2nd Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Mr. McDONALD presented five petition’s from certain residents pf Cloncurry, praying that stringent legislation be enacted to prevent the importation of opium for smoking purposes into the Commonwealth.
Mr. FOWLER presented a petition from the Western Australian Chamber of Manufactures, protesting against the provision in the Trades Marks Bill for legalizing the use of union labels.
BURSTING OF MILITARY RIFLES.
Mr. PAGE asked the Minister representing; the Minister of Defence, without notice:-
Is it true, as reported in the press, that several military rifles have burst?
If. so, what is the cause?
Who are making the cartridges?
What inspection have they undergone ?-
What is proposed in future to prevent these accidents ?
Mr. EWING. - The following are the replies to the questions of which the honorable member gave notice to the Prime Minister : -
Five rifles are reported by the Comman dant, New South Wales, to have burst within the last few weeks.
A Military Board is inquiring into the cause, but all the damaged rifles have not yet been received for inspection.
The Colonial Ammunition Company. 4.. Until the Board has taken evidence it cannot be stated what particular ammunition was being used when the rifles burst ; but all ammunition obtained from the Colonial Ammunition Company is inspected by the Inspector of Ordnance and Ammunition, in Victoria, before it is shippedto other States.
Until a report has been received from the Board as to the cause of the accidents, no action can be taken in this direction.
I also desire to say that the fullest information will be given to honorable members later on.
– I wish to ask the Minister of Trade and Customs when the papers relating to the increased duties levied on harvesters will, as promised, be laid upon the Library table. They were not available up till within a short time before the House met.
– They will be laid on the table to-morrow.
– I desire to ask the Prime Minister whether he is in possession of fuller information than appeared in the press yesterday with regard to the result of the Pacific Cable Conference, which commenced its sittings in London on 22nd June last?
– I am not yet in possession of fuller information. We were not informed of the meeting of the Conference, although previous notice had been given of the date upon which it would assemble. Unless a report of what transpired comes to hand within the next day or two, I propose to communicate with London with a view to obtaining particulars.
– I desire to make a communication to the House upon a matter of considerably importance to this country, and of great interest to honorable members.
The following cablegram with reference to the Marshall Islands dispute has been received by His Excellency the GovernorGeneral from the Secretary of State for the Colonies : -
Referring to your telegram of 22nd July, note received from German Government couched in conciliatory tone, main points as follow : - Acquisition of land from natives in Marshall Islands forbidden since 2888 to all persons, including Jaluit Company. Action of Governor in sanctioning lease of land to company was illegal, and has been declared void. For the present only land that can be bought or leased consists of those areas which, before German occupation, belonged to non-native owners. German Government, however, intend to extend conditions as to acquisition of native land by permitting leases of land for trading stations, so that Burns, Philp, will find it much easier to establish domicile; at the same time, instructions will be sent to Caroline Islands to grant Burns,Philp permission to lease land for trading stations, but owing to difficulty of communication between Germany and South Sea protectorates, firm must wait for permission till October. German Government, while maintaining that action in Mar-‘ shall Islands has not infringed Declaration of 1886, further state that they are now occupied in revision of fiscal legislation for Marshall Islands, in which guiding principle will be communicated Burns, Philp through German ConsulGeneral at Sydney. Trust your Ministers will agree. German note seems to afford prospect of settling questions at issue with regard to future trading in Islands. Despatch follows by mail. I may say that I have taken the liberty of suggesting a speedy method by which the agents of the Jaluit Company can be reached, in order that trading rights may be granted at the earliest possible date.I have since received a telegram from Messrs. Burns, Philp, and Company, Sydney, as follows: -
Acting Consul-General Germany definitely informs press has received official information that changes desired by Australia in Marshall Islands will be given effect to by October1st, and instructions that effect now on way to Jaluit. This is satisfactory, we presume settlement claim compensation will follow is due course.
– I should like to know from the Prime Minister when the report of the Tariff Commission, and the accompanying evidence, will be made available to honorable members?
– The report has already been published in extenso in the press, and a copy has been laid upon the table of this House. The evidence is contained in three or four bulky volumes. I shall inquireof the Government Printer when copies will be available.
– I desire to ask the Postmaster-General whether he will lay upon the table of the House the contract which has been entered into between the Government and the Union Steamship Company of New Zealand for the conveyance of mails between Tasmania and the mainland ?
– I have no objection to doing so.
– I desire to bring under the notice of the House a question affecting its privileges. I refer to the interpretation which may be placed upon two standing orders passed by this Chamber upon the last day of the last session namely, standing orders 214A and 2.T4B, which read: - 214A. If, in any session, the proceedings ou any Bill shall have been interrupted by the prorogation of Parliament, the House may, in the next succeeding session, by resolution, order such proceedings to be resumed at the stage to which the Bill had been advanced in the previous session, provided a periodical election for the House has not taken place between such two sessions. 2(411. Any such Bill may be sent to the Seriate as if it had been introduced and passed bv the House in the second session.
Now it is possible, I believe, under these standing orders for the other Chamber to restore to its business-paper Money Bills in such a way as to seriously limit the privileges and powers of this House in regard to its control of public expenditure. For instance, a Bill appropriating public money might pass this House and be transmitted to another place and. not be finally disposed of in the one session. Then in the next session an attempt might be made - I do not wish to refer to a specific case, because that would be out of order - to revive that Bill, and it might be urged that the only control which this House could exercise over it would be by the discussion of a fresh message from the GovernorGeneral. It is extremely doubtful whether the standing orders referred to can cover Bills which appropriate public revenue. In the Victorian Parliament T may say that similar standing orders obtain,’ and last year, when a Bill appropriating public money was before the Legislature of this State- I refer to the Water Bill- it was passed by the Legislative Assembly, it was the intention of the Government, as notified in the press, to take it up in the
Legislative Council during the next session. Upon consideration, however, by the President of the Legislative Council, ‘the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly, and the Law Officers of the Crown, it was] decided that the standing orders in question - which are practically a copy of those to which I have just drawn attention - did not apply to Bills originated by message - that they could not be applied to them in that way. and that the only way in which any Bil 1 appropriating revenue could be dealt with under those circumstances was by introducing it afresh into the lower Chamber. Sec tion 56 of the Commonwealth Constitution Act states that the purpose of the appropriation must, in the same session, have been recommended by message of the GovernorGeneral to the House in’ which the proposal originates. I do not think that that section would cover any attempted action under the before mentioned standing orders to which I have referred. Obviously the matter is a very important one, and if the interpretation of the standing orders to which I have alluded can be held to relate to Bills which appropriate public money, it means that the control of expenditure by this House, under the forms which it now possesses, must then vanish, because the only control which we could then exercise over expenditure would be by consideration of a fresh message from the Governor-General, and that message might be submitted at the fag end of the session, and in a thin House.
– It might not be debated.
– As the honorable member for Kennedy says, it might not even be debated. I was one of those “who took objection to the standing orders in question last session, but I did not think of the point which I am now raising at that time. The point I am now raising was brought forward for the first time in the Victorian Parliament this year, when we saw a Government which is supposed to be a conservative one take action for the purpose of conserving the privileges of the lower House. This question is an important one, which should be considered very carefully. I do not raise it in any antagonistic spirit, but I think that it is a matter upon which a special Select Committee, consisting of a few members might reasonably; te appointed to confer with the President and Mr. Speaker, and to report to this House - the main question for consideration being whether it is possible under these Standing Orders to revive in another place in the next session a Bill which appropriates public money in any shape or form.
– Having received no notice that this question was to be brought forward to-day, I am naturally not prepared - even if it were desirable - to enter upon a discussion of it at the present time. Nevertheless, I beg to submit that there can be no doubt as to the constitutionality of the Standing Orders which have been adopted by this House. Reference to section 50 of our Constitution shows that -
Each House of the Parliament may make rules and orders with respect to -
The mode in which its powers, privileges, and immunities may be exercised and upheld :
The order and conduct of its business and proceedings, either separately or jointly with the other House.
That is an absolute authority for this House to govern its own procedure, and we have decided our own procedure by the adoption of these Standing Orders. So far from this House being deprived of any control of public expenditure, as a matter of fact, a message from the GovernorGeneral must have teen submitted, and a Bill passed by this Chamber before the standing order can apply. The only object which the honorable and learned member for Wannon can have in suggesting that standing orders 214A and 214B should be altered is to allow of a second discussion taking place in this House, if by any chance a measure approved in one session by us was not passed by the other Chamber in the same session. The very object of these Standing Orders is to enable that procedure to be dispensed with, if we think fit to do so, and it can only be dispensed’ with by our consent. Under cover of them we arrive at the same point in one stage - that isto say, if a majority of this House think fit.
– That stage would practically constitute a fourth reading.
– It might be termed that. No measure involving a grant of money can come under the operation of these Standing Orders unless it has first been passed by this House in one session, and unless it has been restored by the other House to the place that it previously occupied in that Chamber. Of course, in that case no second resolution is necessary in this House. I say that, because my reply to the interjection of the honorable member for Bland might possibly convey another impression. In making that reply, however, I was referring to the period when the measure was in an incomplete stage in this House. In that case it could be reinstated here only by what might amount to a fourth reading. The suggestion that these Standing Orders were intended to apply only to measures which do not involve the expenditure of public money seems to me to be based entirely upon a misconception. Whatever restriction may be imposed upon the powers ofthe States Parliaments in this connexion certainly does not apply here.
– It is merely a question of interpretation. The Standing Orders are the same in each instance.
– That fact does not make them the same Standing Orders unless the Constitutions of the States confer the same authority as the Commonwealth Constitution. Of course, even then the adoption or non-adoption of these Standing Orders rests with Parliament.
– The same power is con tained in every State Constitution.
– If so, the State Parliaments exercise it as they think fit. Ifthe honorable and learned member wishes this question to be further examined, the proper body to which to refer it is the Standing Orders Committee, upon whose recommendation the orders were passed. That body had previously considered them although they were passed at the instance of the late Government. If the honorable and learned member wishes there can be no objection raised to ‘the adoption of that course, because any such action taken by this House ought to be, and is, open to review. We do not desire by these Standing, Orders to accomplish anything except to expedite the transaction of business upon which Parliament is agreed.
Mr. ROBINSON (Wannon).- I desire to ascertain if I shall now be in order in moving that this matter be referred to the Standing Orders Committee?
– It would have been competent for the honorable and learned member to conclude his speech by moving such a motion, but as he resumed his seat without doing so, I do not think that he ought now to be permitted to move it. Probably some other honorable member will take action on his behalf.
– I should be prepared to do so if I were not in the same position as is the honorable and learned member for Wannon.
– I trust that the Prime Minister will very seriously consider this question, which relates to the privileges of the House, and does not involve a party discussion in any sense. Within a few years, the question may become one as to whether the control of such measures as that to which reference has been made, should pass to another place, or remain with this House. It may seem a very small matter at the present moment, and so far as the measure is concerned to which the .question more immediately relates, I do not know that many of us would offer much objection to the course proposed. We have to remember, however, that we are proposing to lay down a precedent that ought not to be established. Although at present money Bills must originate in this House, the Senate itself has control over a great many matters, and it is hardly to be doubted that in the near future disputes will arise between the two Houses. That being so. we cannot be too careful to see that we adhere strictly to the constitutional provision in regard to money Bills originating in this Chamber.
– If we have already agreed another place must deal with the matter -at a later stage, and carry out our desire.
– Does not the honorable member see that a difficulty of the kind to which I have referred, might occur in relation to a Bill which we had passed twelve or eighteen months previously. Let us take many of the measures that were before us twelve months, ago.
– The Bill, for instance, relating to the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta Railway Survey scheme.
– That is one of the matters which might possibly come up for consideration, and an opportunity should be afforded us to more fully consider the question. We ought to be extremely jealous of our privileges.
– Should not the late Government have explained all this to the House when they brought forward the Standing Orders?
– Surely the honorable member can drop this party vendetta now that we are out of office?
– I am afraid, that the honorable member for Barrier, in dealing with this question, has not exhibited his usual judgment, but I feel satisfied that as soon as he gives it his serious consideration he will recognise that it relates to a matter as to which many difficulties may possibly arise. If we leave this question as it stands, the action proposed to be taken in another place will be quoted before many years have elapsed as a precedent. If we allow the course proposed by the Government! under these Standing Orders. I feel satisfied that on many occasions, when we should be glad to have questions brought before us for further consideration, that course will not be possible. If the House thinks it is a matter of any consequence it will be perfectly within its power to say so. While both branches of the Legislature are elected directly by the people, this is the only House that represents the Commonwealth in proportion to the number of people in the various States. The Senate merely represents the States as such. There may! be a very serious dispute within a short time between the two Houses as to the point now at issue, and if we do not take action on this occasion our power will probably drift away from us. It is clear that if any “ manager “ of Parliament sought to take action he would not waste his time by seeking to deal with this Chamber ; but would devote his attention to the smaller Chamber, where he could count heads, and know exactly how many members he had to deal with. There the number of members for or against, any particular question could be more readily ascertained, and he would be able to deal with what in America are called the “mugwumps.” If we desired to prevent such a state of affairs we should take care to guard our privileges. The suggestion of the honorable and learned member for Wannon is a good one, and I propose to move that the matter be referred to the Standing Orders Committee.
– Although mv ruling has not been called1 for. I should like to direct attention to the fact that the action to which the honorable and learned member for Wannon referred as one that might be taken bv another branch of the Legislature would in no sense rest upon any Standing Orders we have passed. It would depend upon those which the Senate itself had passed, and that being so, the question would be one, not as to our own Standing Orders, but as to those of both Houses.
Mr. CONROY (Werriwa). - In view of your suggestion, Mr. Speaker, I move -
That standing orders 214A and 214B, and all Standing Orders of both branches of the Legislature affecting the same matter, be referred to the Standing Orders Committee.
– But can we refer the Standing Orders of another place to the Committee ?
– Perhaps, as the honorable and learned member for Werriwa has not handed me his motion in writing, 1 may be permitted to suggest that it should be framed as follows : -
That the question of the Standing Orders of both Houses in relation to lapsed Bills be referred to a joint meeting of the Standing Orders Committee of each House.
– By leave, sir, I will amend my motion on the lines you suggest.
Question, by leave, amended accordingly.
– I would ask the Prime Minister to take into consideration the fact that the ruling given by the President of the Senate was not altogether that the Government proposal was either in or out of order, but that the interpretation of section 56 of the Constitution was not a matter with which he was called upon to deal. If the question is to be referred to the Standing Orders Committee, I think it would be wise to obtain the opinion of the Crown Law officers upon it, for it is undoubtedly one of importance.
– As the Prime Minister has agreed to, and, indeed, has signified his willingness to move, the reference of this question to the Standing Orders Committee, and as the matter at issue might arise, at any time, in reference to lapsed Bills, I should like to ask him whether the Government will stay their hands - if they have in contemplation, proceedings with regard to Bills which do require a message, and require, also, to originate in this House - pending the consideration of the point by the Standing Orders Committee. If the Standing Orders Committee brought up a report declaring, say, that it was not advisable that the Standing Orders in question should be followed in the case of Bills requiring a message, a difficulty would obviously arise if the Government had at the same time been using them in connexion with such Bills. I would suggest, therefore, that it would be reasonable, for the Government, if they have in contemplation, proceedings of this kind, to stay their hands for the weekor more necessary to enable the matter to be considered by the Standing Orders Committees. I would remind him that as leader of the House, he is the custodian of our privileges, and that in any case of doubt as to whether the privileges of this House are being infringed in any way it is his duty to err upon the side of caution. It is upon that ground only that I make this suggestion to him. If confirmation of my view be necessary, it will be found on turning to Hansard, page 1479, Vol. 2, Session 1901, where a distinguished member of this House is reported as follows: -
I think that, at the very outset we ought to take our stand upon the position that this House represents, in a special and perfect degree, the taxpayers of Australia. We ought to be very careful, lest by withdrawing what are called forms, but which are really more than forms - which have been spoken of as danger signals, but which, I think, should be regarded as standards marking out our territory - we surrender the rights of this House. We cannot be too careful, lest argument be piled on argument, and surrender called for after surrender.
These observations were made by the present Attorney-General in connexion with the preamble and first clause of Supply Bills, and it is to that aspect of the case I draw the attention of the Prime Minister, feeling quite sure that the quotation will carry at least as much weight with him as anything I could say. I would, therefore, earnestly suggest that if any such procedure.be proposed with regard to Bills which do require a message at some stage or other of their passage through the Houses, the Prime Minister should delay acting upon these Standing Orders, in another place, at any rate, until the matter has been considered by the Standing Orders Committee and reported upon.
– I trust the Standing Orders Committee, in the event of this matter being referred to them, will not take the view that it is the unanimous desire of the House to have any alteration made in these Standing Orders. If there wereany attempt being made to limit our privileges or to undermine in the slightest degree, the predominance which this House must necessarily occupy with regard to financial measures, I should be one of the first to assist in making a protest as effectively as possible. But what does this position amount to? After having considered a message from the Crown in respect to the Bill about which the present controversy has arisen, we proceed to pass it. It goes through all its stages here, and presumably the House has distinctly made up its mind as to what its attitude is. And it is now seriously suggested that in regard to this class of measure we should insist upon going through the whole process again. That view will not commend itself to the people in the constituencies. Surely they have no reason to complain of any undue speed being exhibited by this Parliament, of any undue haste, or of our rushing business through. For that reason, I trust the sensible rule which is in existence in all the State Parliaments, or in most of them, as far as I am aware, will be given effect to, and will not be emasculated in the fashion suggested by the honorable and learned member for Wannon.
Mr. JOSEPH COOK (Parramatta).What the honorable member for Bland has said would be all right if it were not for standing order ‘214B, which seems to me to contemplate that in all matters of this kind the Bill must come back to this House before any other message can go to the Senate. Standing order 214A prescribes what may be done with regard to these Bills, and then the next section says -
Any such Bill may be sent to the Senate as if it had been introduced and passed by the House in the second session.
That, I submit, requires the Bill to be brought back here in order to be sent again to the Senate, to be restored there to the position which it had reached. Moreover, that is in accordance with the Constitution, which unquestionably, to my mind, ties the message to. the Bill. They must both originate in the same place, and in the same session. If the message lapses, therefore the Bill lapses, so far as its progress is concerned. I submit that the Bill must come back here, and be originated as before.
– I see no objection to the course which is suggested by the motion ; but I should like to ask you, sir, whether our Standing Orders or rules dealing with things done in another Chamber differ from the practice which prevails in some of the State Parliaments. For instance, sir, as you know well, if one House of a State Parliament wishes information as to a Bill or other matter in the custody of the other House a certain procedure has to be adopted in order to ascertain what the state of facts is. We do not wish to raise any question of etiquette between the Houses. I observe that we are asked to refer the Standing Orders of another place to the Standing Orders Committee. In the first place, are these Standing Orders before us in any way ; have they been laid upon our table ? Is it competent to us to refer Standing Orders of the Senate even to a joint Committee? I do not raise the point as a substantial one, but we wish to avoid taking any course which is not in accordance with’ parliamentary procedure. In New South Wales, when one House wished to find out what the state of things was in the other House, a Committee had to be appointed to search its records. I do not know whether under our present rules there is any necessity for taking that course.
– It would be impossible for us concerning any measure or any matter of business to obtain information as to what was proceeding in another branch of the Legislature without appointing a Committee to search its records. I listened carefully to the remarks of the honorable and learned member for Wannon. So far as I could gather from his speech he made no reference to any Bill or other matter which is now before the other House, but simply referred to cases which might arise from time to time under the provisions of the Standing Orders to which he referred. I think it would be proper, if I may sai so, for the House to ask the other branch to concur in its resolution.
– I have no objection to the suggested addition to the motion.
– I shall, then, put the question in this form: -
That the Standing Orders of the Senate and the House of Representatives relating to lapsed Bills be referred to a joint meeting of the Standing Orders Committee for consideration and report, and that a message be sent to the Senate seeking their concurrence in this course.
– I do not wish to be technical j but may I suggest to you, sir. that there is still this difficulty to be faced, that, we first adopt a course and then ask the other House to concur in that course. I would suggest that the other House should not be asked for its concurrence to a thing which we have already” resolved shall be done. ‘We ought first to affirm the desirability of making a reference to the Joint Committee, and then to order a message to be sent to the other- House asking for its concurrence in that course.
– The right honorable and learned member can move an amendment to that effect.
– I move-
That after the word “ that,” line1, the words “ it is desirable that “ be inserted.
– I accept the amendment.
Amendment agreed to.
Question, as amended, resolved in the affirmative.
– I desire to ask the Postmaster-General, without notice, whether, in view of the complaints so frequently heard about the telephone systems in Sydney and Melbourne, and the possibility of adopting something new in connexion with the exchanges, he will give us an opportunity of perusing the report of the officer, who, I understand, recently went round the world with a view of making inquiries into that and cognate matters.
– The report of the officer is not quite complete, but so far as it is complete there is no objection to laying it upon the table for the information of honorable members. I shall take that course at the earliest possible moment.
– I desire to ask the Prime Minister, without notice, whether in view of the fact that the Premier of New South Wales has intimated his intention of introducing a Bill to remove the embargo which prevents a member of the Federal Parliament from contesting a seat in the State Parliament without first resigning his position, the Government of the Commonwealth will agree to remove from our Electoral Act the embargo which debars the members of a State Parliament from contesting a seatin the Federal Parliament?
– What thehonorable member refers to as an embargo exists in every State except one. Its removal in another State would not put the members of the Federal Parliament generally on the same footing as the members of all the States Parliaments. The Federal Government has no intention of proposing any alteration such as is suggested in the Electoral Act.
MINISTERS laid upon the table the following papers : -
Copy of telegrams reporting result of application to German Government in regard to British trading in the Marshall Islands.
Despatch from the Secretary of State for the Colonies to the Governor-General transmitting report prepared for the Shipowners’ Parliamentary Committee, and memorandum on Colonial Merchant Shipping legislation by the solicitor to the Board of Trade, &c. ; and proposing a conference.
Pursuant to the Property for Public Purposes Acquisition Act 1901. - Notification of the acquisition of land at North Fremantle, Western Australia, for Defence purposes.
Articles of agreement relating to the conveyance of mails between Victoria and Tasmania.
– Just before the House rose on Friday, I brought up a Bill entitled an Act Relating to Commerce with Other Countries. The draft which I presented has been found to contain mistakes, and I wish, therefore, to substitute a corrected Bill for the one laid upon the table.
– The objection I have to the course proposed does not arise from my objection to the Bill itself, because, from what I know of the measure, assuming it to be practically the same as that under consideration before the previous Government resigned, I shall perhaps be able to support it; but what is now suggested may become a precedent of a most objectionable kind. We must guard against that. I wish to point out that once a Bill has been laid before Parliament, there is no rough and ready means such as a mere request, by which that Bill can be withdrawn from Parliament and another Bill substituted which has not been laid upon the table. I see danger more, perhaps, in the future than in this particular case. It is necessary to avoid inconvenient precedents.
– By leave, of course, an honorable member can substitute another Bill for a Bill laid on the table by mistake, but as there is an objection -
– If a wrong document had been laid upon the table by mistake the case would be different; but I understand that nothing of the kind occurred.
– It was a wrong document, laid upon the table by mistake.
– Even then there may be danger. I cannot withdraw my objection.
– I understand from the Minister’s remark that by mistake a wrong document was laid on the table, and therefore, by leave, he desires to substitute the right document. That leave requires absolute concurrence, which, not being obtained, it cannot be granted.
– What is the document?
– The Minister referred to the particulars of a Bill laid on the table on Friday last. I suggest that he should lay on the table a list of amendments which he proposes.
– I am afraid I shall have to withdraw the Bill, though that will involve a certain amount of delay.
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– I am instructed with regard to the honorable member’s questions to reply -
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– I am instructed with regard to the honorable member’s questions to reply - 1 and 2. Rations are provided, but any men drawing consolidated pay are charged the cost of same just as they would be if supplied at their own station.
asked the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
With reference to the following question and answer on Wednesday last -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– I am instructed with re’gard to the honorable member’s questions to reply -
asked the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -
In view of the rales now paid for overtime in the Customs Department, is it the intention of the Government to put into force the regulations regarding overtime rates referred to in a recent Gazette notice, under which officers working overtime will be entitled to remuneration at the rate of 2s. per hour from 5 to 10 p.m., and 3s. per hour from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. ?
– In reply to the honorable member’s question -
It is presumed that the Gazette notice referred to is one published in the Gazette of 3rd June, 1905, with regard to overtime rates in the Excise Branch of the Customs. The rates therein referred to have not yet become law, and whether confirmed in their present form or not, will not affect the rates fixed under the Customs Act by. Regulations which came into force on the ist July, 1904.
asked the Minister of Home Affairs,, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Minister of
Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– In reply to the honorable member’s questions -
asked theMinister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
– In answer to the honorable member’s questions -
asked the Postmaster-
General, upon notice: -
Whether it is the intention of the Government to re-model the Telephone Regulations, with a view to providing improved facilities for communication between city, suburban, and rural districts, in accordance with the terms of a resolution carried unanimously in this House during the previous session?
– In reply to the honorable member -
It is the intention of the Government to remodel the Telephone Regulations, with a view to providing such improved facilities generally, and especially in the rural districts, as may be found to be practicable.
asked the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -
Will he make an amendment in the Sugar Bounties Act so that the aborigines of Australia may work in the cane-fields without any restriction or affecting the payment of bonus to the growers ?
– In reply to the honorable member’s question -
As the law stands at present, the employment of aborigines is a bar to the obtaining of bonus ; in any alteration of the existing law the removal of the disqualification of aborigines will be considered.
asked the Minister repre senting the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
Whether, in view of the Prime Minister’s admission in this chamber that, to his own knowledge, there were not sufficient gunners to man with one relief the existing coastal defences, the Minister would have a report prepared, without delay, for the information of members of this Parliament, showing -
– I am instructed to reply to the honorable member’s questions as follows : -
asked the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -
Whether it is true that the Government has leased portion of a privately-owned building in Fremantle for Customs purposes; if so -
What are the buildings leased?
