolis. He might have recollected that another old friend of a quarter of a century, and one of the leading, most honorable, and distinguished members of the Protectionist Party in Australia, was sitting in the office of the Department of Trade and Customs. Why were these two honorable gentlemen, and Senator Drake - who was also anold colleague-
Honorable Members. - Oh, oh !
– Why were these two honorable gentlemen and Senator Drake, who was also an old colleague - let honorable members say what they may - together with the Minister of Defence - who is another protectionist - not consulted? Here were four old friends of the honorable and learned member for Ballarat living in Melbourne, but they were not taken into his consultation.
– How could he be expected to ask them to do these things?
– That may be a matter of opinion, but my honorable and learned friend must know-
– How could he ask them to commit treason to the Prime Minister?
– Has he committed treason, then?
– I do not wish to introduce such an expression into this debate. I have too kindly a feeling - too great an admiration - for the distinguished man whom I am criticising to ever couple such a word with his name. I hope that he will accept that assurance.
– I shall deal with it presently.
– I am sure the honorable and learned member will. I am simply stating matters as they present themselves to me, and I say that we must pay some attention to the public utterances of public . men. The public utterances of the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, during the past’ few months, have been clear and notorious. They have clearly denounced the labour system of parliamentary caucus, and the methods of political organization by the labour leagues outside They have pointed to the destruction of party government by these methods. They have pointed to the fact that so long as three parties existed in this Parliament its usefulness was absolutely nothing. These are public utterances. Public men may change their alliances with a change of wind, but they cannot vary their solemn declarations to the people of Australia with the same facility. In the month of January, 1904, when the honorable and learned member for Ballarat occupied the position of PrimeMinister, he acknowledged in public that the position created by having three parties of almost equal strength in the House was an intolerable one. Although Prime Minister, he felt it deeply and keenly, and, taking the public into his confidence, he said that this Parliament and these three elevens could not possibly go on. It was jocularly remarked at the time that there were two “ ladies “ from which he might make a selection. In one sense that was true, and in another it was not. The honorable and learned member, for reasons which hehas embodied in an express written understanding with myself, was not at liberty to join a labour alliance. I wish now to refer to the memorandum which was drawn up and submitted to both parties - his and mine - but which was never agreed to. Whatever the result of the memorandum was, however, it contains’ a statement which must remain true, as coming from the honorable and learned member and myself. That statement is as follows : -
That the existence of three parties in the Federal Legislature of nearly equal strength has thrown public affairs into confusion ; makes . parliamentary government on constitutional lines impossible, and calls for some immediate remedy.
– Hear, hear.
– After the public declaration made by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat to which I am about to call the attention of the House and the country, amongst all the possibilities of the immediate future, there could not be a union between the honorable and learned member and the leader of the Labour Party. Amongst all the possibilities of political legerdemain that is one thing which could not happen, and I had a right to think so when I and my colleagues mapped out the course that we should pursue. I shall give my reasons. In the first place, the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, in his conferences with me, had arrived at this declaration, which was published to the Commonwealth -
Unfortunately the party now in office - the Labour Party - quite apart from any questions relating to its programme, maintains the control of its minority by its majority -
That reference was to the labour caucus.
– And a good thing it is.
– I am not at present quarrelling with it. I am simply mentioning the view taken of the labour caucus by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat. The declaration continued - and an antagonism to all who do not submit themselves to its organization -
That is, the leagues - and decisions, which seems to make it hopeless to approach its members upon any terms of equality even under the present exceptional conditions.
– Only “seems” to make it hopeless.
– I take the lightest word uttered by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat as being used with its whole force. When the honorable and learned member makes such a statement we accept it implicitly. I shall turn from this matter, and come to statements made by the honorable and learned member at other times. We have first of all a statement made by him on the 9th May, 1904, whilst the Watson Government was in office. Here is the statement -
I am perfectly certain that a mind as clear as that of Mr. Watson’s, fully recognises what has been termed the practically impossible position of parties in Parliament. It is three months since I took occasion to call attention to the matter in the most open manner that was then possible. I pointed out then that there were three parties in existence, and that if “ two is company and three’s none,” two parties mean constitutional government and three are just about equal to none. Consequently, one of the chief considerations before Parliament and the people is the reduction of those three parties to two. My friend, Mr. Watson, is perfectly right when he said that no mere personal considerations had kept those parties hitherto apart. The differences were deeper, and it is a mistake to attempt to ignore them.
No personal differences, no differences which some favouring political breeze could enable us altogether to forget in the glow of the rising sun, no differences of that kind had kept those parties apart. The honorable and learned member went on to define what he meant -
I look upon the acceptance of the responsibility of the majority as the most pressing importance that awaits us, and the revival of parliamentary methods -
Parliamentary methods, not caucus methods - as a matter of urgency. Moreover, I feel convinced that parliamentary methods cannot be revived unless constitutional principles are given free play. At present they are not given free play from the whole of the House, because, although they may operate upon some portions of it, “they play upon an imperium in imperio, and they have to deal with Mr. Watson’s party. It draws outlines without considering expedients, and with regard to which it puts everything beyond its pale, and it makes all those who are not within it against it, because they are without it, and if that policy has to be pursued, Mr. Watson will have to take his place, not upon the Treasury benches, but upon the Opposition side of the House.
In this statement we have a revelation of cardinal differences of principle. It is inconceivable that the honorable and learned leader of a great party, who in the month of May, 1904, denounced the very constitution of the labour caucus, and the very constitution of the labour leagues, as false to the principles of constitutional law, as interfering with the rightful liberty which the political conscience should have in Australia - it is inconceivable that an honorable and learned member who sees these radical differences of principle and organization could be found taking his place side by side with those who persist in them. The honorable and learned member took up a proper position when the two alliances were being placed before him. His difficulty with the Labour Party was not one of want of respect for them. Nothing of the sort. “ Give up your caucus,” he said, in effect - “ give up your methods of political organization, and I am as free, and perhaps freer, to cooperate with you than I am to co-operate . with Mr. Reid and his party.” It is inconceivable to me that the Labour Party are going to oblige the honorable and learned member for Ballarat by giving up their methods and their organization. I have known my honorable friends of the Labour Party for a good many years, and I do not think that such a thing is conceivable. They are in a position of honorable obligation to others who are outside Parliament, and they will not overlook them.
– We understand that.
– I am sure that the members of the Labour Party do, and I mention the fact only to show the grounds for my attitude. If there were a rational prospect of my honorable friends opposite joining with the honorable and learned member for Ballarat and his party - I do not care how suddenly, in a new alliance-I should then say “ Shuffle your cards as much as you like ; take your offices ; rake up your unions; surrender your principles to constitutional law and propriety; surrender your caucus and your leagues and come over to the Treasury benches. ‘ ‘ But such a procedure was inconceivable to me. I did not think that the honorable and learned member for Ballarat would stoop to it, nor did I think that my honorable friends opposite would do so. That being so, I contemplated, as only one of the possibilities of the future, that my honorable friends of the opposition corner might be shown, in the light of public events, to have had a more enlightened view of the situation than had the honorable and learned member for Ballarat. They opposed us from the first. They from the first said, “ No, we will noi. as protectionists join Mr. Reid.” They acted in a courageous and straightforward way. It seemed to me that they were putting themselves in rather a false position, but, at any rate, they did not shrink from the consequences - they took all the risks. The situation now is this, that it is the leader of the Protectionist Party who seems to be shaping a course towards returning to those who seceded from him, and that it is not the seceders who are going over to him. Why should the honorable and learned member for Ballarat have dragged his old friends into the Government for the sake of a few months of office, in order to leave them outside the pale of the great party to which they had belonged all their lives? I wish to push that point only to this extent : That, apart from the facts of this situation, I sympathize with the desire which my_ honorable friends of the Protectionist Party may have to come together again. That is a matter not for me, but for them. I have nothing to do with the question of whether they do or do not, for they owe me no responsibility. But I have no want of sympathy for the feeling which my honorable friends must have in being cut off and separated. The best that could happen was that we should return to the same state of things - the state of three parties,, and a consolidated protectionist party. That is a party that some of my honorable colleagues left, and they find themselves in a position which must be most painful to them. I do not know how any man could laugh at their situation. Have those honorable gentlemen come into that position without relying upon the support of the honorable members sitting behind them ?
– Whom did they consult when they took office?
– Had any honorable members of the party to which they belong disapproved of their action, should they not have given them some chance before now of learning of that disapproval? What an extraordinary sort of man he must be who sees such things happening, and who remains blind, and acquiescent, and ‘supporting them for months, and then suddenly makes such a remark as that which has fallen from the honorable member ! I will answer for one of my honorable friends. The honorable and learned member for Bal larat, his leader, implored the Treasurer to join me.
– -Absolutely untrue.
– Order ! I must ask the honorable member to withdraw that remark.
– I withdraw, sir, of course ; but the provocation, I think you will agree, was very great.
– I can only rely upon statements made bv the honorable and learned member for Ballarat to me. I was not present when anything happened, but probably Li this painful conflict of recollection between us the honorable and learned Treasurer himself may have some knowledge of where the truth is. I shall be satisfied to own my recollection at fault if my honorable and learned colleague will tell me I have made a mistake.
– I will tell the right honorable gentleman.
– I should like in these conflicts of recollection that the person most intimately concerned should be heard.
– Hear, hear.
– But I shall pass that by. It is inconceivable, as it always will be to me, to think that my honorable and learned friend in all his denials is not actuated by the most perfect desire to be fair.
– I can prove what I say.
– All I can say is that I know that I urged the Treasurer to come in with me without success, and he told me that he would not come in unless Mr. Deakin came in with him. It was not my influence that brought the honorable and learned gentleman in.
– That is a very different thing.
– I am not going into private matters. I am keeping them out of this debate, and I am satisfied to leave the question to the Treasurer himself.
– The right honorable gentleman had a tough job fixing that coalition up.
– Well, perhaps it was; but I am just pointing out that honorable gentlemen opposite ought to have a tougher job, because there were at least bonds of union between the honorable and learned member for Ballarat and myself. We repudiated caucus methods, we repudiated the political power of the organizations “of the Labour Party as destructive to parliamen- tary rule and constitutional principle. We joined in our opposition to their extreme Socialism. We had broad lines of agreement on those points, and we had behind us a fiscal truce, which we did not manufacture, but which the people of Australia had ordered before this Parliament met. Do not forget that. If this fiscal peace had been of our manufacture it would indeed have been a precarious foundation for us to work upon. But do not forget that the then Government went to the people and asked. Australia to proclaim a fiscal peace for this Parliament, and we all came back, and said it was proclaimed. It was on the broad and secure footing of a national mandate that I approached the honorable and learned member for Ballarat. The people had ordered a fiscal truce. I had not made it, but -it enabled us to come together, and we did come together. There is no doubt about that. It seems strange now, but we did come together.
– The right honorable gentleman re-opened the fiscal question by appointing the Tariff Commission.
– I am coming to that. Is it not a wonderful thing that the honorable member for Moira and his leader differ about that? The honorable member’s leader distinctly! said that the appointment of the Tariff Commission was not a breach of the agreement at all. So that there is a variance there.
– Why did not the honorable member for Moira make the objection at the time?
– Of course. We can understand enemies preserving a policy of secrecy and concealment. We can understand men who are on opposite lines meeting together and making their political plans, but the idea of two bodies of men standing in friendly alliance, while one body is plotting against the other, is an outrage to every feeling of humanity. I wish to get back to these grounds. Let us come now to the next point. Mr. Deakin goes to Ballarat on the 2nd August, while the late Government was in power, and, after we had arrived at this agreement. What did he go to do? He went to form a National League. What was this National League to do? Why this pilgrimage to the centre of the honorable and learned gentleman’s triumphant political conquests, in the month of August? To form a National League.
– It was formed.
– It was formed, yes - where is it now? On the 2nd August the chairman of the meeting explained -
That the League has been formed with the object of subduing, as far as possible, that extreme socialistic legislation which was being brought forward throughout the length and breadth of Australia.
The honorable and learned member for Ballarat moved this -
That the time has arrived - you see a time had arrived - just on the 2nd August, 1904 - when it is imperative - not a thing you might neglect, not a thing we could leave over for another time like our friend Socialism, but a time - when it is imperative upon members of the general community - that is the whole public - to do what ? - to take steps to protect the Commonwealth against the sectional aims -
Whose sectional aims ? Those of his allies ? Was he forming a league against his allies then? No, certainly not. The honorable and learned gentleman was pursuing a consistent course in line with his previous public utterances, and he went to Ballarat to denounce the sectional aims of the Labour Party, and of no one else - to protect the Commonwealth against the sectional aims and interests which tend to subordinate the public welfare to their own, and that this meeting approves of the formation of a National Political League-
– That is a much stronger dose than we have ever given them.
– The honorable and learned member for Ballarat went on to say -
We stand to-day as Liberals who recognise that those who seek to rush you over the precipice-
There is the need for the League. It is imperative, because some party of sectional aims is trying to drive the community over a precipice. Has that faded now ? is the precipice no longer in existence? Is there now nothing but a nice, smooth, smiling prospect where all these national dangers will be forgotten ?
– The precipice has been filled up by Sir William Lyne.
– The honorable and learned member for Ballarat continued - who seek to rush you over a precipice, are the most fatal enemies - honorable members will recognise that that is strong - are the most fatal enemies to the true cause of liberal progress.
– “ Oh, that mine enemy would write a book.”
– Well, the oratorical style is often more dangerous. “ Are the most fatal enemies to the true cause of liberal progress “ - the cause to which my honorable and learned friend has consecrated his brilliant talents and his life-long and distinguished services. I thoroughly agreed with those sentiments. I was going upon the same lines. It is because I think these gentlemen are rushing Australia over a precipice that I have done all I can to stand against them. My honorable and learned friend and his friends may go over the precipice if they like, but I shall not do so.
– The right honorable gentleman is over it already.
– The honorable and learned member for Ballarat further said -
You must swallow, not only the programme, but the organizations -
Those are the political labour leagues, which have some say, I believe, in the political movement.
– It was the Australian Liberal League that that was said about.
– It had not been established then. The honorable and learned member proceeded -
What is more, you must swallow them whole. If, in accepting every article of the programme, supporting every proposal which they put forward, you once endeavour, as many of their own members have proved in this and other States, to assert your individuality, if you once try to have an independent mind on other subjects or in relation to party arrangements, you are a heretic, banned with bell, book, and candle.
Again, referring to the political methods of the organizations, my honorable and learned friend said -
We see, not in one State, but everywhere throughout the Continent itself, a condition of division and unrest fatal to the procedure of public business.
You see it is not only a precipice which our Labour friends are trying to push the country over; but we see - everywhere throughout the Continent itself a condition of division and unrest fatal to the procedure of public business ; fatal to the successful passage of legislation.
To that I say “ Hear, hear.” Here in the same speech the honorable and learned member, speaking of the Labour Party and their methods, has more to say. I shall not read the whole of his references to the little illustration about tEe traveller and the German sausage. My honorable and learned friend pointed out that it was a very large sausage, and the traveller, thinking it so very large, took a little bite at a time until when he got to London there was no sausage left. Now that is exactly the policy of the Labour caucus in Australia, with reference to this question of Socialism. “Let us begin with this nice little morsel of nationalizing the monopolies.”
– One nibble at a time.
– Let us take that little bite of the socialistic sausage first, and so we go on bit after bit until nothing is left. My honorable and learned friend said, and
Ave know that he is in earnest in everything he says -
I wish to submit that, by a simple series of morsels, the present Labour Party -
Listen to these few words - it is the same Labour Party, not a single man has been altered since August, 1904 - the present Labour Party threatens the independence of the whole community.
Is there any basis for political arrangements between the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, and people who threaten the independence of the whole community? I have yet to learn that there is. There may be - wonderful things happen in politics. However, we shall see. Here is another statement by the honorable and learned member -
I say there can be nothing more derogatory to a representative or injurious to his standing in Parliament than to see a body of men required to pledge themselves to vote and act as their judgment would not direct them to.
Nothing is more derogatory to a representative, or injurious to his standing in Parliament. I want now to come to another point, on which the honorable and learned member unconsciously imitated the Labour Party - or, rather, it was not, I think, the Labour Party, but one member of that party who bluntly said, “ We are open to the highest bidder.” I do not. say that that was a statement made by the Labour Party, but the honorable and learned member for Ballarat thus referred to art utterance of a labour man -
I ask you, could a more demoralizing bargain be transacted in any public body or in any great institution.
Unconsciously the honorable and learned member has put .’himself before Australia in exactly the position of the labour member to whom he referred, and I shall show why. This was at a time when the honorable and learned member says that the agreement had not been broken, but when, according to him, the Tariff Commission was in perfect harmony with the spirit of the agreement, and when he approved of the agreement and the Commission. But he said that the report of the Commission might raise, and probably would raise, the fiscal question. Well, I say that in the light of that possibility, the honorable and learned member stands before Australia exactly in the shoes of the labour member, whose conduct he denounces, because he deliberately insults the free-traders of New South Wales! by offering them his support as the price of their treachery to their principles ; ‘he says, “ We will support your New South Wales leagues “ - the honorable and learned member knows, those leagues were formed very much under my auspices - “We will support the Australian Liberal Leagues in New South Wales, if they will put protection in the forefront of their policy.”
– Are those leagues freetrade leagues?
– No; they are not.
– I want the honorable and learned member for Indi to remember that while there are free-traders in those leagues-
– How many protectionists are in them?
– I do not want to go into any side issues just now, because I have a number of matters to deal with. But the leagues were formed for the purpose of bringing free-traders and protectionists together on the lines of the fiscal truce we are under now. What I say is that I and others took an active Dart in bringing those leagues about, and there is no secrecy about that, I suppose. To ask those leagues, of which I am practically the political leader - leagues formed on the basis of a fiscal truce - to break that truce, and to make protection one of their objects, is an insult.
– No, no.
– I think that the honorable member for Bourke would probably regard it as an insult if he were asked not to take part in a fiscal truce, but to abandon his protectionist opinions and become a free-trader. Would the honorable member not think that an insult? I think he would, if he has any regard for his principles.
– I do not think the members of the league were asked to abandon free-trade.
– We should abandon free-trade if we took up protection.
