2nd Parliament · 3rd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
MINISTERS laid upon the table the following papers: -
Cablegrams between the Prime Ministers of the Commonwealth and New Zealand and the Secretary of Stale for (he Colonies on the subject of reported intervention by the British. Government in the administration of a selfgoverning Colony.
Correspondence in regard to the alteration of the Tasmanian mail service.
– I desire to ask the Prime Minister, without notice, whether, in the event of the Government indorsing Captain Creswell’s proposals, the new fleet will be supplementary or alternative to the Imperial Squadron maintained in these waters under the Naval Agreement?
– The proposals which Captain Creswell submits will be made after he has gained the experience for which he has been sent to the mother country. His last proposal was for a fleet supplementary to any naval force which the Imperial Government may retain in these seas.
– I do nob think that the honorable and’ learned gentleman quite understood the drift of my question. It is not the function of the Naval Director to say what action the House shall take in certain contingencies. He may wish his fleet to be supplementary to the Imperial Squadron, but this House may feel under no obligation to maintain two fleets in these waters under separate control. I therefore ask whether, if the Prime Minister indorses Captain Creswell’s recommendation, he will regard it as supplementary to the Naval Agreement, or in substitution thereof ?
– I might fairly make the customary request not to be asked to answer a hypothetical question; but, so far as I know, any proposal to be submitted immediately must be supplementary to, and cannot be in place of, the Imperial Navy.
– Is it the intention of the Government to bring in a Bill this session to protect trade union funds from the effect of the Taff Vale decision, which has been indorsed by the High Court of Australia ?
– The question has not received the consideration of the Cabinet.
– I desire .to ask the Minister for Trade and Customs whether, in view of the notice of motion given by the honorable and learned member for West Sydney yesterday in regard to the introduction of microbes into New South Wales for the destruction of rabbits, the Government will undertake to see that the operations there are confined to laboratory experiments until this House has had an opportunity to express an opinion on the subject ?
– I do not know what day will be set apart for private business, and therefore cannot say when the motion of which notice has been given by the honorable member for West Sydney, will be .debated, nor have I had an opportunity to discuss the matter which it affects with the Prime Minister; but an Act is in force in New South Wales which, I think, will be sufficient, without any action on the part of this Government, to prevent operations from going beyond laboratory experiments until a proclamation authorizing something further to be done has been laid on the table of the local Parliament for a month, and no objection his been taken to it. That puts it beyond the possibility that anything will be done until the motion of the; honorable and learned member for West Sydney has been dealt with.
– When does the Minister for Trade and: Customs intend to present to the House the first three volumes of the minutes of evidence taken by the Royal Commission on the Tariff, and make them available for publication and circulation?
– I am having the evidence referred to looked through by the Comptroller-General of Customs and his officers, and, if possible, will lay it on the table to-day, or, at any rate, on Tuesday next.
At a later stage,
– I desire to lay upon the table certain recommendations of the Tariff Commission, with the exception of two small paragraphs, in which they specify proposals in regard to the increase and decrease of certain duties. I also lay upon the table the evidence accompanying the reports. The reports are -
No. 2. Spirits and Distillation of Spirits.
No. 3. Wine-grow’ing Industry in Australia.
No. 4. Industrial Alcohol.
Minutes of Evidence.
Part I. Distillation (spirits and spirits for fortifying Australian wines), essences, perfumery, opium, tobacco. Part II. Glucose, sugar, and confectionery, agricultural products and groceries.
Part III. Apparel and textiles. Part IV. Metals and machinery. Digest of Evidence given before the Commission in reference to -
Spirits and distillation of spirits
The wine industry of Aus tralia. (<r) Industrial alcohol.
– I beg to suggest, Mr. Speaker, that a seat on the floor of the House be accorded to the right honorable the Prime Minister of New Zealand, Mr. Seddon, who is within the precincts of the chamber.
– On behalf of the Opposition, Mr. Speaker, may I express our cordial concurrence in ‘the suggestion.
– I’ shall be pleased to receive the right honorable gentleman.
Debate resumed from 7th June (vide page 38), on motion by Sir Langdon Bonython -
That the Address-in-Reply to His Excellency’s Speech, as read by the Clerk, be agreed to by the House.
.- It will be my duty to touch upon a large number of questions of public importance, and I shall, therefore, begin by asking the indulgence of the House. With reference to the Speech itself, I think that, just as the late Ministry established a record for brevity, the present Ministry have established a record in the opposite direction. The Speech contains about four paragraphs for each Government supporter in the House of Representatives, which is an unusually large allowance. I may say at once that I propose to vote for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply on both the grounds mentioned - firstly, on the ground of loyalty, and, secondly, on the ground of thanks to His Excellency the Governor-General for having passed successfully through such an ordeal. My honorable friend, the member for Barker, made a statement which, considering his well-known reputation for affability and amiability, was of a startling nature. He announced that he had become a militant protectionist. Upon this occasion it is my- misfortune to differ from my honorable friend, because in the present state of public affairs there is a much more important reason for a fiscal truce than any that was advanced by the Deakin Administration before the last general election. Upon that occasion the only reason put forward was that it would be undesirable to unsettle the mercantile community. Now, I think that a grave public crisis has arisen, which affords me a larger measure of justification for maintaining a fiscal truce. With regard to the appointment of the Tariff Commission, I wish it to be understood that I did! not consent to the appointment of the Commission because of any pressure brought to bear upon me by the present Attorney-General. I take the full responsibility for my action in that matter. I appointed the Commission because I thought it was a good thing to do. I am one of those who do not shrink from the fullest investigation of all the problems connected with the Tariff. The man who does shrink shows a want of confidence in the soundness of his political views. I made the appointment deliberately, with the concurrence of my colleagues. I believe that a %’ery great public service has been rendered by the members of the Commission, and any of their reports, in which even one of the honorable members who represent the views I hold joins with four protectionist members of the Commission, will receive my most friendly support. As is well known, the appointment was deliberately made, so that no report could be presented unless it commanded the approval of at least one on the other side. The appointment of four protectionists and four free-traders was decided upon, and the names on both sides were approved by both parties, and I am prepared to help on, at the earliest possible period, any recommendation that the Commission may make. Of course, I can make that statement with reference to all the reports that have been published ; but, with respect to any that I have not seen, no honorable member would expect me to pledge myself. All I can say is, that I hope and believe that any report of the Commission will be of such a character that I can support it, and such as I hope honorable members on this side will endeavour to have adopted with the least possible delay. Any protectionist report, which will not be a report of the Commission, I cannot be expected to support.
