2nd Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– On the 16th November, just before last session closed, the House, on my motion, ordered the preparation of a return, dealing with the position of the Queensland Government in regard to the sugar mills in that State for the cost of the construction of which that Government is directly or indirectly responsible. That return has been prepared, and the Minister of Trade and Customs has courteously sent me a copy of it, but I should like the Prime Minister to lay it upon the table as soon as possible, in order that the information which it contains may be available to honorable members generally.
– I understand! that tho matter is under the control of the Department of the Prime Minister, and I have no doubt that, if the honorable member will make the request to the right honorable gentleman when he arrives, what he asks will be done.
Debate resumed from 29th June (vide page 88), 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 House.
Upon which Mr. Deakin had moved by way of amendment -
That the following words be added to the Address : - “but are of opinion that practical measures should be proceeded with.”
– I am very much indebted to the honorable member for Darling, who moved the adjournment of the debate last night, and to you, Mr. Speaker, for this opportunity to open the discussion this morning. It is not my intention to make what in any sense can be termed a speech, but because of the following statement which has appeared in one of the morning journals, it has become necessary for me to place clearly before the House my position. The Age says: -
Mr. Knox is understood, however, to have decided to vote with Mr. Deakin, on the ground that if he supports Mr. Reid he would stand pledged to reduce Victoria’s representation from twenty-three to twenty-two members, and to a free-trade campaign aimed at Victorian industries at the next election.
– The honorable member does not believe in either course.
– I wish my honorable friends here to clearly understand that it is absolutely true that I shall, by every means in my power, resist the reduction of the representation of Victoria in this House, and that I am not prepared to go to the country in opposition to the general bulk of public opinion, to enter upon a campaign against the industries of the Commonwealth, and particularly the industries of Victoria. It is also true that I am in entire sympathy with the words of the amendment which was moved by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat last night. I think that we ought togo on with the practical business of the country. But I am not prepared to record a vote in this Chamber which will inferentially indicate that I am in favour ofmy honorable friends of the Labour Party returning to a position in which they can dominate the House, as they did during the existence of previous Governments. The proposed new Ministry, the new protectionist Ministry, could live only on the sufferance of the Labour Party.
– Another dish of dirt would be ready for them.
– The Labour Party would hold the proposed new Ministry in the hollow of their hands. They could dictate, and perhaps have already dictated, the terms on which they would give their support. It is with infinite regret that for the second time during the existence of the Commonwealth Parliament, I find myself at a critical moment, voting on the side opposite to that of my valued and esteemed friend the honorable and learned member for Ballarat. I do not use the word “ friend “ merely in its parliamentary sense. Our friendship has lasted since we were boys together, and is due, on my part, to a respect foundedon a close knowledge of his high, honorable, and sensitive nature. I am all the more sorry at what has occurred, because I am in a position to know that the purpose of the speech of the honorable and learned member at Ballarat is being misconstrued. I am aware that he felt disappointment that at Hawthorn the Prime Minister did not deal with one subject which was in the mind of the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, namely, what the attitude of the Government would be in the event of a report being presented by the Tariff Commission.
– An event of a year hence ! What my attitude would be in regard to something which might occur a year hence ! Any excuse would serve the honorable and learned member for Ballarat.
– What about the demand that the Labour Party should make a pronouncement of their policy, to take effect a century hence?
– I honestly believe that the tragic situation which has been created was not intended by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat when he spoke last Saturday. I know that, on the succeeding Monday, his feeling was one of regret and surprise that the construction , had been placed on it which seems to have been universally placed on it. In recording my vote, as I shall do, against the amendment, I am actuated by the one dominating idea that it would be to the disadvantage of the people of this Commonwealth if Parliament were again to be controlled by any section of the House which is not prepared to accept the direct responsibility of its actions by assuming office.
– We have been landed in a most peculiar political situation by a development which appears to have caused much surprise to the Prime Minister. It is rather interesting to note that as late as the 22nd of the current month the Prime Minister, when speaking at Hawthorn, stated that now that he was in power he would require a little shifting. Immediately, however, that one of the honorable members in alliance with him dared to deliver an address which he apparently did not know to be loaded, the Prime Minister made ready to shift himself from office. The picture which the Prime Mini’ster has drawn of the meeting of the Cabinet at which the situation was considered will live long in the memories of honorable members. Although the Government had prepared a programme of non-contentious measures, which they understood honorable members to be ready to assist them in passing, they agreed to throw up the sponge and appeal to their masters, the people. I cannot help thinking that their action has been prompted by some hidden motive. I have read the speech of the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, and I cannot find in it any statement to justify the conclusion that he was not prepared to continue to support the Government in passing useful legislation. He undoubtedly did express alarm at the action taken by the Prime Minister in connexion with his antisocialistic campaign. Although the members of the Opposition have on many occasions expressed themselves as ready to support the Government in passing legislation of a useful character, the Prime Minister has gone out of’ his way to challenge them, and has attempted to bluff the GovernorGeneral into granting a dissolution. It would appear from the sidelights that are thrown on the situation, that plants which are developed’ in the red light of semisecrecy are very unhealthy, and that full and vigorous growth can be looked for only from those which are reared in the white light of open day. We have had descriptions of a number of secret meetings, at which the Prime Minister, in his despair, implored the right honorable member for Balaclava, and the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, to join him in carrying on the Government. All this scheming and planning, with the object of forcing the political situation, is unhealthy and undesirable. We have learnt from recent events that the results of natural evolution are far to be preferred to the developments brought about by attempts such as those referred to. The Prime Minister has publicly confessed that he has failed to keep his party together. Probably, if he had met the House a month earlier, he would have saved the situation, because the speech of the honorable and learned member for Ballarat would not then have been delivered, and there would have been no excuse for the alarm which apparently has arisen. I desire to say a few words with regard to certain events that have occurred during the. recess. So far, we have heard nothing with regard to the wonderful Conference that was held at Hobart. The proceedings were conducted with closed doors, and great efforts were made to prevent the press from obtaining any information. Honorable members will require to watch carefully the proposal that was made at the Conference to extend the operation of the Braddon section of the Constitution for a further period of twenty years. Although that provision has been almost universally condemned, and although New South Wales would not accept the Constitution until the operation of the section was limited, the Prime Minister has practically agreed to its extension. Upon his return from the Conference he mentioned specially that it would be impossible to provide for a system of old-age pensions under the Commonwealth so long as the Braddon section remained in operation, and he is apparently content that the old-age pension scheme shall remain in abeyance for a further period of twenty years. This is a most serious matter, and will require close attention at the hands of this House. We have heard nothing with regard to the progress of negotiations in connexion with the Federal Capital site. The question appears to have been hung up for an indefinite term, in spite of the fact that this Parliament has already arrived at a determination. The Prime Minister has invented a war cry and has gone round the country preaching the doctrine of anti-S’ocialism. He has raised a bogy, and his purpose is daily becoming more clear. The present situation reminds me of the time when I was a boy and owned a couple of dogs - one, an old, cunning spaniel, and the other a young and foolish greyhound. When- we were engaged in eating our humble mutton chops the dogs would patiently wait for us to finish, in order that they might receive the scraps. The spaniel knew exactly how to measure the time, and just before we had finished he would rush away barking loudly with the object of drawing off the other dog. Having accomplished his object, he would run back in time to secure all the good things for himself. The Prime Minister, having no policy to present to the country, has gone about barking vigorously to distract the attention of the public from the real necessities of the situation. He has filled up his time during the recess in running a burlesque show and has been playing the role of a political George Lauri. But his clowning has a serious side, to which I wish to call attention. I charge the Prime Minister with having disseminated dangerous revolutionary doctrines throughout the country.
– He is an anarchist.
– He is worse than an anarchist. Wherever he went he told the people that if they put the Labour Party into power that party, by a single Act of Parliament, would divide up all the wealth and property of the Commonwealth. He stated that in the New South Wales Savings Bank there were ^28,000,000 which they could divide. As a matter of fact, the cash is not there. He further informed them that they were to elect their own bosses, and altogether he placed before them the most alluring prospect, which, he declared, could be realized by the passing of a single Act of Parliament. It is not long since the right honorable gentleman stated that Tie intended to throw himself right across the path of the Labour Party. In that connexion I might ask, “What influence would he exercise if he were to place himself between a few thousand starving men in a building and to say to them, In that building there are tons of bread, but I intend to prevent you from obtaining it ‘ ?” Would not the men secure that bread? What has been the position? The leader of the Labour Party has been compelled to follow in the footsteps of the Prime Minister in order to disillusionize the people, and to tell .them that they must not vote for that party if they expect to obtain an equal division of the general wealth and to become Government servants. The Prime Minister has declared that under a socialistic regime they would all become public servants - that they would enjoy a gay old time, and participate in an equal division of the wealth in the banks. Recently the capitalists have been doing so well that in two States they have deposited ^7,500,000, so that the time for a divi sion of the general wealth is exceedingly opportune. The leader of the Labour Party, I repeat, has been obliged to follow the Prime Minister around the country and tell the electors that that party stands only for securing to a man that which he earns. We are opposed to any division of the general wealth, and if the public want such a division they must not vote for the members of our party. In New South Wales, according to Coghlan’s statistics, there are 735,589 adults, of whom only 190,617 own property. There are 544^972 adults who own no property whatever. Consequently the latter class constitute an enormous majority. As a matter of fact, 987 persons own 35 per cent, of the property in New South Wales. These figures make it apparent how dangerous it is to tell men - some of whom do not know any better - that by a single Act of Parliament they can secure an equal division of that wealth. When the leader of the Opposition was addressing the House yesterday, he quoted from a document issued under the authority of the Prime Minister when Premier of New South Wales, with a view to showing that the suggestion was made by a contributor - himself a Government servant - that the only cure for the tobacco monopoly was to nationalize the industry. The Prime Minister repudiated the idea that he could be held responsible for that proposal.
– Hear, hear.
-“ Hear; hear,’-‘ says the lieutenant of this great organization. Yet, with what did the Prime Minister charge the Labour Party? He said that we were responsible for the writings of Karl Marx and other continental writers, some of whom died before we were born.
– Because the Labour Party accepts their doctrines.
– We do nothing of the kind. The honorable member for Parramatta has also gone round the country preaching revolutionary doctrines, though in this respect he w!as not quite so bad, perhaps, as his leader. What a ridiculous position is here presented? The Prime Minister repudiates a statement which was issued by his authority, and under his orders, whilst at the same time he endeavours to fasten upon the Labour Party responsibility for the writings of continental authors, who have had no connexion with Australian polities’, and who wrote fcsfore Australia came into prominent notice, or was even accorded the privilege of constitutional government. ‘The whole thing is preposterous. In New South Wales the Prime Minister made a great show, and in Victoria, his equal in all things, the Minister of Trade and Customs, also seemed to favour the anti-socialistic crusade. Others did not join in it, and from the beginning it was denounced by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, who made it clear to the Prime Minister that he would take no part in it. In New South Wales, Empire Day, above all others, was that chosen to form anti-socialistic organizations.
– That is not correct.
– At first the 13th May was chosen as the date for the creation of these leagues, but’” apparently arrangements could not be completed in time, and accordingly a later date had to be selected. I wish briefly to call attention to the nature of these organizations. From time to time we have heard violent denunciations of or,ganizations. Even the honorable and learned member for Ballarat has deprecated their establishment.
– Hear, hear ; he has done so more than has anybody else, and stronger than anybody else.
– No; the principal mission of the Prime Minister was to organize what was called Liberal Leagues. They are peculiarly constituted organizations. He denounced the Labour League because it exacts fees from its members, and made a great point of the different amounts paid by them. But these anti-socialistic leagues do not levy any fees whatever upon their members. Consequently I should like to ascertain from where the money comes with which they are run. My own experience teaches me that some money is necessary, if only to defray the cost of holding necessary meetings. Yet here is an organization which any person can join free of charge, and in which - according to the statement of the Prime Minister - any member can vote just as he or she chooses. It seems to me that there is a splendid chance for the labour leaders to join the leagues, and to select their own candidates. There is evidently a weak spot somewhere, and the weaker it is, the better will it be for us.
– Does not the .honorable member think that the members of the league saw that point long ago?
– The serious part of the matter is that the league has plenty of money, and I should like to know the source from which it comes.
– I contributed my little mite, which was a lot more than I could afford.
– They do not exact fees from their members, and yet they have men engaged in organization work - men who do not render their services for nothing. There are rumours abroad which ought to be cleared up.
– I can help the honorable member. The admission is free, - but there is a collection afterwards.
– That is not the case. Statements have been made publicly by persons of whom I must take notice, to the effect that the league has a fund which amounts to ,£30,000. Rumours are current as to a -cheque for £1,000 having been received from one individual.
– We wish it were true that such large subscriptions had been received.
– I should be sorry to hear that it was because I am opposed, on principle, to anything of the kind. We need to guard against the introduction of the American system of politics under which persons, having vested interests, provide the funds for a political campaign. That is only another form of bribery, and it has demoralized the public life of the United States.
– The funds of the Labour Leagues are five times as large as are those of our organizations.
– Our leagues are open to the light of day; all that they do is done openly. Their balance-sheets are open to public inspection, and any man may see for himself how every penny of their funds is spent. This Government, however, appears to have been associated with secret political gatherings of all kinds. That is not a good thing, and it seems to me that the next Government should bring in a Bill providing for the filing of detailed balance-sheets by political organizations, so as to guard against the introduction of the evil system to which I have referred. There are instances in the political history of Australia in which persons having vested interests have contributed large sums of money for the purpose of political campaigns. There are trusts and combines whom it would pay to run the anti-socialistic campaign in order to keep the Labour Party from dealing with such practices as have been revealed, for instance, by the Butter Commission. Whether the rumours to which I have made allusion are correct or not, the fact remains that the giving of large sums of money for these purposes is not creditable. It is most desirable that all political organizations should come into the open light of day. It is idle to say that no fees are collected by the anti-socialistic organizations, in view of the fact that they have organizers touring the country and receiving salaries of £10 per week and expenses. I do not know whether the honorable and learned member for Ballarat suspects that the importers are bearing the cost of the anti-socialistic campaign, but the matter is one to which I desire to call public attention. It seems to me that it discloses a very dangerous trend, and I am astonished that the Prime Minister should have associated himself with it. These matters should be cleared up. No one would offer any objection to an organization which worked openly. Members of the Labour Party rejoice in the fact that there are organizations of this kind in existence, because it enables the people to see who are for them and who are against them. When some of the biggest land-owners in the country canvass their work-people to support anti-socialistic leagues, telling them that if the Labour Party have their way there will be an equal division of all property amongst the people, is it any wonder that those who are paying rents to these land-owners are disposed to vote for the party? We have been compelled really to induce some persons not to vote for us, because it is our desire that no one should vote for Labour under a misapprehension. The result of the Prime Minister’s campaign in Adelaide was that all who heard his utterances voted for our party. Doubtless many gathered from his remarks there that by voting for Labour they would bring about the equal division of property. Such a doctrine is a most dangerous one to spread abroad, and I would urge the honorable member for Parramatta, as one who advocates a higher tone in public life, to discontinue such tactics. Whatever may be the result of the present squabble between two parties in the House, it will serve to show once more the impossibility of mixing foreign elements. Notwithstanding his admitted’cuteness, the Prime Minister has failed to keep his following together.
– I think that he is a baby compared with the honorable and learned member for Ballarat.
– They have nothing in common to keep them together. It is plain that the members of the Protectionist Party took alarm at the attitude of the Prime Minister. After listening to the statements made yesterday by honorable members on both sides, it seemed to me that the Government gathered from the speech delivered last Saturday by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat that the game was up - that he had found that the continuance of the Coalition Government in office was fraught with danger to protection. The utterances of the Prime Minister show that his desire has been to prepare for a dissolution, to grab the£1,000 which is reported to have been contributed to the funds of the organizations which support him, and to have it spent at an opportune time. His idea was to put forward the cry of antiSocialism in the hope that the necessity of dealing with the fiscal question would be obscured. There is an element of unfairness in the very severe attack made upon the honorable and learned member for Ballarat by the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister’s effort to force a dissolution is not at all creditable. Apparently, he thought that the present was an opportune time - that an appeal to the country at this stage would result in the return of his party with added strength. Having nothing else to put before the people the Government and their followers have been spreading the cry of antiSocialism. The Labour Party, however, are responsible only for that put forward in their programme. With one solitary exception every plank in our platform is supported by the other two parties in the Chamber. They had no fault to find with our platform and it is on that alone that we stand. We have’ nothing to do with what others may suppose is going to happen if the Labour Party come into power, nor have we any concern with what socialistic writers on the Continent may advance. The attitude taken up by the Prime Minister in regard to the class of measures we should be likely to introduce if we had the power is altogether unreasonable. The legislation which he has outlined as that which we favour could be carried out not by this Parliament, but by the Parliaments of the States. The Prime Minister has said again and again that he is here to protect the.- rights of the States. That being so, why has he been touring the country, meddling with States affairs ? The Federal Parliament has no control over the land laws of Australia, and we could not pass a Bill, even if we desired to do so, to equally distribute the land and all the riches of the people. Such a thing would be impossible under the Constitution, and I, therefore, fail to see why he should have made the statements that he has concerning the Labour Party. Apparently he thinks that the people of Australia would be idiotic enough to adopt such proposals. His actions in this regard show that he is not prepared to trust the democracy of Australia. The Labour Party, on the other hand, are prepared to trust the people all the time, for we are satisfied that they would never take a foolish step. I believe that when appealed to they will invariably adopt that course which, in their opinion, is best for them. The Prime Minister, instead of meddling with the affairs of the States, should have devoted his attention to the discussion of Federal politics, leaving the members of the Labour Party to work out their own destinies, and the States to deal with matters that are within their own cognizance. He has utterly failed to do that. He came to the House, no matter for what reason, without any programme ; hence I think it is time that the House dealt with the Government and transacted a reasonable amount of business. I do not think that the country would be satisfied for another session to be held without a reasonable amount of work being done. I am willing to assist in that direction. We came here prepared to give that assistance, even as a party, as1 our leader has already indicated, and the Government are blameworthy for not having submitted a programme to be dealt with. If another Government takes office, as no doubt it will, and submits ‘a good programme to the House, it will not experience much trouble in “keeping a majority together. There is a sufficient answer to the remark of the honorable member for Kooyong about the dominance of the Labour Party. In New South Wales, the Prime Minister had an experience of a Labour Party for five years. He has always spoken highly of the relationship existing between that party and his Government. I believe that the first Prime Minister, Sir Edmund Barton, would make a similar acknowledgment if he had an op- portunity to speak. When he led this House he did not complain of any dominance or unfairness. At any rate, there is ohe thing which can be said to the credit of the Labour Party, and it is that what we intend to do we state straight out. In this case an understanding can readily enough be arrived at which probably will be straight out, and we shall stand loyally together. If our party is noted for any quality it is noted for its loyalty to anything which it undertakes to do.