For what term ?
At what rental?
Any other conditions?
– In reply to the honorable member’s questions : -
The Government has leased portion of a privatelyowned building in Fremantle for Customs purposes.
The whole of the buildings recently erected by the Australasian Steam Navigation Company Limited in Phillimore-street, Fremantle, except so much of the ground floor of the main building as is now occupied by the company, and by Howard Smith Company Limited, and one room situated on the first floor.
Two years. 3 £525 Per annum.
The lessors are to pa); all rates, taxes, and insurance.
The Department has the option of renewal of lease for further period of one year.
Debate resumed from 28th July (vide page 346), 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.
Mr. SYDNEY SMITH (Macquarie).I do not intend to detain the House at very great length. I admit that the matter has been fairly debated, but there are a few questions which deserve the consideration of honorable members and of the country. During this debate there has been a good deal of misrepresentation by some members’ of this Chamber, and also” on the part of the press outside. Before proceeding to discuss the general question, I may be permitted to make a few remarks as to the reasons for the coalition which recently eventuated. When the Federal Parliament was first elected the Protectionist Party represented about thirty-two votes of the direct supporters of Sir Edmund Barton and Mr. Deakin, and the Labour Party numbered sixteen, consisting of eight freetraders and eight protectionists ; while the free-traders numbered twenty-six. This meant forty-two votes in favour of a protectionist policy as opposed to thirty-five votes on the other side. The Tariff was, therefore, framed by protectionists, although I have heard some people say that the free-traders interfered with the protectionists in their work. It is true that we free-trader’s fought as hard as men could in favour of the policy in which we believed, endeavouring to bring about reductions which we thought to be in the interests of the country, and we could not have brought about any reductions had it not been for the occasional support of a. number of protectionists. I wish to show that the Tariff was not framed by the freetraders. No doubt we helped to modify the Tariff, and make it more acceptable to the community, but it was a protectionist Tariff, framed by a protectionist Government, and supported by a majority of protectionists in the House. The Tariff having been adopted, the then honorable and learned member for Hunter, Sir Edmund Barton, and his Government determined to have what they termed a fiscal truce. Mr. Deakin, when Prime Minister, went to Ballarat, and there made a long speech in favour of a truce. The honorable and learned member asked honorable members to leave the Tariff alone. The protectionists had fought for the Tariff, and were satisfied with the result of their labours, and, therefore, they asked the people, not only of Ballarat, but throughout the Commonwealth to return to Parliament a body of men who would be prepared to sink the fiscal issue for the time being - who would be prepared to maintain the Tariff as it then was during this Parliament. Notwithstanding that appeal made by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, the Deakin party returned to the House with their membership reduced to, I think, twenty-six ; while the Labour Party had gained seven votes, which were practically taken from the protectionist side of the House. It will thus be seen that at the opening of this Parliament the protectionist’ or Deakin party had only twenty-six votes, as against twenty-six on the side of the free-traders, and twenty-three in the Labour Party.
– I am not going into that question. I am showing the state of the Labour Party at the time the honorable and learned member for Ballarat met the House. When the Watson Government was formed an alteration took place in the state . ot parties. There were then twenty-seven on the side of the Government, twenty -three representing the Deakin party, and twentyfive of our party, one of our members, the honorable member for Grey, having transferred his allegiance to the Labour Party. When the Watson Government met the House, the Labour Party had a following,_ including the members of the Government, of twenty-seven members. Then we had the combination known as the Watson-Isaacs party ; but the honorable and learned member for Ballarat expressed his dissatisfaction at the state of affairs. He pointed out that it was impossible for the business of Parliament to be carried on with three parties. The honorable and learned gentleman made some very strong statements on this subject. I remember reading one which he made, in this House, I believe, in August, 1904, when the Labour Government was in power. He said : -
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.
That was the honorable and learned gentleman’s opinion of the Labour Party in 1904, and I wonder what he proposes to do now. The honorable and learned gentleman has not now a following of thirty-two but only o’f nineteen, including honorable members who are anxious to sit as close as they can to the cross benches. I believe there are only four honorable members who have the courage still to sit directly behind the Government. All the rest I notice get as near as possible to the cross benches. Notwithstanding this the honorable and learned member for Ballarat apparently is now quite prepared to accept the three-party arrangement.-. He further said of the Labour Party : -
After having been apparently trusted, he will be treated as if he had been suspected from the first moment ; he will be condemned as if he had attacked them from the outset. This 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.
That was the opinion of the honorable and learned member for Ballarat of the party that is now keeping him in power. The honorable ‘and learned’ gentleman evidently held that opinion for some time, because, when the proposal to include railway servants in the Arbitration Bill was carried he took that as a vote of censure, and retired, and he has pointed out since that it ras impossible to carry on the Government in a satisfactory manner, and impossible for a man to exhibit any independence of judgment or action in the House constituted as it then was of three parties. The honorable and learned member for Ballarat and the right honorable member for East Sydney then formed an alliance, and so far as the fiscal issue was concerned,, it was decided’ that there should be a. truce. Honorable members supporting the right honorable member for East Sydney were in this matter giving up more than the protectionists, because it must not be forgotten that the protectionists had had the arrangement of the Tariff by reason of the majority they commanded in the first Parliament. They were able practically to pass any Tariff they pleased - of course in a fair way - and a Tariff was framed with which they were satisfied, and which they accepted. Still we were willing to have a fiscal truce, though in New South Wales and some of the other States it was well known that a majority of the people were in favour of a revenue Tariff. In order to carry on fair legislation, without respect to class interests, and in the interests only of the community as a whole, we arranged for the time to give up our fight for freetrade. Although the Tariff was a. protective one, we assented to a fiscal truce, and therefore gave up a good deal more than did the protectionists - in fact they gave up. practically nothing. Honorable members are aware that I was one of the persons who met the right honorable member for East Svdney, the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, and the right honorable member . for Balaclava in connexion with the proposed coalition. A plan of campaign, and the policy it was thought best to adopt, in the event of both parties agreeing to the coalition proposals, were arranged. Every one understood - at all events, I did - at the outset that the honorable and learned member for Ballarat would be a member of the coalition Ministry. I thought that the honorable and learned gentleman would be one of the members of the coalition Government, but after a time I gathered that he would not consent to join the Government.’ I do not know what his reasons were, and the honorable and learned gentleman did not state them. We found,, also, that the right honorable member for Balaclava was disinclined to join the Government. We were then in this position: that the two prominent members of the Deakin party who had met us in conference practically decided not to join any coalition Government. Honorable members will understand that it was impossible in such circumstances to arrange^ any satisfactory coalition.
– But honorable members fixed it up all the same.
– I am coming to that. We generally do something when we set about it. Eventually, at the earnest and strongly-expressed desire of the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, the right honorable member for Balaclava consented to join the Reid-McLean Government. On that point the honorable and learned1 member for Ballarat states that that is not a fact.
– That was the first time, not the second time.
– I shall read what the honorable and learned member for Ballarat said -
I have no hesitation, and had none even during the time the Prime Minister was speaking, in contradicting the statement that I had dragged the right honorable member for Balaclava into the Ministry. At another stage of his speech the Prime Minister stated that I had implored the right honorable gentleman to join the Government, and he also stated that I had forced him into the Government, after having myself refused to accept office on the score of ill health. None of those statements are true, either in relation to the right honorable member for Balaclava or any other member of this or any other Government that was ever formed. I never yet advised any man to join any Government - even a Government formed by myself.
That does not refer to three months ago, or to any particular time. The honorable and learned gentleman said that he never advised or induced any honorable member to join any Government, even his own Government.
– The honorable and learned gentleman was referring to the last occasion.
– There is no qualification whatever in the honorable and learned gentleman’s statement.
– Surely the honorable member does not doubt that there is a qualification ?
– I do not know. We have heard so many qualifications and statements lately that it .is difficult to follow them. At all events, the present leader of the Opposition made a statement which was contradicted by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, and the right honorable gentleman then said that he understood the matter in that way, but that he would leave it to be dealt with by his right honorable colleague, Sir George Turner. The right honorable member for Balaclava did contradict the denial of the honorable and learned member for Ballarat. He rightly pointed out that he had been induced to join the Government, and that it was at the urgent desire and special request of the honorable and learned member for Ballarat that he consented to do so. What, therefore, becomes of the statement made by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, in view of the statements which we have heard from the right honorable member for Balaclava and the honorable member for Gippsland ?
– Is that what happened down in the cave on the beach?
– I know noth- ing of any cave. The coalition party decided to publish the fullest information on the subject. Everything was done in the full light of day, and the public were made aware of the terms of the arrangement arrived at between the two sections of the Ministerial party). The right honorable member for Balaclava, after having been induced bv the present Prime Minister to join the coalition Government, had every right to expect that loyalty would be extended to him and his protectionist colleagues. The compact with the free-traders should have been kept in an honorable manner, but I admit that the Prime Minister did not lie under the same obligation to us as to the four protectionists who were induced bv him to join the coalition Government. They had a perfect right to know what he intended to do, but he kept them absolutely in the dark. On the Wednesday prior to the delivery ot the Ballarat speech, the leader of the Opposition had an interview with the Prime Minister, who gave him the impression that he was as loyal as ever, and that he intended te continue his support of the coalition Government. All his protectionist friends remained under the same impression. We all read the report of the Ballarat speech very carefully, and could come to no other conclusion than that the alliance had been dissolved. Even in his printed statement, which was not open to any suggestion of mistakes on the part of the reporters, the Prime Minister mentions, as an important point, the ending of the fiscal truce.
– He meant that remark to apply to the time when the truce was brought to an end, and not to the present time.
– The friends of the Prime Minister are very ready with their explanations, but there can be no question as to the impression conveyed by the Prime Minister’s speech.
– It was our policy to knock out the free-traders if we could.
– The members of the protectionist party, and the leading press organs of the free-trade and protectionist parties came to the conclusion that, so far as the present Prime Minister was concerned, the alliance was at an end. It was extraordinary that he should leave in the lurch men who had fought under his banner for so many years, and whom he had induced to join the coalition Government. After his treacherous speech at Ballarat, the Prime Minister never once intimated that he had altered his opinion with regard to the Government, or intended to take any action against the interests of the coalition.
– But he says he did.
– If the honorable member will read the report of the Prime Minister’s speech at Ballarat, and his subsequent explanation, he can come to no other conclusion than that I have accurately represented the case. The Prime Minister has represented that the right honorable member for Balaclava stated on the Monday morning on which the report of his speech appeared in the newspapers that he was satisfied of the loyalty of his old leader. The Prime Minister did not tell honorable members that at the time that the right honorable member for Balaclava expressed that opinion he had not read the speech.
– It had been communicated to him through the telephone.
– It is absurd to talk about communicating such a speech through the telephone. The statement of the honorable member for Melbourne Ports indicates the intense anxiety of some honorable members to find excuses for the action of the Prime Minister. There is no means of avoiding the conclusion that the Prime Minister acted a traitorous part towards his old colleagues.
– -Ah ! that is wrong. The honorable member should not say that.
– I am content to leave the matter in the hands of the members of the Prime Minister’s party. The word of the right honorable member for Balaclava will be accepted throughout the Commonwealth. Although we had differed with the right honorable member for Balaclava for many years upon the fiscal question, we were able, when the truce had been established, to meet him and other members of his party on common ground, and I may say that my association with the four protectionist members of the late Ministry was of a very pleasant character. We were able to join them in doing work of an administrative character - we had not much time for legislative work - which, I think, will prove to be really helpful to the people of the Commonwealth. The Prime Minister accused the leader of the Opposition of having acted the part of a traitor in regard to the fiscal truce. He asserts that the right honorable gentleman alone is responsible for the present position of affairs. As has previously been stated, however, Ministers were unanimous that the only honorable course open to them was to submit the Governor-General’s speech at the opening of Parliament in the form in which if was presented. We have been told that if we had cared to adopt the same course that had previously been followed by the Prime Minister, and had been content to submit to anything that might be demanded of us. we could have carried oh the Government. No Government with which I have been associated has ever resorted to such a course in order to retain office. When we found that we could not carry on the business of the country in an honorable way, we ‘thought that the time had arrived when we should vacate our Ministerial offices. It has been urged by some members of the present Government, and also by some members of the Labour Party, that we committed political suicide. That accusation proves that, at all events, we did not cling to office. The honorable member for Bland may laugh, but he cannot deny that we exhibited no desire whatever to remain in office under humiliating circumstances. That fact is evidenced by the accusation that we abandoned Ministerial office without any just cause. That is the charge levelled against us by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, who declares that had we submitted our policy, he would have supported us, al,C that we made a mistake in regarding his speech as antagonistic to the Government. He has repeatedly avowed - in conjunction with several other honorable members - that had we submitted a policy, he would have supported us.
– At all events, we preferred to accept the honorable and learned member’s speech as a sign that he had no longer any faith in the coalition party. As the coalition had been brought about by a union of the forces led by the honorable and learned member, and honorable members upon this side of the House, we felt - immediately we discovered that there was no cordial desire to assist lis in passing useful legislation - that it was better for us to retire from office.
– Would the Government ha.ve adopted the same course if I had made the Ballarat speech?
– The honorable member for Bland has declared that the speech delivered by the Governor-General at the opening of Parliament was practically a threat of a dissolution. I admit that, in effect, the Government at that time said, “ Pass a Redistribution of Seats Act, and let us go to the country.’-‘ We were quite prepared to appeal to the electors.
– That is all right
– My honorable friends opposite, and the Government which thev support, admit that we ought to pass a Redistribution of Seats Act, in order to put our electoral representation upon a Draper basis. But what did members of the Labour Party do upon a former occasion ? When the Watson Government - which was supported by only twenty-seven members in a House of seventy-five - was defeated, its leader recommended the Governor-General to dissolve Parliament. He did not submit any proposal to amend the electoral boundaries. He merely went to the GovernorGeneral, and urged him to dissolve Parliament. Had His Excellency acceded to that request, there would have been no new redistribution scheme - no legislation of the character for which members of the Labour Party are now asking. Moreover, the country would then have been called upon to incur the expenditure of ^50,000, about which honorable members opposite seem to be so greatly concerned. The Governor-General declined to grant a dissolution to the honorable member for Bland, and as a result, the right honorable member for East Sydney was asked to form a Ministry. As we are all aware, he formed the coalition Ministry.
– When was that?
– I dare say that the honorable member has a keen recollection of the event to which I am referring, and certainly he Ought to have. I never fall out with a man because he deems it to be his duty in the public interests to oppose a Government, so long as he does it in an honorable way. At the same time, I object to the attitude which has been adopted by some honorable members towards the recent coalition Government. When the present Prime Minister made his Ballarat speech, indicating that he was no longer loyal to the coalition party, we felt it to be our duty to recommend His Excellency the Governor-General to dissolve Parliament.
– That would have been cruel.
– I. dare say it would have been a cruel act in the case of the honorable member. Nevertheless, we had strong reasons for advising the GovernorGeneral to grant us a dissolution, because honorable members will recollect that when the present Parliament was elected the honorable and learned member for Ballarat was Prime Minister. He found that it was impossible for him to carry on the affairs of government in an honorable way, because he had to depend then - as he does now - upon the support of the Labour Party. He declared that he could not continue in office under such conditions. Consequently he accepted the verdict of Parliament as being against his party, and retired from Ministerial office. The honorable member for Bland succeeded him as
Prime Minister, but soon found that he could not carry on. The Reid-McLean Government followed, but owing to the desertion of the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, we, too, found it impossible to carry on the business of the country. What is the position at the present time? When the honorable and learned member for Ballarat returned from the country he had twenty-six supporters, whereas at the present time they number only nineteen.
– The honorable member’s party has captured the others. It has made free-traders of them, and that is a good thing, too.
– At any rate we have loyally carried out the compact into which we entered with the coalition party. Although some honorable members have deserted that party, I am very glad to know that the members who were associated with the late Government in Ministerial office have remained true to the policy of a fiscal truce. When the right honorable member for East Sydney accused the honorable and learned member for Ballarat of treachery the latter turned round and levelled a similar charge against the leader of the late Government. I claim that the best evidence of the loyalty and fairness of the right honorable member for East Sydney is to be found in the fact that the four protectionist Ministers in the recent Government - men who have been associated with the Protectionist Party for many years, and who are all well and honorably known - are still supporters of the fiscal truce policy of our leader.
– That fact has not reduced the supporters of the honorable and learned member for Ballarat from twenty-six to nineteen.
– But it must be recollected that the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne and several others deserted the Protectionist Party and joined the Labour Party. The honorable member for Grey also left our party. These facts have reduced the supporters of the honorable and) learned member for Ballarat to nineteen.
– When did the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne sign the labour pledge?
– All that I can say is that he joined the Labour Party.
– At any rate he joined the labour Government, and thus separated himself from the Deakin party.
– No, no.
– At the present time he does not sit behind the Government. With many other honorable members he occupies a seat in the Labour corner. Possibly the honorable and learned member for Ballarat entertained the impression that he would be able to induce the four protectionist members to whom I have referred, and others, who were pledged to a fiscal truce, to go back upon the right honorable member for East Sydney. That is a sufficient answer to those who accuse the right honorable member for East Sydney of having committed an act of treachery. Do honorable members opposite imagine for one moment that if he had been guilty of any such act, the right honorable member for Balaclava would have remained loyal to him ? Do honorable members believe that if the right honorable member for East Sydney had broken the Coalition agreement in any way the late Treasurer would have continuedto support him, or that he would have borne outhis statement, as to the action taken by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat to induce him to join the Ministry, if that statement were not accurate? Not one member of the late Ministry has gone back upon the fiscal truce which was agreed upon, and that fact alone should prove that there is no justification for the contention of the Prime Minister that the compact was broken by us. The protectionist members of the late Ministry are just as true to their fiscal faith as are any honorable members now sitting opposite.’ The right honorable member for Balaclava was selected by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat as one with whom he should be associated in the negotiations to bring about the Coalition, and that shows that he felt he was a man upon whom he could rely. The fact that the late Treasurer, together with the honorable member for Gippsland and the honorable and learned member for Corinella, all of whom are well and favorably known throughout Victoria, agree that the action taken by the late Prime Minister, in regard to the GovernorGeneral’s speech, was a right and proper one, should be sufficient to show that our party acted straightforwardly in regard to the alliance. From the statements made by some honorable members opposite, a stranger might be led to believe that all the members of the Opposition are Conservatives.
– Hear, hear.
– I venture to assert that the honorable member for Southern Melbourne, if he had house or other property, would be as much a Conservative as is any other honorable member of the House. Honorable members of the Opposition have had to fight their way in life. There is hardly one member of our party who has not sprung from the ranks.
– What about the honorable member for Kooyong?
– I know that he had a hard fight in his early days, “and surely no one would grudge a man the position that he has attained by sheer force of ability.
– But that is not the point which the honorable member has been combating.
– No one is better pleased than I am that the honorable member who interjects has been able, by dint of hard work, to better his position in life.
– But the point with which the honorable member was dealing was whether or not the Opposition are a Conservative party.
– Simply because the right honorable member for East Sydney has taken up a strong attitude in opposition to Socialism, he has been classed as a Conservative.
– What else is he?
– I have been associated with him for twenty-four years, and can say that he is not.
– I have watched the ‘right honorable member’s political career for more than a day or two.
– The best reply to the honorable member’s suggestion is that the working men of East Sydney are among the strongest supporters of the leader of the Opposition, and that no one can defeat him in his own State.
– Then why are the Conservatives taking him to their bosoms?
– May I ask you why you are supporting a Government which includes a right honorable gentleman who has denounced the Labour Party ?
– The honorable member must address the Chair.
– The Treasurer is a far more pronounced Conservative than is any honorable member on this side.
– He has .seen the error of his ways.
– We have no evidence of that. On the contrary, we know that the right honorable member said shortly after the defeat of the first Deakin Government, that whilst in office, he had had to eat dirt for three or four years, but that he was not going to eat any more, He strongly condemned the action of what he described as the third party in this House, and I believe that on the occasion of the recent parliamentary visit to Western Australia, he was afraid that the presence of so many members of the Federal Labour Party in that State might interfere with his position there. He was, at all events, very anxious that some members of the coalition party should take part in the tour. The result was that the late Prime Minister journeyed to Western Australia.
– Is that why the right honorable member for Swan telegraphed to the right honorable member for East Sydney to come to Western- Australia?
– I can only say that the right honorable member was very anxious that the late Prime Minister should speak for him in Western Australia ; and1 yet immediately after the famous Ballarat speech, he declared that he had never been a supporter of the right honorable member for East Sydney. He did not take long to change his views. It is true that he was not a member of the right honorable member’s party, but he was a supporter of the coalition Government, of which the right honorable member for East Sydney was the leader. In these circumstances, the assertion made by the Treasurer was out of place, unless he was in a little plot to dislodge the coalition Government. There can be no doubt that there was something in the nature of a plot to bring about the overthrow of the late Ministry, and it is remarkable how quickly the right honorable member for Swan changed his views with regard to the Labour Party. Although the leader of the Opposition has been accused of being a Conservative, there is no honorable member who has brought forward and supported more democratic legislation than he has.
– Who says that he is a Conservative?
– That assertion has been made by some honorable members opposite. If it be true, it seems strange that the workers of New South Wales, who are familiar with his political career, should invariably support him. Our party receives the great bulk of its support from the workers of New South Wales.
– We represent them.
– We certainly do. The leader of the Opposition has had to fight his way in life, just as other honorable members have had to do, and he knows the value of being free to exercise one’s talents to the best advantage.
– He was the most democratic Premier of New South Wales.
– There can be no question about that; but my honorable friends on the other’ side seem to think that it is only recently that progressive legislation has been enacted in any State. Take the question of one man one vote.. That proposal was made by the then member for East Sydney, Sir Henry Parkes.
– What !
– It was proposed originally in, I think, 1 890. The Bill was passed in 1891, and a call of the House was made in order to get the requisite majority, but the Parkes Government was defeated over the Coal Mines Regulation Bill. The right honorable member for East Sydney was a supporter of the proposal. Subsequently the late Prime Minister, Sir Edmund Barton, took up the question, and piloted a Bill through the House, but it was framed during the regime of the Parkes Government. Again, take the question of the White Australia policy. Honorable members on the other side “claim that they were its originators.
– The ex-Prime Minister, Mr. Reid, was the originator.
– The right honorable member for East Sydney, as honorable members know, introduced the fir,st White Austrafia Bill in New South Wales, and the Royal Assent was refused by the Home Government. Then my right honorable friend brought forward a measure framed on the lines of the Natal Act, and it was passed and assented to. Years before’ Sir Henry Parkes brought in and passed the first Chinese Restriction Bill. There was no Labour Party in New South Wales in those days, or when the question of one man one vote was first taken up by Sir Henry Parkes.
- Mr. W. H. Traill was the man who first suggested that proposal.
– Of course, it was suggested by others. Many honorable members can suggest things to be done, but I am pointing out that Sir Henry Parkes, when Premier of New South Wales, was the first to bring forward a practical measure.
– Why introduce all this ancient history ?
– My honorable friends do not like these references, because they are endeavouring to convince the people that the right honorable member for East Sydney has always been a conservative, whereas I desire to prove that he has always been a true democrat, offering to legislate always in the interests of the great bulk of the community. It may be unpleasant to my honorable friend to listen to these remarks ; but at the same time I think it is due fo the House and to the country that a few of these facts should be made known, in order that the electors may realize that certain men have not preached, but have performed, for the benefit of democracy, that which others have been only talking about for so many years.
– We are here to work, and not to talk about ancient history.
– My honorable friend has not done much since he has been here.
– I have not wasted much time.
– I do not think my honorable friend has done anything. If a man is sent here he ought to give expression to his views, and not to interfere with other honorable members. If my honorable friend is not able to speak for himself, he should allow those who can. If he is satisfied to allow a few men to speak and act for him, and dictate what he shall do, well, we on this side, are not built in that way.
– I can always speak and act for myself.
– If my honorable friend will not interrupt, I shall not make any unkind remark, but if he will make irrelevant interjections and endeavour to interfere with that freedom of debate which he is always crying out for, he must expect to hear a little in return. My honorable friends on the other side have been preaching all over the country that the right honorable member for East Sydney was never a democrat. . He was a strong advocate of the principle of one man one vote in New South Wales before a Labour Party came into existence there. The late
Sir Henry Parkes, I repeat, brought in the first Chinese Restriction Bill in n86i, and a later Bill in .1888; and my right honorable and learned friend brought in his Immigration Restriction Bill in 1896, and when it was refused the Royal Assent, he brought hi a Bill on the lines of the Natal Act in 1898, which was assented to. I merely mention these facts,- because honorable members on the other side are endeavouring to show that the only men who have advocated democratic measures are themselves.
– But what did the right honorable member for East .Sydney say on Saturday last to the commercial travellers?
– I venture to say that he never made any remarks which were inconsistent with the principles of true democracy.
– That is right.
– Why has the right honorable member taken up the question of anti-Socialism? Because he believes, with all on this side, that it is detrimental to the best interests nf the country.
– He knows that he was not stating facts on Saturday.
– The honorable member need not be so offensive as that.
– I do not know anything of what took place at the meeting of commercial travellers on Saturday, but I am satisfied that my right honorable friend is quite able to give a proper explanation in respect of anything which he may have said or done there. His long and successful career in New South Wales, and the steady support which has always been extended to him by the people on all occasions, is a sufficient answer to those who make charges against him. Again, take the question of womanhood suffrage. Who but the members of the Labour Party were the strongest opponents of its enactment? In New South Wales its strongest opponents belonged to that party. I have a list of the names here.
– The only members who voted against its enactment here are sitting on the Opposition benches now.
