2nd Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Mr. WILSON presented a petition front certain residents of Camperdown, praying that stringent legislation be enacted to prevent the importation of opium for smoking purposes into the Commonwealth.
Sir JOHN QUICK presented two similar petitions from certain residents of Bendigo and Eaglehawk.
Mr. -HIGGINS. - I wish to know from the Prime Minister if he intends to allow the House an opportunity to discuss the Public Service classification, or means that it shall take effect without further act-ion on our part.
– There was an engagement last session that before the classification came into full effect the House should be afforded an opportunity to consider it, and the Government do not propose to depart from that understanding. We hope that we shall be able to deal with the matter oil one of the earliest days of the session, so that it may be finally disposed of.
– I wish to know from the Minister of Trade and Customs if it is correct - as I am informed from Western Australia that it is - that the Customs authorities intend to condense, or to refrain from publishing, some portion of the statistics relating to Inter-State transfers? Does he not think that this information is important and of educational value, and ought to have the fullest publicity?
– As the honorable member sent me notice this morning that he intended to ask this question, I have been able to prepare the following reply to it : -
– I wish to ask the Minister of Trade and Customs whether he will lay on the table of the House, or of the Library, the reports furnished for the last five years by the various Collectors of Customs in regard to the trade between the various States, and especially the trade in the products of the States, extracts from which were published in the newspapers a month or two ago. This is not the return to which I referred yesterday, but a very much earlier one, published about two months ago.
– I ask the honorable member to give notice of his ques: tion, so that I may consider the matter. I have the return for the production of which he asked yesterday.
– I wish to ask a question of the Minister of Trade and Customs. Some time ago a notice appeared in the Commonwealth Gazette, relating to the payments to be made to Customs officials who worked overtime, but the regulation was held in abeyance for a whale, pending possible objections on the part’ of those in whose business premises the officials were employed, since they have to pay this charge. Considerable dissatisfaction exists with the present rate of pay, which is very inadequate.
– I ask the honorable member not to discuss the matter.
– I do not propose to. do so ; my remarks are by way of explanation. I wish to know if the Minister proposes to bring into force the- new rate notified some time ago in the Gazette?
– As the question is rather a long, important, and intricate one, I ask the honorable member to give notice of it, although the papers in connexion with the matter are before me.
Mr. GLYNN. I wish to know from the Minister of Home Affairs if he can tell us in what stage the negotiations between the States to come to an agreement to abolish preferential rates now are?
– The honorable and learned member notified me that he intended to ask this question, and I can furnish him with the replies which have been received from the various States Governments on the subject. They are as follow : -
New South Wales.
No preferential rates which affect other Stales exist in New South Wales, and competitive rates between States were recently terminated, Queensland excepted.
Preferential rates are not quoted on the railways of South Australia.
New railway rate bool: is to be issued at end of June, in which provision will be made for abolition of preferential rates.
All preferential rates will be abolished as from the 1st July, 1905.
All preferential rates which could be considered inconsistent with the provisions of the Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act have been abolished in the State of Victoria with the exception of rates on blankets, flannels, and woollens. Preferential feature (if any) in connexion with these rates will be removed in the course of a few weeks.
In Tasmania preferential rates are still in existence on coal and linseed oil. The preferential carriage of coal will cease for general purposes in February next, but a preferential rate will be retained for the supply of coal to ships’ bunkers at the Port of Launceston. Kates on linseed oil will be made uniform as soon as a new manual of rates, which is now being prepared, is issued.
” AFRICAN OPPOSITION TO AUSTRALIAN INTERESTS.
– I wish to’ know from the Prime Minister if his attention has been drawn to a statement appearing in this morning’s Argus, in which Mr. Coghlan, the acting Agent-General for New South Wales, is reported to have said that the States have mostly to contend against the South African interest in London - an interest most inimical to Australia, and one that is very powerful ? Mr. Coghlan considers that the foundation of this enmity was the Australian opposition to the employment of coloured labour on the Rand. Does the Prime Minister propose to take steps to counteract this opinion?
– I have not observed the report in the Argus, and at the moment fail to connect the alleged effect with the cause which is suggested. However, I shall have pleasure in reading the statement referred to, and considering whether there is anything in it that merits attention.
– I wish to ask the VicePresident” of the Executive Council a ques tion without notice, i should like to ask him whether, in view pf the foreshadowing of Defence measures yesterday by the Prime Minister, the Government will facilitate the obtaining by honorable members of this House of a true estimate of the present state of the coastal defences of the Commonwealth?
– The Government will be glad to give the honorable member and the House all information on this or any other topic which it would be wise to give.
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Whether he will instruct the Commonwealth officials in New Guinea to forward all articles of archaeological interest, which have been or may be discovered, to one of the State museums (preferably that of Queensland), to be held by such State in trust, pending the establishment of a Federal museum, so that, in future, scientific study may readily be pursued in the Common: wealth, not only by Australians, but also by visiting scientist!1, who would benefit by the concentration of the collection?
– This is one of the” questions into which the Secretary for the
Department of External Affairs is now inquiring in New Guinea, and it will be given attention on the receipt of his report.
asked the Attorney General, upon notice -
Whether the High Court, having decided that letter carriers were entitled, under section 19 of the Victorian Public Service Act, to£150 per annum at and before the time of Federation, the Public Service Commissioner can, under the reclassification scheme, or by any regulation or practice, interfere with the rights so granted, or reduce the pay of those who before the passing of The Constitution Act were entitled to receive or did receive£150 yearly?
– I think that my honorable and learned friend will see that the question refers to Bond’s case; but the High Court has not decided that Victorian letter carriers were entitled under section 19 of the Victorian Public Service Act to £150 per annum at and before the time of Federation. What the High Court decided in Bond’s case was that Mr. Bond, who did in effect receive£150 a year in the Victorian service, was, under the circumstances of the case, entitled to that salary under Federation ; but it expressly left untouched the question whether that salary could be lawfully reduced by any competent authority, and, if it were reducible, what was the competent authority. The honorable and learned member will, therefore, see that it is impossible for me to give an answer to the question which he has put.
– I will put it in another way some other time.
asked the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
asked the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
When will he provide the residents of Pinnaroo with improved postal facilities ?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows : -
This matter is under the consideration of the Postmaster-General, in connexion with the general question involved.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Has payment at the rate of ^400 per annum or any other sum been made by the Commonwealth to a press writer to write articles for or defending the Commonwealth, its legislation, or its administration?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : - «. Yes.
Mr. John Plummer.
A list, showing some of the papers in which the articles appear, is also available for the information of honorable members.
MINISTERS laid upon the table the following papers: -
Final report of the Royal Commission on the butter industry.
Report of .an interview between the Minister of Trade and Customs and Mr. Daniel Jones, of the Agricultural Department, Queensland, and a report by Mr. J. Bottomley on the cultivation of cotton in Queensland.
Statement showing for 1899 and 1904 - (a) The total transfers from State to State of the Commonwealth in the principal manufacturing industries of Australia; (4) the imports from oversea into the Commonwealth ; (c) the exports of Australian origin to oversea countries ; and statistics of Inter-State trade.
Pursuant to the Customs Act 1901 - Amendment of Regulation No. 101 and repeal of Statutory Rules No. 30 of 1905 ; Statutory Rules 1905, No. 48.
Progress report of the Royal Commission on the Tariff.
Question. - That Mr. Speaker do now leave the chair, and that the House resolve itself into Committee of Supply - resolved in the negative.
Debate resumed from 26th July (vide page 187), on motion by Mr. Deakin -
That Statutory Rules Nos. 12 and 23, under the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act 1904, laid on the table on 26th July, be printed.
– I should like to say, first, that it will be my endeavour to eliminate from my observations, as far as I possibly can, any personal element. So far as recent changes have had a personal bearing upon the position of honorable members, I think the matter has gone to the other tribunal, by which it can be dealt with when the first opportunity arises, and I am perfectly willing to leave the more painful matters which involve personal exchanges to another time and another place. It would, however, be impossible for me to escape from the duty which devolves upon the leader of the Opposition to put his view of public affairs plainly and clearly before the country. I am here as the leader of the Opposition, not only because of a change of Ministry, but because the honorable member for Bland and his -friends deserted their position. This is the first time I have heard of an Opposition having, upon the change of Ministry, gone down below the gangway, instead of across to the Government benches. However. I -pass by the incident with the remark that we are indebted to the honorable member for Bland, who led the Opposition for eight or nine months against us when we were in office, and to the honorable members who with him were so vigilantly engaged in guarding the public interests for their courtesy in making room for us upon these benches.
– That is the honorable and learned member’s proper place.
– I trust that my honorable friend, instead of indulging in interjections, will honour the House with a statement of his share in recent transactions. I think that the public will probably expect it from him, as he has played a very conspicuous and important part in bringing about the serious changes which have takenplace. Since the House adjourned on themotion of the Prime Minister, the honorable and learned member has put a new aspect upon our differences, to which I am bound to refer. Honorable members Wil recollect that during the whole of the speech, which the Prime Minister delivered in this House, after I had spoken during the debate upon the Address-in-Reply, the honorable and learned member never imputed to me the slightest shadow of any improper or dishonorable conduct. I was very glad to notice that, but I am sorry to say that since the House adjourned, ite Prime Minister has made observations with reference to me and the part which I played as Prime Minister, which pass beyond the region of differences of political principle, and impute to me a breach of good faith. Now, I think honorable members will draw a sharp line between our quarrels upon matters of political difference and imputations of that sort. The honorable and learned gentleman spoke of me as having thrown a treacherous bomb in amongst my protectionist allies. Since we do not live in Russia, we can laugh at such an expression, but the imputation is of a character that one would not desire to be made the object of, and I wish, before I address myself to the two Ministerial statements which the Prime Minister has made, to say a few words with regard to his observations respecting myself. Honorable members must recollect that the first Ministerial statement was made by the Prime Minister to the honorable member for Bland on the 5th July. The Ministry had not been formed, or properly sworn in, upon that date - it was sworn in officially on Thursday, 6th July. On Wednesday, 5th July, however, a Ministerial statement was submitted to the leader of the Labour Party, who referred it to the Labour caucus for instructions.
– As a matter of fact, we were sworn in on 5th July.
– There were two events, a meeting of Ministers on one day, and the swearing in on another date. However, that was a pretty smart way of preparing a Ministerial statement for submission to the Labour Party, even though the Ministry may- have been sworn in. I propose to refer to that Ministerial statement, and also to the statement - or rather the State paper - read by the Prime Minister yesterday. Personally, I wish first of all to :fl rid of the imputation, which I regard seriously, of having acted in any unfair way towards the’ protectionists who supported the Coalition Government. In order to do that - it will not take long - I wish to point out that I was so anxious to avoid the possibility of any such imputation that I went very much further than I was called upon to do by the agreement into which I entered with the honorable and learned member for
Ballarat. The Prime Minister and myself, quite apart from our respective parties, laid down a basis of common action on matters of public . policy. With reference to the Iron Bonus Bill, our agreement was that if some private member took up that Bill, it should be an open question so far as the Ministry were concerned. Now, in regard to that point, upon which my protectionist friends looked as one of great importance, I not only carried out my written bargain, but I did more. The Government gave their own time, which was not the subject of agreement or stipulation, in order to allow my protectionist allies to deal with that Bill. That was a very substantial, significant, and voluntary enlargement of the obligation into which I had entered. Take the question of preferential trade. My honorable and learned friend and myself arrived at this understanding on that important question - fortunately it is in writing -
It is recognised that no proposals affecting trade relations within the Empire can be looked for from the mother-country during the life of the present Commonwealth Parliament, but the maintenance of a truce for that period is not to prevent the acceptance of statutory concessions offered to us by any other part of the Empire.
Honorable members will see that in our agreement, there was not a word, or tittle of an obligation on my part’ to give the honorable and learned member for Ballarat Government time in order to enable him to bring the subject before this House, and yet we afforded the honorable and learned member an opportunity to discuss the matter by giving up Government time. Not only that, but a day or two before the Ballarat speech, in the course of an interview wi.th the Prime Minister, I offered prominently and early in the session to give him an opportunity to deal with the two subjects to which I have referred. Now, I point to my action in these two important matters as evidence that I took a very generous view of the stipulations into which I had entered, and that I performed my agreement not as a tradesman performs his contract to supply some articles of commerce, but in a most generous and fair way. Now,- we come to the question of the Tariff Commission. It is verv well known to honorable members that the appointment of that Commission was desired by my protectionist allies - that there was far more strength in their desire for the appointment of that Commission than on the side of my honorable friends who differed from them on the fiscal question. I did not hesitate at all in regard to the appointment of that Commission, because, so far as I am concerned, I do not think much of any man’s opinions if he shrinks from the fullest investigation. I looked upon the Tariff Commission as likely to have one good public result - that it would inquire in a practical and thorough way into the operations of the Tariff, and, if, incidentally, its investigations showed that one or other policy was the better one, I was prepared for that result. So that with my colleagues I took the fullest responsibility for the appointment, and I submit that, so far from acting treacherously to my protectionist allies in appointing that Commission, I was doing the very thing they wished. Yet this very act is now imputed to me as the source of all this misunderstanding. It is made the basis of the extraordinary shuffle of the political cards which took place about a month ago. Months before the Commission was appointed my honorable and learned friend knew all about it, and was in personal and direct consultation with me with regard to every phase of the matter - as to the personnel and every other feature of the Commission. I had no accusation to make against the honorable and learned member. Up to the time of his speech at Ballarat I distinctly acknowledged in the fullest and most handsome terms his absolute and loyal co-operation. That must never be forgotten. Any grievance I have must date from a later point - from the time of that speech at Ballarat. I want to point out that there was no misunderstanding as to the meaning of the appointment of the Commission. When my honorable colleague the honorable and learned member for Balaclava - a protectionist whose name I suppose commands confidence throughout Australia - delivered his Budget speech, he distinctly announced that whatever might result from the appointment of that Commission therecould be no serious alteration of the Tariff, in the sense of a change of fiscal policy, whilst this Parliament existed. Further, weeks before the Commission was appointed and in the plainest possible terms, I defined the position of both parties in the Government with reference to the Commission. I am reported in Hansard as having stated to this House -
The only arrangement under whichFreetraders and protectionists can sit together on this side of the Chamber is one which, although we are prepared, even in connexion with the Tariff, to remove every sort of injustice or hardship which is brought to light, is subject to the understanding that if the opening of the fiscal question is involved to any degree worthy of serious regard, it will be our duty to go to the electors of Australia upon the subject with a distinct policy. If either wing of the Government finds that a difficulty has arisen under which the loyal protectionists and the loyal free-traders find it impossible to continue together on the present basis, I think I can say, for my protectionist colleagues, as well as for my free-trade colleagues, that from that moment we part company. We can remain in office as a united party only so long as I do not call on my protectionist supporters to prove untrue to their fiscal creed, and they do not call on me to be disloyal to mine. That is the basis on which the Government rests. The moment that that basis becomes impossible, the existence of the Government becomes impossible.
There were two plain straightforward statements that whilst this Commission was appointed for the purpose of obtaining information, if, in the view of the House, its report involved’ any serious fiscal question that question must be fought out, not in this House, but before the electors of the country, and that at any rate the coalition Government could not continue to exist. But there is more than that to be said. That state of things did not rest upon an agreement between the honorable and learned member for Ballarat and myself. Had it rested upon a mere agreement between us it could have been discarded, and torn up at any time. But it was the deliberate verdict of the people of Australia - a verdict which the honorable and learned member for Ballarat himself invited them to find. So that our agreement was not a new basis for fiscal peace, it rested upon the solid foundation of an absolute mandate from the people of Australia. That was the foundation upon which we built, and but for that our alliance was impossible. Now,let us take a common-sense view of these matters. There was a great demand that the Government should allow the Tariff Commission to deal with the industries in one particular spot in Australia, and submit a report as to those which were suffering hardship. The Government absolutely refused to accede to that demand. We said that the inquiry must be thorough - that it must be Australian. Does not any common-sense man know that, if Tariff were to be inquired into upon an Australian basis, it would be impossible for any Commission to report within a few months? There was no possibility of a report being supplied before the period at which our, fiscal attitude must have been declared - that is to say, May, 1906. Take the position of affairs at the present moment. . Take the case of the iron industry in Melbourne, which was the subject of the keenest appeals. The Commission has not begun to inquire into that industry yet, although it has been appointed for eight months. Surely that simple fact shows the length of the task upon which the Commission is engaged. Then it was quite possible that some anomalies would have been brought to light which honorable members upon both sides of the House might have easily remedied without the slightest infringement of the popular verdict. Now, I wish to say that there has been such an incessant attempt to depict Victorian manufacturers as suffering from Federation, and from the effects of the present Tariff, that it is time I drew the attention of the House, and the country, and especially of the other States, to the figures relating to the Inter-State traffic in Australian manufactures since Federation was initiated. Let us see where this pinch comes in - let us see where Federation is working unfairly to Victoria., or to any other State. I have in my hand an official document, which eliminates from the figures of our Inter-State trade all matters relating to agricultural produce, all questions connected with raw material, and with coin and bullion. What does that return show ? It shows that in the fiveyears, between 1899 and 1904. the consumption of Australian manufactures has worked out upon these lines : Victoria, instead of exporting £1,500,000 worth of manufactures to the other States, as she did in 1899. exported in 1904 , £3,350,000 worth. That represents £300.000 more than a doubling of the exports of Victorian manufactures to the other five States of the Commonwealth. Surely that does not suggest the wail of misery which is to be heard above the trials and troubles of the other States.
– Now they want to rob the public still more.
– I wish merely to put before the public the real facts of the case. I wish to give what I think to be a solid narrative of fact and to avoid any comment. Now, New South Waleshas infinitely larger resources than has Victoria. She has a much larger territory. In her case, I admit that the increase in exports since the accomplishment of Federation has been very great. In 1899 she had only £500,000 worth, whereas in 1904 their value had increased to £1,700,000. The value of her exports to the other States’, in the shape of manufactures, is only half the amount of that of Victoria, notwithstanding that she has a larger population and greater resources. Now, take the case of Queensland. Whilst the Inter-State trade of Victoria, during the five years that I have mentioned, increased by£1, 800,000, that of Queensland increased by only £390,000, that of South Australia by only £170,000, that of Western Australia by only £10,000, and that of Tasmania by only £53,000. In other words, Victoria possesses, at the present moment, one-half of the whole of the Inter-State traffic in manufactures, as against the other five States.
– That shows the results of protective duties.
– I am not addressing myself to that question.’ What I wish to say is that Victoria should not come along with its little hat asking for charity from the other States when it possesses half the trade in Australian manufactures. Surely, it should he more dignified than to take on the guise of a mendicant, appealing and whining for a little charitable assistance. It is a very keen business man who is doing well and begging at the same time. We. know what such individuals are called in the ranks of private life. They are called impostors.
– That is what they are.
– How do the Victorians behind the honorable and learned member like that?
– I am not talking of Victorians. Surely these high Tariff Melbourne manufacturers do not constitute the Victorian public, though some persons seem to think they do. May I suggest that the agricultural industries of this State have not asked for a sixpence? Hundreds of witnesses have appeared before the Commission in reference to manure manufactures and distilleries, but not a single witness has been placed in the box by the farming community to ask for an increase in the agricultural duties. On the contrary, the Farmers’ Unions are now organizing in order to bring evidence before the Commission in opposition to any increased duties.
– Why did the right honorable member not tell us that last session?
– The return which I hold in my hand has only been in existence during the past six weeks. It came into my possession within the last five weeks.
– It has been available longer than that.
– That may be so. What I wish to point out is that, whilst the InterState export trade of Queensland has increased by only 35 per cent, during the five years I have indicated, in spite of the extension of the sugar industry, the trade of Victoria has increased by 120 per cent. During the same period the InterState export trade of South Australia has increased by only 24 per cent.
– Do the figures quoted in the case of Queensland include the manufacture of sugar?
– I should think so. That would not be called agricultural produce. The cane would be. but the sugar would not. I have no doubt that the manufacture of sugar is included in the figures which I have submitted. The only use to which I wish to put these statistics is to point out that the other States are not clamouring for immediate reports from the Commission and for higher duties- - that the great agricultural industry of Victoria is not clamouring for higher duties, and that the public of Australia is not clamouring for them. Further, the Tariff Commission has not yet entered upon an investigation of the question which was recognised to be the most urgent, namely that of the iron industry of Melbourne. I put forward these facts to show that I was acting sensibly when I believed that the report of that Commission would not be available until after the period at which we must have declared our fiscal policy. Then we were bound to state dur position. Now, after the fuller opportunity for quiet reflection which we have had during the past few weeks, I desire to point to the one thing which stands out in the Ballarat speech, and which must for ever justify honorable men in doing what the late Ministry did. There was an alliance formed between the revenue tariffists and the protectionists under the honorable and learned member for Ballarat and myself. There was an honorable al 1liance - a frank loyal connexion between the two parties - until the Ballarat speech was delivered. Now I say that a man must have a morbid appetite for political alliances when, whilst he is in direct alliance with one party, and when his agreement with that party has only half expired, he publicly invites another alliance with their enemies. It is certainly a novel position in connexion with leading politicians of Australia. Here is the invitation to which I refer - here we have a great public leader offering himself to the highest bidder.
– I have three times denied that statement - I deny it now a fourth time.
– Let me read what the honorable and learned gentleman said.
– That is another version.
– The honorable and learned gentleman refers to the revised version.
– It is only fair to say, in the light of a simple fact, that after the honorable and learned gentleman had spoken for two hours before a public meeting at Ballarat, every man in Australia, with one exception, believed that he meant a certain thing. The one man in Australia who said he di’d not, was the man who spoke.
– He ought to know what he meant.
– I am quite prepared to accept any assurance from the honorable and learned gentleman as to what he meant ; but I can only follow the beaten track of ordinary human beings, and look at what he said. This is what the Prime Minister said on the occasion in question -
The fiscal question cannot and ought not to be put aside -
That was a new variation of our agreement - a new subject raised by him -
If the Australian liberal leagues in New South Wales desire our assistance, they will require to adopt protection.
They would have required to adopt something more ‘than protection, because we had already sunk the fiscal question. They would have required to accept, not the present Tariff, not protection, but a higher instalment of protection, for which the great primary industries of Australia are not asking. It was unfair to put us in the position which the honorable and learned gentleman did. We sunk the fight of fiscalism to the extent of accepting a protective tariff, and now we are asked to accept some high duties which certain interested persons naturally want. The honorable and learned member is familiar with the history of the Tariff. When he delivered his policy speech before the last election, did he not say that the Tariff had destroyed some industries, and that it had injured many others? ‘He did not need a Tariff Commission to make that discovery. He announced it in his Ministerial manifesto, and, having done so. went on to say, “but we want fiscal peace for the life of the next Parliament.” With all these ruined industries staring him in the face, he accepted the situation of having a Parliament that should be in honour bound to give them no relief. That was .the position which he took up, with his eyes open. Our Liberal leagues in New South Wales naturally comprise a larger number of free-traders than of protectionists, because the free-traders are in a majority in that State. Having insulted us with this offer, the honorable and learned gentleman went on to say to the Labour Party-
If the Labour leagues desire our assistance, they will require to put protection on their programme.
– Which they have refused to do.
– Here we have the honorable and learned gentleman giving the Labour Party advice -
If the Labour Party is to be linked together effectively, it will require to put protection in the forefront of its programme.
Thus we find the honorable and learned gentleman, whilst in alliance with the late Ministry, not only offering his assistance and support to our enemies, but entreating them to accept his offer, pointing out that they are the men to accept it- - -that they are the men with whom he ought really to be allied. Surely, that broke the spirit of the truce-r-surely that invitation to our enemies to accept his assistance was the most direct breach of our compact that could possibly be imagined ! There is another matter to be mentioned with reference to this point. In written agreement with me, the honorable and learned member for Ballarat registered the result of his own appeal to the people in these words: -
No question about the fiscal issue; that was dealt with in a separate paragraph - not to be altered in any respect during the present Parliament without the consent of both parties in the Ministry. 1
The Tariff was not to be altered. The honorable and learned gentleman had already registered the verdict of the electors in this way. When we met, he spoke of the death and burial of the fiscal issue during the life of this Parliament. I said, “ I recognise that that is the verdict of the constituencies,” and the honorable and learned member replied -
That admission disarms me at once. . . By theverdict of the public the question has been deposed from its high place . . . and laid asidealtogether for this Parliament.
It will therefore be seen that this was not a mere private arrangement between twoindividuals. It was a solemn mandate given by the whole of the electors, of Australia, on the honorable and. learned gentleman’s own appeal. I come now to what is, I think, a proper question for inquiry. Whatever may be the ethics of the recent changes in the political situation, I feel that the public are entitled to know what they mean. When I approached thehonorable and learned gentleman in reference to the coalition, he said in effect, “ Whatever we decide must be made knownto the whole world.” He was then resting on a high and proper foundation. “ There must be no private understandings, of which the public do not know the meaning.” He went on to say, “ Whatever I do, shall be made known to the public.” Thatbeing so, why has he not told us of thebasis of the understanding that has broughtthe Labour Party behind him?
– It has been published in the public press. What more does the right honorable member need?
– What was the understanding?
– The right honorablemember cannot convince me that he did not read the whole statement in regard to thematter that was published in the press.
– Mav I ask- and I appeal to other honorable members to support me - on what terms was an understanding of any kind arrived at between thePrime Minister and the leader of theLabour Party ?
– The results are known.
– I shall give the honorablemember my reason for asking this question. I admit that my honorable friends, sitting below the gangway ha<ve a legitimate right to enjoy the situation, and I donot quarrel with their levity. I shall show why they are absolutely entitled to the selfsatisfaction they display, although somemen might be restless under what was said of them bv the present Prime Minister. Only a machine could endure what was said! of them by the honorable and learned member.
– We have had two or three phases of the right honorable member himself.
– I hope that my honorable friend will recollect that I did not complain when the Labour Party deserted my Administration in New South Wales. There were mysterious circumstances connected with my defeat on the occasion to which I refer, which, if made known, would cause a considerable shock throughoutAustralia; but I have never mentioned them. I have not dug up the miserable history of those two caucuses, one of which gave a majority of two for my Government in the State Parliament, and the next a majority of two against it.
– How does the right honorable gentleman know that?
– Does the honorable member for Bland deny if?
– I admit that it occurred under circumstances that I do not wish to mention.
– There were several matters to consider.
– I have never referred to it before, although it occurred years ago, and I have mentioned it to-day only as an instance of the fact that I have at no time endeavoured to inflame the little party differences that occur.
– But the right honorable member is trying to do so now.
– I have every right, as a public man, to criticise political developments, and nothing will preventme from doing so. My honorable friends must know that that is so. I wish now to put before the public a statement as to the position of affairs, which must show that there can be no honorable alliance between the leader of the present Government and the Labour Party. That is a serious statement to make, and I am going to prove it. Whilst the present Prime Minister enjoyed the support of the Labour Party - honorable members will see that, instead of dealing with’ the history of a few years ago, I am coming down to the history of the last few months - he had nothing to say against them. From 1901 to April, 1904, the present Prime Minister enjoyed the support of the Labour Party of Australia, and good, loyal support it was.
– He enjoys it yet.
– I am going to show how the honorable member and the party to which he belongs must enjoy it, and, in doing so, I do not intend to talk about an event of years ago. A few days after the relationship to which I refer was broken, the honorable and learned member for Ballarat addressed the citizens of Melbourne in the Town Hall. That was on the 9th May, 1904. On that occasion he said that the differences keeping the three parties apart were “ deeper than personal,” and that it was “ a mistake to attempt to ignore them.” Then, referring to the Labour Party, with whom he is now in alliance, he declared that, under their influence, it was impossible to revive proper parliamentary or constitutional methods of government, and that the caucus was an imperium in imperio, which was fatal to the proper working of honest parliamentary government. He then went on to say, “ Mr. Watson’s party must be dealt with.”
– He has dealt with it.
– He certainly has. If these political alliances were like tradesmen’s transactions, the remark of my honorable friend would be perfectly correct.
– What was the secret commission ?
– What was the deal ?
– It was at all events a fair deal.