– No doubt we, as freetraders, would do so. I do not, however, want to put that aspect, but another aspect. The honorable and learned member for Ballarat denounces the methods, the organization, and the sectional policy of the Labour Party, as threatening to the welfare and independence of the whole community, and yet he also says, “ If you will put protection in the forefront of your programme we will assist you.” So, as I say, we find the honorable and learned member putting himself in the very position which he recognises in others as demoralizing - we find him offering the support of his great talents and authority, and those, I suppose, of his friends, in a political campaign of the Dugald Dalgetty kind, saying, in effect, “ We will go in for either side, we do not care which, that will give us our price; we will sell ourselves.” We know that the honorable and learned member holds a principle which he has fought for all his life, and it is an honorable principle on his part. But when he appeals to two parties wide as the poles asunder, and says that he is willing to fight with either, I think he puts himself very much in the position I have described. Here is another remark which makes his meaning clear -
When, as in this case, you have not only the separate dangers of each piece, but the cumulative force of the whole, you will begin to recognise that it is organization-
That is, the Labour Party organization - - pushed to the extreme, so as to turn the voters into dummies, to turn their representatives into pawns, and to turn their Ministers into figureheads.
Here is a party the voters of which are dummies, the members of which are pawns, and the Ministers of which are figure-heads. Can we contemplate an alliance between that party and a gentleman who holds those opinions ? Of course,- it might happen, but I cannot contemplate such an event. The honorable and learned member went on to say -
Instead, therefore, of taking the downward path which would lead to political servitude-
That is not a mere glowing period of a poetical orator; it is the statement of a leader in political affairs, to whom thousands of people look for solid guidance, and not merely for eloquent language or beautiful peroration.
Instead, therefore, of taking the downward path which would lead to political servitude, and, perhaps, to social slavery-
What does that mean? We have manhood and womanhood suffrage; what does this allusion to “social slavery” mean? Is it not a reference to the socialistic programme ? What else can “ social slavery “ mean in ia country where we have manhood and womanhood suffrage, and where the political power is in the hands of the people?
– The honorable and learned member now says that those things are unthinkable.
– The honorable and learned member said, “We want to rally to our flag,” and so on. We had a flag on 2nd August, and the honorable and learned member and myself shared that flag together.
– It was a white flag, was it not?
– We had a flag which we shared together, and our friends were ‘acting loyally together at the time. The honorable and learned member also said -
Instead, therefore, of taking the downward path which would lead to political servitude, and, perhaps, to social slavery, we want to rally to our flag those in favour of responsible government-
Not a Government with an imperium in imperio - not a Government with a labour caucus sitting outside. The honorable and learned member proceeded1 - - to rally to our flag those in favour of responsible government, to restore majority rule-
Does that mean the majority rule of a few wretched, insignificant persons in Parliament, or the much larger majority rule of the electors of Australia? - and to maintain that priceless heritage-
Just think ! A “ priceless heritage “ as well as a flag ! Something worth sticking to, that is ! You know that a flag does not cost much, but a “priceless heritage” we must stand by - - and to maintain that priceless heritage which our forefathers have handed down to us, and which we should preserve, or-
Or coalesce with the Labour Party? Oh, no ! - or perish.
There is a “ flag,” and there is a “ priceless heritage “ - there is something that we would rather die than give up. I hope it is all right, still. Now, after this Government was formed, the honorable and learned member, on the 23rd of that same month, went to Ballarat, and took with him the Minister of Trade and Customs as a representative of the Protectionist Party of Victoria and of Australia in the Cabinet - the honorable and learned member took the
Minister up with him as a token of this new alliance. By-the-bye, the honorable and! learned member for Ballarat pointed out that I had missed the psychological moment for an appeal against Socialism. Well, Ave know that there cannot be a psychological moment if there is not something real about the issue - there is no psychological moment for running after a bogy or a disembodied spirit. A psychological moment means that there is a great national’ question at issue, and that there isi an opportunity to appeal to the people of Australia on that issue. What Avas that opportunity? The Arbitration Bill ? Surely, it is possible for men to differ about Socialism, and to agree about an Arbitration Bill? Surely, the principle of an Arbitration Bill is one upon which men of all political parties may agree, as they have done. What is the object of an Arbitration Bill? Is it to destroy private enterprise, or to destroy the relations between employer and employ^? On the contrary, it is to preserve and improve that enterprise and those relations.
– The Employers’ Federation do not say so.
– I have nothing to do with the Employers’ Federation, and I am happy to say I have never had. But I do say that there is just as much right on their side to organize as there is on the side Avith which the honorable member is connected. At any rate, it will be admitted that there are not many in the Employers’ Federation. The only point I Avant to make is that the selection of an Arbitration Bill, as the subject of an appeal against Socialism, would in my opinion, be the most idiotic step a public man could take.
– What about the railway servants ?
– I have nothing to do Avith that - I can clear up that and other points. This very Bill, which, it is said, I should have made the subject of a crisis, and an appeal to the people, the honorable member signed a written agreement Avith me to pass into ]aw. I shall turn not to those things that Arere to be submitted at the caucus where they were rejected, but to the understanding which Avas arrived at altogether independently. The headings of that understanding were as follows: -
While it is not sought to bind members beyond the foregoing indispensable points, Mr. Deakin and Mr Reid have themselves agreed generally -
That was our two selves. - upon a common basis of policy, to which each is at liberty to give the fullest publicity.
In that policy at the very head is the Arbitration Bill.
– Were those proposals agreed to?
– I am pointing out that this is not a part which was not agreed to ; it is a separate memorandum entirely from the proposals.
– But for submission to the various parties.
– I would point out that even my clever and learned friend cannot alter the significance of this separate memorandum.
While it is not sought to bind members beyond the foregoing indispensable points, Mr. Deakin and Mr. Reid have themselves agreed generally upon a common basis of policy to which each is at liberty to give the fullest publicity.
– But that was only in the event of the other portions being agreed to.
– I do not think that the honorable and learned member for Ballarat will take up that ground, because he, when addressing his constituents, acknowledged the existence of the agreement between us. The honorable member does not take that point.
– I was sure the honorable and learned member for Ballarat would not take the point raised by the honorable and learned member for Indi. May I suggest to my learned and very clever friend, the honorable member for Indi, that the honorable and learned member for Ballarat and myself are probably the best interpreters of the honorable understanding at which we arrived. This is not a matter of law. on which, doubtless, the honorable and learned member for Indi would get the test of me.
– It is a question of when that agreement was come to.
– I shall give honorable members something more; this is only the preamble.
Among the measures of urgency may be named the Arbitration Bill.
The first on the list ! I congratulate my honorable and learned friend, the member for Ballarat, upon the new-born zeal of my other honorable friends to keep him right. One of the blessings of this speech at Ballarat is that, although it may have disconcerted the Government, it has made my honorable friends begin to take a serious interest in the welfare of the honorable and learned member for Ballarat. But I have to mention something much stronger than that. As honorable members know, this House adjourned from the 18th August to the 7 th September, to enable the Ministry to prepare their programme, and, on the 23rd August, the honorable and learned member for Ballarat went to Ballarat with the Minister of Trade and Customs, and told the people there, and the public of Australia - my honorable colleague sitting beside him, and our policy, which included, of course, the attitude which we would take in regard to the Arbitration Bill, not yet having been submitted to Parliament - that -
The duty now rested upon the present Government, and, in fact, upon all members of the House, to assist in passing the Bill.
We are now told that on that particular Bill we missed the psychological moment to tear the House to pieces, by refusing to pass it, and to make a crisis of it, and yet, while the Ministry were considering their programme, he called on us, with my honorable colleague sitting beside him, to pass the Arbitration Bill into law.
– The right honorable member did anything the honorable and learned member for Ballarat told him to do, then.
– The honorable and: learned member for Corio cannot help being offensive, though I know that he is only attempting to be funny. Perhaps he does not mean to be offensive, but that is the effect of most of his interjections. The honorable and learned member for Ballarat sensibly, and in accordance with our own desires, thought that the Arbitration Bill should be passed into law. I do not know whether he referred to the political object of an amendment moved by the leader of the Opposition, to add some lines to a clause to provide for the giving of a preference.
– I pointed it out. It is all in my speech.
– I do not think that that is one of the points.
– I referred to it, amongst others.
– As a point we could go on?
-I wished to get that statement. I have looked up the matter again. What were the words which the honorable member for Bland wished to put into the Bill as reasons which were not to debar a union from the advantages of the measure?
One of them was that it had to do with questions of sanitation. That is one of the points upon which, according to the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, I ought to have gone to the country.
– What I spoke of was the politicalization of the organizations - a different thing altogether.
– I cannot understand-
– I cannot help that.
– One of the results of the unhappy speech of the honorable and learned member is that he will not give me credit for ordinary intelligence now. We used to get on better than that. I only wish to point out this : Here are the items to which the amendment of the honorable member for Bland referred :
-That is not what I dealt with.
– Then I will not trouble to refer further to the matter. All I wish to say is that we did not see in the Arbitration Bill any justification for dividing the country on the issue of Socialism or antiSocialism. It would be an idiotic and fatal line to take. If this or any other Government went to the people of Australia denouncing the principle of arbitration as an extreme, poisonous, and socialistic proposal, they would deserve to be exterminated without notice.
– The Labour Party bad not adopted Socialism prior to that time.
– Yes, they had - just as much as they have now.
– May I suggest to the honorable and learned member for Ballarat that, considering the position of close alliance in which we stood, if this, brilliant idea occurred to ‘him before last Saturday night, and while the Arbitration Bill was in our hands, he might have given me the benefit of his views on the subject ?
– The right honorable member has been making since then - and this is the point of my remark - preference to unionists, and a variety of other matters, the very gist of the whole of his attacks on what he calls Socialism.
– My honorable and learned friend is entirely inaccurate I made a point against my Labour friends in this way: I said, “You are going in for a policy of social equality; each man is to be equal to every other man ; but preference to unionists does not square with that view of common equality.”
– Yet the right honorable gentleman accepted the principle.
– The honorable member is right. I accepted the principle, with an addition, for which I think the honorable and learned member for Ballarat voted, providing for majority rule.
– The principle is the same.
– The honorable and learned member for Ballarat accepted the principle.
– I was in favour of the Bill; that is the difference.
– Did I ever oppose the Bill ?
– Yes, on these points ; and the right honorable member has been condemning it ever since.
– I never opposed the Bill itself.
– The right honorable member voted against the giving of preference to unionists by the Bill.
– Always; I admit that. And I voted against a number of other provisions. But that I opposed certain clauses in it does not make me an opponent of a Bill providing for arbitration. I have made these references because of one main point which I wish the House to accept from me before I pass to another matter. We had all these public declarations of the honorable and learned member for Ballarat before us, and had to consider in Cabinet the position in the light of his remarks. An alliance on vital matters of national welfare with the party which the honorable and learned member denounced root and branch was to our minds inconceivable; when we looked at the honorable members who support the honorable and learned member such an alliance seemed equally inconceivable. That being so, what was the only political operation that could follow from the speech at Ballarat? The resolution of the House into the old state of three political parties. I admit that the speech might well draw together the members of the Protectionist Party in the House, who are divided. Unconsciously, perhaps, and it certainly would not have been a wrong thing in itself, that was probably one of the motives which influenced the honorable and learned member for Ballarat in making his speech. But the speech leaves us just aswe were before. Instead of two parties, we are thrown back on three, and on that very state of things because of which the honorable member for Bland asked for a dissolution. We have three parties, pretty equally divided. That was the position to which we as a Government had to give the fullest significance. We have to consider now, as the honorable member for Bland had to consider in his time, the responsibilities of our position. My honorable friend asked for a dissolution upon a point which did not seem of very great consequence to most of us, although he evidently thought it was a serious one. I wish to say at once that my honorable friend’s conduct in resigning his office, or holding it, never suggested to me any offensive remarks of any kind.
– The right honorable member taunted him with clinging to office.
– That was a chance remark, made in the heat of interjection, for which I apologized. I have noticed in Parliaments, that if a man commits the most blackguardly abuse of the rules of the House, and apologizes, he becomes almost more popular than he was before ; and if that is the treatment meted out to hardened offenders, I think that this Chamber might very well treat me with equal leniency. Having made these little mistakes, we have to rely on our general conduct ; and I think that honorable members will admit that I do not study forms of offensive expression. In any case, we had to consider our position, just as the honorable member for Bland and the honorable and learned member for Ballarat had to consider their positions. The honorable and learned member for Ballarat pointed to a condition of things which seemed to admit of no sort of hopeful prospect. He pointed, as every one has done, to the probable uselessness of our labours. I had hoped for better things, with the aid and the loyal co-operation of the honorable and learned member, and every one of his friends, to which I testified last session.
– What reasons had the right honorable member for believing that that support was withdrawn?
– I will tell my honorable and learned friend. I was very glad to learn - I did not read the statement myself, but someone told me of it - that, according to one of the newspapers, my honorable and learned friend said that he had no intention to indicate by his speech a withdrawal of the support he had given to me. I can assure him, with the greatest respect, that I have no desire to lose his support. I value his distinguished support at a much higher rate than that. No one could value it more than I do.
– It does not appear so.
– I wish the honorable and learned member to take it from me that I do. But although we are divided on the fiscal question, four of us representing one view, and four the other, my seven colleagues and myself unanimously, without argument and without persuasion, agreed as to the course we should take. We had on the table the draft of the Governor-General’s speech, containing, I think, about twenty paragraphs, outlining the proposals which we intended to submit to the Parliament. The draft of the speech was lying onmy table last Monday morning, awaiting ratification by the Cabinet, to be afterwards written off, and submitted to His Excellency the GovernorGeneral. I had had copies of the speech typewritten by my private secretary, who was acting confidentially, before Monday morning, and most of them were sent out to Ministers before 10 o’clock on that day. Some of them brought their copies to the Cabinet meeting, and we had before us the speech containing the programme to be submitted to Parliament ; but after reading the remarks of the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, we came to this conclusion, “ We have done our best to carry on the difficult task of governing, with the ardent unquestionable support of the honorable and learned member for Ballarat and his friends. The honorable and learned member in his speech lastSaturday, referred to consultations with his friends, therefore it was not as though he were delivering a speech on his own initiative.”
– The speech, as printed in pamphlet form, varies from the newspaper reports.
– Some little things are put into the speech which were uttered in the railway train ; but that does not matter. It is what we all do a little of sometimes. The honorable and learned member forgot to utter at Ballarat his criticism of the Government for their action in regard to the High Court ; he did not make the remarks on that subject recorded in his pamphlet when delivering his speech at Ballarat, but in the train.
– If the right honorable member had been in the same condition that I was in he would have made omissions from his speech.
– Yes; but the putting of these matters into the speech after it was delivered was not a matter of health.
– I have explained openly that the remarks referred to were not uttered at Ballarat.
– I have said that this happens in regard to almost every speech that is delivered.
– There was a great deal more in my notes than I delivered.
– There is always something forgotten, and when it is remembered it is put in. In the speech the honorable and learned member speaks of a reference to his friends, with whom he has consulted for a long time. This remark had nothing to do with difficulties in speaking or of time. The speech was delivered, and I and every one of my colleagues took it to mean that the spirit and soul of the agreement between us and the honorable and learned member for Ballarat had gone, because his loyal and frank support had gone. I could not read his speech as the speech of a frank, loyal supporter and friend.
– Every newspaper took the same view of it.
– Yes. The first line in the newspaper whose policy my honorable and learned friend has at last returned to is, “A Notice to Quit.” I look upon the speech as the withdrawal of the spirit of frank co-operation, which makes my position and that of my colleagues in this House intolerable. That was our position. And whomsoever may be against us, I want to imitate the high example set by my predecessor. The honorable and learned member for Ballarat himself set a high example in the public life of this country when, probably by the exercise of a little strategy, such as I am sure one of his Ministers would have been only too ready to adopt, he might have saved his position without, in the opinion of many people, any loss of prestige; and since he set the highest possible example by his conduct on that occasion, I do not want to prove unworthy of the example he set. That is the position. All that I can say is, that if the honorable and learned member did not wish to withdraw his frank and loyal support in our efforts to carry on public business, I hope he will say so.
– I will say so, very emphatically.
– After that I wish to say at once that, whilst my criticism has been directed very strongly to the speech of the honorable and learned member, in view of a possible breach, or of any change of positions, I accept absolutely the assurance of my honorable and learned friend, that he had no such intention. I accept it absolutely ; and I can say that my honorable colleagues will find the greatest possible relief at that statement. I cannot speak for them, not having consulted them, but I am sure that they will do so. I assure my honorable and learned friend that he has removed from my, mind - I do not care what happens - the sting of the situation absolutely. I do not care what happens now. I hope that my honorable friends opposite, who laugh, will excuse me. I have never, in the bitterest hours of our political controversy, when we were fighting tooth-and-nail, used an unkind word of my honorable and learned friend, the member for Ballarat. I am afraid that I could not say that about all my honorable friends. I have, from first to last, had an unstinted admiration for my honorable and learned friend, and the heat of party conflict never drew from me a single word of an offensive character. And I say that has been my spirit all through. I do not care what happens now, after that statement of the honorable and learned member. Now I will proceed to deal with other matters. And I want to say this, with reference to the form of the GovernorGeneral’s Speech. We felt, under the circumstances, that we had no other course to adopt. We felt that the Ballarat speech meant the reconstruction of the Protectionist Party, that that meant changing the political situation, and that that would bring us back to the irritating state of inefficiency that the House was in, notoriously, before. But now I should like to address myself to one or two of the matters that my honorable friend, the leader of the Opposition dealt with. I hope he will forgive me for having postponed my observations to this stage. I want to take up my honorable friend upon his attack upon me on the ground that knowing that the movement represented by the party opposite was a socialistic movement, I accepted their support. I did so without any idea of any kind of aiding and abetting, or of shutting my eyes to the socialistic movement; and I again repeat that that movement was never proclaimed to be a movement which the members of the labour leagues accepted as a membership qualification.
– Was it not in the platform, and was not attention drawn in the public press to its being in the platform ?
– But I never used to get a.nv copies of these labour publications and rules. I have lots of trouble in trying to get them now.
– What does the right honorable gentleman want to get?