– There was hardly any one in the House who voted against that proposal. I do not remember the number now, but I believe that not half-a-dozen honorable members voted against it.
– It had six opponents, and they are all sitting on the Opposition side now.
– I might just as well ask what was the opinion of the right honorable member for Swan. I dare say that he has differed from the honorable member on many questions, and because they happen to be sitting on the same side now, is my honorable friend to be blamed for anything which the right honorable gentleman may do ?
– It appears that the honorable member is doing so.
– I am not. These are the remarks which were made by Sir Henry Parkes when the Bill was introduced on the 5th August, 1891 -
The one most striking feature of it is that it now removes from the electoral system of this country every vestige of giving any advantage to one class of electors which is not extended to all others. That is the main feature of this Bill.
I know that my honorable friends on the other side would not hesitate to say that he was a strong conservative. I find that the largest proportion of the members who voted against the Bill in New South Wales were men who belonged to the Labour Party. I admit that they have altered their opinion, andi I do not blame them for doing that.
– It would not have been carried there but for the Labour Party
– When Sir Henry Parkes moved the second reading of this measure-
– I am talking about the time when it was carried.
– I am talking about the early days, when we had to fight the battle and popularize the proposal.
– Order ! Does the honorable member think that this has anything to do with this debate?
– I do, sir. Certain charges have been made against some honorable members on this side, and it has been stated that we have always been fighting for the interests of conservatives. I submit, sir, that it is quite proper for us to say that for many years, in parliamentary institutions, we have endeavoured to do the best we could to advance the interests of, not one section, but all classes in the community. This is the motion which was in the first instance submitted to the Legislative Assembly of New South Wales -
That, in the opinion of the House, the franchise for the election of members of the Legislative Assembly should be extended to women, subject to the same conditions and the same qualifications as those imposed by law upon male electors.
– What has that to do with the Deakin Administration?
– It goes to show that, although honorable members opposite may pose as strong democrats and friends of the people, honorable members on this side of the House have always been associated with democratic legislation, have always been friends of labour, and when in positions of responsibility, where they could do something, have always endeavoured to pass legislation of such a character as would benefit the great bulk of the community.
– What is the date of the resolution which the honorable member has quoted ?
– The date is 1 89 1. Of course my honorable friend may state that it would not have been carried except for the Labour Party. I admit that but for the assistance of a number of my honorable friends it would riot ‘have been carried. But I also say that when it was first proposed in the New South Wales Parliament, the strongest opponents of the legislation submitted by the Administration of Sir Henry Parkes were the members of the Labour Party.
– Which of them?
- Mr. McGowan was one.
– I admit tlie right of the honorable member, as he claims that right, to refer to the suggestion that honorable members on his side of the House are not true democrats. But I cannot allow these detailed references to events that took place some twenty-three or twenty-four years ago. I ask the honorable member to confine his remarks on that subject to the shortest compass. If he did so, he would accomplish his end without occupying so much of the time of the House.
– I must claim the right to give expression to my views, and to show that, so far as the party to which I belong is concerned, we have been fighting the battle of democracy for many years, and that the people who now claim that thev are’ the only true democrats-
– I admit the. honorable member has a right to do that, and I do not question his right. But I question his right to do that at interminable length. I ask him to confine his remarks to the shortest possible statement of his case from that point of view, and not to repeat his references to men who twenty-four years ago advocated a certain policy.
– If I am saying anything that I should not say, I am only too happy to have my attention called to the matter. I shall be glad to bow to your ruling if I am out of order.
– It was because the honorable member’s remarks were out of order that I called attention to them, and I shall be pleased if he will obey mv ruling.
– Surely an honorable member who is addressing the House is the best judge of the length of his remarks upon a certain topic. No doubt I could say as much as would express my meaning in one or two words, but I think I have a right to give expression to ray views in my own way, so long as I do not contravene the Standing Orders.
– Do I understand that the honorable member is discussing the question or the ruling which I have given ? I ask him to proceed with his speech, and not to debate mv ruling.
– I should like to know exactly what your ruling is, sir?
– It is to this effect : That the honorable member is within his rights in discussing the policy of the party of which he is one, and to reply to the charge as to their not being true democrats ; but he is not within his rights in doing that at inordinate length. I have asked him to confine his remarks on that subject to a simple statement; and I again ask him not to discuss in great detail the attitude of honorable members on the one side or the other in relation to affairs in New South Wales twenty years ago. He will be clearly within his rights in making such a statement as he has mentioned, but no honorable member is within his rights in taking up an undue share of the time of the House in debating at length matters which occurred many years ago.
– This is the first time I have known an honorable member to be checked in giving expression to his views. I have known honorable members - the honorable member for Gwydir, for instance - to speak for five hours, and no objection was taken.
– Is the honorable member discussing my ruling ?
– No : I am discussing the question.
– Then I will ask the honorable member to proceed.
– I do npt intend in any way to curtail my remarks. I wish to show conclusively, and as fully as I can, what the attitude of the members of the party to which I belong has been. I am not doing this for the purpose of taking up the time of the House. My right honorable friend, the member for East Sydney, and other honorable members, are aware that I had no desire to speak at any length in regard to this matter. But I feel that certain misrepresentations have been made affecting me and the party to which I belong, and I regard it as being my duty to the people of this Commonwealth, and to my constituents, to express as fully as 1 think desirable’ my reasons for the course which I have taken, and for voting as I have done during the time that I have been before the public. If other honorable members do not wish to speak at all on the question, that is their affair, not mine. So far 1 have not spoken at such great length as some honorable members have done.
– I shall be glad’ if the honorable member will obey, the ruling of the Chair, which is that he is to proceed with his speech, and not debate the ruling which I have given. The question whether the honorable member has or has not spoken at length has been disposed of, and the question which we are now discussing is that of the Ministerial policy.
– I will proceed to discuss that. Some honorable members opposite have gone all over the country making it appear that they are the only true friends of the people; but I wish it to be known that we also have had to fight battles of the people. The right honorable member for East Sydney has always been associated with democratic legislation. I hope I shall be permitted to say - at all events, this did not occur twenty-four years ago - that when the right honorable member was in the State Parliament of New South Wales, about five or six years ago, he was always a champion of democratic principles. He always endeavoured to bring forward legislation and to administer affairs for the benefit of the great bulk of the people of that State. He has been associated with nearly all the progressive legislation that has been passed in New South Wales within recent years - with women’s franchise, with one man one vote, with the Mining on Private Lands Act. with the Coal Mines Regulation Act, and with other liberal measures.
– The increase of the public debt?
– The honorable and learned member for Corio had a reply upon that question on a previous occasion which showed him up in a very unenviable light. At all events, the association of the right honorable member for East Sydney with the finances of New South Wales is one of which he has every reason to. be proud. He did not leave large deficits; but was able to bring each year’s expenditure within the income. Honorable members who have watched the’ affairs of New South Wales since the right honorable member severed his connexion with local politics must realize the excellent work he did there during the many years he was Premier. The right honorable member has taken a strong stand in connexion with the socialistic movement. I do not wish at this stage to read the many quotations which could be produced to show that the right honorable member is perfectly justified in the course he has taken in this connexion. I could quote the opinion of a large number of men who have given this question a great deal of consideration. I could quote the opinions of the Labour Party in the various States, and from these show that thev unquestionably believe in Socialism. The honorable member for Bland, the leader of the Labour Party, has said that every man connected with that party should be a Socialist.
– An extreme Socialist, too.
– I do not know whether the honorable member used the word “ extreme ‘ ‘ ; but, at all events, he said that every member of the Labour Party ought to be a Socialist. Tom Mann has pointed out what Socialism means, and I think it will be admitted that in Queensland no secret is made as to what is there meant by the policy. In that State the belief is that the Government should own all the land - the people there do not believe in individualism, but hold that the State should control everything. And the same may be said of the Victorian Labour Party.
– There are a lot of individualists in Queensland, I can assure the honorable member.
– And a good thing for Australia. It will be a sad day when we have to adopt the Socialism ad- vocated by those who have been taking part in the labour movement in Victoria and Queensland.
– The Labour Party have “ watered down “ their policy now.
– And that is due to the action of the right honorable member for East Sydney. If it had not been for the active part the right honorable member took in showing the fallacy of the arguments put forth in favour of Socialism, we should have seen no “ watering down.”
– And the Labour Party have been apologizing for it ever since.
– Exactly. It has been found that the socialistic idea does not take on with workers. In New South Wales the workers do not believe in Socialism, but believe, as many of us do, in giving every man an opportunity to fight his way in life ; they do not want spoon-feeding, or even an equal distribution of wealth. They believe in giving every man an opportunity.
– To rob his neighbour.
– The honorable member may be of opinion that every man who has managed to secure a home for himself is a robber ; but that is not the view I take. I like to see every man succeed in life, and get a home for himself, and it is because I do not believe in legislation which would interfere with efforts of that kind, that I am strongly opposed to the Socialism advocated by the Labour Party.
– Does the honorable member say that all those who have made money have made it honestly?
– No, I do not. It would be very hard for me to say that. At the same time, I am not going to say that, because there are afew robbers, every man who succeeds in getting a home for himself may be so described. I do not wish to deal with the many arguments advanced by the right honorable member for East Sydney and others against the Socialism advocated by many members of the Labour Party. That question has been fought out very fairly in the House and in the country, and I feel sure that the great bulk of the workers of New South Wales and Australia are against the strong action taken by the Labour Party in favour of. the socialist movement. I feel sure that when the public have an opportunity to speak on the question, they will not hesitate to show that they have no faith in Socialism, and that they are not going to vote so as to interfere with the individual efforts we all, on this side, at all events desire to see made in the various States of Australia.
– The honorable member has been preaching that doctrine for the last fifteen years, and we are still here.
– And we are getting stronger.
– I am not saying anything against honorable members who vote, as they have a perfect right to do, in favour of their own particular policy. What I complain of is that, while my friends opposite vote for what they desire, and, perhaps, conscientiously desire, they will not give other honorable members credit for voting for principles in which they may just as conscientiously believe. Of course, we may be wrong, but we do not think that we are.
– The feeling is reciprocated, I can assure the honorable member.
– The best proof of the strength of our position is that we have to depend, and we always have depended, for our return on the support of the great bulk of the workers, who are certainly the best judges.
– Backed up by the press of Australia.
– That is a favorite catch phrase of the honorable member and his colleagues. It is a poor compliment to the people of Australia to think that they can be gulled in the way suggested. The bulk of the workers are just as intelligent as the honorable member for Yarra, and are just as well able to judge press comments. It is of no use the honorable member making that excuse, when he sees the electors voting for us. We receive their support because they know we endeavour to do honestly by them.
– The electors will not support the honorable member and his friends next time ; I shall see that they do not.
– I have been told that for the last twenty years, but we are returned here all the same. We are not going back, at all events, as a party ; there is no lessening our numbers.
-But the honorable member and his friends are such a “ shandy-gaff “ lot.
– Whatever we may be, we are consistent. We vote on principle ; we are not supported by men who say that they have no faith in us. We are not a party of men who cannot carry out an honorable compact. The honorable and learned member for Ballarat has told us, over and over again, that he does not believe in the methods of the Labour Party.
– I must ask the honorable member to address himself to the question.
– We, on this side, vote on some principle.
– The honorable member’s side would have taken the support of the Labour Party if it could have been had.
– The honorable member cannot say that we, on this side, ever did that sort of thing.
– The Labour Party cannot drive us.
– The Labour Party attempted to drive us, but we refused to be driven ; we came to Parliament to ask that the Electoral Bill should be passed, and we were prepared to appeal to our masters, the people, whereas you were afraid to go to the country.
– The honorable member must not address honorable members, because to do so is to provoke direct interjections and disorder. If honorable members at the further end of the Chamber will refrain from comment, they will enable the honorable member to make greater progress with his speech.
– Interjections are usual, but they do not interfere with me, and I have no great objection to them. When the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill was being considered, we were told that we were the enemies of the workers, because we voted in favour of majority rule. But it has since been shown that the workers throughout the Commonwealth approve of what we did. We were told that, after the amendments which we carried in the measure, no labour organization would attempt to register under it. The fact is that the principal unions affected by it have already applied to be registered under it. This again shows how little honorable members of the Labour Party really understand the workers. We know that one or two associations of railway ‘employes have made application to be registered tinder the Act.
– That does not prove it’ to be a good measure*
– I prefer the opinion of the workers themselves to that of the honorable member, and their opinion of the Act is proved by the fact that they have applied to be registered under it. It is pleasing to me to find, also, that a great many workers do not approve of the attitude generally adopted in regard to labour matters by some of the organizations. A great union in New South Wales, known as the Railway and Tramway Union, has become so dissatisfied at the action taken by some of the labour organizations in Sydney that it has withdrawn from those bodies. I feel sure that when the time arrives for an appeal to the country we on this side will have no reason to be afraid to meet the people. Our action in this and in the previous Parliament will commend itself to the electors of the Commonwealth, because, as a party, we have endeavoured to do what we could to advance the best interests, not of any one section or class, but of the whole community. In some of the newspapers it has been contended that the free-traders in the last coalition were . ‘traitors to the protectionists, but I can challenge any one to say that we were unfaithful to any compact into which we entered in that coalition. Although we had most to lose, in view of the fact that the protectionists had had the moulding of the Tariff, we were prepared to allow the fiscal issue to remain in abeyance, in order that legislation of a useful character might be passed. The attitude of the honorable and learned member for Ballarat put an end to the coalition.
– Where are the Government supporters ?
– There are two present, and, as there are only four direct supporters of the Government, there is no reason to complain of the attendance of Government supporters. I did not intend to take up so much time, but so many things have taken place in connexion with Federal politics during the last few weeks that I thought I might be excused if I. made a few remarks in regard to them. No doubt those who have decided not to sneak on this occasion would be very glad if we on this side adopted the same course. They have made many charges against us, but the best proof that we are on the right side is that no honorable member opposite has been able ‘ to show that we have misrepresented anything. and honorable members who for many years were strong supporters of the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, associated with him in public life, and to whom in a large degree he owed the position he attained in Victorian politics, admit that the free-traders who were parties to the coalition acted throughout in a straightforward way. The honorable gentlemen to whom I refer have been loyal and true to their compact, and honorable members on this side have no reason whatever to complain of the loyalty of the four protectionists who joined the late coalition Government. It is to be regretted that the honorable and learned member for Ballarat did not acf. with more candour, at all events to honorable members of his own party, when he determined to make the speech which he delivered at Ballarat. The honorable and learned member contends that we misunderstood that speech ; but no reasonable man could view it in any way other than that in which we viewed it.
– Then what was all the row about ? ‘
– The honorable member should ask the honorable and learned member for Ballarat. The reason for all the row was probably that the honorable and learned gentleman wished to get where he is at the present time. W>: are in. a better position, because we nave acted in a straightforward way, and no one is able to say that we endeavoured to retain office under dishonorable conditions. I feel sure that when the time arrives for the people to speak on the question they will” do so with no uncertain voice, and we on this side have no reason to be afraid to face them.
– Honorable members on the other side are anxious to close the debate, and to proceed to business - principally, I think1,; to close the debate. I can quite understand that a great many of them are anxious to put the events of the past week or two as far and as fast behind them as they can. They would like to give the impression to the country that nothing unusual has happened - that what has occurred has been simply the usual turning over that takes place in Parliaments. But so far as Victoria is concerned there is evidence of something so unusual having happened that it will not be forgotten for a very long time. When we see public men who have been associated with each other for a quarter of a century, and some of whom have grown grey in the service of Victoria, flatly contradicting each other, I think it is due t© the public that they should learn something more about the cause of the trouble. I hold that it is more important that the integrity of our public men should be placed above suspicion than that we should pass on to the transaction of business without discussing the situation. Only those who are fully acquainted with the events which have passed are able to communicate the real facts to the electors. Therefore, I feel that it is my duty to speak in the presence of such honorable members as choose to remain, and to put the matter before the country under circumstances which will admit of my being contradicted if I do not adhere to facts. If I were to go to my constituents, I might make statements which could not be very well combated by those who disagreed from me. But here any statements, which are beside the facts, or which overstep the fair bounds of criticism, may be questioned. The friends of the Prime Minister have relied for their justification of his action entirely upon his previous good conduct and reputation. I admit at once that no one had a better record than had the honorable and learned gentleman. At times, however, men of high reputation do things which are not capable of being readily understood, and to my mind the action of the Prime Minister, if it does not lead to his condemnation, will arouse grave suspicion in the minds of many of his old friends. I should prefer to see that feeling removed, if possible. It is stated that all the present trouble has arisen out of the Ballarat speech. All the old friends of the Prime Minister thought that that utterance involved a breaking away from the coalition. I was in a minority practically of one, because I did not derive from it such a strong impression. This may have been due to the fact that, although I did not particularly favour the appointment of the Tariff Commission, I was all along desirous that a board outside of Parliament should be appointed to inquire into the alleged Tariff anomalies, rather than that unauthorized statements should receive public credence. Reading the speech in that light, I did not regard it as .so significant as did some other people. The Prime Minister has stated that when he delivered that speech, he was not disloyal to the coalition, that he had no idea of breaking it up, and that he was entirely misunderstood. I am sorry to say, however, that I cannot lit in his subsequent actions with his words. The part he has played has created a feeling that some explanation is necessary to free him from suspicion. I consider that the late Government placed themselves in a somewhat extraordinary position by bringing down the Governor-General’s speech at the opening of Parliament in the form in which they submitted it, and I was not surprised that the present Prime Minister should have moved his amendment upon it. What did occasion me .astonishment, however, was that before moving his amendment he should have made absolutely certain that the adoption of it would have the effect of breaking up the coalition. There is no question about that. There were parties to the coalition other than those who occupied the Government benches. The fact of the GovernorGeneral’s speech being prepared, and being unanimously agreed to by Ministers, did not show that any party was breaking away from the coalition. It merely meant that those men who had been- deputed to lead the coalition had decided to take up a position which some people thought was not consistent with their duty as leaders. There were still twentynine members of the coalition party who were not in the secret of the GovernorGeneral’s speech. Only nine honorable members knew of the decision of the Government, namely, the six Ministers., the Government whip, and the mover and seconder of the motion for the adoption of the AddressinReply. There were still twentynine honorable members who had done nothing to break up the coalition, and I contend that we were perfectly entitled to some voice in deciding what was to be done. But what did the Prime Minister do? He called together his own immediate supporters, and tried the Government before a packed jury consisting of ten honorable members, including himself. He then decided to move his amendment, and not only so. but to go to the leader of the Labour Party and enter into an arrangement with him which would have the effect of smashing the coalition. I contend that we did not receive fair play.
– When does the honorable member say that that was done?
– Between the time that the Governor-General’s speech was delivered and 7 o’clock on the same evening.
– I went to the Prime Minister - what else was there to do?
– That is all very well. The right honorable and learned member for East Sydney was not the only man in the coalition who was capable of leading the Government, and I contend that the party of thirty-eight members should not have been smashed up merely because of his failure to lead the Government. In addition to those coalitionists who had no part in the presentation of the GovernorGeneral’s opening speech, there were sitting in the Opposition corner a number of honorable members who would have been loyal to the Prime Minister, and who, together with those who were at the time sitting on the Government benches, would have given him an absolute working majority in this House. If there had been no possibility of carrying on the Government under his leadership, the Prime Minister should have, at least, endeavoured to show us that such a thing was impossible. We had acted loyally throughout. We had sat on the same benches and had occupied the same room with members of the Prime Minister’s party, and after having enjoyed each other’s confidence, we were parted with without a word.
– The honorable member had left the Deakin party some time previously.
– I am speaking of the two parties which had practically resolved themselves into one for the time being. We did not look so much to any particular leader as to the leaders of the coalition party, and I believe that if the Prime Minister had attempted to form a Ministry, he could have done so.
– What ! form a party in the coalition against the late Government ?
– Not against the late Government. I believe that an arrangement might have been made between those who would have absolutely supported the Prime Minister and those who could not very well have arrayed themselves in opposition to him. I do not think that the right honorable and learned member for East Sydney would have crossed the chamber and joined forces with the Labour Party merely because the coalition party had selected another leader.
– I should have supported him much better than he supported me.
– The nine honorable members who were either Ministers or in the confidence of Ministers, could not possibly have crossed the chamber and thrown in their lot with the Labour Party.
– Hear, hear. The Prime Minister might have’ held office for double the time that I occupied it.
– If the Prime Minister had been as loyal as he says he was to the coalition, he would not have undone in four hours what it had taken him three months to bring about.
– The honorable member means that a change of leaders might have been brought about without smashing up the team.
– Yes, I contend that it would have been quite possible to carry on the coalition Government under another leader. I can only say that the Prime Minister’s position is quite unintelligible to me. He invited overtures for the formation of a coalition Government, in order to break up the intolerable position caused by the presence of three parties in this House. He induced his old friends to join that Government, and promised them his support. He was to act as- their guardian angel, and he thought that he could render them more assistance by sitting behind them as a private member than he could in the capacity of a Minister. I do not know how long a period was occupied in effecting a change in his opinions, but it seems to me that the position which the honorable and learned gentleman took up when he delivered certain speeches throughout the country was somewhat inconsistent with his attitude towards the gentlemen to whom I have referred. He became, it seems to me, the mouthpiece of parties outside this House who were opposed to the Government, and he attempted to play two roles. That is how he came to break down. The fact that he had taken the best care that the coalition Government should bet broken up is clearly evidenced by the amendment which he submitted upon the Address-in-Reply - an amendment which many honorable members might have supported under other circumstances. Had he merely proposed that the House should proceed with business, many of us might have felt ourselves free to vote for it.
– But not when it was submitted as an act of treachery.
– That is where the’ trouble came in. I was told about five minutes before th’e honorable and learned member submitted his amendment that he intended to move it, and that there was a majority of seventeen or eighteen in favour of it.
– The whole thing was cut and dried before he left for Western Australia.
– Had the honorable and learned member moved that amendment without having made all these arrangements prior to doing so, we should have been perfectly entitled to vote upon it as we thought best. But, having- gone clean over to the enemy, in a political sense, and having completed arrangements under which the amendment was bound, not only to kill the Government, but also the coalition, his whole position became inexplicable. He protests that he did not intend that his speech at Ballarat should be accepted as a disloyal utterance. But, had he been loyal to that coalition, how he could have thrown over his old friends, the right honorable and learned member for Balaclava and the honorable member for Gippsland - men who are as much respected throughout Victoria as is the Prime Minister himself - is to me extraordinary.
– Has not the honorable member seen friends fighting politically ?
– As the honorable member for Kooyong put the matter the other day, the position now is that we have returned to the status quo ante Watson, with this difference, that the tail which used to waggle the dog is now very much stronger whilst the dog is very much weaker. I do rot think that the people of Australia are particularly anxious to rush forward Federal legislation under the circumstances which were so well described by the right honorable member for Swan and others after the Deakin Ministry had been displaced. So far as the Labour Party are concerned, I have not the slightest fault to find with them. They have acted in the most ‘honorable way. We have merely- to look at the position which has been created to realize that they have remained loyal to their principles and have been actuated by no motives of selfishness or gain. Whatever the result of the recent change of Ministry may be, they occupy an honorable position, and if they get their reward in the future they will have earned it in a thoroughly unselfish way.
– That is a nice certificate of character.
– An effort has been made to discredit the right honorable member for
East Sydney because he endeavoured to draw a party line between Socialism, and anti-Socialism.
– He did good work in that connexion.
– I agree with the honorable member, because it is the most clearly defined line in party politics that we have ever known in Australia. It is quite an honest line. But I think that too many definitions have been offered of the term “Socialism.” When the whole thing is whittled down - and just here I wish to say that the honorable member for Bland, in bringing Socialism up to date, has rather cleverly shifted his foot, and in that respect has scored as against the right honorable member for East Sydney-
– No danger is to be apprehended from our Socialism.
– I think that there is quite enough danger. The line of cleavage between Socialism and anti-Socialism is made quite clear enough h the platform which has been adopted by the Labour Party. The members of that party have, to some extent, resented criticism of the methods of Socialism. Yet they have adopted that term, so far as I know, quite voluntarily.
– The Labour Party have not yet adopted it.
– That is rather curious.
– I am a Socialist, but the party to which I belong have not adopted the plank of Socialism.
– I understood that the honorable member for Bland stated in .Sydney that no man. should join the Labour Party unless he were a Socialist.
– But the party have not adopted his proposal.
– I think that members-of the party ought not to resent a certain criticism of the history of Socialism, and of what it might lead to.
– What might free-trade lead to?
– It might lead to the referendum.
– As proposed by the right honorable member.
– The impression which the term Socialism conveys to various minds is very different. Most people imagine that Socialism always tends to what, in Owen’s time, was called “ The Equal Life.” As I understand it, the term Socialism was first adopted by Robert Owen and his disciples in England about the. year 1826 or T827.
– That was Communism.
– There are differences of opinion in regard to the equal life. I believe that the word “ socialism “ was first used by Robert Owen and his disciples in 1826 or 1827, and, after a time, it displaced the term “Communism” on the Continent. The honorable member for Hindmarsh says that the equal life means Communism.
– I do not . think that the equal life is possible.
– But the honorable member believes in an equal dividend.
– I do not believe in an equal dividend either.
– Robert Owen endeavoured to found a Utopia in Indiana. That is the equal life to which the honorable member may perhaps refer. Robert Owen spent something like .£30,000 upon land, buildings, mills, and so forth, but the first signs of an emeute came when he attempted to enforce the details of an equal life. The first proposal to which objection was taken was that all should wear a uniform dress. The men were to wear colourless jackets, with trousers fastened to them by buttons. I do not know how some of our figures, would look if we were so attired. We are told that the best men in the colony sulked.
– The Government provide that uniform dress shall be worn in our destitute asylums.