– What does the right honorable gentleman mean by that?
– I mean that I am not a protectionist.
– But what does the right honorable gentleman mean by “ a protectionist report “ ?
– I mean that no report can be a report of the Commission unless five members out of eight agree to it. Any report in which even one of the free-trade members of the Commission concurs I shall be ready to accept as not seriously raising the fiscal question ; but it is too much to as’k me to adopt the report of one-half, <md that the protectionist half, of the Commission. No honorable member expected me to do that when the Commission was appointed, and I cannot do it now. I hope that the Government will show their appreciation of the labours of the Commission by pushing through their recommendations with the least possible delay. I think I may answer for honorable members on this side of the House that they will co-operate with the Government in doing that. I think that the honorable member for Moira scarcely did justice to his incisive down-right manner of speaking in his references’ to the farmers of Australia, and especially, I suppose, to the farmers of Victoria, with whom he is best acquainted. The honorable member seemed to suggest that the farmers of Victoria, and of Australia, I suppose, have been peculiarly indebted to the Government for the help they have given them.
– They have been in Victoria.
Mir. REID. - If there is to be any examination of the extent to which the farmers and manufacturers of Victoria have been indebted to the Tariff, I think that it will be found that the obligation rests more on the manufacturers than on the farmers. In the nature of the case, with our vast area in Australia, it was inevitable that the Tariff would speedily cease to prove of benefit to those who produce cereals and other agricultural products. At the present time our butter, wheat, and other produce is sold at prices which are regulated by those which prevail in foreign markets. Except in times of famine or prolonged drought, none of the farmers receive any help from the Tariff. It cannot be said that is the case with the manufacturers of Victoria or of Australia. It is a significant fact that the farmers of Australia have appeared before the Tariff Commission, not to ask for an increase of a single duty affecting their produce, but to protest against any increase of duties. The honorable member for Moira did not do justice to the force of his intellect when he failed to see the difference between the help which the Tariff gives, or the benefit which a policy of public works confers upon the farmer, or any other industrial, and the doctrine of Socialism. We had protectionist tariffs and vast systems of public works before the Socialists were ever heard of in Australia.
– There were unconscious Socialists like the right honorable gentleman.
– What I referred to were the subsidies and special grants intended for the benefit of the agriculturists.
– I am including all those. If my honorable friend would apply his intellect to this subject as clearly as he does to some others, he would see that there is no difficulty in drawing a line between the assistance which the Government affords to private enterprise, and the policy of destroying private enterprise. Whichever may be the right principle, there is surely a clean- line of distinction between helping individuals to develop their own industries and supplanting those industries of private individuals by a series of Government industries. I think that, a line of cleavage is thus marked, the discovery of which even the intellect of my honorable friend should be equal to. As usual, in these documents, the most important considerations are those which do not appear even in the longest vice-regal speech. I should like to point out that in my view, though it may be a wrong one, there are far more serious issues affecting the position of this House than any which are .disclosed in the Speech of the Governor-General now before us. I consider that the present condition of the House is one which is entirely foreign to constitutional principles, and entirely foreign to any British method of conducting parliamentary institutions. In making this statement, I am supported by the eminent authority of the present Prime Minister. For three years that honorable and learned gentleman accepted the support of the Labour Party, and tolerated the existence of the three-party system without the slightest appearance of uneasiness. But when the Arbitration Bill came along, and the possibility of a labour vote that would displace him. clouded the horizon, then in the month of January, 1904, the honorable and learned gentleman, at the Australian Natives’ Association banquet, made what I thought a very admirable speech. in, which he expressed his condemnation of the present position of Parliament.
– The right honorable gentleman has told us’ all this before.
– If the honorable member for Maranoa had had that remark applied to him he would never have made more than one speech. I hope my honorable friend will remember that each honorable member is entitled to judge for himself as to the nature of the remarks which he addresses to this House. I am not going to dwell on the subject, but am simply working forward to nearer events. When the defeat of the Ministry occurred, it was then suddenlydiscovered that the Prime Minister was sick of the humiliation he had been enduring.
– I never have been subjected to any humiliation. I never said so, and have always expressly contradicted the statement.
– I am glad for the honorable and learned gentleman’s sake to hear that it was an enjoyable experience. All I’ can say is that in the light of his subsequent declarations that makes the situation more surprising still. T shall compare the honorable and learned gentleman with himself presently. We shall now take it that he did enjoy the position which he occupied, but I have a vague recollection that my right honorable friend the Treasurer said that he had been eating dirt.
– Not the present Treasurer, the late Treasurer.
– I refer to ‘the present Treasurer.
– I think the right honorable gentleman will not deny that at least he had a nasty taste in his mouth once or twice.
– I did not use the expression referred to.
– I know my right honorable friend will not quibble about words There is no doubt that the Treasurer did make that statement, an,d we all know that he is a gentleman whose statement on such a subject would be accepted. But that is not material. The material point is that when the Government was defeated, I paid the Prime Minister a number of compliments upon his chivalrous regard for constitutional propriety in taking the course’ which he did. But I now find, from a speech which th’e honorable and learned gentleman delivered in Adelaide, that I have been in error. The Prime Minister stated at Adelaide in March last, that when he was defeated he had made a proposal to the Labour Party for carrying on the business for the remainder of the session, that that offer had been refused, and, as a consequence,, the Labour Government had come into power. That is rather a revelation to me. It turns out now that the honorable and learned gentleman, so far from being full of the situation, was actually eager, even after that defeat, to continue in his position.
– That is not so.
– I cannot be answerable for the accuracy of newspaper reports; I can only quote them.
– We did not ask for a dissolution, we simply went out.
Air. REID. - I am not saying anything about that. I shall read this quotation from the report of the speech of the honorable and learned Prime Minister at Adelaide.
– What is the newspaper ?
– This report appeared in a Sydney newspaper - the Sydney Morning Herald.
Honorable Members. - Oh !
– I hope that my honorable friend will not impute that the Sydney Morning Herald would garble a telegraphic report of a speech of the Prime Minister. The honorable gentleman will hardly say that ?
M,r. Ewing. - They, will do what is necessary.