– Have they turned into a suicide party now?
– We were never a suicide party, but a party who have stuck to our principles. We are not prepared to throw over every principle of a life-time; bor shall we in this case give up any principle. We do not form a majority at the present time. We shall keep on fighting our battle until we obtain a majority, and once that position is reached, the legislation will be of such a kind that the people will allow the party to continue to hold office, probably for all time. I do not feel inclined to do more now than call attention to those incidents which I think amply justify a change of Government. It is time that we got rid of the present Government, although we came here to support a programme of good work. I deprecate any interference with the functions of the High Court. We hope to hear more -of this very important incident. There seems to be enough information available, however, to show that the Government have somewhat degraded their high offices by their attempted interference with the right of the High Court to fix its place of sitting. As regards other matters’ at issue between the Ministers and the Justices I know nothing. In my opinion they are comparatively unimportant, but will, I hope, be made known to the House at a later stage. Quite apart from their recent action, there was sufficient evidence furnished during the recess to show that it is time for the Government to go out of office. I am very glad that they realize that they did not possess the confidence of the House, and determined to be ready to commit political suicide, practically inviting honorable members to turn them out of office. I believe that . they will be dismissed by ‘a very sweeping majority, and we-hope that when that act is done the business of the country will be proceeded with and that good work will be done..
– Until this morning I had not proposed to speak in this debate, thinking that the sooner a division was taken probably the better. But when I rose this morning I felt that if I were to sit still and say nothing after my leader had been attacked in what I consider an unfair and harsh manner I would not be doing my duty. I think we will all agree that last evening was a very painful one, and especially so to those who have been long engaged in political life. We heard recrimination, charges of improper conduct, friends of a life-time contradicting each other, and the next moment expressing the greatest friendship. It was a painful episode - one in regard to which I had never before felt so keenly in the whole course of my political life. The Prime Minister commenced his address with a eulogium of all of us who had been instrumental in placing him in his high position. He expressed his gratitude in no uncertain way. He then proceeded1 by innuendo, if not directly, to charge my honorable leader, trie member for Ballarat, with dishonorable conduct, with having broken pledges, with having deserted him, with having- been planning and plotting to overthrow him and his Government. When I came to think over his speech this morning, I felt that I could not sit still and allow those things to be said without reply of a man with whom I have had an intimate relationship for the last five years. ‘ A longer and more intimate acquaintanceship and knowledge of the honorable and learned member for Ballarat by the Treasurer and the Prime Minister - though I must say that what the former said was more in sorrow than in anger - should have restrained them from giving him what was almost the lie direct. They know as well as I do, they know as well as the people of this country know, the high character, the unblemished reputation, the generosity, the unselfishness of my honorable and learned friend. In another State I have had a long experience of all sorts and conditions of people ; in Victoria I have spent nearly five years, and I can say, from the bottom of my heart, that never, in my political career, have I come in contact with any man who was so little a self-seeker, so unselfish, as my honorable and learned friend. He is the most unselfish man I have ever met; he wants nothing. In political life there are very few men who do not want something. What others seek after he seems not to want. Honours of a kind desired by most men, of course, he would never seek, but he does not accept them when offered. He has declined the highest honours that any man might aspire to in this country, merely because he does not desire them, and for no other reason. The Treasurer told us that for five years the honorable and learned member ,had kept him in office, and behaved loyally to him, when he might himself have led the Victorian Government. We know his career in this Parliament. It is too much to ask me, or any other member of the House who knows the honorable and learned gentleman, to believe that he would knowingly do what was wrong. That is the man who we were told last night, if not in direct terms, certainly by innuendo, had played the Prime Minister and his colleagues and his party false. Leaving aside for a moment the Ballarat speech, I knew that my honorable and learned friend’s intentions were in no way adverse to the continuance in office of the present Government. I telegraphed to my honorable and learned friend from Western Australia. I sent him a cypher telegram, so that it should be secret, before I left Perth, asking him if he thought that a dissolution of the House was imminent, because if so it would make a good deal of difference to me regarding the arrangement of my private affairs. I received a reply from him to the effect that he knew nothing to make him think that a dissolution was probable at an early date. On my arrival in Melbourne my honorable and learned friend was kind enough to come to meet me. He afterwards came to my rooms, and we had a long talk about political matters. He asked me whether I had read his Ballarat speech. I said that I had not yet read it. I had not obtained a copy of it in the morning, but I said that I would read it in due course. I asked him what he intended to do in regard to assisting the Government, and he replied that he intended to go on supporting the Government. I expressed to him a fear that even with his support, and with the help of all his supporters, the Government could not carryon. He replied that that all depended upon the action of the Labour Party, but he thought that that party would not precipitate matters. We both knew - we both feared - that the position was a very difficult one for the Government. I took a much worse view of the position of the Government than my honorable and learned friend did. I inclined to think that the difficulties were far greater than he seemed to suppose. He explained to me also before I had read his speech, that one of his objects in speaking at Ballarat was to preserve as far as he could the integrity of the Protectionist Party, so that when a dissolution took place, or when the report of the Tariff Commission was received he might guard himself against being charged with sacrificing the protectionist cause. He did not wish to be bound solely to support a negative policy of antiSocialism ; though he was careful enough to explain, in regard to Socialism in its extreme forms, that he was as much opposed to it as I am, and as the right honorable gentleman the leader of the Government is.
– And as we all are.
– All of us are opposed to it in extreme forms.
– I was thoroughly with him in that respect. Now I will say a few words about the Ballarat speech itself. I have read it carefully. I believe that a good many people who have been referring to it - I will not say in this - House but outside - have not read it. They have taken their interpretation from the headlines of some newspapers, or else from something that some of their friends have said. I, at any rate, have read it in the newspaper reports and twice or thrice in pamphlet form. We have not been told here - neither my .right honorable friend the Treasurer nor my honorable friend the Minister of Trade and Customs has told us, nor has the Prime Minister himself - what part of that speech is relied upon by the Government as the basis for their action. Why have not they read the part which they depend upon to show that my honorable and learned friend intended - as has been said - to “ slip them up,” to repeat a rough expression that I have heard has1 been used : that he intended, in fact, to sacrifice them altogether. It is not a fair thing, in my opinion, for any one to come to this House and to make very serious statements in regard to another honorable member, irc regard to something which it is alleged that he has said, without telling him the exact words of which complaint is made. Generalities are out of place in a serious matter of this kind. The Treasurer last night said that he spoke of the general tenor of the Ballarat speech. He said - “ After reading it carefully I could not help thinking that the honorable and learned member for Ballarat was no longer the staunch friend that we had supposed him to be.” I suppose that the whole speech was not complained of, but that the right honorable gentleman had some particular parts of it in his mind.
– Did the right honorable member hold that view of the speech before he arrived in Melbourne?
– I never saw the speech before I arrived in Melbourne. I say again that any one who complains of any words in any letter that one may have written, or in any speech that one may have spoken, and founds charges upon such,, should surely point out to the persons’ complained of the paragraphs and what are the words of which he complains. As I have already said, I have read the speech carefully, and I really cannot find out where this alleged unfriendliness comes in.
– Al I I complain of is that it was too friendly.
– I cannot see the unfriendliness anywhere; and I hope that the Minister of Defence when he comes to speak will read out to us from the speech - either from the authorized version which is printed in pamphlet form, or even from one of the newspaper reports - the expressions upon which the Government found their charges - because they are nothing less than charges - of desertion and of playing them false. Those charges were hurled last night at my honorable and learned friend the member for Ballarat. One would have thought that the observations of the honorable and learned member after the Ballarat speech was over would at any rate have protected him f.rOm much that has been said, if not all. I noticed that he referred to the possibility of a dissolution as having been constantly held up before the people in an “ improper and unconstitutional manner “ - a view with which I quite agree. A Government must not come to Parliament with a loaded ‘pistol. The honorable and learned member for Ballarat said- ‘
In connexion with these possibilities .of a dissolution, one of them of the gravest’- importance, from my point of view, is the probability., if not the certainty, of Sir George Turner’s retirement, involving as it does the reconstruction of o”r side of the Ministry. This would be a very difficult matter.
– Would the right honorable member mind reading the sentence before that?
– I have not got it before me. The honorable member can read it for himself. I am reading what I require for the purpose of my argument. One would think that there was no unfriendliness to the Government in those remarks. The honorable and learned member for Ballarat expressed great concern and anxiety as to what would happen, if his old friend Sir George Turner had to retire from the Government. No doubt he had the interests of the Protectionist Party in his mind, and he thought it would be a very difficult matter to replace the Treasurer. Does that look like withdrawing support from the Government? The only thing in the speech to which objection might be taken, from the point of view of the Prime Minister, is that the honorable” and learned member for Ballarat still declared himself to be a staunch protectionist, and said that if there were a dissolution- and that had been held up as imminent- or if the Tariff Commission made a report - and the honorable and learned gentleman may have had some information with respect to that which was not known to me - it must not be expected that the Protectionist Party would sit still and say nothing. The members of that party would be unable to do so, even had they been willing. No one can believe that the honorable and learned member for Ballarat could take the platform in Victoria with the great protectionist journal hammering at him, and refrain from saying something on the subject of protection. The thing is absurd; he could not do it.
– Hear, hear; that is very plain.
– He said that if the Tariff Commission reported, or if a dissolution took place-
– All “ifs.”
– His party, that is the Protectionist Party, would still declare themselves to be protectionists. Provided there were no dissolution, the honorable and learned gentleman never even hinted that he intended to deal in any way with the Tariff, unless he was forced to do so by the report of the Tariff Commission.
– Or by the Age.
– No, it was not the Age, it was the Tariff Commission that had to be considered. There were two contingencies suggested, and the honorable and learned gentleman said, “ If there is a dissolution, I must proclaim myself a protectionist, and I must fight in the protectionist cause, but I shall not touch the Tariff if there is no dissolution, and if there is no report from the Tariff Commission.” Was that unfriendly or unfair to the Government?
– A handy thing to have about the house, that Tariff Commission.
– Was that unfair or unreasonable? I say deliberately that as the leader of the Protectionist Party, that was the only thing the honorable and learned member for Ballarat could say, and he could not have said less than that. We have heard from the honorable and learned gentleman his own version of the matter. He has told us that he was willing to go on supporting the Government, doing his best with those over whom he had influence.
– Did the right honorable gentleman consider that speech the speech ofa frank supporter ?
– I did.
– Would the right honorable gentleman as the leader of a Government live under a speech like that ?
– Yes, I would.
– No wonder the right honorable gentleman was ten years in office.
– The present Government lived under the speech of the honorable member for Wilmot.
– If honorable members will wait a little, I have something more to say. We have all heard from the honorable and learned member for Ballarat that he intended to continue supporting the Government with theassistance of those over whom he had influence. Honorable members have heard what I said this morning, and it is certainly evidence corroborating every word which the honorable and learned member for Ballarat has said. I have stated that the honorable and learned gentleman informed me by telegram that so far as he could see no dissolution was imminent. I desired the information particularly in connexion with my private business. When I arrived here, he told me that he thought the Government could go on, but that much depended upon the action of the Labour Party, and he believed they would not precipitate matters, and that he intended togo on as before.
– I wish the honorable and learned gentleman had written a line to us to that effect.
– I shall come to that in a moment. We have heard all this abuse and innuendo of dishonour from the Prime Minister against a man who has lived in the light of day here for twenty years - a man of unblemished reputation, of the highest honour, sensitive in all things, and a man without whose help the right honorable member for East Sydney could never have achieved, what was probably the ambition of his life, the position of Prime Minister of this country. This is the man whom the right honorable gentleman attacks within a year.
– Bathos !
– I say that the Prime Minister should have had facts at his back, and1 should have been very certain of his ground before he did such an ungrateful thing as to make an attack upon the honorable and learned gentleman who placed him where he is, kept him there all the time, and enabled him to achieve, as I have said, probably the ambition of his life: The Prime Minister has tried to dishonour and degrade the name of our esteemed’ and honorable friend. Although I do not know them so well as I know the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, I believe in the honour of the Treasurer, the Minister for Trade and Customs, and the Prime Minister, and I believe that they did not really mean what their words seemed to imply. Memory after all is treacherous, especially when we are dealing with prolonged verbal conferences after a considerable interval of time. We know that the negotiations to which” reference has been made had been going on for months, that one or two conferences broke down, and that afterwards the parties came together without agreement and of their own accord. It is quite possible in the circumstances that my honorable friends of the Government may have been referring to one conference, and the honorable and learned member, for Ballarat to another. At any rate, I dismiss from my mind altogether the idea that all my honorable friends are not genuinely desirous of being accurate. I know from experience of the honorable and learned member for Ballarat that it is very distasteful to him to have to give advice. The honorable and learned gentleman does not like advising any one, except in a general way, and then he does so in a generous’ manner. The honorable and learned gentleman is loth to advise any one to take a step which may subsequently be found to be disadvantageous to him. The honorable and learned member has done the same with me on more than one occasion. I have found him a most generous and kind friend, who has, however, always refused to give the last word of advice, leaving me, after the case had been placed before us both, to decide for myself. The present action of the honorable and learned member is, therefore, only in keeping with his whole career. I now come to the Governor-General’s speech. I consider that the action of the Government is an affront to this House - an action not justified by anything that has taken place, and one which, I believe, is unparalleled. If I were desirous of being ungenerous, as the Government appear to have been - although I hope the Government will, before this debate is concluded, disclaim any want of generosity or any ingratitude to the honorable and learned member for Ballarat - I should say that His Excellency’s speech is a mere trick - a “ red herring” drawn across the path, or an attempt on the part of the members of the Government to pose as injured persons and martyrs. No one knew better than the Prime Minister and his colleagues, and, indeed, all on this side of the House, that it was impossible for the Government, under ordinary conditions, to carry on the business of the country. The Government must know that at the present time even, when their supporters are “all told “ - and thev are scarcely ever “all told “ - they have a majority of only one. The Government were aware of that fact before the Ballarat speech ; they must have known, and they did know, that the only chance for the existence of the Government was an appeal to the country. The Government must have known that, notwithstanding the support of the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, and of myself and every other honorable member who sits with them, they had a majority of only one, and1 that with all our help they could not carry on.
– Do not take away half our majority - we had a majority of two.
– But one of those two is in England.
– Yes. that is right
– No one knows better than the Prime Minister the terrible strain and difficulty he experienced in carrying on the Government from August to December.
– Hear, hear !
– The right honorable gentleman knows very well that there was sometimes the greatest difficulty in even obtaining an adjournment of the House - that but for the permission of honorable members opposite, the Government could not have adjourned the business. The Government, and those on this side, were at the mercy of the Opposition times out of number.
– I acknowledged that last night.
– The Government know very well that we on this side did all we could in supporting them, and I may repeat that we stopped up all night and continued here for days sometimes, in order that the business might be carried on. But a period had come in the history of this country and of this Parliament when the Government, unless by the good-will of members opposite, had become incapable, by reason of want of numbers, of carrying on the business. That position arose before the Ballarat speech, and had nothing to do with that utterance. If that speech had not been delivered the: state of affairs would not have been altered one bit. except that we should not have had recriminations and the Ministry posing as injured persons and martyrs ; the difficulty now is the same as that which existed before the honorable and learned member for Ballarat addressed his constituents.
– If the right honorable member’s friends went into office, would the position be improved ? Would the new Government not be in a worse position without our support?
– I do not follow the right honorable member. The Government also knew that they could not avoid the fiscal question being raised, in Victoria at any rate, nor could they avoid that question being made a prominent feature in the elections. However desirous the honorable and learned member for Ballarat might have been of doing so, he was not powerful enough to prevent that question being raised. It would be interesting to know what his position would have been had he prevented it. His whole party would have been scattered to the four winds of heaven. I think it is a happy incident for the Government that they have the Ballarat speech on which to found a grievance and set themselves up as martyrs before the country; because, without that speech, they would have been in no better position, so far as concerns the carrying on of the government of the country. I can only excuse the Government on the ground that their minds were in a state of unrest - that they were ready to- grasp at any straw in order to divert attention from their desperate plight. The Government wanted some grievance on which to pose as martyrs, and they found a grievance in. the Ballarat speech, though personally I see nothing in that speech to which I can really take exception. If there had been, I should have asked the honorable and learned member for Ballarat what he meant. We have heard the phrase “cap in hand”; but is it going “ cap in hand “ to ask the man who has been responsible for the existence of this Government, and who has passed sleepless nights over many months in supporting that Government, what he meant by ‘any paragraph or portion of his speech? I suppose the Government expect us to come here and vote as we are told - that we shall not be conferred with or consulted as to their intentions. That apparently is the treatment they extend to the honorable and learned member for Ballarat. The members of the Government were too big - what is called “ swollen-headed,” I believe - to go “cap in hand” to the honorable and learned member. The Government would accept office from the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, knowing that it was the energy and ability of the honorable and learned member and his supporters which kept them in their seats, but they would not ask him what he meant or’ write a civil note to him. No ; we are told that that would be going “ cap in hand.”