– Quite so. The women of the colony were to be garmented in frocks, reaching a little below the knees, and pantalettes, the intention being, I suppose, that, all should show an equal measurement about the ankles. To this the women objected. One of the conditions of the colony was that freedom of speech was not only a privilege, but a duty, and the women met, and absolutely refused to wear the prescribed dress. They agreed to “boycott” - to use a modern word - any women who wore such a dress. In other words, they decided not to speak to a woman so attired, and that was the beginning of the breaking up of the colony. This was the kind of equal life associated with the original Socialism, and it has probably given rise to the many humorous or ridiculous schemes which so many people couple with present day Socialism.
– We do not ask all bur men to wear red shirts.
– But Socialism is ridiculous from whatever point of view we may regard it.
– I agree with the right honorable member, and I think a ‘great mistake has been made in expending ammuni- tion, at a long range,, upon those extreme views of Socialism that are never likely to be carried out. My own opinion is that before the realization of such extreme views is possible, we shall have become a more sensible people, or shall have been mollycoddled out of existence in the face of some more virile race. I personally do not concern myself with these extreme views. My desire is that we should guard ourselves, as far as possible, from the destruction of those characteristics of independence that have made our race what it is. The desire that those characteristics should be preserved is really the foundation of the contest against Socialism. Even the watered-down platform of the Labour Party goes a great deal further in the direction of risk or danger to our. natural characteristics than is desirable; it goes so far in that direction, at all events, that we should enter a very strong protest against it. The leader of the Labour Party says that he desires, in the first place, that the State shall deal only with monopolies. I believe we all feel that an occasion might arise here when we should have to try to break down monopolies ; but it would be idle to break down one monopoly by creating another which would be worse. A State monopoly would be worse than a private one could be.
– Why not abolish the present State monopolies?
– I think we all admit that there are certain matters which, owing to the complexity of modern civilization, require to be regulated by the State. The distinction that I draw between the two parties is this : That those who advocate Socialism pure and simple, would indefinitely extend socialistic control, while those who are opposed to Socialism, contend that all that the State is called upon to do is to control and regulate the highways and byways of individual enterprise. The two positions are clear and distinct.
– The scheme of the Socialists would close up private enterprise.
– How would it do so?
– How could we have private enterprise if we made every man a State servant?
– We have done that in connexion with our railways.
– We certainly have State servants carrying on our railway services. The leader of the Labour Party, in the course of the debate on the Manufactures
Encouragement Bill, made what I think was a very sensible observation when he said that if he thought that the handing over of the iron industry to a State monopoly would lead to the exercise of undue political influence he would rather favour its retention by private enterprise. Having made that admission, he must find himself on the horns of a dilemma. If he is prepared to extend the system of State control to one industry, he must be prepared to extend it to another, so that in the end the whole of the State servants would become masters of the situation.
– Masters of their own business.
– But if all were masters there would be no workers.
– And no business.
– Exactly. Another plank which has been included’ in the platform of the Labour Party is that of co-operation. I believe that we all are in favour of cooperation if it be on voluntary lines, but compulsory co-operation-
– Is a contradiction.
– It is; it is as great a contradiction in terms as is compulsory conciliation.
– We had had a lot of compulsory conciliation in Sydney.
– I think that the cooperation movement has gone further in Belgium than in any other country. There those engaged in the system have discovered, however, as they have gone along, that their methods must harmonize with ordinary business methods.
– Co-operation in Belgium has been successful only in regard to distribution, and not in production.
– That has been the experience in almost all countries. The system has been very successful in England, so far as distribution is concerned.
– And in manufacture.
– To only a very limited degree.
– It has been successful in the manufacture of boots and other things.
– Order ! the honorable member for Hindmarsh will have an opportunity to speak later on.
– I claim to have had as much experience of co-operation as any honorable member has had. For 3½ years I was managing director of a co-operative wool and produce company, and had the
– Was it strong in the matter of weight, or in brains?
– It comprised men who had done very well for themselves. We never drew a farthing as directors’ fees.
– That was a sign of strength; not many of us could see that system out.
– We gave the system a very fair trial, ‘but discovered that the mere doing away with the middleman - and that was practically what we were doing - and the mere carrying on of business upon a cash basis, did-not entirely fill the bill. We found that credit was of much more importance to the persons associated with the industry than was cash. We found that as soon as a client doing business upon a cash basis wished to extend1 his operations he came to us for ‘advances, and if we were unable to offer him the advantages that others did we lost his business. Throughout the ramifications of our co-operation we encountered difficulties that we had not anticipated, and I am satisfied that that would be the experience of others engaging in any enterprise upon co-operative lines. Take the co-operative stores in the farming districts throughout the country. They have all been a failure. A storekeeper’ is practically a banker for these people. The promoters of these co-operative stores really want somebody to come in from outside and help them with money. The Belgian cooperateurs do not hold with the view that the State is to, control all the means of production; they hold (that it would make their theory ridiculous to push it to the last consequences. These are the latest views that I have been able to find on the subject -
He does not rail at’ capital, but says he must have capital to buy machines, horses, &c, and. they borrow money at current rates from their own members. He believes in a minimum wage, but has found it necessary to insist upon an equivalent minimum product.
Mr. Graham Brooks, who has written an excellent little work on the social unrest, says -
The aim of socialistic politics is invariably to transform industry. But this politics will never be free from the delirium and the dangers of unreal hopes and tipsy schemes until it is disciplined by business duties and obligations.
Until they began to adopt in Belgium the methods of ordinary business men they had no success. They say now of their French
– It is easy for a man to imagine that he can do on a large scale what he cannot do on a small scale.
– Of course it is. I wish to refer to a practical matter of which I was reminded the other night, when the honorable member for Parramatta was pointing out that the difference between Canada and Australia is that we are not able to offer inducements to immigrants. In a previous session I mentioned that in my opinion there is a method by which we can offer a certain amount of encouragement. I spoke then of the forms of closer settlement which had been devised ; but at that time there was one which had not been tried. Instead of buying up big estates and attempting to settle men in that way, I suggested that the whole country should be open to any one who might choose to come and arrange with an owner for the purchase of land, and that the Government, whether Federal or State, should simply find the funds, so that, a man of small means could acquire a small piece of land. I am glad to say that since that time the Government of Victoria have introduced a clause into a Closer Settlement Bill which gives them ari opportunity of assisting any one to buy land in any part of the country, without first going to the expense of buying a big property.
– And in New South Wales the Secretary for Lands has the same thing in contemplation.
– I noticed that when Mr. Ashton was speaking at Albury the other day he spoke in the same strain. I -see no reason why the Commonwealth should not adopt a system of that kind to attract from the old country, not persons who have no money, but persons with some capital, who would be able to provide work for our unemployed. I believe that if the people in Great Britain and Ireland knew that on arrival they would be assisted in. that way it might lead to systematic immigration. There is no chance, however, of bringing the labouring classes here unless the contract clause in. the Immigration Restriction Act is altered, I think it . was intended by most of us when the clause was passed that it should be used only to prevent persons from coming into the Commonwealth at a time of strife, and accepting less than the current rate of wages. If I remember rightly, the honorable and learned member for Indi wished to make it applicable’ merely to persons who were brought here in times of strife, and at an unfair rate of wages.
– I do not remember exactly what I said, but I do not think I made any such limitation.
– Then it was the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne who made that limitation.
– I remember making some allusion to the American law as to contracts.
– That is what’ it was. An understanding appears to have got spread throughout the country that our Immigration Restriction Act is on all-fours with that of the United States. But an American would scout the idea of keeping a citizen of one part of the United States or its dependencies out of any other part. The peculiarity of the contract clause in our Act is that we actually debar our fellow-citizens from landing on our shores. An American from Alaska may go by sea to California, just as an American can go from the Philippine Islands. Again, when Hawaii was taken over, all the privileges of citizenship were given to it as a territory. I should like to impress upon the Government that it would be well for them to amend the Act. I should also like to impress upon the Labour Party that they have been pushing this matter to too great an extreme.
– We had a bad experience before that clause was enacted.
– If I understood the honorable member for Bland aright, when the clause was introduced he did not think it would go so far as it did under the administration of the then leader of the Gqvernment. In the.first instance, he was going to move an amendment, and when we told him that it was altogether too drastic he got the honorable and learned member for Ballarat to draw up another amendment. If honorable members will look up the debate they will find that the question was discussed on those broad lines, and that the amendment was submitted with a view to preventing men from being brought into the Commonwealth at a time of strife or at less than the current rate of wages.
I think that the) present Government could not do better than move to amend that clause.
– They will not; they are not game.
– That may be so.
– Why did not the other Government do it?
– Very probablythe late Government would have done it if they had been left alone. When the Hon. Winter Cooke, who formerly represented Wannon here, was in England, he wrote to me about this matter. He asked me to appeal to the present Prime Minister, and to urge him to move in the matter, which he said was so much misunderstood in London-
– Misrepresented, not misunderstood.
– The misunderstanding may have arisen in some degree through misrepresentation. But there it is ; and I believe that the present Government would make a very excellent beginning if they would amend that section. I hope that when we proceed to business they will * do something towards altering the opinion which the people of the Commonwealth have concerning Federal legislation. If they can do that, and preserve that spirit ‘throughout their legislation, they will do much good. But looking to the House, as it is constituted, I am afraid that there is very little chance of their doing so.
– It is not my intention to delay matters by speaking at great length, but I feel that some remarks made by my honorable friend who has just resumed his seat will bear repeating. They are that we should not attempt’ to pass over the events of the past few weeks, as though there had been an ordinary change of Government. The change of Government has been achieved by means, which appear to be, to say the least of them, extraordinary ; and, to my mind, they are in some respects such as to reflect very severely upon the reputation of those who engaged in them. It is generally agreed that the beginning of the change arose out of the speech made by the present Prime Minister in his constituency. That speech he has told us was the speech of a loyal supporter of the Reid-McLean Government. All I can say is, that it was the most extraordinary speech from a loyal supporter that I ever read or heard of. To show that my view is not solely that of an opponent, I have here a cutting from a newspaper, which I venture to say, is of all the newspapers in the Commonwealth, the most devoted to the Prime Minister. I refer to the Melbourne Herald, which, in season and out of season, has trumpeted his good qualities for the last fifteen or twenty years. The Herald said on 1st July : -
The Ballarat speech provided the last essential factor. Mr. Deakin has since stated that his intention was not to intimate that he, one of the makers of the coalition, had decided to withdraw his support from it, but the Reid-McLean Government interpreted the remarks of its decidedly candid “supporter” as a plain intimation that it had ceased to possess his confidence, and - notwithstanding Mr. Deakin’s disclaimer - it is not easy to see that the speech could have any other meaning.
That is not the judgment of an opponent. It is not the judgment of a hostile critic. It is the judgment of one of the honorable gentleman’s most enthusiastic supporters - that it is not easy to see from his speech at Ballarat that he had any intention but to turn out the Reid-McLean Government at the very earliest opportunity. That being so, I do not think that the Prime Minister behaved in a way in which he ought to have behaved to the late coalition Government and to his own) colleagues in it. It is ‘all very well to say that he did not mean to turn out the Government. The judgment or the ordinary man in the street is, after all, the judgment that disposes of these questions. The man in the street puts it in a rough-and-ready manner, such as I suppose you, Mr. Speaker, would not permit me to imitate ; but, we may say that the man in the street puts it somewhat as follows: - “Mr. Deakin went to Ballarat and made a speech which every one thought was meant to ‘turn the Government out. He afterwards said he did not mean to turn the Government out ; and he proved that he did not mean to turn the Government out by moving in the. House a motion which did turn them out.” All the refinings and eloquent perorations of the Prime Minister will not remove from the public mind the impression that he has not behaved in a way that we have been accustomed to from him. I can say, with all earnestness and sincerity, that there was no man in Victorian politics of whom I had a higher opinion than the Prime Minister. That opinion has been very rudelv shaken by the events of the past few weeks. It is for this reason that I felt it to “be my duty to emphasize the remarks made by the honorable member for Grampians. With re gard to the programme of the present Government, I think we can safely say from the papers that have been supplied to us. -from the drafts of Billsand the clauses that they contain - that the influence of their masters is apparent in the most unmistakable way. The pressure from the third party is absolutely apparent in the two papers which have been put into our hands. I ventureto say that the larger proportion of the present Government - had the late coalition remained in office, and brought forward such Bills - would have voted against the proposals that are now brought forward in their name. But circumstances alter cases. Ministers hold office with the feeling of insecurity arising from their dependence upon the good will of the Labour Party. Therefore, their legislation is shaped on these extraordinary lines to win the support and admiration of that party. I do not blame honorable members of the Labour Party. There can be no doubt that the triumph is in their hands. They have fairly won it. They have done nothing which can be called dishonorable. In everything they have done they have acted with scrupulous honesty. The position they are now in redounds to their credit. They are in a position to secure - and they have the power to secure - legislation and administration, such as they desire, and they have to take responsibility for neither the legislation nor the administration. We have been informed by the Prime Minister that, amongst the various projects to be put before us, will be proposals in connexion with preferential trade. If that be so I hope that when they are considered by this House, they will be discussed in much better style than was the case last session. Honorable members may recollect that the present Prime Minister made a brilliant speech in favour of his motion, and then buried himself in a room in some other part of the building during the rest of the debate. The attendance rarely exceeded half-a-dozen members during the discussion of the subject. I hope that Ministers, at least, will put in an attendance during the time when the question is debated. I intend to move an addition to any motion that is submitted to the same effect as the addition which I moved on the previous occasion, namely, that the preference that we give to Great Britain should be of such a nature as will lead to an increase in the trade being done between.
Great Britain and Australia. In regard to other proposals of the Government, we have been informed that the previous Government had intended to introduce some Bills upon the same subjects. The title of a Bill may lead us to believe that we are all in favour of it ; but the clauses of the measure may make all the difference between support and opposition. I suppose that a majority of honorable members - perhaps 95 per cent, of them - were In favour of a Conciliation and Arbitration Bill. But very few honorable members were in favour of that measure in the form in which it was brought in by the right honorable member for Adelaide, whose absence on the present occasion we so much deplore. I do not think there “was anything like a majority of honorable members who were in favour of that Bill in the shape in which it was dealt with at the instance of the first Deakin Government. Had that Government remained in office that Bill would have passed at the dictation of the third party, in the shape in which it was introduced. We all know that it was the defeat of - that Government, the succession of the Watson Government to power, and the subsequent accession of the Reid-McLean Government, that enabled us to get provisions of a more moderate character inserted. We shall get from this Government Bills with the titles of which we all agree, but I am confident that when the clauses are examined -they will be found, like the clauses we have already seen, to be of an exceedingly drastic character, showing that they are a bid for the support of a certain section, and are put forward as a return for that support. Constitutional government by two parties, one in office and one in opposition - a Ministry who will be responsible for their acts, and will have power to carry out their wishes - has, I am afraid, gone altogether, so far as this Parliament is concerned. Not until the electors have an opportunity to express an opinion will there be any chance of an alteration in the present system. So long as the present Government retain office, aided bv the honorable members of the Labour Party, so long shall we have Ministers, consciously or unconsciously - it may be unconsciously in certain cases - shaping their legislation as the Labour Party desire. That is highly undesirable; and I agree with the right honorable memtier for Swan that it is very much better for the Labour Party to administer their physic from the Government benches than from the cross benches.
– Then why did the honorable and learned member vote to put the Watson Government out?
– Because I do not believe in the physic of the Labour Party. I know that the honorable member for Maranoa would not agree with the physic I should prescribe. If I had a choice between a Government such as the present and a Government such as that of the Labour Party, I should unhesitatingly prefer the latter. I feel confident that we should get from a Labour Government legislation according to Labour ideas ; but the men who brought forward that legislation would be responsible to the House and to the country. Under the present system the Labour Party can shelter themselves behind the plea that the legislation is not their legislation, but that of the Deakin and Isaacs party. It is not my intention to speak at any greater length. I merely wish to say that I do not like the outlook for the remainder of the life of this present Parliament. The sooner we go to our constituents the better, even though that course should disturb the equanimity of the honorable member for Darwin.
– I regret very much that in rising I should have anticipated the Attorney-General. It is, however, quite a new feature to see the honorable and learned gentleman in the Chamber. He professed on a previous occasion to have a burning anxiety to get on with the business, but since then he has been seen here but seldom, and I may be pardoned for not observing he was in the Chamber. The honorable and learned member may repeat in this Parliament his conduct in the last Parliament. It was his custom to walk through the House, perhaps once before tea, and then go home and enjoy himself for the rest of the evening, having spent the previous part of the day in laborious work over his own affairs. Under our remarkable system, the attendance of an honorable member for even one or two minutes is recorded as an attendance for the whole day.
-How does the honorable and learned member know about my attendance? He has not been here very much himself.
– When here I have noticed the conduct of the Attorney-General. I quite agree that one or two of his attendances may be worth half-a-dozen attendances of other honorable members. I have always held that sometimes the attendance of one honorable member, who has devoted himself to a particular measure, and gives the House the result of his consideration, may be of very great value. Real.lv the best work is done, not by a record in attendance, as the honorable member for Melbourne Ports and the honorable and learned member for Corio seem to think, but by a. knowledge on the part of honorable members of what is before the House, and an ability to express an opinion. I regret to see so few supporters of the Government present. It was my desire that those honorable members who have expressed themselves desirous of going on with the business, should have an opportunity to hear what ought to be done and how the Administration ought to conduct themselves.
– There are as many honorable members on the Government side as on the Opposition.
– That is so, just at present, I admit. I do not know that it is necessary for me to deal with the intrigues which displaced the late Government. It is true there was a coalition formed, which involved the sinking of principle on both sides. Free-trade and protectionist principles had to be sunk on one side and the other, and some sacrifice was certainly made by honorable members. -I was one of those who did not regard with great favour the sinking of the fiscal principles which I support. It seems to me, however, that before we can begin to discuss by what principles a Government should be guided in carrying on the business of the country, we must first take care to preserve the Government itself. If the Government cease to exist there can be no carrying out of principles on one side or the other. It appeared to me, from statements made by many members of the Labour Party, including the leader of that party, that we were face to face with a condition of affairs that would not have allowed of the assertion of any principle whatever. The Labour Party have adopted, or they say they intend to adopt, the new programme of Socialism. I do not know why the word “ labour “ is not good enough to describe the party, because, properly understood, it is wide enough to embrace everything. The word is certainly . wide enough to embrace all that great section of the community whom we in Parliament are chiefly concerned in looking after, namely, the workers of the. community; and by that I mean workers of ail classes. I do not in tend to back up the drone, whether he be of the wealthy class or of the poor class; to fit both there is an apt term - loafer. If a man is a loafer, he ought not to be able to call on Parliament to assist him in any way; there are enough honest men and women in the community who require the whole of our attention. We ought not to stretch our laws for the benefit of a small section ; and we cannot but be surprised that, of late, the Labour Party have chosen to think that only those who refuse to work are those to whom we should offer consolation. In fact, the “bummers” of society are to be most considered - only those who loaf about the parks, crying out for work,- and praying they may never get it, are to have their complaints listened to. It was quite refreshing to hear the Treasurer of the Queensland Government offer some remarks on this subjectHe explained that although the members of the Government to which he belonged called themselves a Labour Government, they were not addicted to any platform nonsense, and would try to assist only those who endeavoured to assist themselves ; that, in fact, their labour platform was a platform for the benefit of workers, and not of idlers. I could wish that we were animated by the same spirit in our legislation. But we keep trying to stretch our laws so as to include a section of the community whom we cannot and ought not to help. I am afraid that if we did help them we should probably only succeed in taking from them the very small spirit of independence that now exists amongst them. It must be very painful to us all to have to make any strictures on the personal integrity of the Ministerial Party, but in outside life terms would be used, concerning the breaking of his word by the present Prime” Minister, that would be hardly parliamentary. I can only say that personally I felt a great deal of regret that the honorable and learned gentleman should be the one to act as he did. I regret that there is not some party outside of Parliament which would treat the honorable and learned gentleman in the way in which I think he deserves. There can be no doubt that if men generally were to act in the same way, no such thing as social life, as we understand it, would be possible. Men would be absolutely unable to trust one another, in even the smallest concerns of life, and social life, as we understand it, would break down. If the honorable and learned gentleman had a conscience, one might say that it would be better to leave him to its reproach. I hold that he has lowered the standard of our public life as no other person has ever done yet. I cannot call to mind, nor can any other honorable member, any instance in which a man has so deliberately broken away, and, so far as we can see, solely on the ground of some personal gain, from an alliance entered into by himself. I, for one, have always objected to the very small allowance that members of this Parliament receive. I have always said that the discrepancy between the allowance given to honorable members, and that given to Ministers, is too great - not that that given to Ministers is too large, but that that given to honorable members generally, is very much too small. I regret to have to say that as the late conduct of the Prime Minister does not come up to the standard of honour,, which I, for one, think ought to be observed, I am forced to the conclusion that there must have been some special consideration causing the honorable and learned gentleman to act as he did. If it was pecuniary pressure which led the honorable and learned gentleman to act as he did-
-I rise to order.
– This is absolutely contemptible.
– My point of order is that it is unparliamentary to attribute motives to any honorable member, and especially motives of a pecuniary character.
– I must ask the honorable and learned member for Werriwa to withdraw any reflection he has made on the honorable and learned member for Ballarat.
– If the honorable member for Melbourne Ports will show that I have made any reflection, I shall be glad to do so. So far, what I have pointed out is that there is a very great difference between the allowance given to honorable members generally, and that given to Ministers. I am not saying that the Prime Minister acted as he did under pecuniary pressure, but I point out that if he did so-
– I say that that is a great deal worse.
– Why make such dirty insinuations ?
– Does the honorable member for Grey think that pecuniary pressure is a dirty thing? If so, according to the honorable member, every worker throughout the Commonwealth is a dirty man, if he happens to be hard up.
– Order ! I ask the honorable and learned member for Werriwa to withdraw the suggestion which he made just now, that the action of an honorable member of this House was the result of the difference” between the salary paid to honorable members and that paid to Ministers.
– I have not said so.
– Order ! Any such suggestion is an imputation of motives ; certainly it would be a very improper motive, and such a suggestion must not be made.
– I have not yet said that that was mv imputation, sir.
– Will the honorable member kindly withdraw the suggestion ?
– If Mr. Speaker thinks that I have made such a suggestion, I will withdraw it; but I cannot withdraw words which other honorable members have put into my mouth. Does Mr. Speaker think that I have made such a suggestion?
– I do think so.
– Under the circumstances I withdraw. I think it is a matter for very great regret that there should be such a considerable difference between the salaries paid to members generally and to Ministers, and I am satisfied that such a difference ought not to be allowed to continue. If it were remedied it would put an end to intrigue, and there would not be. as there may have been in the past, any room. for a suggestion that honorable membersare acting under pecuniary pressure in taking a certain action. Ido not suppose that even the honorable member for Melbourne Ports would argue-
– I object to the thing entirely. It is bad taste.
– I do not suppose that even the honorable member for Melbourne Ports would argue that it is an honorable thing for a man to break his word.
– I do not admit that any man has broken his word.
– I should like to know whether the honorable member thinks that it is an honorable thing for a man to break his word? Men who, like myself, never cared for the alliance, yet waited on . the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, and asked him whether he intended to give the alliance his full support, and whether He really understood the position he had taken up. ‘The answer has already appeared in print, and is known to us all. The honorable and learned gentleman pointed out that, so far as he was concerned, the alliance was for the life-time of the present Parliament. There can be no harm in saying what has already appeared in the press, that the honorable and learned gentleman intended to observe “the compact for the life-time of the present Parliament. We know how it has been observed, and I say that the House, after the exhibition which we have had, would do well to take into consideration the fact that there should not be room even for a suggestion that honorable members may feel pecuniary pressure to such an extent that it may affect their political conduct. I hope that some effort will be made to increase the allowance paid to honorable members generally. I have always held that the present allowance is much too small, and I am not now, for the first time, advocating that the remuneration made to honorable members should be considerably increased. The Federal Parliament, instead of meeting for two, three, or four months in the year, as was suggested at the first Convention, has so lai met for something like seven months in each year. This utterly destroys the possibility of honorable members pursuing any other avocation, or engaging in any other walk in life, and, as the the average parlimentary life of members is something like ten years, during that time they should °t least receive such remuneration as would enable them to carry on their work when they retire from a parliamentary position. Their position as members of Parliament is dependent upon popular favour, and that is such a very erratic thing that one cannot reckon upon the continuance for any definite time of the allowance. I shall not dwell on the subject further; but I point out that, in my opinion, the discrepancy to which I have referred has been an awful misfortune - I fear to be unparliamentary - and I never felt that so keenly as ‘ since I have observed the conduct of the honorable and learned member for Ballarat. The first measure which the late Government proposed to submit to Parliament was the Redistribution of Seats Bill. It should be regarded as the first duty of any Ministry to submit a measure of that kind, because we are all aware that the statisticians of the States have demonstrated that New South Wales is entitled to an additional representative. Their calculations have been made on the same basis as those which gave to Victoria its twenty-three representatives. Therefore we cannot in justice deny to New South Wales that which has already been granted to Victoria. I would go the length of saying that the denial of an additional representative to New South Wales, in conjunction with the refusal of this Parliament to settle the Federal Capital question, will probably result in the secession of New South Wales from the Federal union.
– What, rebellion?
– Unfortunately, the conduct of this Parliament has been such that not a single State would endeavour tocoerce any other into remaining in theunion. For this position we have ourselves to, blame, because we have endeavoured totrample upon the rights of the various States. Can any one be surprised if the Parliament of New South Wales insiststhat the union should be dissolved ? That could easily be done. We have the example of Norway and Sweden before us.. The Norwegian Parliament carried a resolution in favour of a dissolution of the union between the two countries. It is true that a referendum is now being taken orr the subject, but that does not alter the fact that separation has already been resolved upon by the Parliament. Judging from the feeling exhibited in New South Wales, I venture to say that the State Executive, if supported by the resolution of the State Parliament, would not hesitate to act in the direction I have indicated. In such an event, how could the Federal Parliament enforce its authority? Would it call out the military? Every one knows that there would be no such thing, as war. Everything would have to be peaceably arranged, because the Federal Government would be unable to call upon any State to help it. Neither the majority of the people in any one State nor the majority of the people in the Commonwealthare in favour of Federation at the present time.
