2nd Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair, at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Mr. McLEAN presented a petition from the Victorian Chamber of Manufactures, protesting against the inclusion of the. union label clause in the Trade Marks. Bill.
– I wish to know from the Prime’ Minister if it is a fact, as stated in the newspapers,, that the Government have been considering the. Immigration Restriction Act? If it be a fact, wilt he state to the House whether the Government have decided to repeal or to modify the Act?
– The Government havebeen considering the Act, and a number of other matters iri connexion with proposals, to attract population which we hope to submit, but until those proposals are submitted as a whole I cannot announce them..
– I wish to know from the Prime Minister (1) If the Government are of opinion that the early continuation of the railway from Oodnadatta to or towards Port Darwin is of national and Federal importance? (2) Will the Government be prepared to recommend Parliament to assist the State of South Australia,, if asked by its Govern.ment. to proceed at an early date with the survey for and subsequent construction of such continuation? (3) Will the Government state what, in their opinion, will be the best method of giving assistance and support to the work referred to?
– These are very important questions, deserving the consideration of the people of the Commonwealth. They were placed in my hands by the honorable member in sufficient time to enable me to /.announce what is and always has been the ^attitude of the Government on the main principle . involved. We consider the construction of this transcontinental line to be a matter of national and Federal importance, because of its commercial usefulness and serviceableness for Defence purposes. The railway would also open up a large’ area in the interior, which, according to recent reports, offers much more opportunity for profitable development than has hitherto been supposed. Questions 2 and 3 may foe answered together. It has lately been suggested that the dividing line between the Northern Territory and South Australia proper might be altered with advantage, and I understand that the extension of the South Australian railway from Oodnadatta to the McDonnell Ranges is in -contemplation. This line would reach to a point beyond the present boundary, but not beyond the proposed boundary; and, although of interest to the whole Commonwealth, the extension would be of particular interest only to South Australia. But the further extension through the Northern Territory to Port “Darwin would be of national importance, seeing that it would provide an outlet to Torres Straits and the northern seas, and give -an advantageous connexion with the whole «of the northern coast and countries most easily reached from there. I should, therefore, be inclined to favour any reasonable proposal for assisting the survey of that tailway through the Northern Territory with a view to the determination bv this Parliament on full information of the wisdom of constructing such a line. At present the Northern Territory is under the control of South Australia. At the very commencement of Federation an offer was made from South Australia to transfer the Northern Territory to the Commonwealth, but after the negotiations had proceeded some few steps that offer was suspended, and has not since been- revived. If in connexion with a new proposal for the acquisition of the Northern Territory by the Commonwealth a project for the construction of a railway were submitted by the South Australian Government, it would- have the most careful attention of the Government and Parliament of the Commonwealth.
– With the alteration of the boundary as suggested? That was one of the points which stopped negotiations.
– I do not know that it stopped negotiations on our side, because to move the border between South Australia and the Northern Territory north to the McDonnell Ranges is in our view a proper alteration.
– In view of the answer just given by the Prime Minister, do the Government propose to consider the proposal to construct a transcontinental railway to Port Darwin until the State of South Australia has carried out the solemn guarantee^ entered into by it prior to Federation that it would, by an Act of Parliament, authorize the construction of a railway from Port Augusta to the border of Western Australia? Will the Government consider this matter before the Parliament of South Australia has enacted a measure to which two of its Premiers and all of its leading politicians had pledged the State prior to Western Australia entering the Federation?
– I have been endeavouring to deal with this question solely from a Commonwealth point of view. In my opinion it is of great importance to Australia that there should be railway connexions with the West at Perth, arid with the North at Port Darwin, and I hope that the consideration of both projects together will facilitate matters.
– A railway to Port Darwin need not necessarily go through South Australia.
– It could go by another route.
– Has the
Prime Minister read a report by the Governor of South Australia on the necessity of importing the dear coloured brother to develop the resources of the Northern Territory? Does the Prime Minister acquiesce in the Governor’s declaration as to his coloured brother ? If so, will he recommend that His Excellency be sent to New Guinea so that he may enjoy the society of the coloured brother in the coloured brother’s country ?
– I cannot criticise the relations betweena State Governor and Parliament; but the honorable member will do well to recollect that what he has seen is a very condensed and possibly incomplete newspaper account of His Excellency’s views.
– Will the Prime Minister endeavour to obtain copies of the full report for the information of honorable members?
– Will the Prime Minister specially consider the report in relation to the right of State Governors to criticise in detail matters that come within the domain of the Federal authorities?
– I will obtain the full report, but until I see it shall be unable to admit that it calls for any consideration at our hands.
– Last week the Minister of Home Affairs promised to look through the correspondence between the Governments of the States and the Commonwealth Government in regard to the creation of a Commonwealth Statistical Bureau, to see if there was any objection to laying a copy of it on the table. Has the Prime Minister any objection to a copy being laid on the Library table?
– I understand that the papers have been looked through, but am not aware whether the Minister has made a selection of them. My honorable colleague will probably be able to give the desired information to the honorable member during the present sitting.
– I desire to know whether the Prime Minister has received any communication from the South Australian Government since I asked him a ques tion a few days ago with reference to the taking over of Northern Territory by the Commonwealth ?
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– In reply to the honorable member, I beg to state: -
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Whether, in view of. the serious losses that are being suffered by the Commonwealth by the introduction and spreading of animal, insect, and other pests, the Government has taken into consideration the advisability of establishing a bacteriological and entomological laboratory under Federal authority ; if not, will the Government take the matter into early consideration ?
– The answer to’ the honorable member’s question is as follows : -
The establishment of such a laboratory will be considered when the encouragement of rural industries has been undertaken by the Commonwealth.
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– On behalf of the Minister of Defence, I have to state -
asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
-In reply to the honorable member -
asked the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– On behalf of the Minister of Trade and Customs I have to state-
Section 41 of the Beer Excise Act, which is as follows : -
Whenever beer upon which the duty has been paid becomes unfit for human use as a beverage before more than oneeighth of its quantity has been withdrawn from the vessel in which it is contained, a refund of the duty shall be made in the manner prescribed, if it is returned in the original vessel to the brewery within ninety days after removal, or if it is destroyed by permission of the Collector. The refund may be made by the issue of stamps.
In Committee of Supply. (Consideration resumed from 1st September, vide page 1854), on motion by Sir John Forrest -
That the item, “President,£1,100,” be agreed to.
– Of all the opportunities that are afforded to honorable members, I think that that presented by the discussion upon the Treasurer’s financial policy is the most fitting to select, for doing justice to the various questions of public policy to which it is considered necessary to direct the attention of the Government. I have very carefully perused the Treasurer’s financial statement, as reported in Hansard, and I think that if it is read, as I hope it will be, throughout the British Possessions, it will create a distinctly favorable impression. The Treasurer was perfectly justified in taking an optimistic view of our financial conditions. An investigation’ of the Treasurer’s figures will, however, demonstrate how little the results which are shown in the statistics supplied by the right honorable gentleman with such liberality throughout his Budget are due to legislation by this Parliament, and how much they are dependent upon the action of a beneficent Providence in giving us excellent seasons during the past two years. It is from that cause that we have benefited more than from any other, and I think it is a reflection upon us that the financial statement contains no proposal which seems calculated to improve the conditions which now obtain owing to the bountiful seasons which we have experienced. There are one or two matters to which I desire specially to direct the attention of the Treasurer. I regret to say that an effort is being made by a certain section of the House - and in this connexion I wish particularly to emphasize the views of the commercial community, which have been placed immediately before us - to set up a standard of righteousness and exclusiveness which, though it may be theoretically sound, will certainly react upon the honest trader, without hindering the dishonest trader, because of the facilities which exist for evading such legislation. I would further point out that the legislation in question cannot be enforced without employing a small army of inspectors and examiners. I repeat, therefore, that in imposing various legislative restrictions upon commerce and trade - many of them admittedly desirable so far as they secure to our people improved conditions, and a better knowledge of the ‘ goods which they may be purchasing or selling - we are subjecting the commercial community to still another disability so far as their relations with other countries are concerned. I admit that the public are unquestionably in favour of honest dealing. They desire that the honest trader shall be protected, and that the dishonest individual shall be punished. At the same time, the continuance of these pin-pricking laws is not conducive to an increased measure of morality. I have already said that the Treasurer is amply justified in taking an optimistic view of our position, and in expecting that the figures which he has so liberally distributed throughout his Budget will be productive of a useful influence abroad. I find that between 1903 and 1904 the trade of the Commonwealth increased by £8,519,000. That result, I think, is chiefly clue to the magnificent seasons which we have experienced. For instance, in 1903, the export of wheat was valued at only 191,355, whereas in 1904 it had increased to .£5,240,590, and the wool crop, which in 1903 was worth 13,997,000 had increased the following year to a value of ^17, 11 5,000. It will be seen that these two items iri themselves practically account for the difference between the trade of the Commonwealth during the two years I have mentioned, and thus enabled the Treasurer to take the optimistic view which he did. During the course of this debate reference has been made to the increase which has taken place in our bank deposits. In one of the Budget Papers the right honorable gentleman has given the House valuable information as to our position in this respect. . But I do not think that we can regard the increase of deposits in our banks as. a very healthy sign. To me it seems rather to suggest’ that there is as* absence of enterprise abroad, and I am perfectly certain that the Treasurer and* the Government must realize that it is their duty to ascertain as far as. they possibly can, what are the real causes underlying this condition of affairs.. During the coming season we shall probably have a still further accumulation of profitsconsequent upon the larger wool and wheat’ yields, which are now practically assured.
– Is it not a fact that the advances made by the banks are proportionately quite as large as they were previously ?
– I think I am justified insaying that last year the amount of profits in the banks were quite as high - with the exception of one year - as they have ever been in the history of Australia, whereas, the advances showed -a decrease. Taking, the first quarter of the present year, the advances were equivalent to £81,717,000, whereas in 1904 they amounted to £84,000,000, a decrease practically of £2,280,000. One of the most important tasks to which the Treasurer can usefully address himself isto discover the reasons which exist for this condition of things. I am sure he will recognise that in London the men who handle large financial concerns consider that a moderately tight money market is the most healthy sign of trade generally. In Australia we have” an increasing amount upon deposit at the banks, and a decreasing bank rate. On the other hand, men who are accustomed to handle large undertakingshere do not exhibit the same desire to engage in enterprise. I make that statement deliberately, although I have no desire to take a pessimistic view of the situation. Indeed. I hold’ that the optimistic view entertainer! by the Treasurer is justified by the conditions which obtain all over the Commonwealth. Nevertheless, the right honorable gentleman might, with profit, investigate the reasons which are operating against the production of those conditions which in other parts of the world’ are regarded as indications of a healthy and prosperous state of trade. I have no desire to labour this subject,, but before leaving it I should like to put before the House a return prepared by me in connexion with another institution with which I am associated. The return, which is based on the statistics for 1903 - the latest that I could ‘ secure - shows that during that year Great Britain imported ^£260,000,000 worth of grain, cotton, wool, wine, butter, cheese, leather goods, coffee, tobacco, fruits, currants, raisins, and so forth, all of which can be, or. are being, produced within the Commonwealth. Yet, as the House is aware, Australia has but a very small proportion of this great trade. My earnest hope is that the Government will submit proposals by which we, as a great producing community, will be enabled to secure a larger share of it. Whether it be described as ““preferential trade” or by any other name, we ought to introduce a system which will so assist our primary industries as to enable us to secure a much larger share of the enormous volume of trade to which I have referred. We should endeavour to give the primary producers of the Commonwealth a larger measure of assistance than we are doing.
– These are mere generalities. We should like to know what suggestion the honorable member has to make.
– It is the duty of the Treasurer to deal with this question in detail, and the Government should submit proposals to the House that will enable Australia to supply a larger share of Great Britain’s imports.
– Does the honorable member think that a Federal land tax would help us ? x
– I do not ; and I trust that it will never be necessary for the Commonwealth to resort to direct taxation.
– What does the honorable member think will help us in this respect ?
– If we repealed some of the restrictive legislation which my honorable friend has supported, we should remove to = a certain extent many of the difficulties that at present face us. I find again that the population of Australia in 1904 was 3,984,337, consisting almost equally of males and females, and that the Victorian 1 Government Statist remarks that -
The immigration from outside Australia to Australian States ceased about the year i8c;r, and since then we have had to depend solely upon the excess of births over deaths for any increase that “has taken place in the population.
– So that the cessation of immigration dates from the great . bank smash.
– I have no ‘desire to reflect in any way upon my honorable friends in the Ministerial corner, . because I think their earnestness of purpose is undoubted, but the honorable member for Herbert must not forget that the cessation of immigration in 1891 was really concurrent with the passing of coercive and restrictive legislation.
– r-The Federal Parliament was not created until ten years after the period to which the honorable member refers, and we did not have even a Factories Act in Victoria until six years later.
– I am simply referring to the historical fact that shortly after the financial crisis of 1891 - which was one of the strong factors responsible for the cessation of immigration - we saw the passing of legislation intended to restrict the freedom of trade and commerce, and the direction in which they might be carried on. Much of this legislation was undoubtedly serviceable, but I would remind honorable members, without making any deductions from this fact, that the cessation of immigration was really concurrent with the passing of restrictive legislation by the Parliaments of the several States. It was about that time, that the party favouring class legislation obtained control- of the Parliamentary machine.
– The cessation of immigration was the result of the collapse of the land boom, and of commercial corruption.
– I hold that the commercial morality of Australia is equal to that of any other civilized community, and that when we speak of its absence from Australia, we are fouling our own- nest in a most unjustifiable ‘ way. It is most regrettable that the greatest detractors of Australia should be found among our own people. As one having a knowledge of the political, commercial, and financial life of Australia, I say that we can hold our heads high among the nations of the earth. There is an entire absence of corruption, but unfortunately a number of honorable members, whose honesty of intention cannot be questioned, have been carried away by theories which have not been put to the test, and have supported legislation which has done much to hamper the development of the Commonwealth. It is with regret I find that the Treasurer, who, times without number, both here and on the public platform, has urged the necessity for introducing population to remedy many of the existing evils, has not been able yet to come down with a specific proposal for that purpose. What do I see in the Estimates? We are asked to vote a sum of ^200 “ for advertising the resources of the Commonwealth.”
– That is. to carry out an agreement made with some one by the last Government.
– I am speaking merely of the fact, and not of the occupant of the Office.
– It is not a fresh item, so far as this Government is concerned.
– And I am not concerned with the question as to who compiled the Estimates of expenditure. I can only deal with the figures which are presented to the Committee. To promote a great undertaking, we are asked to vote the sum of £200.
– Does it not represent the salary of Mr. John Plummer?
– It may represent the salary of some gentleman. If we had been asked to vote £2,000, or indeed, £20,000, I think it would have been money exceedingly well spent if properly applied. I am asked to make a practical suggestion as to what should be done. I recognise the limited area of influence allotted to this Parliament. I admit that it can do nothing practical without the assistance of the States. I know that the Prime Minister has made this a live question, But we wish to get away from eloquent speeches. They are certainly valuable texts for us to refer to; but we wish to be afforded an opportunity to consider a substantial scheme which would tend to bring the States and the Commonwealth into practical cooperation for the purpose of inducing a large influx of population. Surely no responsible Government could have before its eyes a greater question than, that of ascertaining why people are avoiding Australia and flocking to Canada and the United States and Argentina?
– Because they can get work in those countries.
– There is plenty of work to be done here if proper facilities are given- There is no country in which work can be conducted under better conditions for the worker and with better results than ours.
– To-day there are hundreds of men out of work who want employment badly.
– There is something wrong, I admit, when that condition, of things exists, and it is the duty of the Government to ascertain the causes of it. If we refer to the statistics concerning private property and individual wealth we shall find a record which is not equalled by that of any other country. I ask honorable members to* earnestly consider these facts, and to note the deposits in the savings banks. Of course, it is a regrettable circumstance that there are isolated cases of want of employment, but let any person who has travelled1 round the world mark the .generality of our people,* and he will find that they are better clothed, better fed, and better housed than are the people of other countries.
– With more money for gambling, too.
– I regret that failing. But even that fact is an evidence “of prosperity. At Show time, and later on, at Cup time, if the season has been good, my honorable friend will see the metropolis of Victoria crowded with persons who have come from the country because of the prosperity in which they have shared. Certainly thequestion of want of population is one which ought to be faced with firmness and1 energy by every honorable member until we arriveat a solution of the problem.
– There is only one- way inwhich the Federal Parliament can deal with the question, and that is to provide work by opening avenues of employment-
– If that is the only way in which population can be attracted here then let the Government come forward” with a proposal for our consideration. Donot let us stand idle, but let us take a definite step. Month after month, I might almost say, that Parliament after Parliament has passed by, and we have not yet got away .from the stage ofl machinery Bills. We are still in the stage which * ought to have been passed in the first session of this Parliament by putting all’ the Departments of State in order. We are still engaged upon machinery Bills instead of dealing with measures which would be calculated to increase the prosperity of the community. I appeal to Ministers, in the interests of the whole community, to address themselves to this urgent question with a view to discovering the causes of the lack of population and proposing a remedy. I am sure that if the Government were to submit a rational scheme, in which the States could join, it would be supported by a majority of those honorable members who sit in the Labour corner. I feel perfectly sure that the unanimous desire of the mem- bers of the Opposition is to get rid of the present abnormal state of things by attracting people to our shores.
– The honorable member knows that they are all welcome.
– Then where is the necessity for an amendment of the section which has done us harm to the extent of millions of pounds?
– Misrepresentations have done us harm.
– I quite admit that there may have been misrepresentations, but we have to realise how our legislation affects the- public sentiment of the great community upon which we are dependent for large financial assistance, and for our population. I speak with knowledge when I say that that section has cost us millions of pounds. My right honorable friend the Treasurer has said that it is not true that money has been withdrawn from the country. Probably he is justified from the figures before him in making that statement. But he forgets what our position would have been if the conditions had been different. We should not have been in a stationary position in relation to our banking returns ; because from a national point of view we are in a stationary condition. We ought to have made more progress. We ought to have taken advantage of the impetus secured by the eon-i summation of Federation.
– Does not every commercial man admit that we are in a sounder and better position to-day than we were 10 years ago?
– I admit that. I have said as much. .But I also say that we ought to have attained a higher level. We ought to have been in a stronger and more flourishing position.
– So we should have been except for the ruin brought about in 1890- 1891.
– So far as I have been able to ascertain - I was not in the country at the time - the figures show that practically no great change in the economic position of the country was wrought by the events to which the honorable member refers. Practically the volume of business affected was in relation to interchange between individuals. I trust that no such condition of gambling will ever be resuscitated, and that the lessons of that period will be remembered for years. That crisis, however, affected one or two States chiefly. My honorable friend, the member for Boothby, will recollect that his State had its trouble some years before, and emerged successfully.
– Just as we got on our feet we were knocked back again by the failure of the banks in Victoria.
– Does not the drought largely explain the present position?
– No ; according to the honorable member, it is all due to the Labour Party !
– To say that the Labour Party brought about all the trouble would be unworthy. I do not accuse them of anything of the kind. No one in this House makes such a charge. I am afraid that, however desirable it may be to prevent a recurrence of the events of 1890-91, the natural tendency of many people is towards such rash speculation as then occurred. I trust, however, that the lessons of that period will be remembered, and that such evils will be averted in the future. We have a great country, I do not wish to be led into any spread-eagleism, but I do hold that no one can travel abroad, visiting such countries as Canada and the United States, and find there conditions which are better than those which we have in Australia, whether for the worker or for the employer. It is expedient that we should do something which will be permanently advantageous in respect of defence. After the excellent speech of the honorable member for Corinella, I will not presume to deal with that subject in detail. But I would impress upon the Government the urgent necessity of starting f rom the very basis by instructing the boys in our schools in the use of the rifle, and by drilling them. I regret that the Minister of Defence in the present Government occupies a seat in another Chamber, but I trust that other members of the Ministry will use their influence, and that recommendations will be made to Parliament for improving and increasing the strength of our cadet corps. I find that the sum allotted for cadets in New South Wales is £$,500. The previous amount was very small, and it is gratifying to know that the cadet movement, which originated in Victoria, has caught on and is progressing well in New South Wales. I regret that the amount for Victoria, instead of increasing, has been cut down to £3,362. In Queensland the amount is ^2,020, in South Australia .£800, in Western Australia ^500, and in Tasmania .£500. After the representations which have been made by many honorable members on this subject, the Treasurer would have been justified in asking for larger amounts which I am persuaded Parliament would’ readily have voted. I am glad to find that the Rifle Club movement is progressing in New South Wales, and that the appropriation for this purpose, in the case of that State, is £^,900, as compared with £21,000 in Victoria, £4,679 in Queensland, £7,050 in South Australia, £3,954 in Western Australia, and £605 in Tasmania. I should not attempt or venture to address the Committee on such a highly technical subject as that of defence, but I think every honorable member will agree that it is necessary and desirable to assist the two great movements, namely, the cadets and the rifle clubs. Were it possible - although I know it is not possible under our parliamentary conditions - I think honorable members would be prepared to suggest that the amounts I have mentioned should be considerably increased. I do not propose to deal with other branches of the question of defence, for the reason that these have been dealt with so fully and exhaustively by the exMinister, the honorable and learned member for Corinella. There is, however, one inconsistency, to which I should like to refer. Honorable members will observe that there is a larger sum allotted for the rifle ranges in New South Wales than has been allotted to similar institutions in Victoria, although in the latter State there are considerably more members of such clubs.
– There are three times as many members of rifle clubs in Victoria as there are in New South Wales.
– I understand that in Victoria there are 19,800 members of rifle clubs; and I trust that, when we come to deal with the items, the Minister representing the Minister of Defence will be able to explain matters, and assure us that the clubs in Victoria are not to be placed in a worse position than are those in New South Wales. Personally, of course, I hope that New South Wales will get the amount allotted, and more- if required ; but I claim that Victoria, in this connexion, is entitled to better consideration. After the exhaustive manner in which the sugar bonus has been discussed, I shall not presume to deal in detail with so complicated a question. As with most bonuses, however, those who receive this one regard it as so comforting and desirable that they crave for its continuance; and, in my opinion, we should probably not be justified, considering the financial position of Queensland, in abruptly terminating its payment. There has been a suggestion that the bonus shall be extended for another five years, but I trust that to this proposal there may be a modification, so that, while the bonus is extended for a slightly longer period, there shall be a gradual reduction, until, at last, it becomes extinct.
– Say twenty years.
– That, I think, would be too long. I should say that we might extend the bonus for two years beyond the present period, and, thereafter, over five years - allowing it to become gradually extinct. That, I think, is a reasonable proposal.
– It is a very generous proposal.
– I think it is a generous proposal. What I want to secure is that the public of the .Commonwealth shall see some point at which this bonus will vanish. That, it seems to me, is most desirable; and to secure that end we shall probably have to give way by allowing a little longer time. In any case, when the matter arises for discussion, I shall advocate the gradual extinction of the bonus. We ought to remember that this bonus was granted for the ostensible purpose of, in time, removing the kanakas from Queensland - for the purpose, in short, of securing a White Australia.
– Was the bonus not asked for also on the ground of protection to the local producer?
– I think the ostensible reason was to secure a White Australia.
– Does the honorable member not know that the white grower pays £3 in Excise, and receives only £2 as a bonus ?
– I know that. Mr. Mahon. - And there is £6 protection.
– The white grower does not get the full £6 protection.
– The white grower gets £5 protection, anyhow.
– I wish it to be quite understood that I am fully in accord with the desire for a White Australia. . It would be a great disadvantage to the Australian community if, through any neglect, we allowed the introduction of a piebald race. I have, however, held that the kanaka may be serviceably employed in the equatorial regions, with sufficient safeguards to render groundless the fears raised by his presence in Australia. There is one point which I do not think any honorable member has yet referred to, and it is that we cannot claim that the bonus, so far as the increase in the area under cultivation is concerned, has done what it was expected to do. I have no doubt that these returns were supplied to the Treasurer, but if the right honorable gentleman will look at that dealing with the number of white and black producers and the areas under cultivation with sugar, he will find that in the table submitted this year the areas cultivated by white and black labour respectively during igo? and 1903 are omitted. There is appended to’ the table the statement “ Information not available.” If the Treasurer will consult the papers circulated with the Budget for 1904-5, he will see that the particulars are supplied there, and the blanks in the table now supplied can be filled up.
– What I have supplied is a Customs return, and the Customs Department has charge of the matter. I suppose the figures to which the honorable member refers were found not to be reliable.
– I understand that the figures to which I refer are confirmed by the statistical registrar of Queensland.
– I know I have submitted a Customs Department return.
– Then where were the figures which’ appear in the 1904-5 tables obtained from? In the return supplied with those tables, the figures are given for 1902, 1903, and 1904.
– In the tables I have submitted, the totals are given, but not the number of black and white growers in 1902 and 1903.
– It is because the totals are given that I think it is significant that figures showing the distribution of white and black labour, and its relation to the acreage cultivated, are omitted from the return now supplied. If the Treasurer will examine the percentages shown in the similar statement supplied with the Treasurer’s tables for 1904-5, he will see-
– We give the quantities of sugar produced, and they are of just as much importance as the acreage cultivated.
– I am dealing with one question at the present moment, and I am trying to show that the payment of these bounties has, so far, failed to increase the acreage under cultivation by white labour.
– The quantity of sugar shown to have been produced must have required the cultivation of a certain acreage to produce it.
– I am dealing with facts, so far as figures can be said to disclose facts.
– It is impossible to produce so many tons of sugar without the cultivation of so many acres.
– I can inform the right honorable gentleman that, according to the table submitted by the Treasurer last year, the percentage for 1902 is given at 37*7.
– Does the honorable member not think that the quantity of sugar produced is the most important consideration ?
– The right honorable gentleman must admit that we can look to the action of Providence in sending good seasons in the northern part of our territory for such results. An acre of land will produce a very great deal more in one season than in another, and the Treasurer must agree that, in order to show that the bounty system has been successful, it is necessary to prove that it has been the means of introducing into the Queensland sugar cultivation a large influx of white labour, and has also increased the area under sugar-cane.
– Might I direct the honorable member’s attention to the return showing the quantity of sugar produced? ; Mr. KNOX. - That has reference only to production.
– Yes; but it shows a considerable increase.
– I wish the right honorable gentleman, to understand that I am dealing with one phase of the question, and I wish to show that, contrary to expectation, the payment of the sugar bounties has not resulted in an increase of the area under cultivation with sugar by white labour in Queensland.
– It has been shown conclusively that white labour can do the work.
– I am not dealing with that aspect of the question.
– Still it is a very important aspect. ;
– I have to inform my honorable friends that, according to the return presented last year, in 1902, the percentage of acres cultivated by white labour was 377, whilst in 1905 the percentage is only 37-8.
– The honorable member will recollect that when the proposal was first introduced it was said that white labour could not perform the work at all.
– The figure to which the honorable member refers is only an estimate.
– I thought the right honorable gentleman might say that it was an estimate ; but . if we take the figure for 1904, the right honorable gentleman will see that the percentage was then only 37’9- There has been no increase in the area cultivated by white labour in the industry as ^ consequence of the payment of these bounties.