– What a great compliment the honorable and learned member for Ballarat’ must have conferred on members of the Government by giving them office !
– I can only say, speaking for myself, that when I went into the Senate on the occasion of the opening of Parliament, I had not even a suspicion of what the Government proposed to do. The honorable and learned member for Ballarat may have had an inkling of what was going to happen, but while he mav have heard a whisper, I personally had not even that advantage. That is how the Government act towards those who have been their faithful supporters for a year. That’ is how the Government act towards me, although I have sat here night after night with only the one desire to help them. The Government do not give us even an idea of their intentions.
– Why should the Government differentiate between the right honorable member for Swan and myself ?
– The Government ought to have given some intimation to the honorable member for Parramatta.
M.r. Joseph Cook. - I heard nothing about the Government’s intentions - not a word.
– The honorable member ought to have heard of the Government’s intentions. That is not the sort of conduct to bind supporters to a Government. Take them into your confidence. Let them know what you are going to do, and they will support you the more zealously.
– Did the right honorable member always do that?
– Yes. I was very much incensed at the speech which was put into the mouth of His Excellency the Governor-General, although I said nothing at the time. I felt that a bombshell had been thrown amongst us, and that the action of the Government was an affront to the House. I could see no reason for such action, and I do not think that good will come from it. It was unparalleled and unprecedented. I disapproved of their action, because, in my opinion, it was without justification, and amounted to a determination to force a dissolution on the House without giving the supporters of the Government an opportunity to state their views on the position of affairs. We were shown no consideration whatever, although as supporters of the Government we should have been consulted in regard to a matter of such vital importance.
– The right honorable member surely does not mean to say that his party were not consulted ?
– We were not consulted in regard to this matter. I was not, and I have not heard that any other member of the party was. The Prime Minister and his colleagues considered us good enough to vote with them to keep them in office, but not good enough to consult in regard to a matter of vital concern to us all.
– That was carrying the anti-caucus principle too far.
– It was decided to test the opinion of the House as to whether the Ministry had acted with proper consideration for those who had loyally supported them, and whether the ordi-nary business of the country could not be carried on. We decided to let the House say whether the machinery of Parliament could continue to carry on the affairs of the country, and whether we should be precipitated into a dissolution without being consulted, and before having an opportunity to consider the matter. In my opinion, by this action, we have done what is best in the interests of the Commonwealth, and what, if our proposal is agreed to, will prove most economical. Every one knows that I worked hard to bring about the coalition, and it might have done useful work for the country if the Protectionist Party, led by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, had remained intact. There would then have been a majority to support the Administration, and a sufficient .number of members in Opposition to thoroughly criticise every proposed action. But owing to the split in the Protectionist camp, the Government from the beginning, was so weak as to be incapable of doing good work. I question whether those Ministers who represent Victorian constituencies, with whom I sympathize, would have accepted portfolios if they had known that the Administration would have a majority of only two, now reduced to a majority of one. They have occupied a most insecure position, and worse than that, have been unable to bring forward and’ carry through measures for the benefit of the country. I regret that, solely on account of the smallness of the Government majority, the coalition has been a failure.
– All coalitions are.
– No; some coalitions have done good work. If I had thought that the Government would have a majority of one only in a House of seventy-five members, I should not have tried to bring about the coalition.
– Yet the right honorable member is now suggesting another coalition.
– I am not suggesting another coalition. I believe that the members of the present Administration are an able body of men, well qualified to sit on the Treasury benches, but, although I expected great things of them, they have been unable to do themselves justice, not for lack of ability, but because they have not had a sufficient majority. Ballarat speech or no Ballarat speech, the Government would have been powerless to carry out its duties without recruits from the other side. Therefore the only thing possible was a dissolution. We might have gone along for a few weeks or months longer, doing non-contentious work, but as soon as the strain came the chain would have broken. The Prime Minister, knowing this, determined to break it at once, but in putting before Parliament the speech which His Excellency the GovernorGeneral delivered, he committed an affront to this House, although I am sure he did not mean to do so. He knew very well that he could not carry through Parliament even the measure referred to in the speech. But by the action he has taken he has not done justice to himself and his party, or to those who have supported him. He would have been in a better position to go to the country if his policy had been outlined in the Governor-General’s speech; in which case, when the dissolution took place, he could point to the measures which he intended to pass through the House if he were returned to power. What may happen if the amendment is carried, is a question I do not propose to discuss ; my only reason for speaking - and until this morning I had no intention to speak - was that I felt that my honoured and respected leader and friend, the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, had been grossly insulted, if not directly, yet by innuendo, and I felt that I would not be doing my duty if I did not place on record mi testimony to his high sense of honour, his gene.rosity. and his unselfishness.
– Mr. Speaker-
– Another on the penitent form.
– Another on the gridiron.
– The gridiron on which I am is not causing me any particular pain-.
– Nor is it causing me pain.
– It is not so hot a gridiron as I remember seeing the honorable member on some ten months ago.
– When the honorable and learned gentleman had the knife.
– Another knife has been brought’ on the scene since then whose sharpness an3 dramatic presentation quite eclipses that of any knife that had appeared previous to yesterday afternoon.
– We can see that knife, but we did not see fEe other.
– Now that I am allowed to commence the very few remarks which I desire to address to the House, I wish to begin by thanking the right honorable member for Swan for telling us the facts of the case in that frank and open manner for which he has always been distinguished. I use these word’s in no spirit of sarcasm or satire. Straightforwardness and openness in declaring his objects and actions has characterized the right honorable member from the first moment that I had the pleasure of his acquaintance, and, no doubt, during the many years before that day in which he played so prominent a part in the affairs of Western Australia. He has told us within the last few minutes that before the Ballarat speech was delivered the position- of the present Government was impossible. He did not tell us so last September, when the existence of the present Government was threatened by a direct vote of want-of -confidence emanating from the Opposition, and not from the Ministerial benches. He did not, so far as I am aware, say anything of that kind to his friends or constituents, or to the public of Western Australia during the recess. According to his own account he did not make that statement to any one except to the honorable and learned member for Ballarat. Whether he made the communication to that honorable and learned member when he reached Melbourne a few days ago, and’ had the conversation which he has retailed to us, or whether he - as I think is more probable - intimated that that was his view at the time that the honorable and- learned member for Ballarat was visiting Western Australia, I am unable to say. The honorable and learned member for Ballarat told us that he explained both to the right honorable member for Swan and to the honorable member for EdenMonaro that he intended to continue to support the Government. The only question that suggested itself to me, upon hearing that statement, to which I give the fullest credence, was “What had the right honorable member for Swan and the honorable member for EdenMonaro been saying to induce the honorable and learned member for Ballarat to make that statement ?” The right honorable member for Swan has told us since then what he had been saying, and possibly the honorable member for EdenMonaro may be equally kind and inform us of the remarks on his part which brought forth the explanation.
– The Minister will not draw the honorable member for EdenMonaro in that way.
– That may be SO; probably on this occasion the honorable member for Gwydir knows more than I do. The right honorable member for Swan told us that he was convinced that the position of the Government was impossible, and that that impossibility existed before the Ballarat speech was delivered. I am not quarrelling with the honorable and learned member for Ballarat for making that speech, nor do I object in the least degree to his attitude. He is the leader of a great party, and I am inclined as. a protectionist to believe, and I also hope, that that party will remain divided only for a short time. Appearances point to the greater number of the members of that party being brought together again. It is unfortunate for two or three members who are as good protectionists as any others that through no fault of their own they should have been left in an isolated -position.
– Why were the Government in such, a hurry?
– The honorable member for Gwydir had the privilege of addressing the House last night, and I trust that he will not unduly interrupt me. He has during the time I have been on my feet shared almost equally with me the attention of the Chamber.
– The Minister will get socialistic treatment.
– If I get socialistic treatment of the kind that has been proclaimed by my honorable friends opposite, as representing the essence of Socialism, namely, fair treatment to all, I shall have no objection. I am not one of those who quarrel with the chances and changes of political life. I quite recognise that when any honorable member becomes a Minister he does not acquire a freehold estate for life. I realize that changes of public opinion, changes of circumstances, and changes of view on the part of prominent members may lead to developments which will result in those who occupy the Treasury benches being transferred’ to positions of greater freedom and less responsibility on the other side of the Chamber. No man who recognises that difference of view upon public affairs on the part of honorable members is one thing and that personal feeling is another, can feel that he has any personal grievance when a change such as that now in prospect is brought about. I am led to understand that there is a probability of the amendment upon the AddressinReply being carried. The newspapers published this morning seem to indicate that. The declaration of the honorable and learned member for Ballarat that a number of the members of the Protectionist Party, who are sitting on this side of the House, are in agreement with him in the course he has taken, and his declaration also that the amendment was decided upon at a meeting held on the day before yesterday - and, presumably, it will be supported when the division comes by those who authorized him to move it - leads me to suppose that the Government majority, whether it be two or one, is in danger of disappearing. Well, be it so. The Government are not complaining of that any more than they complained when the previous Government found its majority disappear. The right honorable member for Swan and others considered some little time ago - some weeks ago, at any rate - that the position of the Government was untenable, and that on account of its narrow majority the Ministry could not continue to exist. That majority was, or should have been, just as large a fortnight ago as it was six months ago. The* Government, after having carried on the business during a difficult four months of a difficult session, and having succeeded in passing through a difficult measure - the Conciliation and Arbitration Act - continued in power. The right honorable member for Swan did not then say that it was impossible for the Government to carry on.
– I was hoping for an1 increase in our numbers all the while.
– The right honorable member says that he was hoping for an increase in the Government majority. I. should like him to refer to the speech he made during the last want of confidence debate, to compare it with his utterance of this morning, and to then exercise his intellectual ingenuity in reconciling the two statements.
– There are also his Western Australian speeches.
– I do not wish to go into details. I am not aware that during the recess the right honorable gentleman said anything in Western Australia to indicate that he would take up his present attitude. The point is that,, whereas the right honorable member for Swan, and apparently some other honorable members, had made up their minds that the position of the Government was impossible, they never told the Government so. The first indication the Government had of the fact was given in the Ballarat speech, and the moment the Government had that very clear intimation they recognised the view that was taken by some honorable members who had been supporting them.
– The Minister knew that there was a majority of only one.
– And. that one of the Government supporters had gone to England.
– Yes, but he had a pair.
– That would not be of much use in assisting the! Government to keep a House.
– The right honorable member for Swan has challenged the Government to show that there was anything in the speech delivered by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat which justified them in taking the action they have taken, and in regarding that speech as a practical withdrawal from the Government not only of confidence, but of cordial support. I would ask honorable members to recollect the facts relating to the great fiscal question before the present Government took office. First of all, however, I should like to say that the protectionists who accepted office in the Government did so with the full approval, not only of the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, but of every protectionist sitting on this side! of the House.
– Hear, hear.
– It is now, not stated, but suggested - I am sorry to say even in the speech of the honorable and learned member for Ballarat - that the protectionist members who joined the Government did so as a sort of act of individual and separate responsibility. I do not think that he meant that. I am quite sure he agrees with me that all the protectionist members sitting upon this side of the House cordially agreed with protectionists taking office in the Coalition Government. As to who those members were - that does not affect the question. Some protectionists who voted against the
Watson Ministry were to take office. It so happened that, the right honorable member for Balaclava and others were amongst those who accepted office. These gentlemen, however, did not by their action cut themselves off from the Protectionist Party any more than did the protectionists who stayed outside the Government and supported it. I wish it to be clearly understood that I have always been a protectionist, and that nothing has happened to change my views upon that great and important question. We have been asked why the Government abandoned its intention to proceed with a programme of non-contentious measures in view of the Ballarat speech. I have already said that in my opinion that speech. did not amount to a repudiation of the coalition, but to a declaration that the difficulties of the position were immensely increased. I think that that was the substance of my observations in replying to a press interviewer. To that view I still adhere. The speech did not amount to a repudiation of the coalition agreement, but to a declaration that the difficulties of the position were immensely increased - so increased that this Government, with its peculiar composition, constituted as it is of an equal number of protectionists and free-traders - could not continue to carry on as if that speech had not been delivered.
– Very peculiar.
– Will the honorable mem: ber be quiet if he can? The agreement between the Free-trade Party and that portion of the Protectionist Party which sits upon this side of the House - although it was never formally ratified - and also the understanding between the honorable arc learned member for Ballarat and the Prime Minister was that if any election took place prior to May, 1906, the fiscal truce was to be preserved. The honorable and learned member for Ballarat himself declared that in his speech as it is reported in the Age. I have not got a copy of his address in pamphlet form - indeed, I have not yet seen it. I am satisfied to take the newspaper reports, as substantially accurate.
– The pamphlet was printed from the newspaper reports. It was cornoiled by comparing those reports. Naturally one newspaper reported certain portions of my- address more fully than did another.
– I have here the Age report of that speech, in which the honorable and learned member is reported to have said : -
There was to be a suspension of fiscal strife; nothing was to be done to alter the fiscal position, except by consent of both parties in the Government, and the fiscal issue was not to be raised by the Ministry or any Ministerial candidate at any general election held prior to the next ordinary general election, or until after a declaration had been made by the Ministry before the ist May, 1906.
– That is part of the written agreement which is set out in full in the pamphlet.
– But the Age report is an accurate condensation.
– The honorable and learned member then ‘proceeded to say : -
The statement made that the fiscal issue was not to be raised at any election preceding the ordinary election ceases to have any force or effect, because the fiscal question cannot wait to be raised by anyone else - as it has already been raised on the part of the Government.
He further said -
If the Australian Liberal leagues in New South Wales desire our assistance they will require to adopt protection. If the Labour leagues desire our assistance they will require to put protection on our programme.
He declared that as soon as an election took place the fiscal issue must prevail. I do not intend to quarrel with that statement. I have already pointed out that the electors have a say in all these matters, and that nothing which we may do can prevent them from exercising their independent judgment outside. I now wish to refer to the effect of such a declaration upon a Government which was avowedly formed upon the basis of fiscal peace, and which could not last an hour after fiscal war had been proclaimed. I desire to emphasize the impossibility of a coalition Government continuing to carry on non-contentious business in the face of such a declaration as that.
– Is it not a fact?
– I am merely pointing out the effect of the Ballarat speech.
– Would not the position have been the same if the Ballarat speech had not been delivered?
– I do not think so. That speech emphasizes the fact that th’e honorable and learned member declares that the change has actually taken place. What I wish to point out is the effect of that utterance upon the Government, which consists of four free-traders and an equal number of protectionists, the former being as undoubted in their adherence to free-trade views as the latter are to their protectionist opinions.
– The Prime Minister said he had sunk the fiscal issue for ever.
– The Prime Minister stated at Geelong that for the rest of his political career he would sink the fiscal question. That statement, however, was not contained either in the original draft of the Governor-General’s speech or in the speech which was actually delivered. The four free-traders in the Ministry could not be expected to adopt protection, and the four protectionists could not be expected to remain allied with free-traders in a fight as between free-trade and protection. From whatever side it is viewed the position was an impossible one. Of course in theory it was possible for the four free-traders to retire from the Government, and for the Ministry to become a wholly protectionist one ; and similarly it was possible for the four protectionists to retire and for the Government to become wholly a free-trade Cabinet. That was a theoretical possibility, but it was a practical impossibility. Although the members of a Government may hold different fiscal views, as soon as they form an Administration - and certainly my remarks will apply to a Government which is carried on with’ the friendliness that has been exhibited by both parties in the coalition Ministry, because we have not had one serious difference of opinion - they undertake certain obligations - obligations of honour, and the obligation to stand by each other in evil as well as in good fortune.
– Does not the honorable member think that anything is now possible ?
– In a democracy anything is possible. As I have previously stated, I do not agree with the honorable and learned member for Ballarat that the appointment of the Tariff Commission dissolved the fiscal understanding which had been arrived at to the extent that he imagines. But the Government have to accept the views of such prominent gentlemen as the honorable and learned member, upon whose support, with that of others, ‘their existence depends. It does not matter what the Government may think; if their supporters think otherwise, that settles the Government. We have to pay regard to the views of those upon whose votes we rely for our Ministerial existence. The statement that the fiscal question was alive again rendered it impossible for us to carry on normal business, seeing that the sinking of the fiscal issue was the foundation of our existence. Nobody suggested that that issue was- to be sunk for ever. If honorable members will take the trouble to cast their minds back, they will recollect that I have repeatedly stated that as soon as the fiscal issue became alive again it meant the end of the Government. The Ministry could not then continue in office. The Government do not hold the view that the appointment of the Tariff Commission ended the period of fiscal peace. It has taken a fair opportunity of bringing that question before the House. We do not agree with the honorable and learned member for Ballarat and others who urge that the fiscal question has been revived by the appointment of that Commission.
– I have not said that.
– The honorable and learned member says that it is to be the issue at the next election.
– But, as I pointed out in my speech, that might be six months or nine months hence.
– The right honorable member for Swan said that it would have happened’ in any event in a few weeks. The honorable and learned member for Ballarat, with (all his power and influence, would find it easier to set a snowball rolling than to stop it. He could light the fire, but he could not put it out, and that is what he has done if the fire was not already lighted. I am not quarrelling with him, however, for what he has done. I do not think that I have said one word that the most sensitive man could resent as in any way imputing personal feeling.