– Would the honorable and learned member vote in favour of destroying the union? I am sure he would not.
– If this Parliament isbent upon denying the rights of New South Wales, and upon breaking the Constitution - as it has broken it, and is continuing tobreak it - the States will be justified in withdrawing their confidence, and in refusing to obey any law passed by us. Apparently some honorable members think that it would be difficult for any State to withdraw from the union, but if a resolution were carried in favour of such a step by the New South Wales or Victorian Parliament the Federal authorities would be helpless.
– Suppose a municipal council passed a resolution as the honorable member suggests, should we take any notice of it?
-No comparison can be instituted between a municipality and sovereign States such as New South Wales and Victoria. Could the honorable member inform me what course would be open to the Commonwealth if New South Wales declined to allow a Federal writ to run? Would he insist upon the military being sent to give effect to it?
– I am in favour of law and order.
– The honorable member is not in favour of the law, or he would be one of the first to insist upon the provisions of the Constitution being carried out.
– Have we not a High Court to see that it is observed?
– If we refuse to act according to the law, how can an appeal be made to the Courts? If the Federal Parliament continues to break the law–
– Who says that we are breaking it?
– Every one outside this House says so, and not one honorable member will assert that the Constitution is being fully carried out. Every honorable member knows that the choice of Dalgety as a site for the Federal Capital was mere fooling -that it was never intended that the Capital should be established there.
– That is not a nice thing to say.
– That has been declared by a dozen members.
– Who are they?
– I cannot be expected to disclose what has been communicated to me in private conversation. Honorable members know very well that it is not intended to establish the Capital at Dalgety for many a year to come, and that the settlement of the question has been deliberately delayed by many honorable members. Honorable members never had any intention of going to Dalgety, and the members of the New South Wales Parliament are fully aware of that fact.
– I am not aware of it.
– The honorable member does not live in New South Wales.
– That is on a par with the statement of the Premier of New South
Wales that the adoption of Dalgety as the site of the Federal Capital would involve taking from New South Wales a population of 40,000, and depriving her of £100,000 of revenue.
– We know that an attempt was made to increase the area of the Federal Capital Site largely with the idea of preventing the Parliament of New South Wales from agreeing to our selection. At one time proposals were made to extend the Federal area from the Murrumbidgee to the Murray, because it was well known that the New South Wales Parliament would not agree to any such proposition.
– The honorable member for North Sydney, in his recent replies through the Sydney press to the statements of the Premier of New South Wales, knocked on the head all the arguments of the honorable and learned member.
– Of course, the honorable memberfor North Sydney was bound to argue from the point of view of this Parliament.
– He was bound to tell the truth.
– It is very well known to honorable members that there was no intention on the part of this Parliament that the Capital should be placed at Dalgety.
– We know nothing of the kind.
– It was well understood that in the event of the New South Wales Parliament agreeing to the proposed site, further obstacles would be placed in the way of a final settlement of the question by this House refusing to vote the necessary money for the laying out and building of the new city.
– That is an absolute fabrication.
– There is not the slightest doubt about it.
– The honorable member thinks that, but no one else does.
– I am stating nothing but what is absolutely true, and it behoves us to arrive at a settlement of this matter without any delay. The action taken in the first place with regard to the Federal Capital Site, which was afterwards shown to be unconstitutional, demonstrated clearly that the intention was to delay the settlement of the question. It showed that we could fix a site only within the Federal territory, and it is clear that that territory) must be granted to us by the State of New South Wales.
– Who says it is clear that it must be granted to us?
– The Constitution sets out that the Seat of Government “ shall be within territory which shall have been granted to or acquired by the Commonwealth.”
– Yes, granted “ or acquired by.”
– I presume that those words mean that we would be’ allowed to purchase some of it.
– Certainly. We are not compelled to wait until the State of New South Wales grants the territory to us.
– The Constitution provides that the Capital “ shall be within territory which shall have been granted to or acquired by the Commonwealth.” I point this out, because if we had really been in earnest over the question an honest attempt would have been made to settle it. We did not act, however, as we should have done had we thought that the Seat of Government Bill was likely to result in the Capital site really being chosen. I say that the belief is general throughput New South Wales that the Commonwealth. Parliament was not in earnest in choosing the Capital site, and that it has not acted in such a way as to create in the minds of the people of that State a belief that we really intend to establish the Federal Capital there. If it were necessary for the purpose of my argument, I could show that one of the first essentials in selecting ‘a Capital site is that it should be situated upon the main line connecting our two great cities, and that it should not be located at a distance from that line involving half-a-day’s travel, thus involving a delay of all the mail matter of the Commonwealth for that period.
– Lyndhurst is not situated upon the main line between Melbourne and Sydney.
– Why would the Melbourne and Sydney mails require to go to the Federal Capital?
– I spoke of the mails of the Commonwealth. The honorable member must recognise that the amount of mail matter relating solely to Commonwealth affairs which is carried over our railways, is very large indeed, and that its tendency will be to increase. If we are to look forward to the socialistic millennium, which the party to which the honorable member belongs wishes to bring about, the quantity of mail matter carried will be beyond computation. I should think that the complaints alone would represent five or six times thequantity of mail matter which is carried at the present time. The next matter to which I desire to refer is that of the redistribution of seats in this House. Will honorable members seriously argue that it is possible for us to continue our present line of conduct without offending the people of New South Wales? Already they are exceedingly angry about this matter. Rightly or wrongly they look upon the creation of the present Government, headed by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, asa deliberate attempt to thwart New South Wales in her endeavour to obtain her proper share of representation in this Parliament. Do we find in the Ministerial outline of policy any statement by the Prime Minister, which is likely to disabuse their minds of that notion? Do we not know that if we decline to give New South Wales an additional representative in this House - and the refusal of the Ministry to introduce any Bill dealing with the matter indicates that they intend to deny that State any additional representation - it will constitute another reason why the people of New South Wales should take the action I have referred to through their State Parliament. If they are unable to obtain their proper share of representation here, there is no other course open to them but to ask their own Parliament to take such action as will either break up the union, or, at all events, restrain the Commonwealth from collecting any further Customs revenue until these matters have been set right We know very well that if the New South Wales Parliament carried a resolution to that effect - or even if a referendum of the States were taken upon the matter - there would be an overwhelming majority against the continued existence of the union. This statement may be regarded as a mere matter of speech, but I assure honorable members that they have only to gauge the feeling of the people in their own States to be perfectly satisfied* that if a referendum were taken it is very doubtful whether a vote in the affirmative would be recorded in any State, no matterhow large the majority may have been which previously declared for union. It must not be forgotten that in New South Wales 84,000cc or 85,000 votes were cast against Federation, and I know that the conduct of the Commonwealth Government in imposing very heavy taxation upon its people aroused the greatest friction. That friction, however, would have been overcome had the people believed that it was deliberately levied by the representatives of Australia as a whole..
But are we to-day acting as the representatives of Australia, when we d’eny to New South Wales the additional representative to which she is entitled, and when we abso>lutely break the law of the Constitution Act itself ? The Constitution declares what the quota of members shall be.
– Queensland is not crying out, and she is entitled to an additional member.
– The honorable member’s statement is quite incorrect. Queensland is not entitled to another representative, but the statists have declared that New South Wales is. Yet this Parliament refuses to grant that State its proper share of representation. But even if there were no provision made in the Constitution for another representative for New South Wales, the demand for a redistribution of seats ought, at all events, to be irresistible. The inequalities which have been already quoted, are so great that one is staggered to learn that a man in one electorate possesses three times the voting power of a person in another. I leave the members of the Labour Party to answer this question: Assuming that we had a constituency so fashioned that a man of property possessed a vote which had exactly three times the value of the vote enjoyed by a worker in another constituency, what would be said ? Would- it not be said that that state of affairs constituted plural voting upon an extremely large scale? I feel sure that under such circumstances there would be no cessation to their endeavours to get such an anomaly corrected. But when we allow the electors in one particular portion of New South Wales to exercise three times the voting power possessed by the electors in another part of that State, no outcry whatever is heard. Unfortunately, the bulk’ of honorable members in this House decline to allow New South Wales any rights whatever. If it is thought that a measure would benefit New South Wales honorable members representing other States will at once break the law in every direction ; they will at once say. “ We do not intend to carry out the law.” While they profess to be in favour of certain proposals, they refuse to allow the laws that would give effect to (hose proposals to be carried out. Can any one doubt that at least one-half of the opposition to the last Ministry was due ‘to the fact that it proposed to at once bring in a Bill for the Redistribution of Seats? The real motive underlying the action taken by the honorable and learned member for
Ballarat was the desire to deprive New South Wales of a vote. I regret that the honorable and learned gentleman should ‘ have laid himself open to such a charge, lt cannot be denied that that accusation is being made most freely against him, and in order to obviate suspicion in this regard the Prime Minister should have placed a Bill for the redistribution of seats in the very forefront Of his programme. We find him, however, declining to exercise ordinary care in the matter. He will possibly hand over a measure dealing with the question to the tender care of the Minister of Trade and’ Customs. We know how a similar measure fared in his hands on a previous occasion. It is true that he is no longer at the head of the Department having the administration of the electoral laws; but no doubt the honorable member will exercise an influence over the Government in regard to the proposed redistribution that will make itself felt. Nearly every honorable member who has spoken during this debate has pointed to the misconduct, shall I say, of the present Ministry, and to all the charges of misconduct that have been made against the Ministry, the Labour Party appear to have given then full assent. They have applauded even allegation. They seem to think that 110 words can be found too strong to describe the conduct of the present Ministry. If that be so, what a melancholy confession 11 is of their own incompetence and weakness. Let me take honorable members back to t he time when the Watson Ministry was formed. The Labour Party were undoubtedly called constitutionally into power, and made great professions. ‘ They talked of the benefits that would accrue from their administration to the great mass of the people. The honorable member for Bland, who was then Prime Minister, declared that it would be the duty of the Labour Party to secure the repeal of all those laws that allowed the rich to grow richer, or oppressed t’ie poor. Thev were to do away with the industrial shackles that were binding the community, and in short, to bring about the millennium.
– When did the honorable member for Bland make such a statement?
– In May of last year.
– The honorable and learned member should quote the exact words to which he refers.
– Most of the remark? which I have attributed to the honorable member for Bland were made by him when replying to the deputation of May-day Socialists, which waited upon him as Prime Minister. He then said’ that he thoroughly approved of their aims and objects; that it would be their duty to cut off the industrial shackles that were binding the community, and in fact, to repeal all those laws that were oppressing the poor.
– The honorable and learned member is confusing different matters.
– After the formation of the Labour Ministry the House was asked to adjourn, week after week, to enable the Cabinet to draw up its programme. We were told that they were going to bring forward legislation that would benefit the whole community, raise the wages of workers by two or three shillings per week, and bring prosperity to the homes of the poor. But after the House had adjourned again and again to enable the Ministry to consider the measures that were designed to bring about these results, the very first business with which the then Prime Minister asked Parliament to proceed was that of ordering the printing of a despatch announcing that henceforth members of the first Federal Parliament would be entitled to the prefix of “ honorable.”
– This might be all very well for a public meeting, but it will not do here.
– I am not complaining, but in view of this action on the part of the first Labour Ministry in the Federal Parliament, what became of the boast of the democrats that their first business was to lift business from the slough of despond into which it had fallen? We were asked to order the printing of a document, so that henceforth members of the first Federal Parliament should be entitled to the prefix of “ honorable.”
– If it had been a substantial concession to honorable members the honorable and learned member would not have objected.
– That is so.
– Did the honorable and learned member accept the title of honorable ?
– I am only speaking of the wonderful piece of legislative work that constituted the initial proposal of the first Labour Ministry.
– The honorable and learned member ought in fairness to say that the matter had been decided by the previous Ministry.
– Does not the honorable and learned member know that, despite the thousands of other questions that might have been dealt with, the one thing that was animating the members of the Labour Ministry was the desire to get the title of “ honorable 1 ‘ publicly conferred upon them, in common with other honorable members, in this way? The matter was discussed for a month, and the Government of the day bitterly combatted the opposition raised by some honorable members to the printing qf such a despatch. Are any of the workers of Australia to-day better off for the printing of that despatch ? Has the load which oppresses the poor been lightened in this way ? Is the condition of the workers better than it was before it was decided that that despatch should be printed ? Meanwhile, Mr. Speaker, I must draw your attention to the absence of honorable members from their duties. (Quorum formed.) Probably one of the most surprising things in the present situation is the melancholy confession of impotence and incompetence which has been made by the Labour Party. Because, although when the motion which brought the present Ministry into office was carried, the Labour Party comprised twenty-eight members, as against eighteen members of the Deakin party, still they practically confessed by their action in declining Ministerial responsibility that their party included no men with sufficient ability) or intelligence to form a Ministry. This is not singular, when Ave look back upon their past career, and glance at their actions when they occupied the Treasury bench. It is a remarkable thing that after the statement made by the honorable member for Bland as Prime Minister, that the would bring in measures which would make the poor better off, and banish sin, misery, and poverty from the land, which, in fact, would make the country flow with milk and honey, their very first proposal was to ask the House to print a despatch announcing that the title of “ honorable “ had been conferred upon the members of the first Federal Parliament.
– The honorable and learned member is very badly off for an argument when he stoops to that.
– Will the honorable member deny that the Labour Ministry introduced that proposal, and fought most resolutely for a month to have the document printed ; that, after they had’ secured an adjournment to enable them to formulate a policy, the only thing which they thought of sufficient importance to bring forward was that wonderful proposal?
– The only one ?
– Howgrateful have all the workers to be for the existence of the Labour Party, and how confidently they can look forward on the next occasion to something of the same sort, though, perhaps, still more brilliant ! I am not surprised that members of the Labour Party should not like to hear of this most melancholy exhibition of incompetence.
– We are enjoying the spectacle of the honorable and learned member making an ass of himself.
– Is it making an ass of one’s self to describe exactly what the first Labour Ministry did? If it is asinine to speak about the matter, how asinine it was to act as they did ! The true asses in that case were to be found in the members of the first Labour Ministry.
– Order ! The honorable and learned member must not use that expression.
– Perhaps, sir, it is hardly necessary] for me to use the term regarding the members of the Labour Ministry. The proposal to print this document occupied one of the precious three months during which they were in power. How resolutely they’ fought against our trying to prevent the despatch from being printed ! Here, day after day, when we were occupied in preventing the Labour Party from commemorating how they had abandoned their democratic principle, that no titles were to be used, they made speech after speech in defence of the motion, that the despatch should be printed.
– That is very ingenious.
– I am glad that the honorable member joins with me in thinking that more active steps ought to have been taken to give effect to the statement of the honorable member for Bland as Prime Minister, that he would repeal laws which were pressing upon the poor. He did not take a solitary step to relieve the burden of indirect taxation. Considering that the annual burden of indirect taxation amounted to£9, 000,000, one would have thought that it would have been the very first question to engage his attention. What did they do after carrying this brilliant fight of a month to a successful issue? They proceeded with the fagend of an Arbitration Bill, which I think ought not to have been introduced here. After all, it was a matter of political win dow-dressing, if one may use that term, because, during the last fifty years, there has been only one occasion when any necessity has arisen for the application of such legislation. I hope that another period of fifty years will pass before the necessity recurs.
– When was that?
– During the big maritime strike in 1891.
– The only occasion?
– Thatis the only occa sion, I think, when such legislation would have been of any advantage. Our experience of this class of legislation certainly goes to show that it would never be of any advantage to the men whom it is supposed to benefit. That strike lasted for only a short while, and if the workers had had to sit clown and wait for the Court to come to a decision, they would all have died of starvation in the meantime, judging by what has taken place in New South Wales, where periods of twelve and eighteen months elapse before decisions can possibly be arrived at. I mention this matter to show the extreme paucity of legislation on the part of the Labour Ministry, and also to point out how utterly impossible it is to place any reliance on their profession that they are the men to save the country.
– “ The chap to save the country “ sits usually on the opposite side.
– I understood from the many professions which the honorable member and his party had made, that they were the men to save the country. Over and over again I have heard the assertion that all we have to do in order to make everything bright and happy is to introduce legislation ; that is to say, to trust to Parliament. Well, if misery can be banished from the land by legislation, we are making a mistake in not having three Parliaments. The first proposal of honorable members opposite ought to be to have three Parliaments,to sit in, eight hours’ shifts, on every day in the year, to continually grind out laws. If such a simple little remedy as getting something printed on a sheet of paper, with the Royal arms on the top, and with the declaration that Parliament passed this Act, can make us all well and happy, why should we delay for a single moment? But the fact is, that in their’ heart of hearts men know perfectly well that legislation can never accomplish many of these things, and even prevents progress.
– The honorable and learned member must be an anarchist.
– When I see many of the laws which are passed, and observe how they interfere with people, I must confess that it does stir up a feeling of anarchism in me, using the- word in its true meaning - “without rule.” In that, which is its proper sense, I must say that I should like to be “ without rule “ altogether sooner than have laws passed such as we suffer from in many cases. With regard to the Conciliation and Arbitration Act, we are all aware, no matter what we may say to the contrary, that that legislation cannot affect any dispute in any one. State. It is absolutely useless for that purpose. Therefore, when some honorable members went about explaining to the public the wonderful effects that were to be derived from the Act, it was, as I have said, so much political shop dressing. They knew perfectly well that it could not have the effect intended. Take the Act as it stands. Has it been used? Does any one contemplate how it can be used? Does any one contemplate that as it exists to-day it can be of any advantage whatever to the great bulk of the people of Australia? It is not necessary for me to point out that if mien cannot strike they are nothing more nor less than a lot of niggers. If men can be compelled to work when they d’o not want to work, they are in no better position than slaves used to be in so many parts of the world. I must confess that when I saw men in New South Wales refusing to work when ordered to do so by the Arbitration Court, I felt that if ever there was an occasion when men were justified in breaking the law, it was then. I felt that I could go to those men, and say to them, “Stand .out against any law that will compel you to work whether you like it or not: and if they should force you to go to work, whether you like it or not, work in such a manner that they will -never ask you again.”
– If the honorable and learned member were on piece-work, how would he get on?
– If I were on piece-work, the more I did the better I should like it, provided I got paid for it. I never believe in doing work without being paid for it. What was the cause of the defeat of the .Labour Party? It was their insistence on putting into the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill a clause which absolutely went against their own principles as a Socialist party. If Socialism means anything it means equal opportunities for all.
Fortunately for the country, they were defeated on a clause in which, so far from keeping to the programme which they had mapped out for themselves, they tried to prevent men from having equal opportunities, and said that unless men belong to a union they should not be allowed to work. If men are not allowed to work, if they are not allowed to earn the means to live, they simply have to starve. The reason why men work is to earn a living. One of the most extraordinary things in connexion with the Labour Party is that, after all their bold professions of equality, they absolutely ventured to try to force upon the people of Australia, a clause which was absolutely a denial of the very justice that they say that they claim for all. When they were defeated on that I believe that it was to the secret delight of some who belong to the caucus party, but who found themselves forced by the vote of the majority to vote for the clause. I have not the slightest doubt in my own mind that the more intelligent and better-read members of the Labour Party must have denounced such an iniquitous idea as that a preference was to be given to any one class of workers over another. It was a new doctrine to put into the laws of a country, and it was an absolute abnegation of the very statements which they made at other times. I am glad to say’ that to-day we have from them a confession of how miserably they failed, and how unfit indeed they were to carry on legislation. Although there were twenty-eight members in the Labour Party against only eighteen in the other little party, they practically said, “We really are conscious that we are unfit to legislate, and that what we introduced before only ended in muddle. We are not suited for carrying on this work. Amongst us there are none who can draw up statutes and interpret them properly, or there are not. sufficient of us. Therefore, we shall have to decline the work. Although we are the largest party, and ‘although it will be our votes that will put out a Ministry, we shall have to call upon this other small party to form a Government. We will tell them what legislation we want, and they will have to frame it and carry it out for us.!’ When one looks at their position from that point of view, it is a most melancholy confession of incompetence. I am surprised that at least four or five men ‘ amongst the Labour Party did not “at once’ break away from them. I am amazed that some did not say, “ We, at all events, are ‘competent, whatever some of you may be, of our ability -to share in the legislative work of the country, and we will do so.” But I suppose they were conscious of the work of the past. I suppose they recognised that they were able to take no credit whatever to themselves, and manfully confessed their inability to legislate. A more painful spectacle could not, ,1 suppose, have been presented than when the other day Ministers were being criticised as unfit for their work in a Federal Parliament. Nothing could have been more painful than to hear the Labour Party cheering and concurring in the statements that the present Ministers are not fit to be Ministers at all, and yet at the same time having to confess that those Ministers represent more intelligence rhan they have amongst themselves. They have had to agree that the Ministry should draw up Bills and introduce legislation, because, apparently, they have been unable to find among themselves men capable of performing such work.
– Where has the honorable and learned member read all this?
– It is writ so large that “ he who runs may read.” Why was not the honorable member for Bass called upon to take the reins of Government? Was there no one who could be trusted to form a Ministry? Did none of the members of the Labour Party feel equal to the task? When I heard honorable members of that party cheering the allusions to the unfitness of the present Ministry, I recognised that they were bound to the Government by no desire for legislation, but merely bv the common bond arising from the dread of a dissolution.
– And by their hatred of the leader of the Opposition.
– I have never been anxious to go to the country ; but when ‘the Parliament has proved its unfitness to legislate, it is absolutely necessary to appeal to the people. It seemed to me that such an occasion .had arisen.- The present Prime Minister gave up office on a previous occasion because he was unable to carry on the business of the country, owing to the existence of three parties in the House. The Labour Party then came into power, and proved by their works - or absence of works - their unfitness to continue in office.
– I am glad that the honorable member thinks that that task would occupy half-an-hour.
– It would occupy the honorable and learned member for that length of time; but any one else could accomplish it in less than a minute.
– It would not take long to recount all that was done bv the Labour Government. The first thing they did was to submit a motion for the printing of a despatch intimating that the Imperial authorities had agreed to the title of honorable being conferred upon members of the first Federal Parliament. The next thing they did was to pass the fag end of an Arbitration Bill, which could not apply to any disputes in one State alone, and which gave preference to one particular class of workers over another. It has taken me just fifteen seconds to give a full record of the work performed by the Watson Government.
– What was the record of the Reid Ministry ? Their principal achievement was to get into recess.
– I think that the. Government which successfully fought its waythrough the intrigues and combinations of last session had a very hard battle indeed.
– The intriguing was all on the other side - the honorable and learned member was up to his neck in it.
– Surely the honorable member is aware that, personally, I objected to the coalition. But what was the alternative ?
– The honorable anc learned member was tied up bv the caucus.
– No, there was no caucus. If I had not joined the coalition party and agreed to sink the fiscal question, I should have had to join hands with another party, which had also resolved to allow the fiscal question to rest, but which had furthermore confessed themselves to be Socialists. It was the action of the then Prime Minister in supporting the May Dm Socialists that led me to object entirely to the Labour Party.
– As a conscientious anarchist, the honorable and learned member could not join the Labour Party !
– The honorable member for Bland really did not grasp the meaning of the word when he spoke of being a Socialist. Doe’s the honorable member believe’ in equality? Suppose that I were to join the Socialist party, does he not think that I should have my turn as leader - for one day at least? That is the kind of Socialism that I would go in for.
– The party would be smashed up if the honorable and learned member joined it.
– It would be a live party, at any rate. I am not in favour of that Socialism which permits, through a tariff, the robbery of the. poor. I have never been in favour of depriving any men of a farthing of their earnings.
– Is that why the honorable and learned member supported the last Ministry ?
– The last Government at least insisted that there should be no further attempt to levy taxes on the masses of the people. I think that a fair opportunity of testing the feelings of honorable members will be presented when the Bonus for Manufactures Bill again comes before us. There is no question that in the event of that measure being carried the bonus, amounting to £250,000, will be distributed amongst those who subscribe the capital necessary to carry on iron works - capital amounting to from £100,000 to £500,000. If that measure be passed, I shall take care that the money required to pay the bonus is not taken from the workers, but is raised by direct taxation. If the money is to go to capitalists that class alone should contribute.
– Will the honorable and learned member move in that direction?
– Last session I stated that I would do so, but the measure never reached the stage at which I could take that course.
– The honorable and learned member will have twenty-eight votes in his pocket if he acts in that way.
– I have no hesitation in asserting now, as I stated last session, that if it is a good thing to take the money of one citizen and give it to another, we must take the money of the rich to give to the rich, and not the money of the poor to give to the rich.
– The honorable member is now talking sensibly.
– It must be remembered that I do riot advocate taking money from any one citizen to ‘ give to another. I have objected all through to one citizen being deprived of his earnings for the benefit of others - I do not care what class derives the benefit. I sometimes lose patience with those honorable members who occupy the Government benches when they assert that it is anti-socialistic to take money from the worker to give to the rich, but that it is socialistic to take from the rich> to give to the poor. If there is to be any robbery, it should apply all round. If we: went in for wholesale robbery we should reduce the country to a state of anarchy. If my property is taken it will not affect me, because I shall not bealive to know that it is taken. While I am alive it will not be taken, or, if it should be, and I should get hold of those who take it, they will not live toenjoy it. After this exhibition of incompetence^ - and I am not blaming the membersof the Labour Party for it, it is one of those things which they could not help, because they did. not know any better, and they have my sympathy. So far from attacking them for it, I am commiserating and sympathizing with them that they should” have to sit behind such a Ministry as the present. I think theirs is a pitiful situation. The Ministry stands so low in the estimation of the people of the country, that if they went to them they could not remainin existence, but they are yet so much better than the Labour Party, that that party, by their own confession, feel bound’ to support them.