– I know that my honorable friend can get anything of that kind he likes. But I want to call a witness in my support - one of the most prominent members of the labour leagues of Australia, and a member of this House, sitting opposite to me. Surely, if he did not know that it was a socialistic league, I might be forgiven for not knowing it. On the 26th May, 1904 - that is, only last session - the honorable and learned member for Werriwa made a speech which referred to some of the controversial aspects of Socialism in some distant countries, and, I believe, perhaps, in some remote ages. But I must thank my honorable friend for one part of his speech, which had the effect of bringing up my honorable and esteemed friend, the member for Canobolas. I think no one will say that my honorable friend disguises his opinions or misrepresents his beliefs; and what is his view? The honorable member for Canobolas says, as reported in Hansard -
I should not have risen to speak but for the remarks of the honorable and learned member for Werriwa. I believe that fair play is bonny play. I do not belong to the Socialist Party.
– The Federal party have already said that they are not committed to Socialism.
– Does my honorable friend think that the honorable member for Canobolas, when he told the House, “ I do not belong to the Socialist Party,” meant that he belongs to a socialistic league in New South Wales, but that this Federal party is not socialistic?
– It is not a socialistic party].
– That is a refinement that is not natural.
– I do not repudiate the labour leagues.
– I know that ; but my honorable friend need hardly appeal to me, because whatever our differences in politics are, I have learned to accept his statements implicitly. I ask my honorable friend whether I am not perfectly within the bounds of credence when I say that the announcement made at Newtown by my honorable friend, the leader of the Opposition, that no man had a right to belong to a labour league-
– In New South Wales.
– I am talking of Newtown, which is in New South Wales - unless he was a Socialist, came as a surprise to me.
I suppose that honorable members opposite can credit that statement.
– Of course we will.
– My honorable friend is good enough to supply the answer. I assure the House that the statement of the honorable member came to me as an absolute surprise, that the socialistic plank was not on The fighting programme, but was on the general platform.
– Seventeen down.
– What difference does that make?
– The difference is this: First of all, my friendly relations with the Labour Party of New South Wales were years before that. Our relations were since 1894. So that our relationship was contracted long before. And it was not an alliance. It was not in any sense an alliance. There was never an understanding of any kind ; but I am happy to say that whatever it was, it was always honorably observed on both sides. Well, this socialistic movement, as I say, is a matter to which I never’ directed my attention until it became a much more prominent matter before the public of Australia ; and the* shifting of that socialistic plank from this other platform to the very front of the whole organization is, in my opinion, the most significant change in the world.
– It is not on the fighting platform now.
– But it is put as an ideal. Surely honorable members opposite put their great ideals in the objective, not the mere details.
– I have yet to learn whether honorable members opposite want to repudiate, or whether the labour leagues of Australia repudiate, the socialistic principle.
– We cannot speak for alf Australia.
– I speak for Queensland, and we do not repudiate it.
– I do not.
– That is honest, at any rate.
– Some States have not adopted it.
– Does the” leader of the Labour Party repudiate Socialism?
– I do not.
– The honorable member is a big part of New South Wales in the Labour Party. All I can say is that the whole thing seems to me to have come to the forefront of the political life of this country. And I do not shut my eyes to the enormous power of the labour leagues. I am an old political campaigner ; and I know that the loyalty of their members, and the enormous strength of their organizations, gives them a marvellous power. A shower of rain would keep thousands of my friends away from the polls; but a great cyclone would not keep a loyal supporterofthe Labour Party away, even if he had to walk ten miles to vote. I heard of one man who went twenty miles to vote for one of my honorable friends opposite, and walked all the way ; and he had to walk back twenty miles, though the return of his candidate was a certainty. My friends abstain from voting if a candidate’s return is a dead certainty ; that is the difference between us ; but we hope to wake our friends up. We do not think our opponents are in a majority, but they are a very powerful minority. Now, I want to speak a word or two with reference to the High Court. . I should have had the greatest possible pleasure in producing the correspondence, and laying it on the table, if I thought that it was a proper and a desirable thing to introduce matters affecting the judicial Bench into a party controversy. I think it would be a most disastrous thing to bring such subjects into bur party conflicts. May I point out that so far as the circuit courts are concerned, the Cabinet published months ago in the newspapers their decision that the present system of circuit courts should continue as it was until Parliament had an opportunity of expressing its opinion.
– That was not the attitude which the Attorney -General took up ; and remember that it is six months since we had an opportunity of talking about the matter.
– Months ago the Cabinet arrived at that decision, with the concurrence of the Attorney-General, and that nnnouncement wasmade to the press - that the circuit courts would go on untouched until Parliament had an opportunity of expressing its opinion. There were only three things left. I want to say as little about this as possible, because I am not going to drag such matters into our political fights. I wish, however, to mention some things which are before the public already. The Justices thought fit, as the House knows, to send me a telegram asking - really demanding - three things. I do not think that the head of the Executive Government should receive a peremptory demand, even from the Justices of the High Court. I do not think that even the highest man in the land has a right to address a peremptory telegram to the head of the Government, and I had a right to resent it.
– Does it not depend upon what preceded the peremptory telegram?
– There are some things which I think nothing can justify.
– I do not know, as I have not seen them.
– The sending of . a telegram to the head of the Executive Government, in the nature of a demand with a pistol at his head, is, from every point of view, an utterly unwarrantable proceeding.
– Unless it was preceded by something utterly unprecedented.
– What I wish the honorable and learned member to recognise is that if not only a Justice of the High Court, but any man in a high public position imitates what he conceives to be an unjustifiable line of conduct, by doing unjustifiable things himself, he does not act up to the highest standards which public men should recognise.
– I do not dispute that.
– That is all I say. The three matters that were asked for in that peremptory fashion have been carried out. Expenses from Sydney to Melbourne have been granted; a fixed daily rate has been granted; an Order in Council has been passed ; and the Circuit Courts have been left without interference, so that the. question is now reduced to the phraseology of an Order in Council. The word “ concession “ applies to a state of things which, when it does arise, must be considered. The moment the Federal Capital was established, and the High Court was removed to the Federal Capital, who would pay a man travelling expenses to go up to his office to do his work?
– Hear, hear. No one can object to that.
– That explains the use of the word “concession.” In the meantime the Government of my honorable and learned friend, the member for Ballarat, passed a proclamation fixing Melbourne as the principal seat of the Court, and the computation of travelling expenses from the principal seat of the Court is absolutely right and just. We might as well pay ourselves for coming up from Prahran or Dandenong to attend to our duties in this House as pay a Justice to go from some place to the principal seat of the Court. Inview of the fact that the great volume of the business arises in Sydney, we recognised that there was an equitable claim, and it was as broad as it was long, because if the Justices lived in Melbourne they would get their expenses to Sydney. We felt that it was a proper concession to grant, and it was granted.
– Will the Justices receive travelling expenses for the whole distance when they are going from Melbourne to Brisbane?
– I do not know. The difference between Sydney and Melbourne is so slight that it is not worthy of notice. A man leaves Sydney at 8 o’clock one night, and he is in Melbourne at 1 o’clock next day, so that it does not matter whether the allowance dates from Melbourne or Sydney. It is a matter of a few hours, during which the Justices are travelling in a train on a free pass.
– I do not know the facts.
– It is not my desire to make a statement which will involve going into the details at this time. By-and-by, on a motion, the question can be dealt with on its merits. In the absence of full information, it is most undesirable to go into these details, and I only desire to do so in order to clear up the mystery created by the remark of my honorable friend. There may be a possible dispute still about the amount of travelling expenses. But I suppose that in the case of my distinguished friends on the Bench, who get a salary of £3,000 a year, there will not be a patriotic crisis on a question as to whether they ought to get £2, or £3, or £4, a day for traveling expenses.
– Let the people have a say in the matter, and they will not get as much.
– I do not know. All the matters mentioned in the telegram to me have been carried out in substance precisely as requested. I do not say that the question of whether the rate is satisfactory to the Bench is settled satisfactorily, but now it is only a question of how much. I think I have already explained how, after a six months’ recess, the particular speech which has been delivered came to be delivered, that but for the recent events I have referred to a speech entirely of the character we had outlined would have been presented to Parliament.
– There has been no attack from this side.
– I do not mind knocks so much from my opponents as from my friends. I am used to taking hard knocks from my opponents, but I have to consider other matters when I am dealing with supporters. I would like to make another observation, and I am sure that the House will bear with me, because it deals with a matter about which there is a general misunderstanding. I have been twitted over and over again - and even my honorable and learned friend the honorable member for Ballarat fell into, as I think, the same error - with not putting a positive policy before the country. I should think that in the history of responsible government in the British Empire there never was a case in which a” Government, whilst it was doing business with Parliament, and proposing to go on doing business with Parliament, issued a manifesto to the electors of the country. They are two absolutely hostile things. If a Government came forward with a Governor-General’s speech, proposing to go on with business in Parliament, say, for six months, and then issued a manifesto to the electors, it would be an appeal from Parliament to the people. It would be absolutely unprecedented.
– Why did the honorable member term our policy a crawling one because we had not included enough in it?
– I did not do that.
– Yes; but I am not complaining.
– There is a sharp distinction between the submission of a manifesto to the people and a policy to Parliament. A Government has no right to issue a manifesto to the people while Parliament is sitting, and can do useful work. It is equivalent to an announcement that Parliament has come to an end, and that the Ministry are looking over its head to the people.
– Did any one suggest that?
– It has been suggested over and over again. I have been roasted about it in my own State over and over again.
– That is while Parliament is not sitting.
– No one dreams of issuing a manifesto to the people while Parliament is in existence. An Opposition can go on addressing the electors all the time, but who would dream of a Ministry addressing an official policy to the people behind the back of a Parliament which is capable of doing useful business?
– The right honorable and learned gentleman has been doing nothing else during the recess.
– If I have, why does the honorable member complain that I have not?
– I have not.
– I cannot satisfy every one. If I am in a position when the time comes to submit a policy to the people I shall ask to be judged by that policy when it is submitted. I would, indeed, misconceive my position if I went to the people of Australia on a purely negative policy. I would indeed misunderstand my position as a man who has essayed to lead people inAustralia if I went to the electors simply trading on the demerits of my opponents. I quite admit that it is of no use to fight that battle in this House with a majority of two which is not always here. I had not the remotest intention of referring to my. honorable friend the member for Wilmot, but in this House I am in this unhappy position, that any one of my honorable friends here is my majority of two.
– If my honorable friend knew all the trouble I had to keep a quorum last session he would know that I had to think of more besides those honorable members who happened to be away. I hope he will accept my assurance that I
Was not thinking of him personally. If any one of my honorable friends here were to cross the floor of the House I should be in a position of deadlock. In these circumstances, who would dream of announcing a national policy to Parliament? The place where a national policy ought to be announced is before the people, and when we go to the country ; and my proposal simply was to carry on with non-contentious matters until we could go to the people after the electorates had been mapped out.
– Why does the right honorable member take any notice of the speech of the honorable and learned member for Ballarat when he can carry on with his majority ?
– My honorable and learned friend - speaking with no disrespect to any other honorable member on this side - holds, as every one knows, a position of singular weight and authority in the country quite apart from his position in this House, and I say frankly that if he and I had not agreed to the basis of the understandingto which we did agree I should never have dreamed of assuming this position unless with a view to something else happening afterwards. I should never have dreamed of taking up the reins of government unless I had felt assured of his support, and that of other honorable members who so loyally and faithfully supported us during last session. I should not have accepted the responsibility of office for a moment except with a view to readjusting matters outside. I only took this load upon me with a promise of that loyal support - not as a matter of compulsion. I would not go to any of my honorable friends and say to them, “Oh, come back; give me back that support which you promised me.” All the offices in the world would not tempt me to put myself in such a position, if the spirit of the understanding were gone. I recognise that, and I do not ask for damages or make complaints. I acknowledge the loyal service and help I have received, but neither I nor any one of my colleagues will come here to pursue a long and dreary course of humiliation, and after we have been thoroughly discredited and demoralized to be thrown out of office like an old rag. We have not come here to endure that experience Office is not worth having on such conditions, and if we have viewed the position hastily, I think my honorable friends will admit that we have erred on the safe side, as men who have some regard for the only honorable basis upon which Ministries in Australia ought to stand.
Honorable Members. - Adjourn, adjourn.
– I am perfectly agreeable to adjourn for tea at this stage, if the honorable and learned member for Ballarat so desires.
– Certain statements have been made in this House that should not be allowed to remain even on the pages of Hansard for five minutes without the strongest and most emphatic contradiction which it is in my power to give them. It is scarcely necessary to say that in times such as the present, when, as the Prime Minister has observed, the Ministerial majority hangs upon every member of it, the position of every one of us becomes of exceptional difficulty. On such occasions we all work under a heavier load of responsibility, and are exposed to more trials than ordinarily fall to the lot of the representatives of the people. Owing to the exigencies of the position which I occupied, I considered it my duty to take an active and prominent part in endeavouring to resolve the three parties in this House into two parties, with a view to the restoration of Constitutional Government, as I understand it, and have endeavoured from the first hour of this Parliament until now, as far as was honorably possible, to discharge the burden of obligation which rested upon me. I do not say that I have not made any mistakes; nor that I could not have acted more wisely ; but do claim to have acted on the best light I had, and without personal motive. When the Prime Minister and myself met during the tenure of office of the previous Government, I thought that we had found a means of solving the difficulty in which we found ourselves. We drew up proposals which I thought both parties might accept. They were temporary proposals. They were marked down as such from the very first, and stamped with a date as the probable date on which they were to terminate. We were creating a party to fill an interregnum - a definite interregnum ; although there was a possibility that before the period fixed had elapsed the majorities of the two parties might be blended into one - possibly with some losses on both sides, but still a majority sufficient to enable the public business to be transacted. In a new country so extensive as this, and still so subject to the operation of local and provincial influences, the task of bringing together a majority and keeping it for any lengthy period is most difficult. We do well, and have fulfilled the requirements of the situation, if we manage to keep together a majority for the term of one Parliament, and allow the Legislature to carry out its work with a proper sense of responsibility. Influenced by this motive and by no others, I proposed an arrangement mat, in spite of my recommendation, was rejected by the party to which I belong. It was distinctly laid aside by large majorities, not once only, but twice or thrice. From the outset the mainspring of majority rule was broken, and that which I had dreamt of and hoped for could not be realized. However, the Watson Government struggled on with a minority only on their own side, but with the assistance of those members of the Protectionist Party who sympathized with them. When the crisis arose, which determined the fate of that Government, I entered, as I have often said, into the consideration of the situation, without knowing that a crisis was about to arise, and before it was known that the Government would select the question then under discussion as one upon which they would stand or fall. They were perfectly within their rights in taking up that position, but I had not anticipated that they would do so. The present Government then came into office with a majority so small as scarcely to deserve the name. The Prime Minister assumed the responsibility of office with the full knowledge that he had a very slight majority, and without endeavouring to revive the previous proposal for party union, and from that day to this he has not endeavoured to call together the supporters of the Government.
– I could not do so, because I had no authority. I should have done it readily if I had been in a position to act.
– I am not censuring the right honorable gentleman, but am merely pointing out what has followed from the untoward position of affairs. The consequence was that, so far as the allegiance of honorable members who, like myself, had belonged to the previous Ministerial Party and who still belonged to the Protectionist Party, were concerned, the support given to the Government was, as the Prime Minister has recognised, free and spontaneous, without pressure or compulsion, and it was that, and that alone, that was depended upon. I am forced, much against my will, to touch upon a few personal matters, but will do so as lightly as possible. The Prime Minister commenced his speech by saying that he intended to address himself to this question without any personal bitterness. So far as his manner is concerned, he has, with one or two slight exceptions, kept to his resolution. His remarks, however, have bristled with epithets and implications which, in the hands of so practised a speaker, could scarcely have been unintentionally used, but which . have been used to drive home, by continual reiteration, the impression that I have been a traitor and a plotter, and have betrayed my old friends in the Ministry by withdrawing my support from them without giving them proper notice. The charges made bv the right honorable gentleman are gathered together in a leading article appearing in today’s Argus, which contains more untruths than I have lately seen embraced in any one statement in the public press.
– Matters have been more than balanced in that regard by the statements which have been published regarding me in th%, Age.