– All that the Ballarat speech did was to stir up the fire.
– The fire was smouldering all the time.
– I wish the honorable member would smoulder for a time instead of breaking out as he does. The Government did not agree with the honorable and learned member for Ballarat. When he asked us yesterday whether in the event of an election in 1906 on the terms of fiscal peace the Tariff question would have to remain closed until 1909, he was cheered from the Opposition side of the House in a way to which he had long been a stranger.
– He deserved it.
– If nothing else has resulted’ from the speech of the GovernorGeneral, I think we must at least congratulate ourselves on mere grounds of humanity that it has .put an end to all the unkind feelings which existed between honorable members opposite and some honorable members on this side of the House. This, was the position, .more particularly in regard to the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, because no one was more violently assailed from the Opposition benches than he was. If only on mere grounds of common humanity we must be delighted that the Governor-General’s Speech has allayed so many angry feelings and introduced in their stead a spirit of kindness, charity, and good-will on the part of honorable members opposite towards every one except an unfortunate few who happen to be sitting on the Government side of the House.
– And no man has said so much against the Labour Party as has the honorable and learned member for Ballarat.
– It is true that he has expressed his opinion of the Labour Party in very definite terms, and in stronger language than I have ever used in speaking of that party. Probably that is because he knows more about them than I do.
– We forgive all that.
– It is strange that in political life we are ready to forgive any one when it is convenient to do so.
– Who would have thought that the present combination on the Government side would ever have been possible?
– Or the suggested one.
– The surprise occasioned by the present combination was nothing like that aroused at the prospect of the one that is coming along. The Government took the view that the honorable and learned member for Ballarat was wrong, and they took the only course that was consistent with that view by abandoning their intention to carry out a programme of non-contentious legislation under circumstances which they thought forbade their existence as a Ministry. We are now told that we acted unwisely in doing so - that if we had brought down our programme in the usual way we might ,have continued to exist. That, however, is not the opinion of the right honorable member for Swan, and there are other honorable members who might have been disposed to agree with him rather than with the view put forward bv the honorable and learned member for Ballarat. Be that as it may, the Government had no desire before they knew of the fate which was to overtake them to continue in office in any such precarious way. As long as we believed, as we did .believe, that we were fighting a strenuous battle against undue encroachment by certain portions of the community, with the hearty support of those who had joined us in entering upon that battle, we were prepared to continue the strife.
– To what undue encroachment does the honorable and learned gentleman refer?
– (The honorable member knows very well what I mean. If he does not, I refer him to the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, who can give him a full description of that which I have in mind.
– A band of intriguers.
– The honorable member must not become angry. In these early morning meetings, when one has had to rise earlier than usual, and breakfast in haste, one’s temper may suffer a little, but I would ask the honorable member to remain in as kindly a mood as he can in the circumstances.
– He is following the honorable and learned gentleman’s lead.
– I am in a tolerably good humour this morning, and do not think I have displayed very great heat. I have already explained our position. We were told that the fundamental article in the agreement on which we took office was gone. Thereupon the free-trade members of the Government felt that they could not carry on in the circumstances, and that view was shared by the protectionist members of the Ministry. There are only one or two other points to which I desire to refer, because I have no wish to make a long speech. Lengthy addresses are of no service on occasions of this kind. The right honorable member for Swan has charged the Treasurer with having dealt ungenerously with the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, but I would ask the honorable and learned member to say whether he indorses that view. I do not believe that he does.
– I think that the Treasurer was erroneous, but not ungenerous.
– The recollections of the two honorable members do not agree.
– I happen to have been particularly precise, for personal reasons, on the one point in question.
– That may be so, but the Treasurer has a different recollection of what occurred. It seemed to me, however, that there was nothing whatever in the remarks of the Treasurer that could be described as ungenerous. He made a speech in which he regretted that the honorable and learned member for Ballarat had acted as he had done, and expressed the opinion that he was not being fairly treated. Does any honorable member wonder at the. Treasurer, or any other protectionist member of the Ministry, feeling, at all events, that the treatment he has received is somewhat of a surprise. At all events, I and my protectionist colleagues in the Government feel that we are to be left stranded. The stranding may be accidental or inevitable, but that we shall be left stranded by all other honorable members of the Protectionist Party, if they vote as the newspapers indicate, no one can deny. The remaining members of the Protectionist Party will become a united body, but we shall be left. The protectionist members of the Ministry are not going to vote against the Government itself because the question of protection or any other issue is raised.
– It is only the action of the Government that has stranded honorable members.
– I differ entirely from the honorable and learned member. The statement made by the right honorable member for Swan is in itself a sufficient answer. He asserts, that, with or without the Ballarat speech, the situation was impossible. That being so, was this Government to bring down in good faith a list of measures for the consideration of the Parliament, believing that those on this side of the House intended to support them., in face of the very great difficulties created by an Opposition which last session threatened to prevent business being carried out, and which had threatened, through some of its members, to obstruct business during the present session ? Were they to come down to the House with their programme in these circumstances?
– They might have gone down with, flying colours.
– The Government is not seeking to string out its existence by bringing on non-contentious measures, when it does not know that it has the confidence of a majority of the House. I must confess to feeling greatly surprised at the changed attitude of a number of honorable members. When this Government took office in August last, and declined to advise a dissolution of the House - after the honorable member for Bland had asked the GovernorGeneral for a dissolution - every means was resorted to to humiliate and injure it. We were continually asked to go to the country, we were assailed with epithets of the wildest character because we declined to be forced into a dissolution.
– And so we declined to be forced.
– What a change has come over the scene ! The zealous, ardent spirits, whose one desire last session was to go to their electors, and tell them what an iniquitous Government was in power, and what a magnificent set of patriots ought to be put in power - these patriots, full of the fire of the discipline of the party, I suppose, do not clamour now for ,a dissolution. I do not know whether honorable gentlemen opposite, both those in direct opposition, and those sitting in the opposition corner, are going back into the protectionist fold, or whether the protectionist fold is going back to them ; it is very difficult to determine that. But during the recess their zeal for a dissolution has disappeared.
– We know that the Ministry could do nothing and that the present combination can.
– There is a combination, then? I have been objecting to the honorable member’s interjections, but if it is not utterly disorderly, I would ask him to say what is the combination to which he refers, when it was formed, what responsible persons are entering into arrangements on its behalf, how long the negotiations have been continued, and what is to be done when the success of the negotiations is assured.
– The honorable gentleman will get all that information in time.
– The honorable gentleman’s leader says that he has a promise of a dissolution.
– I do not remember the Prime Minister saying that he has a right to a dissolution.
– He has said so, in effect, from every platform on which he has been.
– The Prime Minister has said, I believe, that if business cannot be carried on in this House, there should be a dissolution. Why this zeal on the part of the honorable member?
– I have no zeal for playing to the gallery.
– I remember the honorable member - for whom I have the greatest respect, and with whom I believe my friendship is still uninterrupted, however much we may differ as to these political exigencies; - sitting in the Ministerial corner last session, and stating in very strong terms his reasons for declining to be associated with the Labour Party. I suppose he would say now that politics make strange bedfellows.
– Association with any party does not alter my principles or convictions. The honorable and learned gentleman ought to know that as well as any, man.
– Quite so. I want to know what the honorable member was doing all last session and during the recess, and what he would have done if the Government had brought down its non-contentious programme, as it originally intended to do? Would he have continued to support this combination, which essentially from the character of its constituent parts, had to sink the fiscal issue - that issue which is always a great and important one?
– I cannot support a blank sheet of paper, nor can the Minister go to the country on it either.
– Will the honorable membar tell us what he is going to support by his vote in the division? Because this amendment is the blankest sheet of paper I have seen. All it says is that practical business should be carried on. What a beautifully clear and distinct outline of policy !
– It is very concise.
– When a small arm will serve the purpose, it is of no use to fire off a large gun, and that is why I wish the honorable member to be quiet just now. Is it not a remarkable change of front, that the party which last Christmas clamoured for a dissolution, now declares, with its hand on its collective heart, “ We want to do practical business “ ? The programme that the honorable and learned member for Ballarat and the right honorable member for East Sydney drew up in May of last year is all the practical business that remains for the present Parliament. Even the nationalization of the tobacco industry has to take a back seat for the time being.
– How does the honorable and learned gentleman know that?
– For one thing, I do not not know where in the ‘Constitution power is given to nationalize that industry. That reminds me! of another matter. Honorable members opposite have more than once - some of them - taken an opportunity to declare that they are socialists, that they believe im the Socialist principles and programme.
– No, in our own programme only.
– Oh, they only believe in their own programme.
– And that is what the honorable gentleman does not believe in.
– No. Monopolies can be regulated without being nationalized.
– In America they have not been able to do that yet, anyhow.
– We in Australia always pride ourselves upon being able to do that which cannot be done anywhere else - with the help of that magnificently-organized and splendidly-led party I see on the! direct Opposition Benches. I shall be glad to know where it is going to sit on a change of Government, taking place. I would draw the attention of the honorable member for Moira to all the information which is to be gained in the future.
– Do not worry about me ; the honorable gentleman would not have me here if he lived.
– The honorable member may recollect, if he will only exercise his memory, that another electorate is practically just as badly off as Moira in that respect, and its name is Corinella. Moira may have disappeared from the map, but so also has Corinella. If he, like “ Japhet in search of a Father,” is looking for a constituency, I am in no better case.
– Moira is gone, but Corinella is only gone in name.
– No, in substances. There is no portion of sufficient size left under the new plan, to enable me with a certainty to identify it with the old Corinella. Probably the honorable member has not looked at the plan with as much care as I have. But I can assure him that if Moira be a vision of the! past, ‘Corinella is equally so. So that I have no reason to personally love any proposed scheme of redistribution that I have seen, so far.
Honorable members opposite disclaim what they now call ‘'’extreme Socialism.” They say that they do not want to nationalize all the. means of production, distribution, and exchange. But six months ago they did not say that. They said something entirely different. They said “ We will not do it all at once, but we will do it as fast as we can induce the public to swallow it.” Six months ago honorable members opposite did not say that they did not believe in the whole socialistic programme, but simply declared that they would not carry it out all at once.
– They say so still.
– They_ say so still, but they also say now that the result is one for achievement in the far distant future. I heard the honorable member for Boothby interject, “Oh, that is a century hence.” I will freely admit, for my own part, that not one of us will take much personal interest in what is to be done a century hence.
– The honorable member’s leader says it could be done by Act of Parliament in one day
– The honorable member knows1 that it could not be. He knows that it would not be permitted to be done, but he hopes that it could be done. He hopes to do it by degrees. I do not know whether he wants to nationalize only within the unions. He is very fond of keeping things within the unions. But in regard to the formation of the present Government, even during the ten months of its existence, it has done much good. It has this to its credit, that it has set honorable members opposite tumbling over each other in their haste to disclaim any present intention of nationalizing all the means of production, distribution, and exchange.
– The Government has given the Labour Party in South Australia three times its former strength.
– It may be that the Labour Party in South Australia has been strengthened for the very reason that it has disclaimed any present intention of carrying out a nationalization policy. If this present phase of Australian politics has done nothing else, it has checked the tendency to the wild extreme of making everything belong to the State and everyone a public servant, that the members of the party opposite were indulging in before. It is true that Mr. Tom Mann has kept on saying it, and says it still. I wonder whether Mr. Tom Mann still in- tends to go to Ballarat at the next election ! I trust that he may not, and that if he goes there his ambitions will be as fruitless as I hope his other aims will be in Australia. The honorable and learned member for Ballarat says, 98 per cent. of the people of Australia are against the programme of nationalization. I hope that the result in that electorate will be to prove that such is the case.
– The honorable gentleman is wrong; he said 99 per cent.
– As Mr. TomMann advocates the policy of nationalization straight out, without any reservation or exception, I presume that if he stands for election he will secure only 1 per cent. of the votes, and that the honorable and learned member for Ballarat will secure the other 99 per cent. And I may add that so far as I am personally concerned, if that contest takes place I trust that such will be the result. Whether the honorable and learned member for Ballarat happens to be on my side or against me, I certainly do think that we could not spare him from Australian politics. Now, I have spoken at greater length than I had intended, but I have taken up the challenge to show that, in view of the Ballarat speech, which has since been emphasized by the honorable and learned member’s speech last night, and by the fact that the amendment he has moved was prepared before the Prime Minister spoke on the AddressinReply, it was impossible for a Government composed half of protectionists and half of free-traders to pretend that the situation was unchanged. We should have been guilty of a mere pretence - a pretence for which we could justifiably have been blamed - if we had disregarded the facts; and honorable members opposite, if they will be frank, as I believe they will be, will admit that if we had come down to the House in the ordinary manner on the assumption that the aspect of affairs was unchanged, we should have been assailed right and left, and charged with clinging to office in spite of the warnings we saw written on the wall. Honorable members know that that would have been said of us. Not a single honorable member opposite - because they are honorable and honest men - will deny that that is the truth. No; they would have said to us what I believe the honorable member for Bland had come to this House prepared to say until he saw the Governor-General’s speech, which was different from what he expected. If we had done what has been suggested, we should have been open to that charge, and, I say, justly open to it. The honorable and learned member for Ballarat has said that the Government has committed political suicide. At all events, he has had the consideration to make sure that the corpse is really dead,. I am not blaming him for it. He has had the kindness to see that we are not left lingering in mortal pain and suffering. He has made sure that the illness is mortal. Compassion makes us shoot a horse that is incurably injured, and the honorable and learned member is making quite certain that we are not going to be buried alive.
– What is the Government suffering from?
– If I were to indicate that, I should probably have to say something which would leave some sting behind. I have been endeavouring, in the first place, to show why we honestly thought that, in view of the Ballarat speech, a change had taken place, and that we could not remain here as if that change had not taken place. If the House does not agree with us, that is our misfortune, not our fault. I have also tried in what I have been saying - and I hope I have succeeded in that - not to utter a single word that by any possibility could be construed into anger or resentment at the change that may be forthcoming, so far as it affects myself.
Mr.FISHER (Wide Bay).- I should like to say a few words on lines somewhat different from those which have been pursued by those who have spoken previously. We have listened, during yesterday and to-day, to a variety of opinions on the present situation. I think the Labour Party occupies a position in common with a very large number of people in Australia, inasmuch as they have nothing at all to do with family quarrels amongst other parties. The Labour Party in this Parliament, and their supporters outside, are anxious that legislation for the benefit of the people ofAustralia shall be enacted, and that without personal recriminations on the part of legislators. The Minister of Defence, who has just sat down, stated that the object of the formation of the present Government was to guard against an undue encroachment of a certain political party in Australia; meaning indirectly that the Labour Party occupies a position of undue prominence - that they have a programme that is opposed to the wishes of the people of Australia, and that they are intriguing by all possible means to carry out that programme in a manner that is not in every respect fair, just, and straightforward. But I say that there is not a party in Australia that has been more open in its statements to the people as to the policy it desires to see carried out than the Labour Party has been. There is no party which, during the last twenty years, has explained its views more plainly to the people. It is only since a very recent date that we have come into prominence in the politics of this country. It is but yesterday, comparatively speaking, that the Government of the country was given into the hands of Labour Parties in the States and in the Commonwealth ; and I make this statement fearlessly - that in no case have their attempts to carry on the administration of Government been less fearless and open than the attempts of their predecessors and successors have been. And while I say that regarding the Labour Party, I should like to say also regarding the present Government, that, with a few exceptions, I do not complain of the way in which they have carried out their administrative duties. I can say for the Minister of Trade and Customs that, regarding a big matter, the honorable gentleman has carried out his duties admirably. But I think the people of Australia will welcome this change. I believe they desire a change. I believe that a majority of them have felt that political questions have been placed before them from public platforms in Australia associated with ideas not at all in keeping with the position occupied by leading statesmen in the Commonwealth. Is it not a fact that associated with political questions there has been some attempt to inculcate the idea that the social condition of the people of Australia supporting the Labour Party is such as to be a danger in any community entitled to regard itself as civilized? It is difficult to think kindly or charitably of the public men who have preceded us in the great offices of State standing on public platforms and conveying by their remarks to the people in other parts of the world the idea that the Labour Party in their social connexion and family relation are men who ought not to toe found in good company. When 1 think of the great men who in the past have led parties and peoples in Aus tralia, I cannot name one of them who would have taken up such an attitude. When these questions are approached by public men in public places, what they have to say, should be said in the plainest possible language, in order that they might be fully answered. I do not accuse the present Prime Minister of taking an active part in this matter.
– I should think not. I have always spoken on the opposite side.
– I am glad to hear the right honorable gentleman say that he cannot be associated with the publication of such ideas.
– There is no other set of men who are straighter in this respect than are labour men.
– But the right honorable gentleman will agree with me that the idea to which I refer has been made prominent in a way quite foreign to Australian ideas, associations and sentiment. For the people who have pursued this course mischievously, having nothing but a political purpose in view, I have only the utmost contempt. Australian liberty and sentiment, and the standing of her people in the world must be guarded by her public men. The question is not a party question, and statements of the kind to which I refer should be met in no uncertain way by every public man in Australia worthy of his’ position as such. If there be a change of Government, whether it be ‘succeeded by a dissolution or not, it will at least have this good effect : It will be an intimation to people in other parts of the world that the statements to which I have made reference could not have been true. It will be seen that there are other leading men in the public life of the Commonwealth who are ready, willing, and anxious to be associated with those who have been referred to as men who constitute a danger to the community.
– Is that so ?
– Another coalition ?
– I say if the proposed change should take place, and so far as I am concerned I shall be prepared to state the position I occupy in the plainest possible language.
– Which members of this House have said the hardest things of the Labour Party ?