– How long has the honorablea:nd learned member been father confessor to the Labour Party that he should know all this?
– It is very plain. Wasthere not a letter from the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, stating exactly what policy he intended to pursue, and did’ not the members of the Labour Party approve of it? We know that if they did’ not approve of it, the Ministry could not remain in office beyond to-morrow.
– The party towhich the honorable and learned member belongs could not have remained in officeif the honorable member for Wilmot had not approved of them-.
– It is said that if” the honorable member for Wilmot had not voted with us the honorable member for Darwi’n would have done so.
– Let us look at the measures, which, now that the Labour Party have approved of them, are to be takenas the Labour platform ; the measures which are to give everybody an extra couple of shillings a day - I presume if they are not to do that they have no merit at all, so far as the workers are concerned. The first of them is the taking over of the debts of the States.
– What is wrong about that?
– I am not saying that it might not be a useful thing to do. Something of the kind will eventually have to be done. The first plank in the new Labour platform, is, then, the taking over of the debts of the States. I do not know how it is proposed to be done - probably by the transfer of so much stock into the name of the Commonwealth as guarantor. But supposing we do take over the debts of the States, in what way will the. mass of the workers be benefited by that?
– A great deal.
– Will the honorable member tell me how? Is it proposed to lessen the taxation imposed on the workers in any way, even supposing that the Federal Government is enabled to save £500,000 a year by taking over those debts? It has not even been suggested bv Ministers that there will be the saving of a penny to be made by taking over the debts.
– Then we will not take them over.
– In that case, how will the proposal help the bulk of the workers? Honorable members must recollect that I am dealing now with a platform that belongs not only to the present Ministry, but is indeed the platform of the Labour Party, because it has been submitted to them for their approval. The items of it were submitted to the honorable member for Bland as leader of the party, even before the whole of the Ministry were sworn in. In the circumstances, none will deny that this is the platform of the Labour Party, and, as I have said, the first plank in it is the taking over of the debts of the States. The honorable member for Bland told us that there are laws oppressing the poor. In my opinion, there are laws pressing heavily upon the poor, but is there any attempt to repeal one of them in this first measure? Will this proposal to take over the debts of the States lighten the load of the workers in any way? I am satisfied that it will not.
– It means the payment of less interest.
– I should like the honorable and learned member for Corio to tell the workers of the Commonwealth, from any platform, that by the mere transference of the debts of the States to the Commonwealth - the bondholders remaining the same - their load will be lightened in any way. The honorable and learned member knows that at the present time, in all probability, the Federal Government could not borrow even at as low a rate as one or two of the States can borrow. I am sorry to say that that is so, but, rightly or wrongly, people who have money to lend have the idea that capital could not be safely invested here. I think that to a large extent that idea is held erroneously, because most of the talking here will end in smoke, and most of the proposals for confiscation, and so on, are never meant, are really so much clap-trap and political shopdressing. I believe that in most cases it will be found that capital will be just as safe here as elsewhere, but we cannot get away from the fact that, rightly or wrongly, confidence is not given to us, and our credit is to a certain extent undermined and destroyed. Credit is a great thing for any country, and leads to a greater acquisition to wealth than does anything else. This has been recognised for so many years that, not long since, I came across a passage in Demosthenes, written over 2,000 years ago, in which, when haranguing those who were trying to injure the State, he pointed out that by their wild talk they were destroying credit, and he went on to use words which are absolutely applicable to our position to-day, saying, “If you are not aware of this, that credit is the greatest capital of all towards the acquisition of wealth, then you are utterly ignorant.” I must say that those words are as applicable to the circumstances of to-day as they were to those to which Demosthenes addressed himself.
– The honorable and learned member must be pretty hard up if he has to go back 2,000 years for an argument.
– It only shows how far back honorable members opposite have fallen when a reproof addressed to legislators 2,000 years ago is equally applicable to them. So far from being progressive or advanced, and so far from being those who hold aloft the banner of progress, they have fallen back to a conditions of things similar to that existing over 2,000 years ago. These are the men who talk of marching on, when, instead of a march on, they are engaged in a march backwards.
– Talk on.
– If the honorable member could understand it would be some consolation for me to talk on, but I am sure that, having ears, the honorable member will hear not. The next thing in theN Labour platform is a Commonwealth system of old-,age pensions. I will say for the Labour Party that they did not attempt to deceive the old people to whom old-age pensions would be a great blessing. It does seem a great pity that in two of the great States persons should be debarred from obtaining pensions merely because they may have changed their place of residence ; and it is to be regretted that the State laws are not amended in this respect. Under our present system of taxation the bulk of the revenue is contributed by the workers; and no Commonwealth or State can allow its citizens to perish in their old age and misfortune. This is a question in which the cost, although an element, is not the primary consideration. If want and misery were caused by the withdrawal of all the old-age pensions, there would be a searing of the heart of the community, and avenues of consolation would be closed up, thus creating greater evil than is caused by the payment of those allowances. The late Labour Party have never pretended that old-age pensions can be introduced all at once.
– Who are the “ late “ Labour Party ?
– I understand that the Labour Party have now become the Socialist Party ; it is very difficult to follow all these changes. I heard the Prime Minister declare that it was a sine qua non that all members of the Labour Party should be Socialists, and a similar statement has been made by, the honorable member for Kennedy and the honorable member for Bland during the last fortnight. I am all the more surprised at the Labour Party allowing this proposal to be dangled before the public, when we know that the Federal Parliament is not in a position to deal with old-age pensions. If nothing else stood in the way, such pensions could not be instituted without the assent of the States.
– Why not ?
– Surely the honorable member would not propose to raise fresh taxation when the present old-age pensions are provided by the States?
– Under the system of taxation advocated by the honorable and learned member, we could raise fresh taxation.
– I admit that; but, as practical politicians, we should only proceed with measures which have some chance of being carried. Once let the Labour Party resolve how far they are prepared to repeal the taxes which now oppress the poor, and they will receive such support from this side as will enable the measure to be carried into effect very easily indeed.
– Provided there is no sham about the matter.
– Quite so; provided that, instead of placing this proposal on the platform as something that may be done, care is taken to introduce a measure. Then we come to the proposal for the encouragement of rural occupations. Is it not nonsense to put such a proposal in a programme like this? The very first encouragement given to rural occupation is to place an extra duty of £3 5s. on harvesters. Taking the average profit to a farmer from ordinary wheat land at 10s. per acre, year in and year out,, we find the produce of more than six acres absorbed by this increase of duty, just as though the crop had been destroyed by a pest.
– The profit is greater than> that.
– I can assure the honorable and learned member that, year in and year out, the profit is not more than I have stated, although, of course, in some years it may reach 25s. or 30s., or even £2. If a farmer, after paying interest, and receiving remuneration for his own and other labour, could be assured of a profit of 10s. per acre on the average, he would regard” himself as in a very happy and comfortable position. Of course, if it be contended” that a man is not to be paid for his own> labour, then the profit may be greater.
– How long does a harvester last?
– A certain percentage has to be written off for depreciation each year, but I should say a harvester will last nearly six years. We must remember that in spiteof the existence of the Labour Party in the various States,- we have no Agricultural’ Tenants’ Holdings Act, and there is notenant right in improvements. An extra duty of ;£$ 5s. has been imposed’ on harvesters, in addition to the £4 already charged, and that means a serious tax on all farmers who use thosemachines. If that is the way in which the Government propose to “ encourage rural occupations, the sooner these proposals are given up the better for those whom they affect. It is monstrous that the bulk of thefarmers should perpetually have taxation thrust upon them. Then it is proposed that there shall be bounties for new products. That is to say, the Government propose in some way to build up industries which areproved not to be suitable industries, by the fact that they will not pay for themselves. What fund has Parliament on which to draw except the money of the citizens? And what right have we to take money from one set of citizens to give to another? How can we say that we shall create a new industry? A new industry, I take it, is an industry in which after work has been done the product of that work is more valuable than its cost. Consequently if we encourage men to engage in some occupation in which, after work has been done, the result is worth less than the cost of production, so far from having created an industry we have created a parasite. Let me give the simplest illustration of all. Let us suppose that some man said, “ We want to encourage men to work,” and as a result we took a quarter of the community and put them in gaol. If, whilst they remained there,* they could ‘earn only a quarter of the amount necessary for their subsistence, could that undertaking be regarded as a profitable one? Could the men be said to be profitably employed? Certainly not The bigger the gaol the greater would be the misery for US; and so far from calling that gaol a “factory “ we should designate it an incubus upon the country. When we turn to a benevolent asylum, or a gaol, and point out that their inmates are not earning one-quarter of what is required for their subsistence, it is very strange that some members of the Labour Party immediately exclaim, “ Very well ; the community is contributing the other three-fourths, and those men, so far from being engaged in an industry, are really feeding upon the country.” They will admit that at once. But if we change the name of the institution, and, instead of calling it a benevolent asylum, designate it a factorv, thev refuse to call it a parasite, and prefer to call it an industry. That is a gross misuse of terms.
– Does the honorable and learned member call every factory a parasite ?
– Certainly not. There are many factories in which the articles produced are worth more than the cost of production, and by so much do they add to the wealth of the country. But when we have a factory the goods produced by which are worth only 18s., although the cost of production is £1, I say that” we lose 2s. in the £1 upon its maintenance. The more it produces the worse off will the country be. The bigger its production the sadder the spectacle it will present.
Mir. Crouch. - Then every badly pro.tected trade is a parasite?
– Yes, if the goods when produced are worth less than the cost of production.
– That is the free-trade view.
– It is the view which is entertained by all common-sense men in every walk of life. That a man is enabled by law to extract something from his fellow citizens does not alter the case in the smallest degree. The question at issue is, “ Is that extra expenditure necessary to keep any particular factory going?” If it is, that factory is a parasite upon the community - and I do not use the word in any offensive sense. It is practically a factory which is drawing its life-blood from the public.
– Are the railways a parasite, because all of them do not pav?
– It is true that all of them do not directly pay ; but indirectly they do, in that they carry a very large quantity of produce to market. Therefore, the whole of our citizens should bear the cost of development for a short period. But if none of our citizens were engaged in productive works we should have no funds upon which to draw to enable us to pay interest upon those railways. While on the subject of interest, I wish to refer to those honorable members of the Labour Party who declare that they are Socialists. I am surprised that the bulk of them do not know that there could be no such thing as interest paid by Socialists. How could any Socialist pay interest? If he did so, it would obviously be because somebody had lent him money, and that individual would be sitting idly down whilst others were doing the work.
– That should be rather an inducement to establish Socialism.
– It would be to the fortunate individual who lent the money.
– First borrow the money, and then turn Socialist.
– That is a very old saying. It was heard of thousands of years ago. First borrow the money, and when the interest gets sufficiently heavy pass a law to abolish the payment of interest. In reading history the honorable and learned member must have noticed how frequently laws were enacted for the abolition of debt. The natural sequence was that they raised rates of interest to all the workers of the community three, four, and five fold. That is exactly what a lot of us are doing by our wild talk at the present day. But I am thankful to see signs that people are beginning to regard a lot of the statements which are made here merely as wind, and to treat them accordingly. When I hear the honorable member for Bland declare that if the State took over factories it would pay for them, and that if it appropriated land it would pay for it, I cannot understand how he can call himself a Socialist. Is the money which would be loaned to the Socialist Government to be regarded as safe?
– What has the honorable and learned member been talking about during all the recess?
– About a body of men who have dubbed themselves Socialists, the bulk of whom do not understand the meaning of the word.
– Does the honorable and learned member apply that remark to his leader ?
– I certainly apply it to honorable members who dub themselves Socialists. I am aware that some members of the Labour Party think they are bound to adopt that term out of loyalty to their party. For them I entertain nothing but sympathy, because they are bound by the caucus, and are unable to repudiate many of the statements which are made. One of the many definitions of Socialism was given by the honorable member for Grampians this afternoon, when he showed how that term had come to be applied to the followers of Robert Owen, in lieu of the term communism. I think that an old corn-law rhymer - I refer to Ebenezer Elliot - wrote the following four lines upon “What is a communist?” : -
What is a communist? One who has yearnings
For equal division of unequal earnings.
Idler or bungler, or both, he is willing
To fork out his penny and pocket your shilling.
If honorable members opposite wished to put that system into practice, I should be with them, knowing that many of them have much more than I have to divide. What is the next item in the Government programme? The speedier and cheaper transportation of meat, butter, and fruit.
– Under their Commerce Bill they propose to prohibit our export trade.
– I was just about to deal with that point. Here we have the suggestion that the Government think that the fewer the restrictions placed upon trade the better; and yet they have brought in a Bill to regulate commerce. Most honorable members of this House are utterly ignorant of trade and commerce; yet we are to be asked to decide exactly how every man who spends the whole of his time, and risks the whole of his capital, in commercial pursuits’, shall employ that time and capital. Is it not reasonable to suppose that the Bill must be doomed from the first? While the Government speak in the one breath of encouraging the speedier and cheaper transportion of our products, they propose in the next to give the Minister of Trade and Customs powerto declare how our commerce shall be carried on. The matter is not even to be subject to the control of Parliament. It is to be dealt with by regulations drawn up by the Minister, according to his own sweet will. One would think that we were prepared to regard Ministers as being divine when we propose to vest such powers in them. It was the placing of like powers in the hands of Ministers that led to the corruption in New South Wales, of which we have lately heard so much. It was the action of a Government in placing such extensive powers in the hands of Ministers, in order, as they said, to prevent hardships arising in certain cases, that led to the swindling and corruption that went on for a time in the mother State.
– It is still going on.
– We hope that, as the result of the publicity which has been given to this system, we shall hear no more of it. Do honorable members recall to mind the anxiety betrayed by some members of the present Government lest trade with the Marshall Islands should be injured? I was surprised to find the Prime Minister speaking with a sense of relief at the prospect of trade with that group being once more free to Australia, for I had been under the impression, judging by the legislation introduced by him as Prime Minister, and also as Attorney -General in the Barton Government, that his chief desire was to block trade. For what other purpose was our high Tariff wall erected? What purpose will the Commerce Bill serve if it be not that of hampering our shipping trade? It is evident that the Ministry do not understand the present position of Australia. Another proposal embodied in their pro- gramme is that of attracting population. 1 confess that if it could be accomplished by the Commonwealth Parliament I should be very glad; but let me say very plainly that I am not in favour of attracting any population to these shores, unless it can be shown that there is a chance of settling immigrants on the land.
– It would be a crime to encourage immigrants if that could not be done.
– The only result would be to increase the misery that exists. As the Federal Government does not own an acre of land, it cannot hope to attract population in this way. The matter must be dealt with by the States. I hold that population would be attracted to Australia rapidly enough if we did away with legislation which really restricts immigration. The honorable and learned member for Parkes put the matter very clearly when he said that he was concerned not so much with the question of whether our laws restricted immigration, as with that of whether people believed that they did. The real point is that many people in England and elsewhere honestly believe that our legislation restricts immigration.
– They have had so many object lessons.
– How long have they been of that opinion?
– Ever since the affair of the six hatters.
– Immigration practically ceased ten years before that time.
– Does the right honorable member sa.y that our legislation has had no effect on the inflow of population?
– I say that for the last ten years there has been practically no influx of population.
– Our legislation has aggravated the trouble.
– I. think the right honorable member for Swan will admit that the legislation passed by this Parliament, whether good or ill, has had some effect on the inflow of population to Australia.
– I repeat that there has been really no inflow for over ten years.
– But the right honorable gentleman must remember that for some years before Federation we passed through a period of unexampled depression. Bank after bank failed, and for something like six years times were so bad in Australia that no one thought of writing to his friends in other lands to encourage them to come here. Considering the fairly large outflow of population from England at the present time, the Treasurer will surely grant that we are not obtaining our proper share of it. It is highly desirable that we should seek to attract population, provided that we can offer the people land upon which to settle when they come here; but however largely we may talk about the matter, the fact remains that the Commonwealth Parliament has no land to offer immigrants, and therefore the Government, in saying that they propose to make an effort to attract population to our shores, are pretending that they can do something which is not within their power. That is my protest. I do ni-t wish people to be led away by these willo’thewisps. If we can do these things, I should be very glad to know from the honorable member how we can. I can show him one way in which, while he may not be able to attract population, he can prevent rumours getting about that immigrants would not be allowed to land. The amendment of the Immigration Restriction Act which is required is not a very great one. There is no question that the* contract clause of the Act was intended to apply solely to men being brought out under contract to fill the places of men on strike.
– That was stated tobe the intention.
– The honorable and learned member is correct, but it has been applied in quite another way by an administrative act alone. It was applied in the case of the six hatters, and there is no doubt that its application resulted in a distinct injury being done to the community as awhole.
– Are we to have another post mortem on the noor hatters ?
– No; but the provision still remains which allowed that case tooccur.
– Why do not honorable members of the other side alter it ?
– Knock it out.
– Let me state quite plainly why I do not. It is becauseof the general ignorance in the House of its ill effect We cannot carry the amendment which is required - we canonly point out the evil which has arisen. The next item on the Government programme is a proposal for the appointment of a High Commissioner. While I am not altogether averse to the appointment of a High Commissioner, still I must first see that some arrangement is made with the various Stales to have one office instead of six offices in London. Unless there is some likelihood of that result being achieved, unless the States are more willing to intrust their affairs to our hands than they appear to be, I can see no reason for supporting such legislation at the present time. While this want of confidence exists between the States and the Commonwealth, I cannot see my way clear to sanction a proposal, not to limit, but to increase expenditure. The next measure on the Government programme is one relating to navigation and shipping. If the Government keeps on interfering with navigation and shipping, and the legislation is framed on the lines of the Bill which the honorable and learned member for Ballarat introduced, and he has the support of the Labour Party, we shall probably find that this restrictive legislation will have the effect, not of increasing, but of seriously diminishing, the number of men engaged in navigation and shipping, and that, so far from being a boon and a blessing to the class they profess to help, it will operate to their injury. It is clear that if the policy of restriction be pursued much further, we shall have all these companies combining. We shall, in fact, compel men to go into a trust a generation before they otherwise would do. Possibly the necessity for a combination might never arise here, but by our legislation we are absolutely forcing employers to combine.
– By the Sea Carriage of Goods Act, for instance.
– I must admit that I was one of those who at the time did not thoroughly grasp the full effect of that measure, and I hope that if a case comes to be tried, it will be found that, perhaps, the view I take even now is more nearly correct than is that of some honorable members who look upon the measure with greater fear than I do. I admit that it was a measure which ought to have received far. greater consideration than it did. It was brought in just at the fag-end of the session, when all of us were preparing to go away. I had a consultation with the honorable and learned member for Angas, and I must say that I did not like one or two of its provisions. …..
– It interfered with freedom of contract between ship-owners and shippers.
– I cannot go quite so far as that. So far as it made the law of negli gence relating to land carriers applicable to sea carriers, I was absolutely with the Bill. Because I do not think that persons ought to be able to hold themselves out as carriers, and then contract themselves out of the law of common negligence.
– Including the railways.
– I donot think that Commissioners managing Government railways ought to be allowed to contract themselves out of the law of common negligence.
– They are monopolists; but there were fifteen shipping companies competing for the export trade of our people.
– That tends to make it very much more difficult. I am assured on very high authority that one or two of the shipping companies charged a higher rate where they took responsibility on bills of lading, but that nearly all the shippers decided to ship under bills of lading under which no responsibility was taken.
– Only, the shippers of fruit, who are but1 per cent. of the shippers of Australia, asked for the legislation.
– They have since found that it is not going to operate to their advantage, because, of course, so far as they are concerned, the rates will have to be increased. I certainly thought that a person should not contract himself out of gross negligence - I do not think that anybody should be able to do that - if he receives pay for his work. Of course, if he does not the same law will apply as applies to land carriers.
– The honorable and learned member is applying a principle which, in England, was applied to monopolies only, to shipping companies among which there is keen competition.
– What are the other measures which the Labour Party propose to bring forward, because, of course, I consider all these to be entirely their measures? We know that they could not be brought in, or proceeded with, without their approval. With regard to the Bill relating to navigation and shipping, if we are not careful a further danger will arise. The Home Government have already intimated that we ought not to go outside the Merchant Shipping Act, and the great shipping firms at home certainly have some rights which ought to be considered. When we recollect that every acre of land in Australia was voluntarily handed over by the Home Government, without making any charge to the people of the then young community, we ought to give great consideration to any suggestion which they make to us now. They have told us in effect that to legislate on these points, without showing consideration to all the boats engaged in the trade, is to go outside the Empire.
– That is a preliminary to refusing the Royal assent to one of our Bills when it goes home.
– We ought to take warning from the despatch which has been received, and not run the risk of getting a snub, because there is no getting away from the fact that we are dependent upon the power of England to allow us to legislate as we have done, and that without that protection we should not exist as a nation today. After some of our Federal legislation, I doubt whether Australia would be owned by the Australian people to-day, whether some other settlement would not have taken place here, if it were not for the power of the British Navy.
– The gentlemen in the corner do not think so.
– There are no gentlemen in the corner.
– I call your attention, sir, to the state of the House. (Quorum formed^ I am glad to see that Ministerialists are now awake to some sense of their duty, and have come back to take part in the business of the House. The next matter with which I have to deal is the two ocean mail contracts. I suppose it will not be said that these contracts will bring prosperity to the people of Australia.
– The late Government thought so.
– They thought it was right that the contracts should be made ; but thev never pretended that they would bring about prosperity.
– They will not compare with the Standing Orders in that respect !
– I do not feel in that mood which would induce me to fight any one, or Ministers would become so seized of the necessity for an amendment of the Standing Orders as to say that the matter had become imperative. The next matter to which I have to allude is the continuance of the sugar bounty for a further period. On no fewer than three previous occasions I have pointed out that the continuance of the bounty is, in my opinion, iniquitous. We have this simple fact to contemplate - that the owners of the richest lands in Australia are allowed to tax people living on other lands to the extent of nearly £10 an acre. Let us test that statement. I think the honorable member for Maranoa will agree with me that at least 20 tons of cane is a fair average yield for an acre of land in Queensland. That represents a little over 2 tons of sugar - roughly, 2 J tons; but we will take it at 2 tons of sugar to the acre.
– I believe the average is 15 tons of cane per acre.
– I assure the honorable member that the facts show that the average is 20 tons. . No doubt the honorable member for Herbert has known land to produce as much as 60 tons to the acre.
– I, myself, have known 80 tons to the acre to be produced. So that in taking the average at 20 tons I am doing nothing extraordinary. We will say that 10 tons of cane produce a ton of sugar. That means 2 tons of sugar ro the acre on an average. The duty is £fi per ton.
– Is the honorable anr! learned member in favour of abolishing the Customs duty?
– Not unless the excise is abolished also. To abolish the Customs duty without abolishing the excise would be a very wrong way to go about matters. What I say is that the bonus at presentgiven is £5 per ton of sugar, if grown bywhite labour, and that means a bonus of £10 per acre. In other words, for cultivating an acre of land to produce sugar, we give a man £10. . Of course the man says that he receives this bonus for cultivating with white labour. I do not care what labour he employs. If he has the richest land in the Commonwealth - as these sugar lands are - he has no right to ask people living on what must necessarily be poorer lands for £10 an acre to enable him to cultivate. Some honorable members may be able to carry their minds back to the occasion when I was speaking on this subject before. I then asked’, “ Why should we endeavour to keep these poor’ sugar lands in cultivation ?” I remember that an honorable member opposite said, “ Poor ? You do not know what you are talking about !” A couple of Queensland members said that they were the richest lands in Australia. The very reason why I called them poor was to cause those interjections to be made.
– My word ! That was a trick !
– The honorable member said so at the time, after he had fallen into the trap. If these lands are, as was then said, the richest lands in the Commonwealth, then necessarily people living on other land’s-, which are poorer, are contributing £10 per acre to people living on the richest lands in this continent. Is it not absurd that that should be the case? If we were asked to keep these lands in cultivation for any other purpose than sugar production, honorable members would see the folly of it, and vote accordingly.
– Is the land fit for anything but sugar? Some people say it is not.
– At present the land is being used to the injury of the whole community. I need not dwell on the fact that at the present time the extra cost of sugar Is absolutely interfering with all the jam manufacturing and the fruit preserving industries in Australia. It has greatly Injured the fruit-growing trade. In fact, in place of having small orchards dotted here and there over the country, the market has been destroyed. I myself am an example of what I state. I should have had over 40 acres of orchard in bearing except for the bad market.
– There is more fruit in cultivation in New South Wales now than there ever was.-
– This tax on sugar is the greatest injury that the fruit-growers have ever had. It is absolutely a bar in their way. Let me show how that happens. Fruit may be regarded as worth from 3s. to 4s. per cwt. At the Customs House they take it at 3s. a cwt., and at that rate it pays very well. But before fruit worth 3s. a cwt. can be turned into jam it absolutely has to pay dutv on sugar at 6s. a cwt. This is not the way to encourage the fruit-grower. If proposals for the further continuance of the bounty are to be brought forward, I should like to know where the money is to come from? If one set of people, who, because they work hard, and _are able to extract something from the land, are to be taxed for the benefit of another set of people, we shall go the wrong way to work. Our duty is to remove all those taxes which at present prevent the land from’- being put to its true use. It is not in our power to settle people on the land ; but we are able to insure that those who are on the land shall suffer under no disabilities by reason of the taxes we impose. We should take care that the taxes are so light that they do not raise more revenue than is absolutely necessary for the preservation of law and order, and for securing to every man the just reward of his own exertions. Beyond that we should not go.
– The honorable and learned member is ‘ becoming a true Socialist.