– I think that if any one will do what is necessary up to a degrading point, it is the honorable the Vice-President of the Executive Council. This is the statement made in the newspaper; it may have been an invention, but I decline to believe it -
The Prime Minister said he had offered to make arrangements with them -
That is the Labour Party - with a view to the business of the rest of the session -
– That was after the Labour Ministry was formed.
– Oh ; then I must add the’ rest of it - and the Labour Party refused.
They refused. So this is some other negotiation we have heard nothing about. This negotiation never came before the public.
– It did often, and it has been often referred to in this House.
– Then all I can say is that I have missed the reference, that is all.
– The right honorable gentleman was away a lot, he must remember.
– This is news to me. I wish to point out that when the Labour Government came into power after supporting the Deakin Government and their friends for three years, the first thing that the Deakin party did, including the honorable and learned member forInd, and the honorable member for Hume, the Minister of Trade and Customs, was this : The very first day after the Labour Government took possession of the Treasury benches, and began their career, those who had been supported by them, and who had held office owing to their support for three years, crowded us out on this side of the House.
– That is not correct. Mr. REID. - Well, I got a bit crushed, I remember, by the Prime Minister. There was scarcely room for both of us on this chair. I remember that so eager was my honorable and learned friend to assume the position of a political opponent of the Labour Party that I had actually to fight for the chair which I had occupied for three long weary years. These are simply preliminary observations, with reference to the more serious position, which is aggravated to-day. The position of affairs which existed then has become ten times worse today. The Deakin Government is only a shadow of what it was in those days, when Sir Edmund Barton and the right honorable member for Adelaide, Mr. Kingston, were members of the Government. Both in point of numbers and in point ofability, the present Deakin Government is a wretched shadow - I do not mean physical ly - of the Government which existed in the earlier days of Federation..
– What shadows we are, and what shadows we pursue.”
– The Labour Party had only been in possession for about two weeks of the benches which the Prime Minister and those associated with him had occupied for three years by their support when, on the roth of May, the honorable and learned gentleman expressed these views. Either they were the sincere expressions of convictions which he had entertained for a long period, or they were expressions which were manufactured to suit the cold shades of Opposition. I prefer as I think we all should, to believe that they represented the sincere convictions of the honorable gentleman. We all know that he can play with words as dicers can play with oaths but we will give him credit for expressing his sincere convictions when addressing the people of Australia. Speaking in the Town Hall, Melbourne, this is what he said of a state of things that had been existing so long, and had become painfully acute when he was thrown out, and his labour allies took his place -
I am perfectly certain that a mind as clear as that of Mr. Watson, fully recognises what has been termed the practically impossible position of parties in Parliament. It is three months since I took occasion to call attention to the matter in the most open manner that was then possible. I pointed out then that there were three parties in existence, and that if “two is company and three’s none,” -
Before and after the honorable gentleman has found three parties all right - two parties mean constitutional government, and three are just about equal to none.
Here we have the solemn, sincere statement of the competent Prime Minister that two parties mean constitutional government and three are about equal to none. I adopt those expressions; I believe the Prime Minister was right, and, using his words, I say that the most serious feature of the political situation is that under present conditions parliamentary government is impossible. I know the figures will not be very pleasant to honorable members opposite, but I think I am entitled to show that the present state of affairs is infinitely worsethan any that previously existed in this House. Take the position of the Government in reference to its supporters in both Chambers : We find, first of all, that among the representatives of the four States of New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, and Western Australia, the Government have not one single supporter in the Senate.
– What about Senator Drake?
– I hope that the honorable member will speak for himself.
– The right honorable member is making a misstatement, and I wish to correct him. Senator Drake was returned as a supporter of the Barton Government.
– I am talking of the present state of things. The honorable member complained a few minutes ago that I was dealing with ancient history, yet he is now twisting the history of to-day into that of former times.
– Senator Drake has not been before his constituents since the time to which I refer.
– I believe I am correct in stating that Senator Drake is not a supporter of .the present Administration ; I do not think that statement calls for contradiction. I repeat that not one senator representing New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, or Western Australia is a supporter of the Government. The Government have one supporter from Tasmania, and three from Victoria, or, including Ministers, six supporters in the Senate, out of a membership of thirty-six. A Government possessing executive -power over the Commonwealth that is so situated is in a worse position than any ever occupied by an Administration in. Australia. I come now to the position of affairs in the House of Representatives. Taking again the four States of New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, and Western Australia we find that only two of their representatives in this House support the present Administration, while Tasmania gives them one, so that they have only three supporters among the representatives of the five States. Finally, Victoria gives them eight supporters. I am giving the Ministry all the representatives of this State sitting upon the other side of the House, excluding only the honorable member for Echuca, who, I believe, has crossed over to this side. The figures I have quoted show that the Government have a total of eleven supporters in this Chamber. Inclusive of seven Ministers, they have a party of eighteen in a House with a membership of seventy-five, or, taking both Houses, a party of twenty-four in a Parliament of in members.
– “ Four-and-twenty blackbirds.”
– I think they are going into the pie very soon, and that two “ cooks “ will assist in the operation.
– They will then begin to sing.
– I merely wish to point out that the position of affairs is now infinitely worse, and that the eminently wise remarks made bv the Prime Minister on the occasion to which’ I refer are still more potent. The honorable and learned gentleman went on to say -
I look upon the acceptance of the responsibility of the majority as the most pressing importance that awaits us, and the revival of parliamentary methods as a matter of urgency.
Thus for three years constitutional parliamentary method’s had been destroyed, and the moment the honorable gentleman left office he found their revival a matter of urgency -
Moreover, I feel convinced that parliamentary methods cannot be revived unless constitutional principles are given free play.
So that again the honorable gentleman admits we had not been living under constitutional principles for three years, and he suddenly found it a matter of great urgency that we should recover our parliamentary system of government -
At present they are not given free play from the whole of the House, because, although they may operate upon some portions of it, they play upon an imperium in imperio, and they have to deal with Mr. Watson’s party, lt draws outlines without considering expedients, and with regard to wh’ich it puts everything beyond its pale, and it makes all those who are not within it against it, because they are without it, and if that policy has to be pursued, Mr. Watson will have lo take his place, not upon the Treasury benches, but upon the Opposition side of the House.