– The ratio of increase is as 2 is to 1 in favour of white labour. That is the actual increase since the institution of the sugar bounties.
– That is not shown by the Treasurer’s tables.
– Are we, then, to place no reliance on. these tables?
– That is stated in the returns.
– I am quoting from the Treasurer’s tables.
– If the honorable member will examine the returns he will find that whilst black labour production has doubled, white labour, production has quadrupled.
-=- I was not able to obtain the assistance of the honorable member for Wide Bay in checking these figures, but I did get the assistance of one or two honorable members who represent Queensland, and they acknowledged that the figures to which I have referred are indisputable.
– From memory, I would say that the production by white labour in 1902 was 12,500 tons. Now, the production by white labour amounts to four times that quantity, and is estimated at 50,000 tons; whilst the production by coloured labour has only been doubled in the same time.
– My honorable friend has only partially answered my contention. I admit that there might be. a greater quantity of sugar produced by white labour, but the honorable member must admit that during the last two years there have been exceptionally good seasons in Queensland.
– Were not the seasons the same for white as for black labour?
– Just so; but I contend that honorable members are not justified in quoting the production of sugar per acre. If it is desired to show that any satisfactory results have followed the application of the system of sugar bounties, it must be proved that the area under cultivation by white labour has been extended. If the results per acre are greater, honorable members opposite admit that that is due to the exceptional seasons in Queensland in the last two years.
– Still the ratio of increase is as 2 is to 1 in favour of white labour, and, that being so, we may anticipate that within a very few years the production by white labour will overtake the production by black labour.
– I have taken great care to check the figures supplied, and I shall be glad to hand them to the honorable member for Wide Bay, who, I hope, will reply to them. I find from the figures I have before me that the percentage cultivated by white labour in 1902 was 37-7 ; in 1903 - a large accumulation - 51-6; in 1904, 37 9 ; and in 1905, 37 8.
– Those figures probably refer to the number of registered white growers.
– That may be so.
– Then should not the honorable member include in his return the number of white men employed by those registered growers, in order to find the number of white men engaged in cultivation ?
– If the figures are wrong, of course my -argument falls to the ground.
– t think the honorable member is referring only to the number of registered growers, and not to the number of white labourers employed in the cultivation of sugar-cane.
– The area under cultivation by black labour was, in 1902, 62.3; in 1903, 48.4; in 1904, 62.1; and in 1905, 62.2 per cent, of the whole area under cane. The fact that the granting of bounties has not increased the acreage under white labour in proportion to the area under black labour needs explanation. I wish now to direct the attention of the Treasurer to the great question of the taking over by the Commonwealth of ‘ the debts of the States, though I do not propose to go into details, because I hope to have the privilege of asking honorable members to consider them on another occasion. I am sorry that the Treasurer has not definitely declared the intentions of the Government in regard to this matter. We have had some expressions of opinion from him as to what should be done, but he has given us no indication of the intentions of the Government.
– Does not the honorable member think that it was a little too soon to expect that ?
– The right honorable gentleman might justly have said that he had only recently taken charge’ of the Treasury, and had not had time to go into this question. He must, nevertheless, have evolved in his own mind some scheme for dealing with the States debts, though, as I have admitted, it would perhaps be asking too much to expect him to come forward with a cut-and-dried scheme. Two Conferences of Premiers have dealt with this subject, and proposals in regard to it have come from various sources, notably from the right honorable member for Balaclava, who, because of his long term of office as Treasurer, and his knowledge of detail, could, perhaps, deal with it more conveniently than any other honorable member, and recognised the great difficulties to be overcome. He required, first, full transfer of all debts to the Common^ wealth; secondly, full control by the Commonwealth; thirdy, full security for the Commonwealth; and, fourthly, that future borrowings be the business of, and confined to, the Commonwealth Government.
– Not Australian borrowings.
– No; I am speaking of foreign loans, which constitute the bulk of our borrowings. If these conditions were accepted by the States, the difficulties of the task of taking over the debts would be reduced to a minimum1; but they are not likely to be accepted.
– It would be necessary to alter the Constitution.
– Constitutional changes would be necessary, but the States would not agree to such conditions unless they felt more secure in regard to the expenditure of the Commonwealth. The constant question of State Treasurers is : “What is the Commonwealth Treasurer going to do with the large amount of ‘ revenue which he will have in his possession if the Braddon provision is not extended ?”
– If we take overthe debts there will be no margin.
– I admit that. Of course, the Commonwealth could exercise the powers given to it under the Constitution; but any forced measures will prove unsatisfactory, and the co-operation of the States seems necessary to insure success. We shall engender permanent ill-feeling unless we carry the States with us in regard to any arrangement that is made. The proposals of the States are these: First, that their finances shall not be dislocated, which is what they constantly dread; secondly, that they shall retain the management and control of the railways, which are the main security for their principal loans ; thirdly, that there shall be a clear definition, within reasonable limits, of the amount which the Treasurers of the States may expect to receive, or be called upon to pay to make up deficiencies. The States are justified in seeing that they are secured or indemnified against the possible dislocation or upheaval of their financial condition. The points of difference on fundamental principles, therefore, seem to be few. I have carefully studied the reports of the Conference recently held, and those of the previous Conference, and in my opinion there will be no difficulty in removing these points of difference if we can implant in the minds of the Premiers of the States the feeling that the Federal Parliament does not intend to interfere with or to dislocate their financial position. The States Treasurers would like to see the Braddon clause extended for a specific period of fifteen or twenty years, or, alternatively, the allocation of a specific sum out of Customs and Excise revenue for the pavment of interest. Neither the Commonwealth Treasurer nor the States Treasurers seem willing to take the first plunge. Each Commonwealth Treasurer formulates some ideas, and, from time to time, the States Treasurers put forward their ideas, and express their fears with regard to the manner in which the States revenue will be affected. We also have people outside making all kinds of suggestions. What we hunger for, however, is some practical business-like proposal for handling this question. Unless some definite step is taken, we shall continue to adopt a much too deferential and unbusiness-like attitude towards the States, and the period for which the Braddon clause will operate under the Constitution will have expired before any arrangement is entered into for taking over the debts of the States, and thus imposing a check upon the Commonwealth putting to fresh uses the large amount of revenue that will be placed in its hands. This may - I merely say, “may” - offer temptations to the Federal Parliament to undertake new and entirely visionary enterprises. I believe that wise counsels would ultimately prevail to prevent any unseemly extravagance, but it is not businesslike to allow matters to drift on as they are doing. The States are entitled to know that their financial position will be rendered secure by a definite appropriation of the revenue which will be placed at the command of the Commonwealth. I would urge upon the Treasurer the necessity of making some definite statement upon this matter, and of dealing with it and the question of increasing our population, as soon as this discussion is closed.
– We could impose a land tax.
– I hope that the Federal Parliament will never impose a tax of that kind, because T believe that, in accordance with the’ spirit of the Constitution, the States alone should impose direct taxation upon the people. No Federal Treasurer - not even the late Treasurer - would be able to present to honorable members anything more than the ground-work of a scheme for the transfer of the States’ debts. The superstructure will require to be carefully built up after much thought, and in the light of the most complete information if tha result is to prove financially successful and advantageous to the people of the Commonwealth, to the Federal Treasurer, and to the States Treasurers. It is idle to expect that we can lay down the lines of a complete scheme_ without taking into our counsels the masters of the situation, namely, our British and foreign bondholders. We have not taken them sufficiently into consideration.
– The honorable member surely does not expect them to give us anything more than they can help?
– We shall have to consult them.
– I do not think so.
– They are the masters of the situation.
– Not when the loans expire.
– Does my right honorable friend suppose that the large loans for which the States have become responsible can be repaid out of the revenue of the Commonwealth ? The loans, when they expire, will have to be provided for by further borrowing, and if the old bondholdersare paid off, new ones will have fo supply the funds. Therefore, it appears to me that it would be prudent to ascertain the views of representative men with regard to the situation. I think that the sooner the Federal Treasurer and the States Treasurers comeinto close and practical business contact, instead of confining themselves to talking; at conferences and making various suggestions, the more likely we shall be to arrive at a solution of the difficulty. We should make ourselves acquainted with the financial methods that are followed in GreatBritain, and I hold that no satisfaction canbe secured unless we enter into consultation with the leading financial authorities in that country. It would be desirable for us to obtain the benefit of the advice of men of the standing of the general manager of the Bank of England, the general manager of the Joint Stock Bank, the manager of the London and Westminster Bank, and other financial authorities. The Treasurer will appreciate the importance of securing the co-operation, assistance, and advice of these gentlemen, who are accustomed to conduct great financial operations. I understand that the right honorable member for Balaclava is about to make a trip abroad to recruit his health, and- if he could be induced to extend his visit to London, and ascertain the views of the financial authorities; there, he could bring back to usmuch valuable information. I can assure the Treasurer that honorable members occupying the Opposition cross benches - and, I think, I may also speak for other honorable members on this side of the Chamber - regard this question as too important to justify the introduction of party considerations. The general community do not care what members occupy the Treasury bench so long as we have wise and honest administration. They are at present crying out for practical results from the -Federal Legislature, and I would urge the Treasurer to give the question to which I have been referring, and the necessity of increasing our population, his most serious consideration. I shall deal with the details of this subject from an entirely different aspect when I bring forward my proposal for the establishment of a Council of Finance. I ask the Treasurer to give the suggestion which I am about to make his most earnest consideration. I offer it in the most friendly spirit, and I hope that it will commend itself to the wisdom of this House. I ask the right honorable gentleman to obtain authority from this Parliament - by resolution, or by statute, . if necessary - for the appointment of a Commission, consisting of Federal and State representatives, who shall be instructed to frame a scheme for the transfer of the States debts, for the furnishing of the best financial guarantee in regard thereto, and to report as to the constitutional and statutory amendments which may become necessary to give effect to that scheme. I suggest that the Commonwealth representatives on the Commission should consist of the Treasurer, the leader of the Labour Party, the leader of the Opposition, and the right honorable member for Balaclava, and that four representatives should be appointed from the States - one from New South Wales, one from Victoria, and two from the other States, in order that their representation may approximate to the amount of their joint debts.
– New South Wales should have more representatives than Victoria, if her representation is to be proportionate to the amount of her debt.
– Of course, we cannot secure absolute equality of representation so far as the States are concerned. New South Wales owes considerably more than does any other State. Victoria comes next from the stand-point of her indebtedness, and, consequently, I suggest that one representative should be chosen from each of those States, and two others from the remaining States. We should then have four representatives of the Commonwealth upon the Commission, and an equal number of representatives of the States. I am ‘aware that there is some opposition to my scheme for the appointment of a permanent Council of Finance, inasmuch as it is claimed that the creation of such a body would deprive this Parliament of its direct responsibility. But the Commission which I suggest should be appointed to frame a scheme for the transfer of the States debts, would be equally representative of the States and of this Parliament, and be- definite in its purpose.
– Representatives of what States?
– The honorable member may bring in all the States if he chooses, but I have endeavoured to preserve a sort of balance of financial obligation. If effect be given to my suggestion, we shall have upon that body a representative of each party in this House, and those gentlemen will have the assistance of the wisdom and experience of the late Treasurer. The Commission should be directed to formulate a scheme for the transfer of the States debts for submission to this House and to the States. I may mention that other honorable members, whom I have consulted, consider that the carrying out of my proposal would enable us to obtain some practical scheme for dealing with this great problem. The Commission should be given specific directions, and should be required to report to this House within a specified period. If that report were forthcoming early next session, the whole question might then be discussed, and a scheme arrived at which would be satisfactory to everybody concerned. There are various other matters upon which I shall defer comment until we are dealing in detail with the items which appear upon the Estimates. I had no intention of occupying the attention of the Committee for more than half-an-hour, and I am surprised to find that I have absorbed so much time. I am very grateful to honorable’ members for the consideration which they have extended to me.
– I propose to make my remarks as brief as possible. It was only quite recently that I decided to speak at all, and I do so now because certain statements have been made which, in my judgment, call for some reply from .Queensland representatives. During the course of this discussion a great deal has been said regarding the defamation of Australia. I am entirely at one with those who condemn in the strongest possible terms the individuals who go about the world defaming the country which has made them all that they are, and which has given them all that they have. If there is one part of the Commonwealth which has been, defamed more than another, it is the State from which I hail, and to which I am proud to owe my birth. We grumble a good deal about the lack of immigration to Australia, and various reasons have been assigned for the falling-off which has taken place in the influx of people from other parts of the world to our shores. I say that if anybody is to blame for the existing condition of affairs, it is those who are everlastingly. writing to the newspapers - and the newspapers themselves also deserve censure for publishing their statements - declaring that a large part of the Commonwealth is unfitted for white settlement. In this connexion reference was wisely made this afternoon to a report which, according to the newspapers, has just been handed to the Government of South Australia - a report in which a high official appointed by the Imperial Government to preside over one of the States, has departed, it appears to me, from the legitimate prerogatives of his office, and has assisted to circulate slanderous statements. I refer to the Governor of South Australia. Whatever may be the outcome of his report, so far as the Government of his own State are concerned - and it has always been regarded as the duty of the Governors of the States to abstain from interference in matters of controversial politics in the States in which they represent the Crown - I say that when a State Governor not only transgresses in that way, but ‘goes further and interferes in the legislation and the administration of the Commonwealth Government, it is time that a protest was made by this Parliament. If I were a member of the Parliament of South Australia I should be prepared to vote for a motion urging the’ recall of a Governor who could so far forget his position, as the Governor of that State appears to have done.
– What about the Labour Government who permit him to do such a thing ?
– I shall be very much surprised to learn that the present State Government are prepared to submit to such a thing. So long as we remain an integral part of the British Empire - and I hope that the connexion will continue^ - I suppose we must have some intermediary between the Crown and the Commonwealth. We have that intermediary in the Governor-General, but we never find him forgetting what is due to the Imperial authorities, or that which is due to the Commonwealth. I know that I do not stand alone in resenting most deeply any interference with legislation passed by this Parliament on the part of a State Governor. I dare say that if all the opinions regarding the unsuitability of the climate of northern Queensland and the Northern Territory for white labour could be brought together and scrutinized, thev would be found to have emanated for the most part from those who have never done a hard day’s work in either a torrid or a temperate climate - from men who have generally been supervisors of labour, rather than labourers themselves. There are members of both Houses of this Parliament who have not only lived in northern Queensland, but have done there the hardestday’s work that could be carried out in any part of the world, and yet they are among the warmest advocates of the policy of it White Australia. When we go into the sugar districts, as the honorable member for New England claims to have done, we find that whilst the large planters assert that the climate is unsuitable for white labour, the holders of small sugar plantations express a contrary opinion. I must do the honorable member for New England the justice of saying that, in the course of his visit to the sugar-growing districts of Queensland,’ he appears to have obtained a fairly accurate knowledge of the conditions of the sugar industry. Judging by his speech in this debate, he seems to have made very careful inquiries, and to have endeavoured to secure impartial information ; but I would remind ham that in investigating this question much depends upon the source from which one seeksknowledge. When we go to the large planter, he will almost invariably tell us that a white man cannot work in the canefields, and that the industry could not afford to pay white workers’ wages. He is usually prepared; to make almost any statement to prove the necessity for allowing this territory to be worked by a cheap and servile class of labour. On the other hand, if we make inquiries from those who are growing sugar by means of white labour - if we ask them as I and other honorable members asked them during the recent parliamentary trip to northern Queensland - we find that they are almost as unanimously of opinion that white men can do the work as are the large plantationholders that they cannot. Those who are actually working in the cane-fields of northern Queensland tell us that they can not only do this work, but that they prefer it to navvying on railway construction works. If I put it to those honorable members who took part in the recent parliamentary trip to northern Queensland whether they observed any degeneracy in the race, as they went north, I am sure their answer would be that the manhood, the womanhood, and the childhood of ‘ Queensland compare very favorably with those of any other part of the Continent. Prior to that visit of inspection I had not been beyond Townsville; but as we went further north on that occasion I met men and women with whom my early childhood had been spent in the southern parts of Queensland, and found that, although they had been living in the tropics for upwards of thirty years, they looked as fresh, as healthy, and as strong as did any who had spent all their lives in southern Queensland or New South Wales. The women not only looked as healthy and as strong, but the families were as large as were those to be found in the south. Some interested parties have expressed the opinion that the race is sure to degenerate by prolonged life in the tropics of Queensland, and that the natural increase in the population must fall off and eventually almost cease. It appears to me that that has not been the experience of other tropical countries. We find that the most densely populated parts of the earth to-day are those within the tropics. I shall be told, of course, that the people of those countries have coloured skins, but in the root stock I believe they are of the same race as ourselves. If it be argued, as it has been, that only a coloured man’ can endure tropical heat, and that nature has proved that this is so by placing nearly all the black races within the tropics, I will reply by advancing an argument used by a medical man, whom I shall quote at some length presently, and ask how it is that we find a coloured people in Greenland, one of the coldest of countries, and also in parts of Canada, where the land is covered with snow for six months out of every twelve. I shall reply by asking further how it is that the aboriginal races of Tasmania were as black as the ace of spades ; that the Maori, who lives in anything but a tropical climate, is a coloured man ; that the Jap is a brown man, and that the Chinaman is a yellow man, although none of these people live within the tropics? I am prepared to admit that there are ailments such as malarial fever, and certain diseases engendered by a parasitic attack, that are almost peculiar to the tropics; but medical science has learned to combat those diseases, and it is the opinion of the medical fraternity that there is no disease more susceptible to treatment than that which is due to a parasite. I would also remind honorable mem bers that the malaria of northern Queensland was, fifty or sixty years ago, the malaria of south Queensland and the northern parts of New South Wales, and that it is not uncommon to find malarial diseases, such as fever and ague, occurring wherever new country is being opened up. The early settlers of Queensland and northern New South Wales tell us that malaria was prevalent in the early days on the rivers there just as it is prevalent today on the rivers of northern Queensland.
– The death-rate of northern Queensland is as low as is that of any other part of Australia.
– The death-rate for the whole of Queensland is almost as low as is that of any other part of the Commonwealth, and I believe it” is very much lower than that of Victoria. On the other hand, the birth rate of Queensland stands at the head of the list. This does not show that its climate is unhealthy; and when I saythat the State stands at the head of the Commonwealth in these matters, I practically say that it stands at the head of the world, inasmuch as there are very few countries whose statistics in that respect are more favorable than are those of the Commonwealth. With regard to the varied opinions about the health of Queenslanders, I said I intended to take the liberty of quoting the views of a medical man who has lived at Geraldton, on the Johnstone River, for a number of years. I refer to Dr. T. F. Macdonald, who has lived for many years in what is considered to be the wettest part of Australia. It is said that the white man may stand the heat of a tropical climate, but not humidity combined with great heat. The quotation I am about to read is a refutation of that statement, as well as of others to which I have referred, inasmuch as the experience of Dr. Macdonald has been mostly gained on the Johnstone River, where the’ rainfall1 is as great as, if not greater than, that in any other part of Australia. He says -
The climate of North Queensland, correctly understood, and intelligently handled, is not only the best, but absolutely the very best climate in the whole round world. What has given rise, then, to opinions freely expressed at times in political quarters and in the Southern press, that here in North Queensland we, the pioneers of an Australian Empire yet to be, are doomed to toil in a tropical hell? An earthly paradise were surely nearer the mark- . ‘. . While our brothers south of the tropics are being broiled alive, and those of the western tablelands are frizzling under the naked sun, we, in the glorious north, had the heavens heavy with clouds, the air cool wilh rain, and drains and back-yards flushed with floods ! . . . Man himself forms jio exception to the tropical rules of ‘development. It is a matter of simple fact that people under otherwise healthy conditions develop in body and mind in the tropics. The very rapid growth of children, at first sight, appears to be a degeneration rather than an advance j but note the future development of those same tall, slim children born of white parents in hot regions. They grow mostly into young giants, and even as strength comes to the men, so does health and beauty to the women, when a reasonable observance of -tropical hygiene obtains in immediate social sursounding:. … In my experience all races of men, all shades of colour, thrive equally well in North Queensland ; and all alike are subject to the one adverse element of the tropics - tropical disease. . . . In so far as tropical disease is mostly parasitic in its nature it obtains alike Its virulence and vulnerability. . . . It is thought by some, perhaps many, that Chinese and Japanese are better fitted than white people to work in tropical agriculture. This contention I wish to question very seriously. It seems to me that, without any rhyme or reason, people quickly assume that a coloured skin affords protection against the rays of the sun, and that, therefore, coloured-skinned people are those fitted by nature to do tropical work. By this token then coloured skins are also best for extremely cold climates ; for the Eskimo is a brown-skinned man ; and again, the aboriginal inhabitants of America and Canada, countries notorious for their cold, weather, are red-skinned people. The Japanese, -who inhabit temperate climates, on the 40th parallel north, are, again, brown in colour. The Chinese, who barely touch the tropics are yellow ; while New Zealand and Tasmania (and he might have added Patagonia and Terra del Fuego), a long way out of the tropics, to the south, were inhabited originally by very dark races. . . . I have touched this coloured question at some length, lest any white settlers be kept away from our truly gardens of Eden from fear of their descendants turning black from the light of the sun. . . . The climate of North Queensland -will make women of multitudes of girls now growing into social weeds in and around our cities. However trying our cane-fields may appear, they will be as Paradise to conditions which obtain in the slums and factories of Australian towns- Pure air, hygienic conditions, and a life -of hope in the cane-fields of Queensland, win do more to regenerate mankind and womankind in -one day, than years of theoretical preaching in the cities ! It is sunlight which has given us the mighty scrubs of to-day, as it has, in days gone by. laid down the seams of coal. It is sunlight which has given us our white skins. It is sunlight which purifies a poisoned earth, and makes it wholesome and sweet, and good to look upon ; and it is the sunlight of Northern Queensland which is destined to come to the rescue of the city slums and the unemployed of Australia. It will lend a hand in the development of the human race, and lay its kindly fingers upon many a poisoned social sore.
Speaking from my own personal experience of the white gangs of cane cutters on the Johnstone River, I can testify to the fact that they flourished in health while at the work. One man, indeed, -who came down from the tableland a wreck from influenza, regained his health and strength while working in one of the gangs. Some of the farmers’ daughters on the Johnstone River develop a taste for work in the cane-fields, and enjoy themselves as much as the girls in the harvest fields at home.
That is the kind of work which a little while ago we were told the white man could not do, and which more recently we were told he would not do. White men have proved that they can and will do the work. When some of the objectors saw girls and women working in the canefields, where they had said the white man could not work, they cried shame, and said it was not work fit for a woman to do. But they have had to admit that a white woman was able to do the work which’ they had said the white man could not. do. In this, as in other cases, they endeavoured to prove too much. The whole question then is, not the ability or the willingness- of the white man to do the work, but the willingness of the employer to pay him a decent wage. Amongst other questions inquired into by the Federal party during their tour in Northern Queensland was the rate of wages paid. When some planters who advocated a continuance of the use of coloured labour in the Northern cane-fields made their representations, they were asked to say what wages they paid, for one of their complaints was that they could not get a sufficient number of white men, however willing they might be to employ them”. In reply_ to their question, the Federal party were told that ploughmen were getting from 17 s. 6d. to £1 per week and rations, which were valued at from 7s. 6d. to 8s. Does it appear reasonable that while the planters offer such wages they will induce white men to go and do the work? A ploughman can earn more than that wage in Victoria, New South Wales, and in the southern part of Queensland, and he is not likely to be induced to take up the same class of work for the same pay in the northern parts of the Continent. That the industry cannot afford to pay “ white “ wages was partly believed in each House of this Parliament when it was legislating on this question. In order that that plea might be met we passed the Sugar Bounties Bill, to enable the planters to tide over the difficulty that we were convinced must ensue in the transition from the one condition to the other. It has been said this afternoon - and by other honorable members during the course of the debate, and at other times - that the bounty has failed in its object. I claim that it has succeeded splendidly, so far as it has been able to work. I agree with the honorable member for Franklin that it is scarcely a correct way to deal with the matter to take percentages. I am quite certain that, to deal with it as it has been dealt with by the honorable member for Kooyong, is not correct. The amount of sugar produced by white labour, when the bounty began to operate, was 12,000 tons. The estimated quantity to be produced by white labour this year is put down at 52,000- tons. There has been an increase in the quantity of sugar produced by white labour of four and a half, times. - On the other hand, in 1902 65,000 tons of sugar were grown by black labour. We have now reached an estimate of 107,000 tons ; or an increase only of one and two-thirds the amount with which we started. If the same rate of increase is continued proportionately for the next three years, ‘we shall have every reason to congratulate ourselves before the expiration of the period for which the Government have promised to extend the bounty upon having solved the coloured labour question, so far as concerns those planters who are willing and anxious to see the White Australia policy succeed. But some planters in Northern Queensland are so stubborn in their resistance to the White Australia policy, that they have announced themselves publicly as being willing that the whole industry should perish rather than have _ that policy succeed. I go to the other extreme, and say that I would rather that the whole sugar industry should perish than that the White Australia policy should fail. Because, important as the” sugar industry may be, the policy of the preservation of Australia for the white race is, to my mind,_ of infinitely greater consequence. A publication has recently been issued by Mr. E. W. Cole, of the Book Arcade, Melbourne, entitled “ Cotton Culture in Queensland,” in which various quotations are made regarding the’ labour question in the northern parts of that State. Abridged reports of various meetings of the Royal GeographicalSociety are printed in the work. Amongst others, there is a quotation from a speech delivered by Captain Barclay, who has been for some thirty years or so in the Northern Territory. I was present at the meeting, as was also the Minister of Home
Affairs, and the deputy leader of the Labour Party, the honorable member for Wide Bay; and I think they can bear me out in my assertion that Captain Barclay emphatically stated that, after thirty years’’ residence in the Northern Territory, hecould fearlessly declare that there was nc kind of labour that white men could not perform there. But - I mention it as another example of the suppression of the truth on this question - not one single word of that statement appears in the report of the speech in the publication to which I have referred, I also spoke strongly in favour of the white labour movement in Northern Queensland, as did the honorable member for Wide Bay. But not one word of what we said appears in Mr. Cole’s statement. In this way facts and statements are suppressed and distorted to suit some end which, in my opinion, is not calculated to conserve the best interests of the Commonwealth or of Queensland. It should hardly be necessary at this time of day to refute statements about the suitability of every part of Australia for occupation by the white race. But we find contrary .’assertions so frequently and continuously cropping up, that it is necessary to meet them, and that can best be done bv giving facts. I will quote the birth-rate and death-rate of various States of Australia, and the excess of births over deaths, as proving the suitability of Queensland for occupation by the white race. I have taken thefigures for three States - New South Wales,. Queensland, and Victoria - and have selected’ the last year for which Mr. Coghlan, in his statistical work, gives averages. I find’ that the death rates for 1903 were: For New South Wales, 11-59 per thousand; Queensland, i2’24; Victoria, i2’9o. Thebirth rate for New South Wales was 28-20- per thousand; Queensland, 29-81; Victoria, only 26-39. The excess of births overdeaths was, in New South Wales, i6’6i ; in Queensland, 17 -57; and , in Victoria, only 13-49 ; or 4 per thousand less than thefigures for Queensland. In the face of such statistics- which are compiled not bv a Queensland statistician, but by one who is, I suppose, one of the ablest statisticians in the world1 - I do not think that the merebarren assertions of those who are interested in introducing cheap and servile- labour into the tropical parts of Australia ought to carry very much’ weight. In considering this question, and trying to be fair to those who have embarked capital in sugar- cultivation, we have to remember that owing to the State assistance to the industry in the period of its initiation, a number of people were induced to go into it who expected to realize very large fortunes in a very short time, and to return with their thousands to the other side of the world, to live in luxury and ease for the remainder of their lives. They thought that to be a sugar-planter in Queensland meant to live a kind of Arcadian existence^ swinging in a hammock under the palm trees, with a kanaka woman, or a coloured woman, or some other woman, fanning him to keep the flies off, whilst low-paid1 labour was doing the graft in the fields- and making a fortune for the proprietor. Induced by such ideas, a number of people rushed into the industry, with the result that many of. our large sugar plantations - like some of our Queensland! squatting properties, and some in other States - became enormously over-capitalized. Many of them had three rates of interest to be derived from the crop before the profits were reaped; and after the profits were taken the little residue was divided up amongst the labourers who did the work. A very small amount, we may be sure, was left for them. That is one of the reasons why it has been claimed that the industry does not pay. But when we come to consider the yield of sugar per acre, and the price to the sugar-growers, with the cost of cultivation, it may be asserted without fear of contradiction - or, at any rate, without fear of proof to the contrary - that there is no more profitable crop in the Commonwealth than sugar. The bonus, so we understood, was given in order to tide over the change between the employment of coloured labour and the employment of white labour, the employment of coloured labour being made necessary, possibly, by the over-capitalization of the industry in .its beginnings. The Queensland Government had allowed the kanaka to be brought in, and this cheap labour, with the consequent huge profits, led to over-capitalization ; and when the charges are met now, the margin which is left for the payment of other than the cheapest labour, is small. It would not be just, I think, at this juncture, to make those who went into the industry on those conditions the sole sufferers.