– I propose to make no further reference, except incidentally, to these statements, but now feel compelled to allude to a few personal matters. It is very hard, to do so without committing abreach of confidence, because the communications to which I shall have occasion to refer were of a confidential character. I ‘ shall, however, endeavour to accomplish my task without overstepping the proper bounds. I have_no hesitation, and had none, even during the time the Prime ‘Minister was speaking, in contradicting the statement that I had dragged the right honorable member for Balaclava into the Ministry. At another stage of his speech, the Prime Minister stated that I had implored the right honorable gentleman to join the Government, and he also stated that I had forced him into the Government, after having myself refused to accept office on the score of ill-health. None of those statements are true, either in relation to the right honorable member for Balaclava, or any other member of this, or any other Government that was ever formed. I never yet advised any man to join any Government - even a Government formed by myself. I laid before my four friends who did me the honour to consult me, what seemed to me to be the pros, and cons, of the case, and in each instance said’ that I saw no possible objection to their joining the Ministry, but that they must take upon themselves the burden of responsibility of a choice of that kind. In the case of my friend, the right honorable member for Balaclava, I went further. He has been my friend for fifteen or twenty years, and I knew from his own lips of the warnings that he had received from’ his medical advisers, and I said to him not once, but half-a-dozen times,, “ On this choice no one dare advise you. The warning you ha.ve received is of so serious a nature that I cannot understand any man, be he your friend or not, venturing to urge you to join a Government under the circumstances. If you do join the Government you will make a splendid sacrifice, but no word of mine shall be uttered to induce you to go one step further than you feel justified in doing.” I said that I could drive home this contradiction, and shall do so. When I first saw the Prime Minister, after the announcement that the right honorable member for Balaclava had joined the Government, I said, “ However did you contrive to convince a man in such a state of health to assume the responsibilities of office?” He then gave me what he thought was the particular reason which had induced the right honorable member for Balaclava to, at the last .moment, change his mind. I think that the Prime Minister will recall the fact of my having expressed surprise - for I was surprised. I had anticipated nothing but an absolute refusal, because I believed that the right honorable member for Balaclava had no choice other than to refuse. I had not seen him for two or three days previously, and no one was more surprised than I was at the announcement that he had accepted office. If it had not been for the implication made in this regard, I should not have alluded to these matters, which ought to be subjects of indifference, because, although it was not owing to my persuasion, or pressure, or force, that my old colleagues and members of my party joined the present Government, they did so with my full knowledge and consent, and I feel, as I have always felt, that I am absolutely as much under an obligation, so far as they are concerned, as if they had acted at my request. I chose, and, I think, rightly, not to assume the responsibility for men making a serious choice of that kind; but whilst I desire to clear myself from the implications directed against me, shirk no tittle of the responsibility attached to the position which I occupy, and which I shall, for a few moments, ask honorable members to consider. I was, at all events, the titular leader of a party, and was on friendly relations even with those honorable members who had severed themselves from it. Under these circumstances, I felt, and have done from the first, that an extra burden of responsibility rested upon me. I ask honorable members to do me the favour and the justice of placing themselves in the position which I occupied, having regard to the principles of constitutional government, and, above all things, to Cabinet loyalty and unity. How was I to act towards the present Government in such a way as not in the least to overstep the line which ought to keep a private member outside Cabinet dis- cussions? How was I to abstain from the least attempt to impose any policy of mine upon the Government, or to’ force them to go in any direction they did not choose of their own free will, except by most jealously and zealously paying respect to their Ministerial duties and ‘responsibilities, and independence of me? I have never used any influence, either as a friend or a politician, with any one of them with respect to matters either of legislation or administration. I have kept apart from my friends in the Ministry, and have refrained from talking politics with them, because I knew that, in view of my intimacy with them, it was impossible to enter into any discussion with them without at least appearing to influence them in their deliberations. From the day that the present Government was formed until the present time I have seen less of my friends in the Ministry, and have spoken less to them, than at any previous period. /This has not been due to any personal choice of mine, but merely because I felt that, in view of the relations which had existed between us, it would be impossible to discuss politics wilh them without overstepping the line which separates Ministers from those who are not responsible for the administration of public affairs. That reason ‘alone has kept me apart from them. My feelings with regard to them have not changed, and my estimate of them has not been in any way affected. I believe they are all that I have said they are, and I have spoken frankly with regard to them. I do not think that I have so far broken any confidences, but I am now again approaching delicate ground. I have had the privilege of meeting the Prime Minister several times. He knows that, upon each of those occasions, I saw him at his own suggestion, and that he was responsible for nearly all the matters which, we discussed. It has been asked, “ How is it possible for a man giving a Government a frank and loyal support to stand apart from them, and to see them make what, in his opinion, is a mistake without warning them.” Only one vitally serious matter happened during the recess upon which I felt bound to speak. I did speak at once in regard to that vitally serious matter, by sending a direct message to the head of the Government, who was not then in Melbourne, informing him that upon that question - even if it involved the fate of the Ministry - I must be considered as adhering to the principles which I had always expressed. The only other matter to which the Prime Minister has alluded, and upon which he thinks I ought to have spoken, has reference to the Arbitration Bill, and to the fact that it was not laid aside. Unfortunately, the right honorable gentleman lias not done me the favour of reading the full report of the remarks which I made at Ballarat. Indeed, I do not know from what report he quoted, but he has entirely misconstrued the nature of my reference to that matter. I have noticed - as adi must have done - that in addressing the leagues throughout the country in reference to anti-Socialism, the Prime Minister has, again and again, referred to industrial matters - to preference to unionists, and to a variety of other subjects which were dealt with in the Arbitration Act. Having that in mind, and desiring to draw a distinction at the time between the right honorable gentleman’s views and my own, I explained that I had voted for granting preference to unionists, and for other provisions in that Act which he had opposed. But I stated that if the Prime Minister wished to conduct his crusade against Socialism, or State Socialism, having regard to his attacks upon those provisions which he had described as dan- ,gerous
– I said that they were the very opposite of Socialism.
– I state a plain fact which cannot be disputed - whatever a man’s opinions may be - when I say that if the Prime Minister thought that these industrial questions were an important part of the socialistic policy which he desired to attack, he himself had been in charge of the Bill relating to them, and had parted with his opportunity of putting them before the country in the most concrete fashion. There is no disputing that.
– The only difference is that I did not regard the proposal to grant a preference to unionists as a socialistic proposal. I pointed out that it was not at all in harmony with the socialistic policy.
– I am not equipped at the present moment with the speeches which were delivered upon the subject by the Prime Minister last session, but, unless my memory is much worse than I credit it with being, at the beginning of this campaign, in particular, the right honorable gentleman impressed upon my mind that the anti-socialistic movement was to be very largely directed against these and other industrial proposals.
– No, no. I can assure my honorable friend upon that point.
– Directly the Prime Minister gives me his assurance, I press the matter no further. However, believing that to be so, the illustration of the Arbitration Bill was perfectly apposite and apt, and from my point of view, perfectly correct. I remarked that the consideration of that measure offered a concrete opportunity of presenting the question, and that no such opportunity had been presented since, because the Prime Minister has not introduced any Bill relating to industrial matters. I said that the opportunity was concrete then and not theoretical.
– If could never be concrete in this House whilst the Government ‘ only possessed a majority of two.
– I have digressed a little from my course in order to deal with that matter, because it is one of the two specific cases to which reference has been made. The Prime Minister will remember that when the anti-socialistic leagues were proposed, the very first inquiry which I addressed to him was “ What is the programme to be ?” When the right honorable gentleman stated that he intended to leave the leagues in Victoria to the Victorians - and especially to his supporters - I informed him that, in my opinion, the movement would not be successful in this State unless it set out with a definite and distinctive programme. After having made inquiry, I think that he satisfied himself that that was also the opinion of other competent persons.
– These leagues are going to do the same thing except that they are going to frame their own policy.
– Surely the Prime Minister will never submit to a caucus.
– - If honorable members will permit me to proceed, they will see that I am now approaching the Ballarat speech, which dealt with two subjects in particular, although other matters were mentioned. Those two subjects may satisfy us sufficiently, because they cover practically the whole of the speech, and because they constitute the only two points which have been challenged. The first relates to my criticism of the’ anti-socialistic movement. The Prime Minister will recollect - as I have previously said - that when it was proposed to establish these leagues, I objected from the very outset that a mere general anti-socialistic crusade would not succeed, and that I could take no part in it unless a definite programme was put forward. When
I went to Ballarat, therefore, and made that the text of the first part of the whole of my speech, it came as no shock ..or surprise to any member of the Government, or to any person in Victoria who watches politics. I have taken up the same position from the first. The Ministry knew it - they were perfectly well aware of it. When, therefore, I devoted half my speech to that question, I was speaking of something upon which the Government knew my views better than did anybody else in the community. Then the Prime Minister will recollect that as the result of an interview which -I had with him. he suggested that I should see’ my old friend and colleague, Sir George Turner. I did so, and during the greater portion of the consultation I had the advantage of the presence of the Minister of Defence.
– Was that before the Ballarat speech was delivered?
– Yes ; I am referring to what occurred a fortnight or three weeks ago. The Prime Minister will remember that some months ago I pointed out to him that while his majority stood as it did, and there was no apparent danger ahead, yet the first time that the fiscal question was introduced, into the House he must look forward to seeing his majority grievously imperilled. I think that the right honorable gentleman agreed with me. At all events, I took the responsibility of warning him most seriously. X thought that the prospect of any such question arising during the present session was rather remote. I realized that any recommendation of the Tariff Commission might bring it forward, but, so far as one can judge from the press reports* no such proposal is in immediate contemplation. However, I took time by the forelock, and it is now two or three months since in that spirit of frank and loya] support to which the Prime Minister lias so frequently referred to-night, but always to point out what appeared to be shortcomings, I took the liberty of cautioning him. Directly I saw this fiscal danger on the horizon, the first living person to whom I spoke on the subject was the head of the Government.
– It was a possible event of the future to which the honorable and learned member referred.
– Exactly ; and if the Prime Minister will read mv Ballarat speech he will see that every word of it refers in the same way and for the same purpose to possible events of the future.
– Is that why the honorable member for Hume is supporting the honorable and learned member so cordially ?
– I am used to irrelevant interjections.
– It is not an irrelevant interjection.
– Utterly irrelevant to me. When, at the Prime Minister’s suggestion, I saw my colleagues, I took the liberty incidentally of letting them know how my mind was exercised in that regard. I let them know that I looked forward with the greatest apprehension to the emergence of the fiscal issue in a party fashion. I saw - indeed, everybody must see - that it is quite possible that the first report by the Tariff Commission may not raise the fiscal issue. I said so two or three times in my Ballarat speech. But as soon as it dawned upon my mind that there was a possibility that that Commission might make a report some lime during the present session - and I may say that I have had no communication with any member of it - I at once laid my apprehension before the Prime Minister, and before two of my old colleagues. That constitutes the second part of the Ballarat speech. Ministers knew in advance exactly what I thought upon both parts of it.
– I told the honorable and learned member then that there was not the remotest possibility of a report being brought up by the Tariff Commission during the present session, because its members have to go all over Australia before they can report.
– When honorable members hear of “ plots, conspiracies, and reticences,” it is only fair I should say that the first person to whom I spoke on the two subjects nearest to my thought - the question of Socialism and anti- Socialism upon the one side, and that of fiscal war or fiscal peace upon the other - was the Prime Minister. Directly they crossed my mind. I communicated them, as a frank and loyal supporter, to the head of the Government. What more could I have done? It was only afterwards that the communications about which I spoke, and which have been curiously interpreted, were exchanged. My attention had been, partly drawn to these dangers of the future by letters from all parts of the Commonwealth. All who have been in politics for a few years know that we are accustomed to receive a miscellaneous mass of correspondence. There are gentlemen in various parts of the country who favour us’ with advice, criticism, and suggestions. Some of them are members of this Parliament, others are members of State Parliaments,, and others again are important persons who are interested in politics. From that time forward these communications kept raining down upon me, and they all sounded a note of apprehension. I replied as best I could by asking questions, and by requesting further opinions. A few wrote to me with reference to the dispute with the Justices of the High Court. But the protectionists in Queensland, Western Australia, New South Wales, and Tasmania were writing to me apprehensively as to what was to be the future so far as protection was concerned. I replied, stating, my own opinion, and inviting more opinions from my correspondents, and from fellow members of Parliament. I received their replies. Practically none of them raised the question by suggesting anything, approaching a party move against the Government. The communications did not relate to tactics, or to procedure in the House, but with scarcely an exception they related to the time when the fiscal issue must re-emerge, because the Tariff Commission must sooner or later report. This was the subject of the correspondence. If I were standing at the bar of judgment For my utterances at Ballarat, and elsewhere, I could summon witness after witness from this House, and outside of it. I should be able to call, more particularly my old colleague, the right honorable member for Swan, with whom I was in Western Australia six weeks ago, and who, in view of the fact that he was being urged to return into local politics, impressed upon me the necessity of my opening my whole mind to him as to the political future of the Commonwealth. He knows what was in my mind. The honorable member for Eden-Monaro, who happened to be in Western Australia at the same time, was also aware of it. I put before them everything I knew about the political situation, and of its future. They well know’ whether there wa’s ai hostile, treacherous, surreptitious thought in my mind in regard either to this or any other Government. I had reasons for speaking with special frankness to my right honorable friend, because of the possibility of his leaving Federal politics - and his retirement from Federal politics would be a distinct loss to the Commonwealth - to return to the politics of his State. In these circumstances, he saw into my mind and thought as no one else was entitled to do, and as perhaps no one else did’. I concealed nothing. The fact that he sits with me today, and approves of everything I have done, and of every word I have uttered, shows that he knows that a party political trick, or a Ministerial surprise, was the last thing in my mind. I do not pretend that I went to Ballarat having nothing to say, or that I did not take my place on that platform without the gravest sense of responsibility. I had been appealed to, as no doubt many other honorable members have been, by persons in all parts of the Commonwealth, in whose political creed protection is the chief article, whatever their opinions may be on other matters. I went to Ballarat because they were pointing out, and I could not deny it, that the Prime Minister was speaking of a dissolution, and of a limitation of the subjects to be decided by that dissolution - to the question of anti- Socialism, whatever it meant, as against Socialism, whatever that might mean. We know that every man has a different definition of them. These men are quite as expert, or even more expert politicians than many. Some of them are journalists holding important positions in other States, watching every event with a keen eye. They were alarmed, and, as it seemed to me, the Protectionist Party throughout the Commonwealth, so far as I could get in touch with it, was alarmed at this prospect. They said, in effect, “ The Prime Minister at every meeting which he addresses refers to a dissolution, and to the policy that is then to be submitted. But never by any chance does he allude to the fiscal question. He does not say that the policy to be submitted is going to be that of free-trade or of protection; he absolutely closes the door upon the fiscal issue. Are we to understand that you are going to be a party to a dissolution in which the issue of protection will be sunk, no matter what the Tariff Commission may have advised, or may. hereafter advise Parliament to do? Atc you going to join in the election of a Parliament that must for three years close its doors to the reports of the Tariff Commission ? If you are, you might as well seal up its reports, and lock them in the vaults of the House for that time. What is the position going to be if the Prime Minister sends you to the country, and sends you soon?”
– Do not let us forget that there was a date specially fixed, namely,
May, 1906, when the fiscal policy, if any, of the Government, should be submitted Up to that date we were to go on upon the basis of our arrangement, but afterwards every honorable member was to be at liberty to ‘do as he thought fit.
– Quite so, but what my questioners desired to know was, what would happen if a dissolution took place within the first few weeks of the session.
– We provided for that.
– Yes; but the point is that in the event of an earlier dissolution, instead of our being precluded from dealing with the fiscal issue until May, 1906, we might be unable to deal with it until some time in 1909. No one ever proposed or thought of such a delay as that. No one ever contemplated that, after appointing a Tariff Commission, charged with the responsibility of inquiry, investigation, and report, the Government were to adopt a course that would mean that until 1909 the fiscal question must not, should not, and could not be raised. Such a position is impossible. As soon as I had seen that the fiscal issue was becoming imminent - that the creation of the Tariff Commission had set in motion another set of causes - I felt that it was time to speak. The Commission was appointed in good faith, and honestly. I have never questioned that; but it could not have been so appointed if its reports were to be of no value for three years. The Commission was not informed that it would be so hampered. If that had been the intention, the Commission should have been charged to report on or after such and such a date. But they were appointed with power to present sectional reports, and I thought it was agreed on all sides1 of the House that special cases would probably be dealt with first, and could be dealt with as the House thought fit.
– But always on an Australian basis, not on the basis of one locality.
– Certainly ; now in the speech which I am supposed to have gone to Ballarat to deliver with some mysterious object hostile to the Government, I dealt with that proposal in this Way -
Of course, as I have already said, the Tariff Commission report may not raise the issue in such a form as to involve a direct breach of the compact entered into as to fiscal peace. In any event, I. hope that Ministers will approach this question with a broad view, and with open minds considering the national interests at stake, and without attempting to make a fiscal issue on matters in which that question is really only a subordinate consideration.
There I was, loyally and faithfully supporting the Government, pleading with them, in the event of this contingency, not to put themselves in a position of hostility to the House, or which would imperil them in any way. I was not looking forward with delight to the raising of the fiscal issue as a means to attack the Ministry against which I am supposed to have been secretly plotting. I was pleading with them, if the opportunity arose during the session, to look at the question, not from the point of view of dry-as-dust theorists, but in a business light, and, if it were possible, to deal with the recommendations made, not on the lines of fiscal war, but as a business proposition for the protection of Australian interests. I , pleaded ‘with the Government to take a broad view of the situation, and not to put themselves in a position of hostility to those of their supporters whose principles and whose past commits them, if it commits them to anything, to protect protection, to protect Australian industries.
– Members of the Labour Party seem to have understood the speech.
– I am laying no charge against those who, trusting solely to newspaper reports and headings, choose to take the view of a particular reporter or reporters as expressing the whole meaning of my Ballarat speech. I am making no comment of that kind, because to me the speech seems absolutely incapable of being misunderstood. I venture to say that it was not misunderstood by any one who heard it, and who gave his attention to it. The usual jester, of course, rose in the hall, as he has risen in meetings all over Australia, and said to me, “ Now that you have finished, will you tell us what you have said, and how you will vote.” We have had that old joke played upon us at almost every political meeting that we have ever confronted.
– I was never asked that question.
– The question was put to me by a gentleman who had done his best to assist the proceedings of the evening by invariably asking me irrelevant questions. When I was dealing with Socialism he desired to know something about the Tariff, and when I was dealing with the Tariff he wished to know something about Socialism. When I was discussing neither of these subjects he wished to learn of something else.
– -I know that fellow.
– One or two honorable members were present, although I had urged them not to subject themselves to the inconvenience of attending, and they will bear out my statement that in that meeting of 2,000 persons I did not ; have hostile interruptions from more than a dozen or twenty. They were from men with’ whom I had come into political conflict in preceding times in Ballarat, and, doubtless, they will be there to welcome me again. Weak as I was - standing on that platform, merely by an effort of will - I forced myself to speak on that night because, against my own desire, I had been forced back and back from the date on which I first proposed to address my constituents. I had intended to speak about a fortnight earlier, but could not get the , hall except for a Friday or Saturday night in that week, and was determined that there should be no further delay. I wished to take the earliest opportunity to answer the appeals that I had received from all parts of the Commonwealth. I’ desired to tell those who had appealed to me what was going to be done, and what issue must be submitted when the general election came - no one knew how many months hence. I referred to the business programme of the Government, and to the valuable practical Bills as being part of our own. If Ministers did me the honour to read my speech, they saw, so far as the programme for this session was concerned, I was in sympathy with them, as I hope the whole House is, in their desire to deal with certain practical and non-contentions legislation. Of what was I speaking beyond this ? Of the time when the House was to be dissolved, and questions submitted to the country. Why was I obliged to speak of this subject? Because the Prime Minister, at each of his meetings, had put a dissolution in the forefront of hie programme. He had alarmed the Protectionist Party and other parties, probably all over Australia. The question had been put by them : “ What is going to happen?”
– On the contrary, I put forward non-contentious measures as the business of the session. They abused me for doing so, asking what right I had to bring forward non-contentious Bills.
– The Prime Minister said we could force a dissolution.
– I said that the party could do so by obstruction.