This statement was made within two weeks after those who had supported’ him for three years had taken office. After theLabour Party had been in office for a fortnight, the Prime Minister practically gave them a notice to quit; for it is weltknown that the Labour Party cannot receive any addition to its ranks unless candidates are prepared to take the pledge and to submit to the caucus system. The honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne, who is as close a friend of the Labour Party as any man could be, is not in the ‘party because of that simple consideration. The Prime Minister went on to say -
Does the rule of the majority at present obtain in Australia? (Cries of “No.”) What threefourths of th” country is suffering from is want of organization. What the other part suffersfrom is over-organization.
So that, according to the Prime Minister, three-fourths of Australians are outside of the Labour Party, because threefourthssuffer from want of organization and onefourth from over-organization.
– They will all be inside of the Labour Party after next election.
– Well, they will be inside of something. I .am using these words because they describe my view of the present situation more forcibly and more eloquently than I could do.
I say there can be nothing more derogatory lo a representative or injurious to his standing in Parliament than to see a body of men required to pledge themselves to vote and act as their judgment would not direct them to.
There is a direct arraignment of the methods of the Labour Party.
– Not at all. I agree with that.
– I suppose that the minority obtained by some miraculous process suddenly become convinced when they are defeated.
– We never have a minority on important questions.
– I want to go a little further. Before the Labour Ministry were in power for one month, the present Prime Minister was associated with me in conference to arrive at an understanding which would enable us to eject them from office. My position as leader of the Opposition was a perfectly fair and straightforward one. I suppose that even this Opposition will be allowed the right to put out the Government if it can. The moment the Labour members took their places upon the Treasury Bench the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, who had been separated from me for a long time - we had never worked together before in our political career - salt down with me to plan their overthrow, and we succeeded in accomplishing it.
– And the honorable member for Flinders says that you were too ambitious.
– That is the infirmity of noble minds, and the misery of inferior minds. The Prime Minister co-operated with me loyally in putting out the Labour Government. I have nothing to complain of in that regard. He was unceasing in his anxiety to secure their defeat, and by his able instrumentality I was able to eject the Labour Party from office. The honorable and learned member afterwards went to Ballarat to establish a national league - against the Labour Party of Australia - and in his statement there he spoke with great plainness. He pointed out the serious position of affairs in Australia. He said -
Instead, therefore, of taking the downward path which would lead to political servitude, and perhaps to social slavery, we want to rally to our flag those in favour of responsible government, to restore majority rule, and to maintain that priceless heritage which our forefathers have handed down to us, and which we should preserve, or perish.
Grand language ! But the honorable and learned member has sacrificed that “priceless heritage “ for a miserable mess of pottage. He has sacrificed the opportunity of arresting the downward path of Australia; he has assisted those whom he has de nounced as rushing Australia over a ruinous precipice: Mind, it may suit the Labour Party. I do not complain of their position at all. They are entitled to get support from any one who will give it. It is not for them to inquire what his motives are. If Mephistopheles himself were to vote for me, I should think that for once he had done a good action. The honorable and learned gentleman went on to say -
Whatis more, you must swallow them whole. If, in accepting every article of the programme, supporting every proposal which they put forward, you once endeavour, as many of their own members have proved in this and in other States, to assert your individuality, if you once try to have an independent mind on other subjects, or in relation to party arrangements, you are a heretic, banned with bell, book, and candle.
– Arabian Nights!
– I do not know about that; but in the Arabian Nights there is not a scene that can suggest a more grotesque alliance than that which exists, in view of these utterances, between the Prime Minister and the Labour Party to-day.
– But he has not swallowed much of our programme yet.
– In the most vivid descriptions of the romances in the Arabian Nights there was always some suggestion of an honest attachment. There might be too many attachments - attachments might, perhaps, have reached a degree which was not quite consistent with a proper self-respect - but right through the wonderful lovemaking of the characters in the Arabian Nights there was always some suggestion of a more or less romantic attachment. There can be no honest attachment between a public leader and the Labour Party when he denounces them as the enemies of the Constitution, as the destroyers of parliamentary government. The honorable and learned gentleman did not confine these remarks to the convivial surroundings of the Town Hall luncheon. He, in the presence of the Labour Party in this House, made the following statement only a few months after the Labour Ministry had taken office: -
Those most closely allied with the Labour Party, those who make the greatest sacrifices for them, who stand closest to them, and who
I most wish to help them, are always the first to be sacrificed by them. One may help the Labour Party for one month, two months, three months, or four months, but the moment one stops or makes a single independent step, he is treated as a bitterenemy. After having been apparently trusted, he will be treated as if suspected from the first moment; he will be condemned as if he had attacked them’ from the outset. That ‘is the treatment which follows alliances with political machines. . . .
Ill the Arabian Nights there is nothing about an alliance of that sort. If I - the man whom the Labour Party in New South Wales supported in office for five years - were to use one-half of these epithets, my honorable friends would denounce me in the strongest possible language. I am very glad to say that, when my honorable friends of the Labour Party thought fit to put me out of office in New South Wales, I never complained of it or abused them; and to this day they quote the record I put upon the annals of Parliament of the honorable methods which they had adopted through the whole of their alliance with me.
– Some of us denounced the Prime Minister for that.
– I am glad to hear that ; but it is only a matrimonial quarrel. The Prime Minister has developed a craze for alliances for which no parallel can be found except in that interesting work of fiction to which reference has been made. After the interchanges between ourselves, and his opinions of the Labour Party, one would scarcely expect that; when he opened his campaign with a speech in ‘Ballarat, a short time ago, he would” make this statement: -
We must either have an alliance with Mr. Reid or an understanding with Mr. Watson.
Note the shade of difference ! I am worthy of an honest, dose alliance, but the Labour Party are only entitled to an understanding. ‘ To that offer of an alliance with either or, I suppose, both, the honourble and learned gentleman attached a condition which was impossible. The Prime Minister asked that either the party -which I have the honour to lead, or the party which the honorable member for Bland has the honour to lead, should pledge itself to a high Tariff as the price of cooperation. The honorable and learned Prime Minister ought to know that that condition is equally impossible in the case of the Opposition and in the case of the Labour Party. He ought to know that the Labour Party is on a basis which enables honest free-traders and honest protectionists to form one great party. It is an insult to the Opposition, or most of them, and it is an insult to those members of the Labour Party who are freetraders, to offer an alliance as the price of the sacrifice of political conviction. But the Prime Minister at Camperdown went even further. He directed his attention to the free-trade members of the Labour Party. I do not know whether this is another invention of the enemy, but I can only trust to the newspapers, and the Prime Minister is reported to have said, speaking of the free-trade members of the Labour Party-
They put themselves, by neglecting protection, in the position of the man who saws off the bough on which he has been sitting.