– Would the honorable member like to renew the bonus?
– Yes, for a further term.
– Have the growers not been given enough?
– I do not think so.
– For how long would the honorable member’ extend the bonus ?
– I shall deal with that matter presently. The honorable member for Kooyong seemed to be at a loss to account for the small increase of the acreage under sugar cultivation. The explanation is largely that the white grower, who hitherto has, in the ‘main, bee’n a small holder, registered the whole of his farm, and not only that part under cultivation. The table which was quoted by the Treasurer, and which does not go further’ back than 1904, stands in need of some rectification. The acres under cultivation by white labour is there shown at 45,424 acres, the yield from which was about 39,404 tons of sugar. The acres, it will be seen, number more than the tons of sugar produced, and that is accounted for by the fact that the whole of the farm was registered as cultivated by white labour, whereas a considerable area was not under cultivation. On the other hand, we. find that in the same year, 74,375 acres were cultivated by means of black labour, and 105,000 tons of sugar produced. From this it would appear that the results of the black labour were considerably greater than those of the white labour, but the explanation I have already given largely accounts for the figures. If we were to confine ourselves to the area cultivated by white labour, we should find that the yield per acre does not materially differ from that of the land cultivated by black labour. I am certainly in favour of a further extension of the bounty. I should continue the bounty so long as there is a pound of sugar grown bv other than white labour in Queensland, and I should do so in order to penalize’ those who continue to grow by black labour.
– The honorable member would continue the excise?
– I should continue the bounty, or increase it and the excise. I do not know that there is much hope of increasing the excise, but the proper course, if we are to reap the full benefit of a bounty, would be to exact the same amount in excise that we do in the shape of duty on all cane grown by coloured labour, giving back as much as we possibly can of the excise, less the cost ot administering, the Act, to those who are striving honestly to cultivate their holdings by means of white labour, and to carry out the ideal of a white Australia. Failing that, I welcome the announcement by the Government that they are disposed to extend the bounty for a further term of five years. There has been talk of extending the bounty for twenty years. After any extension I should like to see. the bounty wiped out on a sliding scale. Honorable members must not forget that considerable revenue is realized from the excise.
– Honorable members forget that fact.
– The other day honorable members were pointing out that the Commonwealth had almost reached the end of its financial tether. We are now receiving something over £400,000 in excise duties on sugar, over and above the amount paid back in ‘bounties to the grower ; and, if I am correct, we are just about within that sum from the limit of our spending power. If we cease to collect this excise, we shall have to look for revenue from some other source. I listened with great interest and pleasure to the temperate speech of the honorable member for Franklin the other day.
– That speech contained a lot of information. ^
– It did ; and it was a speech at which no one could take offence.
– There was no “ stonewalling.”
– No, there was no “stone-walling.” No one can charge me with taking part in either a conspiracy of obstruction or a conspiracy of silence. When I have anything to say, I say it without asking the permission of any one; but I remain silent when, in my opinion, silence will further the business of the country, and I think my example might be copied by some other honorable members. The honorable member referred to the effect which the bounty had on the manufacture of jam, and showed that it paid the jam manufacturers to use imported sugar, paying a duty of £6 per ton, rather than Australian sugar, which pays an excise of only £3 per ton.
– That, of course, refers only to jam for export.
– Just so. The manufacturer, who imports sugar for the manufacture of jam for export, gets a rebate of £5, whereas the rebate on the excise amounts to only £2 10s. ; and, under the circumstances, we cannot be surprised that the imported sugar should be preferred.
– That is only in reference to jam for export.
– It makes no difference. When a’ man is importing sugar for the purpose of manufacturing jam for export, and he orders that sugar in the bulk, he will use it for the purpose of making jam for home consumption, there being no rebate on sugar used in the manufacture of jam for home consumption.
– Manufacturers will use both classes of sugar.
– According to the evidence given by the honorable member for Franklin-
– The honorable member was wrong.
– According to the honorable member for Franklin, only onefourteenth of the amount of sugar he mentioned was Australian-grown sugar. I should be glad if some means could be discovered by which Australian-grown sugar might be profitably used in the manufacture of Australian jam. As, however, the rebate is allowed only on imported sugar used in the manufacture of jam for export, the Australian jam, which must compete in the markets of the world, must be manufactured of sugar that does not pay duty. We should, therefore, while doing no good to our sugar industry, be injuring the jam manufacturers and fruit-growers of Australia materially, if we were to decide not to continue to grant the rebate. I do not see how we are to obviate the necessity for the use of foreign sugar in jam manufacture without injury to the jam manufactories of Australia and the fruitgrowers of the Commonwealth. I suppose there will be a good deal of opposition to the proposed extension of the time for the payment of the sugar bounties, but I ask honorable members, who feel disposed to oppose the proposal, to remember that there are very high principles at stake. From the beginning of the Commonwealth, there seems to have been an almost unanimous opinion, not only in the Federal Parliament, but throughout the Commonwealth, that one of the greatest ideals which could possess us is that of preserving the Australian race, so far as we possibly can, in its purity, as an European race. It may appear that we are paying a little dearly for our efforts to realize that ideal, but I do not think it can be said that we are paying too much?
– The honorable member said that the sugar industry is the best paying industry in Australia.
– It would be if it were not handicapped, as I have said before, by being over-capitalized, owing to the inducements held out to people to put capital into the industry under improper conditions. These inducements were due very largely to State encouragement of the industry. I recommend the honorable member for Robertson to secure a copy of the work published by Miss Florence Shaw. When she visited Australia as a representative of The Times she went very minutely into this question, and also into the question of the occupation of pastoral lands. What she has said on some matters connected with Australia is not well founded, but what she has to say with regard to pastoral occupation and to the occupation of sugar lands in Queensland is well worthy of perusal and study. She proves conclusively, by tracing the money from the cane-fields back to its source, that it is borrowed and re-borrowed, and that there are heavy brokerage charges, interest charges, and so on, connected with the capitalization of the sugar industry.
– A great deal of the money never came back. We never saw a shilling of it.
– How was it swallowed up?
– That is what Queenslanders might tell us. We do not know here. We never saw any of the money come back.
– A Victorian who loses sight of his money is a rara avis. Victorians have the reputation in Australia of being almost as cute in this respect as Yankees. I admit that we in Queensland have to thank the enterprise and speculative spirit of Victorians for much. We have no desire to deny our obligations to them. We know that they have helped materially in the development of the State. On the other hand, they will doubtless admit that their trade with Queensland is of very great assistance in the development of Victorian manufactures. The advantage of the association of the people of the two States has been mutual. If Victorians have lost money in Queensland speculations, it is possible that there are some Queenslanders who have lost money in Victorian and in New South Wales speculations.
– Are the debentures of the sugar companies held by Queenslanders ?
– A very large amount of the money invested in the industry came from the old country.
– Does the honorable member refer . to the Colonial Sugar Refining Company ?
– The Colonial Sugar Refining Company has a number of the plantations, and of the planters also, under its thumb. I refer to that company for a moment in order to emphasize what has been said by the honorable member for Franklin, and by some honorable members on both sides of the House, with regard to the monopoly it possesses, admitting of an annual - profit of nearly 20 per cent. I contend that the institution which takes that percentage out of an industry becomes a monopoly, and that it should be taken over by the Commonwealth or by the State, in order that the people who are at its mercy might be rescued from its clutches. If honorable members will notice the half-yearly reports of the Colonial* Sugar Refining Company, they will find that it regularly declares a 10 per cent, dividend on capital. That capital has been accumulated in various ways.
– It has been paid up.
– I question whether it has all been paid up. I notice that when the company divides £100,000 in a 10 per cent, dividend, it usually carries £90,000 or £93,000 over to the reserve fund. Will the honorable member for Mernda say that ,£100,000 represents the whole of the annual profits of the company ?
– - The company at the pre- . sent time has accumulated about £500,000 of undivided profits.
– I have noted the balance-sheets of the company very carefully for a number of years past, and the annual profits run to something like £190,000 a year.
– Why does the honorable member desire to nurse the company any longer?
– It is a good job that something is paying in Australia.
– I repeat that an institution that takes a profit of 20 per cent, out of an industry has become a monopoly which should be taken over by the State.
– The company has never distributed any more than a 10 per cent, dividend.
– The company lets land to Chinamen, and will not give white men a chance.
– The leasing of land to Chinese is a feature of the company’s operations which will soon have to be dealt with. I am glad to notice that the State Government of Queensland is moving in the direction of imposing some restriction on the practice. There are a number ‘of other matters with which I should like to deal, but I shall confine myself to one or two of special importance, which the Government might consider when dealing with the establishment of an agricultural bureau, such as was referred to by the Prime Minister this afternoon, in answer to my questions concerning the institution of am entomological and bacteriological laboratory. The honorable and. learned gentleman has announced, on several occasions, the willingness pf the Government to endeavour to foster rural industries of various kinds for new products. There is, in my opinion, a wide field open to us in this direction. I may mention one or two industries to which some attention might be given. It may be thought, when I mention the cultivation of cotton, that I harp on that industry somewhat unduly. But when we consider the enormous amount of money which is sent out of Australia yearly for cotton goods, the suitability of Australia for the production of cotton, and the possibilities of cotton manufacture in the Commonwealth, the question is one which might well occupy the attention of the Government, with a view to seeing whether it is not possible to establish this great industry. Then I might refer to linseed, flax, and castor oil. Last year, we imported linseed to the value of ,£5,023 ; linseed meal, £103 ; linseed cake and oil, £^9,451; and linseed oil, £104,096 ; the total value of the products of this plant introduced reaching £118,673.
Then, with respect to castor oil, the castor oil plant will grow like a weed from Northern New South Wales up to Cape Yorke.. I notice that in Victoria it is grown as a kind of garden plant, but it may be seengrowing on the edges df scrubs, in gullies,, and ravines, in almost any part of Queensland. Whether the plant can be grownprofitably in competition with that grownin India I am not prepared to say.. At any rate, it is a fit subject for inquiry.
– The plant would grow well enough here.
– -Yes; it grows like a weed. I have seen a small plantation of it in Queensland, grown for economic purposes, from which oil of a very superior character was obtained. We import £36) 52 5 worth of castor oil in bulk, besides what comes in in bottles; and the earth-nut, or pea-nut, from which China oil - of which we import £21,869 worth - is obtained, will grow like grass here. We import a considerable quantity from the New Hebrides, where the plant grows, and from India ; but neither place is more .suitable for it than are some parts of Australia. Indeed, in- some places in Australia it has been found difficult to eradicate it. We import £6,973 worth of cottonseed oil in bulk; and recently I had a letter from Messrs J. Kitchen and Sons, of Melbourne, about some cotton-seed oil expressed from cotton-seed sent down fromQueensland last season. A sample area was under cultivation for cotton in Queensland last season, and twenty tons of cottonseed were sent to Melbourne. The firm towhich I have referred forwarded to me a sample of cotton-seed .oil cake, and some cotton-seed oil. The fluff had not been removed from the cotton-seed, so that the sample- of oil cake in question could not be used for fodder; but I am satisfied that when there is machinery to deal with the seed in the proper way, a good commercial article will be obtained. The letter says -
We are expecting our decorticator to arrive in. the course of ti few weeks, when we shall be prepared to decorticate the seed, and shall then, have a very nutritive cake, more nutritive in every way than copra cake, made from cocoanut. We have received from Queensland this season, about twenty-five tons of cotton seed : this embraces the whole of their harvest this year. We are in great hopes that next year a larger areawill be grown, and as soon as we can see our way clear to j?et the required quantity of cottonseed we have the machinery already here to sendover to Queensland to start the manufacture of cotton-seed oil cake and cotton-seed oil. We are large importers of cotton-seed oil, and if we could get it grown in the Commonwealth, and consequently free from duty we could use a very much larger quantity of it. To me it seems a pity that the growing of cotton should be so languishing, when it might be made the very largest industry in the Commonwealth.
However, I attach more importance to the value of the cotton fibre than to the value of cotton-seed oil. At one time there was a factory at work in Queensland which employed nearly 100 operatives, about half of whom were males and the other half females. These are some new products which I think might reasonably be encouraged by the Government when dealing with the matter. I congratulate the Minister of Home Affairs on the fact that he has decided to insist, as far as possible, upon the use of Australian timbers for public works. In the past we have been too much given to preferring imported timbers, and are only just -realizing the value of a possession which we have been allowing to go to waste, although persons outside the Commonwealth have long ago realized, its value, and even the British Admiralty is beginning to recognise the usefulness of Australian timber, as the following cablegram shows -
Australian teak is being tried for the backing of armour plates on the armoured cruiser Minotaur, 14,600 tons, 44 guns, which is now undergoing repairs.
When the Tariff was under discussion, it was decided, after a long debate, that Oregon pine should be admitted duty free, because it was needed in the mines ; but the following paragraph shows that inquiries for Queensland timber aire now coming from Oregon itself -
The Queensland timber exhibit at the Oregon Exhibition has attracted some attention. The Department of Agriculture have a letter from Messrs. J. A. Martin and Company, of Portland, in which they speak favorably of the timber, and ask for quotations. They ask for the price per 1,000 feet delivered at Portland, Oregon, of the following varieties : - Iron-bark, silky oak, silkwood, hoop pine, maple, red cedar, bean, bunya pine, blue gum, red stringy bark, tallow wood, and quondong.
There seems to be some prejudice against the Queensland hoop pine on the part of the people of the other States, despite the fact that the whole export of Queensland butter, which amounts to 50,000 boxes annually, is sent away in boxes made of that pine, and there has been no complaint about its being tainted or injured in any way. Quite recently the Queensland De- partment of Agriculture made exhaustive tests to determine whether butter stored in boxes made of New Zealand white pine kept better than butter stored in boxes made of Queensland hoop pine. Both freshlycut and well-seasoned timbers were experimented with, but the result proved the superiority of the Queensland pine over the New Zealand pine. In view of the fact that, under Inter-State free-trade, Queensland has become such a large customer of Victorian produce, not only the products of her soil, but also of her factories, it is not unreasonable to ask that the dairymen of Victoria and New South Wales should, as far as possible, use the timber produced in the northern sister State. I have the report of the Inspector of Public Works in Queensland, with regard to other timbers, but I do not propose to trespass on the attention of honorable members at any greater length, so far as that subject is concerned. I would urge the Government to encourage the formation of cadet corps in all parts of the Commonwealth. Every honorable member who has spoken on the subject of defence has emphasized the necessity of establishing such corps and of beginning the training of our young men for defence purposes in the schools. In this, however, as in other things, there is a disposition to place the burden on the other fellow. We are willing that other people should Le drilled and taught how to shoot, but I do not suppose there are many honorable members who ever think of using a rifle. It is hardly to be expected that we shall always be immune from aggression. I believe that, in the event of any attack being made upon us, we shall be able to give a good account of ourselves1, provided the means are at hand to enable us to do so. The men will not be wanting, because, if regard be, paid to the number of males in the Commonwealth capable of bearing arms, it will be found that we could put a considerable army in the field. But, supposing we were called upon to do any such thing, what arms would be available? According to Coghlan, we had, in the Commonwealth, in 1 90 1, when the last census was taken, 1,082,193 adult males, whilst there were also 101,956 males between the ages of fifteen and twenty-one, while the males over sixty years of age numbered 54,813. If we added to the number of adult males the males between the ages of fifteen and twenty-one, anS subtracted the number of adult males over sixty years of age, we should have a total of 1,129,336 males capable of bearing arms. Without taking into account the males between fifteen and twenty -one years of age, or ‘the males over 60 years of age, we -should have a total of 1,027,380 males capable of bearing arms. Therefore, we need have no fear, so far as our resources in that direction are concerned, especially when we remember the willingness with which our young men recently volunteered for service in a country not their own. The question is - How could we arm. these men? We are spending hundreds of thousands of pounds upon defences, and a very large amount is devoted to scarlet and gold braid, whilst the number of rifles that we have at our command is barely sufficient to arm our ordinary Defence Forces.
– The scarlet and gold braid is paid for out of the pockets of those who wear them.
– It costs us a good deal to keep up such a large number of officers.
– No, it does not.
– I would not attempt to set mv opinion against that of the honorable and learned member, who is undoubtedly an authority on defence matters, and whose recent speech will be read with interest not only throughout the Commonwealth, but also in other parts of the Empire. Still, I think that the honorable and learned member will admit that a good deal of money has been spent upon what may be called ornamentation - in- military displays, parades, and reviews, and that kind of thing, which are more ornamental than useful.
– A very small amount is spent upon* ceremonial parades ; the conditions are much better than thev used to bs.
– In my opinion there is still too much spent in that manner. There may be some use in ceremonial parades, but I think for the most part they are ornamental.
– Ceremonial parades are practically wholly ornamental.
– At any rate, whatever amount may be spent in that direction at present might be more usefully devoted to providing arms for those who are willing to bear them, to the encouragement of rifle clubs, and the establishment of cadet corps. If we begin the training of our youths whilst they are attending school, they will never forget what they are taught there, even though they may afterwards drop out of the Defence Force. Whatever alterations may be made in the drill manuals, they will have such a sound rudimentary knowledge that they will be able, if occasion requires, to quickly pick up their drill at a later stage. So far as drill is concerned, the men could be readily “ licked into shape,” but they could not be taught to shoot without spending a good deal of time in practice, and without considerable cost to themselves. As an old member of rifle clubs, I know that there are thousands of men in the Commonwealth who, if they had encouragement and facilities offered to them, would be prepared to spend a good deal of time and money in making themselves efficient rifle shots and in otherwise qualifying, themselves to act as defenders of the Commonwealth.
– What further facilities would the honorable member suggest?
– I should allow, the members of rifle clubs a more liberal supply of ammunition at a low price.
– Each maw is allowed 200 rounds1 free, and 230 rounds at half price.
– A larger quantity of ammunition might reasonably be allowed, and some alteration should be made in the conditions under which the ammunition is used. I think that at present too much ammunition is expended iri firing at fixed targets, lying down, and with all the conditions in favour of good scoring - conditions utterly different from those which prevail in actual warfare. I am glad to notice that many improvements have been made in the direction of the use of moving and disappearing targets, and firing at men’s heads and shoulders, but even in the cases in which such objects are fired at, the distances are measured. It is essential not only to teach men how to sight their rifles for certain distances, but to judge distances. The men should be kept moving over the field of fire, and be halted at various points at the discretion of the officer, and ordered to fire at certain objects under Conditions which would necessitate the exercise of the marksman’s judgment as to distance.
– There is nothing to prevent members of rifle clubs from using their ammunition in that way. They are supposed to use thirty rounds per man for field firing.
– It may be that there is nothing to prevent members of rifle clubs from doing as has been suggested, but they naturally prefer to shoot under conditions which will enable them to score the greatest number of bull’s-eyes. All old riflemen know how pleasing it is to hit the bull’s-eye and see the white disc coming up, and so long as it is optional for men to shoot at fixed or moving targets, they will choose the former. If, however, it were compulsory for them to use a certain proportion of their ammunition in field firing they would become much more efficient for the purposes of actual warfare. I would urge also that more liberality should be shown in the matter of travelling expenses.
– The honorable member will see that better provision than formerly has been, made in the Estimates.
– In this matter, I think that the States might reasonably meet the .Commonwealth. After all, in defending the Commonwealth, we are defending the States. It would cost the latter little or nothing to occasionally carry a few men over their railways. Seeing that the members of rifle clubs are willing to give their time gratis, and to spend their money in defraying part of the cost of the ammunition which they use, in paying markers’ fees, entrance fees, &c, the States would be going very little out of their way if they afforded them reasonable travelling facilities, so that they might obtain the firing practice which is so necessary to make them proficient marksmen.
– The tendency of the States is to raise the rates for carrying members of the Defence Force upon the railways, rather than to lower, them.
– -That is characteristic of their action in regard to every Department which has been taken over by the Commonwealth, and notably in regard to the Post and Telegraph Department. Immediately after the accomplishment of Federation the States found it necessary to increase the rates chargeable for the carriage of mails upon the railways, in spite of the fact that there had been no increase in the volume of mail matter. It seems to me unreasonable that the States should complain of the increased cost of administration by the Commonwealth when they know perfectly well that a great deal of that increase is due to the additional charges which they have levied upon the Commonwealth1 Exchequer.
Of course, it may be said that this ali means extra taxation. I am aware that it does. But taxation does not necessarily imply that there is an absolute loss to the taxpayer. For example, a man may pay an insurance premium to protect himself” against possible loss ; and in the same way I contend that the defence vote in Australia partakes of the nature of an insurance fund. Then, again, an individual who is taxed in order to give effect to some scheme for water conservation, may, as a result of that expenditure, have the value of” his property increased ten-fold. The taxpayer is too prone to look at the immediate burden imposed upon) him by any State undertaking, and to take no cognisance of thebenefits which are likely to flow from expenditure in legitimate channels. I hope that before very long the question of water conservation and irrigation, which was referred” to last week by the honorable member for Corangamite - a question which, I know the Prime Minister has very close at heart - will” become a burning one throughout the Commonwealth. Of course, to make productive, portions of the continent which may now be regarded as a desert, would involve the expenditure of much money. But although that expenditure might constitute a heavy drain upon the resources of the Commonwealth at the present time; I claim that it would be abundantly justified, and would eventually be returned one-hundredfold. The Treasurer knows, perhaps, better than any otherman in Australia, that a large portion of the interior of this country to which we have been taught to refer as “the Great Australian Desert,” is a desert only in certain seasons. Some explorers have described it as a desert, whilst others Who have passed through it only a few months: later, have depicted it as a land of promise - literally a garden of Eden. If, by the expenditure of money, we can redeem that so-called desert country, and make it available for settlement, I believe with a recent writer in the Age, that it vs> not too remote from our ports to become capable of supporting a very large and thriving population/. The land possesses the fertility ; it lacks only the moisture. Those who have visited that portion of the country are aware that its river-beds aremagnificent in their proportions, and that along them millions of gallons of water annually run to waste to the southern seas. If some of that water were conserved in the billabongs, the lakes, and even in the rivers themselves it might be used to render productive the land adjacent to it, and to modify tlie climatic conditions not only of the interior, but of the rest of the Commonwealth, by reason of the greater humility which would be imparted to the atmosphere, thereby creating greater density in the clouds, and bringing, about a greater precipitation of rain than we have at present. However we may differ in regard to the methods which should be employed to develop this .country, it . is admitted on all hands that one of the great needs of to-day is an influx of desirable immigrants. To this end various projects have been suggested. In the early portion of mv address, I endeavoured to show that suitable immigrants were deterred from coming to Australia by the slanderous statements which are constantly being circulated by those who owe their all to the country. I now propose to give my opinion regarding the manner in which desirable immigrants may be attracted to the Commonwealth. Personally, I would go so far as to make land free to any individual who chose to igo upon it, irrespective of whether or not 2ie came from abroad.
Mi. Mauger. - We cannot do that. It is a matter in which the States must take action.
– I am aware of that. At the same time, the Commonwealth can indicate to the States the way in which they may assist us to give effect to the very laudable ambition of the Prime Minister. The encouragement of immigration ls a matter for co-operation between the Commonwealth and the States Governments. If the States will offer liberal inducements to persons to settle upon their lands, there will be no dearth of suitable immigrants* If we can show that Australia is a country worth living in, and worth dying for, there will be no lack of desirable settlers. On the other hand, if we decry the Commonwealth, and declare that it is a country which is not fit to live in, we cannot “hope to increase our population from that -source. Though the land which is close to the coast may not be available for settlement, we have only to utilize the waters which are now running to waste for irrigation purposes, and we shall have a sufficient area of productive, land upon which to settle as many millions as are to be found in the United States - the great republic of the west. We have as glorious a country as there is upon God’s earth, and it will be our fault - not that of others, who do not know what are the conditions of life here and who do not understand what are the possibilities of Australia in the matter of affording “them a better means of livelihood than they can obtain elsewhere - if by means of lantern lectures, and by exhibitions of our produce, we do not advertise the truth regarding it, instead of allowing slanders to be circulated in the populous countries of the world, where people are seeking outlets for their energy and capital. We wish to attract immigrants to Australia, and we can achieve our object by telling them the truth about the country. I desire to see the Commonwealth attracting to jits shores streams of immigrants as large as those which are flowing towards the western continent, America. More to be desired than the piling up of wealth by a few individuals is the settlement throughout Australia of hundreds of thousands- nay, millions - of persons who will use their own labour upon the land which they possess. Whether that land be held upon perpetual lease, or whether it be freehold, is a mere matter of detail. We have millions of acres of idle lands. Let us secure millions of hands to cultivate those broad acres. We need then have no fear as to the defence of the country, and shall never be short of a; million or two to devote to public works. I believe, with an old heathen philosopher, that that country is best -
Where spades grew bright, and idle words grow dull ;
Where jails are empty, and where barns are full j
Where church-paths are with frequent feet outworn ;
Law-court-yards weedy, silent, and forlorn. Where doctors foot it, and where farmers ride ; Where age abounds, and youth is multiplied ; Where these signs are they clearly indicate A happy people and well-governed State.