– For the three years, to which I have referred, the honorable and learned gentleman enjoyed the support of these destructive individuals, whose caucus, according to him, undermines the integrity of parliamentary institutions, and when, at the end of 1903, he addressed the electors about a number of other matters, he did not refer to that question. The moment he was out of office, however, he unbosomed his convictions to the public of Australia in the terms to which I have referred. A few days later the honorable and learned gentleman, having more occasion to consult with me than with the honorable member for Bland, had an interview with me; and he drew up an understanding that was made known to all the world. In that understanding the honorable and learned gentleman spoke in these terms of those who are his present allies -
Unfortunately, the Party now in office, quite apart from any questions relating to its programme, maintains the control of its minority by its majority, and an antagonism to all who do not submit themselves to its organization and decisions, which seems to make it hopeless to approach its members upon any terms of equality.
Upon what terms has he now approached them ? In the document to which I have referred, we find him saying that it is impossible, from the very fact of their organic methods, to approach the Labour Party, with self-respect, upon an equal basis; but he has since then approached them. This statement was made on the 19th May, 1904 - history moves rapidly nowadays - and it was only the beginning of the honorable and learned member’s sudden welcome revelation of his real opinions - not in ia personal sense, of course, but upon public lines - of his old friends. The Prime Minister went to Ballarat , on 2nd August last to found a National League to oppose the Labour Party, thinking it necessary to rouse the country into opposition to this public danger. He went to his constituents to found a national league. In asking the people to band together - and he spoke to all Australia - this is what he said of his old allies and his new allies; they are the same men. He denounced their sectional aims. I think he was right. There are other sectional aims coming along sometimes, but he was right, in my opinion, in denouncing their sectional aims.
– He was right, in the right honorable member’s opinion, in denouncing . the Labour Party.
– The Labour Party must remember that I am not saying these things ; it is their old friend and ally who said them. If I were saying this, the House would be in an uproar. I want to show the public of Australia that there must be something wonderful behind this new arrangement.
– It was to shift the right honorable member.
– I do not mind that. The vicissitudes of coming into or going out of office are all in the game of politics. But when a public leader addresses the people of Australia, he is taken to be using honest coin, minted from his genuine convictions; he is not supposed to be playing with words as one plays with counters or dice. He is supposed to believe and to mean what he says.
It is imperative that all Australia should combine to protect the Commonwealth against them.
– Who said that?
– The honorable and learned gentleman who has on the Treasury benches, including himself, seven Ministers, one whip, and three supporters. There is another imputation against the Labour Party, a serious one. They “ subject the public welfare to their own interests.” Could a more offensive remark be made of a party that has a skin which feels an affront?
– The honorable and learned gentleman has seen the error of his ways since then.
– For how much?
– And for how long?
– He said further-
The Labour Party is trying to rush the people over a precipice.
The honorable and learned gentleman has gone over the precipice right enough. But I wish to point out that, instead of addressing members of Parliament, who can laugh amongst themselves, as they seem to do, about the most solemn matters that they mention to their constituents-
– We follow the right honorable member’s example.
– When I make a joke, it is a healthy one, and the honorable member’s jokes would be much healthier if he missed a few more divisions. Here is another declaration about the Labour Party by a great public leader to the democracy of Australia, not spoken with the tongue inthe cheek, but uttered in all earnestness, solemnity, and sincerity- -
They are the most fatal enemies of liberal progress.
– Who said that?
– The honorable and learned1 member for Ballarat, on .the 2nd August. These epithets were either coined insults, which were not believed, which makes them more dastardly.^ or they were honestly believed, as I think they were, and the honest expression of the honorable and learned! member’s views. I accept and treat them as such. He told the people that, according to the Labour Party, “ If you have are independent mind you are a heretic, banned with bell, book, and candle.” That is another little sketch of his new friends. They are an amiable party to be associated with.
– He was raising the sectarian issue then.
– He said on the same occasion that the labour methods are such that the labour voters of Australia are dummies, and the labour members pawns.
– I did not say that. T said that if matters were pushed further they would become so.
– Well, they have been, pushed a little further now.
– “ Pushed to the extreme ‘* were the exact words I used.
– “Extreme” is a good word ; it Is something like extreme Socialism. The honorable and learned member said that the labour members would be pawns, and the labour Ministers figureheads ; “ that the Labour Party are seeking to drag Australia into a downward path, a path of political servitude and perhaps of social slavery.” That was the pronouncement of a great public leader upon a great political party. Does the servitude of office change the moral complexion of the situation?
– We have had a return of the prodigal son.
– No; the case is not the same as that of the prodigal son. Notwithstanding the centuries of slander which have been uttered about the prodigal son of the Scriptures, it was never said about him, as it could be said about this prodigal son, that he went about slandering his father. The Labour Party can enjoy the present situation. They have split up a number of men who ought to be standing side by side to oppose them. Could anything exceed the absurdity of the invitation which the honorable and learned member for Ballarat addressed to the Labour Party? After shipwrecking the men who ought to have stood together to fight the Labour Party, he invited the members of that party to come and be shipwrecked on the same snag. But the Inter- State Conference knew several things better than that. When they saw our alliance fractured and destroyed, the only inducement they could have for swallowing protection was gone. Only one thing in the world was required to give them a fair opportunity of predominance in Australia, and that was that this event should take place. Therefore, I can understand the hilarity of honorable members below the gangway. The transaction has been absolutely for their gain. It has removed one of the biggest dangers that was in their way. But the public man who points to a public danger, and calls on the citizens to form a national league to withstand it, ought not, within six months, to be seen in alliance with the party he denounced. If he wished to go on the downward path to political servitude, as he has done, he surely should not expect the people of Australia to take him seriously when he next addresses them on the subject. That is not all. The honorable and learned gentleman went on to say that the time would come when all men who love their country should stand for the true institutions of Australia or perish. These words, addressed, not to politicians, but to the people, from a trusted and honoured leader, must have meant something. They must have meant that there were dangers embodied in this labour power, these labour methods, this labour programme, which called upon all Australian Liberals to join together against them. He summoned the people of Australia to stand behind him in such a fight ; but he has deserted his army, and his league has had to pass judgment upon him. After the utterances which I have read, there could be no honorable alliance between, the honorable and learned member for Ballarat and the Labour Party of Australia. Men will do many things to save their lives, and I do not feel a bit sore that on that one issue there was an unexampled majority for saving life. The late Ministry has been accused of committing political suicide; but those who are now sitting on the Government benches are not built that way.
– The late Ministry committed suicide only to escape execution.
– I thank the honorable member for the admission. I now understand that my allies had arranged for my execution.
– According to the right honorable member’s own statement.
– Does the honorable member recollect - I did not know so much then as I know now - that when I turned round to the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, and asked him, “ Do you mean to tell me that your speech at Ballarat was the speech of a frank and loyal supporter?” and he said. “Yes, emphatically yes,” I accepted that assurance implicitly on the spot. But I regret to state that i cannot repeat that acceptance. I come away now from the contemplation of these matters between the Treasury benches and the Corner party in order to refer to the two Ministerial statements. I may say that having now referred to all these controversial matters, I ‘ desire to get on with business. Before I do so, however, I should like to say a few more words - I hope the leader of the Opposition will be allowed to address the House. I hope that under the new order of things there will be that amount of tolerance. I desire now to show that the opinion of the Prime Minister with regard to the Labour Party is the opinion of his colleagues - that is, of those who were associated with me. My honorable friend the Vice-President of the Executive Council, when there was a vote of censure hanging over my devoted head, and over the heads of my colleagues, expressed his opinion of the Labour Party and Socialism in a manner that met with my utmost approval. He said -
As for the Labour Party, they have 25 per cent, of practical politics and 75 per cent, of bird-lime. (He is in the bird-lime now. My honorable friend went on to say -
The next issue before the public will be Socialism or freedom.
He has lost his freedom now. Then he said -
When I must vote as the caucus directs, my political career will be closed.
Well, the political career of the honorable gentleman is only beginning. Then he remarked -
We are asked why free-traders and protectionists have come together? Because free men -
That was the free-traders and protectionists over there then - will not consent to reduce our Commonwealth to a great Sahara of imbecility and sand.
Bird-lime, imbecility, and sand ! The honorable gentleman went on to say -
An alliance with the Labour Party is like an alliance “with an American Indian. ‘He may fight with you, but pretty soon after the battle he will scalp you if he gets a chance.
Little did I think that a few months afterward’s the honorable member would sharpen his knife to take my scalp. My honorable friends understand that, as between the honorable member for Richmond and myself, it is purely a matter of political criticism, and it always will be so. He got a good chance, and he jumped at it. The honorable member, out of the wealth of his classical lore, which sometimes bursts upon us most unexpectedly, used the following illustration : -
The temple of Janus contains an idol possessing a head facing both ways. One of its faces has the features of the honorable member for Bland, the other face has the features of the anarchist’ and Socialist who would divide up and share the possessions of other people.
That was another little pleasantry at the expense of my honorable friends below the gangway. My right honorable friend the Treasurer has expressed his sentiments with reference to the Labour Party in language which, .1 think, was sufficiently emphatic. He looked upon the Labour
Party as a body who were not only a menace to parliamentary government, but an obstruction in the, way of a’ number of honorable members. I am anxious to take advantage of the profound frankness of my right honorable friend in giving his public opinion about the Labour Party a short time ago. I must say that the heroic courage which the right honorable gentleman showed in the earlier and nobler days, when he trod the unbeaten tracks _ of the Australian desert, was as nothing to the courage ;he shows now in sounding the depths of political mire. He said -
I rejoice that the Labour Party are on the Opposition benches. I prefer to see them there rather than directing the Government from the cross benches.
The right honorable gentleman now has the painful experience of finding the Labour Party directing him from that precise spot once more. I will, say this for my right honorable friend, that if he has to swallow political dirt it never agrees with him. He showed that after he had left office the last time. The right honorable gentleman stood before us and gave us an exhibition’ of feeling which every one of us must have respected. For three years he was under the dominance of the Labour Party - as he is again to-day - and the moment he was free he expressed the disgust he felt at the amount of political dirt he had to eat. The right honorable gentleman has now acquired a fresh appetite. The honorable gentleman said -
We will not have to take physic from a third party.
The physic is on hand again, and I hope it will agree with my right honorable friend. Under the ordinary conditions of public life, in any other country in the world, where such language had been used within a few months with regard to a political party, it would be inconceivable that public men who had made such declarations should occupy the position which Ministers occupy, to-day.
– What about Chamberlain and Lord Salisbury ?
– A great principle was involved when the Liberal Unionists joined Lord Salisbury - a great principle affecting the integrity of the nation. The cause which brought these two great men together was the conviction - whether it was right or wrong - that a certain course of policy with reference to Home Rule for Ireland would destroy the union and integrity of the Em- pire. That was a big enough question for men to come together upon. What was the big question that united the two parties who are now occupying the benches opposite?
An Honorable Member. - The removal of the honorable gentleman from office.
– I am glad that a Ministerial supporter gives us that information. To compare the union of Lord Salisbury with Mr. Chamberlain on a great question affecting the integrity of their country with the mysterious reasons which brought honorable members opposite together, is an insult to human intelligence. I challenge honorable members to mention one principle for which they have agreed to fight - one, be it big or little. I challenge them to mention one principle which brings the enemies of socialistic projects into line with the socialistic Labour Party of Australia.
– Our object is to kill misrepresentation.
– I shall have something to say about misrepresentation presently. There is something even more alarming still. It is bad enough that these feelings of enmity should be shown, and these heated denunciations of political wrong exchanged between occupants of the Ministerial and the cross benches, but what is to be said of a Ministry which contains two men in the positions of the Minister of Trade and Customs, and the Vice-President’ of the Executive Council ? What are we to say about a political alliance between those honorable members ?
– What about the right honorable gentleman and his references to Senator Drake, who became a member of his Ministry ?
– I have never made any reference to Mr. Drake in my life that I can remember.
– The right honorable gentleman has a short memory.
– Let honorable members listen, and say whether I said anything like what I am about to read. As Honorable members know, I am personally in strong antagonism to the Minister of Trade and Customs, and I do not propose to indulge in a single word of reference to that honorable gentleman, except in the terms used regarding him by the Vice-President of the Executive Council. Those two honorable members had been allies and comrades for twenty years, bound together by a great principle - protection. The Vice-Presi dent of the Executive Council had advantages of close personal association with the Ministerof Trade and Customs during those years that I had never had, and this is what he said only a few months ago -
When the honorable member joined us - that is the protectionists - it was like making ensilage.
– That is good stuff on which to feed cattle.
– That may be so; but I do not know that the Minister of Trade and Customs is in that category. The VicePresident of the Executive Council said of his colleague -
The honorable member crawled on to the top of the heap. . . . He always sunk the fiscal question when in office. He never sunk it when out of office.
The Vice-President of the Executive Council said that he had only two dominant passions - one loyalty to the Empire and the other to get -as far away as he could from the Minister of Trade and Customs -
As far away from the pernicious influence of men like the honorable member for Hume as I possibly can.
– Poetic licence !
– Then, again, the honorable member said -
He never sank the issue when it was good for protection; he always sank it when it was good for himself.
I suppose that is another little pleasantry, such as two colleagues may indulge in. About this time the Japanese were having a hard time in endeavouring to subdue Port Arthur, and the Vice-President of the Executive Council said : -
The Japanese are having trouble in taking Mount Arthur. Their guns have made little impression on it. It is to be hoped, if the honorable member can be induced to sit on the top of Mount Arthur, he will smash it as effectively as he has smashed everything else he has had to do with.
I hope these friendly interchanges will promote serenity and enjoyment in this new Ministerial alliance. In the evolution of politics all sorts of changes may take place ; but that all these denunciations of the iniquitous, destructive, selfish methods of the Labour Party that all these castigations should be laid across the backs of the Labour Party in the presence of the public of Australia, and that they should then constitute themselves a brigade to triumphantly march their detractors into office again is a thing almost inconceivable. The Labour Party are no doubt perfectly entitled to do what they have done; but the public are entitled to ask some explanation.
– The right honorable member will not forget thePostmasterGeneral.
– I wish to say in reference to the Postmaster-General that, as a rule, he does not indulge in long speeches. I very seldom see any speech of the honorable member’s recorded in Hansard, but I do wish to say about him that, although he may not be an orator, he is a born civil engineer. I use the term “ civil “ designedly, because the honorable member endears himself to every one, and I can never forget his marvellous display of ingenuity in helping me to shift the Labour Government. When I heard rumours - as I did some weeks before the delivery of the Ballarat speech, and wellauthenticated rumours, too - that the honorable and learned member for Ballarat was about to turn against the Government, recognising his versatility, and the slender majority which I commanded in this House, I felt that a crisis was about to arise. But I cherish no sort of unkindly feeling in reference to the Postmaster-General, or my honorable friend, the Vice-President of the Executive Council. They are young and ambitious politicians, and there is no reason in the world why they should not get on. Now I come to the first Ministerial statement of policy, which, for the first time in the history of parliamentary institutions in the British Empire, was made to a party in the House not in alliance with the Government. I have never heard of such a statement being made by Ministers even to their own party ; but I contend that the submission of a draft Ministerial statement for the approval of a section of the House, which has no sort of political sympathy with the members of the Government, was an unprecedented step.
– What is the objection to it?
– My honorable friend would think that there was no objection at all, if everything were settled in the caucus. I have no doubt that if the whole of the parliamentary work of Australia were settled down below in the caucus room-
Honorable Members. - Ha, ha!
– Strong as my objection is to the new development on the part of some honorable gentlemen concerned in this wonderful change, I wish to say that the Ministry have my undoubted sympathy in one respect. I do not think that the corner party, however strong, should have turned the Ministerialist Party, however weak, out of the Ministerialroom, and set them to wander around the precincts of the House. From time immemorial that room has been labelled the “ Ministerial “ room. My friends down below are careful to say that there is no alliance between them and the remnant here. They are careful to say that there is no alliance between the two parties, and yet the gentlemen upon the cross benches have actually put the name of their party upon the Ministerial room. That I regard as an actual trespass. I have no sympathy with them, and I hope that they will give it up. Now, what happened upon the 5th July - the day upon which Ministers were sworn in ? I propose to read the report of an interview with the honorable member for Bland, regarding the position which his party intended to adopt towards the incoming Ministry. It reads : -
Following upon an interview between Mr. Deakin and myself - upon 28th June -
That was very rapid, I think. I have no complaint to urge against the late leader of the Opposition. I think that he was absolutely justified in the course which he and his friends took in putting my Ministry out of office, because we were their open and declared opponents. Whether we were right or wrong, the honorable member knows that. He knows that we were their declared opponents, and there is a certain amount of satisfaction in fighting a fair, honest, political fight. One does not feel so wounded when he is shot from the front by his enemies; he can go down, and take the brunt of the battle. But there is an added sting when the shot comes from behind. There is an added sting when the fatal thrust comes from a friend and an ally, and I think some honorable members opposite will sympathize with that view. The members of the Labour Party did an absolutely legitimate thing when they acted as they did. But I wish to point out that the honorable and learnedmember for Ballarat has absolutely abandoned the interests of constitutional government, and that after denouncing the Labour Party as the enemies of true party government, he has become their instrument. Therefore it is time that some other public leader took up the duty which he has deserted. I say that the conduct of an Australian Ministry, in going cap in hand with a provisional Ministerial programme to the Labour caucus, is the very last thing which a man who used such words as he did in regard to them ought to have done in so short a time.
– Did not the right honorable member attend a caucus meeting once in Sydney?
– Never in my life.
– It has been reported that the right honorable member did.
– That report is like many others. Occasionally members of the Labour Party waited upon me in my room, but that occurred only three or four times within five years.
– What difference would it have made if they had waited upon the right honorable member a hundred times?
– That is immaterial to the question I am now considering. Here is a Ministerial policy extending over eighteen lines which contains nothing but headings. That is the extraordinary feature about the business. If eighteen measures had been submitted to the caucus, its members could exercise an intelligent judgment upon them. But is the whole field of public activity contained in these eighteen lines? And how could the caucus possibly know in what shape those measures were to be submitted ? I do not believe that the Labour Party have given their support to those Bills in blank, irrespective of whether they are right or wrong. I can understand the general support which any man might give to a Government, even if he did not belong to their party. The right to exercise his own judgment upon the particular subjects submitted
– Most of the matters mentioned are only under consideration.
– That is good enough for these sudden allies. The narrative of the interview proceeds -
I submitted the programme mentioned by Mr. Deakin, continued Mr. Watson, to the Labour Party this morning, and the following resolution was arrived at : -
That this party, having been informed, through Mr. Watson, of the measures proposed to be submitted by Mr. Deakin agrees to give his Ministry a general support during this Parliament in the transaction of public business.
I take it that that is the general support which any honorable member could give a Government, without tying himself down to the details of any particular measure, because it is inconceivable that a body of intelligent men would give their support to eighteen lines involving eighteen big public questions without regard to the manner in which they were submitted to Parliament.
– I should think that that would go without saying.
– Yes, I should think so. As the right honorable member for Swan, in describing the state of things which existed previously, said, “ The influence of the Labour Party then was not seen, but felt.” So it will be again. All sorts of resources are at hand for telepathic communications, and no doubt many a bridge will be built and many a contrivance resorted to in an attempt to keep up this very loosely-fitting alliance. There is no doubt, however, as to the duty of honorable members upon the Opposition side of the House. There is no doubt that their anxiety will be redoubled. There ‘is no doubt that their duties will be pretty onerous and necessary, and I hope that they will be thoroughly discharged. There are a number of subjects in the other speech, but I desire to refer only to one. Honorable !members have been so good in giving me their attention that I wish to refrain from referring to a number of subjects which are mentioned in the policy submitted by the Prime Minister. I intend to refer only to one which I regard as of the greatest possible consequence. The Government have announced their intention to adopt some method of dealing with the electoral question. I wish to show the House, from the very latest returns, that every word which I uttered months ago - when the proposal in 1903 was submitted - as to the! disgraceful course which was then being adopted in regard to New South Wales was absolutely, true.
– Is not that what the right honorable gentleman resigned over?
– Yes. That, however, is a matter which I do not wonder that the honorable member cannot understand, because he represents rather a big electorate. What I wish to point’ out is that the returns which have been compiled evidence a state of things which demands the serious attention of the country. We were assured bv the Minister who was then in charge of the Home Affairs Department that a series of droughts had denuded the population of the western districts of New South Wales. He mentioned three towns in the electorate of Darling which had almost been deserted, and he led the House to believe that the thousands of people who had been crowded to the cities would swarm back to the country when the drought broke up and better seasons were experienced. Since then, New South Wales has experienced magnificent seasons - indeed, a state of things which has never been equalled in its history. Yet what do we find?
– It is the land agents who are to blame now.
– The land agents do not take many people out in the western districts. I’ beg my honorable friend to recollect that this is a serious matter. It is one which affects tens of thousands of electors, although they may not be electors of Queensland. We know how civil we all are to an individual elector when he comes along. I ask the honorable member to be commonly respectful to the thousands and thousands of electors who have been robbed of their proper representation in the Commonwealth Parliament. These figures show now that the increase that has taken place in the number of electors in the drought-ridden district of Riverina during the last two years - notwithstanding that the boys and girls of nineteen _and twenty years of age who were residing In the electorate when the matter was previously before us, have since attained their majority - is only 789. With a magnificent season a district covering hundreds and hundreds of square miles, shows an increase of 789 electors, as compared with the number which it contained two years ago.
– That is better than a decrease.
– I am not dealing with that point, and the honorable member is aware of that fact.
– I am not.
– Then I hope the honorable member will give me his attention. The other electorate to which I have referred - that of Darling, which covers an enormous area - has enjoyed a magnificent season ; but notwithstanding this, as well as the fact that its young men and women of two years ago have attained their majority, and have thus become entitled to be enrolled, we find from these figures that it has only 2,000 more- electors than it had when this matter was before this House on a previous occasion. I then pointed out that in four electorates in New South Wales there were- 60,000 more electors than were to be found in four other electorates ; but at the present time the difference between the two sets of electorates, instead of being 60,000, is 76,000.
– That is a disgrace.
– It is a positive wrong and1 a shame. People talk about manhood suffrage, and womanhood suffrage, being the principle of the Constitution, and yet thousands of men and women living in the country are deprived of their rightsDo you know, Mr. Speaker, that this difference of 76,000 electors represents nearly the whole of the electors of Tasmania?’ It is equal to 95 per cent, of the electors of that State.
– The differences are just as great in the case of certain Victorian constituencies.
– I believe that they are ; but that does not make the position better.
– But when the question was before Parliament on a previous occasion, most of the members of the right honorable gentleman’s late Ministry voted to retain the existing differences.
– That is a sort of boomerang that need not be thrown at me. My attitude on the point was absolutely clear, and I am quoting these figures only because, having obtained them from the report, I am! sure of their accuracy. I find, again, that there is a difference of 22,000 between the number of electors in Lang and Riverina.
– There is a greater difference between the number of electors in the electorates of Yarra and Wimmera in Victoria.
– I will admit that, but these discrepancies occur right through. We find, for instance, a difference of 24,500 between the number of electors in North S’ydney and Darling. Then the figures for the electorates of Parkes arid Bland show a difference of 17,000; and those for Dalley and Canobolas a difference of 13,000, or a total of 76,000 in the one group of four electorates as compared with the other. Instead of the number of electors in rural constituencies increasing, we find that the difference between town and country divisions is greater now than it was at the time of the drought. Where are the thousands of persons who were supposed to be starving in Sydney, and waiting for the grass to grow ? Where have they gone ? The difference between the two groups of four electorates, which I have just set out, is equal to nearly the whole of the electors of Tasmania ; to 66 per cent, of the electors of Western Australia, 46 per cent, of the electors of South Australia, and 34 per cent, of the electors of Queensland. Surely, although these differences relate to a State from which some honorable members do not come, they will be dealt with in some feeling of equity and fairness to the men and women electors of the country?
– Will the right honorable member speak a little louder?
– The honorable member ceases to be of interest to me, because I know that he is not coming back at the next election. When I was in his constituency I was told that a better man would have to be brought forward on the next occasion.
– The right honorable member helped him slightly on the occasion of his last visit.
– Then, so far as he is personally concerned, I do not regret it. May I point out that at the very time these tens of thousands of electors in New South Wales were disfranchised by the refusal of the House to accept the scheme of the Commissioners - a scheme which this report shows to be absolutely right - the schemes for the redistribution of South Australia and Tasmania were approved. In South Australia, where they had one city electorate, like that of Adelaide, and another like that of Flinders, or Chamberlain, covering hundreds of thousands of square miles, I find, comparing the three highest with the three lowest, that there was a difference of only 6,000 voters. I have quoted the difference between the four electorates containing, the greatest number of electors, and the four having the least number in New South Wales, and the scheme which was disapproved showed that it amounted to about 60,000. Coming to Tasmania, we find that the biggest difference was about 2,000, while the scheme for Western Australia showed that the difference between Perth and one of the great rural electorates in that State was only 1.09. It is, of course, a mere accident that every one of these over-crowded electorates are represented bv Honorable members sitting on this side of the House. If only one of these representatives sat on the other side, we might at all events receive a little attention. It is a singular fact that the tens of thousands of electors who are disfranchised in this way are all in our electorates.
– And some of the electorates in the city of Melbourne, which have a far larger number of electors than have some of the country electorates, are in our favour.
– Is it not surprising that that fact will not stimulate honorable members to respect the manhood and womanhood of Australia? The position taken up by the honorable member for Bland is a nice one for a leader of a Labour Party to occupy.
– The right honorable member, as usual, changes his ground when his argument is answered.
– The honorable member will recollect that I was not speaking of Victoria.
– That is so; but the illustration which I offered was a fair one.
– It cannot be fair to say that there are two wrongs instead of one. Surely when I tell the Labour Party that 20,000 men and women are deprived of their electoral rights their answer ought not to be that there are 20,000 in another place who are robbed in the same way. When such a reply is made it discloses a curious form of labour energy and zeal in defence of the men and women of Australia. So far as I am concerned, my complaint in regard to this state of affairs will not be a matter of mere indignation. If this House perpetrates the wrong which was perpetrated before it will astonish me. No drought can arise during the next two or three months. Such a thing is impossible.
– I hope so.
– So do I. I wish now to point out that a most unfair attack was made upon the late ‘Ministry in reference to the redistribution of seats, and it is about time that it was exposed. A most violent attack was made on the late Mini”stry, and especially upon the Ministers representing Victoria, because they were guided by the advice of the law officers of the Crown on a matter of law. Let us look at the history of the question.
– Who made the attack? I was not in Melbourne at the time.
– The honorable member was not responsible for it. He ought to have read the Age. Vile attacks were made over and over again on the Victorian members of the late Ministry in regard to this question. The Constitution lays down as a basic principle, with which even parliamentarians cannot juggle, that the basis of representation shall be the numbers of the people of the Commonwealth.
– According to Commonwealth statistics.
– The number of members for each State was inserted in the Constitution on the basis of statistics obtained from the Government Statists. It was in 1891 that the census was taken, and the numbers were inserted in the Constitution on the basis of figures supplied by the statists of the several States eight or nine years later. These figures showed that New South Wales was entitled to twenty-six members, and Victoria to twenty-three, the lastnamed State obtaining her twenty-third’ representative by having 1,125 persons in excess of half the quota. Victoria has never had twenty-three representatives on a full quota. In the first instance, she obtained her twenty-third representative, as I have said, by having 1,125 persons in excess of half the quota, and in the second distribution which took place in 1903, she secured her twenty-third representative, because she possessed 2,280 in excess of half the quota.
– Was that on the basis of the census returns, or on figures supplied by the Government Statists of the several States ?