– If the members of the Labour Party would only consent to work with me, we should soon find a way to remove the burdens which press heavily upon the working man. I regret to say that the very party which should be the first to relieve the working classes of taxation are the very- last to recognise that these taxes will assuredly remain, unless they lend their assistance to those who are fighting against them. That is why I view with so much regret the action of the Labour Party in entering into an alliance with the members led by the Prime Minister. We cannot indulge in any hope for the true advancement of Australia whilst that alliance continues. I say that with the full knowledge that probably no great change will take place during the life of this Parliament. Whilst the Labour Party permit the greater part of the taxation to be borne by the masses of the people they are false to their name and to their professions, and there can be no hope -for the true advancement of Australia.
–! have no intention to speak at any length ; but I think I should say a word or two with regard to the change of Government that has taken place under circumstances which have given rise to a good deal of public comment. I have no wish to repeat all’ the hard things that have been said by certain honorable members, may be because I am not affected so acutely as they are by the change, and consequently cannot feel as keenly as thev do. After reading the speech delivered by the Prime Minister at Ballarat I came to the conclusion that he should have made his position clear at a much .earlier period. It appears that the coalition came into existence subject to the understanding that if a premature ‘dissolution should take place, those who were in coalition should go to the country as a united party. Owing to the pressure brought to bear upon the Government by the honorable members led by the present Attorney-General, the late Government, in a weak moment, consented to appoint a
Royal Commission to inquire into the Tariff. I had no sympathy whatever with that proposal, because I felt that when the time came for dealing with the report of the Commission there must be a break-up of the Coalition Government. I realized that if it were necessary to bring about a coalition in order to restore stable administration, and to present a solid front to the solid Labour Party, the destruction of that Government would be a calamity. It has been stated in this House that the appointment of the Commission was a farce. I should be no party to any such transaction. Whilst I had no sympathy with the appointment of the Commission, I realized that once that body was appointed the public must not be fooled. Therefore, I was greatly relieved when the leader of the Opposition announced the other evening that he had appointed the Commission in perfect good faith, and that he was prepared to stand or fall by the principles for which he had fought for so many years.
– He said at Geelong that he had given them up.
– He said that he believed that the report of the Commission would be submitted in 1906, by which’ time it was expected that the coalition party would be able to make a public announcement upon the fiscal question. The Prime Minister stated at Ballarat that when the Commission was appointed, he felt that the step was a fatal one, because the fiscal issue would have to be dealt with, and the Government would fall to pieces. He should have made that announcement when the proposal to appoint the Commission was first mooted. He should have said, “ I have no sympathy with this proposal,” and should have pointed out to the right honorable and learned member for East Sydney, “ This is the rock upon which you will split.” At Ballarat, however, he stated that he had the fullest sympathy with the appointment of the Commission. He had previously made a similar announcement in this House. That was the time at which he should have pointed out the danger of complying- with the request of the Isaacs party. Ministers would then have stiffened their backs against those who were asking for the Commission, and would have strengthened their position. If they had shown a bold front, they would have added to the number of their supporters. The Prime Minister, when speaking at Ballarat, stated that if his party went to the country at the period of dissolution which the then Prime Minister was foretelling, they would bc placed at a disadvantage, because the Anti-Socialistic League in New South Wales was being joined by many persons who professed protectionist principles, aswell as by free-traders, but the former were being deceived. I was a member of that league, and I heard no whisper ot anything in the form of treachery or deceit on the part of any member of that league. I should be no party to anything of the kind. I thought it would be a good thing to formulate a platform containing several planks for which we could all have fought.
– The Vice-President of the Executive Council was a member of the executive committee of the league.
– Yes, and I believe he is still a member of it.
– No. I am not.
– I believe that the Postmaster-General was also a member of the league. Further, it has come to ray knowledge that the energetic secretary of the Protectionist Association in Sydney visited the rooms of the league with a view to taking an active part in the crusadeagainst Socialism.
– As also did the keen secretary of one of the branches of that association in mv constituency.
– Exactly. Furthermore, a most prominent protectionist and most energetic citizen, Mr. O. Beale, promised to do his best to further the objects of the league. I say, without any hesitation, that no one had any thought whatever of doing anything dishonorable in the formation of those leagues. Personally, I would sooner have withdrawn from the whole organization than have been a party to any deception of those forming the coalition.
– What has all this to dowith the printing of these papers?
– The honorable member might not like some reference being made to what has transpired, but we have to face the political situation. We have todiscuss here what the general public are thinking; they have been brought toface a new Administration with an old policy because of a misunderstanding in themind of the present Prime Minister. If the honorable and learned gentleman thought there was some deception in the organization, it was his business to go to the right honorable member for East Sydney and discuss the situation with him. They might then, I think, very fairly have formulated a workable platform on which they could have gone to the country. ‘ It might have been a platform of anti-Socialism or democratic “ State action,” but, whatever it was called, so long as it was a definite workable programme, there would have been a united party in the appeal to the country. In coming back from the country, the freetraders would have been at as great a disadvantage as the protectionists, even if there had been a premature dissolution. So I say there was nothing in the contention of the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, that his party would be placed at a disadvantage if a premature dissolution were to take place. Looking vern carefully through the speech made by the honorable and learned gentleman at Ballarat, I came to the conclusion that it was an excellent speech, and, coming from a sick man, it was a very astute speech, well connected in its argument, and answering all objections occupying the public mind at the time. It was a speech which did the honorable and learned gentleman credit, as the leader of a party, I think that the Age newspaper published such an interpretation of the speech as they wished the general public to put upon it, in order to bring about a collapse. The Agc succeeded1 in doing so, but there was nothing in the speech relating to Socialism that did not meet with my hearty approval. I should like to direct the attention of the House to a few extracts from the speech, which, I think, it useful to consider at this juncture. In speaking of the policy which the right honorable member for East Svdney was advocating throughout Australia, the honorable and learned member for Ballarat said -
Take the Prime Minister’s own definition. He said that he is in favour of any form of State action - what is called State Socialism - which assists private enterprise, and gives it belter opportunities of development.
That was the definition of his AntiSocialism given by the right honorable member for East Sydney, and on that the honorable and learned member for Ballarat said -
I think ninety-nine hundredths of the people of Australia would agree with that.
The honorable and learned gentleman is himself one of the 99 per cent, of the community who would be in favour of State action of that kind. But, moreover, the
Tight honorable member for East Sydney very properly placed before the public what the extreme Socialists were in favour of, and the honorable and learned member for Bal- larat stated that 99 per cent, of the people were opposed to it. He put that statement in these words -
The Prime Minister says that the policy of the Socialists, whi’ch he denounces, requires that all the means of production, distribution, and exchange should be transferred from private enterprise to the State. Mr. Reid believes all who are opposed to that are anti-Socialistic. Then ninety-nine hundredths of the people of Australia are opposed to that policy.
It will be seen, therefore, that the honorable and learned member for Ballarat was in favour of the policy which the right honorable member for East Sydney was advocating (throughout Australia,’ and was equally opposed to what was, and is still, the policy of the Labour Party led by the honorable member for Bland. The honorable and learned gentleman further said -
But what did Mr. Watson say at Brisbane two or three days ago? He ‘explained that the objectives were not put forward for immediate realization ; but as something to be aimed at in the future. If they are not put forward for use they are liable to abuse. That was the opinion of the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, and there was no difference on the subject between him and the right honorable member for East Sydney.’ To further show that he was opposed to the policy of the Labour Party the honorable and learned gentleman said : -
Now a relevant question is, Are we all State Socialists? If by State Socialism you mean an assumption of all the activities of daily life -by the State, and require them to be worked by State machinery as the only means of perfecting society, then I am at the opposite pole of opinion. The»e is no doubt about that.
The honorable and learned gentleman was not in sympathy with the Labour Party ; he was even at the opposite pole of opinion.
– That is a reason why the honorable member should support him
– The honorable and learned gentleman was in favour of the policy enunciated far and wide by the then Prime Minister, and was opposed to the extreme policy of the Labour Party.
– The Honorable and learned gentleman did, npt say so in his speech.
– I have what he said in black and white, as edited by himself in his cool moments, and I understand that he stands or falls by his utterances in this form. I say .that there was a great deal in this speech on which we were united. We were united against the extreme Labour Socialism, it seems to me.
There was a cleavage between the two parties, and no need for a third party. [There was one united party commanding a majority against the extreme Socialism of the Labour Party. We could have fought them, and we will fight them. W’e shall continue the fight, and there will not be three parties by-and-by. That there can be two parties formed in this House, I am quite confident.
– And the party having the largest number of members will be composed of Socialists.
– The honorable and learned member for Ballarat pursued the matter further, and, to show what he was distinctly in favour of, he said : -
While opposed to the State Socialism which is sought on the plea that it is a good thing to transfer private industry to the State, I take a very different position as regards serious abuses - I am free to use the machinery of the St.ite as a remedy for proved and admitted evils when they can be best coped with by that means. Is that clear and definite? I would turn to the nationalizing of industries only in the last resort.
The Labour Party would make the nationalization of industries their first act. as soon as an industry was ripe for the plucking. As one of their leaders has expressed it, “as soon as the plum is ripe,” they would pluck it. The point “was very tersely put before the conference of labour representatives by the honorable member for Perth, when he stated what Socialism really was. There was no need whatever for ‘the honorable and learned member for Ballarat to. break away from the coalition of which I was a humble member, and I hope the time is not far distant when, as a solid democratic party, we shall be able to face the united Labour Party. The Prime Minister was most desirous of showing his constituents where he stood; and this point I desire to emphasize. His declaration will stand for all time - or, at any rate, for the time of this Parliament - as his views on Socialism. The honorable and learned member said -
To summarize my position, let me say that in each instance every proposal must be dealt with as a plain business proposition. In my eye State Socialism is a remedy to be applied with caution, or else the remedy may easily be worse than the disease.
Now the Prime Minister will apply this Socialism, if we call it such, with great caution. The honorable and learned member proceeded to say,
I repeat that the real crux of State Socialism lies in the question, “Who is to pay? It all comes to £ s. d.”
That is the difference between myself and the members of the Labour Party. Is Socialism expedient? Will it pay ? If it will not pay, then the State should have nothing to do with it; but if it will pay, and it is expedient in the interests of the people and of the country, then it may be undertaken, provided that private enterprise is not interfered with to the disadvantage of the people. These are a few of the conclusions at which I arrived on reading the speech made bv the honorable and learned member for Ballarat. A platform might have been prepared by him and the right honorable member for East Sydney in consultation, and on that platform we could have gone to the country as an Australian Liberal League. It was repeatedly stated by the right honorable member for East Sydney, when Prime Minister, that when he went to the country he would have something definite to place before the electors. It is most deplorable there should be a crisis at a time when we might have been united, and when there could have been placed before the people a straight out issue, as to the decision of which I had no fear. However, we have in power a Government - a democratic Government - who will bring forward non-contentious measures. If the Government introduce measures which are for the good of the people - measures which could have been brought forward by the coalition Government - I shall support them, just as the Labour Party will. Instead of the Labour Party having the Government under their thumb, it seems to me that the Government have the Labour Party under their thumb. The Government know very well that the Labour Party do not want a dissolution, otherwise they would have opposed the crisis motion : and the Government may bring forward measures of which they are thoroughly in favour, and none that the Labour Party specially desire. If the Government introduce measures of that character. I cannot see how it is possible for members of the Opposition to vote against legislation in favour of which they have a moral conviction. I feel pretty certain the Opposition will support measures they are in favour of. and will not merely oppose for the sake of harassing the Government. Under such circumstances, the Government will live on their measures, and not on the sufferance of the Labour Party. But the Labour Party are “ playing the game “ very much in the interests of the party who are opposed to them, though not so intentionally. The Labour Party have taken time by the forelock, and have expressed themselves in favour of taking a referendum on the Tariff Commission’s report, and passing into law the mandate of that referendum. The right honorable member for East Sydney made a public announcement to the same effect some months ago, considering that a referendum would be a capital way of settling the question. If the question is settled in that way, I, as a free-trader, will fight in the constituencies in favour of free-trade. I want nothing from this House; I only ask to be given a free hand in advocating free-trade in the country. When the referendum is proposed, if I am returned again, I hope I may be a member of this party, namely, the Freetrade Party, fighting in favour of the revenue Tariff. If the country decides that there must be protection, then the spoils of the victors shall not go to Victorian manufacturers only, but all the manufacturers throughout the Commonwealth shall share in the plunder, for, at the very best, protection is nothing but robbery. I hope I shall see the duties reduced as low as possible, so as to have a revenue-producing Tariff in the interests of the impecunious States, and in the interests of the great State of New South Wales, of which I have the honour to be one of the representatives. The latter State is spending one million pounds a year more than the people had to provide before there was Federation - a million more than is necessary for the government of that State.
– Two millions.
– I am informed by the honorable and learned member for Parkes that the extra expenditure amounts to two millions, but a million is sufficient for my argument. It was stated by the representative of the Government in the Senate that the free-traders “ knocked a million off “ the Tarin”. That saving was worth fighting for, and I hope that we shall be able to put in some good work when the Tariff is again dealt with. The Tariff must l>e dealt with and disposed of, and then, 1 hope, there will be a progressive democratic party, which honorable members in the corner may call socialistic if they like. But with extreme Socialism we shall have nothing to do. I find from the Worker news2>aper that the Labour Party intend to be represented at the International Socialist Conference to be held in England.
– To affiliate Australian Socialism with European Socialism.
– That is so, according to the motion carried at the Labour Conference.
– Hear, hear; that is quite right.
– I took the trouble to make an extract from the Worker this evening, so that I know that what I state is correct. The point I wish to make is, that it is extreme Socialism to which I am opposed, and to which I think my party are opposed ; but we are a democratic party who will move with the times. In connexion with the municipalization of public services, the counties and municipalities of Great Britain have been granted tens of millions of pounds by the Local Government Board. Honorable members opposite may, if they like, call that municipal Socialism.
– And it is being made to pay-
– Indeed, it is not ; this municipal administration has been a huge failure in scores of cases.
– Will the honorable member give us a case?
– As the honorable member for Newcastle has asked me to cite a case, I will refer him to a work in which he will discover a great number of cases. I refer to Dr. Alfred Shaw’s work, English Municipalities and their Government.
– I will refer the honorable member to another work, namely, Municipal Management, by Suthers, who declares that it has been a success.
– I devoted the whole of one winter to reading up every book extant upon this subject which was to be found in the Sydney Public Library, so that I was tolerably familiar with it.
– How long ago was that?
– I am pretty familiar with it at the present time. I may tell the honorable member that I was a member of the Greater Sydney Conference, and read a paper before that body, a copy of which I will be happy to send him. As a democratic party, I claim that we ought to be solid, so that we can face the extreme Socialists, and I say that it will be in theinterests of the country if we come into power as the progressive Liberal Party.
– After the great tirade of abuse and vituperation which has been distributed broadcast throughout this debate, I think that
– It is the Queensland. Worker which charges perfidy.
– I grant that in political life there are many things which may appear to be questionable, but which upon closer examination will be found to be perfectly straightforward. In our political disputes the last tactics to which we should resort are to call a man a deliberate traitor, or to say that he has departed from the line of truth. Only when absolute failure to explain a position which seems ambiguous to some has been reached are we justified in resorting to the conduct which has so freely characterized this debate, of charging “honorable men with perfidy.
– The honorable member should have said that last session.
– I will say it to the end of the chapter. If we cannot credit each other with honorable motives we have no right to associate with honorable men. This debate has reminded me very forcibly of some very ancient lines which I think exactly summarize the situation -
Long in the fields of words we may contend; “Reproach is infinite, and knows no end ; Amied, or with truth, or falsehood, right or wrong,
So voluble a weapon is the tongue;
Wounded, we wound, and neither side can fail,
For every man has equal right to rail.
– As this debate appears to be dving a natural death. I have no desire to fan the sinking flame. But as you, sir, remarked in giving a ruling to an obstreperous member of the Chamber, we must recollect that we are here not by virtue of our own personalities but for the purpose of representing the electors of the Commonwealth. I feel that it is my duty, on behalf of the electors of the Hunter, to give expression to my opinions in reference to the present political situation. I do not think that this discussion can be seriously regarded as a debate, hut, nevertheless,.I cannot say that it has involved a waste of public time. The Attorney-General reminds me of the man who has taken his seat in the first-class carriage of the Ministerial train. He has got there all right, his luggage is in the van, and he wants to be off. He does not care about anybody else’s feelings, and consequently he takes up a very high stand, and directs us to do the work of men. I think that we are doing the work of men, and part of that work consists of protesting’ against the conduct of certain honorable members of this House. If anybody should protest against that conduct, certainly the electors of the Hunter should do so. ‘ In the first Parliament we elected a gentleman in whom we believed, and who promised to give us a revenue Tariff. When he became a member of the first Cabinet his ideas changed. He came back to the electors, and said he had thought better of his original proposal, and that the only course open to the Commonwealth Parliament was to pass the heavy protective Tariff that is now in operation.
– Now in operation?
– The Tariff under which we are now suffering. If we could get rid of it we should be in a better position. 1 firmly believe that the first representative of Hunter in this Parliament - Sir Edmund Barton - was influenced by the present Prime Minister. It ill becomes me to criticize the conduct of the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, veteran in politics that he is ; but I firmly believe that he influenced, to a certain extent, the first representative of Hunter in this Parliament, and that his influence from the very inception of the Commonwealth has not been an influence for good. I only wish to say that the free-traders or revenue tariffists of New South Wales sank the fiscal issue. We were perfectly prepared to support a Government consisting equally of protectionists and free-traders, and fully expected in those circumstances that we should have the loyal support of the present Prime Minister. Instead of that however the honorable and learnedgentleman, the momentthat he joined the coalition instead of taking his seat immediately behind the Government, retired to the most remote corner of the back bench. Was not that in itself an indication of want of loyalty on his part? When thefirst opportunity occurredto thrust the late Ministryout of office he took advantage of it. I would remind him that the House is in exactly the same position that it occupied when the first Deakin Administration was in office. The Prime Minister has formed an alliance with the Labour Party which, as I have already said in this House, is but a parasite body that will ultimately prove the ruin of the party which is relying, upon its support.
– It is a no-reliance party.
– It is a party that believes in taking one step at a time towards its ultimate goal. The people of Australia, to my mind, do not recognise the danger associated with it to-day. It is not my desire, however, at this stage to enter upon a consideration of that matter. The whole debate has been thrashed out, and I haveonly to say that if honorable members opposite ever had any feelings they must now be in the position of the unfortunate individuals who passed through the inquisition - in a state of total insensibility.
– On the only occasion upon which I have had an opportunity to address myself to the questions before the House, I spoke, as honorable members are aware, without notice, and, in some surprise, from the. back Ministerial bench, inreply toan attack from the then Prime Minister. In such circumstances, it is not strange that, called upon for the first time to face the allegations then made, and those that followed outside the House, I was obliged to supplement that speech by statements to the representative of the public press that have not appeared in Hansard.. Those remarks have appeared” only in part of the public press, having been mutilated in the greater section of it, so that the sequence of events which was the necessary condition to a comprehension of the present situation was utterly destroyed. But I do not, for that reason, propose to inflict upon the House a repetition of those statements. At this hour of the night, and at this stage of the debate, it would be unwise, and also, I believe, unnecessary, to do so. What I shall’ have to say will be directed not - as I should have wished - to the task of dealing with those criticisms and suggestions upon the policy of the Government that under ordinary circumstances would form the chief feature of a reply of this nature, but to a few salient features of the situation from which we are about to pass. It seems to be forgotten that both in the action taken, and the words spoken with regard to the late Government, I had any obligations, except those that are declared to have existed between honorable members now opposite - and particularly the leader of. the Opposition who now enters the Chamber - and myself. I have neither denied nor sought to diminish those obligations.
I have said, and venture to repeat, however, that they were but some of the many obligations imposed upon honorable members of this House, and upon myself in particular during the late crisis. In addition to anything I owed to the late Government, and felt to be due to its leader, I owed much to the men with whom I have been associated in this House, who sat with me; to the party, though divided, which sat on both sides of the Chamber, and to the general public. I was as much bound to discharge these obligations in the order of their claims as I was any others of a personal or directly Ministerial character. And, sir, standing here after a debate extending over several days, during which abuse based upon false, unjustifiable, ruthless, suspicion has been showered upon my every action, let me say that I have passed through it with less disturbance and less sensitiveness than through any assaults that have been made upon me during my political career.
– No one doubts that.
– They might if they did not know that the imputations made against me have their foundation, such as it is - and they have no real base - in sheer suspicion of my own intentions. Of those at least I have a more intimate and fuller knowledge than any other living being can possess.
– The honorable and learned member thinks so.
– I know. I know as no one else can. Until the delivery of the GovernorGeneral’s speech, which was the act of treachery that destroyed for ever my confidence in the then Government, I had not the remotest intention of leaving my seat on the back Ministerial bench, or of varying during the present session the support that I gave the Government last year. I took my old seat, intending to support the Government with the same reservations, in fulfilment of the same agreement, and in precisely the same manner as before. I had not the slightest expectation of the surprise that was to be sprung upon us, nor the slightest idea of anything ahead, but the regular and steady transaction of the business that we should be called upon to undertake. I told the representatives of the press at Ballarat that I should sit there, and that’ I saw no reason why I should not do so. Until the Governor-General’s speech was delivered at the direction of the late Government, l had not the remotest suspicion that I should be found during this ses- sion ranged against the right honorable gentleman who now leads the Opposition. That we are here, and that they are there, is due to the fact that he put into the mouth of His Excellency a declaration of war against the men who had supported him, and who had brought him into power. For reasons which were not communicated to me, and which 1 do not propose to attempt to decipher - for reasons utterly unknown to me, and unforeseen by me - the Prime Minister was enabled to convince colleagues, against whom I make no imputation, of the necessity of following a course based upon mere suspicion.
– Let not the honorable and learned gentleman forget that he did make imputations against them in the press.
– Does the honorable and learned member refer to a time before the Governor-General’s speech was delivered, or afterwards ?
– Yes. I did so, and do so now against the leader of the late Government, but confess that they are only imputations. They are my interpretation of his action, but even that interpretation is not satisfactory, to my mind.
– The honorable and learned gentleman objected to others drawing inferences.
– That was an inference I drew from his action, and it is the only one I am able to draw. It is put forward as an inference only. My coalition with him was formed on. two plain conditions; and my adherence to it, my determination not to depart from it, was shown by the fact that I read both of its documents at Ballarat, and that they were included in the report of my speech, when it was published in extenso, so that its very words might be placed before the people who had listened to what I said, or would judge my remarks. The agreement arrived at in May, 1904, can be reduced to two simple pledges - the first that until May, 1906, or any earlier date which the Government might choose, the fiscal question was not to be raised by them, or, on their part, except with the consent of both parties in the Ministry.
– Yet the honorable and learned gentleman offered an alliance with the protectionists ten months before that at Ballarat.
– I have answered that four times, and shall answer it a fifth time presently.
– Who wanted the honorable and learned gentleman’s support when he was in treaty with one’s enemies?
– The right honorable and learned gentleman can not now confuse the issue.
– I do not wish to do that.
– The first plank in that agreement was fiscal peace to May, 1906, and possibly longer, but at all events fiscal peace. The object of that fiscal peace and its purpose were set out in the same agreement embodied in a list of practical business measures which were to be brought forward and passed in the interim. It was to enable that business to be done, and for nothing else, that the coalition was formed, and the agreement was made. There was no object in burying the fiscal question as a question, except for the transaction of useful public business.
– There is one thing which the honorable and learned gentleman has left out, and that is, that it was also directed against the Labour Party.
– We shall come to that point in its place and time. At this moment I am dealing with the only two features of any importance in the coalition - the pledges given and received. What made the coalition was pledges of fiscal peace until May, 1906, and then a Ministerial declaration of policy, with a view to the transaction of useful and necessary legislation till then, legislation noncontentious in one sense, in that it did not involve the fiscal question. What was done by the speech of the GovernorGeneral ? The useful legislation which was promised, and which was the very reason of the coalition, was thrown under the table. Nothing was to be done to fulfil that pledge. Not one measure was offered of all those which were set out and promised to be done as a justification of the coalition, as a justification for sinking the fiscal question. That was done by the late Government,, advisedly, for reasons of their own, and that for the first time broke the agreement, and shattered it into fragments.
– The honorable and learned gentleman broke the agreement at Ballarat.
– When the soul had gone out I did not want the corpse.
– Then there was the second part of the agreement. That was an obligation to declare the fiscal policy of the Government lin May, 1906, or sooner. Instead of this, what was the proposal in the Governor-General’s speech ? To bury the fiscal issue for three years. Instead of the promised declaration of the Government policy in May, 1906, we were offered a declaration of it some three years beyond that date. Here were the two vital considerations of the coalition, and the only two that justified it, both of them deliberately broken by the right honorable gentleman. They were broken in the face of Parliament, which was also to be broken without the possibility of any gain to the country.
– Broken first by the honorable and learned gentleman.
– Yet the honorable and learned gentleman never said a word about that ! Although I had said it for months, he discovered the breach afterwards !
– The right honorable gentleman had never said that he did not intend to proceed with practical legislation. He kept on promising it up to seven days before we met.
– I quite agree with the honorable and learned gentleman there.
– So much for the first pledge. Next the right honorable gentleman never said on any platform that he intended to postpone the fiscal question for three years more instead of until May, 1906 - certainly not in any reported speech that I ever read, or that any one else ever read. x
– I said it at Geelong, after a long interview with the honorable and learned gentleman, on the Wednesday before he spoke.
– The right honorable gentleman said nothing of the kind.
– I said I had given it up for the rest of my life.
Several honorable members interrupting -
– These conversations across the chamber, especially this disturbance during a set speech of the Prime Minister, are entirely out of accord with the dignity of the House. For some days he has been subjected to a number of serious attacks, and he is at least entitled to make a statement without interruption.
– The right honorable gentleman was at perfect liberty to sink the fiscal question for the rest of his natural life, or longer.
– For the rest of his political life.