I hope the day is not far distant - indeed, I believe that if the present Government be assisted to this end by honorable members generally, it is almost at hand - when the condition of things which this old-time philosopher has described will be brought about in Australia.
Mr. HENRY WILLIS (Robertson).The Committee have had the privilege of listening to a very excellent speech by the honorable member who has just resumed his seat. The honorable member dealt largely with the possibilities in the matter of cotton cultivation .that confront Australia, and while it is to be hoped that the industry will be encouraged by the infusion of capital from abroad on satisfactory commercial lines, I certainly trust that no attempt will be made to bolster it up by means of bonuses, although, judging by his remarks with regard to the sugar industry, the honorable member would favour the adoption of that system. This is an occasion on which we should devote special attention to the Budget, and I should like, at the outset, to congratulate the Treasurer upon the very excellent speech he delivered in submitting his .financial statement. To my mind, it is the best Budget statement that has yet been delivered in this House. Australia would never have federated, unless it had been shown to the satisfaction of the people that the union would be a financial success, and that upon financial lines the union would be beneficial to every State. In all previous Budget statements, however, little or no attention has been devoted to that point. It appears to me that the momentous question of the consolidation of the States debts, which must occupy the attention di the Parliament again and again until that task has been accomplished, received very little attention from the right honorable member for Balaclava when he occupied the important office of Treasurer. His successor has not only given much prominence to it, but has propounded a practicable scheme that is likely to meet with the approval of the States. The right honorable gentleman has gone further; he has clearly shown that if Australia secured a large influx of population from Europe, her future would be assured, and I feel satisfied that with such an influx, the benefits to which he referred in his peroration as being the result of the progress made by Australia during the last fifty years would be -multiplied tenfold. I followed his remarks on this branch of the Budget statement with more than usual interest, for the reason that I had recently paid a visit to Western Australia, and had witnessed the beneficial result of the policy of which he gave us a brief outline. Not only do the Government of Western Australia. like that of the Dominion of Canada, give free grants of land to immigrants, but they have followed the practice of Germany and other continental countries where, by means of land banks, the people are not only placed on the soil, but are provided with the means of successfully engaging in rural occupations.. That system has been followed by Western Australia to the extent that the State provides settlers with means to work the land given to them. The result is that after a period of some twelve or fourteen years, since my previous visit, I found on travelling through the agricultural districts of that State a few months ago that extensive settlement had taken place, and that there was a remarkable improvement in all directions. I was also informed by the Government land agents that applications for grants were coming in so rapidly that they could not be immediately complied with. All this has been the outcome of the broad and comprehensive policy laid down by the Treasurer when Premier of Western Australia - a policy which he has told us might be adopted with advantage by the Commonwealth. This system; of assisting the settler to work his land has been in operation in Canada, and - through the agency of land banks - on the continent of Europe for twenty-five or thirty years, andi yet no failure has been recorded against it. If, through the instrumentality of the Treasurer- - who, I am sure, has great influence with the finance Ministers of the States Governments - it could be brought into operation as part of the Commonwealth policy, a glorious future would await us.
– It would be called Socialism.
– I do not think that it would. It is a well-worn, scheme in Canada and other countries, but, unfortunately, owing to a lack on the part of the politicians of the States of that enterprise, that is so necessary to push forward a broad and comprehensive scheme of settlement, Western Australia is the only State of the Union in which it has been adopted. I should like to know whether I am correct in assuming, from the remarks made by the Treasurer in delivering the Budget, that he is in favour of the Government assisting immigration ?
– I am certainly in favour of it.
– That is a great ‘advance, and it is a very courageous: proposition to make. It is one which I thought would not be tolerated by a section of the House, known as the Labour Party -T whereas it has been very well received, and has evoked no opposition. The question of immigration is one to which the late Sir Henry Parkes devoted so much attention, when he entered public life, and, to which, apart from Federation, he de- voted special attention before he died. I am glad to find that it is revived by the Treasurer. If it is taken up with earnestness by the Government, I feel sure that it will receive a good deal of assistance from the several States interested in an influx of population and settlement on the lands. I have heard it said that population is not required, because land cannot be found for the men to work. There is very excellent land in every State of the Union. In the central part of New South Wales there is enough land for millions bf people. Many holdings which now comprise millions of acres are found, to be suitable for agriculture, and if a system -of immigration were established it would bring people here who could settle and make a very fine living, contributing much to the prosperity of Australia. Some time ago, it was the custom to talk about the expenses of Federation. I was in favour of the establishment of the Commonwealth, and I agreed with those who had estimated that Australia could be federated and governed on the basis of an annual expenditure of £300,000. According to the statement of the Treasurer, 2s. 5d. per head -of the population is the actual cost of government, the total coming within the estimated limit of ,£300,000 a year.
– Was not that estimate made before Queensland was expected to join the Union?
– Possibly it was, and, if so, it will leave a small margin for certain expenditure which must take place when the services outlined in the Budget are taken over. It is satisfactory to find that the “ new “ expenditure has not exceeded that estimate. The Treasurer paid some attention to the question of taking over British New Guinea. In deciding to accept that Possession, we have undertaken a very great expenditure. We have to provide a sum of about £20,000 a year, while the revenue of the Possession is not sufficient’ by one-half for its proper government. I believe that some legislation should be introduced by which the Possession should be made self -supporting. From its native products, in its uncultivated state, it supports a native population of nearly half-a-million. This goes to show that when the enterprise of the European is brought to bear very great results may be attained. I hope that the Government will do something in the way of bringing population to the Possession.
There is one question which stands out above others’ with which we must deal, and that is, the consolidation of the States debts. Under the Constitution we have power to take over States debts to the amount of £202,000. If these were taken over, the saving which was al ways promised to the people from Federation, would be effected. On a wry rough estimate, we find that it would amount to £1,350,000.
– How would it be effected ?
– The interest which is paid by the several States averages 3’67 per cent., but with the proceeds obtained from the issue of Commonwealth debentures the debts could be paid off as they matured, with a saving of possibly f per cent.
– But the quotations to-day do not warrant that statement.
– This is a matter which has been gone into carefully by financiers, and, while I say that f per cent, would be saved, that is the basis on which the calculations were made when the Conferences sat prior to Federation.’ Financiers say even to-day that the saving effected would be about f per cent. That is the sum which it is estimated would be saved within the Commonwealth.
– Does the honorable member mean a saving of £ per cent, in interest ?
– Three-quarters per cent, in the interest on the present bonded debts of the several States.
– That would, be spread over a period of fifty years.
– No, nearly the whole of the debts would be covered in a period of twenty years, and a saving of about £1,350,000 per annum to the States would be effected by the change.
– The honorable member is assuming that we could float. 3 per cent, loans.
– I am assuming ‘ that the Commonwealth would be able to float 3 per cent, loans. There is nothing extraordinary in that supposition when it is remembered that we can pledge the Customs revenue as a guarantee for the payment of the debt. Every debt which is guaranteed in Europe in that way stands at the most satisfactory rate in the British money market. We have exclusive control of the Customs, and we can also raise
– That is not the universal rule. The Customs revenue of- Greece is hypothecated to English bond-holders.
– There is no universal rule. The money market is regulated by the character ofthe security that is offered. If, for instance, we take the republics of South America, we find that, as the security is of a very unsatisfactory character, the rates of interest are very high. But when I take a country like Aus- tralia, with the resources which it is known to possess, and with results such as those stated by the Treasurer; when I consider the amount of trade which is being conducted from our shores with foreign parts, and the amount of private wealth which is held by our people, there is little doubt in my mind but that 3 per cent. stocks wouldbe taken up. If then we were able to consolidate the public debts, and issue debentures for the purpose at 3 per cent., there would be approximately a saving of3/4 per cent. to Australia. That is what was held out to the public when Federation was advocated, and that is what they expect to see realized. Until it is realized the Commonwealth will not have given satisfaction. The Treasurer, in outlining the subject to which I have referred - although I am not quite sure that he has pledged himself exactly to what I have said - does say that there should be an understanding with the States Treasurers that money should not be raised outside Australia by them for internal purposes. We have evidence that money can be raised by the States on Treasury bills on a 4 per cent. basis. It will not, therefore, be very difficult for the States to raise money on short-dated notes in Australia; and such securities would not clash with the stock of the Commonwealth that would be quoted upon the London money market. But there would have to be a reserve of from one-half to one per cent. on the part of the States for the purpose of redeeming, at intervals, part of the£31,000,000 sterling that remains due over the amount that we have power to take over under the Constitution. With that 1 per cent. accruing, there is little doubt but that the selling price of the bonds could be regulated in
– We raised a loan at 3 per cent. at par.
– The Treasurer slates that Western Australia floated a loan in London at 3 per cent. at par.
– At nearly 101.
– That, of course, was when Western Australia had control of the Customs. I take it that that loan was raised to be invested in railways or water-works in Western Austrlia. The point I was making was that while there would be the Commonwealth security offered to the bond-holders, there would also be a reserve of 1 per cent. This would . be an additional inducement for the investor to tender for a large sum of money. The point that I am working; up to is that there are hundreds of millions of trust funds in England of which we can never get a penny until we offer the best security available in Australia. The best security available to them is the Commonwealth security. This Parliament, by passing an Act, could make it a negotiable security ; and I take it that the people of Australia will not be satisfied with Federation until such an Act has been passed, and the debts have been consolidated. We hear a great deal about the difficulties involved in taking over the debts of the States. But the more one thinks over the subject, the less difficult the problem appears. To my mind, it has become a question of ordinary performance. There is no need for an alteration of the Constitution. We know that £202, 000,000 sterling might be taken over at any time by the Commonwealth, and the balance could be arranged for by the States themselves, and the interest paid periodically as it is paid now. But if we take over the debts of the States, we have an enormous responsibility. How are we to be recouped for this heavy expenditure, covering something like £8,000,000 per annum? It would necessitate an alteration of the Constitution to abolish the system that now prevails, under the Braddon section, of returning to the States three-fourths of the sum raised in Customs and Excise. That, I think, could be easily effected, if necessary; but it might be advisable to wait until the Braddon section has expired, and then not to renew it. The Treasurer’s remarks on that point were a part of the Budget speech which I admired very much. I take it that the right honorable gentleman is not in favour of an extension of the period within which the Braddon section is to operate.
– I said that I did not think that an extension of the time would be in the interest of the States.
– I quite agree with the right honorable gentleman.. I think it would be an advantage to the States to discontinue the section, either by an alteration of the Constitution, or by waiting, and not renewing it on its expiration. ‘
– The honorable member is becoming liberal.
– The honorable member had better join the Labour Party.
– I am a freetrader, and no free-trader could ever be in favour of the Braddon section.
– I did not mean that the States should receive nothing from the Commonwealth.
– To be fair, I think the Treasurer stated that the States should receive out of Customs revenue a fixed sum-, which is practically the system that prevails in Canada to-day. If we take over the debts, we must have revenue with which to pay interest.
– The Braddon clause would be inoperative then.
– That would be so, when the whole of the debts were taken over.
– When the debts are taken over, the revenue will not have to be returned to the States.
– I was coming to that. The payment to the States must of necessity cease, because the Commonwealth will want all the revenue to meet the indebtedness. However, the States still say they want part of the money. But the Commonwealth would still be responsible for some hundreds of thousands of pounds - the amount payable on the bonded debt, in addition to that which is now returned to the several States of the union.
– The amount is about £1,400,000.
– Quite so; that is the sum the Commonwealth would still be short.
– At the present time?
– Yes; and every State of the Union would be largely indebted to the Commonwealth - that is, every State except Western Australia, which to-day’ raises more than £300,000 a year above the amount necessary for the payment of . the interest on her debts. The State of Queensland^ on the other hand, would be indebted to the extent of something like £800,000 a year. And ‘I suppose it would be necessary for the Commonwealth to be indemnified for the very large expenditure of, say, £1,500,000 that would be undertaken in addition to the amount of revenue raised from the Customs. Is that not so?
– That is so.
– That is the problem we have to consider, and it is one which I, having thought over it for four or five years, think should be grappled by the Commonwealth. If the question be taken in hand, it will not be found to be so slippery as might be supposed by any person who has not thought out the matter thoroughly.’ It is a matter which may be dealt with successfully and effectively, to the satisfaction of the Commonwealth and every State of the Common- wealth. The Treasurer has told us “that, although the Government have not thoroughly considered the matter, he has given to it much thought, and is prepared to go On with it ; and this brings me to the expression of my opinion that the Commonwealth will never conduct itself to the satisfaction of the people until the Prime Minister is also Treasurer. The Prime Minister should have to deal with these questions day after day, in order to become familiar with the financial side of Commonwealth affairs.
– The honorable member assisted to- turn out the only Government in which the Prime Minister was also Treasurer.
– I was going to make some reference to the fact that the honorable member for Bland, when Prime Minister, . was also Treasurer; and I may here say that I thoroughly agreed with the distribution of portfolios in that Government. I may further say that the Government to which 1 am now referring were very fortunate in having the honorable member for Coolgardie as PostmasterGeneral ; indeed, the Commonwealth has been very fortunate in our Postmasters-General. There has never yet been a bad PostmasterGeneral ; and had the House allowed the honorable member for Macquarie to remain in that position for two or three years longer, I think we should have been able to get enough revenue from the Department to almost run the Commonwealth. The honorable member for Macquarie, when Postmaster-General, must have saved the country about £71,000 a year, and, no doubt, the present Postmaster-General will, in his speech by and by, show us how the scheme then laid down will effect savings in the future.
– What scheme is that?
– I suppose that the Government must be reconstructed byandby, because it can never go on as it is now doing; and; I hope that the Prime Minister will in future be also Treasurer. We shall never have a satisfactory financial statement until the Prime Minister is thoroughly acquainted with all the ins and outs of the finances. When the Prime Minister has carefully considered this question of the sugar bonus, and when he realizes that the sugar-planters’ of New South Wales are- receiving £40,000 a year in bonuses 1o which they are not entitled, and which they do not want-
– I believe the New South Wales planters do want the bonus, or, at any rate, they do not want to lose it.
– I know that the New South Wales planters do not want to lose the bonus, but what I want to say is that they did not require the bonus at the time it was- conferred.
– At any rate, they never deserved it.
– Of course, now that the planters have got the bonus, they very naturally do not want to lose it ; and why ? Because it is all bonus to them.
– Is the bonus not necessary?
– There was no coloured labour employed in the sugarfields of New South Wales. .
– The members for the districts concerned seemed very anxious about the bonus.
– I repeat that the planters of New South Wales did not want the bonus, but now that they have got it, thev, of course, do not want to lose it.
– They did not ask for the bonus.
– That is so.
– The honorable . member for Richmond assures me that the bonus is very necessary.
– I do not think that any representative of that part of New South Wales would dare to come here, and say that it is not a good thing to give the sugar-planters £40,000 a year. I am satisfied, however, that if the Prime Minister, who is a conscientious public man, were also Treasurer, found that the sugarplanters of New! South Wales were getting £40,000 a year, chiefly out of South Australia and Tasmania-
– The planters pay £60,000 in excise
– I think that if the Prime Minister realized that this money was being paid to men who do not require it, and did not ask for it, he would say that this was a question which should be reconsidered.
– The Government have dealt with it.
– The question has not been grappled with. Under the Constitution, there can be no discrimination; but it is quite possible for us to say that the bonus shall cease in five years - that over such a period it shall be a diminishing quantity. It is always hard to get rid of a bonus. If the bonus were continued for five years longer, there would then be an agitation for an extension for another five years. However, if we make it terminable, diminishing as the years go on, we shall get rid of the bonus entirely, and there will be very little fuss about the matter. The planters during the intervening years will be preparing for a new condition of affairs, when the bonus will have ceased.
– Would the honorable member also abolish the excise?
– I had no intention of speaking on the sugar bonus question, in view of the fact that it has already been very exhaustively dealt with.
– And it is also such a touchy subject !
– I think I have said enough to show the desirableness of the Prime Minister being also Treasurer.
– A very good idea, I think.
– How would it be to make the Treasurer the Prime Minister?
– I shall put the position that way if honorable members desire. Knowing that the present Prime Minister was not in robust health, I was prepared to hear of a reconstruction of the Cabinet, and that the reconstruction had been in the direction indicated by the honorable member for Franklin. I dare say, however, that the Prime Minister has regained his wonted strength,, and will go on for a few months longer. But the Prime Minister cannot possibly go on for long with these ‘problems facing him. The people have had enough of the present position ; and they want a saving of £1,750,000 per annum, and a discontinuance of the sugar bonus. They do not want the proposed bonuses for the iron industry. How are we going to raise all this money ? We have no means of raising it. If the Prime Minister were Treasurer of the Commonwealth, I am satisfied that he would have none of this talk about bonuses. As I stated earlier in my address, the right honorable member for Balaclava, when Treasurer of Australia, never showed himself equal to the situation. It was not necessary for him to display any ingenuity in raising revenue. It has all been raised for him, and it has been more than enough. He did absolutely nothing in that direction. If honorable members require evidence of this, I refer them to the right honorable member for Balaclava himself. The right honorable gentleman has been in very ill-health. No sooner did he go out of office as Treasurer than his health improved, but as soon as somebody said to him, “ You must make a speech on this Budget,” he became ill again. Do honorable members mean to tell me that in such circumstances the right honorable member for Balaclava was a fit Minister of the Crown to have charge of the financial side of Commonwealth administration? He was not. Somebody must say these things.
– What Administration was the right honorable gentleman in?
– He was in the Reid-McLean Administration, and in two Administrations before, and it is said that he would have been in the third if he had been asked.
– That shows that all parties were glad to get him.
– If the right honorable gentleman is a sick man, the honorable member should let him alone.
– I have no intention of saying very much more, but. the Age newspaper said a very great deal, and when one is disgusted with the palaver of the Age, one must say something. The right honorable member “for Balaclava was Commonwealth Treasurer for some years, but he did not grapple with the financial problem. It is not a question of the man himself. No one has greater respect for the right honorable member personally than I have ; but I say that, as Commonwealth Treasurer, he was a failure. These financial problems were not grappled with as they should have been.
– The right honorable member tried very hard to grapple with them.
– The right honorable gentleman did his best to grapple with them.
– The right honorable gentleman did as much as any living man could to grapple with them
– There was a Conference of Treasurers held in Melbourne, and only the other day we had another Conference held at Hobart. The late Treasurer made a proposal at the Conference held in Hobart, but he was quite satisfied to come away after having failed in his object.
– The right honorable gentleman tried his best to succeed, and it was the cantankerous Premier of New South Wales who made all the trouble.
– The Commonwealth Treasurer is a responsible Minister. If he is satisfied that a certain course should be taken, he should leave office unless that course is followed.
– He could not coerce the Premiers of the States by leaving office.
– I was leading up to that. Are the Premiers of the States forming this Federation, to be consulted upon these Commonwealth questions?
– We cannot takeover the States debts without their consent.
– Yes, we can.
– I am told that we cannot do these things, but we have full power under section 105 of the Constitution
– With the consent of the States.
– We can take over £102,000,000 of States debts accumulated up to the time that the Federation was established.
– Hear, hear.
– We are unable to take over the £31,000,000 of States debts since ‘incurred, even with their consent. Before we can take them over we must have the consent of the people of the Commonwealth to an alteration of the Constitution for the purpose. That is the position. At these Conferences the States have been consulted as to> what we should do The people of Australia have intrusted us with, the conduct of the financial affairs of the Commonwealth, and are we to go to the States Ministers, when they represent individually a smaller section of the people than we do, and ask them what we shall do? They say - so I am told here - “ We will not allow you to do certain things.” But the fact is that they should not have been consulted at all. The Commonwealth Government has, I presume, a financial policy.
– Does the honorable member not think that we have a right to consult the States Premiers?
– No, none whatever. They should not be consulted ; we represent the people of Australia.
– I am afraid the honorable member will not find many agreeing with him in that suggestion.
– It is a matter of no consequence what individuals think.. Do we not know that the people of Australia determined that there should be a Federation of the various States, and that under the Federal Constitution the Federal Government should have control of the Customs revenue, with the power to raise revenue by direct taxation in order that the whole of Australia might be governed in a uniform manner? Our Government is so uniform that in one instance we gave £40,000 to New South Wales when we knew that that money was not required by that State. It was given in order that legislation should be uniform as affecting Queensland and New South Wales. We have our powers under the Constitution, and we do not require to go to Conferences to ask the States Governments what we should do. We know how precarious, are their political lives. Two States Governments have already gone out of power since the Conference has been held at Hobart. Why should we go to them for advice as to what we should do when we do not know that they have the confidence of their own Parliaments? Why should we ask them what we should do in Commonwealth affairs and in connexion with great financial questions - the very questions upon which Australia was federated ? Amongst those questions was that of the taking over of the debts of the States. The States Governments say - “ No, we want you to raise our revenue for us.” No public man displays pluck who thinks of raising all his revenue from one source. It is the willing horse once more, and we go to the poor man, tax every commodity he uses, and raise our money in that way. We should say to the States of the Union, “If we take the responsibility attaching to the transfer of your debts to the extent of £8,000,000 yearly, we must handle the Commonwealth revenue from Customs and Excise.
– And perhaps railway revenue.
– That is an, other problem, but we should say - “ We will control these matters, and as you will pay only once, and you will not have to disgorge £8,coo,000 a year, you will be able to raise any deficiency which may arise from your revenues from some other source. The Treasurer mentioned that point when he said that if people have not to pay -money, it remains in their pockets. I say definitely that I am not in favour of these Conferences. Why should we go to the States to ask them what we should do in Commonwealth affairs?
– They may appeal to the Arbitration Court against us.
– The Prime Minister is not of that opinion. The last Government has passed away. That Government did a number of things to which I might refer if time permitted, but it must not be forgotten that it was a coalition Government. I might say that the Government now in power came into office under very excellent auspices. They came in with a possible majority, quite apart from the labour section of the House, if they submitted progressive non-contentious legislation. There was no coercion on this side. It was never once intimated to me that I might not support any particular measure. The Government has, however, brought in certain measures which I do not feel that I can support. Before concluding, I think that I should say something upon the question of defence. I hold that it is not at all necessary that the Minister of Defence should be an expert in the profession of arms. We have not yet had a professional man in that- position, and it will be better for the Commonwealth if we never have such a man as Minister. In the last Administration, however, we had at the head of the Defence Department an amateur military man, who evidently had imbibed all the extravagant ideas of the expert. He made a long speech last week, which secured for him a good deal of praise outside the Chamber, and a certain amount of kudos among some honorable members. I followed that speech with considerable interest, and was very much pained to find the honorable and learned member posing as an expert in military affairs. Shortly after the inauguration of Federation, the Commonwealth engaged a gentleman of high military reputation and wide experience, who had seen active service in South Africa,, and who had served both in Canada and New South Wales with great success, to place our military affairs on a satisfactory footing. He was here far some time, and before leaving issued a very long report, in which he estimated that the expenditure necessary to place our defences on a war footing was £525,000. The honorable and learned member for, .Corinella, (the other evening, had a great many comments to make upon that report of Sir Edward Hutton, and seemed inclined to disparage it, notwithstanding the fact that the MajorGeneral gave general satisfaction in the work of organizing the forces of the Dominion of Canada, had previously carried out similar work in New South Wales, and had been practically loaned to the Commonwealth for the same purpose. Major - General Hutton had nothing to gain bv attempting to please those who rule the Commonwealth. He was a man of independent means, and of equally independent character and standing. Although he pledged his great reputation on the statement that £525,000 was sufficient to put our defences on a proper footing, this amateur military m’an, tine late Minister of Defence, who follows another profession than that of war, and knows something of a great many things other than military affairs, went so far as to suggest that the necessary expenditure had been under-estimated to the extent of nearly £800,000. When he was asked bv the Treasurer if that amount was arrived at on expert evidence, he said that he would take the responsibility for the statement. This is an extract from that part of his speech in which the matter is referred to : -
Major-General Sir Edward Hutton proposed to spend £525,000 to place the equipment of our forts upon a war footing. The Government thought at the time that it would cover everything. He (Lieut. -Colonel McCay) wished that it -would. But apart from Major-General Sir Edward Hutton’s scheme, he had a little list comprising items that would involve an expenditure of £800,000.
In reply to an interjection by the honorable member for Grey, he stated that we could not do what was wanted out of revenue - that is, we could not obtain an additional £800,000 from our Commonwealth revenue -
To get into a proper position, the Commonwealth should take the bull by the horns, and obtain the necessary funds by an issue of Treasury bills repayable in the course of five or ten years.
He advises the Government to adopt a scheme which will increase our military expenditure by £800,000. He. would raise the necessary money by Treasury bills, payable in five or ten years. But during his speech he stated that guns purchased now would be obsolete within that time, therefore, when the Treasury bills fell due, we should require another set of guns to replace those which he would buy now, at a cost of another £800,000, or more. As we should have to redeem the bills as they fell due, our expenditure in principal would be ^£100,000 a year, and in interest £30,000 a year. There is no economy in an arrangement that would involve the Commonwealth in an annual expenditure approximating the amount now paid in bounties to the Queensland sugargrowers - an expenditure which bears very heavily upon the impecunious States of the Union. It is about time that the Government put up a responsible Minister who has been in charge of the Department of Defence to reply to the speech of the honorable and learned member for Corinella. That speech was applauded by Government supporters, but I should like to know from them if they think that the expenditure he recommended is absolutely necessary for the defence of Australia, and to offer protection to British ships visiting these waters ?
– The Defence Estimates are practically those of the ex-Minister of Defence.
– Yes. He took a great deal of credit to himself for them, patting himself on the back, and saying that every line of the Estimates but one, had been passed by him. If that one line, about which he made a minute, had been adopted by the Government, he would have taken definite action. Now, however, he says that the Government should expend another ,£800,000.
– I did not understand that.
– I have it here in print. Major-General Sir Edward Hutton’s estimate is £525,000, but, in addition, the late Minister had a little list costing £800,000, and in*volving an annual expenditure of £30,000 in interest and £100,000 for the redemption of the Treasury bills. I think it is only due to us that some Minister should express the views of the Government with regard to the speech of the honorable and learned member for Corinella, which has been received with a good deal of approval. We should, know whether any such sum is necessary to make provision for the proper defence of Australia, to meet the requirements of the British fleet in these waters, and to protect our trade.
– I am sorry to say that ‘such an expenditure will be absolutely necessary if we are to have an adequate defence. ,
– That is a very guarded statement. The honorable and learned member for Corinella went further, and stated that we could not do what was required out of revenue. He said the Commonwealth should take the bull by the horns and raise the necessary funds by means of Treasury bills, redeemable in five or ten years. He advised the Government to do what he was not prepared to recommend when he himself was Minister of Defence. Only an amateur would speak in that way. I would not presume to offer an opinion upon military matters, becaus.5 I am not an expert. It is because we are not experts that we employ the best available men to advise us, and yet we find an honorable and learned member who is an amateur in military affairs coming, here with all the swagger of a MajorGeneral, and posing as an expert. He says that he will take the responsibility of recommending the expenditure of £800,000, which is to be raised by the issue of Treasury bills, redeemable at the rate of £100,000 per annum’, and involving an annual charge for interest of £30.000. The proposal appears to me to be outrageous. It has received the commendation of the Age, but that is of no particular value. That newspaper commends- the honorable and learned member to-day t but it may denounce him to-morrow. A great deal of notice is taken of that newspaper, which, although it has no responsibility, influences the legislation passed by this Parliament. This is undesirable, because the Government, who are responsible, should , frame their policy and carry it out independently of the Age, or any other newspaper.