– On the basis of the annual returns compiled by the Government Statists of the several States. But no one grumbled about Victoria securing an extra member in these circumstances in the first instance. No one raised any quibble, or grudged her the additional member. No one said, “ These statistics must be wrong. It is too close a thing. We cannot honestly give you another, member on these figures.” Time went on, and the Deakin Government proclaimed the statistics of the several States as Commonwealth statistics, for the? purpose of a redistribution of seats. They took the view adopted by the AttorneyGeneral in my Ministry, and made the statistics of the States officials Commonwealth statistics by Government proclamation. It was then found that Victoria was entitled to her twenty -third member, by reason of the fact that she had a few perisons in excess of half the quota, but no one uttered a word of complaint. Yet when New South Wales, which has always had every one of her representatives returned on a full quota, suddenly becomes entitled to another member, because she has 2,700 persons in excess of half the quota, an outcry is raised that she is to get something to which she is not entitled. To say nothing about Federal feeling, such an outcry is, to me, absurd. The two matters do not hang together. If Victoria were to lose a member because New South Wales got an additional representative, the position might be more complicated. But the two considerations are quite distinct. The giving of an additional member to New South Wales will not deprive Victoria of one, and the moment I laid this fact before a big public meeting in Victoria my audience was perfectly satisfied. Victoria loses her twenty-third member because she has 24,600 under half the quota. She has only about 4,000 towards a half which represents 27,000 or 28,000. Yet there was this outcry ‘about Ministers robbing Victoria of a member. It is a monstrous shame. The two things do not hang -together, and have to be settled on their merits. What I say about the proposal of the Government is that it will have to be very carefully examined, because the less members have to do with the marking out of their electorates the better. I do not know one member who would not rather have nothing to do with it.
– No one has proposed that members should mark out their own electorates.
– I hope that that will not be proposed’. The less we make matters of this kind depend on the House the better.
– Or on the Ministry.
– Or on the Ministry. I follow that principle; but I say let justice be done at once. Do not let us have a waiting game, such as, prior to the last elections, left everything to the last, when there was a hurry-scurry to pass a validating measure. Although we have womanhood suffrage in Federal matters, members are elected for the old divisions which the Governments of the States mapped out before the Federation was born. It is a crying disgrace to the Federal Parliament that that state of things should be. But it must suit some one, or it would not exist.
– Would it not be a good idea to pass a Bill providing for an automatic redistribution every five years ?
– That might be all right, so far as members are concerned.
– I am speaking about members.
– That is an important point, but with me an infinitely more urgent point is that the electoral law which we have passed has been violated. Constituency after constituency has obtained more than the legal number of electors, and Bills have been passed to strangle our electoral law, and to perpetuate this injustice.
– Whenever such things occur they must be remedied.
– I feel sure that these matters will be set right now. It would be a gross injustice after the wrong done two years ago to create another wrong ,two years hence. But I shall have to watch the proposals of the Government with the greatest jealousy, because, quite irrespective of how these things work out, we must respect the principles of the Constitution, whose clear mandate it is that the basis of representation must be the population of the Commonwealth.
– On what boundaries would the right honorable member have gone to the country if he had got a dissolution a month ago?
– I took the extraordinary course of proposing the adoption of new boundaries as the business of the session, in order that we should not go to the country on the old boundaries.
– How long would the adoption of new boundaries have taken ?
– The reports were all ready> but the adoption of the recommendation of the Commissioners would have taken too long for the honorable and learned gentleman.
– It would have taken too long to be practicable.
– In spite of the honorable and learned gentleman’s failing health, when the opportunity to take office arose he jumped into the arena like a gladiator.
– The right honorable member ‘asked for a dissolution on the old boundaries.
– After the House had refused to agree to new boundaries.
– After the House had said it1 would go on with other work.
– I had the highest authority for advising a dissolution. In the first place, the leader of the Labour Party, when iri office, applied for a dissolution on the old boundaries. Then the present Prime Minister, two or three months after the last general election, on the rst of February of last year, before this Parliament had met, said -
Three parties nearly equal. It is unprecedented. It is an absolute impossibility. It cannot continue, and ought not to continue.
The position is worse to-day. The honorable and learned gentleman is not ,as strong to-day as he was then, when he had the Labour Party supporting! him, and the differences which have since arisen had not occurred. That was his deliberate verdict on the new Parliament, when he was last in office. Then this is what he said on the 9th May of last year -
Two parties mean constitutional Government. Three are just about equal to none. One of the chief considerations for the Parliament and the people is the reduction of the three to two.
Then, in the agreement with myself, he solemnly recorded this opinion -
The existence of three parties in the Federal Legislature of nearly equal strength has thrown public affairs into confusion. It makes parliamentary government on constitutional lines impossible, and calls for some immediate remedy.
The state of things is worse to-day, and yet the honorable and learned gentleman puts before us fifty different items upon which we are to indulge in serious legislation. This is what he said on the 2nd August last year at Ballarat -
Everywhere throughout the Continent there is a condition of division and unrest fatal to public business, fatal to the successful passage of legislation.
The’ unrest has disappeared, and every one is happy now. Those words were uttered within a few days of the defeat of the Labour Government. When they were spoken at Ballarat the fate of the Labour Government was trembling in the balance, that Government being defeated on the nth or 12th August.
– They were sand-bagged on the 1 2 th August.
– This was a preliminary sand-bagging. But the members of that party seem to like such treatment. The proper plan to adopt to gain the support of the Labour Party seems to be to humiliate and1 revile them. If you will only kick them hard enough, they will love you. We had those declarations of the present Prime Minister before us. We also had the action of the leader of the Labour Party when he was Prime Minister. I say again now that the position in which this House finds itself can only be met in one way. There is, and I feel it, a consolation in escaping death, even for eighteen months. Every one must feel that, no matter where he sits, although my honorable friends on this side, with the greatest loyalty, never lifted a finger to try to prevent us from shortening the life of this Parliament. One cannot help knowing that an election is a great inconvenience ; but at times the public interest must be considered before the private interests of members. The late Administration thought that such a time had come, and when the dismal and humiliating history of the present alliance between the Government and the Labour Party is known, in the remaining days of this Parliament, the people of Australia will see that when things get into this unwholesome and confused condition, and the true balance of parliamentary parties is destroyed, arrangements being made between men in Parliament, not on lines of political principle, but on those of personal interest, the time has come for them to set matters right.
– The leader of the Opposition, in the exercise of the undoubted right which every honorable member - and more particularly one occupying his distinguished position - possesses, has this afternoon taken advantage of the opportunity afforded him by the motion of the Prime Minister, to criticise the Government, its formation, and its supporters, and, also, in a minor degree, to refer to one measure mentioned in its programme. Much of the right honorable member’s speech was a rechauffe of past events, the bringing up of which now, I venture to say, has no possible bearing upon the work before us. A large amount of it consisted of explanations, and if, after the miles of previous explanation we have had from the right honorable member, he found it necessary to occupy so much public time to-day in making a further apology, we do not intend to reproach him. The right honorable member, in the course of an address, which in parts proved to be amusing, and in other parts was intended to be biting, has again laid before the House and the country what are, after all, to a large extent personal grievances. He has in the course of his observations thought it right, not only to criticise in the ordinary manner the actions of members of the Government, but to address at least one observation to the Prime Minister which was nothing short of insulting. I do not intend to sink the dignity of my honorable leader as to that by saying more than this, that the personal character, integrity, and reputation of Alfred Deakin in this country, are beyond the reach of the leader of the Opposition, and rest upon a foundation not so slender that it can be overthrown by his breath.
– Show me a man in Australia who believes in him to-day.
– What have the right honorable member for Balaclava and the honorable member for Gippsland said about him ?
– What does the Worker print about him?
– The leader of the Opposition further thought it right to rake up past observations made by some of my honorable colleagues. What effect that should have on the transaction of public business it is hard to understand. It would be very easy to retort in kind upon the right honorable member, and to select from the pages of Hansard, and from other sources, recriminations and observations at least equally mordant in their nature which have passed between him and other members on his side.
– I guarantee that the honorable and learned gentleman could not find one such statement.
– That is not thebusiness of to-day. It is not what we have been sent here to do. The leader of the Opposition referred to the Tariff Commission, and in a way reflected on the Commission. I do not know whether he intended to do so or not.
– I have not reflected on the Commission ; quite the contrary.
– The right honorable member’s remark that the Commission has not dealt with certain questions sounded tome very much like a reflection. I do not intend to follow the right honorable gentleman upon this subject, for the reason, among others, that to express an opinion upon the desirability of affording further assistance to those industries would” be to tread upon the ground that we have allotted to the Commission, and to anticipate their report. The right honorable gentleman al so said that there were some secret terms of alliance between the Government and the party with which they are immediately connected and the Labour Party. I can only say that whatever alliance exists, its terms are tobe found in the public press.
– Then, there is none.
– The terms of the alliance are contained in the very document which the right honorable gentleman read. There is nothing secret and nothing underhand, and the public are in full possession of all the facts. The right honorable gentleman also said there could be no honorable alliance between the Labour Party and the Government, for the reason that some members of the Government had spoken rather scathingly of the Labour Party. I would say that whatever my colleagues may have said about the Labour Party, there can be no doubt that they would be justified ten times over in entering into the present alliance, if for no other object than to remove the greater danger which threatened the country whilst the right honorable gentleman held the position of leader of the Government.
– They know the man they have to fight.
– I have not risen for the purpose of making a speech, but withthe object of making an appeal to the House I am going to ask honorable members to proceed to business.
– Hear, hear.
– I desire to ask the (right honorable gentleman if he can point to one single suggestion of his, apart from his references to the Redistribution of Seats Bill, that has any bearing on the practical work that lies before us. I would ask if there was one single suggestion in his speech which carried us one step forward towards the performance of the work we are commissioned to do. We have men’s work before us. We cannot, of course, control the leader of the Opposition or his followers - he cannot control some of them himself - but in the name of the Government and of Che country, I would respectfully and earnestly ask the right honorable gentleman, and other honorable members, not to waste time over useless debate, but to proceed without loss of time to transact that vast array of work indicated in the Ministerial statement placed before Parliament yesterday.
– The Ministry have no right to speak for the country.
– I do not suppose that the form in which the Ministerial statement was made meets with the approval of the honorable member. We feel that we have a serious responsibility, and we are going to ask our supporters on this side of the House to give us the best support they possibly can, not by way of any conspiracy of silence, but by a determined resolution to do the work before us - to express their opinions in the ordinary way about the business as it is brought forward, and to assist us in justifying our existence as a Parliament. We have lived through a little more than half of our parliamentary existence, and I hope we shall proceed, without delay, to overcome the difficulties before us, and that in spite of the interruptions to which we have unfortunately been subjected, we shall be able togo back to our constituents, and’ show them that, after all, we have deserved well of the country.
– I had not intended to address the House on the present occasion, because it did not seem to be necessary to do more than proceed with the business that the House a week or so ago determined should be disposed of at the earliest possible moment. In view, however, of the challenge thrown across the Chamber by the leader of the Opposition, as to the terms of any alliance existing between the Ministerial party and the members of the party which I have the honour to lead, it is necessary perhaps to say a word or two. I wish to point out that the terms of the alliance have been made public in the fullest and frankest way.
– Hear, hear; every word of it.
– Then there is an alliance.
– I have been asked as to the terms of the alliance, and I say that its terms have been made public.
– So have the terms of the Japanese treaty, but we suspect another one behind it.
– Nothing of that kind exists in this case.
– I am not here to express an opinion on abstruse matters of that kind. The honorable member for South Sydney is no doubt an authority on matters relating to the Far East. It is interesting, not to say amusing, to hear the leader of the Opposition denounce anything in the nature of a loose alliance. He asked why we could not have a clear understanding in the full light of day, and he desired to know why we did not disclose the terms of our alliance. The right honorable gentleman held office in New South Wales for five years, and for the greater part of that time with the support of a third party, and never published one word with regard to the understanding between him and that party.
– There never was any.
– Quite so; then where is the justification for the pretended surprise that more information has not been published with regard to the understanding between the Ministry and the Labour Party ? The terms on which we stand with the present Government are very similar to those upon which we stood with the Government of the right honorable gentleman in New South Wales.
– Distinctly not.
– Then, as now, we were prepared to sink any idea of ourselves taking office, so long as the work of the country was carried on. Then, as now, we were anxious that the business should be proceeded with. Whenever the right honorable gentleman met with factious opposition in the New South Wales Parliament, he received every support from the members of our party in carrying on the public business, and we never asked him for anything, so far as party advantages were concerned. The right honorable gentleman is aware of these circumstances, and, therefore, it seems ridiculous for him to pretend any anxiety as to any unpublished terms of alliance which he mav assume to exist. There is nothing more to be disclosed than has already been made public, and our party are merely anxious that the work should be proceeded with, that the promises that every man in this Parliament has so frequently held out to the people of Australia should be in some degree fulfilled. There is only one other point to which I should, perhaps, refer. I do not think it is necessary to say anything with regard to the criticisms so pointedly quoted by the leader of the Opposition as having been directed against the members of the Labour Party by some Ministers. In politics, one becomes accustomed to criticism of every sort,, and the fact that public duty has constrained us to work with gentlemen who, a little while ago, were profuse in their expressions of opinion as to our methods and conduct generally as public men, in order to transact the public business, should not in any way cause surprise. After all, our present association is no more surprising than that which took place when the leader of the Opposition joined hands with the present Prime Minister some little time ago. If honorable members carried their memories back to the last general election, and recollected the tirades of the right honorable gentleman against the former Deakin Ministry, they must have felt fully as much surprise as that which has been expressed by the leader of the Opposition at the fact that it is possible for the Labour Party to work with Ministers who had made remarks of the nature quoted. We were regaled with the criticisms which at every meeting were directed by the right honorable gentleman against the Ministry - such criticisms as apparently left no possible room for a subsequent reconciliation. But, doubtless from the highest sense of public duty, the right honorable gentleman felt constrained to enter into an alliance with the present Prime Minister to accept his assistance, and depend upon his support in carrying on the government of the country, and in putting forward a programme that never got very far towards completion. The other matter to which I wish to refer, is in respect of the electoral divisions. The right honorable gentleman properly enough drew attention to the fact that his contention, some couple of years ago, has since been borne out by the movement of population in New South Wales. As one who voted for the rejection of the New South Wales scheme of re-distribution, I wish to say that I was convinced then that the drought had had the effect of denuding of population a large portion of the Western District of New South Wales. That was so, and the fact that that population has not gone back is due in part to the circumstance that the drought has not been brought to an end, so far as a part of the Western District is concerned. I do not wish to make this a reason for any subsequent action ; but as a mere matter of fact, large areas of New South Wales are - or were some few months ago - still suffering from drought.
– What portions of it?
– The honorable member has not travelle’3” over any of the far western districts. In the Mossgiel and Ivanhoe districts, the drought still exists, and the condition of those districts to-day - - or at least, a few months ago - was worse than had ever been previously known.
– They have only one man there upon every 200 square miles.
– I admit that at present the population is very sparse ; but at one time it was much greater than at present. A sad experience has convinced us that unless some radical alteration of conditions takes place, and it Becomes possible to apply irrigation to a much greater extent than now seems likely, the western districts of New South Wales will never regain their population.
– As a matter of fact, there is always some dry spot there.
– That is not so. I can recall years when die greater part of the districts to which I am referring were under water. I am willing to give every assistance in placing the constituencies on a basis that will in some degree approach equality. When I made an interjection at the time the leader of the Opposition was speaking, I was referring to the most unfair inference which he was seeking to draw. He drew attention to the fact that in New South Wales, the greater number of the constituencies that had an excess of voters were represented by members of his own party, the inference being that a set was being made against his party by those who opposed the redistribution of seats. That was a most unfair inference, because in Victoria our party was most likely to lose by upholding the existing conditions. I do not desire to do more than clear up any misunderstanding that might have existed in the minds of honorable members in regard to the matter of electoral distribution. I am most anxious to see something like an equal distribution of the electorates. I wish, in conclusion, to say that I sympathize in the fullest degree with the view put forward by the AttorneyGeneral. The House having decided to come to business should do so at the earliest opportunity.
– It took him eighteen months to ascertain that he wished to do any business.
– I wish to say that I have never assisted in delaying public business, and that outside there is an anxiety to-day to see the Commonwealth Parliament justify its existence by disposing of some work which has been too long neglected.
– We have had speeches occupying five hours from honorable members opposite.
– The honorable member has contributed his quota to the five hours’ speeches. I have no desire to say anything further. I will render the Government every assistance to dispose at the earliest possible opportunity of the work which has been outlined.
– The new-born zeal displayed by the late leader of the Opposition is certainly very refreshing, ‘in the light of the experience which we have had of the tactics of the party which he has had the honour to lead during all the months that we have been in existence as a Parliament. I certainly think that he is to be commended for expressing, even at this late stage of the day, a desire to transact public business.
– The honorable member spoke for four hours in support of the late Government.
– But there was a succession of speakers on the other side with the declared object of obstructing public business. I think that the honorable member for Bland might have offered some explanation to the House and the country regarding the extraordinary position which he has assisted to bring about in the state of public affairs at the present time. He might have explained all the various stages which led up to the famous Ballarat speech, and to subsequent events. Yet he has simply occupied the time of the House in endeavouring to establish an analogy between the position of the present Prime Minister and that of the right honorable member for East Sydney when he filled the office of Premier of New South Wales - an analogy which, when tested, has no justification whatever. There was no alliance at that time between the Labour Party and the right honorable and learned member for East Sydney. Certainly the latter received the support of the Labour Party in regard to certain measures which he proposed to place upon the statute-book, but anything in the nature of an alliance did not exist. The fact, however, that an alliance exists at the present time is proved by the circumstance of the Prime Minister taking the unprecedented course of submitting to the Labour caucus the names of the proposed members of his Ministry. He submitted to the leader of the Labour Party, for his approval, the names of his colleagues, and also before they were laid before the country, the measures which he proposed to introduce. I contend that a proceeding of that character has never taken place in any part of the world. To my mind it conclusively proves that some kind of a secret understanding - even if there has been no alliance - has been arrived at between the Prime Minister and the party which is led by the honorable member for Bland. I submit that one of the very first proposals which should have been submitted for the consideration of Parliament has reference to the question of the redistribution of seats. At the present time there is a condition of things which points unmistakably to the necessity of an appeal to the country for the purpose of restoring something in the nature of responsible government. How can the Government claim to be exercising the responsibilities of their office in a constitutional manner in the face of the fact that they have behind them the smallest party in this House, and that they are absolutely dependent for their very existence upon a third party? That is a con.dition of things which ought not to be tolerated for a moment, and one which the Prime Minister has denounced more forcibly than has anybody else. If it had not been for his action the existing condition of affairs would not have obtained.
– If there had been a dissolution, I should not have taken, that action.
– The honorable and learned member must recollect that after consultation with the leader of the Labour Party, he came down to this House with an amendment-
– The Prime Minister must admit that at the conclusion of his speech, he took an amendment out of his pocket, the substance of which was known to press representatives, and was mentioned in the newspapers of the morning upon which he submitted it. It was known that the honorable and learned member intended to propose that amendment. We are in this position, that the condition of affairs which obtained after the last genera] election faces us now. We have a House which is composed of three parties, and the party holding office has actually the smallest number of supporters, and is entirely dependent upon a third party for carrying on the business of the country. In other words, the power has been committed into the hands of an irresponsible body (o direct the legislation of this country, and the Prime Minister is merely the figure-head - I do not use that term in any offensive sense-
– He is in the shafts, and the corner party are doing the driving.
– The Prime Minister has previously referred to figure-heads, and yet he himself now occupies the position of something worse than a figure-head. He is like the figure-head which is known to certain people as an “Aunt Sally.” He has been set up for any members of the Labour Party to knock him down at the first, opportunity. That is a most undignified position for a Prime Minister to occupy. Only in August last the honorable and learned member said -
The party was up for sale to the highest bidder between other parties. “ Here are our votes,” it sard, “ for your legislation; we do not believe in you or your policy, but if you give us the legislation we want we will support you.” Could a more demoralizing bargain be proposed in any public body or institution? “Did they not see,” added Mr. Deakin, “ that in this degradation of principle they were destroying the life of the tree of constitutional liberty.”
Now, I ask, does not the Prime Minister see that in this degradation of principle he has destroyed the tree of constitutional liberty? We have been told upon the one hand, that there is an alliance, although the statement has been denied upon the other hand. It is perfectly plain that there is an alliance between the Labour Party and the present occupants of the Ministerial benches. I fail to see how the Prime Minister can conduct the business of a country in the absence of such an al:liance. or, at least, a definite understanding. In that connexion, it would be interesting to learn what has become of another alliance, which was entered into between the Labour Party and the honorable and learned member for Indi, together with the honorable member for Hume - a party which was known as the Isaacs-Lyne party. The conditions of that alliance were stated to be as follows : -
That each party is to retain its separate identity, but the alliance is to be for the life of this and the next Parliament.
If that be so, I presume that it is still in existence. Yet how can that alliance be reconciled with the new alliance which has taken place?
– I suppose it has ceased to exist.
– I notice that the Labour Party are still working in that subterranean manner which has characterized all their methods for bringing about certain legislation. Yet, in the face of that fact, we find that all such alliances are .condemned by the official organ of the party. I must say that that organ leaves us in no doubt whatever as to what is its opinion of the present alliance and of the Prime Minister. I am surprised to find that the honorable and learned member for Ballarat - a gentleman for whom I entertain the highest esteem - should contract an alliance with a party whose official organ speaks of him in such disrespectful, not to say insulting, terms. In the Queensland Worker, one of the most powerful labour organs in Australia, and a newspaper which has a large circulation, the following passage occurs, under a leader headed “The Perfidious Deakin”: -
Deakin is all sand - sand without grit, quicksand. Woe betide the political wayfarer who ventures his feet that way ! There is no foothold in Deakin ! He is true to nobody, not even to himself. He would betray himself behind his own back if that were possible. It is a question whether he is true to his own image in the glass. Within the brief space of a few months, Deakin has “ ratted “ on everybody. He hasn’t even troubled to do it as decently as possible ; he does not pay the proprieties the compliment of covering up his tracks.
That is what the official organ of the party now in alliance with the Prime Minister has to say respecting him. It certainly makes very free with him in its criticism, and I do not know whether he thinks that such insulting criticism is the act of a friend.
– Will the honorable member read what the Worker has to say about the leader of the Opposition?
– The leader of the Opposition is not in alliance with the Labour Party, and that being so, whatever this newspaper may have to say in regard to him is not in question. The point of this article lies in the fact that the Labour Party, of which the Worker is the official organ in Queensland, is on most amicable terms with the Government, and that the two parties are in such close relationship that even the smallest item of policy cannot be put forward by the Government without consultation with its supporters in the Ministerial corner. It is for that reason that I think the remarks of the official organ of the Labour Party in Queensland have a peculiar interest.
– It does not give us our policy.
– I beg to call attention to the fact that the Ministry are not keeping a House. [Quorum formed.)
– I have shown what the official organ of the Labour Party has had to say in regard to the Prime Minister, and I propose now to quote what the Prime Minister had to say, less than a year ago, of the Labour Party, with which he is at present in alliance -
Those most closely allied with the Labour Party, those who make the greatest sacrifices for them, who stand closest to them, and who most wish to help them, are always the first to be sacrificed by them. One may help the Labour Party for one month, two months, three months, or four months; but the moment one stops or makes a single independent step he is treated as a bitter enemy. After having been apparently trusted, he will be treated as if suspected from the first moment; he will be condemned as if he had attacked them from the outset. That is the treatment which follows alliances with political machines. . . . When you come to deal with the machine, you are dealing with something which has no loyalty, no conscience, and no judgment.
Although the Prime Minister made these remarks less than twelve months ago, we find him to-da4 in alliance with this machine, which has no loyalty, no conscience, and no judgment, and1 subject to ihat treatment which he has explained so lucidly as being the reward of those who are most in sympathy with the party, and do their best to assist it. I remind the Prime Minister of the fate which is in store for him at the hands of the Labour Party. He may rest assured that these words, which were perfectly true at the time they were uttered, are no less true to-day,; that when he has served the purpose of the Labour Party, they will forget all the assistance he has rendered them, and cast him off with as few scruples as they would cast off any one else. He correctly gauged the Labour Party when he described them in these terms, hardly twelve months since; and I think it desirable to remind him of his utterances, so as to draw his attention to the fate that must sooner or later overtake him. I wish now to say a few words as to what, by courtesy, I shall call the Ministerial programme. AVe were told yesterday by the Prime Minister, that “a Com, monwealth system of old-age pensions is now under inquiry.” Indeed, when we glance through the alleged programme of the Government, we find that most of the matters to which it refers are either “ under inquiry,” “under consideration.” “under contemplation,” or “ in hand.” The questions that are dealt with in this way are, I presume those which are regarded as the most contentious, so that we mav reasonably infer that they will not be_ pushed into the forefront of the Ministerial programme. A question which ought to have been in the very forefront of the programme, however, is that of the redistribution of seats. It has been shown by the leader of the Opposition that the present condition of the various’ electorates is such as to be an absolute disgrace to the community, and should not be tolerated.
– The honorable member wishes to wreck the Government.
– I certainly do. My desire is to see them go to the country at the earliest moment, after we have provided for a redistribution, of seats, so that the electors may have an opportunity to say whether or not they enjoy their confidence. In/ my judgment, a Redistribution of Seats Bill should have been mentioned as one of the first measures to be brought forward.
– And it should be our resolve that the Ministry shall not succeed in carrying through any business until they have dealt with that measure.
– The matter certainly demands immediate attention. The condition of the electorates, as revealed by the leader of the Opposition, makes it perfectly clear that we really have nothing approaching the principle of adult suffrage, or one man one vote in operation in Australia. That state of affairs has been accentuated by the extension of the franchise to women, which makes the disparities even more glaring, and emphasizes the necessity for the immediate consideration of this question. I trust that the Ministry will show that they are prepared to deal with it at the earliest possible moment, and so give the electors an opportunity to return a Parliament in which the state of parties shall be such as to allow of an approach to our idea of what responsible government ought to be. The Government programme also promises -
The encouragement of rural occupations in particular by means of preferential trade.
Here we have a snag on which the Ministerial vessel is likely to strike, and get a very severe shaking. When we consider the personnel of their following, and the wide divergence of opinion which prevails among them, we cannot fail to realize that the Prime Minister may have considerable difficulty in retaining at its full strength the support of those now behind him when he introduces a measure dealingwith this question. I can promise him plenty of free criticism from this side, and I more than suspect that he will have to undergo a good deal of criticism from his own side of the House.
– Is the honorable member serious when he speaks of a dissolution?
– Absolutely serious. I freely and honestly admit that I do not hanker after a dissolution as a mere matter of liking, but I do say that the condition of the electorates is so disgraceful that it is absolutely imperative that a dissolution should take place at the earliest opportunity, following a redistribution of seats, so as to afford the electors an opportunity to give legitimate expression to their views at the ballot-box, and to secure a return to something like responsible government.
– Does not the honorable member think that an election once in three years is a little too often ?
– I should not object if the period were extended to five years ; but I contend that the House should be elected under new conditions. The present position of the electorates is such that the House does not really, represent the people ; and in the face of such a situation I hold that all personal considerations should be set aside. It is mentioned in the Ministerial speech that-
To attract population, and to make provision for the appointment of a High Commissioner, are kindred ends to be achieved, together with, and in relation to, the matters just mentioned.
I think we should have had some explanation of how it is proposed to attract population to our shores.
– I desire to call attention to the state of the House. [Quorum formed].
– Among the many other matters mentioned in the Ministerial programme is that of defence. But it is so far down in the list-
– I followed the order in which the subjects were mentioned in the speech made by the Governor-General in opening the present Parliament; so that the position which any proposal bears in the list is not to carry any significance.
– I am glad to have that assurance, for I submit that the question of defence is one of pressing urgency.
– Hear, hear.