– I have addressed myself to-night to the Address-in-Reply almost without preparation, and fear that I may not altogether preserve the consecutive order of my remarks ; but taking my pencil notes of the speech of the Prime Minister, I have dealt, so far as my memory can check them, with the principal allegations which he made either directly or by inuendo. The fact that for some time this year a number of us did not make an appearance upon the public platform has been commented upon, and certainly my silence was not unfriendly to the Government. Except in the one instance I mentioned, I do not claim to have suppressed myself or my opinions unduly ; but I certainly have waited patiently for the matter relating to the High Court, about which I feel very strongly, to unravel itself and become clear from the accessory matters attached to it. However much we feel that the question of expenses is one for proper examination by this House above all others, I think we realize that the discussion in regard to it should not have taken place in public, and should not now be pressed upon the public more than is absolutely necessary. To bring disputes of that kind upon even the floor of this House is most undesirable, and certainly they have no place, or should have no place, in the press when Parliament is not sitting. Until the papers are laid upon the table, I propose to refrain from dealing with that question ; although, having been responsible for the Federal principle upon which that Court was launched administratively in the first instance, I naturally take the deepest interest in seeing that those principles are preserved. My chief reply to the indictment of the Prime Minister is that at Ballarat I dealt with two subjects, on both of which I had previously indicated my sentiments in brief, but very emphatically - and not in brief, having regard to the length of our interviews - and more than once to the right honorable gentleman himself. When, therefore, I went to my constituents, it was to say aloud what I had been saying to him in private, because it appeared that a certain responsibility rested upon myself and others in this regard. We had to make it quite plain by public announcement what our course must inevitably be, providing a sudden dissolution took place. The Prime Minister was very frequent in his appeals to my four colleagues and my sentiments for them. I had to remember that my four colleagues after all do not include the head of the Government, and those who know the right honorable gentleman and his reputation for astuteness and strategical ability, and who realize the powers which a Prime Minister has even bv contrast with the whole of his colleagues, will feel that in the matter of a dissolution, the choice rests far more with him than with all the rest of his Government. There may arise, even in the first days of a session, in any circumstances, contingencies in which, if he pleases to take advantage of them to make it appear, if it were not really so - though it might not really be so - that the House was no longer respondent to the Government lead he can cut short its existence. We had, therefore, to face the possibility of a sudden dissolution - a dissolution without warning, a dissolution arising out of some contretemps in this House of a more or less unexpected character, after which we would be required to face the country, with our party divided in this House, and uncertain, without it, as to the course to be pursued and the questions to be submitted to the electors. On reflection, it appears to me, therefore, that in speaking as I did, and with the frankness which I certainly employed, I did no more than discharge an obligation which I owed to mv constituents first, and to those of the same opinion throughout the Commonwealth in the second place. It would have been too late for me, on such an event having happened, to have turned to them in the haste and turmoil of an election on some new issue, brought about perhaps at twenty-four hours’ notice, and said’ to Ministers, “ Now this dissolution has occurred, it is perfectly certain that, owing to the appointment of the Tariff Commission, the electors will expect from candidates a clear statement as to their intentions in regard to its recommendations.” It would have been too late for me to have said to Ministers, “ You ought to nave realized that we were earnestly and sincerely anxious to maintain the fiscal peace which we promised to our constituents; that we desired to see the question when it was again submitted to you, buttressed by the facts elucidated’ and classified by the Tariff Commission; the particular industries needing protecting singled out, their circumstances detailed, and the competition to which they were exposed, and its nature, plainly stated, so that with the whole of the facts before us - let us hope irrefutable facts, incontestable facts, proved before the Tariff Commission - the country could be invited to express, through the constituencies, a definite opinion on the proposals which would be brought forward by the whole or by a part of that body.” It would have been too late for me, I say, and for most of us, to have endeavoured in the circumstances of a sudden dissolution, to reach the people throughout this vast Commonwealth, and to have assured them that we had not been blind to the trust reposed in us, and to the responsibilities which rested upon our shoulders. Yet Ministers complain because I give them in public the warning I had given them in private, because it was due to the public too. At Ballarat I said no word which had a personal bearing. The one question on which’ I might have come into direct conflict with the Government, that of the High Court, not only was passed’ over, though on my notes, in consequence of my continual interruption and my physical weakness, but when I gave it to the press next morning, it was only a matter of three or four lines, to safeguard myself ; on my notes I had proposed to deal with it at considerably greater length than that. I commented upon the silence of the Prime Minister in regard to the clauses which he proposes to substitute for the two sections - and the only two, so far as I know - in the legislation of the Barton Government, that he has indicated his intention to challenge. Beyond these instances, and my regret at Sir George Turner’s retirement, I do not at the moment recollect anything approaching a personal reference in that address. Practically the whole of it was taken up by a statement of the anti-socialistic position, then of the socialistic position, a criticism of both! positions from my own stand-point, showing their unsatisfactoriness, and then, so far as time permitted, a statement of my own views as to what are termed the proposals of State Socialism. In these matters I tried to be, and think I was, as frank with my constituents last week, as I have been on previous occasions when visiting them. The right honorable gentleman has quoted from criticisms which I offered. Of course, if he chose to do so, it was perfectly within his brief. I make no complaint of it. I have neither unsaid anything which I then said, by way of criticism, nor altered the motives which led me to make those criticisms. I have made them in this House before and since. My opinions on that matter are not secret. They ought not to be, and they are not, and those whom I have criticised have responded to those criticisms in private, with more or less agreement or disagreement, but always with a recognition that what I did say was said in the open, that I had not made any concealment about it. Neither in regard to them nor any party in the House, did I endeavour to give by subterranean means what I thought, and still think, ought to be a challenge in the open. Passing by that speech as perhaps having no further relevance to this House, if it had not been made the subject of a most extraordinary Ministerial volteface, I have to ask myself what I am to learn of my duties as a frank and loyal supporter of this Government from the treatment I have received in consequence of my daring to go to my constituents to discuss public questions of the day in a perfectly frank and. personally friendly way. I ask whether, when I took” part in any arrangement, written or verbal, considering either its spirit or its letter, I had parted with the right of free speech either in this House or out of it? If I had a direct challenge to give to the Government, I should have been justified in giving it.
– We are not holding the honorable and learned gentleman to any agreement.
– No ; the right honorable gentleman is not ; but he is accusing me of not having kept faith with an agreement. If I had gone to Ballarat without notice to the Government, and had challenged them there directly for their action or inaction, I should have been open to the reproach which I think would rest upon any member of this House, who, without warning or notification to another member, makes a prolonged and bitter personal attack upon him. I think that if I were to say that the Prime Minister had made upon me to-night an uncalled-for, prolonged, and bitter attack, without notice, I should not be saying more than what is actually the effect and substance of the remarks which the right honorable gentleman has made. But I make no complaint, because he chooses to challenge me in an indefensible manner which has invited and compelled me to deal with a variety of personal questions which I should rather have left untouched. I make no complaint at all. I think that he might well have refrained from complaint as to a speech which, right from its first word to the last, contained no personal reflection on himself or any of his colleagues, and only safeguarded myself in the one matter of the High Court. As a matter of fact, I had proposed to speak of certain of the Ministers, and in terms of commendation ; but it occurred to me that an implied reflection might be assumed on any Minister omitted, especially if those whom I singled out for approbation happened to belong to the side of the Cabinet which is closer to myself. It might have led to misapprehension. At all events, it would be departing from the important idea of Cabinet solidarity. I, therefore, struck out of my notes all personal references to Ministers. What did I put before the country ? I put no proposal of my own in substitution for any proposal of the Government. I put no case which depended upon my own powers of argument from my own principles. What I did put were the indisputable facts of the situation - the Prime Minister’s continuous references to a dissolution, the closeness of the numbers in this House, the probability that a dissolution might occur, the one question proposed to be submitted by the Prime Minister to the country at any dissolution, the defects of the question as proposed by him, the omission by him to notice the other question which must arise either before or after the Tariff Commission reports, and the importance of that question to the country, and particularly to those with whom I am associated. The fact is that if every member of this and the other Chamber pledged himself not to mention the fiscal question on the platform in the event of an early dissolution, it would not avail in the face of the equally indisputable fact that every candidate would be challenged in every constituency, and upon every platform, as to what course he would take when the Tariff Commission made its recommendations.
– That had nothing to do with this session.
– That is exactly what I said. I pointed out that the probabilities were that that question would not arise this session. I delivered a speech, which dealt with no problem that could give rise to any contest in this session, except that of the High Court.
– And yet every person but the honorable and learned member took the speech the other way.
– I am tempted to say that I do not wonder at some people misunderstanding anything. Though that ia not more than a poor answer, it is as good as the argument which has just been addressed to me. If any impartial man takes my speech and reads it, he will form his own opinion independently of the reports in the newspapers and what he is told to think about it ; and I undertake that such a man will find the speech absolutely void of offence either by way of epithet or insinuation - that he will find it a plain, straightforward argument from what seemed to me to be the facts, and the irresistible conclusion from those facts,
– Why reflect on the newspaper reports?
– If the honorable member is not able to discount and allow for newspaper reports according to the policy of the newspapers, I venture to say that he takes a very elementary view of his duty as a reader. At the close of the speech, what did I proceed to consider as important matters on which I ought to address my constituents? The Iron Bounty Bill and preferential trade,, the order in which they ought to be considered in this House, and what I hoped from them. This showed that in my mind the business of the session would proceed, and ought to proceed - it showed the part” I hoped to take, a motion I hoped to move, and my anticipation that the Bill named would give the results for which we hoped.
– That was part of the arrangement made between ourselves a day or two before the honorable and learned member spoke.
– Exactly; and the right honorable gentleman was good enough to say to me that whatever order I proposed for those measures, he would be perfectly willing to adopt.
– Hear, hear.
– I ask what is the meaning of the Government’s action and attitude in regard to a speech which supposes in every line of it that this House is to meet in the ordinary way and its business to go on - that certain measures are to be launched in which we are particularly interested, and which we shall endeavour to press through - that I was explaining to my constituents, in all good faith, the situation, and looking forward to placing one Bill, and a resolution, on the statute-book.
– Does the honorable and learned member think that his offer of assistance to either party, if it will adopt protection, is consistent with that view ?
– I think so.
– I thought it was an open intimation that the honorable member was on a different line altogether.
– I pointed to the inevitable dissolution six or nine months hence - it may be longer, I do not know - and then alluded, though not in the spirit of the right honorable gentleman, to the only two organizations in the field, neither of which is a fiscal organization. If I had been alluding to the free-trade leagues - and the Prime Minister went perilously near to confessing that his New South Wales leagues are freetrade leagues-
– That is not true.
– Order ! I must ask the honorable member for New England to withdraw that remark.
– I withdraw the remark that the statement is not true, and will say that it is not correct.
– My statement was that the Prime Minister went perilously near making that statement, and he did. I do not say that the Prime Minister made that statement, nor that it is true, but I say that in the course of his argument he went perilously near to making the statement ; and every one knows that I am not overstating the fact.
– I asked the protectionist manufacturers, over and over again, to come in, but they would not join us.
– Order ! I am bound to point out that the honorable and learned member for Ballarat listened to the Prime Minister with, I think, only one interruption, and I must ask the Prime Minister not to interrupt.
– I make that reference in passing, and my point is simply that the New South Wales leagues were formed, as the Prime Minister says, in order to bring free-traders and protectionists on the same platform with reference to a programme to be formulated in the future. That is perfectly true, and it is also true, as I learn from the Prime Minister, that the protectionists have declined to join.
– The protectionist manufacturers refused.
– I shall speak of those leagues, if the Prime Minister so desires, as bodies of no definite fiscal faith, and say that what would have been, on the Prime Minister’s own argument, a reflection upon, or, if he likes the word, an insult, to a free-trade league, if it were asked to accept protection in some measure, is not an insult to a league which has no fiscal opinions - there is no insult when I am arguing that it will be requisite for such leagues to have fiscal opinions one way or the other, and when I naturally wish those opinions to be of my own colour. Just in the same way with the Labour Party. It is no insult to a party which contains both free-traders and protectionists to say that if they hope for support, they must put protection in their programme. That is no insult to the Labour Party, which includes members of both fiscal faiths. I was quite fair to both parties - the only recognised bodies in the field to whom I alluded - when I pointed out that as protectionists we had to look to the forthcoming election - that there was a question which must be put, which we could not prevent being put, and which ought to be put, namely, the question of the fiscal policy of the country. We cannot prevent that. The Tariff Commission has been appointed - the deed done cannot be undone, and the consequences cannot be destroyed. It is perfectly impossible to’ hold an election and ignore the existence of the Tariff Commission and its intention to report - that is a statement of fact, and is not one whit more hostile to the Government than it is to the Opposition - it is hostile to no one. It is a deduction from the plain facts of the situation, and those who challenge me will require to challenge the facts and the inferences from the facts - it is not a question of personal opinion.
– It is not consistent with the idea of fiscal peace.
– That is conditional on the raising of the fiscal question, which must take place by 1906, if not earlier.
– This is June, 1905.
– Exactly. But we have to remember in June, 1905, that by May, 1906, at all events, or as much earlier as the Prime Minister and his colleagues may think fit - or as I pointed out, as soon as the Tariff Commission’s report compels them, should the report come before that date - neither the Prime Minister nor his colleagues, nor any member can prevent the fiscal question arising. It is a question which will have to be dealt with, and that is all I have said. But, inasmuch as under the union a definite date is fixed, and a Tariff
Commission has been appointed, we should be making ourselves politically deaf, dumb, and blind if we pretended to ignore what is about to happen, and what may happen at any time. The Prime Minister to-night frequently, and with warmth, repudiated the idea that the Government should have resigned before meeting the House. That is the first suggestion I have heard of such an idea from any quarter. Why should the Government have resigned before meeting the House?
– The leader of the Opposition said that the Government ought to have done so.
– I said that the Government ought’ to have resigned as an alternative to the presentation of such an address from the Governor-General.
– If that remark was in reply to an argument, I have nothing to say about it. I did not hear the argument, and therefore did not see the force of the reply. Honorable members are aware, as, of course, a few of the public are, of the difficulties incidental to the carrying on of the Government in this House when the numbers are evenly divided as at present.
– The present Government are a little more sensitive than the honorable and learned member was on other occasions with a narrow majority.
– Necessarily, and the Government also realize the difficul lies which must arise amongst their supporters without reference to numbers. Tie Government takes its own course. It has to decide questions day by day, and shape its policy as it proceeds. The Government takes the consequences of its actions, and cannot keep in touch with every individual member of its following. But the Government cannot deny followers the right of free criticism ; or, if the Government does it seals its own death warrant. Under present circumstances, I should have thought that the Government would have recognised, as the Prime Minister appears to consider I should have recognised - and, as in my opinion, I did amply recognise - the difficulties of his position. I should, at the same time, have expected some recognition, at all events, of the difficulties of our position. After all the Prime Minister is head of the Government, and the bulk of his followers differ from us on the fiscal question. We sit here keeping, in power a Government of which he is the head, always subject to the alarm and apprehensions of those who are of the same opinion as ourselves, and especially the apprehensions of those in the right honorable gentleman’s own State, who have had a long experience of his tactical ability. Those persons are to be forgiven if they are nervously anxious as to whether the Prime Minister’s four colleagues who share our views are, added together, able to effectively protect the principles which we uphold.
– My statement at Geelong was, I think, fair and generous, namely, that I had given up the fiscal question for the rest of my political life.
– It was, undoubtedly, and I do not deny it for a moment. If the Prime Minister, without departing from his fiscal faith, had stated that he proposed to deal with the questions submitted from the Tariff Commission, as far as possible on business lines, and not to promote the intrusion of the fiscal issue unless absolutely forced on him-
– Hear, hear. No sensible man would do anything else. What nonsense. Why should I, as Prime Minister of a coalition Government, raise the fiscal issue ?
– It is not the first time that T have pressed on the Prime Minister that identical view in those identical words, but I do not remember to have read or to have heard from him any assurance as definite as that which he has this moment given.
– I have said it over and over again.
– It is my misfortune that I have not been able to gather that meaning from the right honorable” gentleman’s remarks.
– I have said that there are a number of anomalies in the Tariff which ought to be removed.
– Their removal could not raise the fiscal issue. I was not dealing with mere anomalies, but with matters which could be approached from the business point of view, and might be dealt with in justice to Australian industries, apart from the fiscal issue. The honorable member for Parramatta, who is apparently surprised at the line of argument I am following, is one of those who in his speeches in New South Wales seemed to have some conception of the difficulties with which we were faced. I remember one, if not more, of his speeches, in which he pointed out to audiences in the State from which he comes that the strain which was being imposed upon us was exceptional, and such as they could not appreciate. He admitted that there would be a good deal of difficulty in getting supporters of the old Barton Government and members of the party to which the honorable member belonged to act together, when so many of their efforts had been directed against each other’s fiscal policy.
– I said on the floor of the House that there would be difficulties.
– And the honorable member told audiences in New South Wales that they were not to expect too much from us, but were to realize the anxieties of our position.
– I was always against the appointment of the Tariff Commission, while the honorable and learned member was for it.
– We regarded the appointment of the Tariff Commission as desirable ; but its appointment rested with the Government, who considered the question before we were called in.
– That it would be appointed was a secret of the most open character for months before the Commission was appointed.
– An honorable member who took office under the Prime Minister expressed the individual opinion, before the Government was formed, that the Commission should be appointed; but I had no knowledge, until the journey to Ballarat, that he had imbued the rest of. the Cabinet with that view.
– The Prime Minister said at first that he would not appoint the Commission.
– It. is one of the most sensible Commissions that has been appointed since the Federal Parliament was inaugurated.
– We are faced in this House with an extraordinary situation. I think that my Ballarat speech needs neither interpretation nor explanation. I have shown what it was, and the Prime Minister by interjection asks “ If it was that, why did the newspapers take such different views of it?” That I am not prepared to answer. The writers in the newspapers were entitled to express their views about my speech, but those views were formed with some haste, although Sunday intervened between the making of the speech and its publication in the press. The newspaper writers had to express the impression which the speech made on them at the moment, but that impression depended very largely on their views of the situation before they read my utterance. They are entitled to their opinions, but were Ministers called upon to adopt them, or any of them?