– Will not the honorable member’s remarks apply equally to other newspapers ?
– In other cases I think the newspapers are well and ably conducted. I should like to make one more reference to the proposal of the Government to encourage immigration to AustraliaWe have all heard of the good old days when colonists had the strongest faith in the future prosperity of Australia, and took care to select immigrants from the agricultural classes of England, Ireland, and Scotland - men of honesty and integrity, and among the best in the Kingdom. These men laid the foundation of our settlements here. It is well that we should go back to the good old policy of selecting agricultural immigrants, and providing them with land. In Western Australia the Government are giving 160 acres of land to any man who will apply for it, and we should bring pressure to bear upon the other States Governments to offer similar inducements to go on the land. In New South Wales, hundreds of thousands of acres of cultivable land, superior to anything I saw in Western Australia, are locked up in leaseholds, and it is desirable that steps should be taken to have these lands thrown open for agricultural occupation. In Queensland, also, millions of acres of land suitable for agricultural purposes aire being thrown open weekly; but, unfortunately, settlers upon such land would labour under certain serious disabilities.
– How would the necessary water supply be provided?
– The honorable member has touched upon one of those disabilities. By boring operations, artesian water is to be tapped in that country. What becomes of all the water. which flows into the Darling from the vast watershed?
– It finds its way into the sea.
-A great volume of subterranean water will be found running to the sea in the direction of Port Macdonell, also to the Gulf of Carpentaria. As a boy, I have seen little pot-holes in the neighbourhood which were said to be absolutely bottomless. Is not the Blue Lake at Mount Gambier said to be unfathomable? But, of course, it is not. These pot-holes cannot be bottomed on account of the under-current caused by the waters which are running to the sea. ‘if we tap those waters, we shall have - as the honorable member for Darling has said - little rivers running in all directions through this arid country.
– There is no artesian country, in the neighbourhood of Mount Gambier.
– If the honorable member is acquainted with Mount Gambier, he will know that although it possesses a magnificent rainfall, subter- :1 neal 1 waters are to be found there, running in the direction I have indicated.
– Miles of them.
– Yes, there are scores of miles of them, extending as far as Kingston, on the north-west, and as far north as Narracoorte. That country is so fertile that £1 per acre rental is very frequently paid for it. After artesian supplies have been tapped in the States mentioned, an agreement might be arranged between the Commonwealth and representatives df the States for the purpose of determining what legislation should be enacted to make this land available to desirable immigrants.
– Let us get the land first.
– Land is already available. Within the past month the Premier of New South Wales stated that there was plenty of land available for settlement at the present time, and that some of it was being offered to intending settlers in London. As a matter of fact, many of these men are already oh their way to Australia.’ When Mr. Carruthers was asked by a representative of the Labour Party whether he would give a preference to applicants for land who were already in Australia, he replied, “ The Land is available now. If they want it, let them apply for it. If they do not want it, an opportunity will be given to desirable immigrants to select it. It will not be reserved for the dead-beats who live upon the benches in the Sydney parks.”
– Does not the honorable member know that land in New South Wales is so scarce that within the past three weeks there were over 1,100 applicants for one block comprising 100 acres in the neighbourhood of Wagga?
– I know that under the abominable ballot system which obtains in New South Wales, more than 1,100 men applied for a block of land, and had to await the result of a. ballot before one of them could obtain it. Is that the way in which to settle people upon the land ? -
– What way would the honorable member suggest ?
– I would have no ballot at all. All other conditions being equal, the first applicant should be given, a preference.
– Who would decide as to who was the first applicant?
– I hope that we shall always have responsible Ministers who are above suspicion. If the States Governments make and : available for settle- ment, there will be no dearth of settlers. We are told that this Government will assist to bring immigrants to Australia. If that be so, I hold that a new era is about to be inaugurated - an era in which, instead of losing population, we shall increase our population to a greater extent than is possible under existing conditions.
– Does the honorable member attribute all the evils of which he complains to the balloting system?
– Evidently the honorable member does not treat this matter seriously. He is not a native of Australia, and would not be here had he not been pressed out of the large centres of population in the Old World, where it was difficult to exist. The honorable member has sought “fresh fields and pastures new,” where he imagines there is a better future in store for him. Will, he not extend the same opportunity to his friends in the old world who would make equally, good citizens with himself ? The time will come when he will have to devote some attention to this question. The miners of Broken Hill will not always be able to return him to this House, and, unless he bestows some attention upon the political affairs of the Commonwealth, the people will tire of him. I compliment the Treasurer upon his Budget statement. It was the finest that has been delivered in this Parliament. At the same time, I think that it would be very much better if the Treasurer of the Commonwealth also filled the position of Prime Minister, for reasons which I gave in the earlier- portion of my address.
– The honorable member for Robertson has made some most interesting observations. One of his statements was that the Government possess a majority in this House, quite independently of the Labour Party, which means that they have a very considerable majority indeed. Under such circumstances, we may hope for a very speedy conclusion of the pressing business of the session. I did not altogether agree with the honorable member when he roundly rebuked the ex-Treasurer, the right honorable member for Balaclava, for having consulted the States Governments upon the question of the transfer of the States debts. It seems to me that that question, above all others, is one upon which the States have a right to be consulted. In dealing with the consolidation of the States debts - a question that has occupied a prominent position throughout the debate - the Treasurer said that the chief objection to the extension of the Braddon section was that it led. to friction and to charges of extravagance being levelled against the Commonwealth by the States.
– I do not think I did. What I said was that if all States loans had to be raised through the Commonwealth there would be friction.
– I think that the right honorable gentleman is under a misapprehension. Whether or not he made that statement, however, is a matter of no moment, for, in my opinion, the conditions arising under the Braddon section - the inter-dependence of the States and the Commonwealth - must lead to a certain degree of friction. The chief objection to that provision in the Constitution lies in the fact that it hampers the Commonwealth, inasmuch as under it we have to raise four times as much revenue as we require. It is said that the Braddon section protects the finances of the States,, and, under existing conditions, it certainly does to some extent. There appears, however, to be a tendency in certain quarters to regard it as a fetish, which must be preserved at all hazards. I, for one, fail tosee what special guarantee is afforded through its agency to the States. As a matter of fact, the guarantee which it offers from the point of view of the StatesTreasurers is not half as good asthat which would follow the adoptionof the proposal made by the Treasurer that the Constitution should be so amended as to provide that a fixed sum should be necessarily returned, per capita, to the States. The Braddon section merely provides that three-fourths of the revenue raised’ by the Commonwealth shall be returned tothe States. It does not declare what sumshall be annually raised by us. That being so, if we had a real free-trade party in a majority in the Parliament, this so-called” guarantee would go for nought : a provisionthat three-fourths of nothing should be returned to the States would not be of much value to them. The position would be thesame if we had an out-and-out prohibitionparty in power. I question, however, whether there is such a party on this sideof the House, or whether there is a truly free-trade party in opposition. If the proposal made by the Treasurer were carried” out, it would afford far more protection to> the States than would the continuance of the Braddon section.
– How would the honorable member meet the exceptional case of Western Australia ?
– I do not think that Western Australia would be seriously affected.
– At the present time the per capita distribution would mean a difference of over £400,000 a year to that State.
– The Treasurer of course recognises that the disparity is growing less as the conditions of Western Australia are becoming normal.
– It will take some years to remove it.
– I believe that it will. I ‘should not be prepared to support the repeal of the Braddon section unless we substituted for it something that would afford the finances of the States a reasonable protection. To my mind this question is so inextricably involved with that of the transfer of the States debts that we need not be greatly concerned about it. With the taking over of the States debts the Braddon section would become inoperative, because, as has already been pointed out, the whole of the Commonwealth revenue would not be sufficient to pay the interest on those debts.
– The balance would have to be raised from the States.
– The question of the means by which it should be raised would be a matter entirely for the consideration of this Parliament. I think that the Treasurer observed that there was not much force in the objection that by at once taking over the whole of the debts of the States the Commonwealth would enhance the value of the present stocks to their holders, inasmuch as we should be sellers. We must recognise, however, that we cannot hope to at once convert all the debts of the States. That must be a gradual process, each debt being converted as it falls due. It would be impossible to induce the holders of the stocks of the States to give them up in return for a Commonwealth issue, unless we could give them something that would be more advantageous to them than are their present holdings ; but if we were to .give them something more valuable than they now have, what benefit would be reaped by the Commonwealth ? In “these circumstances we must realize that we shall only be able to take over the States debts as they fall due, and to raise fresh loans on’ better terms than the States individually could obtain. I wish to say a few words on the method in which the bookkeeping sections of the Constitution are administered. For the first two or three years all new expenditure was debited against the State in which it was incurred. Under that practice, for instance, South Australia had to bear noi. only the cost of a telegraph line to Tarcoola, amounting to £10,000, but also the loss on the working thereof. That, I think, was a perfectly fair and clear position. So long as the bookkeeping system is’ retained, it should be administered in its integrity. But since then we have had a different system under which the cost of additional advantages in connexion with the transferred departments has been debited, not against the States concerned, but against the Commonwealth on a per capita basis. Two or three years ago the late Treasurer introduced the practice of debiting the cost of new works against the Commonwealth, and the present Treasurer has gone somewhat further in that direction. The bookkeeping system as now administered is full of most absurd anomalies. The Estimates contain an item for a telephone line from Sydney to Melbourne, and an item for an additional telegraph line from Melbourne to Adelaide. The revenue will, of course, be credited, not- to the Commonwealth, which’ erects the line, but to the States concerned. That is a very anomalous position, when in each case the line will run parallel to, and be worked in conjunction with, a line-, which was erected by the States. Assuming for a moment that all new works were built out of loan funds, and not out of the general revenue, the Commonwealth would erect a line, and pay the interest on the outlay, while the total revenue would be credited not to the Commonwealth but to the States. That is the extraordinary position we hav.. got into. Then,” as regards replacements, I am never quite sure where I am. In looking over the Estimates, il is difficult to know whether a work is to be undertaken on a per capita basis or debited against a particular State. Originally the States felt a.- special interest in keeping down the expenditure on new works therein. The’ Government of Queensland, for instance, sent a very pressing request to the Federal Government to keep down the expenditure on new works therein to the lowest possible figure consistent with the proper working of the Departments, and the Commonwealth Government acceded to the request. Now, any such proposal would be absurd. It would be to the advantage of the Queensland Government to get as much as possible out of the Commonwealth, because the greater part of the cost of a work would be borne by the other States.
– Queensland again !
– I simply instance Queensland because it made that special request. Of course, the argument ^applies to all the other States. The Treasurer said that the bookkeeping system could not be abolished at once, because it would cripple Western Australia as compared with the other States. I admit that it could not be abolished straight away without in some way or other indemnifying the States for the losses which they would sustain. A sliding scale would have to be adopted, so that the discrepancies and disparities might gradually disappear. Last year it was pointed out that, under the present system, so far as new works and buildings are concerned, Western Australia is gaining enormously at the expense of the other States. Take the proposed expenditure on additions to post-offices and erection of new post-offices. It is proposed to expend £21,250 in New South Wales, £20,137 in Victoria, £25,425 in Western Australia, £5,624 in South Australia, and £7,145 in Queensland. Again, if we take the items for additions and new works in connexion with the Defence Department, we find that it is proposed to spend £13,818 in New South Wales, £11,717 in Victoria, £7,577 in Queensland, £4,985, in> South Australia, £3,196 in Tasmania, and £25,223 in Western Australia. In other words, it is proposed to spend nearly as much in Western Australia as in any three States.
– That is for the fort at Fremantle.
– Exactly; but until recently all these items were charged against the States in which the expenditure was incurred.
– Not all of them.
– All of them. For instance, the whole cost of the telegraph line to Tarcoola was charged against South Australia, but Western Australia is getting all these works constructed on a -per capita basis at the cost of the Commonwealth.
– But I did not do that. The system was changed before I took office.
– The right honorable gentleman is extremely inconsistent when he agrees with this proposal, and yet protests that it would not be advisable to introduce a proposal under which the bookkeeping system would cease in a short time on a sliding scale. If the revenue and expenditure of the transferred Departments are to be charged against the several ‘States that system ought to prevail throughout.
– I do not think that Western Australia is ‘deriving any particular benefit over any other State.
– The right honorable gentleman must admit that the expenditure of very much larger sums of money in one State than in others means that that State is deriving an advantage. In the distribution of Commonwealth expenditure, Western Australia is obtaining a huge advantage over the rest of the Commonwealth.
– Mv opinion is that Western Australia has paid more than she has received, if it is all added up.
– Western Australia has been exceedingly well treated by the Commonwealth, though not perhaps better than she deserves. We are discussing questions of national finance, and cannot be governed by mere sentimental considerations ; and when a State pleads that a very incongruous and awkward method of finance shall toe continued for her benefit she must expect that kind of treatment all round. Therefore, I say that the method of distribution now proposed is all in favour of Western Australia.
– Western Australia has been charged £20,000 on account of the sugar bounties for Queensland.
– So has South Australia.
– I know, but that does not alter the fact.
– We had a specific object in view in that matter. I am asking the Treasurer to be consistent, and to make proposals which will lead to the early abolition - I do not say the sudden abolition - of the very awkward bookkeeping sections, which are costly, and under which the real benefits of Federation are delayed ; because we are bound to consider the result of any proposal which is made, not on the Commonwealth as a whole, but on one or two States. That prevents us from look- ing at matters from a purely Federal point of view. We have had an interesting speech from the honorable member for Kooyong, in which, he dealt with the population arid the financial question. I tried to ascertain just what it was that he proposed, but unfortunately he did not develop any scheme. He outlined several ideas for increasing the population, and for establishing a committee of finance, which would do something or other, but he did not develop them sufficiently to enable one to decide whether they would be useful or otherwise. One point which the honorable member did make clear was that the condition of the workers is better . in Australia than in any other part of the world. He said that our workers are better housed, better fed, better clothed, have more money in the Savings Banks, and that their productions are unequalled anywhere. Most of those statements are true. But then the honorable member went on to say that the reason why workmen from other parts of the world did not” flock to this working man’s paradise was because ofl the pinpricks that the .Commonwealth and the States are administering to capitalists and to commerce generally. That is a somewhat remarkable statement. The honorable member tells us that conditions in Australia are better for the workers than they are anywhere else, and apparently he argues that workers in the older countries of the world will not come to Australia because of legislation, which has made the conditions better, and of proposals by which it is hoped to make them still better. He appears to think that the only way to bring a large population of workers to Australia is to reduce the emoluments of labour, and to make the conditions less generous for wage-earners. Surely that is a curious (argument. It is sometimes said that the cities of Australia are overgrown. To some extent they are. During the debate, reference has been made to the population of Adelaide as being 45 per cent, of the population of the whole State of South Australia. But it must be recollected that the population of a city is reckoned within & ten-mile radius; and a ten-mile radius in the case of Adelaide includes a large number of primary producers. The great bulk of the fruit-growers are, I suppose, within ten miles of Adelaide and -many persons grow produce for export as well as for the local market. Within ten miles of the city there is a pastoral run, the Levels. The huge aggregations 01 population in Australia are nol all engaged in purely city pursuits - in manufacturing, and so forth. T hat idea is entirely erroneous. If the facts are inquired into, it is found that the overgrowth of our cities is’ more apparent than real. Of course every one of us would like t see more of our country lands CUtivated, and put to a higher use I do not think that the Treasurer’s speech showed any -material advance in regard ti/ the States debts and other questions of the kind. No speech is likely to advance such matters ; but the question of the States debts must become of pressing importance shortly. When the time comes, I believe that the House will grapple with the matter, readily enough, and the sooner steps are taken in this direction the better it will be for the community generally. I shall not detain the Committee further, because I know thathonorable members are anxious that this debate shall close.
– ! hesitated for a long time as to whether should take part in this debate, and1 I cannot say that I have been very much encouraged to do so by the want of interest shown in the -proceedings during the last two or three days. Yet when I speak of a want of interest I must not forget that during the past week there were several speeches delivered on the Budget, opening up subject after subject, and vista after vista - speeches that were not only interesting, but were delivered in a manner worthy of the best traditions of the various States Parliaments. I do not desire to be invidious, but I think I may mention the speeches delivered by the honorable and learned member for Corinella and the honorable member for Gippsland. The latter gentleman spoke under stress of great physical weakness, which ultimately overpowered him; but those who listened to that old statesman,- as he is, with all his eloquence and force, could not help congratulating the Commonwealth on haying amongst us such a representative. The speech of the honorable and learned member for Corinella, elevated the debate to the tone which many of us, when we were advocating Federation, led the electors to believe would result from the association of a number of the best statesmen of Australia in the Commonwealth Parliament. That -speech dealt mainly with our defences, and it- is exceedingly to be regretted that party exigencies compel, from time to time, changes in the Ministry, which remove “men from positions which they are best able to fill, and very frequently replace them by men of not equal calibre. I know, from officers of the Defence Department, that there has not been a Minister who has shown himself more capable of carrying on the work of administration. This is just one of those cases which may lead us to support motions which have been submitted by two. honorable members of this House in reference to the election of Ministries. It is suggested that the Ministry should be selected, not by one man, who may be the Prime Minister, but by the House itself, the members of which know better who are the men most capable of filling the special positions apart from any consideration of party exigencies. The honorable and learned member for Corinella, in that speech, dealt with the various suggestions which were made by the late General Officer Commanding, Sir Edward Hutton, and he led us to the conclusion that if the recommendations of the military experts were carried out we should find ourselves, perhaps sooner than we expected, pledged to an expenditure of at least £800,000 for equipment, in ‘addition to the expenditure already incurred in connexion -with garrisons, mines, artillery, and other land forces.
– Not £800,000 a year.
– The outlay to which the honorable and learned member for Corinella referred was specially in connexion with the suggestions made by Sir Edward Hutton.
– The suggested expenditure Was £800,000 altogether.
– But the £800,000 was largely in connexion with expenditure which must be incurred year by year.
– That is so - spread over a number of years.
– I am altogether at issue with the honorable and learned member for Corinella, and the late General Officer Commanding, in this matter. The honorable and learned member did not convince me that we could wisely make anyfurther expenditure on our land forces than that which is now being incurred. I have in my mind the recommendations of the various experts who have visited these shores in years gone by. Those experts were sent out here by the Imperial Government, and they have from time to time called attention to the fact that these shores can never be invaded except by a desultory marauder. It may be that artillery and other armaments become obsolete every ten years or so, and require replacing at further expenditure. Whether that be so or not, there is the fact that every expert who has yet visited these shores - from Colonel Scratchley and Sir Edward Jervois down to Sir James Bevan Edwards - has come to the conclusion that these shores cannot be invaded except by some desultory marauder.
– It was to meet such an enemy that the honorable and learned member for Corinella proposed the expenditure.
– The honorable and learned member very wisely pointed out that while we have been warned .that attack was more likely from privateers of the character of the Shenandoah, or the Chesapeake, a new order of things has arisen in the Pacific during the past few years. So far as the navy is concerned, we know that war ships, once away from their own shores, cannot return unless they have been permitted to coal by some friendly State. But of late years, as the honorable and learned member -for Corinella reminds us, Germany has established coaling stations in the Southern Pacific, and may in consequence place us in a position which heretofore we have had no reason to contemplate. That being so, I would remind honorable members of facts which have been forcibly pressed on their attention in sessions gone by. It is true that we may have to look for our defence and protection’ not to the immediate waters of Australia. We may have to depend for victory on some great battle fought 2,000 miles away from our shores, as Great Britain had to depend for victory on the battle of Trafalgar. If an enemy had a force sufficiently large to enable him to disregard the fleets which were harassing him, and to leave them, he might run the gauntlet, and, picking up coal at various coaling stations, at length reach these shores. Then would begin our responsibility, and we must consider what should be our first line of defence. It was my duty for. many years in the past to suggest to a State Parliament what course it should adopt and what should be its fair share of a contribution to something like a naval defence. I had therefore to consider what ‘ was the first line of defence for Australia. It is not her garrisons, mines, engineering, and land forces, but a navy which may be stationed three, thirty, or one hundred miles away from her coast. Then, instead of spending more money on our land forces, I should like to see the mind of the Commonwealth Parliament directed to the purpose of assisting the Imperial Navy by a more liberal contribution than that which we give at the present time.
– We give too much now.
– We require to insure our States against attack. We require to insure the bullion which lies in our banks against the call of an enemy, who at any time might lay us under contribution. What does the merchant do to protect his interests against loss due to the operation of the laws of God at sea or against the aggression of an enemy ? He from time to time insures himself against risks of that kind. Our best insurance against a risk of the kind to which I refer is to increase our contribution to the Imperial Navy. A sum of £200,000 a year is now spent in this way, whilst we are “spending £600,000 on our land forces.
– That is too much also.
– As the honorable and learned member for Corinella reminded us, just as we have our lighthouses along our coasts - 120 of them, I think - lighting up the maritime highway, so we have sea ports dotted here and there on the littoral of this great Continent, and they are practically defenceless. So far as Tasmania is concerned, I cannot forget Hobart with its magnificent waters, Frederick Henry Bay, D’ Entrecasteaux Channel, and the Tamar, which are practically defenceless unless provided with forts. If we have forts, we must have garrisons. When we have our forts erected, our garrisons and guns ready, we shall have a support - a rendezvous - for our first line of defence - the navy, which from time to time may require to find cover near our coast or in our harbors, So I trust that our attention will be more directed to that first line of defence. I hesitate, as a non-expert, to talk about these matters. I speak only as I have been educated. For forty years I have been reading the various reports which have been submitted to the Imperial and our own Governments upon the question of defence; Those reports centre upon the fact that the first line of defence must be that upon which we shall rely most entirely, that is our navy. That being so, I trust that in the future, instead of turning our attention to the number of our land forces, we shall be content to provide an efficient garrison and an efficient staff of engineers, and to create a body of men who can well manage: our submarine mines, leaving the rest to what we all agree is a capable and useful force, our citizen soldiery. As an old volunteer, I have witnessed war’s alarms ir. the years gone by, and know that no sooner is the flag raised than there rally round ii more men than are needed. Men are always ready to rally in support of the flag, whenever it is unfurled.
– But to be effective, they must be trained.
– They must be trained, and the money that we have spent on our volunteer system has not been wasted. I know from my personal experience, not in the last ten years, but in previous years when I was in the force myself, that if the flag were unfurled in Tasmania, not 800 men, but three times that number would rally to its defence, and they would be men who, with very little more training, would be fit to beat the foe. The training that we have given to our volunteers in years gone by has not been a waste of our public funds. We have instructed our men how to use the rifle, and we have instilled into them from their childhood the demands of patriotism. I would leave the question of defence there, hoping thai whenever the subject arises, we shall devote attention not so much to expenditure upon our land forces as to supplementing, in all the efforts we can make, the operations of the Imperial Navy.
– What does the honorable member think it would cost?
– To that question I give the honorable member no reply ; it is entirely a matter df experience. But ] have indicated the channel through which our expenditure should pass, to the extern of our abilities. Instead of wasting our money upon guns which, if they cost £100.000 to-day, will be obsolete in five, six, or seven years, and on armament and forts which will go down before more modern weapons, I would give what support I could to the British Navy. If we spend our money on forts in 1905, the expenditure will be absolutely useless ten years hence.
– The honorable and learned member for Corinella proposes to spend £800,000.
– I do not think he proposes to spend that amount. I understood him to point out that that expenditure would be necessary if we went on the line of establishing garrisons at the various ports to which he alluded, and provided land forces to back up the forts. His suggestion, I understood, completed those ‘of Major-General Sir Edward Hutton.
– But he recommended the issue of Treasury bills.
– When the expenditure came to be considered necessary. If [ have misunderstood the honorable and learned member, I shall be found voting against any extra expenditure on our land forces and garrisons, although I shall vote to supply our garrisons with modern arms. Coming now to the Budget, I have to express my gratification that the Treasurer has given to the world a set of statistics which are useful, not only as any compilation of figures is useful for purposes of comparison, but as showing the people of the old country the progress which Australia has been making. Mr. James, the able Agent-General for Western Australia, has already telegraphed to this country his sense of their usefulness in that respect. Progress is a relative term, but the progress of Australia suffers no disparagement when compared with that of any other country in the world. I intend to supplement the Treasurer’s figures, in order to emphasize this progress. His statistics deal with what the commercial and trading communities have done. I shall show what has been the result of personal exertion and thrift among the masses generally. The Treasurer has .shown that our primary products are worth £120,000,000 a year, and the output of our factories £60,000,000 a year, while £14,000,000 a year is expended in capital and machinery. But if we ask what the people have done personally, we find that our Savings Banks, whose books record the thriftiness of the public, have accumulated deposits to the amount of £34,000,000, while our building societies and friendly societies have accumulated £[5,000,000. Our life insurance societies have accumulated the amazing sum of £35,000,000, which represents insurances to the value of £120,000,000 on the lives of 400,000 persons, or half the manhood of Australia. This is the sum which has been put aside by our people to provide against old age, or to benefit their children when time shall be no more with them. These are grand figures for the Commonwealth to have reached within the last fifty years. Included in these insurances are policies on the industrial system such as those issued by the Citizens’ Life and the Australian Mutual Provident Societies, whereby, by payments of 4jd. per week, the industrial classes have accumulated ,£6,500,000 against domestic vicissitudes. I am astounded when I read these figures; but when I inquire if they are trustworthy, I find that they are. I find further that our average area under crop has increased during the past five years from IO,’000,000 to 12,000,00c acres. These figures show what the Commonwealth is doing in finding employment for its people, and putting the congested populations of the cities on to the land. The area under the plough has increased by 2,000,000 acres, or 20 per cent., in five years. I find further that our Customs and Excise duties have been revenue-producing, as well as fairly protective.
– It all depends upon what the honorable member calls protective.
– I find, too, that they have been to some, but happily not to a large, extent prohibitive.
– To’ what item on the Tariff does the honorable member refer?
– To the dutv on hats.
– The duty of 35 per cent, on hats has almost prohibited their importation.
– In the first place, there is not a duty of 35 per cent, on hats, and in the second place more hats are now imported into Victoria than were imported for years past.
– The duty has been prohibitive except in respect to a certain class of hat sold by such shops as those to which I and other honorable members go.
– The honorable member is again wrong. It is the lower-priced hats that are imported to the greater extent.
– I speak as an importer when I say that the class of hat made by the Denton Mills is no longer imported into Australia, except by two or three of the leading houses in our chief cities, where the shopkeepers practically charge what price they like, and the customers make no demur.
– What about the hundreds of thousands of Italian hats that are importer! ?
– Comparatively few are being imported now. Then so far as boots are concerned, the products of America and Staffordshire are being imported to a limited extent, because some persons regard the imported article as superior.
– And they are wrong.