– The honorable member must not misunderstand me when he speaks about the hardest things that have been said against the Labour Party. I say that so long as those who are opposed to us confine themselves to political questions, I have 110 complaint to make of anything they may say, but when, for political purposes, they attack the social life of the members of the party, I have nothing but contempt for them.
– Has any member of this House done that?
– The honorable member’s reading has been somewhat limited.
– The honorable member should read a recent speech by the honorable member for Dalley.
– I shall not pursue the matter further. I say that I welcome the present political situation, not merely for the change of Government which it involves, not merely because other men will occupy the different Ministerial offices rather than those who now occupy them, but because it will be a declaration that the statements to which I have referred are not true, and that there are men, who have lived a long time in Australia and have occupied high positions in the Commonwealth, who are ready and willing to show that they do not believe those statements to be true by consenting to be associated with people who have been placed in a class to which no one believes they properly belong.
– Is it true that honorable members onthis side of the House are prepared to be associated with the Labour Party again?
– I hope it is true that honorable members on the opposite side are not ashamed to be associated with the Labour Party.
– I mean politically associated.
– The honorable member should not forget that the programme of the Labour Party was at first unpopular, and now every principle that they have advocated has become popular. Does the honorable member not know that there is not a single principle contained in the earliest Labour platform which has not since been taken up by some prominent politician in Australia or in other parts of the world? Doeshe not know that the anti-socialistic cry raised at the present time is nothing more than a political cry ?
– Is the plank of the great Labour Party merely a cry?
Mr.FISHER. - I make no complaint of the cry.
– Is it a reality or a sham, that is all I ask?
– I make no complaint of the right honorable gentleman’s action in this respect. I do not think that we can suffer from the way in which he has treated the matter. If the principle is unsound, I have no desire to see it carried into effect. I desire to see no unsound principle given effect. I should rather that fifty parties sank than that the whole community should suffer as the result of their action. I believe in certain principles, and think they can be justified by reason, argument, and by experience in the development of governing institutions, and in connexion with any change of Government that may take place, Icannot forget that the anti-socialistic cry is associated with other matters with which I have no sympathy. Regarding the question of a dissolution, and the delay in legislation likely to take place in that event-
– That is not a question for us at all.
– I must say, in connexion with a matter of great importance to my own State, that I am particularly anxious that no time should be lost. Honorable members I am sure will understand me. The sugar industry in Queensland has an annual output of the value of£2,000,000, and I think that legislation dealing with it should be enacted at a very early date. The Sugar Excise Act expires at the end of 1906.
– Is not the planting season now over - at the end of June?
– From the present time on it is absolutely necessary that some statement should be. made to the men engaged in the sugar industry, if they are to-be given anything like reasonable facilities for carrying it on.
– Is not the planting season over ?
– It will come later in the year in most places.
– What is the latest planting season ?
– Before September, October, or November, in various parts.
– Pretty early in September.
-I am only suggesting that we have reached almost the last possible moment when some action should be taken.
– Why not say that the planting starts in the spring and goes on till the end of the year?
– The fall of the year is the principal plantng time ; but Australia is a very large place, as the honorable member knows, and it is difficult to give a general statement as to the planting season which will cover the various sugar-growing districts.
– The new crop will be put in next month.
– Yes, but only in some places.
– Then why does not the honorable member say so?
– The honorable member will agree with me that we have reached the last possible moment in which to take action, and we cannot further delay dealing with the question. ‘
– It should not be forgotten that it will take some time to settle the question.
– For this reason I am extremely anxious that business should be gone on with. The settlement of the matter has been delayed longer than I expected. The Prime Minister, before the close of last session, stated that if it were at all possible he would make some state- 1 ment on” the question during the recess. For reasons which he explained the right honorable gentleman was unable to do so, but I trust that an early opportunity will be availed of to deal with this great matter in a sensible and straightforward way. I shall be satisfied with any Government that will deal with this question satisfactorily. I have nothing further to say than to express my pleasure that the Labour Party is in no way involved in the difficulty which has now arisen, and my satisfaction at the explanation given bv the Treasurer last night regarding his change of vote. I was in some doubt as to the right honorable, gentleman’s action on the occasion referred to, and I beg now to congratulate him upon his explanation that his stand was that of a party man, and I respect him the more for it.
– I agree with the Minister of Defence that at this stage of the debate short speeches should be the order of the day - that long addresses are not necessary under the special circumstances of this case. I desire, however, to make a few observations in order to explain the reason for the vote which I am about to give not only for the information of my fellow members, but also for the information of my constituents.
I should like, at the outset, to say that I think the tone and temper of the reply of the Minister of Defence were everything that one could desire; and I hope and trust that during the remainder of this debate, there will be no introduction of anything like recrimination or bitterness of any kind. So far as I am concerned, I say frankly that the time has come for parting with some political associates, with whom I have been identified for the last ten months. That parting may be accompanied with a certain amount of regret, but it appears to me to be the result of inevitable and inexorable circumstances which we cannot resist. I should like to explain that when this Ministry was formed I decided to give it a loyal support, not only because of the political circumstances under which the Government came into existence, but for special reasons.
– And the honorable and learned member did so.
– We were invited to support this Ministry in order to assist in conciliating the great State of New South Wales, on whose behalf complaint had been made that in previous Ministries it had not that representation to which it was entitled. Another reason was that it was understood we should all join in endeavouring to carry on the King’s Government ; and that was a parliamentary consideration which we could not ignore. Although, perhaps, none of us could regard the new combination or coalition as all that we desired, it was felt that it was the best compact or arrangement that could be made on the voluntary retirement from office of the previous Government. Well, Mr. Speaker, I say frankly that I do not regret my attitude or my decision in reference to the formation of the present Ministry, and the support I gave it last session. I think I can say that I gave the present Government fair and loyal support, both in the House, and outside- in private, as well as in public.
– Hear, hear !
– I believe that my friends on the protectionist side of the House, with whom I have been associated, were actuated by the same loyal principle. I think that this debate may centre round three cardinal or principal facts - first, the Ballarat speech, secondly the GovernorGeneral’s speech, and thirdly the amendment. I should like first to refer to the speech delivered at Ballarat by the honorable and learned member for that con- stituency, who is the leader of the Protectionist Party in this House. I may tell honorable members that I fir(st read that speech in the train on my journey from Brisbane ; and I say, frankly and candidly, that, although I regarded it as a clear, plain, bold, outspoken statement of the real facts of the case, I saw nothing in it suggestive of any desire to break away from the compact which was entered into, and which was understood to exist during the period known as fiscal peace.
– The honorable and learned member is the man for whom we have been looking - the one man who did not find that in the speech.
– I only speak for myself.
– I spoke to three honorable members who were at the meeting.
– I speak only for myself. I was away at the time, and was not in communication with anybody in Melbourne or in Victoria ; and after giving to the Ballarat speech a calm consideration, I saw nothing in it to justify any startling or sensational development in this House when Parliament met. I came here ready and prepared to assist in carrying on the government, on the lines of the programme set out by the Prime Minister in his speech at Hawthorn. I had no misgivings; I was not aware of any disturbing factor, or of anything to prevent business going on until events arose which would, undoubtedly ., and irresistibly, force the situation. I was one of the fiscal peace men. Like the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, I was returned on the lines of fiscal peace.
– And now the honorable and learned member for Bendigo is trying to provoke fiscal war !
– I must say that when, as chairman, I received the commission of the Tariff Commission, and read it through for the first time, I had some misgivings as to the possible duration of this fiscal peace. I found that upon the very face of the commission there was an allegation that complaints had been made about grievances arising in connexion with the Tariff ; and we were authorized and instructed to inquire into those grievances and report to His Excellency. In addition, the Tariff Commission had also to inquire into the working of the Tariff generally. I must say that as time went on, and our inquiries proceeded, I naturally pondered and thought over those matters ; and I could not help reflecting on the new factor which had appeared on the political horizon, in the shape of this Tariff Commission. The Commission was like a. machine ; it was set going and was expected, in the course of time, to do its; work, when its results would assume some concrete and definite form. I do riot take the view pf some that the Tariff Commission was appointed merely for the purpose of marking time, or killing time. I do not take the view suggested over and over again by the Sydney press, that the Commission is a farce. Had I suspected any such idea I certainly would not have touched the Commission - as a public man I shall take part in no farce. I understood the Commission to be a reality - a practical reality that has been recognised in this House, as well as in the Senate. I understood the ‘Commission to be a reality called into existence by the Government - called into existence by the Prime Minister himself, and constituted according to his own wishes. The very terms of the’ reference were settled by the Prime Minister himself, and it not only contemplated a final report dealing with the Tariff as a whole, but, to my utter amazement, I found there an authority and a power on the part of four members of the Commission to submit progress reports from time to time. There was thus undoubtedly a new force called into existence ; and, as the honorable and learned member for Ballarat stated; in plain unmistakeable words in his speech to his constituents, it is impossibleto ignore the “ new force as tending. I shall not say immediately, but ultimately, to alter the political situation. Can we ignore what was said by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, that if in the ordinary course of events the Tariff Commission should present a progress report dealing not merely with anomalies of administration to the rectification of which we might all agree, but with some concrete and practical question in regard to which the fiscal issue could not be avoided, the position could not be evaded by the Prime Minister? Could he do what was suggested by the Sydney Daily Telegraph on the 26th June last? That newspaper said that the Prime Minister would be perfectly justified in putting the report into the waste paper basket if it should raise the fiscal issue ; hut be could not do that with any degree of consistency, or of safety. He would have to do one of two things; either give the House an opportunity to deal with the report, or dissolve it, and send it to the country.
– The Prime Minister issued a live Commission, and not a sham one.
– I admit it, and I accepted the Commission as such. The Commissioners went to work without feverish haste or unreasonable delay, with the desire and determination to do their duty as instructed by the terms of the Commission. There was no wish on the part of myself or of any member of the Commission to take any unnecessary or hasty step, and so far as I am able to judge, as a member of the Commission, but without speaking ex cathedra, or in any way committing any other member, the time has not arrived when we could lay on the table of this House a report which would raise the fiscal issue in such a way as to cause the disruption of the Ministry. Still, then was a possibility of such a report being presented ; and reading the speech of the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, as I returned from Brisbane, and since in its revised form, all I have gathered from it is that “the fact had bee.n taken into consideration, and that the honorable and learned member thought that if a dissolution were suddenly sprung upon us, and we were sent to the country, an appeal could not be made to the electors exclusively on the issue of Socialism or no Socialism; but the new factor, the report of the Tariff Commission which had been called into existence by the Prime Minister, and was, at work, must be taken into consideration as well. The honorable and learned member for Ballarat thought that those who were parties to the appoint-ment of the Commission could not go to the country exclusively on the issue of Socialism or no Socialism, but would have to project their minds into the future, and act in accordance with whatever developments might take place in reference to the Tariff. Those who are associated with the Protectionist Party .would have been called upon to rally round our leader, and to make up our minds as to the course we would adopt in regard to the report of the Commission. That is all that the honorable and learned member for Ballarat intended to convey. He did not suggest any hostile action, or any modification of the attitude towards the Government which he maintained last session. At any rate, I came here prepared, to’ continue the arrangement, written or unwritten, spoken or unspoken, implied or expressed, which was then entered into, that the business of the country should be carried on as long as was practicable without raising the fiscal issue. I saw no immediate prospect of it being raised, although there was a possibility of that happening. The next great fact in the situation is the speech of the GovernorGeneral. Whatever construction may be placed on that speech, the Prime Minister and his colleagues had no political or constitutional justification for coming to Parliament with such a skeleton of a programme. They were bound to face Parliament with a programme, and to allow the political situation to evolve in the ordinary course of events. That was a duty which they owed to their supporters, and to those who had helped to keep them in office, and to carry on the King’s Government as long as possible on the lines laid down last session.
– Even though the honorable and learned member’s leader talked to them like a Dutch uncle?
– I do not think that it is necessary to use such harsh expressions towards an honorable and learned gentleman who has helped to keep the Ministry in power, and who has said that he was prepared to support them until inevitable and irresistible circumstances should render that impossible.
– He told them that after saying it was necessary to put them out.
– There is no precedent to be found in the history of representative government, either in Great Britain or in any of its colonies, for the presentation to Parliament of a skeleton speech such as that delivered by the GovernorGeneral on Wednesday last. I attended in the. Senate chamber to hear an address which would embody the policy the Ministry intended to submit to Parliament, and eventually, if necessary, to the country ; but I found that His Excellency th”e GovernorGeneral had been brought all the way from Sydney to appear in his official uniform in the Senate chamber, surrounded with a galaxy of beauty, only to read a speech beginning “ Gentlemen,” and ending, “ It is the intention of my advisers to submit these proposals for your consideration without delay,” in which there was no reference to an intention even to ask for supply, and from which was omitted the usual prayer for the blessing of Divine Providence on our deliberations.
– How could he ask for that?
– My first impression was that the Government had inflicted upon His Excellency a most painful duty, if not an “indignity, and, to place such a speech in h;6 hand was a severe reflection on, if not an affront to, both Houses of the Parliament. This course has been adopted, however, apparently with deliberation and forethought. And with what object? Apparently, as an honorable member interjects, the Government are riding for a fall, but they might have conducted affairs with more dignity. The more dignified course would have been to place a programme before Parliament, and to accept its will as constitutionally expressed - not to anticipate it. Had the Ministry done that they would have been able to test the sincerity of their supporters, and to have ascertained whether the House was willing to carry on the business of the country. If they had found that they were not properly supported, then, undoubtedly, as men of honour, and as statesmen, they would have had to resign or ask His Excellency to grant a dissolution. That would have been a constitutional proceeding. They had no right to come down with a mere skeleton of a speech. It was an unheard-of thing, and I say, without any disrespect, that it was unworthy of the Ministry, or of the Prime Minister who was mainly responsible for it.
– Off with his head at once.
– I am not saying anything to justify such a remark. I am dealing with the matter as calmly, and as practically as I can. When I reach the next point, which will form the gist of my argument, I think I shall be able to explain the situation to the satisfaction, at least, of those who have given it consideration. It was admitted by the honorable and learned member for Illawarra, who moved the adoption of the AddressinReply, that this sham Governor-General’s Speech was the answer of the Government to the deliverance of the honorable and learned member for Ballarat. What did it amount to? It amounted to a declaration of war, and a challenge a l’outrance to the honorable and learned member for
Ballarat. It was not a challenge to the Opposition, because they had not given any indication of their intention to obstruct the business of Parliament. The challenge was directed to the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, and the friends with whom he was associated, and to them only. That being so, I ask honorable members to say whether the honorable and learned member for Ballarat could ha-ve evaded his political responsibilities. If he had shirked his duty, he would undoubtedly have been open to the accusation of political cowardice, and of want of readiness to accept the responsibilities attached to his position. I, and those associated with him, feel that in view of the construction which’, rightly or wrongly, was placed upon his speech, the honorable and learned member had no recourse but to test the feeling of the House by means of an amendment upon the Address-in-Reply. The necessity mav be a regrettable one. It may be that the protectionist members of the Ministry have been placed in an unpleasant position, but who is to blame for that? The speech itself is responsible.
– I am satisfied to accept the opinion of the public of Victoria upon that point; I know the general feeling. The honorable and learned member would have acted in exactly the same way if he had been in our position.
– I am not saying anything by way of censure of the right honorable gentleman ; but I am explaining the situation to the best of my ability. Some of the results may be regrettable, but we cannot help them. I am merely pointing out thai the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, as the leader of his party, dare not evade the responsibility of accepting the challenge thrown out to him. He has responded under circumstances which are the least disagreeable. The time for the parting has come. It may be a matter of reg-ret, but the necessities of the situation render it unavoidable. We have to shoulder our personal responsibilities in the matter. I. am prepared to shoulder mine, and the honorable and learned member for Ballarat has shown an equal readiness in the same direction. My honorable friend the Treasurer, and those associated with him, may have been actuated bv the very best of motives. I am not disputing their right to act as they have done, but merely questioning the judgment and discretion they have exercised. Matters have been brought to a head very suddenly, by. events, apparently resulting to some extent from a misunderstanding, but, still, events over which many of us had no control. I have been watching events very carefully in the course of my progress through New South Wales and Queensland during the last few months, and I venture to express the suspicionit may not be exactly true, but there may be some basis for it - that the Ballarat speech is not the only factor that has led to the present crisis. I believe that the Prime Minister, in his endeavour to carry on the Government, has been harassed and worried by the free-trade newspapers in Sydney, and by some of his more extreme free-trade supporters to a greater extent than by any of the protectionists in this House.
– That is absolutely incorrect.
– The Sydney press has been worrying him almost daily to enter upon a crusade, and to introduce measures which would inevitably have brought about a separation between him and his protectionist allies. They have called upon him to amend standard legislation with which the Protectionist Party and the members of the Barton Ministry have been identified, and a similar demand has been made by leading members of the Free-trade Party.
– Has the honorable and learned member any evidence to support his statement with regard to the members of the Free-trade Party?
– Does the honorable and learned member suppose that free-trade motives would have influenced the protectionist members of the Cabinet?
– I am not suggesting that. I am merely mentioning some of the supplementary factors which have brought about the present crisis.
– The Prime Minister never made the slightest suggestion of the kind indicated.
– I believe that he has been most unfairly worried bv his freetrade supporters in New South Wales, and that he has been asked to initiate changes in the existing laws which would have inevitably led to a separation from his protectionist supporters. The Sydney Daily Telegraph has urged him, time after time, to disband the Tariff Commission, which has been stigmatized as a farce.
– So it is.
– Was not the honorable member a party to its appointment ?
– No, distinctly no.