– The opinions we have expressed are our own opinions. We drew for ourselves, from the honorable andlearned member’s speech, the interpretation which we have adopted - every one of the eight Ministers. . .
– I shall listen with interest to hear my re-statement of the. points of that speech challenged, as in any respect hostile to the Government, as dictated . or affected by personal animus, or as showing anything except an expectation that in this sessionParliament would proceed with its ordinary work, subject to the possibility of the dissolution which has been so frequently alluded to. I took the liberty to point out, not what should be, but what must be, thequestion submitted to the people in the event of that dissolution, and I shall wait to learn why my speech was beyond the comprehension of. any member of the House, how it exhibits any desire to pick ‘a quarrel with the Government, or in what respect it makes any departure in politics, warranting the Government in deviating in the slightest from their appointed course. To my mind, it does exactly the opposite. I can discover no such warrant. The Government seems to me to have been seized with some mysterious epidemic of alarm, and to have committed suicide before inquiring into the circumstances which they allege in extenuation. I do not challenge their course; all Governments choose for themselves.
– Was I to go cap in hand to the honorable and learned member, to ask him what he meant?
– The right honorable gentleman should have read the speech, and, having read it, he could not, so far as I can understand, draw any other conclusion than that it was a frank statement of views which he knew me to hold, and which I was making for the public benefit; as I had previously stated them to him for his benefit.
– The Age does not interpret the speech in that way.
– The Age said that it was a notice to quit.
– Even a notice to quit may be for six or twelve months, ‘or for any other period. . ‘
– We do not wish to live under a six month’s notice.
– The Prime Minister has admitted that he has been living under notice all the time, because he has stated that the arrangement in regard to the fiscal position is only temporary, and that sooner or later the fiscal issue must arise again. ‘
– Not at all.
– He has himself signed a notice to quit, to take effect in May, 1906, or earlier. I made no proposal inconsistent with its taking place in May, 1906, or later, though we had to prepare for it being then or earlier. Ministers appear to have taken this course without warrant, and they invite the House to follow their example. Is the House justified in accepting their invitation? Should we pass a vote of want of confidence in our capacity to discharge the work which three Governments have planned and commenced, but which none has been able to execute ? I think not. I think that we are not justified in passing such a vote upon ourselves until it is absolutely certain that no Government can be formed with the support of a sufficient majority to undertake the work requiring to be done. Whether this Government shall, or shall not, do that work rests with them; whether any other Government shall do it, does not rest with us ; that decision will come from elsewhere. But before that decision is obtained, we must accept the responsibility of declaring ourselves incapable of further useful work, or state our clear and emphatic opinion to the contrary. I hope that we shall express the latter opinion.
Honorable Members. - Hear, hear.
– A life-saving apparatus.
– And a business-saving apparatus, too. I hope that we shall save some, if not all of those measures about which the right honorable member was so deeply anxious not so long ago, and that were then the be-all and end-all of his parliamentary existence.
– The Standing Orders, for instance.
– Now the friendship is coming out.
– We were to live to do that work, to justify and honour ourselves, and serve the country by doing it. That work being so valuable, as most of us admit why are we not allowed to proceed with it? Why did not the Prime Minister, if he thought it necessary to ascertain his position, challenge the House to say on the Address-in-Reply whether it disagreed with his practical programme, and put on those who opposed him the burden of proving that he cannot carry on. I do not think there is a man sitting behind him who would have opposed him. When the correspondence relating to the expenses of the High Court is laid on the table, there may or maynot be matter for argument or difference of opinion, but until the Government had done something, or displayed something already done. I do not think that any one would have challenged their position. The leader of the Opposition has told us that he did not propose to challenge the Government.
– I said as much at Newtown several months ago.
– He was only waiting.
– The right honorable member has waited before now. The Opposition are always waiting.
– The Government has had a fair field and a good deal of favour. They had an opportunity to go on with legislation, and if no report had come in from the Tariff Commission-
– No report has yet come in.
– No; and if no accident had happened, there is no reason why the Government should not have led us through a productive and useful session. They have chosen to do otherwise - of course, in the exercise of their undoubted prerogative, but, in my opinion, with bad judgment, and without warrant or excuse. Under these circumstances they force us - I speak for myself and for those who with me discussed this matter at some length yesterday - totake action. I doubt if there was a. more surprised member in the other Chamber when the Governor-General’s speech was read yesterday than I was on discovering the course which the Government intended to take.
– We were all surprised.
– I heard that there was to be a surprise, but no hint of its nature had reached me.
– It is a Ministerial strike !
– Why not refer it to arbitration ?
– The duty rests with us of expressing our opinion, whether that opinion has weight or not. Those of us who think that the House is still capable of useful work,! such as was outlined by the Prime Minister, and as he has recommended so lately to the country, are bound to express our opinion, whatever the result may be. He compels us to make our choice here and now. If we face our electors in the course of the next few months, we shall do so under the conditions which I forecast at Ballarat, and I am glad that I had physical strength sufficient to keep my engagement there, and to make my statement when I did. I made it” with no such prospect as this in my mind, nor did I anticipate, when I saw the strong views that the newspapers had taken in regard to it, that those views would be shared by members within the walls of this Chamber. I thought that the views expressed in the newspapers were the result of looking at .the question through party-coloured glasses.
– The honorable and learned member did not take the trouble ‘to communicate to me the misapprehension into which every one had fallen in regard to his attitude.
– Just as the Prime Minister did not come cap in hand to me to ask for an explanation, I did not go cap in hand to him to explain my speech. It was as competent for him, or for some one on his behalf, to ask me for an explanation as it was for me to volunteer an explanation which I could not believe to be necessary. I relied upon my words and actions in the House during the session to prove exactly what it meant, and was always intended to mean. The Prime Minister’s silence misled me. I assumed that if he read the speech, and formed his own opinion, he discarded the newspaper view, and was therefore in no need of an explanation from me. I am free to admit that if, before I made that speech at Ballarat, I had foreseen the sensation that it would create, I should have given the Prime Minister an intimation beforehand. But having no such expectation in my mind, not seeing that there was an1 urgency for further statement on my part, and not being able even now to see why any such statement of facts should have had such an effect, I did not then, and do not now, feel that there was such a necessity. But. sir, I propose to test the opinion of this House-
– This is the postscript to the epistle !
– By moving-
That the following words be added to the Address-in-Reply: - “But are of opinion that practical measures should be proceeded with.”
– Here is the dagger ; he had it in his pocket all the time.
– Sir, there certainly are many strange things which happen in political life; but I should never have dreamed that it would fall to my lot to attempt a reply to a speech by my old leader. And I should not have tried to do so to-night in my present state of health were it not that my name has been dragged into this debate, and that certain statements have been made by two honorable members.
– I did not drag it in.
– My right honorable leader in his speech referred to my joining this Government, and gave the impression that I had been dragged, or forced into the Ministry by the action of the honorable and learned member for Ballarat. In that, he used too strong language. But there is no question of this - that I should never have been a member of this Government had it not been for my honorable and learned friend, the member for Ballarat. My honorable and learned friend knows well that in State politics, when I was asked to take the leadership, I begged of him to take it, but he would not. I took it, and he loyally supported me for over five years.
– Now he has sold the right honorable gentleman.
– No, I will not say that. My honorable and learned friend also knows that when Federation was brought about, I had no desire to join the Federal Parliament. He had very little desire to join it himself, either. But he took the view that as he and I had joined in advising the people of Victoria to give their assent to the bargain, we were bound to take a part in the early parliamentary work. Then, when the change of government took place, he knows well that I desired to be relieved from office; and he pressed me so strongly then, and put it that it would be such an advantage to the Commonwealth that I should remain, that I did remain with him. Afterwards, our Government went out. As honorable members . know, at that time I was not in a good state of health. For years past I had been in misery. I have sat in this Chamber conducting the affairs of the State of Victoria, when I hardly knew what I was doing. I broke down my health in trying to fight against the bad times - during a period when we were nearly on the rocks ; and mv desire has always been - though I have been charged with clinging to office - my desire has always been to retire from political life at the first possible opportunity. I have made no secret of that. Unfortunately, I have to do it now, because I cannot take that active part which, as a prominent man, I should take. Since I find that I cannot do what I ought to do, I feel that I am bound to make way for some one else who will be more competent than I can be. My honorable and learned friend, when the negotiations were opened with the Prime Minister, invited me to join him at the conference, I thought that he was going to have a conference with the present head of the Government alone; but he thought I might be of some assistance to him, and I went. At that time I let him know that I had no intention to take any part in any new Government that might be formed, and he also felt very strongly upon the same lines. After we had discussed the matter- as the matter has now been broached, I may refer to it, but I have never mentioned it before - we had conversations which the honorable and learned member cannot forget, in the course of which he urged strongly that I should join the new Government.
– He told me that he had had them, too.
– If my honorable and learned friend will carry his mind back, he cannot forget that on the last occasion, at the door of the house of the present Postmaster-General, where we were meeting, I told the Prime Minister that unless the honorable and learned member for Ballarat would join his Government I would not do so.
– Perfectly true.
– That if the honorable and learned member would not join, I thought it was far better for him, as I told him before, to take in a protectionist who would strengthen him in this House. On this occasion the honorable and learned member and I went back, and had a further conversation ; when the present Prime Minister took up the position : “ Is this treating me fairly or honestly - is it treating me honorably, for you two representative men to have had a conference with me, and then to say that you will not join with me?” The honorable and learned member for Ballarat pressed me so strongly, that although I had made up my mind that i would not join, I went the length of saying, “ I will reconsider it.”
– Hear, hear.
– Afterwards at the caucus-
– So that there were caucuses in the right honorable gentleman’s party ?
– Oh, yes ; we all have caucuses.
– The right honorable gentleman is giving away the show.
– Not at all !
– Apparently, the party opposite has not such a hold on its men as we have.
– No, that is just the difference ; we have not that hold upon our supporters which the honorable member’s party has. The honorable and learned member for Ballarat was the recognised leader of the Liberal-Protectionist Party) in Australia, and he took the view that he could not join the new Government. He gave no reason for not joining, except that he would not.
– We know now that he had something better in view.
– I have not a word to say against him. We have been friends too long for that, and shall be friends after to-night.
– It is suggested that he had ‘” something better “ on ; what was it that was better, seeing that he could have been Prime Minister?
– He had his own’ reasons’, and I believe them to have been good and honest reasons.
– Is the right honorable gentleman alluding to the time when the negotiations took place ? Because that’ was a long time before the formation of the present Government.
– My honorable and learnedfriend seems to know all about it. After that, I had my serious illness, when I lay between life and death for upwards of a week. When the trouble arose in the House with regard to the matter of going into Committee upon the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, so little did I know of what was going on that I told the honorable member who had been acting as secretary to the Opposition that he might pair me for the Government upon the main question. I did not know that it had been made a direct party question. I was here very little; I was not aware of what had happened, and I was, personally, perfectly satisfied–
– With the Watson Government !
– No, I was not, but I was perfectly satisfied that the test vote should have been taken in Committee. However, the party decided otherwise, and as a loyal follower I fell in with the party and asked to have my pair cancelled. With regard to whether I am satisfied with the Labour Party, I may say that, so far as I am concerned, I have not the slightest objection to the Labour Party having control of the government of this Commonwealth for a year or two, and I believe that that experience would tone down all these particular things which are complained about in them. I believe that when they found that they had to take the responsibility, there would not be that ground for fear that so many people anticipate. I have no quarrel with the Labour Party.
– The right honorable gentleman is no anti-Socialist.
– I am certainly not a Socialist, nor have I the fear that so many of my friends have on the subject. I have taken no part in the socialistic or anti-socialistic campaign up to the present time. When the right honorable gentleman at the head of the Government came to me after the vote adverse to the late Government Was carried^ and desired that I should join with him in a new Government, I said that I could not see my way to do so. But, on the other hand, he again pointed out how ‘ unfairly he Would be treated in the matter if .we refused to join him. He said that “he would be perfectly prepared to carry out the bargain which was made with regard to the equal re. presentation of parties in the Cabinet, but, nevertheless, I did not see my way to join, and I said that I would see my leader, the honorable and learned member for Ballarat. I did see mv leader, as naturally I should have done. Does any one suppose ‘that I, recognising the honorable and learned member as my leader, was going to do anything of this kind without his1 consent and approbation? Utterly impossible ! I would not give an answer to the Prime Minister until I had. consulted my leader and had put to him the position which had been put to me, with regard to unfair treatment in bringing the Prime Minister into a consultation, agreeing to terms, and then leaving him “ on his own “ - altogether “in the lurch.” I have begged and prayed the honorable and learned member, time after time, to take what I considered to be his proper position, and to work in the Government, but he absolutely declined, and urged :upon me that I ought to join, as it would give the Government a better position in the country, and as he thought that I could do good work. He said, “There can be only one objection; the only question is whether your health will allow you to join. If your health will allow you to do so, you will be doing the right thing in joining.” After that I did join, but I refused to take the position of second in command, because I felt that I should break down if I attempted to carry out the work attaching to that position. That is how I came to join this Government; and I say, unhesitatingly, that I only did so because it met with the approval and approbation of my leader, and on his repeated assurance that he thought that he could do more good supporting the Government than as a member of that Government, and that during the time for which we had entered into the bargain, he would give us loyal and hearty support, and I expected to receive from him that kind of support which I received when I was conducting the affairs of Victoria.
– Hear, hear.
– He stuck to you till you committed suicide.
– He has referred to a conversation which he had with me just before he went to Ballarat, and to which I should not have referred otherwise, because I considered that it was confidential. The impression left on my mind was that, in spite of all that we had seen in inspired paragraphs in the press., the Ballarat speech was going to be all right.
– Hear, hear.
– Undoubtedly that was the impression which was left on my mind at that time
– So it was all right.
– It may be that my brain is clouded, and that I misunderstand, or misinterpret what was said. All I know is that on the Sunday after the speech” was delivered, the newspapers telephoned and asked me to make comments on it. I said I certainly would do nothing of the kind. When I was rung up again, I said, “You can say that in my opinion, Mr. Deakin will carry out every portion of the arrangement he has made with Mr. Reid.” That was the state of my mind. On the Monday I glanced at the speech, I may say that I do not read the leading articles, but I caught the first line* of the first article, and I saw that we were to get notice to quit. My honorable friend seems to admit now that he might have considered us as quarterly tenants, and that our tenure of office might be for three, six, or nine months. In the train I glanced through the report. My honorable and learned friend always uses an avalanche of words, and it takes some little time to ascertain exactly what is his meaning. I looked through the report again when I got to the office, and also through the Governor-General’s speech relating to the business to be gone on with during the session.
– That was the other one, not the one we got?
– It was not the “ suicide bomb.” I went to the Cabinet meeting with a feeling of very great surprise, after having read the speech, and I i could not understand why the honorable and learned member had turned against us. From the style o£ the speech, and the manner in which he dealt with the matters, I honestly came to the conclusion that for some reason or other, he had thought fit to withdraw his allegiance, and I felt very sore that he had not intimated to me in some way that he intended to take up that position.
– If I had so regarded it, I would certainly have done so.
– At the very start of the speech. I found certain statements made -
Since returning from Western Australia, and giving my best thought to the circumstances of the time, it seemed wise to put myself in touch with those of our friends throughout . the Commonwealth who were of the same way of political thinking, and it has been due to that, and that alone, that my address has been postponed until to-night - not on any ground of tactics, because I think that, from a party point of view the sooner I could have addressed myself to this question the better, but because, as a matter of fact, it has only just been possible for me, having regard to the manner in which public men are scattered during the recess, to avail myself of the assistance of my friends in the various States.
I considered that I was one of his friends and I thought that under the circumstances I should have been one of his most trusted friends. I was close at hand, and I had not been consulted in any shape or form. I defy any impartial man to draw any other conclusion from the reading of his speech, than that the honorable and learned gentleman had been voluntarily putting himself in communication not alone with honorable members on this side of the House, but with my protectionist friends in the corner on the other side, and that they had been corresponding for some time with regard to the step he ought to take. The onlystep that could have been taken was one that would unite the Protectionist Party in this House. Reading that passage in the speech, and also his reference to the fact that the appointment of the Royal Commission made it absolutely necessary that the question of the Tariff should be taken up, I remembered that when I intimated that the Government were going to appoint the Royal Commission, I, in answer to an interjection, had said as plainly as words could, say that under no circumstances would I be a party to any dealing with the Tariff by this House until its members had been to the country and obtained” relief from the promises they had made. I knew my own case. I knew that for years I had held for the Protectionist Party, little as they thank me, a practically free-trade seat. I knew that if I had told the electors of Balaclava the last time I stood for election that I was going to rip up the whole Tariff the probabilities Were that there would have been opposition to me. We, as a Protectionist Party, did not go to the country on the question of re-opening the Tariff. We acted for good and sufficient reasons. We knew, or thought we knew, what we were doing, and I was astounded afterwards when I found members of that party coming forward and saying that we were going to re-open this quesiton. I knew the constituency I represented, and I felt that I would be false to the pledges I had made to the electors if I had attempted to deal with the Tariff issue until I had appealed to them, and got” a mandate as to the position I was to occupy. The honorable and learned member must have known that, so far as I was concerned, I was not going to take any step with regard to dealing with the Tariff. Surely he ought to have had sufficient confidence in me to feel that I would not !
– The right honorable gentleman told me so.
– After fifteen years of close political acquaintanceship surely the honorable and learned member ought to have known that I would not have allowed the Government to take that step !
– We argued that out in the right honorable gentleman’s room.
– My honorable and learned friend spoke about the astuteness of my right honorable leader, but he knows perfectly well that the bargain made was that the Tariff should not be re-opened for a certain time, even if an election were to take place in the meantime, unless it was a general election. I should not have allowed anything of that kind to be done, nor would any of my protectionist colleagues, even if the free-trade part of the Cabinet had tried to do it. which I do not think they would. We should not have allowed the Tariff to be reopened. From the reading of the Ballarat speech I could come to no other conclusion than that which I have mentioned. If this amendment brings success and leaves two or three of us sitting with the freetraders the fault will not be ours. I have no objection to see the Protectionist Party re-united. If that can be brought about, let it be done. I, with my protectionist colleagues, was induced to enter into this coalition for the purpose of carrying on non-contentious work, and the action which is now being taken in consequence of the speech of my honorable and learned friend at Ballarat places us in an absolutely false position. If any reuniting was to take place, surely we ought to have had an opportunity of saying to our colleagues : “ A change has taken place. The party has come together again. We think now that the time has come when you must allow us to leave.” But no, we three honest protectionists are to be left sitting amongst the free-traders.