– I believe they are wrong. I have seen Australian boots which are equal to anything that could be imported. The greater proportion of the hats, boots, flannels, and blankets that were formerly imported have been displaced by locally manufactured articles. The Tasmanian blankets and flannels are sold wherever they are shown all over Australia, and articles of similar value could not be imported from England and sold here after payment of the duty at prices which would permit of successful competition.
– That was so before Federation.
– Quite- so.’ In Tasmania we have been gradually building up the; manufacture o’f ‘boots!, flannels, tweeds, and blankets under a Tariff not protective - at least, . not intentionally so. I was Treasurer of that State over and over again from 1868 onwards, and I am called a free-trader. But we lived under a 20 per cent. Tariff for such a long time that some of us unintentionally became protectionists. It may be said of Tasmanian finance, “ My poverty but not’ my will consented.” The Treasury needed money, and as I was denied revenue by means . of direct taxation, I was compelled from time to time to resort to increased Customs duties. Ten per cent, duties were increased to 15 per cent., and then again to 20 per cent., and the free-traders were always asking us to impose a little more duty to protect their manufactures. Under such a Tariff, the manufactories in< Tasmania have increased, and now every day we hear the sound of the factory bell, and the patter of the feet of thousands of factory hands proceeding to their work. That is what we want. Returning to the point from which I started, I contend that the Commonwealth Tariff has been revenueproducing, protective, and partly prohibitive. The Tariff yielded during the first vear of its operation £9,600,000, whilst, for the current financial year, it is estimated to produce £8,683,000. There fore, there will be a falling-off of less than £1,000,000 in five years. It must not be concluded that there has been any great falling off in general imports, because the difference is mainly due to the fact that our importations of grain and sugar have practically ceased, at a loss to the revenue of £1,200,000. Therefore, we have nearly passed through the first five years of our experience of the Tariff, to which the right honorable member for Balaclava referred when, in introducing his first Budget, he said, “I have to warn the House that the Estimates which are now produced will have, to be reduced year by year as our manufactures increase.” When the right honorable gentleman made his statement he was not aware that it was intended to abolish the duties upon tea and kerosene.
– Was the Tariff completed when that statement was made?
– No; it was not. From time to time it was pointed out that the Tariff as originally proposed would yield a much larger sum than £9,500,000. The Committee reduced the duties upon many articles, struck out the tea and kerosene duties, and placed one item after another upon the free list. The right honorable member for Adelaide, much to my chagrin, told honorable members that the. Tariff was of a protective character, but honorable members were not prepared to go to the length that he proposed, and gradually the duties were pared ‘down. The right honorable member for Balaclava predicted that the revenue would gradually be .reduced to about £7,500,000, the value, as he stated, of the normal year; but our experience does not point to any such probability. The bookkeeping sections of the Constitution were inserted in order that we might learn what were the possibilities of the Commonwealth within that period. Notwithstanding (that our population has to a small extent diminished, I have very little doubt that for some years we shall continue to enjoy to the full the amount: of revenue which it is estimated we shall receive during 1905-6. I know of no reason to warrant the presumption - despite the fact that our manufactures are increasing - that the amount of Customs and Excise revenue which is at present being collected will not continue to be collected. If unhappily our population should decrease - and’ I use the word “unhappily” advisedly - we may expect somewhat different results. But so surely as we continue to manufacture for our own people, to extend our horse-power in machinery, and to pay good wages to our artisans, we shall enable them to consume articles which, by paying duty, will cause our- revenue to be maintained. I am exceedingly sorry to observe that our population has, to a small extent, decreased. The number of emigrants from Australia exceeds that of our immigrants. I do not know how we can stop this leakage. That observation, leads me to pass more rapidly than I had intended to another subject, which relates to the settlement of the people upon the soil. Until we can settle our own population upon the lands of the Commonwealth, we cannot attempt to introduce strangers. Too many of our sons, wearing stiff collars and starched cuffs, are to be found wasting their time in our cities. We want to induce them to go upon the land.
– Let them go to Western Australia.
– By pushing men into pursuits which they do not understand without providing them with a certain amount of capital, we should be more likely to facilitate their downfall than to secure their prosperity. I observe that the Treasurer proposes to seek a conference with the States Treasurers upon this subject. He may arrange a conference with them, but he will find that every State is doing what it can in this direction. Some of the States have found it necessary to hold on to their lands in order that they may maintain their revenue. Others have found it imperative to retain possession of them, because, having sold them previously for 1, ios., and 5s. per acre, it would be ruinous to those who have purchased if the Government now commenced to give them away. ‘
– That is an exploded’ idea. The same argument was used in “Western Australia, but there is nothing in it.
– I should like to know what area of arable land is available in Western Australia - I mean land upon which a man with sufficient capital could settle with any hope of being successful.
– There is an almost unlimited quantity of it.
– I am afraid there is not. It is gratifying to learn that the States are providing opportunities for the settlement of the people upon the soil. In Victoria the Credit Foncier system is in vogue. I believe in that system - in fact,
I have always been a Credit Foncier advocate - and I endeavoured to introduce a similar system into Tasmania, but my efforts were baulked by the Legislative Council of that State. That, we must assist our own people before we help outsiders is an article of my creed. In picking up our stalwart sons, who are at present resident in our cities, and placing them upon the lands of the country, we have a great work to perform. At Dookie, Hawkesbury, and other institutions they may become familiar with agricultural pursuits, but if subsequently their parents are unable to provide them with the capital necessary to place them upon the land,’ the Government must step in and assist them. That means that we cannot hold out any inducements to immigrants at present. Consequently, when I hear the Prime Minister or any member of the Government talking about the encouragement of immigration, and of the desirability of arranging conferences with the States Governments to discuss that subject, I am inclined to say, “Talk as you will, it will result in nothing.” There can be no immigration of the class of people we desire to see settled upon the lands of the country for some, time to come. In this connexion I would point out that Canada offers much better inducements to immigrants than we can. Where is the State in Australia which will give an intending immigrant 160 acres of land?
– Western Australia will do that.
– But what is the character of that land ? Canada has flooded its lands with a very likely class of settlers, and now that no further areas are’ available within twenty-five miles of the railway it intends to duplicate the line from the Atlantic to the Pacific, in order to make its other lands more accessible. A very low rate of passage money obtains between Great Britain and Canada, and the Dominion Government offers 160 acres of land to each intending settler free of charge. It holds out. inducements which we cannot hope to offer. I am afraid that it is idle for Australia to expect to populate its lands with immigrants in the . way that we desire. I regret that our legislation during the past five years has not been calculated to induce the belief that outsiders upon their arrival here will be welcomed. We have not extended the hand of welcome to the men in the old -country who would be most likely to come here. We have simply invited those having capital to come to our shores, and these men are exceedingly dubious when they learn of our various restrictive regulations in relation to wages and conditions of labour in the industries in which they are interested. In Tasmania, the State from which I hail, we have year after year had the most progressive legislation which any man of judgment could desire. Yet we have had no Labour Party in the State Parliament; we have all been labourers for the common weal.
– It is an ideal State.
– An ideal State in that respect. We have maintained the wages of our workers, and have secured good homes for the people. We have encouraged them to settle on the land by granting holdings even as low as 5s. per acre, and giving them thirteen years in which to pay for them. We have offered^ them every possible inducement, and until Federation they never felt anything in the shape of real taxation. As the result of the action of the Labour Party in the Commonwealth Parliament, however, the poor labouring man and the poor labouring woman in Tasmania have to pay direct taxation which they never had to bear before. Some of the legislation of the Commonwealth has so reduCed the Customs revenue as to compel that State to resort to direct taxation, and Tasmania now collects, from all the workers, from the best paid wage-earner to the poorest hospital nurse, a tax from which they ought to be free.
– The honorable member is condemning legislation brought in by the Government of which he was a member.
– I am very glad that I am now a free lance.
– The honorable member has made a very serious indictment against legislation introduced by the Government of which he was a member.
– I say that some of the legislation passed whilst I was_ a member of the Barton-Deakin Administrations was, to my mind, mischievous, and I am thankful to wash my hands of it.
– Why did not the honorable member do so /before?
– Surely the honorable member does not forget that a house divided against itself cannot stand.
– But why should it stand in such circumstances?
– Does not –he honorable member recognise that when seven men join in a partnership of liability it would be dishonorable for one of the number to do anything that might be detrimental to the others? It is because of this that, in connexion with every Administration m the world, we find over and over again that men remain in office, just as I did in the case in question, and just as I have had to do in Tasmania. In the State Parliament 1 have listened to a debate on a measure against which, as a member of the Cabinet I had .raised my voice in protest ; but I would rather go down myself than act dishonorably to the men with whom I was associated. I should get away from them at a fitting time, but not when my disagreement with them would possibly bring about a crisis. Is a man to think only of himself? If I or the right honorable member for Swan had thought only of ourselves, we might have resigned from the Barton or Deakin Administrations ; but we had a right to remember that we were members of a party in the Parliament of the Commonwealth, and were bound together for weal’ or woe, so that the house should not be divided against itself. But when the opportunity offers - when no claims are made upon me by the party with which I am associated, I am free to act for mvself, and, as a free lance, may denounce the very legislation-
– The honorable member is really denouncing himself.
– Some of the legislation passed by the Commonwealth Parliament during the last four years has been not useful but really detrimental to the Commonwealth. I turn from this subject to that of the sugar bounty, which is another of the important questions that have been discussed during the Budget debate. As the result of the sugar tariff, the Commonwealth has lost revenue to the extent of £614,000 dyring the last five years. This loss has been suffered by reason of our desire to rid the Commonwealth of the coloured labour question. I do not forget that that question did not apply to New South Wales ; that, at the time of the introduction of the system, very little coloured labour was employed in that State, and that we have therefore been giving a bonus to the sugar-planters of New South Wales for no particular reason. Last year, if I remember rightly, there were 3,700 labourers - consisting of 2,400 coloured and 1,300 white men - employed in the sugar planta- tions of the Commonwealth. I should like a representative of Queensland to inform me what are the wages earned by white labourers in the sugar-fields. Shall I say 40s. per week?
– With rations and quarters, the wage is about 35s. per week.
– I am quite sure that the planters cannot obtain white labour for the cane-fields under 6s. a day.
– Yes ; a ploughman can be engaged for £1 or 22s. a week.
– Then what shall I say is the wage paid ,to the coloured labourer? Shall I put it down at 20s. per week ? ‘
– 27s. 6d. per week. Sir PHILIP FYSH.- I do not think that a white man should Le employed in the cane-fields at less than 40s. a week. 1 Mr. Hutchison. - Very few get as much as that.
– If you are going to push them into the most tropical districts of Queensland-
– ALI that land will be thrown to waste.
– You are going to try to push them into the far north at 40s. a week, with coloured labour at 20s. a week. Therefore, the planter has paid, in order to get rid of coloured labour, £1 a week, or £52 a year, for every labourer more than he would have paid had he used all coloured labour. If a bounty of £2 per ton is paid when white labour only is employed in producing the 170,000 tons of sugar, then the Commonwealth will pay £340,000 a year. And if we work out the loss of 20s. per week made by the planter in substituting white for coloured labour, we shall arrive at the sum of £192,000. Therefore, we shall have given to the planters a bonus of £150,000 a year, in addition to all the losses they may have incurred in substituting white for coloured labour.
– Does not the honorable member think that a white labourer is equal to two black labourers at any time?
– I do not know anything about that ; it is a matter for the growers. If these figures are approximately correct, it merely shows that we were monstrously misled in giving a bounty of £2 per ton for white-grown sugar. We have given the planters not only the advantage of the protection between the excise duty of £3 and the import duty of £6, but also a bounty of £2 per ton, which - assuming that all the labour is white, and it will be some time before it is - represents £192,000 a year, or more than £1 a ton, in addition to the extra cost they can show they have incurred by employing white rather than coloured labour.
– It is not in addition to, but in lieu of that.
– No. The planter substitutes white in lieu of coloured labour, and we have given him enough to pay for the extra labour, and £1 per ton in addition thereto. If these figures are approximately correct, it shows that the bounty, instead of being £2, ought to be £1 a ton, to cover the actual cost; that is, if the whole quantity of 170,000 tons is produced by white labour. It will be seen, then, that we make the planters that enormous gift. I know that the planter has not been getting all the advantage which the honorable member for Franklin suggested, and that -is the misfortune of the business. It may be that in New South Wales the planter, who never employed black labour, is getting all the advantage that is possible ; but in Queensland, the planter, who deals with the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, may not be getting the amount of advantage which he ought to receive.
– The New South Wales growers have received in three years £114,000.
– Year by year the growers have been receiving this enormous gift.
– And yet they are not satisfied. *
– And yet they may not be satisfied. These observations are preliminary to the question of what we are to do when the period of five years has expired. I shall need to be better informed then I aim now if I vote for a continuance of the bounty. All through the period when i, with others, was asking the people of Australia to federate, I boldly told them that Queensland must be considered, as she had an enormous product which I hoped would satisfy the requirements of all Australia. Five years ae;o, I used the same number of tons for the purpose of my calculations as I am using now, because I was told by Sir Hugh Nelson, in correspondence, that 170,000 tons was the quantity which was needed ; and that before very long it would all be produced by Queensland. Last year very nearly that quantity was produced there. After we have had an experience of a few years, we are told by those in authority that the bounty must be renewed. When the question comes before the House, I shall be disposed to say that, having given the growers a bounty for five years, and helped them to get rid of a certain portion of their coloured labour, they must now help themselves. What was the position of the planter prior to Federation ? I bought tens of thousands of tons of sugar from Queensland at a fair price - the price of Mauritius sugar. We are told that prior to that time, the planters held their own. The Commonwealth does not exist for the purpose of ‘assisting men to make fortunes. We all had to hold our own, with difficulty indeed, prior to Federation. Therefore, the Queensland planters must be satisfied to do that.
– The planters were paving £6 a vear for labour then.
– The planters still have the market, and we are going to continue, I hope, to give them the advantage of the proportion of £3 a ton. If that, which is equal to 20 per cent, on their raw product, is not sufficient, I do not know that the raw product is worth producing. When the question of the sugar bounty was submitted, many of us, perhaps, voted out of consideration’ for those who had plantations on the tropical line. When you get to the far north of Queensland, I exceedingly doubt, whatever may be said to the contrary by Queenslanders, whether the atmospheric conditions will enable European families to work in the cane-fields. I have heard representatives of that State say, “ The planters have only to pay the price, and labour will be found.” During the last three or four years we have offered the planters every inducement to pay the price. We do not find that in that district the coloured labourer is being dispensed with as rapidly as we had hoped. I am not an authority on hygiene, and if ,a medical man resident in the district tells me that while the white man may endure, his wife and children must suffer, that there must be ennui, dementia, and early decay, and all those weaknesses which extreme climates induce, I accept his testimony. It is the only testimony I can find, and it convinces me that tropical Queensland is unfit for the wives and children of white men. , . ‘
– Is the honorable member aware that doctors disagree as to that ?
– Where doctors disagree I have to arrive at a conclusion by exercising my own common sense, and basing my judgments on my own experience.
– The honorable member has had no experience on the subject.
– I have had quite enough experience of tropical climates. I have been in Mauritius, and have seen something of cane-cutting there. When the rain falls upon the land the extreme heat causes the moisture to rise in dense clouds, by which one is enveloped. The climates of such countries are not such as white men can live and work in. When the time comes for the discussion of this question, I shall feel compelled to arrive at the conclusion that the sugar industry must depend upon itself for support, except so far as concerns the difference between the Excise and the Customs duty. There is another point which affects the people of the Commonwealth very considerably. Questions affecting Federation and the Commonwealth cannot arise in conversation without the matter of Federal extravagance being discussed. It becomes quite monotonous. I am pleased to know that the Treasurer has given figures to show that Federation is costing Australia only is. 5½d. per head. At the time of the Convention, and when we were recommending the Constitution tothe people at the referendum, I even went so far as to say that the cost might be 2s. 6d. a head. But when the Treasurer mentioned the actual expenditure as is. $<5. per head he omitted to include certain items of expenditure which are really consequent upon Federation. There is the sugar rebate, for instance, which for the year 1905-6 is estimated at £151,000. That expenditure is consequent upon Federation. It is no reply to say that the people have been relieved through the Customs to the extent of £500,000 a year in respect of tea and kerosene duties. Before I have done with the subject I think I shall be able to show that these reliefs which, in my opinion, w’e so unwisely granted, have been a serious contributory cause of the difficulties of some of the States - especially of Queensland and Tasmania - in respect of their finances. The abolition of the tea and kerosene duties certainly cost Tasmania £25.000, and Queensland very nearly £50,000 a year. Queensland has accumulated deficiencies of £102,000, in consequence of the reduced surplus handed over to her by the Com- monwealth. That is largely due to the action of this Parliament in repealing those duties. Then, again, we shall presently have to deport a large number ‘of kanakas. I have read that a deposit was paid for each of them. I cannot learn who holds that deposit, and whether it is held under proper conditions, so that it may be paid on the deportation of the kanakas.
– The State Government holds it.
– I doubt whether the Commonwealth Government can compel the ‘State Government ,to /pay over the money. Then, again, I hope we are to have an additional expenditure in connexion with iron bonuses. I am not now committing myself to any particular amount. By-and-by we shall also have old-age pensions to pay - a matter about which I shall have something to say presently. There will also be the Federal Capital expenditure. Some honorable members may say that by means of the nationalization of the land money spent in that direction will be returnable later on. But there will certainly be expenditure for furnishing the departments at the Capital.
– That expenditure was foreseen when the States entered Federation.
– I do not know what the people may have thought at the time of the referendum, but we certainly did not anticipate such a large expenditure as is now projected. Then comes looming up before us that great project in which the Treasurer is so much interested - the transcontinental railway.
– ls not that definitely shelved now?
– I hope it is shelved for this session; but every effort is, I. am sure, being made by the Treasurer to resuscitate the infant. I should not be. surprised if he managed to galvanize it into life.
Sit John Forrest. - The honorable member supported it.
– I have never supported the transcontinental line.
– The Government in which the honorable member had a portfolio introduced the Bill.
– But “the right honorable gentleman knows that, so far as I was personally concerned, I was not in favour of the project. Hopeful as I am for the development of Western Australia, I say to the Treasurer, in the words of
Pease, of Darlington, “ Let the country make the railways, and the railways will make the country ;” but I do not know of country between Eucla and Kalgoorlie which, in this sense, can be made, and until I see that every effort has been put forth by Western Australia herself to construct this line, it will not find in me a cordial supporter of its construction as a Federal project. This question of the cost of Federation brings me to a point that is very near to four honorable members in this- House besides myself - the honorable member for Franklin, the honorable member for Bass, the honorable member for Darwin, and the honorable member for Wilmot. That is the effect of these changes in connexion with Federal finance upon the finances of the State which is smallest in respect of numbers and weakest in respect of finance - Tasmania. Tasmania is small in population, small in finance, and small in area; but at the same time it is one of the six States of the Commonwealth. I am proud to belong to that State, and to recognise her position, although it may be a minor position. Tasmania is looming large in the Commonwealth in regard to her manufactures, the development of her mineral resources, her private and public wealth, and, generally, in her association with the commerce of Australia. That small State has developed a most satisfactory position, although she suffers because of a reduction of duties, and because of the cost of her public buildings being, charged against revenue instead, as heretofore, against loan account. I saw from the newspapers a few days ago that Tasmania emerges from her financial difficulties with a surplus, though it must not be forgotten that the people there have had to tax themselves in a new direction. I have previously referred to this as a consequence of labour legislation. The poor man, and even the poor laundry woman, have, I am ashamed to say, to pay this taxation in Tasmania to-day. Previously the Customs and Excise realized !£2 17 s. per head,, whereas under the Commonwealth Tariff the result is £1 17s. per head. In the year 1900 the Customs and Excise brought in £470,000, whereas under the Commonwealth in 1905-6 the surplus of revenue returned is only £240,000. or £230,000 less than that received five years ago. I am not going to make too much of this matter. By whatever method the reduction may have been brought about, ‘I hope that that loss of £1 per head by Customs has been, to some extent, gained by the people ; but instead of Federation costing is. 5½d. per head, we find, after making all allowance for this supposed saving in Customs and Excise, that the expense is 4s. 2d., per head. Tasmania is, therefore, in the rather serious position that she has, to an extent, got to the end of her tether. The amount of the surplus for the year 1905-6, estimated to be paid by the Treasurer to the Government of Tasmania, is within £4,227 of the actual amount realised ; in other words, there is only that amount, so far as Tasmania is concerned, to reckon on for any further expenditure. The iron bonus will nearly consume the whole, while the transcontinental railway would consume twice as much. It will be seen, therefore, that in Tasmania, with the increased expenditure, the Commonwealth is likely to have a second State thrown on its hands, though not in default, because I hold that under the Constitution, there can be no default. Although the Commonwealth receives the whole of the Customs and Excise revenue, three-fourths of it must be distributed to the States in proportion to the amount collected. But what becomes of Queensland, which year after year, for four or live years, has had a deficiency which has now reached £102,000? I should like to know what the Auditor-General has to say in regard to this deficiency. I challenge the Treasurer’s position when he treats this deficiency as a debit against Queensland. As a matter of fact, it is an item which hangs between heaven and earth; like Mahomet’s coffin, and really and truly it ought to be placed to a suspense account. If the amount be debited to Queensland it gives rise to the presumption that it is an asset of the Commonwealth, whereas it is not an asset, seeing that Queensland cannot be forced to return it.
– Queensland never got this money
– Queensland has had her full share of the three-fourths of the revenue.
– I do not follow the honorable member.
– Queensland has had her share of the three-fourths of the revenue.
– No; Queensland has not.
– The three-fourths of the total revenue, which was taken into the hotch-potch of the Commonwealth funds, has been distributed in proportion to the amount received from each State.
– Queensland has complained very much at not getting her three-fourths.
– If Queensland has not got her three-fourths, I do not understand the account. The money is most distinctly set out as a debit against Queensland, and it appears as an asset of the Commonwealth, although it is not an asset.
– Queensland has not received her three-fourths like the other States
– I cannot understand aw account which shows this to be a debit against Queensland1. Queensland might be shown as minus the amount, but, as I say, to debit her means that the Commonwealth has an asset.
– The Commonwealth has not a penny at the end of the year, or even at the end of the month.
– The Treasurer does not follow me. If I were making out a balance-sheet, I should put down so much stock, and so forth, and £102,000 due by Queensland. However, I need not pursue the argument further.
– I can assure the honorable member that there is nothing in the argument.
– Does the Treasurer tell me that Queensland does not get her three-fourths of the revenue?
– No, Queensland does not.
– But Queensland is entitled to three-fourths.
– Queensland is entitled to a share of three-fourths of the whole.
– I take it that three-fourths of the whole means threefourths of what the State has contributed.
– After another ‘ year or so I have no doubt that we shall find Tasmania with a similar deficiency. The question then1 arises whether we can hope for any) other plan of distribution. We find from the Treasurer’s statement that if there be a per capita distribution, Western Australia will suffer to the extent of £650,000 per annum, whilst the other five States would realize an advantage. How hopeless it is, therefore, to expect, while the position in Western Australia continues as at present, that the Parliament will deal with this question of bookkeeping otherwise than as it has been dealing with it in the past. Happily, we shall find that as the result of our five years’ experience, the States payments per capita to the Commonwealth revenue have become more closely approximated. Western Australia is the only State which still stands in the way.
– Tasmania would get some benefit the other way, would she not?
– No. I propose to show the right honorable gentleman that, with the exception of Western Australia, the disparity in the per capita payments of the States of the Commonwealth is now so small that they are practically the same. We have now arrived at this position : On the consumption of dutiable goods New South Wales pays £2 is. 7 Jd. per head; Victoria, £d is. ijd. ; South Australia, £1 16s. 5d. ; Tasmania, £1 16s. 8d. ; and Queensland, £,2 2s. Honorable members will see that there is no great disparity between these amounts.
– Does Tasmania pay more than South Australia?
– Only 3d. per head more. The revenues of the States have now so nearly approximated proportionately that on the consumption of dutiable goods New South Wales pays £2 is. 7½d. per head, and Victoria pays £2 is. id. The Treasurer knows that when his own State was represented in the Federal Convention, her people were paying £8 per head towards the Customs and Excise revenue, and it was then hopeless to talk of the institution of a sliding scale. The right honorable member for East Sydney suggested at the Adelaide Convention that there should be a sliding scale, enforced for five years to bring us into line, but directly the statisticians pointed out to us that the inevitable result would be a serious disadvantage to New South Wales, who, at that time, was collecting only £1 6s. per head, whilst Western Australia was collecting £8, and Tasmania £2 16s. per head, the proposal was seen to be utterly impracticable. I am referring now to the possibility of our coming into line in this matter. Victoria and New South Wales have automatically come together, and their payments are now within 6d. per head of being the same, a difference which need not be mentioned. In 1901, New South
Wales collected £1 6s. 4d. on dutiable goods, and she now collects £2 is. 7id. Western Australia collected £5 6s. 7d. in that year. Tasmania collected £2 16s. 6d. and she now collects only £1 16s. 8d. per head. In Tasmania we have closely approximated to the position in South Australia, and our collections are within 5s. per head of those in New South Wales.
– What is the Western Australian collection now?
– The last statistics show that it is £5 8s. 3d. per head, without reference to the special Tariff. Honorable members will see how closely, year by year, during the past five years we have been brought into line in this matter. There is something further to be considered. Statisticians make use of a term known as the “ opimeter “ - the measure of the ability to consume articles of luxury. The opimeter of 1900 showed this disparity between New South Wales and Tasmania, that whilst in New South Wales the people spent £1 per head on tea, sugar, spirits, narcotics, and dried fruits, the luxuries and semi-luxuries, Tasmania spent at least los. per head less, and I am not sure that it. was not 15s. per head less on these articles. That was the measure of their ability, by reason of good wages, to spend on articles of luxury liable to Customs duties. If honorable members will go through the returns on these items of luxuries, and semiluxuries, they will find that the measure of ability to consume these articles has approximated throughout Australia, until it is now almost the same in each State. It is somewhat astonishing to find that in this respect the ability of Tasmania has so nearly approached that of New South Wales. When we consider the position of Western Australia, with her enormous Customs duty of £8 per head’, we shall find that that- was due to a much greater proportion of adult males living in wattle and dab, or tin huts, upon luxurious whiskeys and beers, and paving very heavily for narcotics and spirits of all kinds. But there is a normal condition of things, and by reason of the progress of mineral development on the west coast, Tasmania has so improved her position as a consumer of luxuries and semiluxuries, that she has in the last five years more closely approximated to the position of the other States in the value of dutiable goods of this class which her people consume.
– Is it really a difference in ability or a difference in computation ?
– I had a great dispute with the statisticians of the time as to whether they were not over-estimating this ability to consume dutiable goods, but whichever of us was correct, there remains the fact that on these articles - luxuries and semi-luxuries, in 1900, the people of New South Wales consumed a quantity per head which gave to the exchequer £1 per head, whereas Tasmania only paid some 10s. per head.
– I cannot conceive of that difference having been made up in so short a time.