– That does not affect his pledge to announce his fiscal policy in May, 1906. There was nothing to prevent his personal change of view in our agreement or any understanding, or inference to be drawn therefrom. The right honorable member was quite within his rights in doing that, or promising to do it, and there would have been no objection, I assure him, from the Protectionist Party in the community if he had done so. But that did not and could not relieve him from the obligation he had solemnly undertaken that, if his Government lived, unless it was destroyed by some attack from without which we were unable to prevent, he should, in May, 1906, announce his fiscal policy to the country; and it was no fulfilment of that condition, but an absolute breach of it, to seek to postpone it for three years later. What were we offered instead ? What did the right honorable gentleman compel us to choose between? It was between a dissolution of this Parliament immediately and placing him in the position which he now adorns.
– I would not like to be in the honorable and learned gentleman’s position for twice the honour and glory.
– I not only understand the right honorable gentleman, but in another sense agree with him.
– I left the grapes, and the fox has them now.
– I am not to be diverted. The right honorable gentleman chose to put to this House one simple alternative - “ Go to the country at once, or, by some motion whichwill enable you to proceed with public business, you must remove me from office, because I place myself in the position to prevent you by saying that you shall not transact public business with my consent while I lead the Government.” Not until he put that choice to us did the idea, not merely of moving a motion, but even of supporting any motion adverse to him, ever occur to my mind. On the contrary, as I have said, and repeat for the last time, all my arrangements for the coming session were based on the expectation of the right honorable gentleman remaining in office, and of my playing a very small part indeed, except in the transaction of the ordinary business of the House. What did a dissolution mean ?
– Does the honorable and learned gentleman say that such a thing had never been discussed?
– A hostile motion? Yes.
– With nobody ?
– Yes. The only ques tions that were ever discussed by me which affected the future of the late Government were the suggestions which every one saw broached in the public press and elsewhere, that with a majority of two its position must necessarily be uncertain. But those discussions were always based on the supposition and statement that we were still supporting them. and that the Government, if it went down this session, would go down in some Opposition attack which would find us supporting the Government against the attack. Except in that way, the idea of consenting to displace the Government while it was trying to transact that business to which we and they were pledged, the business set out in detail in the agreement, the practical business still waiting to be transacted by this House - the idea of attacking the Government during the transaction of that business never crossed my mind.
– Nor that of the honorable gentleman’s friends?
– Not to my knowledge.
– Some one is a fabricator, then.
– Yes ; I have been listening to little but fabrications for many days past.
– Let the Postmaster-General say that.
– I will say this-
– The Postmaster-General has been talking a little too much for prudence.
– One of the circumstances which my honorable friends opposite are very anxiousto pass over - and in fact I have never yet heard it alluded to - is this : that the body of men with whom I have the honour to be associated, differing as any given number of honorable members will differ among themselves more or less in regard to their public opinions and public duties, when they went from the Senate Chamber to their own room to discuss the Governor-General’s speech, were at once and without a single dissentient, unanimously of opinion that this breach of both articles of the agreement left no coalition agreement whatever remaining, there was but one course open to us. They were to be penalized though they had done
– In dread of a dissolution.
– They arrived at that decision very quickly.
– They did. They arrived at it in an hour and a half.
– The honorable gentleman met Mr. Watson the same day or the same night.
– I did not meet him on the same day, nor, I think, on the same night. I had no communication with Mr. Watson, nor had he any communication with me upon the amendment ; nor so far as I am aware was he acquainted with the terms of the amendment which I was going to move, until it was moved by me in this Chamber.
– He made a different statement to the caucus, according to the account furnished by him to the press.
– I am not responsible for statements made to a caucus, nor do I know, that any such statements have been correctly reported, nor do I know that they have been made. I am only telling my own part in this matter. What the public will see when they come to consider the events of the past few weeks, is that no ordinary set of circumstances, no doubtful choice was before us. No merely questionable action on the part of the Government, had occurred ; but a blow at us so indefensible as to bring protectionists at once and unanimously into one mind, in the face of an utterly unforeseen situation. They agreed that only one course was open to us. The then Prime Minister had forced a choice of alternatives, and they saw that there was then no choice on their part. What happened, happened spontaneously and unanimously. This in itself is a demonstration *hat different men of different views and different inclinations felt that, under the situation which the right honorable member had created, only one solution was left, and that was to propose an amendment that would allow of the transaction of the business to which we had pledged ourselves before the country during the fiscal peace.
– What the honorable and learned gentleman himself had repeatedly declared to be impossible.
– The honorable member
U under a misapprehension.
– It is in Hansard.
– The honorable gentleman declared this Parliament to be an impossible Parliament.
– Yes, that is perfectly true, but relates to a different matter ; and in the sense in which I used the words it is still impossible. The only really substantial meaning to be attached to the right honorable member’s interjection is that the position which I occupy is not one to be envied. It certainly is not, in this Parliament and in the constitutional situation in which we find ourselves. Nothing but the imperative nature of the situation, nothing but the fact that if a dissolution had been granted, it would have been fruitless and profitless, would have left us still with three parties, and must have left Us still divided, could have driven us to accept our present responsibilities, We knew that when we had cost the country £50,000, and a new Parliament had been returned, there would still have been three parties, and that. the transaction of business would still depend upon an alliance, or understanding between two of those parties, such as now exists to some extent on these benches. We knew that a dissolution now must be futile, and that business ought to be done first. Nothing but such considerations would have induced me to’ take the action which I have taken. We should not have been a single step further, nor could we have improved our position in the slightest degree, if we had had a general election at that time. So when the right honorable member charges me with reviving the three-party system, he surely forgets that he, and he alone, is entitled to that distinction. The speech of the Governor-General was a declaration of war against his allies, the protectionists, who were then supporting him.
– It proposed to destroy them without warning or justification.
– Surely public principles are not a question of office, of being in or out?
– But public principles differ, and our principle as protectionists was only guaranteed by the declaration in our agreement that the late Government’s fiscal policy should be declared in May, 1906. When we were asked to substitute for that date a statement of the late Government’s fiscal policy postponed till 1909, it became a totally different thing. Remember that we were protectionists. We had never sunk protection. We had simply agreed to work with the late Government until May, 1906, when they were to declare themselves fiscally. We were never prepared, or even asked, to wait for such a declaration until May. 1909. I, myself, advised the late Government of the steps by which we could remain associated with them until the end of this Parliament. But when the Prime Minister sought to change the policy of fiscal peace until May, 1906, into a policy of fiscal entombment until 1909, the situation was entirely changed.
– Did not his fiscal allies In the Cabinet agree to that?
– I am not aware.
– That was a personal declaration of my own.
– And as purely personal I have always treated it for several reasons. Consequently, by that personal declaration of his, the right honorable member at once revived three parties in this House. He carried with him his own fiscal party. But could we see the fiscal question entombed until1909? Did not the right honorable member know that he could not expectto carry with him those protectionists who were supporting him?
– They wanted the fiscal peace to last for three Parliaments.
– Some did, but they were so few that they were unable to make themselves heard at our caucus. When the right honorable member attempted the entombment of the fiscal question, he knew that he was cutting himself off from those protectionists who were supporting him, and that he was re-creating the three-party system. He resolved us at once into our original parties. There was the Free-trade Party which supported the right honorable member, there was the Protectionist Party which I had the honour to lead, and there was the third party fiscally indifferent, and putting forward its own policy. It was, I say, this act of the right honorable member,and this alone, that re-created the three-party situation which unfortunately we have now inherited. I have not altered one opinion that I have ever expressed as to the inconvenience, danger, and prejudice to constitutional government that the threeparty system occasions. I say that our present system makes the working of constitutional government, as we know it, impossible upon established lines. But the right honorable member having re-created the three-party system, we had to face it.
We had to admit it, and’ take the best possible course. He left us only a choice of evils, of difficulties. Either we could go to the country, and obtain a verdict which would settle nothing, which would leave us where we were, and would ‘entail the expenditure of £50,000 ; or if we did not go to the country we could try to carry on this Parliament under the three-party system. Of those two evils we preferred to save the country£50,000, and to carry on the business for which we were sent here; and we hope to give the country time to reconsider the situation so as ultimately to come to a more intelligent decision than we should have done had we rushed to the electorates in confusion as the right honorable member desired.
– For or against your allies, which ?
– An alliance between two parties which would put an end to the three-party systemhas not been consummated. No honorable member of this House can claim to have, with greater risk to himself and with the acceptance of greater responsibility, done more than I have to endeavour to get rid of the three-party system. I regret no step that I have taken in that direction, although, unfortunately, the results have mocked my hopes and my belief. Three parties of nearly equal strength were returned to this House, and from the first I sought to formulate some substantial plan upon which two of the parties could unite. The Labour Party could not unite with any other, the protectionists would not ; and when I trusted the right honorable member and his party it was only to find myself, without warning, and on mere suspicion, betrayed.
– With a dagger in the honorable and learned member’s hand.
– I had no dagger in my hand, until the right honorable gentleman aimed his battle-axe at his protectionist supporters, and then I had only twenty-four hours in which to obtain it. I endeavoured at great personal risk and cost to myself to bring the three-party system to an end in this Chamber. The whole of that work, whatever it may have been, was destroyed by the breach of faith of the right honorable gentleman, and we are now thrown back upon the conditions which had previously existed.
– The Prime Minister made another alliance.
– Unfortunately, we were not able to make an alliance. We had what the leader of the Opposition has properly called an understanding, and in arriving at that understanding I took care that it should fulfil the very same conditions that the right honorable gentleman himself agreed to have fulfilled in our agreement last year. Everything was done openly, and our agreement has no concealed item or bargain. The right honorable gentleman has been pleased to taunt us with having submitted our programme to the Labour Party. In one sense of the term, it certainly was submitted,: because it was communicated to them; but, inasmuch as neither the leader of that party nor the party as a whole had made any stipulations beforehand as to what our programme should contain, no humiliation was involved. The members of the Labour Party were simply referred to the unaltered programme of the former Administration, of which I was the head, and of which some of my present colleagues were members in 1903-4, and they then’ indicated that so far as that was concerned, they were prepared to give a general support to the Government. That was the beginning and the end of an understanding honorable to both parties, and involving no sacrifice on the part of the Labour .Party, or any sacrifice or submission on ours.’
– It did not involve going over the precipice.
– We shall not fail to receive the assistance of the right honorable gentleman and his supporters when there is any prospect ofl helping us over. A letter and a resolution were exchanged between Mr. Watson and myself in order that everything in the understanding should be made known to the public, and that those outside the understanding, as well as those within it, should know precisely where we were and are.
– The Minister does not himself know where he is - what is the use of saying that?
– The only direct personal attack on my procedure that I have heard from my right honorable friend the leader of the Opposition is that, after he had thought fit to tear up the agreement between us, and to depart from the only two of its constituent parts that were vital, he considered that I should still sit in my old corner and allow the leader of the Labour Party to move the motion adverse to the right hon orable gentleman’s proposal to dissolve without doing any business. But why should” that duty rest with the then leader of the Opposition? The right honorable gentleman owed nothing to the then leader of the Opposition for the place he occupied, but he did owe something to us. He had: broken no agreement with the leader of the Labour Party, but he had broken every agreement with us.
– Did the Prime Ministerthink that he was entitled to the reversion, df the leadership?
– The then leader of the Opposition had no special grounds upon which to urge a complaint against the right honorable member for East Sydney, but the right honorable gentleman had given us cause for the keenest complaint by deliberately seeking to cut us off not only from the friends from whom we had separated ourselves in order to give him a chance to carry on the business of the country, but by cutting us off in the country too, and attempting to grind us. to pieces between his own fiscal supportersand the members of the Labour Party.
– I wronged the honorableand learned member into the position of Prime Minister again, so that he need not be too bitter.
– I would much rather that the right honorable gentleman had retained the position.
– Not on the Prime Minister’s terms.
– On terms of which the right honorable member has spoken of me in expressions of the most exaggerated eulogy, and from which there would have been no departure so long as he had fulfilled his agreement.
– The Ballarat speech put an end to the agreement.
– In my speech at Ballarat I pointed to something a year, if not longer, ahead. It is ridiculous to tell me that the right honorable gentleman, who has been described in his own State as the old parliamentary hand of Australia - a. man who understands party management and mechanism perhaps better than any manin Australia - would, because of a speech, pointing to some possible development twelve months or more ahead, act like thecoon in the American fable, and say, “Don’t shoot, Colonel; I’ll come down.”’ To tell me that such an old parliamentaryhand and strategist as the right honorable gentleman acted in that way before satisfying himself whether we were going to shoot at all, is to strain our credulity too far.
– When the honorable and (learned member spoke about taking another wife twelve months hence, it was time for me to get rid of him.
– Even that offer was not made. I pointed out that if the proposals made by the Tariff Commission were treated in a businesslike way there was no reason why the right honorable gentleman should not continue in office. I actually pleaded with him to take that course.
– The Minister offered to enter into an alliance with the Labour Party if they would adopt the principle of protection. I did not want an alliance of that kind.
– I offered to accept the support of the protectionists wherever they might come from, either from the anti- Socialist leagues of New South Wales or the Labour leagues, and in so doing I offered no more than the right honorable gentleman has done on fifty platforms when welcoming Labour members who were freetraders, because they assisted him in carrying on his campaign.
Mr.Joseph Cook. - That was during the fiscal fight.
– Exactly, and my speech pointed only to the time when fiscal peace should be ended in the event of a failure to devise means by which the period of the agreement between us could be lengthened. May, 1906, was named from the first as the end of the term for which our agreement was made. Honorable members have chosen to speak of our coalition agreement as if it were made for all time, as if we had abandoned protection and bound ourselves to the right honorable member’s chariot wheels, in order to form one indissoluble party with his free-trade followers. But our party as a whole had emphatically rejected the proposal for a coalition, and we were at our peril individually assisting the right honorable gentleman to transact the business of the country.
– There was no doubt about the peril. Look at the Age.
– The change that has taken place in the distribution of members of this House within its walls is not in itself, that is to the public outside, a matter of the first importance. At all events, it is not to us, I believe, a matter of that im portance, except for one consideration. One consideration only partly contents us with the present position of affairs, and that is because we have at least saved from the wreck with which it was threatened that which is more to us than our party, because it makes our party, and more to us than our individual fortunes, which are gladly given to it, and that is the policy with which we are identified before the country. The right honorable and learned gentleman’s policy, so far as we have been able to gather it, is a policy of negation, and a policy of drift. The policy which, whatever happens to us. personally, will now be re-established, and will long survive us, will strike its roots into this country and dominate it, will be a progressive, practical, and positive policy ; it will be no policy of negatives. The change of Ministry unfortunately and unhappily brought about, as it has been, from my point of view, has this redeeming virtue, that the policy that was threatened, that was sought to be obscured, under a sudden and hurried dissolution brought about under cover of an appeal to political passion, will now be submitted to the country, and be put before the people in such plain, clear, and straightforward terms that few, if any, will be able to misunderstand the issue. The verdict of the country will decide how far its acceptance will be at once granted, but nothing now can turn it back.
– How much per cent. more does the honorable and learned gentleman want on the Tariff ?
– The question as to details of percentages by which my right honorable friend kindly endeavours to lead me from my path, will be dealt with, I hope, on expert advice, at an early date.
– What, with a fiscal peace for this Parliament?
– I hope so, when the circumstances of each case have been examined. Then we shall be able to talk to the right honorable gentleman about percentages. At present, we are not qualified to deal with the question, and, to put the matter in American phraseology, we do not propose to jump stiles until we come to them.
– I hope the honorable and learned gentleman will keep his word with the people.
– Our practical and progressive policy will have the opportunity which we all desire for it. We shall accept the verdict of Australia, whatever it may be, confident that even if the great ability of the right honorable member for East Sydney, and the support which he gets from his followers whatever they may think of the course he has pursued, should enable him to wrest from us more than we think he is entitled to of the representation of his own State, and of some others, still we shall proceed in our confident faith. It is a certainty that the policy which is now brought forward with its flag unfurled and its face unveiled, will continue its advance for years to come, until it is firmly established as the root basis of the politics of this country.
Honorable Members. - Hear, hear.
– Labour cheers, surely not?
– Its path has’ been cleared by the subtle attack of the right honorable member for East Sydney himself. Thanks to the right honorable gentleman himself we hear no more about free-trade in this country.
An Honorable Member. - We will though.
– We hear next to nothing now of the revenue Tariff. We hear nothing of any amendment of the existing Tariff. The right honorable gentleman has brought himself steadily abreast of public opinion, until he is content now to take the Tariff as it is, and simply seeks to prevent it going any further. I think he will find himself foiled in that effort, as he has found himself foiled in previous efforts.
– The honorable and learned gentleman sees that I am easily shifted.
– The right honorable gentleman did not say that in Brisbane. He said there that it would be hard to shift him.
– I did not expect this.
– If we could shift the right honorable gentleman into the protectionist camp, that would be a most important help, but in the meantime to have induced him to make the three long fiscal strides which he has made, is a great achievement - because this is a road on which there is no going back. There will be some going forward, some advance at the next election, but it will not be what the right honorable gentleman used to call an advance.
– Only 5 per cent. ?
– It will be what_ he would have called a retrogression, because it will mean more protection, preferential trade, with positive legislation in regard to social questions, and in regard to the peopling of this country with a white race.
– That is the card ; keep to that. What difference is there between us on that subject I should like, to know?
– Only this differencethat, so far as I can understand, the right honorable gentleman has not yet committed himself to any practical means for giving effect to that policy.
– I consider that English, Irish, and Scotch people are white people.
– Whereas, if we live for a few months longer in 1 this Parliament, we shall offer an opportunity of considering a full-fledged and complete scheme for dealing with this question. If the right honorable member for East Sydney is content to place his great ability and the forces behind him at the service of stagnation, merely preventing us going forward as far as we wish, or in the direction we wish, that is for him to choose. But we cannot take the same course, because we believe we are here as the servants and custodians of that policy which is yet to be the Australian policy.
– I have been setting honorable members opposite too quick a march, and thev do not like it.
– That was a march to the rear.
– No ; a march to the people.
– A march to the people when the right honorable gentleman knew that the people would not be able to give any verdict which would alter the existing state of affairs effectively.
– That is quite a gratuitous thing to say.
– The right honorable gentleman’s march to the people meant two or three months spent in this House considering the question of the redistribution of seats. Then it meant a general election, which would take another month or two, and it consequently meant that for five or six months there would be an absolute suspension of public business - but with the continued supremacy of my right honorable friend, who would have remained in office.
– All I can say is that I ; handed it over to the honorable and learned gentleman without much trouble.
– Because the right honorable gentleman had to do so.
– There was not much trouble. One speech was enough, one false supporter.
– The supporter alluded to was not false, but was absolutely true - so true- I do not wish to make any more asseverations ; but if my memoryand conscience, up to the time of the delivery of the Governor-General’s speech, could be held up to the right honorable gentleman as a. mirror, I would so hold them up now, confident and positive beyond all suspicion of doubt that they would satisfy even the suspicions he is affecting as his excuse. The anxieties I felt were quite of another cha racter. However, it has pleased honorable members opposite to forget the facts ; to deny them; to reverse the order of events; to ignore the meaning of the GovernorGeneral’s speech ; not to recognise the fact that at great risk to ourselves we kept the Government in power, supporting a right honorable gentleman who tore up his agreement and left us to fight as best we could in the country against the men whom we were supporting, as well as any others who might range themselves against us. That was the treatment which the right honorable gentleman was prepared to mete out to his supporters and those who stood back in order that he might be given his opportunity to give this country practical legislation. That, sir, was black treachery. We resented and resisted it. There was no other choice for us. and, whatever the result may be to myself and those whom I represent, confident in the ultimate victory of our policy, and confident also that we are doing but justice to our constituents, I am satisfied with the step we took. It was our clear public duty, although I do dread the arduous burden which it imposes upon us.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Order of the day read and discharged ;
Bill presented by Mr. Isaacs, and read a first time.
Bill presented by Mr. Isaacs, and read a first time.
Alien Immigration - Book-keeping Period - Deserted Wives and Families.
Motion (by Mr. Deakin) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
– On several occasions myself and other members have brought under the notice of the Prime Minister what may be termed the maladministration of the Immigration Restriction Act. The Prime Minister has always expressed his sympathy with the representations made to him, and promised that for the future the Act would be more carefully administered. I am now credibly informed that there are in the Cairns district for Queensland a number of Chinamen - new chum Chinamen - who have not previously been in the country, and have, therefore, not arrived under permit. I do not know whether it is a fact; but it has been suggested that these men take passages at Hong Kong or travel as stowaways. When the steamer is off Cairns, Port Douglas, or Cooktown, it is said that beche-de-mer boats, or other boats which are hovering about, ostensibly on business, but really for the purpose of landing Chinamen, come alongside in the small hours of the morning, when the. passengers are in their bunks, and very few people about the decks, and the Chinese are then transferred to these small boats. I do not know whether there is any connivance on the part of those on the ship, possibly there is; but. at any rate, I am informed that these Chinamen arc landed at Cairns, also in the small hours, without any difficulty. The men can be taken up the inlet, or landed at the north side of the inlet, where there are plenty of Chinese. In any case, Chinamen are entering the country in this illegal way,, and I ask the Prime Minister what steps he intends to take to prevent these breaches of the law. I admit there may be some difficulty in preventing the landing of these men; but the difficulty ought not to be insurmountable. These men are being landed, not only at Cairns, but at Port Douglas, Cooktown, and other places along this extensive coast. There are no police or police boats to watch vessels which arrive ; but I am sure some satisfactory method could be devised by the Department to prevent this evasion of the Act.
– I beg to emphasize what the honorable member has said. During my recent trip to Queensland I found a very general impression, not only amongst the townspeople, but amongst the planters, that there was some back-door passage for Chinese. In view of the strenuous White Australia policy which the Prime Minister has just indicated, I direct his attention to the Alien Immigration Act of Cape Colony, which has received the assent of the London Colonial Office. In that Act there is a provision under which every Chinaman in the Colony has to possess a yearly registration ticket, and that has to be produced when called for, showing last year’s signature of a resident magistrate. This is not a matter” of taxation ; but a means of preventing a dangerous influx of Chinese to Cape Colony, in view of the importation of Chinese to the Transvaal. I have had a copy of this Act, with its regulations, sent to me, and I shall be pleased if the Prime Minister can see his way to adopt a similar means of preventing the influx of Chinese to the Commonwealth.
– I desire to direct the attention of the Treasurer to a matter which I regret was omitted from the statement of the business proposed by the Prime Minister. I refer to the continuation or otherwise of the book-keeping system at the expiration of the period of five years. This is a matter of great importance to Western Australia. I have on more than one occasion quoted figures showing how the abolition of this system would affect the finances of the State which I represent. During the four years of Federation, the absence of this book-keeping provision would have penalized the State Treasury of Western Australia to the extent of £2,160,000. The tendency is for the revenue of Western Australia to approximate more and more to the -per capita revenue of the other States, and I want the Government to say that they will give the House an opportunity to discuss the question, if possible, this session. If the Treasurer can give an undertaking that the matter will form a subject in his financial statement, that will be some assurance to the Treasurer of Western Australia. If the matter 5s not dealt with this session, we shall not be able to reach ““it until pretty late next session, and the Western Australian Treasurer, not knowing what his income will be from Customs, will not be able to prepare his Estimates. I want the Government to indicate what they intend to do when the present five years’ period has expired, which it does in October, 1906. The ‘Government of Westem Australia ought to know what the new system is to be if a new system is to be introduced, and they ought to be informed whether the present system is to be continued. I ask the Treasurer to give this matter his earnest attention, as it is one of very great importance to the finances of Western Australia.
– I. wish to call the attention of the PrimeMinister to a matter which I cannot verywell embody in the form of a questionor questions. Last session it’ was my intention, if it had been constitutional, to submit a Bill dealing with the subject of deserted wives and families. Unfortunately,. I found, after consulting the late AttorneyGeneral, that it would not be constitutional’ for me to d’o so. This is a verv important matter, at any rate, in regard to South* Australia. I had the honour of a seat upon the council of the State Children’s; Department of that State for some years, and we found that families were constantly being deserted by men who went to the other States, who were well able to contribute to the support of their families, but refused to do so. At the presentmoment there is a man living with another woman in Melbourne who has deserted his wife and family in South Australia. Heis earning a good salary every week, but refuses to contribute is. towards their support, and there is no power to> compel him to do so. I ask the PrimeMinister to consider the advisability of communicating with the whole of the States Governments with a view to inducing themto hand over to the Commonwealth Government the power to deal with this matterIt is obviously a matter upon which Federal’ action requires to be taken, for the reason that it would be idle for four or five States to agree to legislate in regard to it, because deserters would then go to the fifth State where there would be no power to deal” with them.
– I shall be happy to inquire into the suspected influx of Chineseto which the honorable member for Herbert has alluded, and am glad that he has recognised the difficulties under which I labour. I am only gradually getting intotouch again with the Department in that respect, and so far have received no complaints from the district to which he refers..
– There is no doubt that the practice alluded to exists.
– The first step to betaken will be to endeavour to prove thefacts, and to locate if possible the placeof the arrival of the Chinese. I will take some steps in regard to the matter, and perhaps the honorable member will” communicate with me at a later stage. The matter which has been alluded toby the honorable member for Fremantle- is a very complicated one, and cannot be dealt with now. The Treasurer is giving his attention to the finances of the year, and in the course of his Budget speech he may be able to make some allusion to it. Further consideration may be given to it when the Estimates are out of the way. In the case referred to by the honorable member for Hindmarsh, my own impression is that the Service and Execution of Process Act does afford a larger remedy than he supposes.
– The evil is due to defective State legislation.
-If there be any defect at all, I do not think it will be found in the Service and Execution of Process Act, but in State legislation. If the honorable member for Hindmarsh will speak to the Attorney-General, and put a concrete case to him, we shall soon be able to determine that.
Question resolved in. the affirmative.
House adjourned at 10.45p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 1 August 1905, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1905/19050801_reps_2_25/>.