– That is the price we pay for following our leader.
– Why did the honorable gentleman take him as his leader?
– I will take the honorable and learned member for Ballarat as my leader anywhere.
– I meant the Prime Minister.
– I did it because my then leader and I thought that we were doing the best thing in the interests of the Protectionist Party, and I think so still, and I know pretty well what I. am saying. However, what position are we in now? My honorable and learned friend says that we should not have misread his speech. After the Prime Minister had been speaking for some time, he interjected that he never had any such intention, and my honorable leader immediately accepted his statement, as any man would do. One would have thought that, so far as the honorable and learned member was concerned, that would have ended all the trouble.
– After the way I had been addressed ?
– The honorable and learned member had the amendment in his pocket when he came into the room.
– Am I to understand from this honorable gentleman, whom I have always respected and looked up to, that, merely because he was attacked by the Prime Minister, under a misapprehension of the meaning of ‘ a speech, and which he admitted as soon as the interjection was made, he has moved this amendment?
– No ; my honorable friend must have had the amendment ready.
– My right honorable friend asks me to accept a mere phrase at the end of a column of abuse.
– Then my honorable and learned friend is placing himself in this position in the eyes of Australia that, because he was attacked by the Prime Minister, he has moved this amendment. I do not believe it.
– I did not say so. I said I would not accept a mere sentence of withdrawal after a column of abuse.
– My honorable and learned friend must be in one of two positions. When he came here to-day he must have intended to move the amendment, or he made up his mind to move it while the Prime Minister was speaking.
– Yesterday afternoon we decided to move it.
– That was before the column of abuse was uttered !
– You brought it on your- selves.
– What would my honorable friends on the other side have said to us if, believing, as we did, that this breach had taken place, we had remained on these benches? If my honorable and learned friend had brought forward the same amendment, should we not have been attacked right and left for sticking to the Treasury bench for the sake of our pay? We met with open minds to discuss the matter, and not one of us could construe the speech, except as announcing the breakaway of the honorable and learned member from those of his friends whom he had placed in office.
– Why did not the Government wait until thev were attacked?
– I shall deal with that point presently. On the Monday, whilst I was walking from Swanstonstreet to my office - a distance of about 150 yards - I was stopped by five or six gentlemen, each of whom asked me, “ Why has Deakin broken away from you?” I said, “I do not think Deakin has broken away.”
– That impression was due to the scare headings in the newspapers.
– These were level-headed business men, and I venture to say that nine out of every ten of those who read the speech delivered by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat took exactly the same view that I and my colleagues did.
– The honorable member for Hume and the honorable and learned member forIndi took the same view.
– Why should we have taken that view unless we had honestly believed in it ?
– All the members of the Opposition took that view.
– No, they did not.
– I would ask honorable members to pay regard to the fact that the Treasurer is evidently speaking with some difficulty, and to avoid interrupting him..
– I do not object to the interjections, because this will probably be my last dying speech and confession. I ask why we, as men holding responsible positions, should misread the speech of the honorable and learned member for Ballarat? There was no reason whatever why we should deliberately misinterpret it. I quite admit that my honorable and learned friend’s explanation has taken away the difficulty. If we had hadthat explanationalongwiththe speech, we should have known exactly where we stood.
– Why did not the right honorable gentleman ask for an explanation?
– Does the honorable and learned member really suggest that Ministers should, after an honorable member has delivered a speech, go to him and ask him, “ What do you mean?” Surely, when the honorable and learned member for Ballarat found that the press were taking a certain view of his speech, he could have written three or four lines to the Prime
Minister, or to one of his old comrades, and have told him that the press were wrong, and that he had no intention of breaking away from us.
– Did he not say that he intended to sit behind the Government?
– He did make some such statement to a press representative. I have not the slightest objection to the action taken by my honorable and learned friend. Indeed, I am glad that certain results have been brought about. We apparently made a mistake, and I quite accept my honorable and learned friend’s statement that everything he did was honest and above-board. Unfortunately, however, he expressed himself in such language that the vast majority of the public could form no other conclusion than that at which my colleagues and I arrived. We met for the purpose of completing the work of framing the Governor-General’s speech and bringing before Parliament a number of noncontentious proposals. I was in this position : I had sat as a member of the Barton Government, and had swallowed more dirt than had ever before been thrown at a Government. I submitted to that only in order to assist in passing the Tariff, and I was determined that I would not again sit here and occupy a similarly humiliating position.
– Who threw the dirt? Some of your present colleagues.
– I do not care who threw it. We had to put up with it, in order to do what we thought was good work. Now, in this case, what were we to do? We could not resign. We certainly had to bring the matter before the House in some way. If we had been right in the construction we had placed1 upon the speech of the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, and had dared to come down to this House with a programme of work, and the honorable and learned member had taken up the position we judged from his speech he intended to take, we should have been howled at. It would have been said that if we had a spark of spirit or courage in us we would not consent to remain on the Treasury bench after the gentleman who had practically placed us there had withdrawn his allegiance.
– We should have said nothing of the kind.
– That would have been said both inside the House and out of it, and I say unhesitatingly that no men worthy to occupy positions upon the
Treasury bench could for a moment attempt to remain there under such circumstances. Therefore, we .had no course open other than that adopted by us. There was no desire on our part to insult Parliament or any one. We had carefully thought out a speech, but had to set it aside, because we considered that the draft ultimately adopted, relating to the sole business which we thought we could ask Parliament to transact, was the only one we could present. The good old friend who placed us in our present position, and” who was to have given us his loyal support right through, after having heard that there was a misunderstanding, and that we had misconstrued his intentions - if we’ had. construed them rightly he would have been the first to admit that we could have done nothing but what we have done - still persists with an amendment which is intended to eject us from office.
– Is the House to Be dissolved because Ministers have made a mistake?
– That is a matter that my honorable and learned friend might very well have placed before the House. No man is better capable of persuading any one to do anything. Many a time he has sat in the Ministerial corner, and has by means of one ‘ magnetic look persuaded me to give way. I venture to say that the public will come to the conclusion that if he had desired to deal magnanimously with the Government which he had placed upon the Treasury bench - a Government which he now says has misread his speech - he would never have moved his amendment. He would have said at once, “ I see now that you were stupid. You made a mistake. I am perfectly satisfied that if you had understood my speech, you would not have acted as you have, and I am not going to help your political foes to put you out of office.” He does not, however, say that, but he still persists in his amendment. Can he suppose for a moment that with a threat of that kind hanging over us, we can do anything? Would he do so? No; he would say, “ Deal with that amendment, and when you have done so, we shall know the explanation of it, and shall be prepared to do what is right.” If he were still friendly, he would have no right to move the amendment; but he has done so, and we are perfectly prepared to take the consequences. If he is to be the head of a new Government, I shall wish’ him every success. I trust that he will have a united party behind him. I hope that ha will not form a coalition - I do not believe in coalitions. A coalition is justifiable only when the circumstances are such that the public business cannot be carried on without it. That was the reason why the present coalition’ was formed. It was thought - my honorable and learned friend was the first to express that view - that with the three parties in the House, no work could be done. We were attending here month after month and drawing our salaries, but doing no work for the country. There was an immense amount of good and useful legislation that could have been dealt with before we should, in the ordinary course, have gone to the country, and it was suggested that we should combine to do that work, which would be of immense advantage to the com.mercial community throughout the Commonwealth. The work was of a non-party character, and would be attended with great public advantage, and we all agreed to adopt that course. Now, the hand that made us is the hand to break us. I am not going to quarrel with my honorable and learned friend.
– What has the coalition done?
– It gave honorable members a very good recess, with which they were satisfied.
– That is all the Government have done.
– The Government have prepared a large number of useful measures of which their successors will derive the benefit. Under ordinary circumstances - if the slight misunderstanding that has been made so much of, and that appears to be considered sufficient to justify the ejection of the Government from office, had not arisen - the Government would have put forward in the GovernorGeneral’s speech, fifteen or twenty useful measures which would have been strongly supported by honorable members opposite, and would have been for the benefit of the country. Whatever Government may come into power will bring forward these measures. I do not believe that this Parliament will discuss the Tariff question. There are very few industries of any magnitude that can be dealt with separately. The moment you attempt to touch one industry you will find that others will be affected. We know that every protectionist wants the highest possible duty imposed upon the goods he manufactures; but that when . any one else is producing the goods he requires, he desires them to be admitted free. We know that woollen goods could not be dealt with unless consideration was at the same time paid to the made-up articles of which they constitute the raw material. In my view, there is only one item with which this Parliament could deal. We are told that we shall’ have an opportunity of revising the spirit duties, but, judging from my experience, I do not think that when they come before the- House they will receive very much consideration. I feel very sore with regard to this particular question. I felt very sore indeed, when I thought that my honorable and learned friend had broken away from us, and that whilst we, backed up by a majority of the party, were honestly doing what we considered was in the best interest of the protectionist cause, our recognised leader without giving us any notice, was in consultation with those who had severed themselves from us with a view to uniting the party. That was how I read the speech delivered by the honorable and learned member. I had no desire to construe it adversely to Him. Judging from the cheers with which the amendment has been greeted, there is no doubt that it will be carried. Some of my honorable friends opposite will be glad to support it. Let me hope that the day will not come when some of them will be sorry that it was ever proposed.
– Accept the situation with Christian resignation.
– I am doing so. I am perfectly satisfied that my honorable and learned f riend shall assist to put members of the Opposition in power. He cannot carry on with the aid of the Protectionist Party] alone, unless he is prepared to do what the Barton Government was forced to do-
– We treated the Barton Government pretty well.
– My honorable friend did so, but he must remember that he was a Government supporter. Leaving aside all questions of party tactics and fighting, I should like to know whether Australia will derive benefit from the promised change of Government. If the majority of honorable members have come to the conclusion that Australia is likely to benefit from a change of Ministry, they will be perfectly justified in bringing about such a result. If there is to be a mere reshuffling of the cards. I think that the people whom we represent will form their own opinions with regard to the matter, and perhaps they will be very strong opinions. As far as I can see, what my honorable friend aimed at in January of last year, when he spoke so clearly at the gathering of the Australian Natives’ Association, pointing out all the troubles and difficulties which existed owing to the presence of three parties in the House, will not be achieved by his action on the present occasion. I admit that he has done everything possible to put an end to the threeparty system of government, but now, because of a little misunderstanding, he is about to break up the agreement which was arrived at, and to restore that objectionable system of government.
– Upon the basis of a blank’ cheque.
– The Protectionist Party can combine, and may good luck attend them when they do so; but I doubt very much whether there will be any combination between that party and the members whom we have always styled the Labour Party in this House. That is the only combination which can possibly carry on the public business of the Commonwealth. I do not say that it is a combination which, under ordinary circumstances, could not be brought about, or that the views of the parties mentioned do not seem to be more compatible with each other than do the opinions of the Free-trade and Labour Parties. But, in view of the declaration made by my honorable friend - not against the Labour Party, but against the methods and mode by which they carry on their business - I say to him- and I hope he will accept it as coming from me in all earnestness and sincerity - that he is not justified in banding himself with that party for the purpose of turning out the Government which he assisted to put in office.
– By way of personal explanation, I desire to say that the statement made by my right honorable friend, concerning the negotiations which took place with the Prime Minister and the PostmasterGeneral in April and May of last year, when I declined to take any. part in the formation of a Government, is substantially true. When I spoke. I did not allude to that period at all. When I referred to his joining .the Ministry, I was talking of a period three months later. In reference to that, there is a distinct, though narrow, difference between our recollections. My right honorable friend admits that, and therefore I am satisfied.
– I should also like to make a personal explanation, and will be equally brief. It has reference to the denial by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat of the statement which I made concerning the influence which he used to induce my right honorable colleague, the Treasurer, to join the coalition Government. I wish to say that I represented to the honorable and learned member for Ballarat the absolute necessity of either himself or the right honorable member for Balaclava joining the Government, that he assured me that he had had several interviews with the Treasurer and had endeavoured to induce him to join the Government, and that he intended to have a further interview with him in the hope that he would be successful in so doing. That success was brought about as the whole of the members of this Parliament are aware.
Mr. SPEAKER having put the question,
Mr. REID (East Sydney - Minister of External Affairs). - Speaking to the amendment,I wish to ask the House not to enter on a prolonged debate of this question. I perfectly perceive, from the amendment which the honorable and learned member for Ballarat has submitted, and which was prepared yesterday, in consultation with my former friends and allies, what the result is likely to be; and I wish to say that it is the great desire of the Government that this discussion should be terminated as speedily as possible. I do not wish, in the slightest degree, to raise any personal or angry feelings - all that we desire is that our position should be made clear and ‘definite. It is perfectly plain that the action of the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, which he admits is quite premeditated, renders it necessary that certain events of some character or another should happen - events of which we are at present quite in the dark. I merely wish to say that the desire of the Government - unless some honorable member wishes to speak before the debate closes - is that this matter should be settled at once, because we quite recognise the painful suspense which honorable members must experience upon a question affecting their political life or death.
– Why should not the usual course be followed?
– My right honorable friend the Treasurer has’ said everything that I wished to say in reference to the amendment which has been submitted. Unless my honorable colleague, the Minister of Trade and Customs, desires to say a word or two, the Government are very anxious that the present position of uncertainty should be terminated as soon as possible.
– I did not intend to speak at all, but in view of the speeches which have been delivered this evening, I should like to make a few remarks by way of explaining my own position. I can indorse every word that was uttered by my right honorable colleague, the Treasurer. He has pretty well explained my own position. When I was asked to join the Government by the Prime Minister, I told him that I could give him no answer until I had seen my honorable friend and leader, the honorable and learned member for Ballarat. Two or three days later, I called upon that gentleman in his room. I again pressed him to join the Government, and told him that I should be glad to support him. He informed me that he could not accept a portfolio, but that , he believed he could assist the Government more by sitting behind it than by becoming a member of it. If any person had told me then - even if he had been my dearest friend - that the honorable and learned member, whom I have known, and with whom I have been upon friendly terms during the past quarter of a century, or more, merely intended that I should occupy the position of a stop-gap until he was prepared to form a Ministry, I should have told him that it was false, and that the honorable and learned member was incapable of doing anything of the kind. I must confess, however, that when I saw the report of his speech at Ballarat, I could not - even with every desire to place the most favorable construction upon it - put any interpretation upon his words other than that for some unexplained reason he had withdrawn his support from the Government. So far as I am aware, the Ministry’ have not departed to the extent of a hair’s breadth from the honorable understanding which was entered into between the honorable and learned member for Ballarat and the Prime Minister. We acted up to it in every possible way, and 1 think it is only fair to the Prime Minister to say that he has never upon any occasion sought to take any advantage of the fact that the free-traders predominated amongst the Government supporters. On the contrary, whenever there has been any little advantage to be given to one side or the other it has always been given to the protectionist members of the Government. Even in the case of the Tariff Commission, the chairmanship was given to a protectionist, notwithstanding the fact that there were a larger number of free-traders sitting behind the Ministry. Upon every possible occasion the Prime Minister has honorably adhered to the bargain which he made with the honorable and learned member for Ballarat. During my public career - and it has been a fairly long one - I have never occupied any position which was so painful to me as is my present position. I could not have believed that my old friend, whom I have trusted, and would have trusted with anything under the sun, could have so treated the protectionist members of this Government. It is only fair I should say that ; his explanation this evening has taken away a great deal of the sting of the remarks which he made at Ballarat.
– There was no sting intended.
Mr.McLEAN. - I accept the honorable and learned member’s statement.
– But he made that explanation with the dagger in his pocket.
– The honorable and learned member knows that the interpretation which the Government placed upon his speech was the same interpretation which has been put upon it throughout the length and breadth of Australia. Consequently, I fail to understand how he can feign surprise that we should regard it as a hostile deliverance. I am perfectly sure that no intelligent person could put any other construction upon it. I have not met a single individual who has not placed the same interpretation upon it that we did. It appeared to me, therefore, that there was only one honorable course for the Government to adopt, and that was, not to attempt to cling to office after we had forfeited the confidence’ of the friends who had placed us there. I am sure that no supporter of the Government would have desired us to do anything of that kind. It would have been most humiliating. We took the only straightforward1, honorable, and manly course which could be adopted. I join with the Treasurer in hopingthat when the honorable and learned member for Ballarat forms his Government, it will be for the well-being of Australia. I regret very much that he has placed me in the position that, although I should like to be following and supporting him, he has denied me the opportunity of so doing. He has placed his old friends in the most painful position ; it is one which estranges his friends of a quarter of a century’s standing. I sincerely hope that he does not view the matter in the light that it presents itself to my mind. I had no wish to address the House this evening. When interviewed regarding the honorable and learned member’s speech at Ballarat, I refused to say a word to the newspaper representatives. I told them that I. would make no comment upon it. In spite of what I had read, and despite the construction which I placed upon that address, I did hope that the explanation of the honorable and learned member would go further than it did this evening. I accepted his explanation in good faith ; but when I saw him pull a motion of no-confidence out of his pocket - a motion which had been prepared beforehand - I must confess that his action was more than I expected from him. I have said harder things than I intended, for when I rose I was determined hot to say a harsh word of the honorable and learned member. I think now that the sooner we come to a division the better. We all know that the amendment is going to be carried, and I am perfectly sure that no one will accuse us of trying to cling to office when we find that we can no longer retain our positions with advantage to the country. I hope that our successors will be in a better position to do so, and my only wish is that they will govern with credit to themselves and with advantage to the country.