– Neither am I any party to enacting a farce. Rather than occupy such a position, I would throw my commission on the table with contempt. This House did not consider it a farce, and it is not. a farce.
– I consider it a f farce
– Then the honorable member should have resisted its appointment to the utmost of his powers.
– I spoke against it.
– The honorable member should not call it a farce. I deny that it is a farce. Its labours will have to be regarded by this House. I was not complaining of the Prime Minister, but merely explaining that he had been worried and hounded down by his own friends, rather than by his protectionist allies, because he would not make use of the temporary compact into which he had entered to alter the laws in the direction suggested. He has, been asked to abandon his position. He said that he was asked in Sydney to commit political suicide, but that he had refused to do so. He has been worried ever since, and. now he has practically committed political suicide.
– Not by abandoning the compact.
– I did not say that.
– The honorable and learned member implied it.
– I did not say it either expressly or by implication. I say that he has been worried into taking the step that he has taken, and that the time has arrived when he rejoices at his liberation from the trammels of office.
– The honorable and learned member has said more than that. He said that it suggested another reason for the Ballarat speech.
– I said that I had no facts’ to go upon apart from statements which have appeared in the press.
– It is a pity to express suspicions, and to suggest imputations, unless one has facts to go upon.
– I merely spoke of what has, appeared in the public prints, and I say that it is impossible to dissociate from the position all the forces which have been at work. The amendment submitted by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat must be dealt with, and it may result in political complications and changes. It is difficult to speculate upon what those changes will be; but, so far as I am concerned, I intend to support any Ministry which can come into office upon- honorable terms, and which has a good programme of practical work to put before us, irrespective of whether it is formed by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat or the honorable member for Bland.
– I am sure that the House must have listened with some amazement to the speech of the honorable and learned member for Bendigo, and especially to that portion of it which implied that pressure has been brought to bear upon the Prime Minister by the free-trade members of his party to induce him to break the compact which was entered into when the coalition Government was formed. I absolutely repudiate that statement.
– Nobody ever made it.
– The honorable and learned member for Bendigo implied that, if he did not express it specifically. So far as the Sydney newspapers are concerned, I have seen no indication upon their part of an intention to advocate . any departure from the lines of the agreement entered into between the Prime Minister and the honorable and learned member for Ballarat. There has been no suggestion of anything of the sort. We all recognise that we are face to face with a very grave crisis in the affairs of the Commonwealth. That crisis has been precipitated, not by the members of the Government, or by their free-trade followers, but by the action of the one man who was primarily responsible for bringing the coalition Ministry into existence. I propose briefly to review the circumstances which led up to the present situation. It will be remembered that when this Parliament assembled we were confronted with three parties of almost equal numerical strength. It was then recognised by all sections of the House that it was1 impossible for any one party, as then constituted, to carry on the affairs of government. The party in possession of the Treasury Bench could transact public business only with the assistance of the third party, whose members occupied the cross benches. We all. recollect the circumstances which led to the downfall of that Ministry, and we know perfectly well that its members’ rode for a fall, recognising that their position was an intolerable one. Later, when a rearrangement of portfolios, took place, the honorable and learned member for Ballarat was amongst those who pointed out that if we were to govern upon constitutional lines, it was absolutely necessary that the three parties in the House should be resolved into two. With a view to securing that goal, he used all his influence to arrive at some understanding with one or other of the parties in the House, so that the government of the country could proceed upon ordinary constitutional lines. We know what was the result. Coalitions were formed upon both sides of the House, whether for good or evil does not matter at the present time. That had the desired effect of doing away with the three-party system, and of resolving the House into two parties, namely, Government and Opposition. Things have proceeded ever since upon the basis of the agreement which was then arrived at, and nothing has occurred to disturb the conditions which existed at the time that arrangement was made. When, therefore, the honorable and learned member for Bendigo says that we have come to the parting of the ways, I wish to know what events have since transpired to justify his assumption. Certainly, he gave no indication whatever of any change, except by reference to the Governor-General’s speech. But what were the circumstances which led up to the production of that speech? We are all perfectly well aware that the reason that speech was put into the mouth of His Excellency was that the change which had occurred had not been brought about by the Government, but by one of their erstwhile supporters, who had sounded the tocsin to break away from the compact which he himself had been mainly) instrumental in making. That was a position which no Government with any self-respect could tolerate. They could scarcely be expected to bring forward a programme of legislation with a threat of that kind hanging over their heads. No honorable men could have adopted any course other than that which the Government have followed in the present instance. Nothing transpired during the recess to disturb the conditions which obtained between the two parties to the present coalition. What will be the effect of carrying the amendment submitted? It can have only- one of two results - a dissolution, or the formation of another Government. Let us examine both’ of these alternatives, and see what will happen in the event of the defeat of the Government bringing about a dissolution. In what position shall Ave be? We shall have to go to the country upon the old gerrymandered rolls, which everybody agrees ought to be discarded as soon as possible. We shall have to appeal to the electors upon a scheme of representation which is absolutely opposed to every recognised principle of democratic government - a scheme of distribution which gives to the voters in some electorates three times the power that they exercise in others. Those who so loudly proclaim their faith in democratic forms of government cannot countenance such a state of affairs without stultifying themselves. If we are forced into a dissolution, the responsibility for this situation will rest upon the honorable and learned member for Ballarat and those who are acting, in concert with him in the present crisis. We have many . indications that it is no sudden emergency which has arisen, but that for some considerable time the mine has been carefully prepared. We may date the preparation for this attack from the time when the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, accompanied by the honorable member for Eden- Monaro, visited Western Australia. It would be interesting to learn whether the honorable member for Hume has had a finger in this political pie. It looks very like one of those nice little political intrigues for which the honorable member is supposed to have a particular penchant. From indications we have received, he appears to have known for some time all about the contemplated attack; and interjections from honorable members of- the Opposition seem to show that they also were aware that there was a prospect of something of the kind. It would appear, indeed, that a kind of conspiracy amongst certain sections of supporters of the Government has been going on for some time, and that the culminating point was reached when the honorable and learned member for Ballarat delivered his speech last Saturday. The other alternative which presents itself is the formation of another Government during the life of the present Parliament, either bv the honorable and learned member for Ballarat or some other member. What would be the result of the formation of such a Ministry? Obviously the condition of parties in this House is exactly the same as it was when we first met. No party could carry on the government of the country without the assistance of one of the other sections of the House. I do not pretend to speak as an experienced parliamentarian ; but it seems to me, on the grounds of common sense, that the alternative I have just suggested cannot be brought about except by an alliance between two parties. It is proposed to disrupt the existing alliance. That must be the inevitable result of the passing of the amendment now before us, so that the only party with whom the honorable and learned member for Ballarat and his followers could combine is that which now sits in opposition. I should like to know how one solid party could be so formed, whilst the labour leagues, with their caucus pledge, which have been so strenuously denounced by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, the right honorable member for Swan, and others who are associated with him in the present crisis, remain in the road. Obviously such an alliance could not be brought about. That being, so, an independent Government, consisting of one of the two parties, must come into power, and must be in a minority unless it receives the support of the other. To what position would that bring us? It would mean a return to the tri-partite system, which no one’ has more vigorously denounced than has the honorable and learned member for Ballarat. Is he going to meet this House, supporting, if not at the head of, a Government that must revive the very system which he so strongly condemned, and set to work, with so much assiduity, to destroy, during the early life of this Parliament? Another point to which I desire to draw attention is that the party which ‘displaces the present Government must inevitably commit itself to Socialism by allying itself with the Labour Party. That cannot be denied, because Socialism has now been declared to be the objective of the Labour Party. When I recall to mind the speeches of certain honorable members on this side of the House who are going to support the projected combination, I cannot refrain from putting the question - How will they reconcile their consciences with their previous utterances in denunciation of Socialism? How can they support or receive the support of a party that is committed to that objective? It is manifest that if the honorable and learned member for Ballarat and his party take office as a minority, and carry on the government of the Commonwealth only with the consent and under the domination of the Labour Party in occupation of the crossbenches, an attempt will be made to put more drastic socialistic measures on the Statute-book than would be possible if the Labour Party were in office under the same condition’s. We know from experience that the Labour Party out of office, when on the cross-benches - holding the power without the responsibility of office - must be more rampant than they were when in possession of the Treasury bench. They watered down their policy and their Socialism very considerably when they were in office; but whilst they are on the cross-benches dominating the Government of the day, a very different set of conditions will arise. I desire now to refer to one or two remarks that were made yesterday by the leader of the Opposition. He pointed out that the members of that party had necessarily “ been Socialists since the adoption of the socialistic plank in their 1897 programme,” and “ that those who had joined its ranks after that date must necessarily be Socialists. It has been a Socialist party from 1897, whatever it might have been prior to that time,” and we have had the declaration of the leader of the Opposition, in reply to a direct query on the point, “ that the Labour Party are Socialists.” In these circumstances, I wish to know what the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, the right honorable member for Swan, the honorable and learned member for Bendigo, and the honorable member for Moira propose to do. How can they reconcile an alliance at the present time with the party that professes’ socialistic aims, which they have so strenuously and persistently denounced hitherto? It is all very well for the Labour Party to seek to water down their Socialism, but we must look beyond them and their leader to the authorities from whom they imbibe their notions of Socialism, in order to ascertain what their doctrine really entails. Although the leader of the Opposition has told us that his. Socialism is practically of a milk-and-water description, and can do no harm, we know that it involves violent departures from our existing institutions. We find, also, that the labour press is not at one with the labour leaders in their definition of what is involved. That being so we have to look beyond the party to those from whom they obtain their support, in order to ascertain how far we may be carried in the dangerous direction of Socialism. The leader of the Opposition has pointed out that his brand of Socialism is not disloyal, and that Socialism is not antagonistic to monarchical institutions. I quite believe that so far as he is concerned, but can he say as much for the movement itself, or for all his followers, in that regard? We have also to look to that aspect of the question, and to consider what a change of Government at the present time might involve us in. In that connexion it is just as well that I should read what the most influential organ of the Labour Party in Australia - the Brisbane Worker - has to say on the subject of loyalty ; because it is not from the leaders that we get an indication of the actual policy which Socialism involves, but from the labour press behind the leaders, and from those again who are behind the labour press. I think we are justified in taking their expressed opinions as being worthy of notice, and as indicating the general trend of this movement. On the 27th May, just after Empire Day, the Brisbane Worker published the following article, under the head of “ Empire Day “ - “ The cultivation of an Australian sentiment, based on the development in Australia of an enlightened and self-reliant community,” laid down by the recent convention as part of the objective of labour, will be no light task while our Governments permit a lickspittle reverence for the Empire and its hereditary monarchs to be infused into the sensitive blood of the State school children.
Is that a loyal sentiment ? Then the article goes on to say -
The conversion of the late Queen Victoria’s birthday into Empire Day, as. a special festival for the schools, is a blow at Australian nationalism. The idolatry of Victoria is being worked for all it is worth by the Jingo Imperialists who hate the thought of “ Australia a nation,” and have no higher ambition for our Commonwealth than to make it a lackey abroad’ and a snob at home.
I have not seen any repudiation of these sentiments by the leader of the Labour Party, or any other of its members, therefore I may take it that this official organ of the Queensland section of the Labour Party expresses its sentiments. Then in a press report of another function we read of a member of the Labour Party - the honorable member for Kennedy; - refusing to honour the toast of the King, and also desiring that the National Anthem should be struck off the programme. If he had been here to-day I should have liked to get his assurance, either that the report was incorrect, or that it was not. The published report has been confirmed by an editorial note to a letter which was written to a newspaper, and I have not yet seen any contradiction on the part of the honorable member. From time to time other members of the Labour Party have given utterance to sentiments which are absolutely disloyal in character. Whilst I admit that they are perfectly within their rights in holding republican ideas, and having republican tendencies, I cannot conceive how they can reconcile their republican ideas and disloyal sentiments’ with their occupancy of a seat in this House, and their oath of allegiance to His Majesty the King. I wish to deal with one or two points which were referred to by the honorable member for Darling. We have been told by the honorable member that it was not proposed by the Socialists that there should be a general “ divide up,” or that they should do anything in the nature of taking away from the people their property. But we have also had the declaration of the Australian Socialist League, which I take it voices the opinions of the Socialists more correctly than any other body can profess to do. It was published in the Sydney Morning Herald on the 23rd February last, and contains these words-
We candidly admit that Socialism would wipe out the exchangeable value of ^982,000,000 worth of property in Australia. . . . The class who do the world’s work will not be deterred by the word “ confiscation “ when they are ripe for action at the ballot-box.
That is, I think, a pretty straight declaration of the intentions of the Socialist Party, whatever may be the intentions of its political expression - the Labour Party in this House. But in their declaration the General Executive of the league go on to say -
Such in brief is the attitude of the Australian Socialist League, and its political expression, the Socialist Labour Party.
I have not yet read in the press any contradiction of that published statement, and I have been waiting in vain to see any repudiation of it by any of the labour leaders in the Federal Parliament or the State Parliaments. I should like to know if the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, the right honorable member for Swan, the honorable member for Eden Monaro, and others intend to support a policy of that character, or to ally themselves with a party whose declared aim. is identical with that which the Australian Socialist League profess to follow, namely, Socialism. Then we come to a speech of Mr. Tom Mann, the accredited mouth-piece of the Victorian Labour Party, in which he made these remarks only a few months ago -
Under a socialistic regime a man may be allowed to have his furniture and his bicycle, and, perhaps, his motor car -
Only perhaps, mark - but whether he will be permitted to have his house will be dependent on the stage of development which Socialism reaches.
We must place some degree of responsibility on the Labour Party for utterances of this character from the mouth of their accredited representative here. Let us also look at the character of those who are associated with this movement in other countries. We have been told by the leader of the Opposition and other members of his party that this Australian movement has nothing to do with the continental movement. Yet this same mouth-piece of the Victorian Labour Party declares that the Labour Party, as a party, must get rid of the idea of having merely an Australian movement, and come into line with the continental Socialists. He boasts of his connexion with the continental Socialists, and says that he was found too warm for some of the European countries to admit.
– Is all this in the GovernorGeneral’s speech?
– It is all involved in the question before the House. What I am trying to show is the character of the movement with which the honorable member himself, the honorable member for Ballarat and others are proposing to identify themselves, and to point out to them the dangerous precipice lying in front of them. I desire to show that it will not be in the interests of the country to have a change of Government that would bring into power a party holding these revolutionary ideas. In his own pamphlet, Mr. Tom Mann uses these words -
I have had the honour of being twice expelled from Germany owing to my connexion with the International movement, and, as matters stand at the present time, I am forbidden to enter Belgium, France, or Germany.
Apparently, he was too hot for these countries, but he is not too hot for Australia, and Ave are told that there is no harm in this movement. We have to look, not to what the leader of the Opposition says- the movement is, but to what the Socialist authorities behind him say it is. That is where we have to look for our definitions of Socialism. Speaking at a meeting held on Sunday, 9th October, of last year, Mr. Tom Mann, in emphasizing this particular point about coming into line with the continental Socialists, pointed to the fact that an International Congress had just been held at Amsterdam, and that the delegates had declared that -
A class war must be recognised, and the fight must be to dispossess the capitalist class that now monopolize control and dominate the world, and to supersede the capitalist ownership system with a system of universal co-operation.
There is no talk of an “ Australian national sentiment” here, but there is talk of combining with the socialistic movement in other parts df the world so as to make the movement uniform in its character. That aim is clearly enough described in an article published in the Nineteenth Century Review, shortly after the Congress, by Mr. Keir Hardie. Mr. Keir Hardie, as is well known, is a prominent Labour member in the House of Commons. In this article, he describes the personnel of the Amsterdam conference to which Mr. Tom Mann called attention. Mr. Keir Hardie says -
Side by side with Fabians sat amnestied French Communards from New Caledonia, escaped Russian Nihilists from Siberia, and pardoned Spanish anarchists from the dark dungeons of Mont Zuich. Prominent among them was the quiet, grey, slightly limping form of Vera Zassulich, the intrepid nihilist, who, in broad daylight, killed the head of the Russian police.
That is certainly a very goodly company for a Socialist conference ! I understand that a representative of Australia was present. If these people represent the views of the industrial intelligence of the world, and if we in Australia are to be guided by the counsels of bodies of that kind, I, for one, am not going to be a party to support anybody who is connected with that sort of thing; and I shall be very much surprised indeed, if the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, and those associated with him, will subscribe to such a policy. But I do not see how they are going to escape from it if they work for the support of a party which is more or less - not, perhaps, individually, but by its adoption of Socialism, and by its identification with principles of that kind - connected with the continental Socialists. But let us come again to the Labour press, as compared with the Labour leaders of Australia oh this question of Socialism. The Queensland Worker, which is the organ of the Labour Party in that State, recently said -
The problems now confronting us go to the very foundation of society.
– The honorable member agrees with that, does he not?
– I agree with the contention that serious social and industrial problems exist, but not that they go to the very foundation of society. They rest upon a foundation of monopoly of natural resources, and I certainly do not agree with the methods which this party adopts to cope with them.
– The honorable member agrees as to the nature of the problems.
– I agree that problems exist, but I say they rest upon the foundation I have indicated. I have never hesitated to declare at all times that I have every sympathy with the legitimate aims of labour and of the Labour Party, in trying to bring about better industrial conditions. But when they want to adopt methods which, in my opinion, are of a revolutionary and destructive character - destructive of our best institutions - then there is a parting of the ways between us. I do not go with them on those lines. It is from their methods that I dissent.
– The honorable member advocates the single tax.
– They do not advocate the single tax.
– But the honorable member does; confiscation as well.