– It is one of the first matters - if we are going to push on with business - which should be submitted for the consideration of the Parliament. At the present time, Australia occupies such an isolated position, and is so exposed to attack, that I do not think any Government which is in office ought to neglect this important question for one moment longer than is necessary. We have, contiguous to our shores, or, at all events, at but a few days’ striking distance, no fewer than sixteen naval stations in the hands of foreign powers, with any one of which, or any combination of which, we might have to grapple perhaps at a time that is nearer than many of us anticipate. The development of settlementin the Pacific generally - close to the Australian shores - renders our position in the matter of defence one of the gravest anxiety and the most serious moment; and I submit that the question of defence is one that should receive the attention of the Government at the earliest opportunity. So far as general measures of useful character are concerned, I presume that there will be an effort on the part of honorable members in all parts of the Chamber to get business transacted. I anticipate that there will be nothing in the way of obstruction to such measures offered by members of the Opposition. But, while I shall certainly offer no obstruction to legitimate and pressing business, I shall resist any attempt to increase the Customs duties, or to divert taxation into the pockets of private individuals, either by the giving of bounties, or the raising of the Tariff; and I shall strongly oppose any legislation which conflicts with the principles which I have advocated before the electors, and am here to maintain. But I. have very little hope of the existing Parliament doing useful business, because of the personnel of the Government. We have, for instance, the honorable member for Richmond in close association with the honorable member for Hume; and as I have a great respect for him, I am sorry to see him in such bad company. He is a strong anti-Socialist, and absolutely opposed to all socialistic legislation; yet we find him in close association with the honorable member for Hume, who avows himself an out-and-out Socialist. ‘ We also findhim in association with the honorable and learned members for Indi and Darling Downs, to whom he was so lately opposed. It is an extraordinary thing that the rewards of office have been given largely to those who rebelled against their protectionist leader, and that those who were staunch to him, such as the honorable and learned members for Bendigo, Laanecoorie, Moira, and others, have been overlooked. I attribute this to the fact that the choosing of Ministers did not rest entirely with the Prime Minister, and that he had to submit the names of intended Ministers to the leader of the Labour Party for approval before he could form his Cabinet. We have in office a Ministry whose supporters make the smallest party in the House, and who are - so they themselves assert - not in alliance with the party who are supporting them. They cannot therefore be dubbed the alliance party, but they may truthfullybe called the “no-reliance” party. I hope that the Prime Minister and his colleagues will seriously consider the redistribution of seats question, with a view to the creation of a new electoral system, to make provision for an appeal to the country at the earliest moment.
– As there is a difficulty about keeping a quorum. I suggest that we should now adjourn until after the dinner hour.
– No. Go on with business.
– It is my duty to try to expedite business. I regret that the honorable member for Lang had not more to say in regard to the position of those who were staunch supporters of the Prime Minister before he took office.
– Is it not your duty, Mr. Speaker, to take notice of the remarks of the honorable member for Dalley, in regard to the absence of a quorum?
– I did not hear the honorable member for Dalley suggest that there is not a quorum present, but I take the honorable and learned member’s remarks as an attempt to draw my attention to’ the fact, and, therefore, order the bells to be rung. [Quorum formed.]
– The honorable member for Lang made some rather caustic remarks about the composition of the present Ministry, and about the treatment which has been accorded to those who were staunch supporters of the Prime Minister before he took office. I refer to this matter, not to sow the seed of dissension amongst honorable members opposite, but in the public interest, because I think that those who have borne the heat and burden of the! day are not those who, have been rewarded by preferment; while, on the other hand, those who did not help the honorable and learned gentleman in his time of trouble, but sat in a corner by themselves, have been chosen as his colleagues. It is a remarkable fact that of the four supporters of the honorable and learned member who represent New South Wales constituencies, three hold office. It is evident, however, that the Ministry was formed, not on lines of common policy, in the interests of the country, but in the interests of individuals. The honorable and learned member for Indi, when the leader of the Opposition had concluded his speech, said most indignantly that he had wasted time. He objected to the right honorable member taking out of the dust-bin of the past the remarks which honorable members on the Government side of the Chamber, such as the honorable member for Richmond and the right honorable member for Swan, have made about each other. We all have a high opinion of the honorable member for Richmond, whom we thought would not be guilty of touching vice at all ; but we now find him VicePresident of the Executive Council. The honorable and learned member for Indi said that we are here for practical business.
– It is the first time that he has said so.
– It is the first time in the history of the Federal Parliament that he has appealed to the House to proceed with practical business. In October last, he was so anxious for practical business to be proceeded with that he moved the reduction of the Estimates by is. Of course, his motive was not economy, his object being to force the creation of a Tariff Commission, since he knew that it would be a wedge to drive in between the Deakin and Reid parties. That move effected his purpose, and in his innermost mind he knows that it commenced the destruction of the Reid- McLean Administration. The honorable and learned member for Darling Downs assisted him in the work. At that time they were not anxious to facilitate the transaction of business, but were known as “ bridge-makers.” They were bridge-makers for the Watson Administration and Tariff destroyers for the Reid-McLean Administration. Yet they now have the indecency to accuse the leader of the Opposition of not desiring to proceed with practical business, because he has exercised his right of criticism. The honorable and learned member for Indi said that he would place the public in possession of the facts; it is also our duty to do so. Then he asked his supporters to stand with the Government in carrying out their programme. This noble array of four supporters ! The fact must be driven home to the country that the Deakin Administration faces the House with an undivided body of four supporters, whom the honorable and learned member calls upon to stand as one man against the Opposition. On each occacasion that the House has met since the present Ministry took office, the Ministerial benches have been closely packed with members, even including the! Vice-President of the Executive Council, who introduces quite a new element into the Ministerial ranks in this Chamber. I am very glad to see him there, and I regret that previous Ministries did not arrange that the Vice-President of the Executive Council should be a Minister in this Chamber. In vivid contrast to the packed Ministerial benches we find the seats immediately behind them occupied by only four supporters, whereas the crossbenches are so crowded that it has been found necessary to display the notice,. “ Standing room only.” The old associates of the Prime Minister and the AttorneyGeneral are so enamoured of them that they have seated themselves as far away from them as possible. So pleased are they with the Government programme, and sosatisfied are they with the prospects ofl the Government, that they have chosen this method of exhibiting their undying respect. So far as maintaining a quorum is concerned, the Government whip has a much easier task than that which fell to the honorable member who occupied a similar position under the last Government. The Government will look for their main support lo the well trained members of the Labour Party, who will take good care to keep a House for them.-.
– If the Government are not troubled, why should the honorable member worry himself?
– I am merely drawing the attention of the country to the spectacle presented by the Ministry and their direct and indirect supporters. The AttorneyGeneral has endeavoured to present a picture in which we are pourtrayed as being desirous to obstruct business, and it is only right that I should direct attention to a picture of a different character, which is intended to indicate to the public the true value of the Deakin. Administration. The cross-benches are so crowded that I am afraid that during the summer months some of the more stalwart members of the Labour Party, and especially the honorable member for Maranoa, will find their positions very uncomfortable, and it may be perhaps necessary to enlarge the accommodation in that portion of the chamber, and give it an even more lop-sided appearance than it now presents. The political situation is already a lop-sided one. It is really most surprising to find members of the Labour Party sitting cheek-bv-jowl with some of their most violent opponents. What has brought about this astounding coalition ? It is nothing but the deep and undying hatred entertained towards the leader of the Opposition. It is a personal, rather than a political, matter, and it is as well that the public should know that such is the case.
– What nonsense; there is no more popular man in the House than the right honorable and learned member for East Sydney.
– That may be so whilst he is not in office. While he is content to be leader of the Opposition, he is most popular, but let him once assume the reins of office, and a certain section of the Australian press will howl him down without any pretence of justification. Perhaps honorable members do not entertain personal hatred towards the right honorable gentleman, but they are certainly actuated by a strong political fear of him. The Prime Minister assigned as his reason for breaking the alliance into which he had entered with the leader of the Opposition, that the protectionist cause was in danger. He told the public that he was afraid that the right honorable and learned member for East Sydney would endeavour to forward the free-trade doctrine at the expense of protection. The protectionist press of Victoria supported him in that attitude. To-day neither the press nor Mr. Deakin appears to think that there is any reason for alarm with regard to protection. Yet there would be more justification for fear on their part than there was prior to the assumption of office by the present Government. The Prime Minister stated at Ballarat that he would like the Labour Party to place protection in the forefront of their programme ; but since that date a Labour Convention has been held, the delegates at which definitely refused to take up the fiscal question or to make protection one of the planks of their platform. Therefore, it seems to me that protection is in greater danger to-day than it was at the time the Prime Minister spoke at Ballarat. ‘ The Labour Party have made up their minds to ignore protection, and yet we find that a Ministry composed of ardent protectionists depend on them for support. The excuse for the formation of the alliance was that protection is in danger, and no greater proof could be afforded of the hollowness of any such pretext than that now presented to us. The leader of the Opposition, when he was Prime Minister, said he would adhere to the lines of the alliance, and he kept his compact. He appointed the Tariff Commission to inquire into alleged anomalies, and he said that he would not disturb the fiscal situation until the Commission had reported. The present Government have gone no further. The Commission has not yet reported, and the Prime Minister has stated that no action will be taken until they have done so. Therefore, it does not seem to me that the cause of protection has been advanced one whit by the change of administration. The statement of the Prime Minister that protection was in danger was a mere subterfuge, and his action in deserting his old ally was prompted either by hatred or fear. I do not, however, desire honorable members to accept my unsupported opinion of the Prime Minister. I would direct their attention to the opinions which have been expressed by some of his new allies. The Labour Party may, in a contemptuous manner, give him the assistance of their votes; but in return for any help that they may render, they will wring from him solid concessions. One of the most biting criticisms which has ever been directed against the Prime Minister appeared in the Brisbane Worker of 1st July last. This is the most outspoken labour journal in Australia, and is regarded as the official organ of the party. The article from which I propose to quote is headed “ The Perfidious Deakin.” It reads as follows : -
Laugh and jeer as we may at G. H. Reid, what can we wish him worse than the partnership of Alfred Deakin. To fall by the Judas kiss of a wobbler ! - what more fitting Nemesis could overtake the arch wriggler of Australia?
– Order. If the honorable member were making such a statement as that in the course of a speech, he would certainly be out of order, and would bocal led upon to retract his utterance. Therefore, I do not think that the honorable member, under the cover of some article in a newspaper, should say things concerning an honorable member that he could not utter directly.
– I do not wish to evade the Standing Orders. What I have read is by far the worst portion of the article, which proceeds as follows: -
Fate has arranged things beautifully, and for once poetic justice has been done.
– I beg to call attention to the state of the House. [Quorum formed.]
– I am very pleased that some of the members of the Labour Party are now present. It is a pity that their ardent desire to help the practical business of the country should not be sufficient to induce them to remain in the Chamber, and render it unnecessary to ring the bells in order to form a quorum. I have already stated that the Brisbane Worker, in which the article from which I have been quoting is published, is an authoritative organ of the Labour Party. If that is not the case, I should like some member of that party to contradict my statement. It is a smartly and powerfully-written journal, and strikes out in a fearless manner.
– Does the honorable member think that that has anything to do with the subject of the debate ?
– Yes, because I am proceeding to show Ihe relationship between the Prime Minister and the members of the Labour Party. The article proceeds -
We may take it for granted that, with the strains of the Ballarat speech ringing in his ears like a death knell, our two and a half cwt. of Prime Minister will not boast of putting on more weight for some time to come. He built his little house upon the faith of Deakin; had he read his Encyclopaedia Britannica more closely, he might have been forewarned bv the parable of the house built upon sand. Deakin is all sand - sand without grit, quicksand. Woe betide the political wayfarer who ventures his feet that way. There is no foot-hold in Deakin. He is true to nobody, not even to himself. He would betray himself behind his own back, if that were possible.
– I do not think that the honorable member should read such statements. As I have already pointed out, he would not be allowed to make them upon his own account; and that which he would not be allowed to say upon his own account, he ought not to be permitted to utter as an extract. If he feels it necessary to read such extracts, I would suggest that he should omit all objectionable epithets.
– I am quoting the extracts in question absolutely in the interests of the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, and with a desire to show the nature of the support that he will receive in this House. I claim that the vote which will be given to his Ministry will be contemptuously thrown at him. I do not allege that all the statements contained in the extracts which I have read are true-
– Then why does the honorable member read them?
– I am merely quoting from the most powerful official Labour organ in Australia. The honorable and learned member for Indi has said, “ Let us proceed with practical business.” I wish to show the public of Australia the character of the support which the Government are receiving at the present moment. If eight months ago the Prime Minister considered his position intolerable, what can he think of it now, when the official organ of the Labour Party speaks of him in such disrespectful terms? It continues -
Within the brief space of a few months Deakin has “ ratted “ on everybody. He hasn’t even troubled to do it as decently as possible; he does not pay the proprieties the compliment of covering up his tracks. Once on a time he. was considered a trustworthy, if somewhat ladylike, politician. /People talked about his beautiful voice; no one suspected it had so many falsetto notes. The Worker, some while ago, compared him to an operatic tenor of the sickly sentimental school, who plays the hero parts ; it never dreamt he had concealed about his person the qualities of the slimy villain of the piece.
– The honorable member must not use such language.
– Let me invite the attention of honorable members to what has since happened.
During the crisis that preceded the downfall of the Watson Ministry, Deakin was at one and the same time in secret negotiation with both Reid and Watson.
According to this newspaper, the present Prime Minister is a very bad lot indeed. It declares -
So little was he concerned about the political principles at issue that he could not make up his mind which side to join. In the end he decided for Reid, probably for no better reason than that it was the. course of action which enabled him to “rat” upon somebody. The Labour Party had kept Deakin in office for three years; what more natural than that he should seize the first opportunity of requiting them with treachery.
He betrayed the protectionist party. Three weeks ago he declared that the protectionist cause was in danger, and that he must look out for fresh supporters. But I would point out that his fresh supporters have to do exactly what the people outside tell them to do. They must do what the labour leagues say. The Inter-State Labour Conference decided not to place protection upon the forefront of their programme. I ask whether the policy of protection is more in danger to-day than it was three weeks ago?
– It was more indanger three weeks ago than it is to-day.
– The present Government are endeavouring to secure the votes of both free-traders and protectionists without declaring their fiscal policy. The Worker goes on -
The prospect of being thus able to figure as two separate and distinct Judases in one act was more than Deakin could resist. Accordingly,, he lent his countenance and help to the shameless tactics by which the defeat of the Labour Government was compassed, and a Coalition Ministry of free-traders and protectionists was fixed! up.
The Labour Party have declared that the honorable and learned member for Ballarat lent himself to tactics which resulted in the destruction of the Watson Administration.
Do they believe that seriously? If so, are they prepared to support a Prime Minister who compassed their destruction? They tell us that the leader of the Opposition is a bad lot; but, whatever he may have done, he has done openly. The Brisbane Worker, however, the official organ of the Labour Party, says that the present Prime Minister compassed the death of the Labour Administration.
– What does the Daily Telegraph of Sydney say ?
– I am quoting the official organ of the Labour Party. That journal continues -
Deakin himself did not accept office, but on his personal advice, Turner, McLean, and McCay did so, and he carried the majority of the protectionists over with him to sit behind Reid, the free-trade Premier.
That is a sad spot in our history, and I have no desire to dwell upon it. You, sir, only three weeks ago, were an unwilling listener to the speeches which were delivered by the right honorable member for Balaclava and the honorable and learned member for Corinella. I have no desire to dwell upon them, beyond agreeing with the honorable and learned member for Indi, that the public should be placed in possession of the facts.
– Does the honorable member subscribe to that newspaper ?
– The article continues -
The fiscal issue had been sunk, or, as he phrased it, “ a fiscal truce” had been proclaimed, and the daily press of both fiscal colours at one, as ever, in their common antagonism to labour, extolled his conduct as in the highest degree patriotic.
Honorable members will observe that I have quoted the exact words of the article, irrespective of whether they are unfriendly to the Government or the Opposition. Here, then, we find an official admission that a. fiscal truce had been brought about, and that the honorable and learned member for Ballarat was a party to it. Yet to-day we are informed that the reason for his assumption of office is that that truce has been broken. The article in the Worker continues -
With the near approach of a new session of Parliament, Deakin’s invincible instinct to betray somebody asserted itself.
I believe that that is a correct diagnosis of the honorable and learned member’s political character. He cannot long remain loyal to an alliance with anybody.
Casting about for a pretext, he suddenly discovered that the “ fiscal truce” had been broken. Deakin dearly loves a pretext.
The last sentence I can most emphatically indorse. A little while back, under a pretext, he abandoned Ministerial office. He entertained the idea - an invincible instinct - that the presence of three parties in the House was absolutely intolerable, and that no good could come of the position. Therefore, his invincible instinct made him abandon office. I find from the Worker that -
When he joined Reid, the pretext was the utter immorality of having three parties in Parliament, and the absolute necessity of having only two. Now that he wants to “ rat “ on Reid, he contemplates reverting to the three-party system without a blush. To-day’s pretext is the breaking of a “ fiscal truce,” and how, think you, has the fiscal truce been broken ?
The answer comes immediately -
By the appointment of a Tariff Commission, to which Deakin himself consented.
It is a Commission which is still in existence, which has not yet reported, and in regard to the labours of which the Prime Minister has admitted that no action can be taken until its report has’been lodged. The W or ker continues -
When the inquiry into the Tariff was arranged for, he took no exception to it. He did not say then that it was a breach of the coalition compact.
That is about the most biting criticism of the conduct of the Prime Minister that I have read.
When the inquiry into the Tariff was arranged for, he took no exception to it. He did not say then that it was a breach of the coalition compact. He was, at the time, in constant communication ;wi,th his allies; he threw out no warning of any kind that the action being taken would dissolve the alliance. Nor did he, before speaking at Ballarat, convey to them the slightest hint of his intentions.
The fact of the matter is, Alfred Deakin must have a pretext of some kind, and the Tariff Commission is the handiest thing around.
The suggestion is that the Prime Minister was ready to avail himself of any pretext, and that he was glad to seize upon the Tariff as a pretext in this case. When he allied himself with our party it seems to me that he took the best course of his political life. To-day, by interjection, the leader of the Labour Party admitted that the late Opposition were prepared to destroy the Reid-McLean Ministry. The late Prime Minister is said to have committed political suicide, and yet we have the admission of the leader of the Labour Party that he and his followers would have taken part in an attempt to give the late Ministry the happy despatch had they not pursued the course which they did. That being so, the late Prime Minister simply anticipated their action, and forced the honorable and learned member, now at the head of the Government, to avail himself of the most convenient pretext to dislodge him. The Worker continues -
Did ever before a politician anywhere on earth crowd so much betrayal .into so short a period?
He has betrayed the Labour Party; he has betrayed the Protectionist Party, he has betrayed his constituents; he has betrayed Reid; he has betrayed his colleagues who took office with Reid at his instigation; he has betrayed himself.
And all within the space of less than a year.
I think that this fact should be impressed upon the minds of the people. Within fifteen months we have had four changes of Ministry, and practically no business has been done in the Parliament. The electors of Australia, whether they be supporters of the Labour Party, the Free-trade Party, or the Protectionist Party - whether they are in favour of a Reid Ministry, a Deakin Ministry, or a Watson Ministry - must recognise that the Federal Parliament, up to date, has done nothing. During the last fifteen months they have witnessed frequent changes of Ministry. They saw at the outset a Deakin at the head of the “Government; then we had a Watson in charge of affairs; and after that, a Reid-Deakin coalition.
– The honorable member, when speaking of honorable members, must apply to them the names of the electorates which they represent.
– I am speaking of the names of the several Ministries that have been in power during the present Parliament.
– The honorable member, as an old parliamentarian, must surely be’ aware that honorable members sit in the House, not by virtue of their own personalities, but because they have been elected to represent certain electorates here. The honorable member may refer to another honorable member, either by the electorate which he represents, or in the name of the Ministerial office that he occupies for the time being.
– You misunderstood1 me, Mr. Speaker. I was defining certain Ministries.
– It is open to the honorable member to speak of the Deakin Ministry, or the Reid Ministry, but it is disrespectful for him to speak of “Deakin,” “Reid,” or “Watson.”
– I think that the electors have become absolutely confused by the changes of Ministry that have taken place.
In these circumstances the best thing that could have happened was a dissolution, so as to enable them to clearly, express their opinions on the situation. If they had desired a Watson Ministry, a Deakin Ministry, or a Reid-McLean Ministry, they could have intimated that desire by their votes. We were told only a few years ago that in the Federal Parliament we should have a rarer and a purer atmosphere.
– Who made that statement ?
– Many of the advocates of the Constitution Bill. Sir Edmund Barton and the present Prime Minister both led the people to believe that they might look for a higher political atmosphere in the Federal Parliament. The political atmosphere in this Parliament is so exalted that we have had1 four changes of Ministry within fifteen months.
– I rise to a point of order. I should like to know, Mr. Speaker, whether the honorable member is in order in repeating over and over again his statement as to the four changes of Ministry.
– The honorable member will not be in order in repeating his arguments time after time, and I hope that he will not do so.
– I admit that I referred to the matter more than once, but I did so only because of my desire to emphasize the point. It is a practice which I have acquired, probably by coming into contact with the many lawyers in this House. I am satisfied that the electors are about tired of the present situation. There have been so many changes of Ministry without the real facts leading up to those changes being placed before the people, that they have become confused, and the sooner we have a general election the better it will be, not only for responsible government and parliamentary institutions, but for the Commonwealth. I regret that, having been called upon to speak somewhat unexpectedly, I have not had time to prepare a speech.
– That is evident.
– I had to jump into the breach at a moment’s notice. I have referred to incidents which are said to show “ treachery “ on the part of the present Prime Minister, but I shall not use that word. If the Attorney-General had not addressed the House in such, angry tones, the present debate would probably have been concluded before now. He is responsible for its prolongation, and should it be continued for several days, the fault will lie at his door. The honorable and learned gentleman lectured the House, and asserted that we had no right to criticise the Government statement. That was a pretty attitude to be taken up by an honorable and learned member who, whilst sitting in the Opposition corner, moved that a certain item in the Estimates be reduced by1s., and took up the time of the House for hours in dealing with that motion. I for one should not have spoken tout for his action to-day. Instead of shortening debate, by the attitude which he took up he prolonged it. We are told that the Ministerial programme is really that which was submitted to the Parliament at the opening of last session, in March, 1904. It is said that it raises the same old flag. We have the same old dressing of the political shop window that we have had for years, although it is true that the Government have marked the old goods with new tickets. Some of these goods are to be disposed of “as soon as possible “ ; others “ when convenient “ ; others again “without delay”; and still others “in due time.” We have once more the Deakin dressing of the Ministerial shop window. The political garments displayed in it are marked as low as possible, and the Government expect to find their new clients in the Labour Party. That party furnished the Deakin Ministry with their customers in 1904, and the Party will again constitute their customers for 1905. The Prime Minister says, in effect, “The same old things that I offered to you in 1904 I offer to you now, although they bear new tickets.” We see the same old shoddy things once more displayed in the political shop window. The honorable and learned gentleman was in partnership with the right honorable member for East Sydney, but that partnership was dissolved without proper steps being taken to secure its dissolution.
– I wish to draw attention to the state of the House. [Quorum formed.]
– We are told by the Prime Minister that preferential trade and the encouragement of rural industries will be attempted as soon as possible. This is to be the work of Ministers who claim to be fired with so much zeal. We are to have an old-age pension scheme at the first opportunity ; a Navigation Bill is in contemplation ; and the Government hope to receive the report of the Tariff Commission before dealing with the matter of the fiscal issue. There is one measure mentioned in the Ministerial programme which I am sure is approaching the final stage.I refer to that relating to the survey of the proposed railway line between Kalgoorlie and Port Augusta. That is the measure concerning which the right honorable member for Swan has long betrayed so much anxiety. He supported theReid-McLean Administration, and stated in Western Australia that that Government had done much to expedite the passing of the measure. We are now told by the Prime Minister that the Bill is approaching its “ final “ stage. In this respect I think the words of the Prime Minister are prophetic. The Bill is certainly approaching its final stage so far as Western Australia’s chance of securing the passing of such a measure is concerned. The supporters of the Prime Minister have complimented him on the brevity of his Ministerial statement, which he has defended by saying that the Government have gone back to the conditions prevailing in 1904. Since he went out of office last year, largely as the result of his own action, the country has been at a stand-still for the measures which he now represents as so urgently necessary. Yesterday, Minister after Minister rose to give notice of motion in connexion with the introduction of Bills, and subsequently the Prime Minister made a Ministerial statement, to the reading of which no member was energetic enough to raise a point of order, containing an array of Bills which no one thinks could have been framed by the Ministers in the ten days which they have had at their disposal for the formulation of their policy. In the time, they could not have digested these measures, much less frame them. Evidently, they have taken the Bills which they propose to introduce from the pigeonholes in which they were left by the preceding Administration. The Ministerial eleven - eleven is the number of the supporters of the Ministry - have been condemned from one end of Australia to the other by the official organs of the Labour Party. To-night, I read one of the mildest of the attacks upon “perfidious Deakin,” made by the Brisbane Worker, and other labour journals chastise the Prime Minister in even more severe terms. I asked the members of the Labour Party if they indorse these articles, and their silence must be taken as art affirmative. Yet the Prime Minister and his colleagues are willing to accept the support of a party whose organs speak of them in that manner. One of the matters of practical legislation which the Government propose to bring forward is a Bill for the encouragement of the iron industry. We, on this side, however, cannot think that the Government are earnest when they say that they intend to pass this measure, because we know that its introduction will be like the throwing of a bombshell into this Chamber. The members of the Labour Party desire that the iron industry shall be controlled and managed by the State, whereas many of the members of the Government wish to provide for the granting of bonuses for the assistance of private enterprise in this matter. The Deakin Administration came into office because of the cry that the Reid Administration would destroy protection in Australia, and protectionists regard the establishment of the iron industry as the very basis of protection. Notwithstanding, we find this great diversity of opinion in regard to the Iron Bonus Bill on the part of the Ministry and their supporters. Another measure which is to be introduced is a Bill providing for the redistribution of seats. I do not wish to repeat what has already been said on the subject this afternoon, but I should like to point out the peculiar position of the Government in regard to that measure. Neither the Attorney-General nor some of his colleagues are at all anxious that New South Wales shalt obtain an additional member. They have raised constitutional quibbles about the necessity for a Commonwealth census being taken, although Victoria obtained her twenty-three members on figures that were several years old. When last the question of redistribution was before the House,, the Minister of Trade and Customs, who was then Minister of Home Affairs, was openly active in his engineering to prevent the adoption of the Commissioners’ schemes. The present inequality of electoral arrangements is one of the reasons why the people of New South Wales are so dissatisfied with the conduct of Federal affairs that I believe that any public man of moment could obtain an overwhelming majority of the people of that State in favour of separation.
– They cannot feel very strongly about the matter, because not a large number voted for the right honorable member for East Svdney after he had resigned his seat to give prominence to it.
– It was not necessary. I can win hands down every time.
– The honorable member for Barrier should be the last to resist the just rights of New South Wales. As a labour member, and an advocate of democratic principles, he should be the last to refuse to give: full force to the principle of one man one vote. If the honorable member were to live for a hundred years he would not resign his seat upon a matter of principle, such as that which caused the right honorable gentleman to go before the electors.
– I am not so foolish as to do any such thing.
– The right honorable gentleman gave those who were opposed to him every opportunity to contest his seat; but they knew his strength too well to avail themselves of his invitation. The indignation which was felt in Sydney at the treatment accorded to the Redistribution of Seats Bill was sufficiently indicated by the vastness of the audience which assembled at the Town Hall to hear the right honorable member for East Sydney. That hall will hold 6,000 people, and yet the accommodation provided was not sufficient for all those who desired admission.
– Only 1,200 voters turned up at the poll.
– There was no necessity for a heavy poll, because there was practicially no opposition to the right honorable gentleman. I can assure honorable members that one of the pin-pricks most keenly felt by the people of New South Wales has been the neglect of the Federal authorities to accord to their State its proper representation in this House. Another question to which I desire to refer is that of the Capital site.
– That is all settled.
– It is so far settled that the people of New South Wales think that the Capital will never be established within their territory. If we were discussing any subject affecting the interests of Queensland the honorable member for Maranoa would raise his voice to such a pitch that no one else could be heard. I have seen him stand here pale with anger when fighting in the interests of the banana industry.
– The honorable member is barking up the wrong tree. Wool, and not bananas, is grown in my electorate.
– When anything affecting the interests of Queensland is under discussion, the honorable member’s voice is raised above that of any other honorable member, but neither he nor any other will drown my voice. The Attorney-General who, next to the Prime Minister, occupies the most important position in the Government, has spoken in a very friendly tone with regard to the Capital site question. But no one has shown less anxiety to finally deal with the question. The public of New South Wales are aware of his desire to fix the Federal Capital site as near as possible to Melbourne, and I remember the occasion when he endeavoured to strain the provisions of the Constitution, and induce honorable members to believe that we should be justified in selecting a site seventy miles long and twelve miles broad. It is the object of the Minister to make the Federal Capital site a sort of back yard to the city of Melbourne. The Minister of Trade and Customs has not yet lost hope that the site will be selected in his own electorate, whilst the Postmaster-General is content to adhere to that which has been determined upon by this Parliament. With such a conffict of opinion, and with such contrary desires as are animating Ministers, how can the Government be expected to promote the settlement of the Capital Site question? The feeling in New South Wales is so overwhelmingly strong in this connexion, that, if a referendum were taken to-morrow, a vast majority of votes would be cast in favour of dissolving the Federal Union.