– The figures show that the payments have become closely approximated, and New South Wales, in 1904-5, paid Customs duty to the amount of £2 is. 7d. per head, whilst Tasmania paid .£i 16s. 8d. per head, a difference of only 5s. Tasmania has therefore picked up 5s. in the time. Honorable members will not wonder at that when I tell them that Tasmania has improved her position from that of an exporter to the value of £1,500,000 to that of an exporter to the value of £3,500,000. She has been paying off an old debt which existed ; and she has increased considerably the value of her primary products - wool, .gold, metal, root crops, and agricultural products generally. In every line she has shown a progress as marked as will be found in any one of the most important and progressive States of Australia. She has’ enriched the architecture of her cities, “ has pulled down her old barns, and built greater structures,” and has, in fact, “ laid up much goods for herself for many years.” This indicates a splendid position for the people of a young State.
– Federation has not injured Tasmania so much after all.
– Federation has only injured Tasmania in the way I have said, that she is paying 4s. 2d. per head of her population on account of Federal expenditure. Although I pointed out that she lost in revenue, plus new expenditure, £230,000, I did not forget to say - and if T did, I am glad the honorable member for Herbert reminds me - that for 180,000 people she has saved £1 per head per annum under the Tariff. Under the Tariff in force to-day, her people pay £1 16s. 8d. per head, whilst under the Tariff of 1900, they paid £^2 17s. per head. They have, therefore, saved £1 per head, or £180,000. That amount has gone into, or has remained in, the pockets of her people. We shall probably not find many of them who will admit it, but it is nevertheless a fact. So that, although there is a black side to the picture, when we are dealing with the position of Tasmania in the Federation, there is also a brighter side which we can hold up to her people. We can tell them, for whatever it is worth, that though they may be in the position of having to submit to a new class of taxation, it is a substituted payment, and their taxation has only been increased to the amount of 4s. 2d. per head as the result of Federation. Unfortunately, they have had to enter upon a new class of taxation as I have said, but it is only fair to admit in the Federal Parliament, that so far as that is concerned, the people of Tasmania were entitled to a new class of legislation. With the exception of Western Australia, there was not one of the other States in the year 1900 in which the people were paying £2 17 s. per head in Customs and Excise taxation. That was an extravagant rate of payment, and I am not at all sorry that the people of Tasmania are, under the Commonwealth, only paying £1 16s. 8d. in Customs and Excise taxation. It therefore seems to me that we have approached the time when the Treasurers ought to more closely investigate the position, so far as the bookkeeping period is concerned. If they do, I feel certain that New South Wales will not now say, as she said at the time of the Convention, that, so far as her revenue was concerned, she was like a lamb about to be consumed by the wolves, , namely, the weaker States, but will find that the Customs and Excise receipts of the States so closely approximate that there ‘ should be no difficulty in amending the bookkeeping provisions under the powers given to the Parliament by that section of the Constitution which says that the bookkeeping system shall last for five years, or until the Parliament shall otherwise direct. That time will soon arrive, and I wish that it had been during the Treasurer’s year of office, so that he might have come boldly to the front and said that Western Australia would not stand in the way.
– She is not prepared to give up £500,000 a year.
– Western Australia will not be asked to give up
– To what years do the honorable member’s Western Australian figures refer?
– They range from £5 8s. 3d. in 1901 to £4 5s. in 1904-5. Each year, as Western Australia becomes more settled, and as people build and furnish homes there, the revenue from Customs will decline. We shall not ask anything from that State, but will rather be inclined to deal liberally with her. Seeing that Western Australia, after five years, remains the lion in the path, it is time that we killed, or appeased, that lion. I shall not detain the Committee by a discussion of the Braddon provision. The honorable member for Wakefield, if he were here, would remember that he and I had much conversation with respect to the purpose which many of us had in the Convention of securing the return to the States of all or sufficient of the Customs revenue to keep them going. In talking the matter over at the time “with other confreres with whom we were intimate, we were very doubtful as to what theresult of the provision might be ; but the late Sir Edward Braddon was not a man to see difficulties in his path, and at 2 o’clock in the morning he proposed the clause to which his name is attached. As a number of honorable members were favorable to some provision of the kind, though none of them knew clearly what he wanted, and less still the effect of such a provision, the clause was passed, in
– What is the honorable member’s policy?
– I will not listen to any proposal to tax those engaged in any pursuit in such a way as’ to tend to their ruin. I am not going to tell honorable members what my policy is. I once had to say to a member of the Tasmanian House, who asked me what my policy was. “ The best policy of the angels, if given to the Oppositionto-day would ruin the country to-morrow.” Therefore, although I may have an angelicproposal to make. I am not going to submit it to honorable members to-night. I know that the land is sufficiently taxed already, and I doubt whether any Ministry which brought forward a proposal for taxing the land, or, in fact, any system of direct taxation, would live very long.
– What would the honorable member do if such a proposal were brought forward by a Ministry to which he belonged ?
– I think I should retire. Before I joined the Barton Ministry I knew the whole policy of its leader as outlined in his Maitland speech, and adhered to it throughout. I believe that one of the results of repealing the Braddon section would be to bring about a proposal for the taxation of the land, and, further, I fear that if we continue to expend money at the present rate it will be necessary, even with the Braddon, section, still in operation, to adopt some system of direct taxation. We are right up to our limit now.
– Not at all ; we have £400,000 or £500,000 left .vet.
– That may be all very well so far as New South Wales and Victoria are concerned, but if 1 went to the people in any of the smaller States, and suggested that the Commonwealth should appropriate all the money to which tho Treasurer has referred, they would exclaim, in the words of Mercutio, when he wa» wounded by Tybalt, “A plague o’ both your houses.” They would add, “Do as little as you can ; the less you do the better. The public can support themselves, even against bad legislation, but! Rive us as little of that as possible.” They are satisfied to let things go on as they are. without fresh taxation or anything else. ! have not said more than half I had intended to say, but I find that my voice is failing me. After the last general election 1 entirely lost my voice, and if I strain my vocal chords too much I may be visited with similar consequences again. In conclusion I would commend to honorable members the two or three points which I have presented to them, and I hope that they will give them serious consideration. Although this debate may have no direct result, I think that the exchange of ideas which has taken place will prove profitable. I thank the Treasurer for the important budget of statistics which he has published with his speech. I am gratified that he was able to give us, and truthfully so, an optimistic statement. I believe that what we are able to say . of the Commonwealth to-day we shall hereafter be able to repeat in still’ higher degree; that we shall be able to tell the world not only that we are holding our own, but that we are enjoying peace, plenty, and happiness in one of the best countries in which a man can live.
– It was not my intention “to take part in this debate,, but I think it desirable to refer to one or two matters which have been mentioned by honorable members. I was very pleased to hear the Treasurer say that he believed in spending during the financial year the money voted on the Estimates. I think that we should be very careful before we vote any money, because it is necessary to exercise economy, but when funds are once appropriated they should be disbursed as far as possible during the year for which they are voted. I find that £10,000 of the money voted for expenditure in Tasmania last year has to be revoted. I do. not censure the present Government or thelate Government for this result, because wehave had so many changes under our present system of party government that it is difficult to know upon whose shoulders to lay the blame: It is important that the money voted for the year should be spent during that period, because under our present system of revoting unexpended balances our expenditure is represented as much greater than it actually is. I think that the suggestion made by the honorable member for South Sydney for the appointment of a Finance Committee is an excellent one. lt is impossible for honorable members to discuss matters of detail in connexion with our financial affairs, and when frequent changes of Government occur the Treasurer is also placed at a great disadvantage. A Finance Committee would be in a position to keep itself in continuous touch with the details of the Commonwealth expenditure, and enlighten us considerably with regard to many matters in respect to which it is now impossible to obtain full information. I find that of £335 voted last year for the purchase of overcoats for the members of the Defence Force, in Tasmania, only £5 was spent. That seems a very small sum indeed if any vote was necessary last year.
– Did they have any rain in Tasmania last year?
– Certainly. They must either have experienced a very mild winter there or there must have been veryfew volunteers. Again, though a large expenditure was sanctioned in connexion with the defence of Hobart, the vote was” not expended. I understand ‘that the work in question has now been put in hand. A great delay. also occurred in the opening of the new post-office there. Only last Easter I saw the windows of that building placarded with advertisements. That was the only use to which it was being put at that time. However, I am glad to know that the building was opened last week, and consequently I do not intend to complain further upon that ground. In connexion with the post-office, I observe that £3,000 was voted last year, which was not expended. There are many other unexpended balances. Some time ago I endeavoured unsuccessfully to get a little board erected at a small country post-office for the convenience of those who wished to send telegrams. That work would have cost about 5s., but I could not get it carried out. Yet I find that last year £200 was voted for incidental expenses in Tasmania, which were not incurred. I wish also to call attention to the expenditure upon public works, which has already been referred to by the honorable member for Boothby. I find that the proposed expenditure in New South Wales is £99.777 ; in Victoria, £69,724; Queensland, £31,787 ; South Australia, £31,009 ; Western Australia, ,£73,718; and Tasmania, £11,196. In other words, the expenditure to be incurred in Western Australia during the current year is equal to that in Queensland, South Australia, and Tasmania, notwithstanding that the population of those States is nearly four times that of Western Australia. I am aware that a large outlay is necessary to erect fortifications at Fremantle.
– A large portion of that expenditure consists of re-votes.
– But I would point out that in Tasmania and the other States, large sums have also been re-voted. Whilst it may be necessary to incur a large expenditure upon the defence of Fremantle, it is equally necessary that other places should be defended.
– We shall have to pay for all defences, sooner or later.
– We ought to deal with these questions in a Federal spirit, and in this connexion Western Australia should not possess an advantage over the other States. Any new expenditure for defence must be paid for by the Commonwealth ; but the States are still paying for the defence works which they erected years ago. If we spend £20,000 upon defence works in Western Australia, we ought to pay interest to the other States upon the expenditure which they have incurred in the same direction. Last year I endeavoured to get the mails to the islands in the Straits carried bv steamer in lieu of the sailing boat which is at present employed. Years ago they were carried by steamer, and a regular service was thereby insured. But, owing to some action on the part of the State Government, a sailing boat was substituted, with the result that the present service is a very irregular one. I trust that this matter will receive early attention, with a view to making the change which I suggest. In the course of this debate we have heard a good deal about the steps we should take to induce settlement upon the land. During the time that I have occupied a seat in this House, I have done my best to secure to residents in the backblocks the privilege of being allowed to post their letters by trains, without being called to pay an extra fee. A man may perhaps journey ten miles to meet a passenger, or in the expectation of receiving a parcel by train ; but if he wishes to post a letter by that train he must either be at the railway station an hour before its arrival, or pay an additional fee of one penny. Seeing that residents in the city enjoy every convenience in regard to postal matters, surely some consideration might be extended to settlers in our remote country districts. Reference has been made to the question of the transfer of the States debts. I was one of those who opposed the draft Constitution Bill, because I foresaw that it would involve the people in additional expense without affording them any compensating advantage. But if any saving can be effected, as the result of Federation, it will certainly be made by the solution of that problem. If it had not been for the frequent changes of Government which have taken place, I think that the question would have been dealt with before now. I was sorry to hear the disparaging remarks which were made by one honorable member concerning the ex-Treasurer, the right honorable member for Balaclava. I believe that no abler Treasurer could be found, and therefore I am impelled to the conclusion that the honorable member to whom I refer was more in jest than in earnest. I do not think that the Braddon section affords any real protection or safety to the States, and for that reason I think the question of whether it is extended or not is immaterial. Mr. John Henry, who, although a free-trader., and as such is politically opposed to me, is one of the ablest financiers in Tasmania, has pointed out in letters to the press - one of which was quoted by the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne - that even if the Braddon section were continued, and the Commonwealth required more than onefourth of the Customs revenue, it would be open to us to impose- direct taxation. That being so, the Braddon section affords the States no safeguard.
– But the Commonmonwe’alth Parliament would have to take the responsibility of imposing direct taxation.
– We have to accept responsibility for everything that we do. It is for the electors themselves to see that they return those who will be prepared to practice economy, and thus to save the States from unnecessary taxation.
– But we ought to retain the safeguard of the Braddon section.
– I repeat that, in my opinion, it is not a safeguard, but if the States believe that it is, and, being afraid of extravagances on the part of the Federal Parliament, are anxious that it shall be continued, I shall offer no objection to that being done. Much has been said in reference to the sugar industry. I was one of those who visited Queensland some months ago to investigate the question, and I made an independent inquiry as to the employment of black labour, the effect of the sugar bonus and other matters associated with this important subject.
– The parliamentary party went at the’ wrong time of the year.
– As a member of that party, I went at the right time, having regard to my own personal comfort. I went when I was invited. The Government of Queensland courteously extended an invitation to members of the Federal Parliament to visit the sugar-growing districts of the State, and it may be assumed that they selected the right time for the inspection. It is ridiculous to say that we went there at the wrong time. Surely, as men who are not accustomed to the tropics, we could not be expected to go to Northern Queensland to test whether or not the climate is suitable for the employment, of white labour in the cane-fields. It would be just as unreasonable to ask us to do that as it would be to call upon those who are unused to working in the open air to labour in the harvest fields of Tasmania. The question is not whether any member of the Parliament can work in the cane-fields, but whether white labourers generally can do so. I am not going to express an opinion on that point, but shall quote a remark made by Mr. Draper, who is strongly in favour of ‘black labour, and has been engaged for many years in the sugar-growing industry near Cairns. That gentleman said, on the occasion of the parliamentary visit, “ I am not fool enough to stand here and say that a white man cannot do the work.”
– He is the greatest opponent we have in the north.
– He is strongly opposed to the principle of a White Australia..
– He said that it was uncomfortable for a white man to work in the cane-fields of Northern Queensland.
– It is even uncomfortable at times to remain in this Chamber. Sometimes it is very hot, and at others it is very cold; but still we manage to live. I went to Queensland with a perfectly open mind, determined to study the question free from all party feeling, and I came to the conclusion that a mistake had been made in giving a fixed bonus for five years instead of on a sliding scale. Whatever decision we may arrive at as to the continuance of the system, I hold that we should allow the bonus to gradually taper off. It would be wise probably to allow the planters the full bonus for another three years, and at the end of that period to reduce it by one-third per annum for the succeeding three years. The whole system would thus disappear at the end of six years.
– Would the honorable member also do away with the Excise duty?
– I do not believe that we should have an Excise duty on white-grown sugar, any more than I do that we should have an Excise duty on furniture, potatoes, or anything else ‘ that is manufactured or produced here. Why should there be an Excise duty on sugar produced in Federated Australia? I should not object to a black man working in the cane-fields, as long as he received the same wage as that allowed a white man, because I think that the one is as good as the other; but I have never believed in the importation of coloured men to work at low wages. I have always been opposed to the condition of semi-slavery under which these coloured labourers have been working.
– They have not been subject to that condition under the Griffith regulations. ^ Mr. STORRER. - I remember hearing Dr. Paton, who knew more about the coloured men of the South Sea Islands than any of us do, saying, thirty years ago, that kanakas were brought from the islands to work in Australia in almost a state of slavery. They were brought to Australia subject to the condition that they would be returned to their island homes at the end of three years, and every coloured man to whom I spoke on the sugar plantations expressed the desire to be returned to his island. I do not include within this category the coloured men living in Rockhampton, who called upon the members of the parliamentary party, and asked that they might be permitted to remain. I d’o not think that any one anticipated when the Pacific Island Labourers’ Bill was before Parliament that coloured citizens who had lived for thirty or thirty-five years in Australia would be deported under its provisions, and I fail to understand how these men could have been led to believe that they would be deported. But some persons are ready to make any statement in order to serve a party purpose. As an illustration of this, I may mention that a coloured man in Launceston, who earns his livelihood as a chimney sweep, was led to believe that he would be deported in a short time. He came to me shortly before I left Tasmania to attend the Parliament, to learn whether this statement was correct, and he informed me that he had a wife and a large family, whom the Government of the State or of the Commonwealth would have to maintain if he were deported. This case shows to what extremes some persons will go when they are anxious to arouse feeling against a party. I do not know that it is necessary for me to refer at greater length to the question of the sugar bounty, because a Bill relating to the subject will be submitted to us. I quite agree with the remarks made by the Treasurer as to the detractors of Australia. After reading Canada as it Is, I feel that it would be well if we had in Australia a little more of the spirit that actuates the people of the Dominion. The Canadians will hear nothing said against their country, for with them Canada is everything that is good. When we realize the progress that Australia has made within a comparatively few years we have a right to be proud of our position. We have everything which nature can provide us with, and all we want is the true courage to go forward and develop our resources. There is one difficulty which stands in the way, and that is that some matters are managed by the Commonwealth, and others by the States. I trust, however, that we shall be enabled to work together for the good of the whole community, so that our resources may be more fully developed than they have been. I hope there are not many men who hold the same opinion of the people of Australia, and the members of its Parliament, as does the Treasurer of Tasmania, who was pleased in his Budget last week to refer to the representatives of that State in this House and in the Senate as not truly representing its interests. I do not take that statement to refer to me personally, for I arn here, not of my own will, but because the electors sent me here, as they did every other representative of Tasmania. When the Treasurer of the State passes a reflection on its representatives here, he. passes a reflection on the wisdom of the electors. I am very sorry that he spoke as he did. I think that very great mistakes are made by States Treasurers in referring to the Commonwealth as they do, with reference to matters of expenditure. It was known by every one in Tasmania who cared to think that there would be a large expenditure in connexion with the Commonwealth, and that the State would lose a large amount of revenue through Inter-State free-trade, as its people import largely from Sydney and Melbourne. For the Treasurer of the State to blame the Commonwealth for any loss of that kind, when the people who cared to listen to the other side of the question knew that such would happen, is, I think, altogether beside the mark. I trust that States Ministers, instead of saying anything which is likely to stir up strife between the States and the Federal Parliament, will always work together for the good of Australia. I hope that the next Budget will be found to be better than the present one, that the moneys which we may vote will be spent for the good of the various States, and that we shall hear no complaints of votes not having been spent. I have more details to refer t”>, but I shall reserve my remarks until the items to which they refer are reached. I shall conclude with the expres-. sion of my hope that the anticipations of the Treasurer will, be full,- realized..
– One has only to look round the Chamber- and see the weary appearance of the majority of honorable members to know that this is Tuesday1. As it is the custom to rise earl v on Tuesday, I ask the Prime Minister if he will consent to adjourn?
Retirement of Mr. McLean.
– At the request of the honorable member for Gippsland, and with great regret, I move -
That the honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. McLean) be discharged from attendance on the Standing Orders Committee.
Honorable members are aware that the honorable member for Gippsland, in spite of our request and remonstrance, has thought fit to retire from this Committee. There are, perhaps, reasons of health for that, apart from the questions which were discussed in the Committee.
– I know that several honorable members desire to make some observations on this matter, and at this hour I ask the Prime Minister to consent to an adjournment of the debate.
– What purpose can be served if the honorable member wishes to retire?
– The honorable member for Gippsland is absent.
– The honorable member was aware that I would take this means of bringing the matter on.
– Apart altogether from the honorable member for Gippsland, I think it is a matter of some importance.
– These observations could be made when the new standing order is before the House.
– I am not yet aware that any new standing order is to be brought on.
– If there is not, what cause of complaint is there?
– Will the honorable and learned gentleman say that it is intended to submit a new standing order ?
– I cannot say that definitely - probably it is.
– It is quite unfair to take a matter of this importance at this hour.
– It is only a formal motion when the honorable member concerned wishes it to be moved.
– It is not a formal motion by any means.
– It must be when it is moved at the honorable member’s request.
I do not wish the House to pass it. I would rather that the honorable member for Gippsland did not retire.
– I ask the Prime Minister to consent to an adjournment.
– When the honorable member for Gippsland asked me to bring on the motion as early as I could I asked him to allow me to do so to-night, after the Committee of Supply had reported, and he agreed. He said he did not wish the matter to be delayed.
– Does that settle the matter?
– So far as he and I are concerned it does.
-No doubt the honorable member for Gippsland wants the matter brought forward at the earliest possible moment; but I take exception to the remark of the Prime Minister that it must necessarily be a formal matter. It is anything but that.
– Is there any need for a motion at all?
– I do not know; the honorable member should address that observation to the Prime Minister. So far as I know there will not be any unreasonably long debate. I had’ no idea of that sort in my mind when I asked for an adjournment.
– What debate can there be when the honorable member for Gippsland wishes to retire?
– Will the honorable member hold his tongue for a moment ?
– The honorable member should not speak in that way to another honorable member.
– May I ask you; sir, to protect me from the constant interruptions of the honorable member?
– If any interruptions had taken place which seemedto me of such a character that they should be checked, I should have checked them ; but for the honorable member to speak as he did is not, as he must know, in accordance with the duty which honorable members owe to each other.
– I am glad, sir, to take your rebuke at any time. If the Prime Minister declines to accede to my request, the matter must remain there.
– I am very much alarmed at the new feature.
– Do I understand, sir, that I am taken to have spoken?
– I have no doubt that if the honorable member so desires the House will permit him to continue his speech ; but,technically, he completed his speech when he resumed his seat.
– I have no wish to continue the debate.
– I appeal to the Prime Minister to postpone this debate until to-morrow.
– It need not have been brought on at all.
– Not at all?
– Not at the present time.
– Do I understand that the Prime Minister will not consent to an adjournment?
– I really feel at a loss. I was asked by the honorable member for Gippsland to bring on the motion to-night, and do not see that I can be relieved from my promise.
– I wish to speak on this question ; but I am not prepared to do so at this hour. If the Prime Minister chooses to treat the matter in this way I shall have to put up with it, I presume ; but I desire to enter an emphatic protest against this method of dealing with an important matter of this kind.
– It relates only to one member, and I am moving at his request.
– It relates to more than one member. It relates to a resignation from the Standing Orders Committee, which affects the whole House. We want to know why the honorable member for Gippsland has resigned from this important Committee - this supreme Committee of the House. When a man of his standing and reputation retires from a position of that kind the least we should have is a statement of reasons from the Prime Minister, who is also a member of the Committee.
– I did not wish him to resign. I regret that he has done so.
– But the Prime Minister might have given some reasons for the resignation, and might have made a statement to the House concerning matters which led up to it. We all know that it has reference to the framing of a new standing order, which is not now before the House. It is quite an anomalous thing that we should be discussing this resignation, and that the standing order to which it has reference should be kept back from the House.
– Why not discuss all the Standing Orders ? This is only one.
– Why not something else all the time? The Government corner seems to be the “why not” corner.
– The amendment of the Standing Orders was the whole of the late Government’s programme; they had nothing else to propose.
– After all the ridicule of the proposal to amend the Standing Orders, it now seems that one of the most important proposals, in the view of honorable members opposite, is an instruction to the Standing Orders Committee to frame a new standing order of their own.
– But that is not our whole programme.
– Is it not? I apprehend that we are well aware of that. We have been made aware of it by the business-paper of the House.
– The late Government proposed nothing but the amendment of the Standing Orders.
– I am replying to the statement that this is not all the programme of honorable members opposite. The business-paper is full of their programme, and the members of the Government like lambs are carrying it out. I congratulate my friends in the Ministerial corner upon having their own way so far as schemes of legislation are concerned.
– What has this to do with the motion?
– Nothing ; nor has the honorable member’s interjection anything to do with it. I make my protest against this attempt to bludgeon this motion through at this hour of the night. It is a preposterous thing to do. The Prime Minister is not treating the House fairly over the matter, nor is he treating the Opposition fairly. If the Prime Minister is not able to control the House, and to pass legislation with a proper regard to what is due to the Opposition, and with a regard to reasonable hours and reasonable conditions, he ought to get out of his present position, which is no longer tenable.
– That is the trouble.
– It is no longer tenable for any man who has any regard for the decencies of Parliament. That may be a matter for honorable members in the corner to be amused at.
– Fancy the honorable member lecturing us on the decencies of Parliament !
– The honorable member for Barrier does more lecturing in the House than any one I know. I am not lecturing any one. My only complaint about him is that he does not get on to his feet when he wishes to lecture. He sits in the corner and does it. I should admire him more if he would rise in his place, instead of interrupting people who are trying to conduct the business of Parliament. It is an outrageous thing to bring this matter forward at this stage, and expect it to go through as a formal matter. I had some observations to make, upon it, but I cannot make them instanter. But I assure my honorable and learned friend, the Prime Minister, that if he thinks that this course will lead to the settlement of the matter without due debate, he is making a very great mistake. If he is prepared to deal with us fairly, and to allow the matter to be treated reasonably, so far as I know there will be no prolonged debate. .
– That is a threat.
M*r. JOSEPH COOK.–Nothing of the kind. I am merely making a reasonable assertion of the rights of the Opposition. I hope that we have some rights left. We do not hold caucuses, indicate our decisions to the Government, and expect them to be carried out. We make our opinions known to the Government in the broad light of day. Honorable members in the corner have a secret subterranean way of indicating their decisions to the Ministry, and they get their wishes put through in a manner which I have no doubt pleases them.
Mr.- Thomas. - Is that how the honorable member did it when he was leader of the Labour Party in New South Wales?
– I never was leader of the Labour Party in the sense in which it has a leader to-day.
– That is a qualification.
– There is no qualification. I am simply stating facts. I hope we have not got to that pitch in Parliament when the domination of a caucus shall rule, and when proper consideration will not be paid to the wishes of those who desire to have a reasonable opportunity for debate. Here is ah important proposal, affecting the resignation from the Standing Orders Committee of an honorable member, who has been a member of this House for five years, and was previously a prominent . man in State politics for twenty-five years. He has felt impelled to resign as a protest against what he regards as an unwarrantable and unreasonable interference with the rights of the members of this House. The members of the Labour Party ought to be the first to see that a matter affecting the privileges of Parliament is reasonably debated. Yet they are trying to poke fun at any proposal of the kind now. They are amused at it. Of course, all they have to do is to be solid. They can carry through any kind of cronk business, so long as the caucus is solid behind it. And I say that this is as cronk a piece of business as I have ever seen proposed to a deliberative assembly.
– The honorable member lacks a sense of proportion when he talks of there being anything cronk in this business.
– I do not go to the honorable member, for lessons in political proportion, though I might go to him for lessons in political finesse. ‘
– I cannot teach the honor able member much in that line.
– I think the honorable member can. At any rate, he has a way of getting his will by means of which we on this side do not seem to be masters. Until we know his secret, we must potter along in our own way.
– The honorable member must speak to the question.
M.r. JOSEPH COOK. - I shall, of course, abide by your ruling, sir; but ohe must make some reply to these persistent interjections. I ask the honorable member reasonably-
– Is this the honorable member’s idea of asking reasonably ?
– I think I was putting a reasonable request to the Prime Minister for ten minutes at least after I rose. Now, when, owing to the Prime Minister’s contemptuous silence, I make a remark of any kind, he fastens on to it and asks whether it is reasonable. I shall make no more requests to the Prime Minister. Whatever results in the way of discussion, I hope he will not attribute it to any desire to block the business of Parliament. But we propose to discuss this question, and, in spite of whatever the Prime Minister may do, we will discuss it.