What sort of conception of political principles is there in the mind of a man who appeals to men like the honorable member for Maranoa, the honorable member for Kennedy, the honorable and learned member for West Sydney, the honorable member for Wide Bay, and the honorable member for Canobolas, who are honestly attached to the principle of, at any rate, a revenue Tariff as against a protective Tariff-
– I am not in favour of a revenue Tariff.
– Then I shall leave the honorable member for Wide Bay out of the list. I know that the honorable and learned member for West Sydney, the honorable member for Canobolas, the honorable member for Maranoa, and .the honorable member for Kennedy have shown their beliefs very forcibly ; and to ask those honorable members to sacrifice any of their political principles, which their own party does not ask them to sacrifice, and to suggest that they are destroying themselves by adhering to those principles, is, I think, to occupy a position unworthy of a public leader.
– The honorable member for East Sydney has omitted to mention the honorable member for Perth.
– Then I beg that honorable member’s pardon. The omission is a mere accident; I do not pretend to mention all the honorable members so situated, but merely some of those I see in front of me. I want to point out that the offer I have indicated is not a fair offer for any public man to make as the price of an alliance - an alliance, not for a truce, but in order that free-traders shall sacrifice their principles, and become, not moderate protectionists, but rabid protectionists. It is not a fair offer, and the Prime Minister ought not to think that it will be accepted. The Prime Minister indulged in the same sort of remark in Adelaide when he appealed to the Labour Party to vote solidly for a high Tariff. The honorable gentleman must see that even to satisfy his morbid craze for political alliances people are not prepared to sacrifice principles of great moment. It is quite possible to meet, as the Prime Minister and I met, on the basis of a fiscal truce. That is quite conceivable, and, I think, quite proper; and it is the basis on which the Labour Party stand to-day. But to ask us to hoist the enemy’s flag is asking too much, and’ it is quite impossible that the offer can ever be accepted. With reference to the suggestion which has been made that we clear the Tariff difficulties out of the way by putting the Tariff right before the elections - well, I came in on a policy of fiscal war. I am not bound, as some honorable members, especially the Prime Minister, are bound, in reference to these matters. I do not forget the statements the Prime Minister made, and I shall watch with interest the attitude he will assume. So far as I am concerned’, and most of the honorable members on this side, and a number of members of the Labour Party, we cannot be expected to carry out any such policy as. that of a high Tariff, whilst I think we are all prepared to help the Government in dealing with any reports of the Royal Commission.
– No matter how high the suggested duties mav be?
– I have pointed out that, from the nature of the Royal Commission, it is impossible that there can be a protectionist report.
– The whole thing is a farce.
– The honorable member must understand that this matter was fully put before the House and the public before the Royal Commission was appointed. I must say that I had the cordial assistance of the Prime Minister in fixing up that Commission.
– There was a protest made.
– I cannot remember that the Prime Minister ever expressed to me any opinion in favour of other appointments, but the honorable member for Melbourne Ports may toe perfectly right.
– I expressed none.
– I may have forgotten a number of interviews in reference to the names of the members of the Commission. However, from first to last, the Prime Minister never suggested to me. before the Commission was appointed, either that he disapproved of it or that it would have any serious bearing on our arrangement. But I make no complaint ; these are personal matters, and my desire is to keep entirely to broad grounds as they affect the position of Parliament to-day.
– The Prime Minister said in Svdney that he knew at the time “it would burst you up.”
– The Prime Minister was asked by an elector in Ballarat what he expected to gain by his alliance with Mr. Reid. That was a .very plain question, and the Prime Minister, for once, gave a definite reply when he said, “ I expected to gain breathing time until June, 1906.” So that the Prime Minister entered into an alliance with me in order to recover his wind for a fight to the death between us. All I can say is that this may be another invention of the newspapers - I do not know; but here is the statement which was made in reply to a question asked by an elector at Ballarat. I now desire to come to another point. In any British community the head of the Government and the members of the Government are looked to as the chief guides of public opinion. On large political questions they are supposed to have opinions, and to express them ; and I should like to test the Prime Minister and his Ministry on a question which, whatever honorable members here may say, is the burning question of the day right throughout Australia. That is the question of Socialism. I have addressed a large number of audiences on the subject, and I think I am stating the literal truth when I say that the one subject on which the people were anxious to be enlightened was this burning question.
– And thev will not be any more enlightened after the speech of the honorable member.
– That is a matter of opinion. I am not answering for the honorable member’s friend’s. I am not answering for the degree of intelligence which exists in certain circles; I can only say that there are a number of people who have sufficient intelligence to understand.
– But the honorable member has not put the matter to them vet.
– I must ask the honorable member to recollect that I have a much more important subject to deal with than himself. I wish.’ to test the leadership of the Prime Minister on the burning question of the day. When the honorable gentleman was still supposed to be an ally of mine, in June, 1905, he made a statement on this subject at Ballarat.
– Why does not the right honorable member refer to the previous Ballarat speech of 1904?
– When was that? Mr. Deakin. - When I struck out all reference to Socialism in the resolution which I was asked to move.
– I am much obliged to the honorable gentleman for his remark, which reminds me of something I had overlooked. The honorable gentleman did strike out of a resolution something of that sort, but he went up there on that occasion on the direct basis of rules drawn up for that league - rules which I had the honour of seeing - rules which were an absolute counterpoise, so far as the political movement was concerned, to the Labour Party. The restoration of parliamentary government was one of the chief rules of this league. How could it be restored with the continuation of a system such as we see to-day? We were then marching under the same flag. I believe that my honorable friend, the ex-Minister of Customs, Mr. McLean, was at that meeting. It was held on the 2nd August, 1904. At any rate, on one occasion he was there. That meeting was called for the purpose of establishing a league in alliance with myself - a league against the Labour Party of Australia. And at that time, the socialistic objective had not been adopted by the Inter-State Conference. It was not adopted until July, 1905. At that time, the Prime Minister might fairly say, “ You have no need to have that in your programme.” But in July, 1905, the Inter-State Conference, by 35 votes to i, adopted the socialistic objective, and made it an Australian question by that overwhelming majority. Well, the honorable gentleman at Ballarat just before that said that he was at the opposite pole from the Socialists; that if they desired to supplant private enterprise bv means of Government industries, he differed from them as widely as. the North Pole differs from the South. That was before the Inter-State objective. But a few days afterwards, by 35 votes to t, the Labour Party of Australia adopted the socialistic objective. From that time to this, my honorable friend has been a sealed oyster. At all his meetings he has avoided taking the public into his confidence on the one subject; the public is interested in.