– I believe the same thing would apply to every other State.
– The right honorable gentleman is to blame for that.
– So badly conducted have Federal affairs been, and so greatly has public dissatisfaction been accentuated by the fighting which has gone on for party power, that a majority of the electors of the Commonwealth would to-morrow cast their votes in favour of dissolving the union. The Victorian newspaper from which the present Government ‘derive their principal support, has always shown a very strong antagonism towards New South Wales, and has manifested its hostility by belittling everything that its representatives have fought for. One no sooner advocates the claims of New South Wales than he is described by that journal as parochial and narrow-minded. We are invited to proceed to transact practical business, but I do not believe that the Government are sincere in their expressed desire to settle the questions to which I have referred, nor do I think that New South Wales will receive fair play in connexion with the Capital site question. The strongest condemnation to which the Ministry has been subjected has come from the members of the party from which it expects to derive its principal support. The AttorneyGeneral has appealed to the four solid supporters of the Government to assist the Ministry in every way that they can, but that noble four will be helpless unless the Labour Party extend their co-operation. The public view with the greatest dissatisfaction the present involved state of affairs in this Parliament, and would welcome an opportunity to express their feeling. The Attorney-General has invited us to abstain from criticism of the various measures which the Government propose to introduce, and to get to practical business. The only practical business which at present looms up is represented by the fact that the Prime Minister and his colleagues now occupy the Treasury benches, while the right honorable member for East Sydney and his supporters are relegated to the Opposition side of the House. When the Attorney-General sat in the Opposition corner no man showed more anxiety to delay the public business, and if we are now playing a similar part we are merely following his bad example. He assisted the Labour Party to delay the full expression of the public will by engaging in an operation known as “bridgemaking,” and he strove by every means in his power to drive in a wedge which should separate the leader of the Opposition from his then ally, the Prime Minister. His appeal for assistance for the declining industries of Victoria has been answered by the decision of the Labour Conference not to take up the fiscal question or to actively promote the cause of protection. No bigger appeal has ever been made in the interests of Victoria. It was stated that its declining industries had been the ruin of Victoria.
– Was that the whisky industry?
– That has been pretty well ruined, by the evidence adduced by the Tariff Commission. The honorable and learned member for Indi made a pathetic appeal to the loyal protectionists in this House to save these Victorian industries, and the only means by which they could be saved was, he contended, bv the appointment of a Tariff Commission. Now ‘the Labour Party in conference have declared that they cannot record a vote upon the fiscal question until a referendum has been taken upon it. No progress report from the Tariff Commission can be dealt with. When the present Prime Minister appeals to the country and declares that he broke up the last alliance because he feared the destruction of protection, we must see the hollowness of his declaration. These are facts which it is just as well to present to the public. The Government have merely adopted the measures which were prepared by the ReidMcLean Administration.
– If the honorable member will sit down, he will have some Bills laid upon the table within five minutes.
– They would be the measures of the last Administration.
– Then they would not be measures fit to be placed” upon the table of the House.
– I suggest that the honorable and learned member should be very cautious before he again lectures the House. In view of his remarks, I cannot be held answerable for the length of this debate. I have been compelled to read an article from the Brisbane “Worker, which has kept me awake many nights. I regret to say that, roughly written as it is, that article i« substantially true. During the past twelve months there has been an incessant and infernal grasping for office. I trust that in future the honorable and learned member for Indi will not use his powers of language to lecture this House in the undeserved way that he-has. I have been simply compelled by his action to indulge in this criticism.
– I. think that the House is to be congratulated upon having shown an early disposition to put the personal element in this debate upon one side. It is very natural that the leader of the Opposition should have felt disposed to continue in this House the differences of opinion that he has entertained with the leader of. the Government; and I should not be at all surprised if the latter by-and-by entered into something in the nature of a defence involving some personal matters. . I was inclined fo begin my speech by congratulating the leader of the Government upon the very business-like deliverance which he made in announcing the Government policy yesterday. Owing to his disposition to deal in lengthy and eloquent speeches, I could not avoid feeling that some pressure must have been applied by his colleagues in order to induce him to turn over an entirely new leaf in his mode ot addressing this House. His speech suggested to me the picture of an impressionist artist being called upon merely/ to paint a garden fence ; because he not only did not indulge in lengthy rhetorical utterance such as we have usually had from him, but he read a cold-blooded statement which was in the nature of a catalogue of the measures which the Government propose to put before us. Now, I think that the public have had quite enough of the personal element. It is perfectly natural that the present leader of the Opposition, who, if I may say so, has, I think, suffered a little in his reputation as a parliamentary tactician, should have desired to express in this House some of the reasons which actuated him in taking the steps which led to the downfall of his Ministry, and I think it is equally natural that he and the leader of the Government should have occupied many columns of the press in explaining their views as to the causes of the recent Ministerial trouble. I am quite sure, however, that both of them are men enough to recognise that what the country requires at the present time is not excuses or accusations but a serious attempt to transact business. I do not know that it particularly needs Acts of Parliament, because I think the public see a little more deeply than do honorable members into the real work of a Parliament. I remember the Prime Minister of the present day boasting twenty years ago, before a public meeting, that the Government of which he was a member had passed two inches of statutes. He seemed at that time - a period in his salad days - to think that the test of the value of a Government was the thicknesses of paper which thev added to the statutes of the country. I do not consider that the public test the ability of a Parliament by the number of Acts that it passes. I think they test Parliament by the wisdom of the measures that it enacts. Those of us who have had much experience in legislation recognise that the wisdom of a measure lies, not in the number of clauses it contains, but ‘rather in the way in which it has dealt a blow at some abuse without restricting the liberty of the people further than was necessary. We must never lose sight of the fact that every section in an Act of Parliament takes away a liberty. The most conservative of politicians admit that the freer we can leave the citizens the better thev are. The desire nf the public is that we shall push on with business. There are a number of measures which are almost in the nature of machinery Bills that have yet to be dealt with bv this Parliament ; and there are a number of measures in regard to which there is no like- lihood of much heated discussion. The present leader of the Opposition announced some months ago that he intended to occupy the whole of this session in dealing with what he described as “ non-contentious ‘ ‘ measures ; and no exception was taken to the fact that there were sufficient of such Bills to occupy the attention of this House usefully for some months. Those measures, it seems to me, require to be passed, and the statements that have been uttered by one side of the House! to the other, and by one section oT the press to the other, may now be well left alone. I am quite sure that none oT the charges that can be made in this House, from one side or the other, will alter in one iota the opinions of honorable members or change a single vote. That being so, without seeking to pose as an oracle or a peacemaker, I think I may say that we should “let the dead past bury its dead.” The speech which the leader of the Opposition made to-night will be useful, not to the House, but to the public, because it will reveal to them, perhaps more realistically than they have understood before, to what a great extent Parliament is rather a sort of skittle alley for political ideals and political ambitions than a workshop in which we debate questions for the real benefit of the public. There is too much of the personal and party element about it. I think I may make that assertion, because I have never indulged very largely in what I call party tactics or in party moves. I have generally gone my own way, considering that that is the most useful course a man can take in political life; and I do hope that as this House gets older it will incline more to work, irrespective of the opinions that honorable members entertain of one another. We have arrived at what I may describe as the top note of political demoralization with regard to party government in this country. I hope that we have reached the turning-point., and that honorable members on both sides of the House will now settle down to something like business. After so much reviewing of the past, the observations I am about to make to-night may seem to be somewhat prosaic, because I propose to deal with some of the measures which were set out in the short speech delivered by the Prime Minister. I should like to say, in the first place, that when the Prime Minister observed that “the Ministry adheres to the practical policy sanctioned bv the country,” he uttered an absurdity. No man, at the present time, can say what the Common wealth has asked for, or what it wants, because it has returned to this House three distinct parties - one party advocating what is practically a nationalisation of the whole of the industries of the country ; another party, on this side of the House, whose prime aim was until recently to establish a nearer approach to free-trade ; and still another party opposite, now joined for a time, and perhaps for only a very short time, with the Labour Party, whose chief aim seems to be to secure a higher protection for local industries. This toeing so, who can say what the Commonwealth desires at the present time? When the leader of the present Government, twelve months ago, was putting his policy before the people of Australia, he said that fiscal peace was what they needed. He also declared that it was fiscal .peace that was wanted when he combined part of his forces with those of the leader of the Opposition, who was then Prime Minister, in order to oppose socialistic measures. Next, we were told in Western Australia, and subsequently at Ballarat, that protection was what the people required. I venture to say that there is no man who can gauge, in a corporate sense, the opinion of the people of the Commonwealth at the present time. As long as the country returns two or three parties to the House - two of them advocating policies diametrically opposed to one another, it will be impossible to say that it is expressing a corporate opinion upon any policy whatever. In these circumstances it struck me that when, at the very opening of his speech, the Prime Minister said that the Ministry adhered to the practical policy sanctioned by the country he was talking to the gallery. It was a sentence which, I think, need not have been put in so short and sententious an address. Then he went on to say - and I think I am entitled to criticise this verbiage - that the policy he was putting before the House was the same policy that was submitted to Parliament in 1904, and was put forward by the same party. That, again, was an unconscious misstatement of the facts. The policy is not being put forward by the same party as before. The very first matter - one to which the Prime Minister seemed to attach quite as much importance as he did to any other - was the taking over and conversion of the debts of the States. If we owe the measure dealing with that question to any one, in its present embryonic condition, we owe it to the right honorable member for Balaclava. He conceived it, in the first place. It was he who put it into shape, who submitted the question to the Hobart Conference, and altogether prepared the country for it, if the different States would have approved of its formulation for parliamentary treatment. And yet the right honorable gentleman is not even a member of the party introducing the programme which the Prime Minister put before the House.
– That is his own fault.
– Quite so; but that does not affect the truth or otherwise of the statements put to the House, that this is the same policy and the same party that we had in 1904. The party is not the same, because four of its prominent members, in its original condition, are omitted from its ranks. Notwithstanding this, the Prime Minister took credit for one of the. most important measures that was formulated by, and originated in the mind of, one of those honorable members who is now cut off from the rest of the Protectionist Party. My attention was directed a few days ago to a paragraph which appeared in the Age newspaper as far back as December, 1904. The extract is very short, but I think it worth reading to the House, in order to show what extraordinary changes take place in a Parliament like this in the whirligig of time. I commend this extract to members of the present Government, because it throws on them an obligation to differentiate their Ministerial action during this Parliament from the action of all the other Governments which have preceded it. In an issue of the Melbourne Age, in December, 1904, there appeared the following: -
We have had three Governments in power, and not one of them has made the smallest legislative ma rk. Not one of them has promulgated even the outlines of a policy to which any section of the people would vouchsafe a second thought.
Those three Governments were the Barton Government, the Deakin Government, and the Watson Government, and, therefore, it is well the House should know that no less an authority than the newspaper in question has pronounced that not one of them has “ promulgated even the outlines of a policy to which any section of. the people would vouchsafe a second thought.”
– What about the Reid Government ?
– I am dealing with the matter historically, and now come to the Reid Government. We know that the Reid Government did very little last session : they passed one measure which, I have no hesitation in saying, is socialistic, namely, the Sea-Carriage of Goods Act. I protested against that measure, which, I say now, has done a great deal of harm. It has interfered between the citizens of the Commonwealth and the ship-owners, who were dealing with one another in an ordinary business matter, which was entirely within their own discretion and jurisdiction. Any measure which, as it were, puts a legislative wedge between different sections of the community -who are trading under the principles of freedom, which every British community is supposed to concede to them, is, in my opinion, a socialistic measure. We all know that this measure was submitted to Parliament in consequence of a rather influential deputation that waited on the Prime Minister, and asked him for some such interference. We know, also, as stated by Sir William McMillan in the press, that the fruit-growers of Australia only represent one per cent. of the shippers from Australia of Australian produce. And yet at that time there were no less than thirteen shipping companies competing for the work provided by the producers of this country:
– The work is being done by fewer shipping companies now.
– That does not touch the question I am putting before the House ; I want to show what has been done by the Reid Government. It will be seen, therefore, that the Reid Government did practically nothing else last session. I admit that that Government had a very hard part to play. They had a majority of only one or two, and had to sail very close to the wind in order to retain office. I suppose the leader of the Opposition will justify himself to-day by saying that his object was to put on the statute-book of the country a great many of those machinery measures which he calls “non-contentious.” If the Age newspaper, which I think is accepted as a sort of oracle by the Prime Minister of this country, treats the Barton Government, the Deakin Government, and the Labour Government as Governments which have practically done nothing ; and if it be admitted that the Reid Government had very little time in which to do anything, the present Government are now called on not only to formulate a policy, for that is an easy matter, but to so regulate the proceedings of this House that we may, between now and Christmas, place on the statute-book a number of thoroughly useful measures. I should like to draw attention to what, in this lengthy catalogue of measures, seems to me an important omission. The honorable member for Hume has, at all events, professed to take a deep interest in the Capital Site question. I see no reference to that question in the programme of measures which the Government propose to bring forward.
– The question has been decided.
– I desire here to say what I have previously said in the House, and also out of the House, in the State of Victoria. I have had great fault found with me by the press of that State for constantly dwelling on this question. I say that we, as a Federal Parliament, should place the settlement of this question before that of all others. It has been frequently said by the Victorian people that there is no need for a speedy settlement. But there is a broader aspect of the whole question. We meeting here as the representatives of all the six States of Australia, must recognise an obligation upon the Commonwealth to settle this question as soon as practically possible.
– From an Australian point of view.
– From an Australian point of view. I do not care what State honorable members may represent; if I represented Western Australia, I should be just as anxious to settle the question, and I am a little disappointed that the Government have not included it in their programme. The matter is at present hung up, and a difficulty has been created which could have been avoided. The difficulty is that this House, instead of passing a resolution, merely indicating the New South Wales territory which it desired to have ceded to it, or placed at its disposal, so that it might therein fix the Capital Site, took it upon itself to legislate in the most determined way in fixing on a Capital Site. I pointed out in the House at the time that that procedure was wrong. Hansard will show that I contended, in the presence of the present Prime Minister, who had charge of the Bill, that he was adopting a wrong procedure, and I also pointed out to the honorable member for Eden-Monaro that a mistake was being made. Further, I drew the attention of the present AttorneyGeneral to the mistake. I point this out, not in order to take credit to myself, but to show that there was an absolute want of care to investigate the constitutional aspect of the question. The Constitution says, in the plainest possible way, that the Commonwealth shall choose a Capital Site within territory which “ shall have been” acquired, or granted to it, by the particular State in which it is to be placed ; and I think there could be no two opinions as to what that meant. It meant that unless this House was going to arrogate to itself - and I use the word “ arrogate “ in its strictest sense - unless this House was going to claim a sort of rough and ready right to take any site it chose in New South Wales, it was going the wrong way to work. The Constitution recognises that before the Commonwealth can takes a site, the territory must be willingly granted to, or purchased by, the Commonwealth for that purpose. What is the result?
– A dead-lock.
– The result is adeadlock. That is the very word I have used on more than one occasion in writing to the Victorian press, when I contended that this House of Parliament had passed a measure deliberately attempting to fix a Capital Site without consulting the wishes of New South Wales. This Parliament now finds that a constitutional difficulty stands in the way. The State of New South Wales says. “ You cannot take a Capital Site until we have ceded territory to you, or you have acquired in some other way, a right to settle your capital within that territory.” But this measure was passed, notwithstanding that the honorable and learned member for Indi listened to what I had to say - notwithstanding that I pointed out to the House in a public way, and afterwards privately, to the Prime Minister, that a mistake was being made in passing an Act of Parliament, instead of passing a mere resolution indicating, in a courteous way to New South Wales, the territory in which we desired to choose a Capital Site. We are now in the difficult position that we must either go back on our own Act, by repealing it, and thus admit we made a stupid blunder in our legislation; or we must bring some extraordinary influence to bear ‘on New South Wales in order to get that State to cede to us the territory in which we have chosen the Capital Site. Even in the latter case, we should have to pass another Act ; because the Act must come after the ceding of the territory, in order to be within the Constitution. It is a pity, in view of the difficulty which has arisen, that the Govern- ment have not touched on the question, by proposing some course. I heard the Minister of Home Affairs answer a question today, to the effect that he was in communication with the New South Wales Government. That answer is just about as satisfactory as to say the matter is under consideration. We know very well that the Prime Minister of New South Wales is just as determined, and the people of New South Wales, I think, in the majority of cases, are just as determined not to have the Capital Site within the particular territory which this Parliament has chosen, as the Minister of Home Affairs may be to carry on his communications. I should like to know from the leader of the Government when he replies in this debate, what he proposes to do in the matter - whether it would not be better for us to take the difficulty in hand and repeal the Act which we have passed. If the Minister of Home Affairs imagines that he will convert the New South Wales Parliament into giving up the territory which this Parliament has chosen with a view to the Capital being made there, all I can say is that he misconceives the temper of New South Wales and of the New South Wales Parliament, and certainly of the Premier of that State at the present time.
– Is the honorable and learned member suggesting that we should allow the New South Wales Parliament to choose the capital?
– It is not for me to suggest. It is for the Government to suggest. We look to the Government to propound a policy. Do they expect one to be put forward by honorable members on this side? If so, let the House make a change ; and I have no doubt that the leader of the Opposition will be able to supply a policy which will settle the difficulty. I do not think the Government should shirk! the difficulty. The Minister of Trade and Customs has fathered this question, or affected to father it, from time to time, and I really think that the obligation devolves upon him to instruct his younger colleague, who now occupies the position which he formerly occupied, as to how the difficulty is to be overcome. But I do appeal to the Federal spirit in this House when I say that we ought not to allow ourselves to be influenced by the mere fact that we have been checked in our attempt to take a capital instead of asking for one from the senior State, and that we should make up our minds that, there is no way of getting the people of New South Wales to adopt the particular territory that we have indicated our desire to take. I think the Federal spirit of this House ought to induce it ‘to takea broad view of the question, and to urgeupon the Government to repeal the Act,, and then to ask the New South Wales Government to place certain territories at our disposal to enable us to make our choice.
– They did that by reserving certain areas-
– The honorablemember is quite right ; but, unfortunately, they did it too, late - after we had made our own choice - and I am afraid we shouldbe acting illegally in not repealing the Act which we have passed before passinganother.
– Did they not refuse toact for three years?
– There were difficulties, I admit. How they arose I donot know. Whether there was dilatorinesson one side or the other I cannot say. I do not know whether we should not classthat with many of the other past mistakes which 1 am deprecating carrying any further. Let us do our utmost to get thisquestion settled. I do not want honorable members to suppose that I am an advocate for Sydney ; because I should oppose its selection just as strongly as I should oppose fixing the Federal Capital at Melbourne. My experience of the Federal Parliament has been such that if the Parliament were even now disposed todecide that we should go to Sydney, I should oppose such a move as much as I should oppose the attempt to fix the Seat of Government in Melbourne. BecauseI am quite satisfied that our only chanceof getting short sessions of Parliament is to relegate the Legislature to a part of the Continent where members havenot their usual avocations to follow. I believe we should then all come to Parliament prepared to commence business at 10 o’clock in the morning. We should be so far removed from the attractions of the town, and from the business occupations which so many members of this Parliament have, that we should get to work,, and probably do the whole of the parliamentary business in about three months,, and then get back to our Tegular avocations.
– The great majority of us are away from our homes now.
– I know, and so am I. It is for these reasons that I am opposed to the Parliament meeting in a great city. I have more than once pointed out - as bearing upon the question of representation - that if you take out the figures for the first session of this Parliament in Melbourne, you will find that, although New South Wales is entitled by her population to enjoy one-seventh more representation than Victoria, Victoria actually enjoyed one-sixth more voting power than New South Wales throughout that session.
– It serves the New South Wales members right for not coming here.
– There is no question about serving any one right. The reason is that when the Parliament meets in one State all the members who represent that State can be called together to exercise their votes in divisions, in an extremely short time. While Parliament meets in Melbourne, members representing States like New South Wales, Queensland, and Western Australia cannot be summoned in the same hasty manner, as can the representatives of this State. The other States cannot enjoy equal representation or equally proportionate representation with the State in which the sittings of the Parliament are held
– It takes some of us Victorian members as long to come here as it takes the New South Wales members.
– But there are a great number who live here, and they have an advantage. If the honorable member will look through Hansard for the first and second sessions he will find that Victoria enjoyed a sixth more voting power than New South Wales, which is entitled to four more members. I should like the Prime Minister, when he comes to reply upon this matter, to give the House some idea ot the way in which it is proposed to deal with it ; because, although we may all commend the very short and curt way in which the policy of the government has been outlined in his speech - a model speech and an astonishing speech, considering its source - although we may admire its shortness, yet we should certainly like to know something more than the mere catalogue of Bill titles that we are to be asked to deal with. I should like to know how the Government proposes to deal with the several questions which that catalogue contains, and what sort of action they propose to take with regard to the general features of the measures included in that programme. The States debts question is one matter which this party owes - so far as its formulation is concerned, and so far as the expression of opinion on the part of four States is concerned - to the right honorable member for Balaclava, and I should like to know from the Government how they propose to deal with that matter. I should like to say with regard to the States debts question that I think it is altogether premature for this Parliament to attempt to deal with it at all. We all recollect that when Federation was “ in the air “ there was every prospect of Commonwealth stock being saleable or issuable at a much lower rate of interest than that paid by the States, that there was the prospect of a saving of something like ,£500,000 a year. Indeed, I believe the Sydney Daily Telegraph was so sanguine in its expectations as to the power of the Commonwealth to borrow money at a lower rate than the States, that it estimated the saving at £1,000, 000 a year. But that was before the Federation was accomplished and before this House had had an opportunity of passing some of the measures which have brought it into such disrepute in Europe and Great Britain. I am not going into those measures ; but I want to say this : No less a person than Sir Horace Tozer expressed the opinion that if the Commonwealth were to go to England to-morrow, it could not float its debentures at any lower rate than that at which debentures could be floated by the States. But we have a better test than that; we have the test of the money markets of the world. When Federation was accomplished, the Canadian Dominion was floating loans at 3 per cent, at par, and honorable members find that to-day our States stock is no less than £11 per cent, below the stock of the Canadian Dominion. That is, to say, that the Canadian Dominion can to-day obtain £100 for £11 less than can any of the Australian Stales.
– The Canadian debt is considerably less than the Australian States debts.
– The amount of the debt does not make any difference because, so far as security is concerned, with its practically unlimited resource in the shape of the power to tax, the Commonwealth has sufficient security for £200,000,000 or £500,000,000, if that amount were required. The question of sufficiency of security does not enter into the matter. The real question always is: What will the stock fetch at any future time, within a reasonable period? It is a fact that Canadian stock is to-day so much more valuable than Australian stock.
– Not 3 per cent. stock.
– Canadian 3 per cent. stock.
– Canada cannot borrow at 3 per cent.
– Canada has borrowed at 3 per cent.
– So have we.
– If the honorable member for Richmond will look at the Times Financial Reports, which may be seen in the library, he will find that the Canadian Dominion has floated many loans at 3 per cent.
– I cannot tell the exact date, but if the honorable gentleman will get the Times reports, he will be able to see for himself. After all, these are not secret matters, and every one knows that the financial guarantee of the Canadian Dominion to-day is as high as is that of almost any country in the world. I should say that the Canadian Dominion to-day stands almost as high as does Great Britain in regard to the borrowing of money. But the point to which I desire to direct the attention of honorable members is that, in the anticipations of preFederation days, it was urged that it would no doubt be to the interests of the whole of the Australian States that they should convert their separate debts into Commonwealth1 stock, and so save in interest which they have to pay, from£500,000 to £1, 000,000 per year. But if our Commonwealth, rightly or wrongly - and I use those words advisedly, because I do not wish to go off on to a side track - if our Commonwealth has so suffered in reputation
– Only temporarily.
– If it has so suffered in reputation that its stock would not fetch more than would State stock, there is nothing to be gained by the conversion of State stock into Commonwealth stock. If we should convert the States debts to-day, and by-and-by, as the hon- orable member for Gwydir anticipates, the Commonwealth should acquire a better reputation, so that Commonwealth stock would fetch a higher price, we should have lost our opportunity by floating our Commonwealth stock now when the Commonwealth stands no higher in the money market than do the States. I put that contention before the House some six months ago, when the right honorable member for Balaclava was pressing the question upon our attention. The action suggested would be like shutting the door after the horse had gone. When we have resuscitated the reputation of the Commonwealth by the wise legislation which the present Government will introduce, then will be the time to take action. But honorable members know very well that the reputation of a country cannot be resuscitated more quickly than can that of an individual, and if a man acquires a bad reputation in the financial world he cannot, by suddenly announcing that he is going to be honest and wise for the future, at once reinstate himself in the good opinion of those who make up that world.
– Have not the Australian States always paid the money which they owe?
Mr.BRUCE SMITH.- It takes years to restore the lost financial reputation of an individual, and it will take years for the Commonwealth to acquire that higher financial reputation which will enable us to make this great saving of £500,000 a year in the interest bill which the States have now to pay.
– It will take only two more good seasons.
– The honorable member for Gwydir has not a very large grasp of national affairs if he thinks that seasons make the reputation of a country. The welfare of this country does not depend entirely on the seasons, but largely upon the confidence which can be established in the minds of people outside the Commonwealth, who are willing to throw their millions into our midst for the development of our great industries. Wool and1 corn will not alone serve to make this country rich, and if we desire to establish manufacturing industries here we must have capital.
– We must have protection, too, for that purpose.
– We will not go into that now, because to doso would be to mix up too many issues. Even with protection it is impossible to build up manufactures without capital. Therefore, whether our policy be one of protection or of free-trade, what the country requires is confidence. We must establish confidence in the minds of American,
British, and European financiers. I met a man only a few weeks ago-
– What, another one?
– Yes, one of whom the honorable member has not yet heard. It is all very well to sneer at these things, but any man who has given the most elementary study to political economy must know that it is only by these indications that you can discover the trend of credit. That the trend of credit is out of a country rather than into it may be indicated sometimes by a very few instances. The instance which I propose to give may be sneered at. butI give it for what it is worth. A member of a very large wool firm, buying no less than 50.000 or 60.000 Bales of wool in this country and sending it to Europe and America, informed me that his firm had established a woollen mill in America, on which they had expended £250,000, and in which they employed 2,000 people. He said that they were willing to do the same in Australia, and had fixed upon New South Wales, until they discovered the effects of the Compulsory Arbitration Act.
– Hear, hear; I thought that was coming.
– Then the honorable member must have had some presentiment as to the effects of the Act.
– I have.
– That is the sort of thing which destroys confidence in Australia. When these men found that on bringing their £250.000 into this country they would practically have to hand over its management to other people, they said, “ No, we shall go elsewhere with our capital.” Who can blame them? Who can blame such a firm for going to India or to Japan, where they could get cheaper labour?
– They would not have a body of” Pinkertons “ there.
– I do not wish to be drawn off by ad captandum platform interruptions. They may do very well for a country constituency : but I desire to talk by the book. With regard to this question of the conversion of the States debts, what we require in Australia, beyond good seasons, whether for wool or for corn, is confidence. We want capital to come in here. If any honorable member will go to any wellknownbanker, manager of a large insurance company, broker, or solicitor, who has dealings with the mother country. I undertake to say that he will get one similar story from every one of them.
– The old story!
– The old story which the honorable member has not yet grasped. He is one of those old-fashioned persons, I think, who imagine that all commerce depends upon actual coin, forgetting that £100,000, or £1 , 000,000, can come to Australia by a mere cable message of credit.
– Exactly so.
– Does not the honorable member know that the fat man. whom he frequently joins in ridiculing, would not have been a capitalist unless he had been timid ? It is only by microscopical care in watching all the economic forces and all the markets around them that men do become “fat” in capital, and whatever may be said upon the platform, in addressing the yokels of the country-
– I am speaking of the country members.