-I do not see the necessity for the display of heat on the part of the honorable member for Parramatta. If this were a proposal to pass a new standing order at this hour of the night, I could, understand the objection raised.
– The Prime Minister will not even say that there is going to be a new standing order.
– I should be quite willing to assist in preventing any action of the kind I have indicated. It is only proper that members should have a reasonable opportunity to discuss every important proposal, whether introduced by the Government or by a member of the House. In this case, however, the simple question at issue is whether a certain gentleman who desires to be- relieved of his attendance on a Committee shall or shall not be relieved.
– Have we no right to discuss the resignation?
– Or the reasons which led up to it?
– I. do not say there is no right, but I do say there is no great need, in the public interest, to discuss the matter.
– That is the honorable member’s opinion.
– In deference to the honorable member for Parramatta, who is so touchy to-night, I will say that, in my opinion, there is no need, in the public interest, to discuss the question now. Before, any action can be taken, the standing order about which I am told all the trouble has arisen will come before honorable members, and .may be discussed at length. I have sufficient confidence in the methods of the Opposition to rely on the matter being discussed at length.
– We are not sure the standing order will come before us.
– If the standing order does not come before us, in what way is the honorable member aggrieved? That, interjection would tend to show that the Opposition are only anxious to get a grievance, or to be able to say that they are being deprived pf their rights.
– I am speaking personally, and not foi the Opposition.
– I trust that, as the honorable member for Gippsland has asked to be relieved of his attendance on the Committee, honorable members will consent to reserve the discussion of whatever principle is involved until the standing order is before us, and may be discussed in all its bearings. .
– The honorable member for Bland has rolled up with all his merry band of followers to endeavour to push through the House a certain proposal. What -are all the honorable members doing in the corner to-night? We have not seen such a House since the session began. The honorable members are here for no good purpose, we may be sure. They are here to assist the Government to drive through a motion which presents the only opportunity we have to discuss the causes which led to the resignation of the honorable member for Gippsland.
– Unfortunately, -that matter will be before us too frequently for discussion..
– Will the Prime Minister say that he proposes to submit the new standing order to the House?
– I shall give notice of any intention to do so.
– The Prime Minister probably recognises that the proposed standing order is unconstitutional, and, consequently, he now seeks at this late hour to get the proposal off the notice-paper, so that it may be dropped before there is any opportunity for discussion. But a rather regrettable attempt has been made on the liberties of the House. An effort has been made to force through the Standing Orders Committee a certain proposal designed not in the interests of the House, but in Order to ease the Government in its control of the House - and certainly the control requires easing - -by a means which I do not think reflects credit on its originator or the Government who supported it. It is a great pity that the Prime Minister does not see fit to consent to an adjournment, because the House, after honorable members have been travelling all night,, is certainly not in a state to calmly discuss a question affecting its liberties.. I do not know whether I shall be in order in referring to the causes which led to the resignation of the honorable member for Gippsland. The new standing order of which we have heard, would enable the business of the country to be carried on anywhere within the precincts of the House, and that is surely a proposal which we ought not to indorse. That, I take it, is the cause of the honorable member’s resignation, and, therefore, I. assume I am in order in as briefly as possible going into the question.
-The position is that it is not in order to discuss at any time in the House, until a Committee has reported, any proceedings of a Committee ; and, therefore, it is impossible that we can tonight, or at any time, until the Standing Orders Committee has reported, discuss any proceedings that it may have taken, or proposes to take. But I recognise all the difficulties of the case, because it is understood there are reasons, resulting from the work of the Committee, why the resignation was tendered, and why the assent of the House is sought to be obtained. Therefore, those phases of the question, I must rule, are open to discussion. The question may be fairly debated now as to whether the honorable member for Gippsland has, or has not, been fairly treated by the Standing Orders Committee Honorable members may discuss the reasons which led the honorable member to retire - reasons which, I understand, he stated in the House as’ sufficient. But as to the wisdom or unwisdom of the proposed standing order, any matter bearing on its acceptance by the House or otherwise would present phases which could only be discussed when the Committee reports, and then only if the report contains the suggested standing order.
– Thank you, Mr. Speaker; I think that makes the position very clear. In order to keep myself within your ruling, I shall for the moment place myself in the position of the honorable member for Gippsland, when confronted with the proposal which members of the Government and their supporters in the Committee asked him to indorse.
– The Government had nothing to do with it.
– The ‘ honorable member for Gippsland recognised that the proposal would, without any doubt, lead to a false system in our legislative methods - that it would lead to a system whereby honorable members could be said to be carrying out their legislative duties when - and I say this in no invidious sense - they were in the billiardroom or the refreshment-room upstairs. The honorable member for Gippsland naturally realized, in such circumstances, that this Chamber is the only proper arena for legislative effort. That is shown by the honorable member’s resignation. The honorable member has given evidence that he realizes that the right of the people to govern themselves, through their representatives, demands that there shall always be a quorum in this Chamber to insure that every measure submitted to Parliament shall receive consideration. In order that that right of the people might be properly safeguarded, it was actually provided in the Federal Constitution, in section 39, that - Until the Parliament otherwise provides - not until the Standing Orders Committee otherwise provides, but until the Parliament, which comprises not only this House, but both Houses of the Federal Legislature otherwise provides - the presence of at least one-third of the whole number of members of the House of Representatives shall be necessary to constitute a meeting of the House for the exercise of its powers.
That safeguard was definitely inserted in the Constitution in order to insure the fair discussion of all measures submitted to this Parliament. The people have decided that at least one-third of their representatives must be present in this Chamber before any measure under discussion can be said to have received fair consideration. The honorable member for Gippsland was obviously correct in taking the view that the proposal which he was asked to indorse is one which strikes at the very root of the principle underlying section 39 of the Constitution. A number of inroads have been made upon the representative character of our institutions, and it is all the more necessary that we should have no more of them. Honorable members do not appear to recognise their high duty to the people of Australia in the exercise of their representative position as members of this House. The honorable member for Bland, when this matter was last discussed, told the House that, at any .rate, he did not believe in such fair discussion as members of the Opposition were giving to all the contentious measures submitted . by the Government. The honorable gentleman laid down what he regarded as his duty in the matter. He said that he would be prepared to stay within the precincts of the Chamber, and to come in and- make a quorum whenever the Government desired.
– I beg to draw attention to the state of the House. [Quorum formed.’]
– I take- it that the honorable gentleman has a duty far higher and more comprehensive than that which he outlined so simply. He owes a certain duty to his constituents, and probably, after hearing his statement on the subject, they will demand that he shall pay some attention t6 it.
– Is the honorable member for Herbert in order in describing the remarks of the honorable member for Wentworth as “twaddle”?
– I am sure the honorable member for Herbert will withdraw the remark, since it has been objected to.
– I withdraw it.
– I regret that these interruptions should tend to make my speech longer than it would otherwise be. I was explaining that the honorable member for Bland told us the attitude he proposed to take up, and I contend that his duty to his constituents is more comprehensive than that which he has laid down.
– On a point of order, I wish to know if anything which the honorable member for Bland proposes to do has anything to do with the motion before the House?
– It has nothing whatever to do with the motion. At the same time, the honorable member for Bland has spoken, and the honorable member for Wentworth is entitled to reply to any remarks made by the honorable member for Bland bearing on the question.
– The references by the honorable member for Wentworth have been to something which the honorable member for Bland said on another occasion, and not to what that honorable gentleman said tonight.
– I wasnot listening at the moment, and if the honorable member for Wentworth refers to such remarks, he is not in order.
– I was saying, before the numerous interruptions to my speech took place, that the honorable member for Gippsland, confronted as he was with such a proposal as that out of which the motion now before us has arisen, necessarily recognised that the right of the people to have measures submitted to Parliament properly considered was in danger of being infringed. I was pointing out also that in view of the apathy with which, during this session, the House has treated all public measures, the action taken by the honorable member for Gippsland was the more necessary. I mentioned that the honorable member for Bland had distinctly stated in this Chamber that he regarded
– The honorable member is in order so far.
– The honorable member for Bland is absolutely wrong in laying down such a code of behaviour as that which he attempted to lay down. Beyond his duty to his constituents, he has a duty to his party. There is a party in this country which has definitely laid it down that its representatives in this Parliament must have no open honest alliance with the representatives of any other party.
– The honorable member is not now discussing the question.
– Of course, I bow to your ruling, and will merely add that, although the honorable member for Bland seemed to put his views of his own duty very simply, it is his duty as leader of the Labour Party to come here and carefully consider every measure submitted to the House. What advantage is gained from the honorable member coming in at odd moments and making a quorum whenever the Government is awakened to. its duty to keep a house? Surely this Chamber is the proper place for the consideration of measures. How are the people’s liberties to be safeguarded if measures are to be considered in secret, and then rushed through this House with the support of a majority ?
– The honorable member is not now complying with the ruling I have just laid down at his request. He is discussing the merits of the proposed standing order, a discussion which may take place only when the Standing Orders Committee reports.
– I was not intentionally infringing your ruling, sir. I thought that I should be in order, because you laid it down that I should be entitled to discuss the reasons which may have prompted the honorable member for Gippsland in withdrawing from the Committee.
– The honorable mern.ber would be in order in doing that; but such a discussion does not authorize the discussion of the merits of the proposed standing order. It may be suggested ;that the honorable member for Gippsland had not been fairly treated by the other members of the Committee, or that for some other reason he had a right to retire ; -or it may be argued that he should or should not have withdrawn; but none of these arguments will permit the discussion of the proposed standing order.
– Then I shall proceed to discuss whether the honorable member foi Gippsland was properly treated by the other members of the Committee. All I know is that he went to this meeting - I think that we have his words in this Chamber for it - and was suddenly confronted with this wild proposal. There was no notice given to the Standing Orders Committee of the proposal, which undoubtedly -calls in question all constitutional right and authority. He and another member of -the Committee, who also sits on the Opposition side of the Chamber, suddenly found themselves confronted with a motion which must have been sprung on the Committee. When the honorable member saw the serious and far-reaching effect-
– I ask if the honorable member is in order in discussing something which he supposes to have taken place in the Standing Orders Committee? If he is allowed to pursue this course, a misrepresentation of what happened will “be made public, and that may compel some member of the Committee to break his bond of confidence, in order to put things straight.
– You have already ruled, sir, that not only the resignation, but the reasons leading up to it may be discussed. That discussion, of course, involves the statement made by the honorable member for Gippsland, and that again involves the discussion of the proposed standing order, and the course which was taken to bring it into existence.
– The statement of the honorable member for Gippsland was made by way of personal explanation.
– That fact, of which I was not previously aware, entirely disposes of the argument which I thought justified the discussion which was proceeding. The honorable member is taking a most unusual, if not unprecedented, course, in dis cussing, first of all, something which took place in a committee of the whole House not yet reported to us; and, in the next place, the proceedings of a committee of the House, which are not supposed to be noticed, the Committee not having, reported. It seems to me that this is quite out of accord with parliamentary practice. I am in some doubt as to what rule to lay down, because I was not aware until just now of the fact mentioned by the honorable member for Laanecoorie. I regret that this discussion is taking place previous to the presentation of the Committee’s report. If the honorable member for Gippsland desires to be relieved forthwith from attendance on the Standing Orders Committee, he has a right to ask for relief ; but I beg the honorable member for Wentworth to confine his remarks to the desirability or undesirability of accepting the resignation of the honorable member for Gippsland without referring to the proceedings of the Committee.
– I will Certainly do so. In view of. all the facts, it seems to be very undesirable that this; Resignation should be accepted. It is not the fault of honorable members of the Opposition that it has been launched on the House at a time when the House was not prepared to receive it. This is more than a resignation from an ordinary committee, and before I sit down I intend to move an amendment which’ will allow the House to state definitely whether it believes in the procedure adopted by the Government, or thinks that the Government should have acted in a way more worthy of its dignity, and with more regard to the rights of His Majesty’s Opposition.
– Before I can allow the honorable member to discuss his amendment, I must know its terms, because I am afraid, from what he has said, that it is an amendment which I cannot accept.
– I wish to move the insertion of the words “not now” after the word “be.”
– That would be in the nature of a direct negative.
Mr. KELLY. Not exactly. The motion is that the honorable member for Gippsland be discharged - inferentially forthwith - from attendance on the Committee. I wish to propose that he be discharged, but not now.
– I cannot accept such an amendment, because it would be a direct negative. The motion, if carried, will free the honorable member for Gippsland from further attendance on the Committee, but the amendment would not. ©
– I direct attention to the state of the House. [Quorum formed.’]
– On consideration, I cheerfully bow to your ruling, Mr. Speaker, because I think that you are perfectly right. I would ask the Prime Minister whether he cannot see his way to adjourn this debate. It will not be of the slightest use to go on to-night. If he will consent to an adjournment of the debate till tomorrow, and also promise to bring forward the motion relating to the new standing order, which has been the cause of all the trouble, in the immediate future, no difficulty will arise. It is important that honorable members should have an opportunity to discuss the question of principle underlying the resignation of the honorable member for. Gippsland.
– I cannot prevent honorable members from discussing the motion ; they have every opportunity to do so.
– Although members of the Opposition are prepared to transact noncontentious business as quickly as possible, they cannot be expected to accept everything that is offered to them. I propose to move that the debate be now adjourned.
– The honorable member cannot move that motion at the conclusion of a speech. If he had moved that motion immediately after he had risen, I should have at once submitted it to the House.
– I do not wish to say anything more at present, except to tell the Prime Minister that the action he has taken to-night will not conduce to the despatch of public business. I hope the Opposition will accept the challenge he has thrown out.
– I regret that the Prime Minister has seen fit at this late stage of the evening to move a motion with regard to which honorable members of the Opposition feel very keenly, inasmuch as it seriously affects the privileges of honorable members. We all remember how quietly the Prime Minister gave notice of motion - so quietly that no honorable member could hear what he was saying. His conduct in that respect was quite in ‘keeping with the way in which the proceedings of the Standing Orders Committee were carried out on a recent occasion, because so far as I can understand, no intimation? was given to members of the Committee that “an important matter was about te be discussed. As the action taken by the Committee was considered by the honorable member for Gippsland to be of so much importance that he decided to send in his; resignation, I should like to direct attention to the fact that, in section 39 of theConstitution it is provided that -
Until the Parliament otherwise provides, thepresence of at least one-third of the whole num-of the members of the House of Representativesshall be necessary to constitute a meeting of theHouse for the exercise of its powers.
– Order. The honorable and learned member is now discussing; the merits of the proceedings of the Standing Orders Committee.
– I take it that the basis, of the resignation of the honorable member for Gippsland was the action taken by the Standing Orders Committee in recommending the adoption of a new star ding orderrelating to the quorum in this House.
– I would direct the honorable and learned member’s attention” to the fact that if he succeeded in proving,, not only that the proceedings of the Standing Orders Committee were unconstitutional,, but that for many reasons, their recommendation was unworthy of being accepted by the House, neither of those pointswould touch the question of the resignationof the honorable member for Gippslands The fact of the ‘Standing Orders Committee having passed an unconstitutional standing order, or one entirely bad in principle, or injurious in practice, would not in itself be sufficient to justify a resignation. Therefore, I cannot allow the honorable member to discuss the merits of the proceedings of the Standing Orders Committee.
– I take it that something very serious must have happened inthe Committee to induce the honorable member for Gippsland to take such decided1 action.
– We can reject his resignation.
– I do not wish to dothat, because it would be ungracious on thepart of the House.
– Then we can accept theresignation.
– I would be no party torefusing to accept the resignation of thehonorable member for Gippsland if he de- sires to resign, but we should consider the causes which led up to that resignation. I understand that the honorable member’s -action was due to the proposal that a -standing order should be brought into force which would defeat the intention of the provision in section 39 of the Constitution. 1 take it that that was the cause of the stand taken by the honorable member for Gippsland. I thought that I should have been in order in pointing out that, under the Constitution, “ until Parliament otherwise provides,” one-third of the total number of representatives in this House is necessary to constitute a quorum to enable it to transact its legislative business. It appears to me that the passing of a Bill would be necessary to alter the effect of that provision. I should have liked an ^opportunity to look info this matter carefully, with a view to discussing it thoroughly, and I regret that I am prevented from so doing by the manner in which it !has been brought forward to-night. I cordially agree with the remarks of the deputyleader of the Opposition, and I shall be only too glad to support him in any action he may choose to take.
– It seems *ito me that this motion has been brought forward as an act of gracious courtesy on the part of the Prime Minister, at the request of the honorable member for Gippsland.
– Did the honorable member foi Gippsland ask that the motion should be submitted to the House?
– Yes ; he asked me to move it as soon as possible to-day.
– An unnecessary motion.
– No; a necessary one.
– It is news to me to learn that, if any. honorable member wishes “to retire from a Committee, he is not at liberty to do so. I was not aware that it was necessary that a motion relieving him from his position should be submitted to the House.
– That is so.
– From the press reports which have appeared it is patent that the honorable ‘member for “Gippsland wishes to resign his position as a protest against the action which the Standing Orders Committee propose to take. It appears to me that his conduct tin that connexion is perfectly justifiable. 3 would resign my position ten times over rather than act in opposition to my pledges. As some honorable members are aware, I endeavoured, when a .member of the Victorian Parliament, to make the number constituting a quorum much higher than it was. I held that it was absurd that, in the House of Lords, a resolution in 1884 should have been carried by a majority of 39, and that three members constituted a quorum. My attitude in regard to that matter was indorsed by a large meeting which was held in Melbourne. Perhaps it would have been well if this motion had been submitted when’ the honorable member for Gippsland was present. A few words by him would, perhaps, have settled the matter.
– He explained his position in the House on Friday last.
– He simply made a personal explanation. If the honorable member for Gippsland had been present I think that he would have followed the Prime Minister with a brief statement.
– I think it is very doubtful, seeing that he explained his position the other day.
– That may be the opinion of the honorable member for Bland, but my acquaintance with the honorable member for Gippsland has been a little longer than his. If we are to have an allnight sitting, I am sorry that we should be kept here upon a little matter of this kind. It would have been much better to continue the discussion upon the Budget. Seeing that the honorable member for Gippsland has resigned his position on the Standing Orders Committee as a protest against the action of that body, I shall vote against the new standing order when it is submitted.
– It was proposed by a member of the Labour Party.
– I am not responsible for that fact. Members of the Labour Party may make a few mistakes, but they do not commit half as many errors as do some honorable members opposite.
– I am extremely sorry that the Prime Minister did not consent to an adjournment of this debate, to enable the matter to be discussed at a later date. Members of the Opposition have a perfect right to debate it if they desire to do so. This motion has been submitted by the Prime Minister at the instance of the honorable member for Gippsland. The latter has asked to be relieved1. from his duties on the Standing Orders Committee, and we have had a full announcement in the daily press of the circumstances which led up to his resignation. As the honorable member for Melbourne has pointed out, the action of the honorable member for Gippsland is intended as a protest against something which took place at a meeting of the Standing Orders Committee. I regret that we cannot discuss that matter at the present moment. The daily press has clearly stated that this question is of considerable importance to this House and to the Commonwealth.
– Upon whose authority do they make that statement?
– I cannot say. It is impossible to tell how these statements find their way into the newspapers.
– All these statements have since been confirmed by members of the Standing Orders Committee.
– If they have not been confirmed directly they have been4, confirmed by the fact that members have been allowed to draw inferences which have not been disputed.
– -Before the honorable member deals with that aspect of the question, I wish .to call attention to the state of the House. [Quorum formed.”]
– Quick and Garran’s Annotated Constitution of the Common.wealth sets forth that the quorum of the majority of the legal number of members may be said to be the modern principle in general legislation, and yet we are asked to deal with this question at a time when honorable members are tired and unprepared to discuss it on its merits. We have a right to say to the honorable member for Gippsland that it is undesirable that he should retire from the Standing Orders Committee. inasmuch as his retirement would destroy the equality of representation. We have been led to be- lieve that the honorable member for Kennedy, who is a prominent member of the Labour Party, and, doubtless, a great authority on parliamentary methods of procedure, brought forward the motion in question, and was guided by the practice obtaining in the House of Commons. I would point out, however-
– The honorable member is now proceeding to argue the general question of the proposed standing order.
– I should be sorry to transgress the Standing Orders, and would point out that 1 am discussing a matter that has been referred to in detail by the press.
– The honorable member will recognise that a mere statement in the press is very different from an actual report of a Committee of this House to the House, and that we have no right to assume that any press statement is correct or incorrect. Press statements are not a sufficient ground for discussion.
– The press statements to which I refer directly bear on the motion. It is a matter for regret that the honorable member for Gippsland, who was for many years a member of the State Parliament, who is well informed in regard to methods, of procedure, and is respected throughout the length and breadth of Victoria, should have so strongly resented something that took place in one of the Committees of the House as to feel impelled to resign his seat on that Committee.
– I wish to call attention to the state of the House. [Quorum formed^
– I do not wish to detain the House any longer. I feel very strongly in this matter, and think it is necessary that honorable members of the Oppositionshould express their regret not only at the retirement of the honorable member for Gippsland, but that the incident which has caused him to send in his resignation should have occurred.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Standing Orders Committee : Retirement of Mr. McLean : Royal Agricultural Show.
.t- I move -
That the House do now adjourn.
I must say that I think the deputy-leader of the Opposition might have recognised the difficulty of the position in which I was placed. I had been asked by the honorable member for Gippsland to move a motion that I did not wish to submit, and had exerted myself to induce him to refrain f rom preferring the request.
– Does the PrimeMinister say that the honorable member asked him specially to move the motion tonight ?
– Order. The Prime Minister must not refer to a previous debate.
– That is so. I am referring, sir, not to a previous debate, but to a conversation. On’ Friday I saw the honorable member for Gippsland, who .then said he wished to be relieved as soon as possible. I informed him that’ I had given notice of motion for to»day, but hoped that he would consent to its not being brought on at the commencement of business, as my desire was that the debate on the Budget should proceed. I told him that if he were willing I would bring it on later in the evening, after the Budget debate had been disposed of. At my request he consented to this being done. I had to act against my own will in moving that his resignation be accepted, and submitted the motion at a time to which he agreed. I was placed in a difficult position, and the deputy-leader of the Opposition chose to intensify it by addressing me in a manner
Til which, I feel sure, I should npt have addressed him in like circumstances.
– The Prime Minister is now referring to a previous debate. ifr. DEAKIN.- The honorable member for Parramatta chose to make what he called a request, but what was really a threatening demand, which it Was impossible for me to accept.
Mr. JOSEPH COOK (Parramatta).I deny in toto the statement just made by the Prime Minister. I made no threat or demand of any kind until I had pleaded like a mendicant for ten minutes. The Prime Minister sat like a statue.
– The honorable member is now doing that which I would not allow the Prime Minister to do - he is referring to a debate which is closed.
– I think I am entitled, at any rate, to reply to a statement made by the Prime Minister, which reflects on my conduct.
– I twice prevented “the Prime Minister from referring to a previous debate, and if J now permitted the honorable member for Parramatta to do that which I refused to allow the Prime Minister to do I should do a manifest injustice, which I am sure the honorable member himself would not desire,
– May I recall to your recollection, sir, that the Prime Minister concluded his re- marks by reflecting on my conduct I wish. to. explain the conduct to which he takes- exception.
– The honorable member wishes to make a personal explanation ?
– That is precisely what I wish to do. I appealed to the honorable and learned gentleman, almost like a mendicant, to postpone the consideration of the matter until to-morrow, and it was only after pleading with him for tenminutes that- 1 made the observation which I did, arid on which he has just animadverted. In his conduct pf the business of the House-
– Does the honorable member consider this a personal explana- . tion ?
– No, sir, I am now speaking on the motion for adjournment. In his conduct of the business pf the House the. honorable and1 learned member is acting in the strangest way I have ever seen the leader pf a Government act. One cannot get from him anything definite about the business of the House on any occasion. He told me nothing about this, business to-night. We understood that we were to adjourn at the. usual hour, after the debate on the Budget was postponed, t did not hear- a whisper that this business was to be taken, and the honorable and learned’ member, after getting the debate on the Budget adjourned, and nearly all the Opposition away, on the clear and distinct understanding–
– I sent word to the. honor. able member before that debate was. adjourned.
– The honorable member for Cowper came over here just a few minutes before that debate was adjourned, but that was after the members of the Opposition had all gone home.
– At half-past 10 o’clock.
– It is unfair oh the part of the honorable and learned member to spring such business upon the House without warning of any .kind. Moreover, I think that he is acting towards the Opposition in a grossly discourteous, way.
– The honorable member will not get any one else to believe that.
Ma JOSEPH COOK. - I do not care what other honorable members believe. There is a marked distinction between the way in which the honorable and learned member treats the members on this side and the way in which the leader of the late Government treated the late Opposition. We cannot get a definite statement from the honorable and learned gentleman about anything. I asked the other day whether he proposed to bring forward any new standing orders, and he said, he might or might not. I then asked him when he was going to set- the matter down for discussion. He said he did not know, but perhaps, it would be for Tuesday or some other day. He knows nothing. If honorable members expect that we on this side are to be treated as so many automata, to be moved hither and thither at the behest of the leader of the Government, I venture to say that he entirely misconceives his position. If he wishes to get business through the House he had better observe the nile which has always obtained here of treating the Opposition as they ought to be treated - by letting them know what he proposes to do, and not by treating them as if they were a set of fools, and it did not matter to him whether he spoke to them on any subject or not. That is what I complain of in his treatment of honorable members. Do what we will, he will not tell us anything about the business which is to come on. I have already told honorable members what he said about this particular business. I had no idea that it was to come on to-night. I complain pf the Prime Minister’s entire want of definiteness in regard to the business of the House, and I resent, and will take .every means t know to resent, such treatment as he has seen fit to mete out to the Opposition to-night.
– With regard to the Agricultural Show on Thursday, will the Prime Minister make an announcement whether the House is to meet at half-past .2 o’clock or half-past 7 ?
– At half -past 2, as usual.
– I am rather sorry to hear that statement, because I know that persons have come here from almost every State. If the Prime Minister wishes to get on with business, I suppose we shall have to sacrifice ourselves, but still I think it would be wise if he would reconsider the question before to-morrow.
– The acting leader of the Opposition has taken it upon himself to tell the Government how they should conduct the business of the House. The majority has rights as well as the minority, and when the, majority is kept here until the trams and the trains have ceased to run, and put to a lot of inconvenience, my advice to the Government is to gp on and do some useful work. We are here for that purpose.
– It was the action of the- Prime Minister which brought all thisabout.
– I absolutely dissent, to that statement. During my parliamentary career I have never witnessed anything suchas I have had to witness here to-night. Whenever a member pf Parliament desiresto resign from a Committee, he, and he alone, is the right person to give reasons. The motion just’ carried was seized’ upon to- keep you, sir, and the members and officersof the House here, without occupying the time of the country to any advantage, when it might- have been profitably occupied inpassing useful measures.
– I think, sir, we ought to have a quorum here to hear thesepearls of wisdom.
A quorum not being present,
Mr. Speaker adjourned the House at 12.10 a.m. (Wednesday).
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 5 September 1905, viewed 6 July 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1905/19050905_reps_2_26/>.