– And the right honorable member says that in face of the 1905 speech, several pages of the report of which are occupied with Socialism and antiSocialism !
– I was not provided with a revised copy of the speech of the honorable gentleman, and if I had been, I’ should probably prefer the newspaper report.
– No doubt. It suits the right honorable gentleman to use the incomplete report.
– Will the right honorable member quote the reference to Socialism in the objective, so that it may go into H Hansard ?
– I am going to do so presently ; but I should like first to quote from the Prime Minister’s speech a passage which seems to me to warrant what I have said. At Ballarat, in March last, -the Prime Minister said -
I scarcely need discuss Socialism with you tonight. I have laid that down before.
– On the previous occasion, when I spoke in Ballarat.
– What time was that?
– In the speech just before the. meeting of Parliament last year.
– That is the one I am quoting from.
– The right honorable member is quoting from the one in March.
Mr.- REID.- In the speech of July, 1905, just before the meeting of Parliament - I have just quoted it-
– Why not that of 1904?
– In that speech the honorable gentleman said that his views as to Socialism were what I have just said.
– I would not explain what Socialism ‘ was supposed to be, or what anti-Socialism was supposed to be, ‘as I had previously exactly defined my attitude to both.
– Then I am delighted at this admission. The honorable gentleman does know what Socialism means, and does know what anti-Socialism means. I have never bean able to get that admission from” any of the leading politicians opposite.
– I wish the right honorable member would’ tell us what he thinks they mean.
– I have been endeavouring to illuminate the intelligence of a number of distinguished public men on the difference between Socialism and anti-Socialism.
– That is what has confused them all ! I know what Socialism is, and I know what anti-Socialism is, but I have never known what the right honorable member means by either.
– I quite admit that the Prime Minister does not, because he is always on a curve, and I am always on a straight rail. I presume that this statement may be accepted -
I scarcely need discuss Socialism with you tonight. I have laid that down before.
The honorable gentleman says that he has explained what Socialism and antiSocialism are - though scarcely in the picturesque language of the. Vice-President of the Executive Council. But now I go on to the Sydney speech. The Sydney people were very anxious to hear the Prime Minister’s views on this subject, and this is what he said. Of course, I am quoting the pith of it. The remark ‘that the honorable gentleman made in Sydney was this-
I have not used the word Socialism or antiSocialism, but for those who do not know my policy, I can tell them that I am on the side of the Australian party.
What a gush of illumination that was. Mr. Speaker !
– That was a reply to an interjection, which is omitted.
– I suppose that an interjection does not distort the intelligence of the honorable and learned gentleman ?
– It distorts the reply though, if the interjection is not quoted with it.
– I suppose the honorable and learned gentleman will admit that what he did say was substantially this -
For those who do not know my policy, I can tell them that I am on the side of the Australian party.
– The interjection was with reference to the speech I had been making, and I naturally pointed out. that the whole of it was devoted to the policy of the Australian party. I was asked if I was expounding the policy of Socialism or antiSocialism, and I said that my whole speech, and the policy I had described, had reference to the Australian policy of the party just formed in Sydney, at whose invitation I was speaking.
– It is precisely the ground of my criticism that the honorable and learned gentleman did not deal with Socialism. He is only confirming my accusation ; because my accusation is that when the Prime Minister goes before a .great Svdney audience - and he is not there often - he does not address himself seriously to the burning question of the day. Why ? Because the honorable and learned gentleman, instead of having the Ballarat National League behind him, has the Labour Party behind him. That is the difference. If the Prime Minister were over here, side by side with me, if he were on good terms with the league he founded, would he not discuss with the fullest earnestness this great question ? We know that he would surround it with a glow of rhetoric which would, at any rate, stir the feelings if it did not enlighten the understanding. I want now to come to another position that the Prime Minister takes up. When in Sydney he asked the people to accept a high Tariff. I will read the report. He said that-
The first and most proper immigration measure would be a proper protective Tariff, such a Tariff as would encourage employment.
The Attorney-General appeals to the people of Australia to increase duties to provide work for our own starving artisans ; the Prime Minister appeals to the people to establish a high Tariff to encourage artisans to emigrate from other countries, to enter into competition with these starving artisans whom the Attorney-General wishes to provide for. How can a high Tariff be a proper measure to encourage immigration if it does not lead to the immigration of artisans, and if it does lead to their immigration how will it help our starving artisans - if there are any here in Melbourne?
– It would provide employment.
– Would it provide employment to bring more artisans here ? It might provide some employment, but it would not be for the men whom the immigrants displaced. I have never concealed my view that any attempt to bring artisans to Sydney or Melbourne - to these over-gorged centres of population - would be a project which no sensible man should encourage. I look to an entirely different stream of immigration, consisting, not of farmers alone, but of agricultural labourers. I am not aristocratic enough to draw the line at the introduction of farmers. I think there is room for thousands of agricultural’ labourers, quite apart from the land-holders.
– There is room for millions here.
– That is the kind of immigration which we all favour. Now I come to the cry of “Australia for the Australians.” At the last general election the cry raised by the Prime Minister was “ Australia for the Empire, and the Empire for Australia.” The honorable and learned gentleman went before the electors with the white flag of fiscal peace and prefer211ti.1l trade. He indulged in a number of beautiful perorations, which represented the various parts of the British Empire as a vast problem, the only solution of which was to be found in drawing them together by closer ties, by the freest intercourse. But now the honorable gentleman’s cry is “Australia for the Australians.” Surely every one is in favour of every legitimate opportunity being given to the people of our own country, but I say that the cry of “ Australia for the Australians “ is an unpatriotic cry. I claim that Australia was given to us by the people of the Mother Country, and that we ought always to look upon Australia as not only a place for Australians, but, at least, a place also for the people of England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. I draw no geographical line between the members of the great Anglo-Saxon family of the British Empire. I do not find along the map any single line of latitude or longitude at which I would establish a distinction. I admit that each country must be allowed to work out its own destiny in its own way, but whilst that is so we should never fly a wretched flag of that sort. This cry is being carried even into a matter upon which the lives of our people depend. This ‘pernicious cry is being carried even into the region of military efficiency. In the Governor-General’s speech we are told that in future we shall provide ‘our military leaders from the ranks of Australian officers, and the Minister of Defence has said that he has a man who is thoroughly competent to fill the highest position in the Commonwealth Forces. If that be so, there is not a man in Australia who will not rejoice to hear it. We would all rejoice to learn that we have an Australian who is competent to fill such a position, and if we have, every man will applaud to the echo the Minister’s ‘choice. But if the question whether an officer is Australian or British is to enter into the determination of the matter- -if that is to be considered - the basest treason is perpetrated against our system of defence. The very Jives of our soldiers - and of our men, women, and children as well - depend upon our having the greatest possible efficiency in the command of our system of defence.