– Do not insult the people in the country.
– Whatever may be told to the people in the country about the fat man, we may depend upon it that he is very much awake, and that before he plants his capital in any country he looks carefully round to see how it is going to be dealt with.
– He should have looked round Australia before 1899.
– Yes, he ought to have done so; but, as the honorable member knows, he had confidence in Australia, particularly in Victoria, before the land boom; he lent his money very freely. It must be remembered, however, that “once bitten, twice shy.” That very capitalist who was caught in that little financial tornado called “the boom” is even more careful now than he was. But whether we are labour members, or protectionists, or free-traders, this is common ground - that capital belongs to somebody. The men who own it, and are clever enough to keep it, look round very carefully to see the forces that are at play in the community in which they are invited to invest it. If you have timid capitalists to deal with, it does not matter whether you legislate or not; if you merely talk about legislation of a character which is calculated to raise doubts as to the security of that capital, it quickly flies away under the ocean, or, for that matter, above it, into other countries, where greater security, in the sense of greater freedom from restraint, is given.
I am not going to extol the capitalist, or to say that he is right in being careful, because perhaps there are plenty of persons in this country who would say that he ought to send his capital here, no matter what we do. We have a budding capitalist on my left here, representing part of Queensland, who, I am quite sure, like the rest of us, is careful where he places his money. We may laugh, and think it a very unimportant thing. We are very apt to undervalue the things which we do not touch, do not feel, and cannot see. But the House must agree! with me that it is impossible to develop this country as America has been developed without an enormous amount of capital. Without giving some sort of assurance, either by passing good legislation or by keeping our mouths shut about bad legislation, we cannot get that capital to come into this ,country. Coming back to the question of converting the States debts, what I say is that’ at the present time there is a broad-spread distrust of Australia. By going, as I have said, to any banker, insurance manager, broker, solicitor, or financial man, any honorable member can find out for himself that the inward currents of capital have to a large extent stopped - I shall not say altogether - and that the outward currents of capital are flowing freely wherever men can convert their money into what is called a liquid form. Therefore, it is premature to deal at the present time with this conversion question, because, if we converted our States debts into Commonwealth debts, we should get the money at no less price. But if we wait until this good time comes when, as the honorable member on my left says, confidence will be restored in Australia, and everything will go well - and it will not be when we want ^40,000,000 to nationalize the banks - th’at will be the time to start upon this conversion scheme. I am not at all satisfied to be told, by the Prime Minister that this question is going to be dealt with. I do not for a moment believe it will be, because I think that out of the six States represented at the Hobart Conference, the representatives of two at least saw pretty clearly that it would not satisfy the persons whom they represented, because it would limit the power of the States in borrowing for further purposes. If there is one thing more than another that the States are not prepared to do, it is to make any further concession to the Federal authorities. There is not one of the six States which is not to-day, absolutely distrustful of the Commonwealth authorities - of the Commonwealth Parliament, as a legislative body.
– The Parliaments, mot the people of the States.
– No honorable member can name a single State which if it had the chance would not go back on the whole scheme of Federation.
– Most of the people want to do away with the States Parliaments, and to have one national Parliament.
– I have not met them.
– I have met them everywhere.
– The short speech which was delivered yesterday contains this statement -
Honorable members will find the taking over of the debts of the States, and compensation for transferred properties, mentioned in the third paragraph.
All the reference we get to it is that it is mentioned in the third paragraph. I ask the members of the Ministry who are present to note that it is a question on which I think we might fairly ask the Prime Minister to give us more detailed information - as to whether it is proposed by the Government to call any further Conference to try to mature this question, or whether it is proposed to try to adopt some scheme without consulting the States further. There is another question coming closely upon that of the debts, and that is “ Compensation for transferred properties.” I do not know whether many honorable members took much ‘ interest in the measure which was submitted to the Senate more than two years ago by the Barton Government, and by which’ it was proposed to take over some millions of pounds worth of property belonging to theStates. Honorable members are aware that the Constitution provides for such buildings as the post-offices of the different Spates to be taken over by the Commonwealth, and paid for, and that it also provides that the “ mode “ of payment shall besettled by legislation of the Commonwealth-. The mode of payment which was adopted in the measure submitted to the Senate ina very clever way by Senator O’Connor, contained this extraordinary provision - that the States should first contribute a sufficient sum to the Commonwealth to allow the Commonwealth to pay back to theStates the value of the properties which it was taking over. As soon as the real” proposal was known, it was very severely criticised in the Senate. But it was not known until a very late stage, because the Bill with all its details was practically adopted and approved, and at the very last moment - just before a division was going to take place - this extraordinary clause was inserted. Whether that proposal is to be brought before this House again or not, I do not know. Any person with an elementary knowledge of business and of bookkeeping, will at once see that it is an absurd way of dealing with the question. I do not wish to go into detail on the subject now; but I think that every honorable member will agree with me that, now that we have so many different interests in the Commonwealth, in the shape of the Commonwealth Government itself, its different departments, and the various States, it is very necessary that all the funds of these different entities should be kept perfectly clear. Just as in a State, one department will have to pay another department for the water it consumes, in order that it may be known how each Department stands, and what its financial position is at the end of the year, so we want the States and the Commonwealth to be kept perfectly distinct. Because, although the citizens of the States are citizens of the Commonwealth, we know that the Commonwealth Treasurer has already, at times, experienced a great deal of difficulty in determining the contributions of the different States to certain forms of expenditure which may seem of a purely Federalcharacter. I think that if one State, say, New South Wales, has spent £1,000.000 more than a State of a moderate size, and £2,000,000 more than a small State, on transferred properties which are to form the security for future Commonwealth dealings, it is entitled to have the value of those properties paid to it in a business-like way, because thev were part and parcel of the security which it offered to those from whom it raised loans in England. It is only fair to the debenture-holders of the States that they should see, contemporaneously with these assets being taken over by the Commonwealth from the States, that they are duly paid for, and the money which is the consideration for those properties placed in the hands of the States, for the purpose of reducing their national debts, if they choose to do so.
– The States do not propose to do that with the money.
– Who is to pay that money to New South Wales?
– The Commonwealth, which must, sooner or later, borrow money, as the honorable member, as an old politician, and one who has occupied the position of Treasurer and Premier in a State knows. The honorable member is now a Minister in. a Government which is really proposing that the Western Australian Transcontinental Railway be carried out.
– It is an outrage.
– Outrage or not, how does the Government propose to pay for that railway but by borrowing money? The Commonwealth, sooner or later, must borrow money for its permanent purchases, and the transferred properties, which really have a market value at any moment, must be treated as permanent assets, to be paid for out of loan money.
– I hope that it will be many years before the Commonwealth starts to borrow.
– I think that we have rather gone to extremes in that respect. I sympathized with the Labour Party when they objected to the Barton Ministry .borrowing money to pay for electrical apparatus which they were erecting. As a former Treasurer and Secretary for Public Works in New South Wales, I have had to give, as the present Minister of Trade and Customs has had to give, careful attention to tlie distinction which should be drawn between expenditure out of current receipts and expenditure out of loan moneys. Loan money should be spent only upon those assets which are of a permanent and lasting character, or are what we call revenue producing. The purchase of post-offices would unmistakably come within the latter category. Post-offices are ‘ revenue producing, because the Commonwealth is carrying on the business of the Postal Department for the whole of Australia. Therefore, the purchase of these properties would have to be made by the Commonwealth out of loan money. But if the Commonwealth is taking over these assets from the States, the States having already borrowed money to build them, it must compensate the States to enable them to pay off so much of their loans if thev choose. I should be very glad, replying to the interjection of the honorable member for Herbert, if the Commonwealth could in some way allocate the money paid for transferred properties so that the States would be compelled to use it to pay off so much of their national debt. That, however, does not affect the principle which I am advocating. If we hand over to a State £1,000,000 or £2,000,000, and it does not care to use the money to reduce its indebtedness, the people of the State will have themselves to thank for any bad result which may follow. When we commenced to hand back to New South Wales yearly between £2,000,000 and £3,000,000 of surplus Customs revenue, it was hoped that the money would be used to reduce the national debt, and the people of that State were sorry to see that, no matter how much came from the Commonwealth, the State Government swallowed it up in current expenditure, sometimes of a very questionable character. That, however,does not touch my argument, that, in paying the States for properties taken, we should compensate them. For the Commonwealth to call on the States separately: to pay a certain amount over to it, instead of borrowing to enable itto pay back to the States the value of their properties, would be an unbusiness-like proceeding, which no competent commercial man would approve for a moment, if in a serious frame of mind.
– If the Commonwealth borrowed, would it not be borrowing on the security on which the States have borrowed ?
– Yes ; but we should give security over the whole of out taxing powers as a Commonwealth. If the bond-holders had what is called a specific mortgage over the taxing powers of the States they could call on them to reduce their mortgage to the extent of the money realized for that security.
– From the Commonwealth?
– Yes. The speech deals next with the Western Australian Railway Survey Bill; and I should like the Prime Minister, when he deals by-and-by! with other matters, to give us some ideaof his attitude on this question. I voted for the Survey Bill. I had great hesitation about doing” so, because I felt that since Queensland, New South Wales, and South Australia have all had to pay for their own railways, it would be not only an anomaly, but” a financial injustice to the other States to call upon them to contribute towards the making of a, railway which would stand to Western Australia in the same relation as their longer railways stand to them. But I assented to a proposal that Western Australia should be called upon to give some sort of earnest of her intention to take a large part of this expenditure on her shoulders, and it was suggested that we should call upon her to reserve the whole of the lands for twenty miles on each side of the line, and place them in trust, to be a first charge for the cost of the railway. I think that that suggestion induced me to vote for the Survey Bill.
– The Government has reserved that land.
– I am quite aware of the history of the matter. Western Australia responded to that suggestion, made, I think, on the representation of the right honorable member for Swan.
– The land is valueless.
– That is said; but honorable members will admit that they are speaking on hearsay evidence only.
– The hearsay evidence upon which I speak is that of the right honorable member for Swan.
-I have been in the habit in my more condemnatory moods of talking of the country as a desert; but that was in negative advocacy. The honorable member for Wentworth is not old enough to have been over that country, while even the right honorable member for Swan does not really know it.He made an exploring journey through that part, of Australia, but, so far as I can learn, he took very good care to keep down near the Bight, where he had a small vessel to supply him with the necessaries of life, and to remain athand to relieve him in case of difficulty. I do not speak in any unpleasant sense.
– I think the experience was a pleasant one.
– No doubt it was pleasant to meet the ship after having spent three or four days in such very doubtful country. Even the Treasurer does not know the country along the route of the proposed railway.
– Yes, I do; I know it very well.
– I am speaking by the book. I have read the reports of the engineers who went over parts of the proposed route, which show clearly that they were not able to ascertain, with any degree of certainty, what the character of the whole country was. I know that the Vice-
President of the Executive Council has expressed himself in doubtful terms about this country. His opinion has been formed upon a very wide knowledge of the geography of Australia, and although he has not been over the country, I know that he considers he is able to make a very fair deduction as to its character. I voted for the Bill which authorized the expenditure of £20,000 upon the survey of the line, because I felt assured that, as the Western Australian Government had reserved the whole of the land for twenty miles on each side of the proposed route, they meant business, and that when the Bill for the construction of the line came before Parliament we should be able to reconsider the whole question as to whether the Commonwealth should itself undertake the work, or impose such conditions that we could not do much harm in authorizing the survey. I felt that by that time we should be able to ascertain for ourselves whether the country was, as some people said, a mere desert over which even the water for the engines would have to be drawn from either Kalgoorlie or Port Augusta, or from the fertile tract the Treasurer dreams of. I should like to know whether the Prime Minister has really serious intentions with regard to this question. The leader of the Opposition went to Western Australia, and had no hesitation in expressing himself unconditionally in favour of the construction of the line. As a member of his party, I never heard anything of such a proposal, and I should never have approved of it, even if the right honorable gentleman had made it a part of his policy, because the question is one which needs very serious consideration. The matter has been mentioned in a short and summary way by the Prime Minister, and I think it is fair to ask him what the Government intend to do. Three or four other questions referred to in the Prime Minister’s statement are of very great importance. The Prime Minister states -
The Government is of opinion that the constitutional method of determining the precise time at which the representation in the House of the people of the respective States shall be increased or diminished, according to their numbers, is by an Act of the Parliament. The dangers of leaving changes of this kind in tlie hands of any Ministry, and of permitting them either to be set on foot at any moment merely by Executive order, or to be delayed at Executive will, are obvious.
I contend that there is just as much danger in leaving the matter to the determination of Parliament. The fear expressed by the
Prime Minister is an exaggerated one, because we know very well that if any Government were to attempt to do anything of a gerrymandering character during the recess, Parliament would quickly visit the consequence of their conduct upon them. There is just as much danger in leaving the decision to Parliament. The danger the Government fear is that a Government might be influenced bv party considerations; but if the House contained a large majority of honorable members in favour of any particular policy - suppose, for instance, party spirit ran so high that Parliament itself might not be in a very highly moral mood or particular as to how it accomplished its ends - a Bill might be passed which would confer advantage upon one State over another w7ith as much ease as such a result might be brought about by an Executive minute. The explanation given by the leader of the. Opposition to-night ought to have great weight with honorable members. I confess that some of the information con.veyed by the right honorable gentleman was new to me. So far as I could understand, the Constitution was so framed as to allow the statisticians of the Commonwealth, or the statisticians of the States at the time, to be the determining power as to whether or not the population of a State had risen or fallen. I gathered from what the right honorable gentleman said, that the Commonwealth divisions were fixed upon nine years after a census had been taken, and that, therefore, thev did not depend upon the census alone; also, that even when the last redistribution was proposed, reliance was placed upon estimates made bv the statisticians of the different States. If that be the case, it does not seem to me to be very unreasonable now to trust to the statisticians of the States, who certainly go about their work without heat or emotion. I regard them as about as cold-blooded as calculating machines, and if we cannot trust their interim estimates of the population of the different States we cannot rely on them to make a census for the guidance of the public. If a statistician is so biased in favour of his own, or any other State, that he will mislead the Commonwealth Parliament by .means of an estimate made for the purpose of settling the representation of the different States, he will mislead us with regard to the census.
– I do not think that was ever suggested.
– The honorable member will admit that if we once get
*id of the possibility of an estimate being purposely framed to mislead, there is not much difficulty left ; because, after all, we know that the statisticians’ estimates are -shown by the census to be so accurate that
Very little doubt is thrown upon them. The -machinery for calculating the flow of population from one point to another is now so “perfect that. when the interim estimates are checked by the census the differences are found to be so small as to be hardly worth considering. Even in the case of a census a number of people escape, not through any carelessness on the part of the officials; but owing to conditions against which it is impossible to adequately provide.
– Is it wiser to deal with the matter bv the determination of Parliament or bv Executive act?
– I think that if Parliament is asked to determine the matter we shall be using a steam hammer to crack a nut. A good deal of State feeling has been exhibited over the question of the reduction of the representation of Victoria.
– What is to be gained by introducing a Bill.
– It can do no harm.
– We shall be placing upon the statute-book an unnecessary measure, and, moreover, we should have to wait until the next census before a chance would occur to remove present anomalies.
– The honorable and learned member seems to think that it is intended to leave the discretion to a parliamentary majority in each case.
– I understand that it is proposed to put this matter in commission.
– No; it is- proposed to adopt a principle which will operate independently of the Executive or of Parliament for the time being.
– I am very glad to hear that. I am merely seeking for information ; and I shall be glad if the Prime Minister will explain what is proposed to lie done.
– -If the Prime Minister will include in the measure provision for the redistribution of seats we shall be content.
– That is a separate matter altogether. I think that the leader of the Opposition rightly referred to that question. I happen to represent one of the largest constituencies in Aus tralia, and I was returned by the largest majority obtained by any member of this House. At the last election there were on the roll for my constituency 38,000 electors against 12,000 in the Darling electorate - in fact the number of women voters in my constituency exceeded the total number of electors in the district represented by the honorable member for Darling. But I should like to mention, as bearing upon the point taken by the leader of the Opposition, that at the last general election, whilst eight Victorians who were protectionists, were elected bv 160,000 voters, eight free-traders were elected by 360,000 voters. Consequently, eight free-trade members really entered this House, representing 200,000 more electors than did the eight protectionists members. The rotten boroughs of England are nothing to that.
– Yes, they are.
– I admit that under the Reform Bill of 1832 they were pretty bacl. I suppose that I need not enter into a discussion of their position at the present time. I admit that they are very bad. The fact remains that 360,000 voters elected eight free-trade members, whereas 160,000 elected eight protectionist members; consequently. 200.000 voters had no representation whatever. The Government propose to introduce a Secret Commission Bill. I should like to ascertain from the Prime Minister, whether he intends to adopt anything in the nature of the draft Bill adopted by Lord Russell in the House of Lords in England.
– I do not think that the honorable and learned member for Werriwa yet enjoys the confidence of the Government sufficiently to know what is the nature of the Bill they propose to introduce. I know enough of commerce, however, to realize that this system of rebate permeates,! not only the commercial life and shipping of the country, but the auctioneer’s, and all tradesmen’s businesses. It extends from the very top of our commercial dealings down to the most minute details, and I shall be very curious to see the form in which the Bill promised by the Government is introduced.
– Does the honorable and learned member think that the matter can be successfully dealt with?
Mr. BRUCE SMITH. ^1 do not think that rebates can be absolutely prevented, because human ingenuity can always con- ceive some method of passing money from one pocket to another. I am satisfied, however, that any respectable man who has hitherto accepted such rebate without regarding it as reprehensible, can be, to some extent, deterred from doing so.
– We cannot stop burglary, but we can make it awkward when we catch the burglar.
– Exactly. The speech outlining the Government policy goes on to speak of the defence of Australia. I am aware that a great many able men have dealt with this matter in different ways. Naturally, each has to arrive at a standard as to what our defences should be, and there has been, therefore, a constant change of policy in that Department. We know very well that whilst the right honorable member for Swan filled, the position of Minister of Defence, the defence estimates, at the instance of the late Sir Edward Braddon, were reduced in one night bv ,£160,000, and that they were still further diminished upon the initiative of the honorable member for Bland by £60,000. At that time, the Government of the day were so much in the hands of the Labour Party, that they accepted that alteration without demur.
– But those estimates were “ jumped up “ in consequence of the South African war.
– The coastal defence expenditure, which was not increased by the South African wary was cut down.
– I contend that if we have a- system of defence which .is homogeneous, which has been built up with a due sense of proportion and perspective, we cannot cut it down by £200,000 without placing it in the position of a ship’s engines, one of the cog-wheels from which has been removed. Then what is the standard which the Minister should adopt with regard to defence? Only recently the honorable member for Melbourne wrote a letter to the press urging the people of Australia to establish a system of defence adequate to repel a Japanese invasion. I read that letter with very great pleasure, and I think that I shall be paraphrasing it fairly when I say that it really represented that we could undertake the defence of Australia against Japan. We might as well try to stop the current coming into Hobson’s Bay with a carpet broom. Let honorable members just imagine a nation, which has recently placed a million men in the field, and which has defeated one of the greatest military nations in Europe-
– The honorable member would have said the same thing in regard to the Boers and the British.
– Very likely. The honorable member, however, does not think that the Australian people have been trained to the same degree of defence capability as were the Boers. Moreover, we should recollect that the Japanese occupy an infinitely better position in regard to Australia than did the English in regard to South Africa. They are not so far away, and1 in many ways our country offers infinitely better opportunities for attack than did the South African Republics. The idea of defending our country, as the honorable member for Melbourne suggests, is absolutely absurd. It would mean an expenditure of millions of pounds a year. I happen to be familiar with the statistics relating to Japan, and I know that the suggested defence would mean an expenditure of millions annually. Our comparatively paltry outlay of £1,000,000 per annum, distributed as we now expend it, simply means that y.e are practically playing at soldiers. I do not say that,- we should not defend Australia at ali, but the difficulty is that we have no standard. Until we have some sort of standard - until we know whether Ave are preparing merely for some chance attack on the pari? of a very small foreign force, or to defend ourselves against the ally of England - we shall have no definite policy on which to proceed. We require a policy. The head of the Defence Department ought to know through Parliament for what we are preparing. Are we preparing, to emulate the Japanese, to develop an army and a navy of our own upon anything like the same scale as that adopted by that nation? From what are’ we seeking to defend ourselves, and what is the extent to which the Commonwealth is prepared to go in engaging in defence? If the Prime Minister and his Government’ were to establish some means to enable Parliament to really determine what is the extent to which we will go - not only tor to-day but for some years to come - m our system of defence, they would do a great deal of good for the Commonwealth. The difficulty is that every Government which comes into power enters upon a scheme of its own. The present Government is the fifth that we have had, and if every Administration is going to modify or increase, to alter or change, in some way, our system of defence, we shall simply be throwing away our money. We ought to discover some means - and I am speaking now on the broadest general principles - to establish not for to-day or to-morrow, but for some years hence, what is the extent of defence wo, are to adopt, and what it is to be aimed at. We should know whether it is to be; an effort to emulate a great naval and military power like Japan, or merely the cut and dried system of defence in which every small country indulges, although it may never be called upon to engage in war.
– We are supposed to have clone that on two or three different occasions.
– I am aware of that. Although I profess to know less of military matters than does any other honorable member, I certainly consider myself entitled to criticise the extraordinary lightning changes that are made in our methods of defence. The time has arrived for the House to settle down to the consideration of this question, to take advice as to whether we should defend ourselves at all. Against what are we defending ourselves, and how, is our defence to be carried out? It is a matter that involves a loss or a saving of many, hundreds of thousands of pounds a year.
– Will the honorable and learned member make a suggestion?
– I am candid enough1 to say that I do not know anything about the matter. I do know, how.ever, that it is perfectly foolish for us to speak about defending ourselves against the Japanese. We must remember that there is every indication of a continuance of the alliance between Great Britain and Japan, so that I think we might very safely save the large sum of money we are expending at present upon defence on the ground that it is quite a useless outlay. That, at all events, is my present impression. The suggestion by the honorable member for Melbourne, that we should make an effort to defend ourselves against attack on the part of the nation which he has recently visited would, to my mind, form very good material for a toy book.
– The honorable and learned member has misread my article.
– Then “I am very sorry.
– My desire is to see the survival of the white races. Australia cannot possibly defend itself against the Japanese, and I am afraid that England could not defend us from ari attack from that quarter.
– There is rather a cryptic reference in the speech to -
A progressive policy of development of the resources of the Commonwealth intended to be carried out by systematic effort here, and in the mother country, and, if necessary, in the sister dominions of the Empire.
Perhaps the need for brevity has made the statement of Ministerial intentions in this respect somewhat vague. The Prime Minister, in outlining the policy of the Government, was not putting an address before the electors; he was addressing a number of practical men, and I apprehend that he will be prepared to explain to us the meaning of this statement. I presume that he will tell us whether he refers to some method of encouraging the agricultural and pastoral industries of the Commonwealth.
– Encouraging the agricultural and pastoral industries of the Commonwealth, coupled with immigration and the work of dealing with their products when exported.
– More nonsense is talked about immigration to this country’ than about any other subject. I have noticed over and over again that the very men who are responsible for the legislation which has practically dammed the inflow of immigration seem to be look’ing all round the compass, instead of at the right point, in order to ascertain the cause of this stoppage. They talk of the dearth of the natural increase among the people themselves, and of the disinclination of Europeans and Britishers to come to Australia. They speak, also, of giving the people land, and offering to immigrants other inducements which they do not offer to the people who are already here ; but they never touch the very spot where the real cause is to be found. They lose sight of the fact that we have created a fear, whether well grounded or not, in the minds of English people and Europeans generally, that if they come to Australia, after breaking up their homes in England or Europe, they may be stopped at the threshhold of our country and sent back. That fear has been created by several notorious cases.
– Oh !
– The honorable member may exclaim, but if on the next occasion that he goes abroad he visits England instead of Japan, he will come back satisfied that my statement is correct. When residents of the agricultural districts of England are asked why they do not come here, they reply, “ Because we are not sure that we will be admitted.” I do not say that they would not come in, because a larger number of people come in than some suppose. There is, however, the fear that they will not be allowed to land - the fear that the same embargo which has stopped a number of persons, whose cases have become notorious, having been published in the newspapers throughout Great Britain, may be placed upon them.
– Immigration had ceased years before! the Acts in question were passed.
– Not altogether.
– Yes : I took the returns for ten years
– The honorable and learned gentleman may be able to show me that he is correct. We hear a great deal of talk about giving immigrants land. That is nonsense. Why is Canada attracting so many people to-day ? It is simply because she has opened her arms to them, just as the United States did years ago, and has invited people to come in, irrespective of those fine distinctions which have been drawn in this country.
– Has the honorable and learned member read the article written by Mr. Ashton, which was published recently in the Sydnev Morning Herald? It puts a different complexion on the matter.
– I read it; but I could quote very different figures. I did not understand those that were given by Mr. Ashton. If the honorable member turns to to-day’s issue of the Argus he will find some figures that are very different from those given in Mr. Ashton’s letter to the Sydney Morning Herald. It is necessary that we should rid the people of England and Europe of the fear to which T have referred. There is an easy way r.<> do this, and I suggest it to the Prime Minister. We need to enable any British subject who wishes to leave England for Australia to ascertain before he breaks up his home whether he can come here.
– Hear. hear.
Mi. BRUCE SMITH.- We know that however small a man’s home may be, however limited his household gods, he is not prepared to break up his home on the chance of being allowed to land in a new country. If we enabled any man in England to ascertain from our High Commissioner that he possessed the necessary qualifications, so that he might obtain a certificate, and then break up his home, we might induce more people to emigrate to the Commonwealth. I do not say that they would come here as rapidly as they have gone to Canada. Australia is a long way off, and, after all, Canada is the fashion just now. The people of the old country do not know of the detrimental features of its climate, and they are not aware of the favorable character of the Australian climate.. The dissemination of this information is a matter quite distinct from the fear which the Labour Party have -expressed with regard to men being brought here during strikes to compete with Australian workmen. The difficulty applies only to contracts ; and I hold the opinion that it is infinitely better to allow employers of labour in Australia <t> select the men in England for their particular industries and to pay their passage out, allowing them to return the money by instalments from their wages, than to constitute them a sort of charitable object by providing the passage money. Employers select men competent for the work they wish them to do, and my suggestion would enable the men to pay for themselves and obviate the stigma of pauperization. If we encouraged a system of people coming here under contract, the contracts could be shown to the High Commissioner, and he, having the list of the standard wages before him, could ascertain whether the contracts were in conformity with them, and could accordingly issue a certificate allowing the immigrant to enter the Commonwealth.
– I suppose the certificate would be indefeasible.
– Certainly ; a certificate given by the High Commissioner ought to give entree to the Commonwealth without let or hindrance of any kind. When the Act was passed, I remember pointing out to Sir Edmund Barton, who was then Prime Minister, what would be the probable effect of an alteration made in a clause by substituting the word “ directed “ for “ dictated.” The Bill originally provided that the immigrant should pass an examination by writing out fifty words dictated by a Customs House officer, but the honorable member for North Sydney - I think it was he - moved to substitute the word “ directed “ for “ dictated “ ; and the consequence was that the clause read as though the language could be directed by the Customs House officer, instead of being merely dictated in the immigrant’s own language. We all remember the Stelling case, which will stand to our discredit so long as Australian history lasts. A German sailor named Stelling came to this country, I do not say whether under the press of circumstances or not; but he was a healthy, strong man, and was willing, I believe, to settle here as a citizen. He offered to pass the necessary examination in German, French, or English, but was told that he must pass it in modern Greek. That was an arrant absurdity, the mere noising abroad of which made us once more a laughing-stock.
– The honorable and learned member knows of the two offences that that man had already committed.
– I do, but that was not the reason given ; otherwise the man could have been stopped without the absurdity of asking him to pass an examination in Greek.
– That was because he was ahalf-caste.
– That touches another question altogether.
– That was why that test was applied, but the real reason was that the man had twice committed offences against the law.
– However, the Act has been passed, and we cannot cure the harm, if any, that has been done. My point is that this Parliament originally intended, so far as it is possible to ascertain the intention from a debate, that the education test should be applied to European immigrants in their own language. Instead of that, however, the Act has been used for other purposes - to block men from landing for other reasons.