– The present position of affairs is the most extraordinary that has occurred in the political history of the Commonwealth, and I cannot allow the amendment to be passed without saying a few words. I have long known the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, and wish to put one or two considerations to him. I must say that when I perused the reports of his Ballarat speech, I had to agree with the statements contained in the two leading newspapers in reference to it. On the morning of its publication, I met some friends - and the honorable and learned member knows that I have a few - but I did not encounter one who failed to say, “ The Reid Government must go, for Deakin has spoken.” That was the general opinion. I am appealing to the honorable arid learned member for Ballarat as one with whom I have had differences, but who, I feel confident, will not refuse to deal generously with the three protectionists in the present Ministry, who are, so to speak, marooned by his action. I am sure the honorable and learned member will agree with me that in loyalty to their present leader they will have to vote with him when the division takes place; but that that fact should never be mentioned outside this House as showing that they voted against the policy of protection. I wish the honorable and learned member to ‘say that the votes of these three honorable gentlemen on the approaching division will never be taken as a vote against protection.
– Hear, hear !
– I am very glad to have the honorable and learned member’s assurance on that point. I was delighted to hear the speech delivered by the Prime Minister. It was a good fighting speech, and I may say that I regret that the rift between the Labour Party in New South Wales and the Prime Minister ever took place. I have found him a generous! and kindly man, and have never brought a wrong before him during his terni of office that has not received his attention. I trust that the declaration made this evening by my old friend, the right honorable member for Balaclava, who entered the Victorian Parliament with me, that the speech which he was then delivering would probably be his last in this Parliament, will not prove true. I trust to hear him again and again, and to see him fighting once more, although perhaps on this side of the House. My hope is that his health will be such that he will remain a member of the Parliament at all events to the end of his term. The right honorable gentleman knows very well that if he will adhere strictly to the real protectionist policy he will have my vote, and perhaps that of every member of the Labour Party, when a question of the platform is concerned; but he will pardon me for saying that he should not speak of that of which he knows very little - the inner working of the Labour Party. If he were with us, and saw how justly the proceedings of the party are conducted, I am sure he would not use such expressions as those which, to my regret, he uttered this evening, when dealing with) the party. I hope that he will come into closer communion with us. When I first entered the Victorian Parliament there was no such body as a Labour Party in Australia; but the right honorable gentleman knows1 that the Labour Party which was formed in Victoria was the only one in the House that had a platform with which every one was familiar. There was no attempt to conceal the designs of our party. The planks in our platform were as open and as free to all as were the ten commandments, and no one could say that they were based on a wrong foundation, cr designed to work injustice to any class or party. The right honorable gentleman may differ from us, and from the objects that we are striving to attain, but he will admit that we are a loyal party. It cannot be denied that a pledged labour candidate has never been a renegade. True, we have had labour men in the Victorian Parliament who were renegades, and were sent into the umbo of forgetfulness, but they were not pledged members of the Labour Party. Every honorable member is aware that the numbers are up in connexion with the approaching division, but I must say a few words of sympathy with the loyalty of the free-trade members of the Ministry to their protectionist colleagues’. The division on the amendment will perhaps be unique in’ the history of this Parliament, but I hope that we shall all extend our friendship to the protectionist members of the present Government. I have often confessed that I cannot understand a member of the Labour Party not being a protectionist. If members of our party object to the cheap labour of other countries, why should not thev object to the produce of that labour coming in to the Commonwealth free of duty?
– We have heard that before.
– And the free-trade members of the Labour Party will hear it again before we are much older. I trust that we shall proceed to a division to-night, and that the newspapers issued to-morrow morning will show the result.
– It is not my intention to delay the House at any length, but, in view of what has been stated, it is only right that I should say that ‘no approach was made by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat to any honorable member in the Opposition corner with regard to his Ballarat speech, or what he was to say on that occasion. In making this statement, I think I speak for every member of the Protectionist Party on this side of the House.
– There was no necessity to approach the honorable member ; he was all right.
– But it has been stated that the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, before taking the step in question, conferred with honorable members in the Opposition Corner, whilst he neglected to confer with the Ministry.
– Will the honorable member say that he did not know a fortnight ago what was likely to happen at Ballarat ?
– I will, most emphatically.
– Then some of his colleagues knew, and shaped their actions accordingly in New South Wales.
– That is not the case. Personally, I put no sn-.-h interpretation upon the speech as that which the Ministry have placed upon it.
– Why was the honorable member for Hume so pleased ?
– He is naturally pleased when he sees his old friend the Prime Minister going -under.
– So the honorable member thought that, as the result of the speech delivered by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, the Prime Minister was “ going under “ ?
– I am not responsible for the Honorable member for Hume.
– We are not down yet.
– I wish to state distinctly that the honorable and learned member for Ballarat did not approach any member of our party. So far as I am aware - and I am confident that I know the facts - not one member of the Opposition corner knew what was to be the nature of the Ballarat speech.
– Hear, hear.
– I may say, further, that I told quite a number of men that I believed that the honorable and learned member for Ballarat was going to take action when the report of the Tariff Commission was submitted, and not before. That, was the impression which his speech left on my mind.
– This is beautiful !
-It is the truth ; and the truth is always beautiful. It is only right that I should say that the honorable and learned member for Ballarat said to me time after time that he did not, and would not, try to persuade- any honorable member to join the Coalition Government, and that he had put it to those of our party who had been asked to join, that they would do so on their own responsibility. He informed me that he offered no objection to their becoming members of the Coalition Government, but that they were to accept the responsibility of their action.
– Is the honorable member contradicting the Treasurer?
– I assert that the Treasurer, up to within the last few hours of the formation of the present Ministry, gave all his friends to understand that he would not join it.
– And no one but the honorable and learned member for Ballarat persuaded him to join it.
– The honorable and learned member for Ballarat assured me that he had never attempted any persuasion, and I have every reason to believe his statement. No one was more surprised than were the intimate friends of the right honorable member for Balaclava when he consented on a bed of sickness to join the Coalition Government.
– Does not the honorable member accept the Treasurer’s word?
– Certainly I do, but I feel satisfied that he is making a mistake, and has confused two different dates.
– The public will not think so.
– They will think according to their lights, and if they are conversant with the facts, they will know that my statement is correct. Those who have expressed surprise at the action of the honorable and learned member for Ballarat take up a remarkable position. When they were sitting in the Ministerial corner during the term of office of the Deakin Government, they were planning and plotting against that Ministry from the very first, and yet they express surprise at the action now taken by the honorable and learned member. There are some honorable members of the Government to whom the honorable and learned member for Ballarat owes no allegiance. They have never been true friends, and the Deakin Government would not have remained in office as long as it did if they had had their way.
– Will the honorable member mention the names of those to whom he refers ?
– The honorable gentleman is one of them.
– That is not true, and the honorable member knows it.
– The honorable member must withdraw that remark.
– I withdraw it in deference to your’ request”, Mr. Speaker, but the honorable member knows that I never thought or expressed a desire of turning out the Deakin Government. On no occasion did I use any unfriendly expression in dealing with them, although I criticised the measures introduced by them on their merits. As a matter of fact, I was returned, not to support that Ministry, but as an independent member. On every question affecting the existence of the Deakin Government, however, I stood by them with the best of their pledged supporters. It is true that I freely criticised some of the provisions in measures introduced by them in which I did not believe. I am still opposed to those provisions, but I am sure that the honorable and learned member for Ballarat will not do me the injustice of saying that I ever exhibited any hostile feeling towards either the Barton or the Deakin Administration.
– Will not the honorable and learned member for Ballarat do me the justice of saying that it is correct that six months after the Deakin Government was formed I told him that trouble would come from the Ministerial corner - that there were honorable members sitting in that corner who were laying their plans for the overthrow of the Government.
– It was so.
– The fact that I made that statement proves that, rightly or wrongly, I was under the impression that the Government of the day would encounter trouble from that quarter, and I felt that I had grounds for making the statement. If it be true that nothing more than candid criticism was offered from the Ministerial corner, it was the candid criticism, not of a friend, butof a covert enemy. I may be wrong, but that is the way I construed the criticism of certain honorable members sitting in the Ministerial corner at the time, and I still hold that view.
– The honorable member ought to have grounds for making such a statement. The Minister of Trade and Customs is held in high esteem throughout Victoria.
– My grounds are that when the Deakin Government were fighting against great difficulties they did not have the support of honorable members to whom I refer.
– Will the honorable member mention the other members sitting in the
Ministerial corner whom he suspected at the time?
– I suspected the honorable and learned gentleman himself. He left the back Government benches, and took his seat in the Ministerial corner.
– Give us the names of others.
– Sir Malcolm McEacharn, who was then the honorable member for Melbourne, was another.
– That is so. My honorable and learned friend knows that I told him so.
– Yes, but the honorable member named other honorable members then, members who are now sitting on the opposition side as those whom he suspected.
– I beg the honorable and learned gentleman’s pardon. The Minister of Defence knows that I took exception to his action at the time, and pointed out that it was weakening the Government.
– Did the honorable member have a suspicion about himself at any time?
– I voted for them when the honorable member voted against them.
– I say again that the honorable gentlemen who have complained so bitterly of his action have no claim on the loyalty of the honorable and learned member for Ballarat. I further say that times out of number that honorable and learned gentleman assured me that he had not persuaded, and would not at any time persuade any one to join the present Government.
– I have a word to say on this very historical occasion. The events of this evening have, perhaps, laid down new precedents for political parties in the future. It is very pleasing to me to know that the right honorable gentleman who has been parading the Commonwealth during the last five or six months, sharpening his anti-socialistic battleaxe for the purpose of cutting down those whom he has described as Socialists, will have a further opportunity to sharpen his tomahawk before he will require to put it into use. No doubt the present position has come as a direct surprise to the Government. It has been most interesting to listen to the debate from the stand-point of the Prime Minister, and from that of the honorable and learned member for Ballarat. One has asserted that he had no intention of expressing any loss of confidence in the Government, and the other has asserted that he was absolutely convinced that no other interpretation could be placed upon the speech of the honorable and learned member for Ballarat. With their differing opinions, I have nothing to do, but I am pleased to know that we have to-night arrived at a condition of affairs which I anticipated we should arrive at after the coalition Government was formed. I stated at the time that although the Protectionist Party had divided itself for the time being, it would have to come together again, as it could not continue to trust the future of its policy to the right honorable gentleman with whom some of the party allied themselves. I am proud to say, as a protectionist, after being a labour man-
– And after being a freetrader.
– I am, proud to be able to say that I have never stooped to fly the flag which the honorable member for Dalley flies, in order to get into Parliament. As a protectionist, it pleases me to find that the protectionists in this House are not prepared to allow themselves to be drawn at the wheels of the chariot of the Prime Minister to political destruction. There is no doubt, in my mind, that the object of the Prime Minister in arranging the coalition, was to ultimately annihilate the Protectionist Party, and then secure the assistance of its members to grapple with what he chooses to call the Socialist Party.
– Did the right honorable gentleman tell the honorable member ?
– No telling was needed. When the honorable member for Paramatta speaks, we can generally understand what he says. The honorable member has been on both sides, or, I might say, on three sides, because he was once a protectionist, then a labour man, and he is now a fiscal sinker, and an anti-Socialist. This is the gentleman who interrupts in order to place me in my proper position.
– My position is “ against Webster “ at any time. .
– That is an honour to me, because the company of the honorable member could not elevate me politically. At the close of last session, we had not the slightest idea that the Prime Minister proposed to engage in the class of warfare in which he has been busy during the recess. The right honorable gentleman has stood upon platforms in New South Wales, Western Australia, South Australia, Victoria, and Queensland, propounding the doctrine of anti-Socialism, and dealing with a question which I fear he does not understand at all. He has raved in season and out of season during the recess on the objects of the Labour Party in trying to gull the people with regard to their mission. He has endeavoured to raise a bogy in order to frighten people, who have hitherto stood behind that party, into withdrawing their support. The Postmaster-General has made a feeble attempt to imitate his leader in this respect.
– Order ! There are several honorable members indulging in the habit of standing about the gangways and passages. The Standing Orders distinctly prohibit standing about the passages or conversing with other members in such a way as to obstruct traffic in the Chamber.
– The honorable member for Parramatta has also been most vigorous in his attempts to misrepresent the true position of affairs.
– Let us have the truth now.
– The honorable member will have a division soon enough, and sooner than he desires. I am here to assert in the matter of Socialism as defined by the Prime Minister, that the right honorable gentleman is best convicted out of his own mouth. He has stated that he is anti-socialistic, and yet we are in a position to quote from his own remarks in order to prove that he is an out-and-out Socialist. So it has been with all the honorable gentlemen who have been abusing the Labour Party during the recess. Each in his turn has been exactly the opposite to that which he has represented himself to be.
– Following the honorable member’s example.
– I am not so sure about that. Mine has been a development in accordance with the doctrine of evolution. But honorable gentlemen opposite appear to have evolved backwards, and so they have not followed any example which I may have set. I have no wish to say very much, as honorable members generally appear to desire to terminate the debate early and get an expression of the opinion of the House by a vote as soon as possible. I again express my delight at the attitude taken up by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat. The honorable and learned gentleman has shown the Prime Minister and others that he is not going to allow them to lead him astray, and to lead him to the country with the object of annihilating him. I can extend my sympathy to honorable gentlemen opposite ; but it is good for the country to know that the Prime Minister is not to be given an opportunity to further delude the people by the misrepresentation of what he calls Socialism. We shall now be able to do some business in this Parliament in which, up to the present time, we have done little or nothing. I am very anxious to justify my presence in this . Parliament. For various reasons which have not been clearly explained to-night, the present Government brought down an historical GovernorGeneral’s speech, containing nothing, but throwing down the gauntlet to the Opposition, and telling honorable members that they would be driven to their masters whether they liked it or not. While asserting that they are prepared to drive us to our masters, the Government havenot put forward any policy to be submitted to the people.
– What is there in the amendment ?
– There is that in the amendment which makes it the direct opposite of the proposal in the GovernorGeneral’s speech to run the country into an expenditure of . £50,000or £60,000 on an unnecessary election.
– Honorable members opposite were anxious for it a few months ago.
– That was before the Prime Minister and the honorable gentleman had an opportunity of putting in their deadly work in misrepresenting the objects and aims of the Labour Party. It is now our turn to say when we desire or require a dissolution, and it is not for the Prime Minister or the Postmaster-General to dictate to us and tell us that we shall be driven to the people. I expect that before this Parliament closes we shall have an opportunity to justify our presence here by the passing of useful legislation in the interests of the Commonwealth. I hope that we shall have a progressive policy, which will do justice to the industries of the Commonwealth, and at the same time properly regulate the conditions of employment affecting the working classes of the community. If we carry such legislation, this Parliament will have justified its existence. If the motion before us had been an ordinary motion of censure, or want of confidencein the policy of a Government, there would have been something tangible on which we could speak, but the present’ Government has placed no policy before Parliament, and has merely threatened us with a dissolution at the earliest possible moment. I never thought that the’ Prime Minister would seek shelter under a coward’s castle of that kind. I should have expected the right honorable gentleman to come forward with a definite policy, on which his Government would be prepared to stand or fall. He has, instead, come forward with a threat of dissolution, and I feel sure that he is not going to succeed. I realize that many people will wonder how it comes about that the Labour Party and the Protectionist Party are prepared to join hands at this juncture for the purpose of proceeding with the business of the Commonwealth, and in order to prevent a rash and wasteful expenditure of £50,000, involving perhaps further taxation on the people, irrespective of consequences.
– The honorable gentleman did not think of that six months ago.
– Six months ago we held our own opinion, and we hold our own opinion to-day.
– We hold a different opinion.
– That may be so, but we are given no opportunity to know what the opinion of the present Government is. The only idea the Government have is to catch the people under this spell of socalled anti-Socialism, and, before they have had time to realize the position, to force a dissolution. The. Government want to take the people by storm and get from them a vote on a question which they do not understand, so that the present occupants of the Treasury bench may return to power on misrepresentation. The Prime Minister and his supporters have been very well treatedto be allowed to occupy the Government benches for so long. The Prime Minister will now have every opportunity to consider what policy he will place before the country, and it is possible that we shall not hear any more of the socialistic bogy. It may turn out that all the money spent in New South Wales on this campaign has been spent in vain, and that all the meetings addressed by the right honorable gentleman may be resultless. The Prime Minister has now had six months of office, and’ has held a high and honorable position, to which any man might legitimately aspire, arid look back on with pride. The Prime Minister, like the honorable member for Robertson, the honorable and learned member for Werriwa, and others has, during the recess, been addressing the people on a question which he does not understand ; and but for that procedure the present Government might have been allowed to remain in power a little longer. We cannot tolerate this bogy with which the Prime Minister has been trying to frighten the deluded country folk of New South Wales. The right honorable gentleman has told the farmers of that State that if any one of them is the possessor of one pig the Socialists desire to take half of it, or if they have two head of poultry, one, together with half of their land, will be taken away to divide amongst those w,ho have not any. I do not want to say anything which would hurt the feelings of the Prime Minister, because I am quite sure the blow is severe enough for him. I am not one to inflict unnecessary pain on any gentleman in his position ; and, further, I should be the last in the world to say anything which would hurt the feelings of even the honorable member for North Sydney. Whatever the outcome of the present situation, I hope we shall be able to go on with the business of the Commonwealth, doing something for the people who have sent us here, and not merely keeping a Government in power, with the effect of a retrograde step in legislation. The honorable and learned member for Ballarat was quite right when he asked the Prime Minister, not only to declare a negative position, but to state what portion of the legislation of the Labour Party he would prefer to strike off the statute-book. What is wanted is a definite programme ; and in that desire I have the greatest sympathy with the honorable and learned -member for Ballarat, and would have had sympathy with the honorable and learned member for Parkes, if the- latter had not climbed down when threatened with a gun. Honorable members who sit behind a Prime Minister who is not prepared with a policy ought to be ashamed, and use every effort to alter their position. I shall not detain the House longer than to again express the hope that the division will not leave honorable members any worse friends, but- that in the future we shall be able to work in harmony, not for party interests, but for the benefit of the whole of the Australian community.
– I desire to make a personal explanation. When I previously spoke I was under the impression - an impression which I am still under - that at the time to which I referred there was a combination forming in the corner against the Government, and it is only fair to the Minister of Defence to say that he was then sitting behind the Government, and was not under my reflection.
– I should like to know whether the Government have any objection to the debate being adjourned.
– The leader of the Opposition has seen me, and expressed a desire for an adjournment. I have no objection to an adjournment of the debate until tomorrow.
Debate (oh motion by Mr. Spence) adjourned.
House adjourned at 9.53 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 29 June 1905, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1905/19050629_reps_2_25/>.