– I do not advocate the confiscation of anything which belongs to the individual, as Socialism does. Socialism wants to confiscate what is rightfully private property, as against what is legally private property. There can be no question of confiscation in taking for the community what the community creates ; but the Socialists propose to confiscate to the community what the individual creates and earns himself. There is an unbridgable gulf between these fundamental principles. However, to continue my quotation, the Worker says -
They can only be solved by a process of disruption. The tearing up of established institutions bv the root. The Labour Party has got to leave off tinkering with palliatives that don’t palliate, and start the real business of the movement.
What is the real business of the movement? According to this organ of the party in Queensland, it is the pulling up of established institutions’ by the root. It goes on to say that -
Nothing short of a policy of straight-out Socialism, vigorously and persistently pursued, can be of much avail, and the labour movement must be part of the great world-wide onsweep which threatens dynasties in its progress, and is shaking established institutions to their base.
That is strong language. What do they mean by “threatening dynasties”?
– China and Russia, of course.
– Is not that an attack upon the monarchical form of Government ? When we analyze this “cultivation of an Australian sentiment “ what is meant by it? I have no objection to the “ cultivation of an Australian sentiment” provided it does not mean, as this seems to imply, the cultivation of an anti-British sentiment. I have no sympathy with that kind of “ Australian sentiment.” But if we take the Australian Worker’s definition of what is meant, it is a blow at our monarchical institutions, and an attempt to establish here in Australia an independent nationality for the purpose of cutting the painter from the mother country. I “ suppose that this idea may have the approval of some honorable members opposite ; but I should like to know whether that is the case. It is just as well to be perfectly clear on these points. Personally, I am not going to assist the Labour Party in any such attempt. Although I am thoroughly Australian in sentiment, I am just as thoroughly British in sentiment, and I recognise that the moment we cut the painter from the mother country, Australia is doomed. I am quite satisfied that with our handful of population we should simply be a prey to any one of the hungry nations that would be only too eager to swoop down upon the shores of Australia, and to people it with, their own race. The British Navy alone is our present safeguard against foreign invasion. The people who talk in that strain about the “cultivation of an Australian sentiment “ with the idea of establishing an Australian independent nation, are talking the most absolute and utter folly. But at the same time, there is a great deal of danger attached to these utterances, and if the Labour Party are committed to a policy of that kind, and to such sentiments, it is just as well that the country should know it at the earliest possible moment. Whatever may be the outcome of this debate, and of the present situation, the re sponsibility rests not upon the shoulders of the present Government, who have kept absolute faith with their allies all through this compact, but on the shoulders of the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, and those who, with him, are responsible for bringing about the present condition of affairs.
– The Governor-General’s speech is responsible.
– They are responsible for the Governor-General’s speech also. It is well known that so long as they were prepared to abide loyally by the’ compact there was not the slightest danger of any attempt by the other party to it to bring about its infringement. There has not been the slightest indication of that. All the indications have, in fact, been in the opposite direction, and show that the Prime Minister has never attempted to depart by one hair’s breadth from that compact. As a matter of fact, the right honorable gentleman’s great fault is that he is too generous, and he has studied those opposed to him more than those who are with- him. If he had studied his own friends more than his enemies, it is at least possible that the present situation would not have arisen.
-I feel deeply that the present position of affairs is one which is calculated to lower the dignity of the Commonwealth Parliament, if that be possible. I may say that I have never been a supporter of any party. The furthest I have gone in that direction has been that whenever I have found a party of men with whose .principles I have agreed, I have always given them loyal support. When I have” not agreed with their principles, I have not supported them. I must confess that when this Parliament assembled two days ago, I was extremely surprised at the course taken by the Prime Minister. That course might be called heroic; but if it be heroic, how shall we describe the course which the right honorable gentleman pursued when he assumed office?
– Doubly heroic.
– When the right honorable gentleman assumed office, he had practically no majority behind him, or at any rate, the majority which he could command was so small that he could not hope to carry on. He was willing, however, to undertake the responsibilities of office, and the right honorable gentleman had never any reason to anticipate any greater degree of support at first than he has at the close of his term of office. He has apparently accepted the present position without consulting those who have been supporting him;, he throws up the sponge, in consequence of a speech delivered by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat. That honorable and learned gentleman assured this House that he never intended to withdraw his support unless the fiscal question was raised. The right honorable member for Swan has assured the House that he. telegraphed to the honorable and learned member for Ballarat a short time ago to ask’ if he thought there was any fear of a dissolution, and the reply was that the honorable and learned gentleman saw no immediate prospect of a dissolution. That reply is capable of two interpretations - first, that the honorable and learned member for Ballarat intended loyally to support the Ministry in the formation of which he had taken an important part ; secondly, that the honorable and learned gentleman contemplated a course of opposition to the present Administration, and thought that with the assistance of certain honorable members on the other side, he would have so large a following that he could go to the GovernorGeneral, and point out that he had actually a majority so large that he could carry on the business of the country. Those are two interpretations of the honorable and learned gentleman’s reply to the right honorable member for Swan, either of which can be accepted by those interested. We must bear in mind the fact that the honorable, and learned member for Ballarat had undoubted cause to feel aggrieved by the attack made upon him by the mover of the Address-in-Reply, and other honorable members, but if he had shown that he had been actuated throughout by a loyal spirit would he not have stood ten thousand times higher in the ‘ estimation not only of this House but of Australia? If at the conclusion of his address, he had turned to the Prime Minister and said, “Although you have behaved towards me in the manner you have, yet remembering that some of ‘ my own friends still occupy positions on the Treasury bench, I shall continue to support you as if nothing had been said,” would he t not have occupied a position ten times higher than that which he occupies at the present moment? I say that what I term an act of treachery has been committed upon the honorable gentlemen who were the former colleagues or supporters of the honorable and learned member for Ballarat in this Chamber. I confess that never in the whole course of my political reading or career have I known such a course to be adopted by any man pretending to call himself an honest politician.
Mr. JOSEPH COOK (Parramatta).I shall- not occupy the time .of the House for many minutes, but there are several things which I should like to’ say. First, I. should like to say that if the electors of Australia are not by this time very full up of their Federal Parliament they ought to be. It seems to me that this Parliament is doing everything it can just now to disgust the electors of the Commonwealth.
– They had a good sample of that in the Governor- General’s speech.
– We shall come to that presently. If the honorable member will allow me to proceed, I promise him that I shall not neglect anything, and I have one or two remarks to make concerning some honorable members on the opposite side. We heard to-day ian interesting speech from the right honorable member for Swan, who is not now in the Chamber. It was a speech, which I ventured to describe during its delivery, as . a piece of bathos. The right honorable member stood here and affected to be highly indignant at what he regarded as the contemptible treatment of his leader by the Prime Minister. I may be wrong, but I have heard it said that, coming over to this House, the right honorable gentleman expressed himself in very different terms indeed, and actually went so far as to blame his leader for making such a speech at Ballarat, at all. No doubt those consultations which have since taken place between the right honorable member for Swan and his leader have put a somewhat different complexion upon things. Whatever the reason for his change of view may be, I do not hesitate to say that the right honorable gentleman’s speech to-day was a piece of the veriest bathos which it 1 is possible to imagine. The right honorable gentleman quoted the honorable and learned member for Ballarat as criticising the Prime Minister for threatening a dissolution. In the quotation which he made, he referred, first of all, to a sentence in which his leader criticises- the Prime Minister for advising a dissolution, and h’e then skipped a sentence of- the most vital consequence to the whole paragraph. The right’ honorable gentleman told us that Mr. Deakin had said : -
In connexion with ‘he possibilities of a dissolution one of the gravest importance, from my point of view, is the probability, if not the certainty, of Sir George Turner’s retirement - and so on. But the right honorable gentleman did not quote another sentence to which I propose to refer. The honorable and learned member for Ballarat denounced the Prime Minister for adopting what he regarded as an unconstitutional course in speaking of a dissolution in the way in which he did before the meeting of Parliament. Immediately after this criticism on the Prime Minister had ceased, the honorable and learned member began to talk about the matter on his own account, as follows : -
It seems to me that even if attention had not been directed to it in that express fashion by the Prime Minister, none of us could have failed to realize that the dissolution, on which he has dwelt, is coming very close.
How does that sentence square with the amendment that this House should continue for some months yet to do practical work in the direction of non-contentious legislation ? Here the honorable and learned member himself says that as a Parliament we are only fifteen months old, and then, after condemning the Prime Minister for daring to suggest the possibility of a dissolution, he says that apart from anything the Prime Minister may say, a dissolution is practically close upon us.
– That is a very condensed report, I believe, of the speech of the honorable and learned member for Ballarat.
– I. am quoting the revised report of the honorable and learned member’s speech, and one has only to read that report to know the extent of the revision by the honorable and learned member of his speeches. I venture to say that no man in this House revises his utterances so carefully and copiously as the honorable and learned member for Ballarat.
– The honorable and learned member always did so.
– The honorable and learned member for Ballarat revised this speech, and revised it with a vengeance. There is a constant effort all through the revision to tone down what was said at Ballarat, and to make it appear in a much more harmless light. Here we have a statement by the honorable and learned member that, in spite of anything the Prime Minister may say, a dissolution is close upon us ; yet the honorable and learned member comes to the House, and deliberately moves an amendment, which declares that the House can. continue useful work. I frankly confess that I did not read the whole of the speech of the honorable and learned member for Ballarat; and I shall tell honorable members why. When I began to read the speech, I found that the whole presentation of the facts was coloured and jaundiced by the honorable and learned member’s own preconceived ideas. The honorable and learned member has told us why he made the speech. He has told us that people were writing to him from all parts of Australia ; and it is quite evident that that fact influenced the speech.
– And every manufacturer was writing to him.
– It is quite evident that it was those influences which led the honorable and learned member for Ballarat to make his speech ; and, accordingly, we find him putting everything against the Prime Minister, and in favour of his own party. Listen to the way in which he refers to the question of arbitration; and the words I am about to quote may give us an insight into the mind of the honorable and learned gentleman to a greater extent than his more carefully prepared statements. The honorable and learned member said -
There were those in Mr. Reid’s party who were opposed to it, but the great majority were in favour of the principle of arbitration.
I undertake to say that there are no more members of the party of the Prime Minister opposed to the principle of arbitration than there are in the section of the party led by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat. The honorable and learned member also said -
There were those in Mr. Reid’s party who were opposed to preference to unionists.
The honorable and learned member does, not go on to say that there are a number in his own party equally opposed to preference to unionists.
– The right honorable member for Swan, for instance.
– If we read the speeches made by the right honorable member for Swan in Western Australia, we shall find no- fiercer denunciation of the principle of preference.
– And I opposed it in Parliament.
– Yes, but the leader of the right honorable member for Swan did not say so in his Ballarat speech - only the Prime Minister is supposed to denounce the principle. I am now endeavouring to show how jaundiced is the statement of the case made by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat - a statement evidently inspired and influenced by the letters which he has told us he received from all parts of Australia. I have yet to learn that the leader of a partyis to make himself, shall I say, a sponge, in order to soak up opinions which may come to him from any disaffected people throughout the length and breadth of Australia? I have not the slightest doubt in my own mind that some of those opinions which influenced the honorable and learned member for Ballarat so keenly, were inspired by his old friend, the honorable member for Hume - even if they were not actually written by the latter gentleman. Later on I shall have a little more to say about the relations of the honorable and learned member for Ballarat with the honorable member for Hume. I quote those few sentences in order to show how the whole speech at Ballarat is coloured and tinctured by the preconceived notions of the honorable and learned member for Ballarat. I say that that speech does not put the present position of affairs in a proper light. The utterance is all against the Prime Minister from beginning to end, and in favour of the honorable and learned member for Ballarat and his own party. I am not charging the honorable and learned member with intentionally speaking in the way I have described. We all know that the honorable and learned member is supersensitive to the last degree; indeed, I sometimes think he is far too highly strung for the rough and tumble of our politics. The honorable and learned member is far too sensitive; and from his own statement we learn that he has allowed the views of others to influence and colour his presentation of the facts. I do not think I could better describe the honorable and learned member than he is described in the following little quotation : -
He seems to have gone round like Diogenes with his lantern, looking for an ideal system of politics. Somehow, he seems to have become immersed in a misty sea of philosophy, and has not yet come back to earth.
That is a description of the honorable and learned member for Ballarat by the leader of the Opposition in a speech delivered at Wagga Wagga a little while ago; and I quote the description because I subscribe to it. There is no clearer justification of that description thao the speech delivered at Ballarat, which has led to all this troubleThe right honorable member for Swan asked what the honorable and learned member for Ballarat could have done other than deliver that speech at Ballarat, with the newspapers “ howling and banging at him.”
– Those are the express terms used by the right honorable member, .with whom we again agree.
– No, no.
– I think the right honorable member had better let the matter rest, because I took down his exact words. The right honorable member for Swan asked what could the honorable and learned member for Ballarat do other than deliver the speech with the newspapers “ howling and banging at him ‘ ‘ - what else could he do with the Melbourne Age after him.
– I was speaking of a general election.
– Every one knows that the honorable and learned member for Ballarat is peculiarly susceptible to the views of the Melbourne Age. I do the honorable and learned member no. in justice in mentioning that fact, because it is common property. By the way, the same charge has been made by the honorable and learned member for Bendigo against the Prime Minister. The honorable and learned member for Bendigo has told us that the Prime Minister has actually succumbed to the influence of the Daily Telegraph, in Sydney, and of some free-traders there, who are not mentioned, but who are said to have worked the Prime Minister into his present position.
– Good heavens !
– I have yet to learn that the Prime Minister has been “worked” at all - ihe certainly has not been worked by the free-trade members of his party.
– They generously observe the compact.
– I do not hesitate to say that many things have been done recently on which I do not agree with the Prime Minister, and the right honorable gentleman knows it; but he will not say that I have tried to give him any trouble.
– Hear, hear !
– On the contrary, I have stood behind him, and shall continue that attitude so long as he tries to fight the new influence which has arisen, and which menaces the political situation of Australia.
– I am on surer ground now than I was with them all behind me - I know now how I stand.
– I want to say, further, of the honorable and learned mem- ber for Ballarat, that he made a very laboured speech here last night. When he had finished, an explanation of his explanation was needed to make his meaning clear. But this emerged from what he said, “ I did not mean it ; and I did not know it was loaded.” The honorable and learned member ought to have known that it was loaded ; he ought to know the precise meaning of the terms which he uses. Before he spoke last night he jumped to his feet in the most indignant manner to denominate as a falsehood, or as an absolute untruth, the statement of the Prime Minister that he had implored the right honorable member for Balaclava to enter the Ministry. But when the right honorable member for Balaclava had made his explanation to the House the honorable and learned member for Ballarat had practically to admit the truth of all that the Prime Minister had said, with the substitution of one word for another. It may be that the honorable and learned member for Ballarat did not implore the right honorable member for Balaclava to join the Ministry, but both the right honorable member for Balaclava and the honorable member for Gippsland say that, to the best of his ability, he persuaded them to do so. Yet, in spite of those statements, he told us last night that he had never in his life persuaded any man to take office. I submit very respectfully that there is something more than a lapse of recollection there. I think that, after the statements which we have heard from the two Ministers concerned, we should hear another explanation from the honorable and learned member for Ballarat. Otherwise he will rest under the stigma of having been contradicted by those Ministers. He told the House that he had never in his life persuaded any man to join a Ministry, and afterwards explained that he had persuaded the right honorable member for Balaclava to join the present Ministry, but that it was three months before the
Ministry was formed that he did so. Surely these discrepancies call for explanation from the honorable and learned member.
– Hear, hear.
– A nice statement tor the Prime Minister to cheer.
– Why should he not cheer it? The honorable and learned member for Corio cheered loudly enough last night, when the honorable and learned member for Ballarat made his denial. The fact is that, within a quarter of an hour, the honorable and learned member for Ballarat declared that he had never in his life persuaded any man to join a Ministry, and then admitted that to the best of his ability he persuaded the right honorable member for Balaclava to join the present Ministry, but that it was three months before the formation of that Ministry.
– The Prime Minister Is cheering the honorable member’s attempt to prove the honorable and learned member for Ballarat a liar.
– I do not think that any one but a man of the honorable and learned member’s vile imagination would make a statement of that kind. I simply say that the matter should be further cleared up. The honorable and learned member for Ballarat was very excited last night - I never in my life saw a man who was more agitated than he was then ; but whatever the cause may have been, the fact is that, within a quarter of an hour, he made two diametrically opposed statements concerning his action in persuading certain members to join the Ministry. I suppose our doings, even to-day, will find a place in history, and they ought tobe interesting reading. We may be building better than we know. Unsatisfactory as the doings of this Parliament have been up to the present time, I suppose that a record of them will be kept, and when the history of these times comes to be written, I think the impartial verdict upon the recent conduct of the honorable and learned member for Ballarat will be that he has acted the part of a political huckster. I use that word advisedly. First of all, when his Ministry was dislodged, he was out, seeking an alliance with either of the two parties opposed to him. I hope that, whether I live for a long or a short period, whether I stay in Parliament for a little while, or for a long while, I shall never be guilty of conduct like that. That was the beginning of the mat- ter. He said that his party had sent him out with this bargain to make, just as a huckster would make a bargain. “ Either one of you, what are your terms ?” We find precisely the same attitude maintained in his Ballarat speech. He says, “ What do you mean, you anti-Socialists ? What are your terms ? Define them a little more, so that we may say if we can accept them.” Then he turns to the other party, and says, “ If you want our support, you must put protection into your programme.”
– Hear, hear.
– I do not object to the honorable and learned member making any alliance that he may choose to make, but it is a gross piece of inconsistency for a man of high principle - as he prides himself in being - to bandy about his principles in this huckstering fashion. He ought to know by this time which party is the more likely to be with him in friendly alliance, if for no other reason than that he spent six or seven months in silent cogitation, trying to find out. One of my charges against the honorable and learned member is that, during the times that we have had recently, with the whole Continent seething with political excitement, he has been sulking in silence, and no one could get him to open his mouth. The public do not expect prominent men to act in that way. He has said that he was ill.