– I understood the Minister to say that no further outsiders would be brought in.
– I should like to say- and I think the’ honorable member for Wide Bay will agree .with me - that in our system of military defence above all other questions, the .great point is to secure the best soldier that we can for the money we can afford to spend. If we have the best soldier we shall all acclaim him, and if we have the best soldier, why should the Minister of Defence say yesterday - “ Oh, the Forces will get on without inspection for a little time. They will get on just as well without it “ ?’ If we have a man who is fitted to fill the. position of Inspector-General, why should he not be put into that office at once ? Whyshould we not be privileged to know who this distinguished Australian officer is? I altogether despise this unpatriotic endeavour to create lines between the different branches of the British people Bythebye4 the Prime Minister, in that eloquent speech which he devoted to preferential trade, depicted the British Empire as one in “unity of action, in sympathy in aims.” He said -
This may surely be reckoned amongst the vastest of human ambitions.
Magnificent sentiments, but they are like the illustrations of the bill-sticker. Honorable members will have frequently noticed upon the hoardings of our cities, beautiful pictures. The bill-sticker comes along every three or four weeks, passes his brush oyer them, and plasters upon them fresh pictures. The Prime Minister is the billsticker of Australian politics. He isalways pasting up beautiful pictures on sign-boards, which attract the admiration of the people, but do not confer one atom of good upon any single human being. At one moment’ he raises a . patriotic cry about preferential trade; at another heutters the cry of “Australia for the Australians.” “All I can say is that in. the State where he ‘has been the leading public man for so many years, it has been every other country but Victoria for the Vic- torians. Why, during the past ten years 110,000 persons in excess of the arrivals have left this ‘State. We all .regret that. Nobody could rejoice in a fact of that sort. We are thankful to know that these grand people have not all left Australia, but that most of them are advancing the fortunes of other portions of the Commonwealth. But it is a lamentable fact all the same.
– New South Wales lost population whilst the right honorable member was in power there.
– New South Wales, during my term of office, doubled her acreage under wheat, and increased the hands employed in her factories at a rate not known in Victoria during twenty years. But I do not wish to go into these local allusions.
– But the right honorable gentleman was talking about Victoria.
– Only in reference to the position taken up by the Prime Minister.
– And I was speaking only in regard to the attitude adopted by the right honorable member in New South Wales.
– Now I wish to come to another practical point. The leader of the Labour Party has put two definite demands before the Government, and I wish to know what is the position which they take up in reference to them. One of those demands is for a constitutional amendm’ent - I do not know whether the particular monopoly was mentioned - to enable the tobacco industry to be nationalized, and the other is for the imposition of a progressive land tax.
– The Treasurer squelched that.
– I wish that my honorable friend would not take away my points as I proceed. I am coming to that matter. He may be quite sure that I shall not forget it. The honorable member is so genial and apt in all his interjections that one does not care to complain of them. With reference to the question of the tobacco monopoly, I think that the Prime Minister has sufficiently answered the demand for its nationalization, because in Adelaide he said : - “
The Tobacco Commission, so far as the facts have been disclosed, has, I think, even in the opinion of many of the Labour Party, only made out a case for the regulation of that monopoly, not for its nationalization.
– I do not know one member of the party who holds that view.
– I hope that the newspaper in which the report appears is not again inventing something. The statement which appears in the press is that in the view of the Prime Minister and that of many members of the Labour Party, the evidence taken by the Tobacco Commission had not disclosed a case which required anything more than regulation. I accept that intimation as sufficient to show that the Prime Minister does not favour the proposed amendment. I come now to the progressive land tax. At Ballarat, in March last, one elector asked the Prime Minister, very categorically, his views upon this subject, and this was the conversation that ensued between them : -
Elector.- What about the land-tax?
I believe that the Prime Minister rubbed his head a little, and then said -
What land tax?
Elector. - Mr. Watson’* land-tax.
– Oh. That question so far has Deen a State one. You. can see my views on it m the discussion which took place in the Victorian Legislative Assembly.
A nice reply to this citizen of Ballarat. He was told to go and hunt up the archives of Parliament. That was the honorable gentleman’s answer. But the elector continued -
Give them to us now.
– I hold strong views on the question, but, as a Commonwealth member, I abstain from intruding my views upon State matters.
There was a clear-cut declaration of the Prime Minister that land taxation was a. State, and not a Federal matter.
– Does the right honorable member agree with that ?
– I am going to give my views on the subject presently ; but I do not wish to be led off the trail. The leader of the Labour Party became a little more insistent. He was very much in earnest about the matter, and, in, fact, a resolution in favour of a progressive land tax is on the record’s of the last Inter-State Conference.
– The leader of the Labour Party opposed it then.
– No, I have been in favour of it always.
– In Adelaide, the Prime Minister, speaking of land taxation., is reported to have said -
It may perhaps come in the future, as part of a complete scheme, but not as a means only of raising revenue.
Let us pause here. I wish to answer my honorable friend’s question. I say what both parties- the Government party and my own - have said since Federation began, that the Commonwealth should use the Customs House for the purposes of Commonwealth revenue, except in case of national emergency, such as the danger of invasion, when it might be necessary to use all its powers of taxation.
– That is right ! Squeeze the small man all the time !
– The honorable member, as a protectionist, squeezes the small man pretty hard. A difference of 15 or 20 per cent, does not count with him when there is a proposal to tax something which the poor man requires. I have tried to protect the small man from the protectionist. The honorable member and his party think of only one class of working men, whereas I think of them all.
– Does the right honorable gentleman consider an old-age pension system a national necessity ?
– I hoped that my meaning would be sufficiently clear when I said that a Commonwealth land tax should not be resorted to except in cases of grave national emergency - not for the ordinary purposes of revenue or legislation, but to meet some grave national Sanger. Talking of oldage pensions, I might remark that, in one of the speeches that were made, we were promised a Bill dealing with the subject ; but I do not see more than a harmless reference in the Governor-General’s speech to a report.