– Not Europeans.
– Yes, Europeans. The Prime Minister will remember the case of a Portuguese sailor to which I drew attention. The answer the Prime Minister then gave was that the man came from the Cape Verde Islands.
– And I pointed out that those islands were simply a colonial settlement of Portugal.
– The man was a Portuguese subject only in the sense that a Hindoo is a British subject ; he was a coloured Portuguese.
– He was coloured because he had lived in the tropics. Portuguese people are generally pretty dark, living as they do in the southern part of Europe.
– He was not a Portuguese at all.
– The Cape Verde Islanders are all of Portuguese extraction.
– He was a Portuguese subject, but not a Portuguese.
– There are no Cape Verde natives.
– I believe there are.
– I have visited the place, and I think I know something about it. It is a Portuguese settlement, although the inhabitants may be rather an intellectually degenerate portion of the Portuguese people. At all events, the man was classed as a Portuguese sailor, and he was actually sentenced to six months’ imprisonment with hard labour, because he could not pass an examination in English. That is the sort of thing which frightens people abroad. The Prime Minister must know that these things are added to in a dramatic fashion when once they pass through the hands of the journalist, and. growing in importance, as they are made to do, much harm results.
– Hear, hear.
– If the object of the Immigration Restriction Act be merely to require that the education test shall be applied to Europeans, we ought to lay down in clear language that a man shall be tested in his own tongue. If there are other reasons for refusing a man admission, let those reasons be given. I think that Mr. Chamberlain was once good enough to say that criminality and disease should be the only disqualifications, and if diseased or criminal people do come here, they ought to be prevented from landing, but the real grounds ought to be stated. I remember that when the Bill was introduced. I characterized it as a hypocritical measure, which really affected to apply the education test to people when there was some other reason for their exclusion behind.
– It was a hypocritical measure.
– I beg to call attention to the state of the House. [Quorum formed.]
– A measure ought to be passed laying down the principle that Europeans shall be tested in their own language, instead of leaving it to a Customs House officer to choose a second or a third language to suit his own fancy. Such a measure would be a help to immigration, and, together with the suggestion I have made with regard to English emigrants, would really afford some guarantee to the people to whom it is proposed to make known the advantages of residence in Australia. It is no good sending lecturers to England, or the Agents-General telling the people at Home and in Europe all sorts of stories about the advantages of residence in Australia, unless we can answer those people on the points with which I have dealt. If there can be quoted against us those old stories of hatters and potters, and of the Petriana, and the German sailor, all the advocacy of the present measure goes for nothing. The only way in which you can enable the people to get rid of the difficulties by which they are now beset is by showing that the Parliament of the Commonwealth has determined that any European who is not a criminal or diseased and passes a fifty word examination in his own language, shall be able to get into Australia. If. in addition to that, we enabled the High Commissioner to issue his certificate in London, upon the assurances that this country requires, we should not require men to break up their homes in England before they definitely knew that they could land in Australia; and in that way we should attract a much larger number of immigrants than we do now.
– Thousands were, last year admitted into the Commonwealth.
– I know there were. I have seen the returns. I know well enough that hundreds and thousands do come in now without any hindrance. But, rightly or wrongly, the idea has got abroad that there are certain embargoes upon immigration. Because it is the Taw that a Customs officer may ask a man to pass an examination in a language other than his own ; and as long as that idea is abroad it must be a serious hindrance to our getting immigrants, even with the offer of the best land in the world; and we have not much good land to offer them.
– There is a little bit here and there.
– It is not the difficulty of obtaining land which prevents people from coming here.
– What is it then?
– I have been showing what it is. The honorable member was not present in the Chamber. If he will read my speech in Hansard, he will know what I said. I wami to refer to the question of old-age pensions. That is an old bunch of carrots that has been hung out for the last five years. I have very great doubts’ whether it is practical at all under our present arrangements to pass a Commonwealth old-age pensions law. It could be arranged, I have no doubt, if there were a conference of all the States, which agreed to some contribution towards Federal expenditure for the purpose. But we must remember that only in three of the States - I think only in three - have oldage pensions been adopted at the present time.
– Only two, I think.
– Those two are New South Wales and Victoria, in which, however,! the expenditure is very different. The expenditure in Victoria is, I think, £150,000 a year.
– More than that.
– In New South Wales it is, I believe, over £500,000. And that sum, it will be admitted by honorable members from New South Wales, there is a tendency to restrict. In Victoria also there is a tendency towards further restriction.
– A tendency to regulate.
– The honorable member has a much finer vocabulary than I have, and I will adopt his word. There is a tendency in those two States to regulate. That tendency will, no doubt, affect the other States. I should say that there would be a very great difficulty in getting the other four States to embark upon an- old-age pension scheme at all. But suppose they did; how are you going to deal with it through the Commonwealth under present circumstances?
– It is a question of getting the money.
– It is not only that, though I do not suppose that even the honorable gentleman believes that we are to seek to raise a loan for. that purpose.
– Of course not ; but there are other ways of getting it.
– I know that there are ways of getting it. But we know that the Commonwealth is limited to its quarter of the revenue raised by Customs and Excise; and unless we are going to adopt direct taxation-
– Why not?
– That is the question. I think that if the Government intended to deal with this old-age pension question by direct taxation in the Commonwealth, they would have announced it. I will give the right honorable gentleman the Treasurer credit for so much candour that if he intended that an old-age pension scheme was to be carried out by some system of direct taxation in theCommonwealth - either by a land or an income tax - he would announce it. But I am sure that if he did announce it, it would be one of the most unpopular measures that he could suggest to this House. I will give him credit for not having considered that aspect of the question. How else could it be done? Some people are under the impression that under the terms of the Constitution the States could authorize the Commonwealth to make a proportionate reduction from their share of Customs revenue, in order to pay oldage pensions. Well, my reading of the Constitution is that they could do nothing of the kind.
-The States could return it to the Commonwealth for the purpose.
– They could returnit; but what does that mean? It means this - that still you would have to convert four States to a scheme of old-age pensions.
– I know there are great difficulties.
– You have to convert the six States to the policy of handing over the matter of old-age pensions to the Commonwealth, and to allowing the money for the payment of the pensions to be deducted from their shave of Customs and excise revenue. How long is it likely to be before that is done? Is it likely to be done for years? Could it be done without a conference of the States ?
– The honorable member thinks it can be done by private conference. I submit that it could not, because no State Government would undertake to authorize the deduction of money without the whole of the States being consulted.
– It was discussed.
– I know itwas discussed at the Hobart Conference, but it would be necessary to convince four of the States to consent to pay over a certain sum to the Commonwealth to enable the scheme to be carried out. I look upon that possibility as not being within the domain of practical politics.
– I know that the Premier of Western Australia said that if the Commonwealth did not institute oldage pensions his Government would do so.
– And how many Governments have been in Western Australia since then ? All I can say is that, from what I have read, I think there was either a change, or that there is an impending change in the Government of that State, and that may make all the difference.
– Is the honorable and learned member in favour of old-age pensions ?
– Not withouta thrift provision. I should be sorry to object to the State contributing something if I saw that there was a proposal for persons making contributions also. But if it means a proposal for indiscriminate relief, I am against it.
– The honorable and learned member is in favour of something like State assurance.
– Something of that kind. If I were asked for my abstract opinion upon the question, I should say that I was against the whole thing. But I draw a distinction between academic politics and practical politics. You often have to consider what is the best thing to be done under special circumstances. Therefore I want to know whether it is seriously proposed by the Government to pursue this question, because I apprehend that we are all quite ready to help the Prime Minister to get his programme through. Party on no party, I am prepared to help him in carrying through a business-like programme. But I think it is a fair thing to ask him whether this old-age pensions proposal is the usual thing hung out for the future, or whether he really means to take some practical step within a few weeks, or even a few months, to bring this matter about; and if he does, it is a fair thing to ask him how he is going to do it, and how he proposes to deal with the question in his immediate programme. Then thereare other questions like those affecting rings and trusts as to which I have my own opinion. I think it is altogether premature to attempt such legislation.
– I should like to know what the honorable and learned member’s opinion on trust legislation is?
– My opinion is this : We are not within years of the stage when such legislation is necessary.
– What about the tobacco trust ?
– The tobacco trust is the result of the absurd treatment of the tobacco duties by this Parliament. If the import duties and excise had been differently regulated, there would not have been that combination which so many people deprecate. And we should soon see it put to an end if our legislation were improved. I have no doubt in my own mind - in fact, it is common knowledge - that by the combination of the tobacco manufacturers of Australia enormous sums of money are being made. But that is because this House did not give sufficient consideration to the duties and to the relations between the Customs duty and the excise upon tobacco. I can only say, as a smoker, that I do not pay any more for cigars or tobacco to-day than I did before the trust was formed. I would commend any one who cares to do so, to take the trouble to read a very able book by Carnegie, The Gospel of Wealth, in which, perhaps, the best authority in the world upon the subject, deals with the advantages and disadvantages of trusts. Mr. Carnegie points out in a very convincing way that, although trusts and combinations may raise the price of an article, the condition of things which arises from the production of a much larger quantity, with a much reduced plant, more than counterbalances the increased price demanded by the combination. Any honorable member interested in the question might read Carnegie’s book, The Gospel of Wealth.
Mr.McWilliams. - I think it should be called “The Gospel of Fraud,” and I have read it.
– At all events, it is an autobiographical sketch of Carnegie’s life, and the proof of the pudding is in the eating. Carnegie is a man who has managed to put together £40,000,000.
– And who has managed to slaughter his workers,, too.
– He has managed to do that in such a way that I have never heard of any very trenchant charge made against him as a man. He has paid good men good salaries.
– He paid men to shoot down his workers in Pittsburg.
– The honorable member for Franklin is now talking New York evening paper gossip.
– I am stating facts.
– I say that the life of that man and the use he has made of his wealth, convince me that he is a man of very large and liberal ideas, and one who would not be guilty, of anything of such a reprehensible character as that laid to his charge by the honorable member for Franklin.
– The State of Mississippi refused his money.
– His ironworks at Pittsburg have been described as “ a hell upon earth.”
– I am not here to champion Carnegie or his book, but though I am perhaps as suspicious of motives as are most men, I read the book, and some of Carnegie’s remarks and arguments upon the subject of trusts were very convincing to me. I know that the practice of forming trusts has been very much abused in America, and is being very much abused there to-day, even in connexion with the control of the food of the people. We can depend upon it that when a man like the present President of the United States believes it to be necessary to take legislative and other steps to put some limitation upon the powers of trusts, there must be something wrong at the back of them. But I say that we are puking children in our commerce as compared with the United States people. I have said that the stage we have reached in connexion with the tobacco industry has been due to the want of care exercised in this Parliament in differentiating between the excise and import duties.
– The tobacco trust controls imports also.
– The honorable member for Bland knows that the difference we made made profits in the industry so great that it led to the combination of these people, and to much of the evil now complained of. I say that, apart from the tobacco industry, which could he dealt with in another way, I do not think we have reached a stage in commercial development in this country at which it would be practicable forus to deal with this question. There are many questions of greater urgency for us to attend to. If the order of the day is to be useful work we must take first that which will do most good, which is most wanted, and which is most urgent; and we have plenty of work stated on this programme, which is of a much more urgent nature than is the suggested control of trusts. But I say of that, as I have said of a number of the other proposals submitted, that we are entitled to ask the Prime Minister, in his reply, to’ give us some more detailed information - some idea of the provisions which the Government propose to introduce to deal with the question. I understand that the Government have framed a good many measures; it may be that this one is amongst them, and we are entitled to ask the Prime Minister to give us something more than a mere category of Bills - to give us some information as to details. I can only say, generally, that I am not at all anxious to see the old personal sore brought up again in this debate. It is a post-mortem. Many of us do not think onehalf as much of the other side as we do of our own ; but we must remember that we have a higher duty in this House than the washing of what iscalled “linen.” We have a duty to the public. We have practically done nothing Tor twelve months, and, therefore, every honorable member, no matter to what party he belongs, should be willing to help the Government to bury the hatchet, let the dead past bury its dead, and get on with public business. It is a duty cast upon the Prime Minister to give us a clear insight into his policy, and when that is done, I, for one, shall be very glad to give him a steady and honest support, irrespective of party.
– The honorable and learned member for Parkes has told the House that the duty of members of all parties is now to settle down in a spirit of good-will and amity. He has said., in fact, that it does not matter what act of political perfidy may be perpetrated in an assembly such as this, it is the duty of all, so far as possible, to cover up the tracks of the people who have been guilty of it. I do not agree with the honorable and learned member.
– My word ! That is a sad affair.
– It is not nearly so sad as it is to see the honorable member for Maranoa sitting behind a protectionist Ministry. There are a few other sad affairs noticeable in this Chamber. It is sad to see the right honorable member for Swan sitting, with such love and good-will, alongside of the honorable member for Hume. It is also sad to see the honorable member for Bourke at last sitting on the Treasury bench, alongside of and in amity with the Prime Minister. However, I do not wish, any more than does the honorable and learned member for Parkes,to touch upon these painful subjects. I wish to say that the present Government has come into office in a distinctly unusual way. It was merely appropriate that such an unusual advent should have been signalized by such an unusual speech, or, shall we say, reading, as that to which we were treated by the Prime Minister yesterday. We were told that it was an announcement of the Government policy; it was not an announcement of a policy, but simply a list of the titles of proposed Bills. There were thirty-six measures in all mentioned.
– Thirty-seven, I think.
An Honorable Member. - Thirty-nine.
– If we say thirty-nine, that is just nine more than the number of pieces which Judas got for a no more worthy action than that of which the Government have been guilty. The great point about this policy speech was the frank admission by the Prime Minister, at its conclusion, that it might not be possible to complete this programme. Why put before this House a programme which it might not be possible to complete? The honorable and learned gentleman has lately shown that he is capable of considerable deception, but we have never previously heard him own up to it, as he has done inthis statement.
– It shows a keen appreciation of the “stone-walling” capabilities of the Opposition.
– I think that the honorable member for Bland, who is responsible for the present position of the Prime Minister ought not to accuse me of “ stonewalling.” The statement is offensive, and the honorable member might be asked to withdraw it. It is not right that honorable members opposite should endeavour to interrupt the course of a serious speech by suggesting that I am “stone- walling.” We have heard the policy speech of the Government, asking, for the thirty-seven pieces of silver ; but we know that the real policy of Ministers is something quite different. It had, of course, to be submitted to the honorable member for Bland before the Government could meet this House, otherwise Ministers would not be where they sit at present.
The real policy of the Government can only be such a one as would be consistent with the platform that the honorable member for Bland and his followers have been sent here to enact. Therefore, we can safely eliminate so much from the thirtyseven pieces of silver as is inconsistent with the declared platform of the Labour Party. What would be useful to the Government at the present time? They want, above all things, to stay as long as possible in the position into which they have so unworthily come ; and they can only stay there by the grace of Watson. Such being the case, we can only look for what the Government propose during the present session to that which the honorable member for Bland would require them to do. The first point in their declared policy, which I notice, as a matter of urgency, is the Iron Bonus Bill. I think we shall find that it will be used as a bridge over which the advocates of an iron bonus to private enterprise can march into the camp of our socialistic friends, who will have nothing to do with anything but State control. The Bill, I undertake to prophesy, will lose its previous basis of a bonus to private enterprise, and provide for the establishment of a State concern. The extension of the functions of the State is what the honorable member for Bland seeks. In this measure, which we were told was going to benefit certain keen supporters of the honorable member for Hume-
– Nonsense. What supporters of mine?
- Mr. Sandford, for one.
– He was opposed to me last time.
- Mr. Sandford will, I hope, be opposed to the honorable gentleman when we next go to the country, and I think he will, for the present object-lesson should be sufficient to range him up alongside us. This measure, which was to benefit the late supporters of the honorable member for Hume, and the late supporters of the honorable member for Eden-Monaro, will now be used to extend the functions of the State, and so benefit the party which holds the Ministry in the hollow of its hand. The next measure which I conceive, will be one of urgency, is that very innocent looking measure, the Trade Marks Bill. We all know that the members of the Labour Socialistic Party in the last session introduced an amendment seeking to legalize the use of the union label. The object of that legalization is to initiate a universal boycott of goods manufactured by non-union labour, and thus to so extend the organization of the socialistic party, that in a very short time they will be able to do without the figure-head support of the present Administration. That is another matter of urgency, and one which I think will be brought on soon. It will be very instructive to see how the present Administration will consider this proposal of the Labour Party. We have been told a good deal by the honorable and learned member for Parkes about a measure in which the right honorable member for Swan is keenly interested. I refer, of course, to the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta Railway Survey Bill. We were told by the honorable and learned member for Parkes that the Western Australian’ Government had given us a quid fro quo in offering us a certain strip of territory alongside the surveyed to be route. What it amounted to was made abundantly clear last session by the honorable and learned member for Wannon. At page 7563 of Hansard, he is reported to have said -
The distance between Kalgoorlie and the border is 450 miles, and a stretch of country, 450 miles long by 50 miles wide, covers an area of 14,400,000 acres. At the present time all this land may be taken up on lease for 10s. per 1,000 acres per annum, but there are no takers. As an honorable and gallant member of another place has said, it is such confounded goat country that the State Government cannot get takers at that price. It is really not sheep, but goat country. Honorable members, who have read the reports issued by the various survey parties in Western Australia, will know that the land is of very poor character. If the whole of the 14,400,000 acres were leased at a rental of 10s. per 1,000 acres per annum, the revenue derived from it would be only £7,200 per annum. The most sanguine estimate is that, at the outset, the loss on the running of the railway would be £70,000 per annum, so that, even if we secured the revenue from the lease of the reservation, we should still have to face a loss of over £60,000 a year.
In other words this quidpro quo about which the Western Australian Government made such a song really amounts to only one-seventh of the whole loss that the Commonwealth would be called upon to bear as the result of building the line.
– Who made the honorable and learned member for Wannon an authority on that country?
– The authority is. I think, the right honorable gentleman, who told me thatthe rental value was 10s. per 1,000 acres. So that these figures are worked up on the right honorable gentleman’s own basis.
SirJohn Forrest. - That isonly for the grass.
– The minerals, I understand, have been expressly excluded, so that it is only the grass we are talking about. However, the right honorable gentleman can see the basis for these calculations, and he can check them if he wishes.
– “A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.”
– Apparently it is, for the right honorable gentleman imparted the little knowledge which is the basis of all these calculations. On that occasion I introduced an amendment to test the bona fides of those honorable members who said that the railway was to be constructed in the interests of the Commonwealth. I proposed that the States of Western Australia and South Australia, or one of them, should enter into a guarantee whereby if the railway were not built within five years from the completion of the survey, in other words, if the survey should show that the line was not one proper to be made, the Commonwealth should be reimbursed its outlay. That seemed a very reasonable proposition to make - it was really asking that the verdict should carry costs - but the members for Western Australia were not prepared to accede to it, and in doing so I think they proved very conclusively that they do not seriously consider that the proposed railway would be in the interest of the Commonwealth. There is another matter which I should like to touch upon, and which was mentioned in that very long and very instructive policy speech. The Prime Minister outlined _ some definite action at last being taken on the question of defence. It is certainly not gratifying to know that it is to be dealt with by a Ministry which contains two ex-Ministers of Defence, who proved themselves during their regime so absolutely uncognizant of the vital necessities of that particular branch of the Commonwealth’s affairs - two Ministers, such as the right honorable member for Swan, who in his anxiety to leave this country for England, consented to the reduction of the military estimates to so great an extent, and the honorable member for Hume, who aided and abetted him on that occasion. It is gratifying, however, to know that the influence of these two Ministers will not prevent the Prime Minister from seriously tackling this great national subject. But before I deal with defence I should like to express my regret that the Government have seen fit to take from this Chamber, which has control over the spending powers of the Commonwealth, the portfolio of Minister of Defence, since the holder of that portfolio is at the head of one of the greatest spending departments in the Commonwealth. I deeply regret that the Government have seen fit to give a portfolio which should be held by a member of this House to a member of a Chamber which has no real control over the spending powers of the Commonwealth.
– Senator Drake was at one time Minister of Defence. This is not the first time that the portfolio has been held by a member of the Senate.
– Most of the Ministers of Defence, including the right honorable gentleman, have been members of this Chamber. The right honorable gentleman has this argument on his side, that many of them did not exercise their responsibilities, as they might naturally have been expected to exercise them. I wish also to express my regret that the honorable and learned member for Corinella no longer exercises the responsibilities of Minister of Defence. He is the first man we have had in office since the inauguration of Federation to seriously attempt to grapple with the problems of Australian defence ; and he has made himself respected and admired by the members of all branches of the Department and the Defence Forces.
– That is too sweeping a statement.
– It is none too sweeping, and the fact will be discovered by his successors.
– The honorable and learned member for Corinella said himself that his predecessors had everything in working order for him.
– So far from that being the case, when we discuss the Defence Estimates I shall be able to show that the defence system of Australia is still rotten to the core. The insularposition of Australia necessitates that her first line of defence shall be naval, and, as honorable gentlemen know, naval defence must protect by taking the offensive. You must concentrate ‘your ships on the enemy’s coasts if you mean to defend your own. We know that in the world to-day there are numerous earth-hungry nations, anxious for territory in which to expand. They are kept from the vast unoccupied
Continent of Australia only by fear of the Imperial Navy. That navy is our first line of defence, and it is therefore the duty of those who deal with the defence problem to consider whether our partnership in it is constituted on a basis best calculated to serve the interests of the Commonwealth, and whether it itself is adequate for the services that we expect from it. The British fleets all the world over have certain definite duties allotted to them. Each has to watch the dispersed and scattered squadrons belonging to foreign powers. In time of war the British Navy would concentrate upon the enemy’s vessels wherever found, and sink or blockade them. But obviously it would be impossible to prevent the escape and roaming at large of individual cruisers. These cruisers would make the wide seas their own. We have been told by no less an authority than a French Minister for Marine that the duty of these roving cruisers would be in all cases to avoid giving action to English men-of-war. They would, as far as possible, prey on our commerce, and harry our ports, all the time playing the part of the hunted, and keeping an eye over the shoulder for English war vessels. They would not remain long in any one place. Their raids would be fugitive, because they would have to be always on the move to evade the ships which England would send in their wake. England has made preparation for this eventuality. One has only to look at the great preponderance of cruiser strength in the Imperial navy to recognise that England has made such provision. But the danger which we have most to regard is that some of these cruisers may come along our coasts, harrying our shipping, and attacking our ports. In Australia, considerably morethan onethird of the population is congregated in a few ports, and our cities would need protection against such raids as I have outlined. Our ports should possess up-to-date artillery of position, with highly efficient, and sufficient, gunners to work it. At present we have not the gunners, and we have not sufficient guns. One city, containing half-a-million of the four millions of people in Australia, has not sufficient gunners, militia and permanent, to give one relief for the up-to-date guns in its fortresses. This is a fact which should be seriously considered by honorable members.
– Would the honorable member like to see a large standing army maintained in Australia?
– I should like to see a sufficient number of men trained to man the guns at our principal forts.
– Does the honorable member say that at present the number is not sufficient ?
– I say that the number is not sufficient to furnish one relief to man the guns at our principal forts.
– The Defence Department tell a different story.
– They do not, because, in the public interest, I put the question to them, and they could! not give me a fitting answer. I have made similar statements to the late Minister of Defence, who was, I understand, to make certain necessary alterations when the next Budget was brought forward.
– The honorable member is blaming the present Government for the faults of the late Administration.
– I have not, for a moment, blamed the present Ministry for the state of our defences.
– The honorable member is instructing them what to do.
– I desire to point out that the Prime Minister, when speaking recently on the subject of our defences, expressed the hope that we should soon be in a position to still more closely follow the example of Switzerland.
– I beg to draw attention to the state of the House. [Quorum formed.]
– In view of the difficulty which the Government seem to experience in keeping a House, and in view also of the great importance of the subject I am now discussing, I think it is only reasonable to ask the Prime Minister to consent to the adjournment of the debate at this stage.
– No ; it is too early.
– Inspite of the fact that the first line of our local defences, and the second line of our national defences - our coastal defences - are so entirely inadequate for the purpose for which they are designed, the Prime Minister could only suggest that we should still further follow the example of Switzerland. As I previously pointed out, there is no analogy between our case and that of Switzerland. When speaking upon the subject of our defences last session, I stated, as is reported on page 6906 of Hansard -
I think that it was by the Treaty of Vienna in 1815 that the inviolability of Swiss territory was assured. For that reason Switzerland has nothing to fear, provided that the parties to the
Treaty respect it. But they have a citizen soldiery in a very high state of efficiency, and I hope that in time we shall have our field forces and citizen soldiery in the same efficient state. In the meantime, however, we are neglecting a danger to which we, in Australia^ are peculiarly exposed, and which does not exist in the case of Switzerland. The population of the four principal cities in that country numbers only about 430,000 souls, and only one is in any way possible of attack. I refer to the City of Bale. Geneva, although close to the frontier, is surrounded by mountains, and would be difficult of attack. We all know that Switzerland is a country with impassable rivers and mountains - the most impossible country to attack that it is possible to conceive - and her citizen forces are, consequently, quite adequate for its defence. In Australia, however, we have four ports containing a third of the population of the Commonwealth, which are so vulnerable that they are liable to immediate attack by a raiding cruiser, and such an attack’ is one of extreme danger.
Finally, I must protest against the Prime Minister seeking at this stage to still further enlarge forces which can only be called into operation after our coastal defences and the Imperial Navy have failed to ward off an attack. The Prime Minister should have made the closest possible inquiry into our coastal defences before he proposed to further add to our field forces.
– I studied our coastal defences three years ago.
– Did the honorable and learned gentleman study the question of the adequacy of the forces to man the guns we have in our forts ?
– I did.
– Did the Prime Minister come to the conclusion that there was a sufficient number of gunners to constitute one relief for the purpose of manning the guns?
– I did not think there was a sufficiency of gunners.”
– The Prime Minister was a member of the Government when! the Forces were still further reduced, and it is a public scandal that he should have failed to remedy the defects which lie knew to exist.
– The Defence Forces were reduced when I was in office as AttorneyGeneral, and not during the time that I was the leader of the Government. Proposals were then drafted bv my Government, which, unfortunately, were never submitted to the House.
– The honorable and learned gentleman is responsible for the mistake made by me, because he referred to three years ago.
– I was wrong - I meant in 1903-4.
– I hope that the Prime Minister, now that he knows that we are short of gunners, will do his best to see that the forces at our disposal for manning the position artillery at our mos’t vulnerable points of attack are considerably augmented. We were not really told what the Government proposed to do in the long statement of policy which they placed before the House. The measures outlined in that policy were not explained, and consequently honorable members are not in a position to know their provisions. No doubt a full explanation has .been given to members of the Labour Party, and that they are in a position to know what the Government propose, because, upon no less an authority than the Age newspaper, which occasionally tells the truth, we have been assured that the Government submitted their platform to the gentlemen who now suffer it to remain in office. That being the case, we are perfectly well aware that what the Ministry propose must be something acceptable to the Labour Party. Now I wish to refer to a most important measure constitutionally - I mean the redistribution of electorates. In regard to this matter, I find that the Government may be in the position of having to consult the honorable member for Bland, almost as much as the Commissioners who have been, or are to te, intrusted with the duty of mapping out the boundaries of the new divisions. For example, I find that the following letter was written bv the honorable member for Bland to a gentleman who is resident upon the south coast of New South Wales, and who had asked him to contest that electorate. Like an extremely wise man. he refused to do so ; but replied in the following terms : -
Of course, as you will have gleaned from the newspapers, the whole situation is changed by the throwing out of the Reid Government, and it is probable that quite another distribution of electorates may yet be found necessary prior to the next election.
Very significantly he remarked that it might be found necessary to make quite a different distribution of seats. In other words, the present Government might, inferentially, be taken to make it a party distribution. He went on to say that if he contested a country electorate at all he would stand for one which embraced at least a portion of the present constituency of Bland. Whywas the honorable member in a position to calculate that the new distribution of seats would allow him to contest such an electorate ?
– He was merely expressing his; own opinion, knowing perfectly well that the Government would act upon it.