– He is a little better to-day.
– He was not too ill for any kind of convivial entertainment, or convivial speaking. He made many such speeches. But even in his health trips he could have talked to the reporters. He could have let them know how his mind was running. Then the members of the Government would have had some inkling as to how these changes have come about. But during the last six months he has acted the part of a sphinx, and although he has had these communications pouring in f rom all parts of Australia, no one could get an expression of opinion from him. That is strange conduct for a responsible leader. He has now moved an amendment on the Address-in-Reply, and we are told that the members of the Opposition have decided to support it. That means that they are going to try to work together in friendly alliance, unless the prospect of doing so is cut short by a dissolution. I cannot yet bring myself to believe that the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, or the right honorable member for
Swan, will work with these other honorable members in friendly alliance. I can only say that, if they do, a huge quantity of political dirt will have to be eaten by one side or the other. If any honorable member desires to make a statement by way of derogation of the labour movement, he has only to turn up the speeches of the honorable and learned member for Ballarat and the right honorable member for Swan, in order to find all the material he requires. The Prime Minister, even in his boldest flights, never said a tithe of what has been stated with regard to the Labour Party by those two honorable members. He has never denounced them in anything like such strong terms. Strange to say, however, both the honorable members referred to are prepared to gulp down all their statements and work together in friendly alliance with the Labour Party.
– We want measures not men.
– I see. Is the honorable and learned member for Ballarat proposing to work with the honorable and learned member for West Sydney, whom he denounced, at Ballarat, as an ill-bred urchin dragged screaming from a tart shop? Is he going to drag the honorable and learned member back to the tart shop, and, if so, which of the two is going inside ? These are questions that ought to be answered. Honorable members must recollect the terms of contempt with which the honorable and learned member for Ballarat spoke of the honorable and learned member for West Sydney just before the close of the session. Honorable members will cast their minds back to the speech of the honorable sand learned member for West Sydney by which he was supposed to have drawn the badger from the opposite side, and they will also remember the seething indignation - a replica of that displayed last night - of the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, who bounded to his feet, and spoke of the honorable and learned member for West Sydney as the dirt of the street contained in those receptacles which the drivers of refuse carts empty daily.
– We might quote a few of the compliments which have passed between members of the two other coalitions.
– The honorable member for Kennedy said, at the time, that the man who drove the refuse cart would very likely ask the honorable and learned member for Ballarat to get up, and the honorable and learned member hotly replied, “ I have not yet taken my position alongside the honorable member.”
– But he is going to do so.
– I want to know who is going to brush off the dirt. The two honorable and learned members surely) cannot sit together until the dirt is cleared away. Upon the occasion referred to, the honorable and learned member for Ballarat had only his foot for the honorable and learned member for West Sydney. He thought that that was good enough. Now the political brush will have to be applied by some one in order to remove the mud, and the job will be a dirty one. Then, may I remind honorable members of the crusade which the right honorable member for Swan has been conducting in Western Australia against the Labour Party. He has only just concluded his campaign, and here is what he says -
Unless it was checked by the good sense of the people of Australia its demands would become yet greater. The party was an octopus threatening to squeeze the energy out of every one of them.
I admit that the right honorable gentleman could stand a bit of squeezing. However, the octopus is after him, and he has called upon the people of Western Australia to join him in chopping off its tentacles. There are many much stronger denunciations than that.
– That is fair fighting.
– Is it?
– Of what is the honorable member complaining?
– I am not complaining ; I am merely wondering how the lightning change has been brought about. The ink is hardly dry upon the report of the right honorable member’s speech, and yet he now “ roars as gently as any sucking dove.” Last session he made it his special business to castigate the Labour Party almost daily, and now we see him presenting a complete change of front.
– He said that they would not remain in office an hour if he had his way
– In what respect have I changed?
– The right honorable gentleman has not changed yet.
– I think the honorable member for Parramatta is unreasonable.
– The right honorable gentleman has changed to the extent that he is heartily supporting an amendment upon the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply, which will bring him into line again with the Labour Party.
– And the amendment was not moved until the support of that party was assured.
– I had no knowledge of that.
– Then the right honorable gentleman ought to have had.
– I do not wish to push this matter too far ; but until it is proved to me beyond any doubt I shall not believe that either of the honorable members referred to are going to work in friendly alliance again with a party which they cast out, and trampled underfoot only a month or two ago.
– With the assistance of the honorable member.
– We acted straightforwardly. We did not esk for’ the support of the Labour Party ; we never did.
– The right honorable gentleman did so once.
– Who could have imagined that the present coalition would be brought into existence?
– Order ! I cannot permit these continuous interjections across the Chamber. Interjections directed to the honorable member who is addressing the House are bad enough, and are often very disorderly ; but remarks exchanged between members across the Chamber are absolutely in violation of the Standing Orders.
– I am glad that the honorable and learned member for Ballarat is present. He stated at Ballarat that the appointment of the Tariff Commission would result in the re-opening of the fiscal question. He said that that conclusion was inescapable. I had previously expressed the same opinion, and opposed the appointment of the Commission, upon which I also declined to take a seat. Why, however, could not the honorable and learned member for Ballarat have made his statement six months earlier, or at the time of the appointment of the Commission ? Only three months before the Commission was appointed he solemnly entered into a compact With the Prime Minister for the preservation of fiscal peace, and yet he after- wards approved of the appointment of a Commission, which would have the effect of re-opening the fiscal controversy.
– Hear, hear ! Special provision was made that by agreement of both parties in the Ministry any action might be taken.
– But the honorable and learned member kept us in the dark.
– Has it not become abundantly clear that the whole idea of the honorable and learned member for Ballarat was that the coalition Government, which he persuaded his colleagues to join, should bridge over only a few months, after which they could be sent to the rightabout? The honorable and learned member ought to have told his colleagues that they would be permitted to occupy office only temporarily. After having made a solemn compact for the preservation of fiscal peace he, within three months, heartily and cordially approved of a proposal to re-open the fiscal question. There is no consistency about that, and the honorable and learned member has not been dealing fairly with those Ministers who have to-day to bear the brunt of his failure to be frank and clear, and to remain loyal to them. We have heard it repeatedly stated during the past few months that honorable members opposite desire a dissolution. One of their most prominent champions, and one of the most latant of them, sent me a challenge the other day to debate the Labour platform with him at Lithgow. He stated that the reason why he desired to debate that platform with me was because we antisuicides had made up our minds that we would not be dragged before the electors. That was his main complaint in the challenge which he issued to me. Who, I ask, are the anti-suicides now? We do not hear a word from them. They were all in favour of appealing to the country a few months ago, but now there is a sudden bolt round upon their part.
– What about the honorable member? Is he anxious to appeal to the country ?
– I may tell the honorable member that I am not anxious to do so. I do not care much about the matter either way. The honorable member may accept that statement as coming from me in all sincerity. If a dissolution occurs, I am ready to face my constituents ; if it does not occur, I am perfectly satisfied. But I would point out that I have not been travelling about the country during the past three months, smiting the Government hip and thigh, and describing them as “ hangers on to office,” as men who could not be dislodged, and who are prepared to accept all sorts of dishonorable conditions in order that they might be allowed to remain upon the Treasury bench.
– Only last week the Prime Minister declared that we could not drag him off the Treasury bench.
– I did not know the rotten ground upon which I was standing.
– I am afraid that what is now taking place merely confirms a statement which I made upon the public platform recently. I said’ that when I looked round for men who would, be the saviours and reconstructors of society, I could not discover any candidates for those offices in the Opposition. I had nothing derogatory to say of honorable members personally - not a single word. But I did say that they were ordinary men.
– I do not think any of us claim to be more than ordinary men.
– I think there has been too much belauding and buttering indulged in by my chief. It is not returned. The leader of the Opposition did enter a protest the other night in the Protestant Hall against the disgraceful conduct of some members of his party towards the Prime Minister. But he made that protest in such a way as to take all the graciousness out of it. He went on to say that the Prime Minister was responsible for the disorder.
– I did not.
– That is what is reported. in the newspapers.
– I shall tell the House in a moment what I did say
– I shall be glad to hear the honorable member. I am of opinion that he took all the grace out of his remarks by that observation.
– I merely stated that I had been informed that the Prime Minister had helped to foment the interruption, but, even if that were so, it was no possible excuse for the interruption taking place.
– Just as if a Prime Minister would endeavour to prevent himself being heard.
– No; but after the interruption had started he made matters worse. I objected to that at the time, and I do so still.
– My point is that honorable members opposite, who are constantly posing as political purists of the first water, can give us all points in political trickery, and that out of men like honorable members opposite, who play the game of politics for all that it is worth - just as keenly and as astutely as any individual that I know of - I do not expect the order of man to lead a new crusade and preach a new political evangel.
– The honorable member himself is not far behind in that kind of work.
– I have not set up in the business. There is another difficulty which the honorable and learned member for Ballarat will require to overcome before he can work in friendly alliance with honorable members opposite. Everybody is aware of his intense loyalty to the Empire. Last night the leader of the Opposition stated that his party were as loyal as any other party. As a party that may be true, but I venture to say that there is a greater number of individuals in that party who do not believe in the Empire than is to be found upon this side of the’ House.
– Name any one of them.
– The Prime Minister himself has stated that there is no disloyal member of the Labour Party in this House.
– Whether that statement is right or wrong. I certainly never made it.
– I will not allow the honorable and learned member for Indi to put into my mouth words which I did not use.
– The honorable member is saying what he cannot prove.
– The honorable and learned member for Ballarat is a loyal Imperialist of the .first water. He sees in preferential trade a means of cementing the bonds of Empire.
– Does the honorable member see that in it?
– I profess to be as loyal to the Empire as the honorable and learned member for Ballarat. I have no desire to see that Empire broken up into a series of republics as some honorable members belonging to the Labour Party wish.
– Name them.
– Last session, when the Transvaal Chinese question was being discussed, Senator Higgs expressed the hope that some day the Empire would resolve itself into a series of republics.
– One individual does not represent “ some.”
– What a terrible thing.
– I merely wish to point out the vast distinction between the opinion of one member of the Labour Party, and that of the honorable and learned member for Ballarat. It is a habit of honorable members opposite to make a speaker say what he never intended to say. They set up a bogy, and then knock it down.
– Does the honorable member say that Senator Higgs is dis.loyal ?
– I say that Senator Higgs does not believe in the maintenance in perpetuity of the Empire, and that he hopes that it’ will resolve itself into a, series of republics.
– Does he mean republics within a great republic?
– I have a quotation here, but I cannot just at the moment put my hand upon it, which represents the honorable member for Kennedy a little while ago as declining to rise to toast the King, and as having persuaded some one at the close of a certain meeting not to sing the National Anthem, as he would otherwise have done.
– Perhaps he could not sing.
– Another member of that party, speaking of the Imperial connexion at the recent Labour Conference said, that there was no question of cutting the painter involved in what they were doing. But, -he added, “ that was an ideal which they ought to keep steadily in view.”
– Who said that?
- Mr. Arthur Griffiths, a member of the Labour Party.
– He is the secretary of the Labour Party in New South’ Wales.
– I could quote the utterances of other members of that party in support of my statement, but I do not wish to pursue the matter further. I have never yet denounced the Labour. Party as being disloyal.
– You could not do so upon such flimsy evidence as that.
– Is it flimsy evidence when we hear responsible politicians’ expressing the hope that we shall cut the Imperial connexion, and resolve ourselves into republics ?
– Can the honorable member make that charge against the whole party simply because of the utterances of one. man?
– The honorable member must be deaf. I have already said that I make no charge, of disloyalty against the party.
– Why does the honorable member make insinuations then?
– I do not. The honorable member must not read into my remarks statements which I have never made. Ail that I say is that there is a larger number of honorable members on the Opposition side of the House in favour of those sentiments than there is on this side. I make that statement in answer to the assertion of the honorable member’s leader.
– He merely said that “ the time would come,” and the Prime Minister said the same.
– I never said anything of the sort.
– I shall be able to show that the right honorable gentleman did.
– I have no feeling against those who hold these views. I believe that they hold them- honestly. I am perfectly certain that the honorable member for Kennedy and Senator- Higgs do; but they are not my views, and I should have to consider very seriously before I could agree to work, with men who held such opinions, and who might be trusted to pursue them.
– The honorable member worked for seme years with Mr. Griffiths.
– That is not correct.
– Mr. Arthur Griffiths was a supporter of the New South Wales Government in which the honorable member held office as Postmaster-General. Did not the honorable member also work with Mr. Arthur Rae, who held certain opinions ?
– I did. The trouble with honorable members opposite is that I do not continue to work with them.
– If the honorable member had continued in his then frame of mind, we should have been glad to have him with us.
– Everything, is possible, and I shall have to see whether
I can make some mental readjustment. My honorable friends on my left are apparently engaged in that great task.
– Chamberlain was once a Republican, and if he could change his vIews, others should be able to do so.
– I do not object to their doing so. I simply wish to know how the honorable and learned member for Ballarat is going to work on friendly lines with those who hold these views. I shall refrain at this late hour from quoting certain statements relating to Empire Day which appeared in the two organs of the Labour Party published in Brisbane and Sydney, and which were a disgrace to whoever wrote them ; but when the leader of the Opposition throws out the challenge that there are as many loyal members, sitting behind him as there are on this side of the House-
– I did not throw out that challenge-.
– I think the honorable member will find that he did.
– I simply denied the Prime Minister’s statement that there was any necessary connexion between disloyalty and Socialism.
– A king would be an extraordinary functionary in a socialistic State.
– I tell the honorable member candidly and honestly that I fail to see where a king would be put in a socialistic State.
Several members interjecting,
– There have been something like ten interjections for every sentence that the honorable member has uttered during the last few minutes. It is impossible for him to proceed in these circumstances, and I should very much regret if, at this late stage in the debate, it became necessary for me to take any further step.
– They became a republic in-
– The honorable member for Dalley must know that he is out of order in interjecting immediately I have called attention to the irregularity of such a procedure. He also knows that he is out of order in interjecting in any way from the Ministerial bench.
– In his Wagga speech, at which I glanced this morning, and from which I have already quoted, the leader of the Opposition accurately described the honorable and learned member for Ballarat as a misty philosopher dwelling in the clouds. He also combated the view of the honorable and learned member on the question of responsible government, and went on to say that, to his mind, the Swiss form of government was the perfect one. In other words, the Swiss Republic is the honorable member’s idea of a perfect government.
– I was not referring in particular to the fact that Switzerland was a republic; that is not a fair interpretation of my remarks.
– I shall be glad to hear the honorable member’s correction.
– I was referring to quite another aspect of the Swiss Constitution.
– I accept the honorable member’s assurance. The fact remains, however, that he made the statement without any qualification, so far as I can remember, that the Swiss form of government was to his mind an ideal ohe.
– I was speaking of the popular initiative, the referendum, and of elective Ministries, and so forth.
– Very well.
– Did not the honorable member know, before hearing the explanation just given, that that was what the leader of the Opposition had in mind?
– I did not, or I would not have referred to the matter. The honorable member for Barrier is measuring my corn by his own bushel. The trick he suggests is one of the sort to which he would resort, and he thinks that I would do the same. I accept the statement of the leader of the Opposition, and have but to say, in conclusion, that the Government have taken the only course which was open to them, in the circumstances in which they found themselves. If they had taken any other course I could not have looked upon them with any respect. My reading of the Ballarat speech was, I believe, that of ninety-nine one hundredths - to use the honorable and learned member’s own arithmetic - of those in Australia who perused it. A re-perusal of it in pamphlet form, materially revised, does not shake the opinion that I formed on first reading it, namely, that the honorable and learned member had in view a speedy dissolution, and a speedy reconstruction of Government. We in New South
Wales have known of this move for some three weeks.
– Then it was not a surprise to the Prime Minister.
– It was, a surprise.
– Then although the honorable member knew of the move he did not inform his leader of it ?
– I did; but he would not believe me.
– Hear, hear. But I know much better now. I shall believe anything after this.
– When the right honorable gentleman came over a fortnight ago, I put the question to him, “How is Mr. Deakin,” being led to do so by the fact that that honorable and learned member had not made any statement for some months. The Prime Minister replied, “ Oh, Mr. Deakin is all right,” and he seemed in high glee. My rejoinder was, “ I hope that he is; but I doubt it.”
– That was on the Wednesday before the Saturday on which the honorable and learned member spoke.
– I said that I could not understand the responosible leader of a great section of public opinion remaining as silent as a sphinx for six months, in view of what was taking place, but the Prime Minister apparently thought that my misgivings were groundless. Honorable members will therefore understand the complete surprise which the action of the honorable and learned member for Ballarat occasioned him ; it came upon him like “ a bolt from the blue.”
– Hear, hear; but I would rather have it in that way.
– Other supporters of the Government were not surprised. I candidly confess that I anticipated this move.
– That is so. The honorable member told me more than once that it would happen, but I did not believe him.
– If the Prime Minister had continued in office after the criticism of the man who could undo him - after the castigation and catechising to which ,he had been subjected at his hands - I should have considered that he was clinging to office and deserving of the epithets that had been thrown at him from time to time by the Opposition.
Question - That the words proposed to be added to the Address be so added - put.
The House divided.
Majority … … 17
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Amendment agreed to,
Question, as amended, resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Mr. Reid) agreed to -
That the House, at its rising, adjournuntil Wednesday next.
House adjourned at 4.19 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 30 June 1905, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1905/19050630_reps_2_25/>.