– That is a very reasonable solution of the matter, but to my mind it is the height of political indecency for any member whoseseat may be threatened to be able to rely upon the Ministerial support to influence the redistribution in his favour.
– Is not a portion of the Bland electorate included in one of the constituencies which has been suggested by the Commissioner ?
– Surely the whole of that electorate has not been wiped out!
– That statement would be very reasonable were it not for the fact that the sentence immediately preceding that to which I have alluded contemplates a new redistribution.
– That would practically give the States their original number of members.
– In other words, the honorable member for Bland is prepared to see New South Wales deprived of that representation to which it is entitled in this Chamber.
– That statement is not true, and the honorable member is aware of it.
– We know perfectly well what the Government will do, and we know that they will please the honorable member for Bland. Even in the matterof the redistribution of seats they will have to consider him, and if he does not wish New South Wales to be accorded its proper representation in this House, the Government will have to bow to his opinion. How did the Ministry attain their present position ? We know that some time ago, immediately after the last elections, the leader of the Government met this House and the country with the statement that the existence of the three-party system was not in the best interests of responsible government. We were assured by him that it was necessary to resolve those three parties into two, and we know that the honorableand learned member for Ballarat coquetted first with this party and then with that, brazenly entering into negotiations with two parties at the same time, with the object of forming one alliance. We know that at that time the honorable member for
Bland refused to concede anything, and demanded everything, and that it was for that reason the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, who did not care with whom he allied himself, so long as he got upon the other side of the House, joined forces with the party to which I have the honour to Belong. We are aware that he induced three members of the Protectionist Party to join the Coalition Ministry. He stated that the reason why he himself did not join that Government was that he would be better able to assist them whilst sitting behind them than he would if he occupied a Ministerial position. He sat behind that Government for a considerable time. We were told that in his position as a private member he might perhaps be able to entice honorable members of theIsaacs-Lyne party back into the Deakin fold.
– Does the honorable member refer to the Alphabetical. Party?
– I do. I regret deeply to say that He induced these honorable gentlemen to join with him, not for the purpose for which we understood they were to associate with him, but in order to perpetrate a piece of political treachery such as, I am thankful to say, no representative Parliament had previously witnessed. The honorable and learned gentleman combined with the Isaacs-Lyne Party to secure possession of the Treasury bench. We know that the position as regards the three parties in this Chamber has in no way changed since the time when the Prime Minister made his three cricket elevens’ speech.
– When was that?
– In the dim and distant ages when he was seeking for responsible government. A hasty endeavour was made to patch up an alliance between the socialistic party and that which refuses to recognise that there is such a thing as Socialism.
– There is no socialistic party in this House.
– Does the honorable member deny that he is a Socialist?
– We call ourselves the Labour Party.
– Have not the Labour Party a socialistic objective?
– Yes. We all are Socialists - every one of us.
– Exactly. I am glad to see one honest man sitting behind the Treasury bench. The Deakinparty, although it refused to recognise that there was such a thing as Socialism, tried to patch up a temporary alliance with the Socialists. The socialistic convention shortly afterwards met in Melbourne; but if refused in the most unmistakable terms to permit any alliance between their party and the party in office, who are now their tools.
– When was that?
– The honorable member may not be in the councils of his party. I hope that’ he is, because if he were not, it would be merely anticipating the next election. The position has in no way changed. The existence of three parties in the House, we were told1, was destructive of representative Government. There are still three parties in this House. We have the socialistic party, the Deakin Party-
– The old party.
– Yes ; that is the old party - the old original sin - and we have also the party on this side of the Chamber. The members of the Opposition have not departed from the principles which actuated them when sitting on the opposite side of the House. We recognise that there will be no true opportunity to settle our fiscal differences until the party which refuses to recognise the fiscal question is wiped out of existence. The fact that certain honorable members are satisfied to occupy the Treasury benches as tools of the socialistic party, and with a preference for place without responsibility, does not alter the question. These honorable gentlemen have some eighteen or nineteen members in their party. In other words, they are 50 per cent. in office, and 100 per cent, without character. They have only to lose some eight or nine seats at the next election - as they certainly will - and they will not have sufficient members In their party to form the very extensive Ministry which they believe Is necessary. This reversion to the third party principle is to be deplored. There is only one matter for congratulation to be found in the whole proceedings, and that is the fact that the league which the present Prime Minister established in his own electorate to counteract machine politics and to re-establish responsible government, has expressed its want of confidence in his recent action. That leads us reasonably to hope that after the next elections the Prime Minister will cease to trouble the political horizon of Australia, and once more will take his place as an ornament in private life.
Who are the honorable members associated with the present Ministry? We find no less a person than the right honorable member for Swan sitting side by side with we honorable member for Hume. That right honorable gentleman, no more than two months ago, was going to wipe the Labour Party completely out of existence. He passed like the flail of the Lord over Bunbury, and compared the ramifications of the Labour Party to the tentacles of an octopus. That party still remains. It is still an octopus. It still has tentacles; and those tentacles are even now entwined so tightly about the right honorable member that he cannot even squeak when thev squeeze him. It is strange to see the right honorable gentleman sitting in such an uncomfortable place. We find another honorable gentleman sitting on the Treasury bench who did much to harry the Labour Party during its term of office - an honorable member who only a few weeks prior to the re-assembling of this Parliament, told his own constituents, in a speech of his customary eloquence, that the fiscal question was definitely sunk. He. assured them that he had it on the authority of his leader that there was no such thing as fiscalism ; that the battle of the future was to be that of Socialism and antiSocialism. That honorable gentleman, not more than two months before that supreme treachery which has landed him in office, assured his constituents that the fiscal question was definitely sunk.
– Do not remind him of his shortcomings.
– I do not care to do so, because he is a good friend, with an excellent sense of humour; but it is reasonable to remind the Vice-President of the Executive Council, who has received an honorary salve to his injured feelings - injured in having to leave his old allies and friends - of what he said only a few weeks prior to attaining his present position. The late Prime Minister was at that time hand in glove with the honorable member for Richmond. The honorable member for Richmond was on the executive committee of the AntiSocialistic League. Fancy a loyal protectionist on the executive committee of the alleged Free-trade League, which his own leader denounced at Ballarat ! The honorable member: for Richmond addressed his constituents at Lismore, where he heard the honorable gentleman I have the honor to follow make a statement which he allowed to go unchallenged, and thereby admitted its substantiality. The right honorable member for East Sydney on that occasion said -
The white (lng of a fiscal truce had been raised, and under it no treasonable practices -
I recommend that word to the honorable member’s attention - such as had been the case wilh the Boers in South Africa - would bc enacted beneath its protection.
That was a sentiment uttered in the presence of the honorable member for Richmond only a few weeks prior to the leassembling of this House.
– Was that a free-trade meeting ?
– If it was, it was presided over and addressed by the honorable member for Richmond.
– I thought it was an anti-socialistic meeting.
– I say it was a free-trade meeting, because that is how it was described by the Prime Minister: and henceforth I shall always believe what he says. Another statement by the leader of the Opposition, indorsed by the honorable member for Richmond, was, as reported in the press -
He personally considered it an honour to be allied with such men as Sir George Turner and Mr. Alfred Deakin ; they had agreed to a truce, and in politics, as in private life, the keeping of a promise was a matter of personal honour.
That was a statement uttered in the presence of the honorable member for Richmond only a few weeks before he decided that a promise in politics was not a matter of personal honour - was not binding in the least degree. I am reminded that it is now a few minutes to ir. o’clock, and I again ask the Prime Minister whether he will consent to an adjournment of the debate.
– I am glad not to be interrupted at this stage of my speech. I have told honorable members what the right honorable member for East Sydney said to the electors of the honorable member for Richmond, in the presence of that gentleman, and I shall now read what the present Vice-President of the Executive Council - the erstwhile committeeman of an Anti-Socialist League of New South Wales - said on the same occasion. The honorable member for Richmond then said -
When Mr. Reid proposed a fiscal truce, he knew he would faithfully and honorably carry it out, and he was confident that he would not use it as an opportunity to tomahawk the Protectionist Party.
– He will not say he is mistaken now.
– It would appear, therefore, that the honorable member for Richmond has not joined the present Administration because he was afraid his protectionist ideals were in danger. The honorable member cannot, I think, deny that he made that statement, and that the statement was true. The honorable member for Richmond is also reported as follows, on that occasion : -
Mr. Ewing expressed the hope that the Federal Political Alliance would last.
That was less than two months before he did his share in breaking up the alliance -
The fiscal question ought never to have divided up the parties, and he trusted it would never again do so, and -
Here is the finishing touch - separate him from men of the intellectuality, ability, integrity, and high personal character of their guest of that evening.
The honorable member for Richmond himself helped to drive the dagger in the back of that gentleman of such “ intellectuality, integrity, and high personal character.”
– Does the honorable member agree with that description?
– I agree with the attitude of the honorable member for Richmond on the occasion to which I refer, and that attitude makes his present position absolutely inexplicable. That is not only my own personal view. It is a -view which has been indorsed by the constituents of the honorable member, who occupies his position in this Chamber by virtue of their generosity and former folly. It is gratifying to know, however, that those electors are coming to their senses. The Northern Star newspaper, which, I think, the honorable member will recognise as a “ star “ not likely to “set,” says -
Mr. Thomas Thomson Ewing deserves a paragraph all to himself, because, like his leader, Mr. Deakin, he threw over Mr. Reid and his antisocialistic principles without an instant’s warning when the time appeared most ripe. There are many who expected better things from the member for the Richmond. Less than a month ago Mr. Ewing joined the Council of the AntiSocialistic League; less than a fortnight ago he was busy forming branches of the league in the northern rivers. Now he has taken office in a minority Ministry, which can only exist by, and with the co-operation of the very party he pledged himself a few weeks since to strive to exterminate.
– Where is that newspaper printed ?
– At Lismore, New South Wales, and it is a paper which supported the honorable member for Richmond on a previous occasion. The same newspaper goes on to say -
It is stated in the lobbies that Sir John Forrest, on first hearing ot Mr. Deakin’s treachery, professed great surprise and distress at the latter’s conduct ; but he has since accepted explanations - and a portfolio.
I understand that the right honorable member for Swan arrived in Melbourne boiling over with indignation at the speech of the Prime Minister at Ballarat; but he was met ora the platform by the latter gentleman - a singular distinction and compliment.
– Boiling over with indignation about a speech he had not read.
– He was boiling over with indignation at a speech he had read only in the Melbourne Age.
– The right honorable member had not read the speech at all.
– Then, why was he boiling over with indignation? The fact remains that the right honorable member for Swan was boiling over with indignation before he met the Prime Minister.
– I saw him.
– We are told that the honorable member for Dalley saw the right, honorable member for Swan. If it be preferred, I will say that the right honorable member for Swan arrived in Melbourne none too pleased with the defection of the honorable and learned member for Ballarat. ‘ But within five minutes, he could not understand how anybody could possibly have misunderstood either the Ballarat speech, or his own divine right to office. If the right honorable gentleman was not displeased, surely he must have known all about this conspiracy while he was in Western Australia. It is futile for the Prime Minister to contend that this conspiracy was not anticipated long before it took place. I myself remember coming down in the train with tlie Minister of Customs and other honorable members. The honorable gentleman certain! v knew all about the definite result of the Ballarat speech. We could not get him to go to bed that night. His temperance principles were so largely in evidence, and his goodwill and his amity were such, that we knew that there was something very serious on foot. There was not the slightest doubt in the minds of any single passenger on that train that the present Minister of Customs was in the secret. We are now told that the Treasurer did not know anything about the Ballarat speech until he was met on the railway platform by the Prime Minister. Why did the Prime Minister take the trouble to meet the right honorable gentleman on the platform? The right honorable gentleman had, I understand, cabled to find out what were his prospects in Federal politics.
– In cypher.
– Yes, he cabled in cypher. I am glad that the message was in cypher, for I do not wish the telegraph operators of this Commonwealth to form too low an estimate of the public character of our leading men.
– How long is this farce to continue ?
– I rise to order. Is the honorable member for Barrier in order in calling the excellent speech of the honorable member for Wentworth a farce?
– Does the honorable member seriously raise that point of order.
– If the honorable member for Wentworth considers the remark offensive, I am sure that the honorable member for Barrier will withdraw it.
– At once; I am only too happy to do so.
– I really did not consider the remark offensive. It all helps. I am now approaching a very interesting point. I am glad to see that there is a quorum present, because it really is a matter of extreme interest. I was referring to the action of the Vice-President of the Executive Council in joining such an Administration as the present one. This Administration is really dominated by the socialistic party. It is an Administration which is singular, in the fact that it is ornamented by the inclusion of men of the well-known political views of the Minister of Trade and Customs, the Attorney-General, and the Minister of Home Affairs. But I really think it is time we adjourned. Does the Prime Minister refuse to consent to an adjournment?
– I do ; this is not business.
– I ask that the Prime Minister shall withdraw that offensive statement.
– I cannot ask the Prime Minister to withdraw the remark, because it does not seem to me to be offensive at all.
– I was told that my speaking was not business. I am endeavouring to carry out the duties which I arn sent here to discharge. When I am told that that is “ not business “ it seems to me to be offensive. But if it does not seem to you, sir,, to be so, I must accept your ruling.
– The Prime Minister mentioned that in his opinion the proceedings were “ not business.” He was perfectly entitled to say so; and I may add that I do not consider that the proceedings for the last quarter of an hour have been such as to reflect credit on this House. There have been constant interjections and much laughter, which I do not think was always genuine. The demeanour of the House as a whole isi such as to suggest chat it is not conducting the business of the country. I do not therefore think the honorable member for Wentworth can justly take exception to the Prime Minister’s remark.
– What I have been saying for the last quarter of an hour’ has, I think, been fair criticism of Ministers. I am not responsible for the persistent interjections which have been made. I have been subjected to constant interjections during the whole of my speech, mainly from the benches opposite. These interjections - intended to be humorous, and all irrelevant - have not been due to what I have said, and I hope that you, sir, will do me the justice to allow that I myself have not contributed to what you have described as the unworthy character of the proceedings during the last quarter of an- hour.
– The honorable member may proceed.
– T. was drawing attention to the anomalous position of the VicePresident of the Executive Council. That honorable gentleman told us in this House in the course of last session -
There are two planks in my policy ; I believe the two main elements in our national life to be close loyalty to the mother country, and the encouragement of Australian industry.
We know that the honorable gentleman, in changing hig coat, has not been actuated by the fact that his protectionist principles have been endangered, for I have already read extracts from a speech to his own constituents in which he said that his protectionist principles were safe with the coalition Government. His next consideration, he said, was to get “ as far away from the pernicious influence of the honorable member for Hume as he possibly could.”
I think he was not actuated by that principle when he consented to accept a portfolio in the present Administration. We now find him sitting side by side with the Minister of Trade and Customs. Such was his political antipathy towards that Minister, that he compared that honorable gentleman’s leadership of the protectionist party in the New South Wales Parliament to “making ensilage.” He said that in order to make ensilage you required a. goodly heap of material and then you par-buckled a fairly heavy log on to the top of the heap. But he added that there was no need to par-buckle the honorable member for Hume on tq that heap of ensilage in New South Wales, because he had climbed there himself.
– He said a lot of things he did not mean.
– I should like to ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council how he feels in the same heap. No doubt the honorable gentleman feels that he is sinking lower and lower, and, like the integral portion of the heap he is, he feels that he is daily becoming more and more offensive in the political nostrils of the people of Australia. The honorable gentleman criticised his present colleagues in this way ; and I deeply regret that a man for whom I held so high a respect should find himself able to join a Ministry, formed of some of those colleagues, with such facility, or, should I say, docility as the honorable gentleman has shown. What is the present Administration? What should we have expected, and what do we find? We should have expected the right honorable member for Swan and the honorable member for Richmond to have kept clear of the present Government. There is not the slightest doubt that they have been amongst the strongest opponents of the Labour Party in this House, and there is no more doubt that the Labour Party can now compel them to any action it chooses. I suppose that their loyalty to place, rather than to conviction, will compel them to acquiesce in whatever the Labour Party demands. The Vice-President of the Executive Council made it perfectly clear that the Labour Party is1 a socialistic party, which can form no fiscal alliance. He said -
What are the facts with regard to the fiscal views of the socialistic or Labour Party? They have an ideal which they place above free-trade or protection. They believe that Socialism is for the good of the human family, and they scorn the idea of being swayed by the doctrines of either free-trade of protection. They say that the socialistic policy is as high above the fiscal policy as the sky is above the earth. Therefore, the honorable member for Hume and others are endeavouring to lead the protectionists, not into a protectionist alliance, but into a socialistic alliance.
If those words were true at the time when the honorable and learned member for Indi and his co-conspirators were seeking to bring about an alliance with the Labour Party, they are equally true now when the honorable member for Richmond is himself associated in an effort to hoodwink the electors of Australia into the belief that he is a partner in a protectionist Government. In view of the fact that the honorable member has clearly designated the Labour Party as one which is socialistic above all things, and one which can never contract a fiscal alliance, and in view of the fact that the socialistic party dominates the present Ministry to such an extent that all its measures have to be submitted to that party before they are submitted to this House, is it not a little strange that an honorable gentleman who was so lately a shining light in anti-socialistic circles, should now be taking a humble place as an instrument of the enemies of individualism in this Commonwealth? The honorable member for Dalley gave the House a number of quotations froman important labour organ published in the Commonwealth. I have no wish to refer to those quotations, beyond saying that they have appeared in a newspaper run; by the Australian Workers’ Union, and describing itself correctly as” The Official Journal of the Federated Workers of Queensland.” The Australian Workers’ Union, not to speak of the Federated Workers of Queensland, has sent a certain representation to this House. If my memory serve me, the honorable member for Maranoa, on a previous occasion, stated that he had been returned to this House practical ly by the Australian Workers’ Union.
– That is correct.
– That is correct, and other honorable members have also been returned by that great organization, which pays for and runs the Brisbane Worker, the newspaper to which I refer. We know the views of this newspaper, and we can reasonably infer that they are the views of the representatives in this Chamber of the union which runs this newspaper.
– So that the honorable member’s views are the views of the newspapers in Sydney?
– Not at all. The newspapers in Sydney do not return me to this House.
– Nor does the Worker return me.
– The newspapers in Sydney are not run by the Australian Liberal League, or by the Free-trade League.
– No, they run those leagues.
– But the Brisbane Worker is run and paid for by the Australian Workers’ Union. We may fairly take it that that newspaper, in the circumstances, would not publish any views opposed to the views of the Australian Workers’ Union. I have said that many honorable members are here as representatives of that union.
– I am the representative of the electors of Maranoa.
– Of course, if the honorable member wishes to withdraw-
– I wish to withdraw nothing. I merely set the honorable member right.
– The honorable member has stated that he is one of the representatives in this Chamber of the Australian Workers’ Union.
– I said nothing of the sort; it is the honorable member who said that.
– I asked the honorable member if my memory served me rightly in saying that he had admitted that the Australian Workers’ Union returned him to this House, and he replied, “That is right.”
– In the same way that the free-trade organization returns the honorable member.
– I see, then, that the honorable member’s statement had no special significance, and I commend his explanation to the members of the Australian Workers’ Union in the honorable member’s electorate. I think that these honorable members, as representatives of electorates in which the Australian Workers’ Union is the predominant political factor, will find it necessary, at the next election, to hold the views which’ are expounded in this newspaper, which is run to give publicity to the views of the electors who return them to this House. Up to within the last few months, the present Prime Minister set a high exampleof personal and political integrity, and it must be very difficult for an honorable and learned gentleman of the character which we all formerly believed the Prime Minister possessed, to have to occupy his present position on sufferance - at the will of men returned by the suffrages of people holding the views which are published in the Brisbane Worker. I do not think it would add to the dignity of this debate if I were to again quote them. In conclusion, I would like to reiterate my objection that the Government have not seen fit to tell us what these thirty-seven pieces of silver really mean. I regret that a member of the other House is now in charge of one of the most important spending Departments of the Commonwealth, and I deplore the events of the past few months.I sincerely regret that two men, such as the right honorable member for Swan, and the honorable member for Richmond, should, without any attempt at explanation’, be occupying positions in an Administration which has so unworthily come into existence.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Wilson) adjourned.
Mr. SPEAKER reported the receipt of a message from His Excellency the GovernorGeneral, recommending that an appropriation be made from the Consolidated Revenue for the purposes of this Bill.
Mr. SPEAKER reported the receipt of a message from His Excellency the GovernorGeneral, recommending that an appropriation be made from the Consolidated Revenue for the purposes of this Bill.
Referred to the Committee upon the Bill.
Mr. SPEAKER reported the receipt of a message from His Excellency the GovernorGeneral, recommending that an appropriation be made from the Consolidated Revenue for the purposes of this Bill.
Motions (by Mr. Deakin) agreed to -
That on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday in each week, until otherwise ordered, Government business shall take precedence of all other business; and that on each Thursday until half-past 6 o’clock, until otherwise ordered, General business shall take precedence of Government business.
That on Thursday in each week, until otherwise ordered, General business shall be called on in the following order, viz. : -
On one Thursday -
Notices of Motion.
Orders of theDay.
On the alternate Thursday -
Orders of the Day.
Notices of Motion.
Motion (by Mr. Isaacs) proposed -
That, under Standing Order No. 214a, the proceedings on the Bill intituled “ A Bill for an Act relating to Trade Marks,” which were interrupted by the prorogation of the Parliament on Thursday, the 15th day of December, 1904, be resumed at the stage then reached in connexion with the said Bill, and that the second reading of the Bill be made an Order of the Day for the next day of sitting.
Mr. JOSEPH COOK (Parramatta).I do not think it is fair for the Government to spring this business upon the House at this hour of the night. I have no objection to this particular motion being passed, but I would like to know what else the Government propose to do tonight.
– Will the passing of this motion conclude the business for to-night ?
– We are proposingto get this and other Bills on the notice-paper, so that we can circulate them with any amendments.
– I object to our beginning to do business at this hour. I do not think that the Prime Minister has acted to-night in a way which is likely to conduce to the good order of debate and progress of business. He was asked tonight for what was the fairest of fair things, namely, an adjournment at halfpast 10 o’clock.
– So far as I know, such a request has never before been refused by any Government under similar circumstances. This is the first night of a debate of a most important character, when the conduct of the Government is supposed to be altogether under review, and when an adjournment was asked for at a reasonable hour it was refused, and refused in a very peremptory and almost contemptuous way. If the Prime Minister proposes to act in that way he will find that it is not the way to conduct the business of the House with any kind of celerity and good order. I hope he will recollect that, although we are a minority on this side, there are certain rights which are inherent in the Opposition from immemorial custom, and which, I am sure, he will be the first to respect. Why he has departed from his usual courteous conduct to-night, I am at a loss to understand. He is not in his usual mood, he certainly is not in his usual courteous mood with regard to the members on this side, and the best thing we can do is to adjourn and sleep over this business. I venture to say that it will not go through any more slowly for our having done so. At any rate, I protest against the Government taking business at this hour.
– Let me have my motion for leave to introduce the Encouragement of Manufactures Bill.
– The honorable gentleman can move the motion just as readily to-morrow.
– If the motion were passed to-night, Icouldbring in the Bill to-morrow.
– The honorable gentleman must not think of sandwiching in these Bills. The debate on the Ministerial policy should be prosecuted to the end, as it ordinarily is. I have never known an occasion when a debate of that kind has been interrupted with any other business.
– This is not business, but only a step to get on with business when that debate is finished.
– It relates to the business of the House. At the end of that debate, the honorable and learned gentleman could do all which he is seeking to do now, and no time would be lost.
– We are not asking honorable members to do any business now, but merely to agree to formal stages which, if passed, would enable us to circulate the Bills with the amendments, so that when the debate on the Ministerial policy was finished, there would be on the noticepaper business with which we could deal at once. Otherwise when that debate is finished, we could only take the formal stages, and a day would be lost. It is only with the object of saving time that I make this proposal.
– Supposing that the motion is taken to-morrow, what will be lost?
– If it be the understanding that, before the debate on the Ministerial statement is resumed to-morrow, I have permission to move these formal motions-
– Why interrupt that debate at all?
– This is only a purely formal motion.
– It does not matter whether the motion is formal or otherwise, there is nothing gained by going on now.
– There is this much gained, that when the debate on the Ministerial policy is finished, there will be business for the House to go on with. 1 hope that the honorable member will withdraw his objection, especially when I say that I only ask now for the first of these motions to be taken to-night.
– Of all these notices of motions relating to the introduction of Bills, this is the most contentious. I would suggest to the Prime Minister that, if he would ask the House to pass notices of motions Nos. 4, 5, and 6, it would serve his purpose, and give him business to go on with. The other motion could be considered later on in the presence of the Opposition.
– The Opposition do not lose anything.
– This is the most contentious of the lot.
– The first reading of a Bill is seldom disputed, and that is all I ask for by this motion.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Debate on Ministerial Statement.
– I move -
That the House do now adjourn.
I may explain that I had no wish to unduly restrain debate. The honorable member for Wentworth commenced his speech at a quarter-past 10 o’clock, and spoke for some time before he asked for an adjournment. I had already agreed that in the event of the honorable member concluding his speech at some time after half-past 10 o’clock, an adjournment would take place.
– Did the Prime Minister expect the honorable member to conclude his speech in quarter of an hour ?
– I understood that he would occupy less than half-an-hour. If the honorable member, after speaking for halfanhour, had secured an adjournment of the debate, and had continued his remarks tomorrow, he would, to all intents and purposes, have secured the right to make a second speech.
– May I point out that the honorable member for Wentworth continued his speech in deference to the wishes of the Government. My honorable friend would have asked for an adjournment the moment he rose, but he thought it better to go on until a reasonable hour, and conclude his speech tomorrow. He spoke altogether for an hour and a quarter, and I am sure that that was not an unreasonable time to occupy. Some honorable members opposite must have been bored to death by a speech that extended to such a length. I have, however, recollections of five and six hours having been occupied by some of them, and yet I never heard the slightest protest from the AttorneyGeneral, who made such a pathetic appeal to honorable members to proceed to the transaction of business. Why did he not address a similar pathetic appeal to those honorable members who practically wasted the whole of last session, and led to a feeling of disgust on the part of the public ? I submit that the honorable member for Wentworth has received most scurvy treatment from the Prime Minister and his supporters, and I would suggest that if Ministers desire the business of the country to be transacted with despatch, the sooner they make up their minds to treat honorable members on this side with ordinary courtesy the better. The honorable member for Wentworth made a speech, the merit of which is undoubted, and when honorable members read it in Hansard, they will see that it is characterized by smart and clever criticism. I think that the honorable member was entitled to better treatment. I believe that he is smarting under what he believes to be a reflection upon his conduct by Mr. Speaker. When Mr. Speaker referred to the conduct of honorable members as being somewhat unseemly, the honorable member was under the impression that the remarks from the Chair were intended to reflect on him. Personally, I do not think that you, Mr. Speaker, had any such intention, but were referring rather to the numberless interjections and to the immoderate laughter with which the utterances of the honorable member were greeted.
– I expressly referred to the frequent interjections, and the ironical laughter with which the remarks of the honorable member for Wentworth were greeted, and I in no way referred to the honorable member who was addressing the House. One or two moments later, the honorable member for Wentworth asked me for a certificate of character, but I judged that he was not sincere, as he could hardly expect that I should give one.
– I should just like to express surprise at the conduct of the Prime Minister in not consenting to an adjournment even at a quarter past 10 o’clock. I think that the honorable member for Wentworth was quite justified in asking the Prime Minister to consent to an adjournment at half-past 10 o’clock, the usual hour for suspending our proceedings, I thoroughly believe that no one should work for more than eight hours, and I think it is unreasonable to expect honorable members to remain here beyond the hour just mentioned. Honorable members feel very strongly any attempt to force them to remain here beyond a reasonable hour, and efforts in that direction are not likely to facilitate the transaction of public business. If any coercion is attempted, we shall probably be detained here, not until a quarter to 12 o’clock, but probably until a quarter to 12 o’clock the next day.
Mr. DEAKIN (Ballarat- Minister of External Affairs). - I trust that in whatever way our proceedings may be carried on they will be characterized by good feeling, and that honorable members will unite in an effort to close the debate on the Ministerial Statement to-morrow.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 11.44p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 27 July 1905, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1905/19050727_reps_2_25/>.