– Every GovernorGeneral’s speech has contained a reference to the subject.
– The speech delivered by the Governor-General, when the right honorable member for East Sydney was Prime Minister, did not contain such a reference.
– That is so. , It was very short; only one subject was mentioned. In my, opinion, the taxation, of land is inseparably connected with the problems of land settlement, and each State which controls its own land should be allowed to work them out on its own lines.
– We must get rid of the legislative Councils of the States first.
– That is another matter. The people can get rid of anything if they wish to do so. That, I think, has been the line adopted by both parties from the beginning. The ‘proceeds of a Common wealth land tax would go wholly to the revenue of the Commonwealth, whereas the States receive back three-fourths of the revenue derived from the duties of Customs and Excise. Not only would a Commonwealth land tax be an iniquitous interference with the powers of the States to deal with their lands, but it would also take from the States every penny of the revenue derived, whereas they receive back three-fourths of the amor-nt raised through the Customs House. It must be remembered that the land policies of the States differ, while a Commonwealth land tax must be uniform, and might allow a crowded State like Victoria to dominate the destinies of Western, Australia, where the conditions are absolutely different from those of this State. Such a project is not only opposed to the Constitution, and absolutely an interference with Stale rights; but wrong from every point of view. A week after the speech in which the Prime Minister said that he would not intrude his views’ on State affairs by dealing with the land tax, he was reported to have said in Adelaide -
It may perhaps come in the future as part of a complete scheme, but not as a means of rais- ‘ ing revenue.
What did he say in Sydney a few weeks later ? -
The land tax would not only be within the reach, but within the obligation, of the Federal Parliament.
Two months before it would have been art impertinence for the Prime Minister to interfere with the land tax, as it was a State matter, but at the end of that time it had become a> matter within the obligation of the Federal Parliament -
It would be highly desirable to have one Federal land tax.
– Hear, hear. Mr. REID.- The Prime Minister evidently had the right cue.
Rather than six different land taxes in six different States, there should be an arrangement by which a Federal land tax should be levied instead of the others.
That would impose over the land problems of the six States a uniformity which would be an. absolute interference with the rights of the people of the States, and might allow the people of New South Wales and Victoria to dominate the land .policies of Queensland1, South Australia, or Western Australia, by the mere force of population. If we interfere with their land problems, we may as well interfere with their control of the public schools, because the control of the public schools of Australia has not more firmly been left with the States than has the settlement of the land problems of the Commonwealth.
– Is it not the duty of the Senate to have regard to State rights?
– I am not at present dealing with that view of the matter. In my opinion, the proposed Commonwealth land tax would be an absolute invasion of the rights of the States.
– Then why was the levying of such a tax provided for in the Constitution ?
– For purposes of revenue. But the object of this progressive land tax is not to obtain revenue, because the leader of the Labour Party has absolutely stated that it is not to be levied for any such purpose. He says that he does not expect that it will yield revenue.
– I said that it was not put forward primarily for the purposes of revenue. Of course, it must yield some revenue.
– I think that I do not misrepresent mv honorable friend when I say that he did not lay any stress at all on the revenue aspect of the; case.
– Quite so: but I did not say that it would not yield’ any revenue.
Mv. REID.- That may be so. My honorable friend suggested that the tax would not do any great injustice, because persons could easily avoid it by getting rid of their land. He has been perfectly clear on this matter. His object is to settle the land problems of the States by the Federal authority, and I say that to do so would be an absolute outrage on the principles of the ‘Constitution. I may be wrong, but that is my view.
– The right honorable member is wrong.
– I feel absolutely crushed by the honorable member’s statement. I come now to a remark of the honorable member for Moira, who, turning to the Labour Corner, spoke of Socialism as a dream, and something upon which no sensible man would waste his time. I do not take that view of any policy submitted by the Labour Party.
– I said that I did not agree with them when they followed dreams and visions.
– I think that the honorable member used the word “ dream.”
– Yes; but not in the sense suggested by the right honorable member.
– I think that my honorable friend put Socialism aside as a matter which we need not seriously consider. I differ from him. I say that anything which the Labour Party puts over its front door as the objective of the . labour movement is deserving of the serious consideration of every public man, and that the Labour Party has behind it a power which only an ignorant man would affect to despise. I do not underrate the power of the Labour Party and of the labour leagues of Australia. My honorable friend knows very well the meaning of the word “ objective.” The meaning is similar to that which attached to the plan of campaign Lord Roberts adopted for the capture of Pretoria. He might march and countermarch hundreds of miles away, but his objective was the point upon which all these movements centred, and the supreme point to the attainment of which all hisenergies were devoted. The Labour Party have not kept their objective buried in the cellar. They brought it out -of the cellar last year in New. South Wales, and adopted it at the Inter - State conference by thirty-five votes to one, and it now stands forward, as the leader of the party has said, as the beacon light to which they are all steering. We know that when a man leaves one port for another, he may tack this way, and that way, but always has one object in view, that -is to make the port of his destination - to make the objective for which he started. And just as the mariner who leaves Sydney for San Francisco may describe a number of evolutions on the way, he has always one end in view, and that is to get to San Francisco. So it is with the Labour Party of Australia. They have a distinct objective. I do not know that all the members of the caucus believe in it, because they are cooling down considerably upon it, although the Political Labour Leagues have not done so, because they adopted it at the Inter-State conference, which was attended by representatives of the six States, by a majority of thirty five votes to one. Therefore, I do not regard this as an idle matter. T look upon it as serious, and the fact that the leader of the Labour Party very properly says, “We are only going to take one step at a. time,” does not reassure me. I do not know of any one who could take more than one step at a time, however hurried he might be. I know that I could not. What is meant by that expression, however, is, “We will go slowly while we are not sure of our strength, but when we have strength enough we will reach our objective by the shortest possible route available. When our army is strong enough we will push for ward, because we believe our objective to be a good thing for the people of Australia.” That is a proper point upon which to fight any battle, and the question then becomes, “ Is it a good thing “ ? If it is a good thing the Labour Party ought to succeed. But I do not think it is a good thing, and I am going to fight the battle against it. It is one of the silliest things in the world to ask for a definition of anti-Socialism, because anti-Socialism is merely opposition to Socialism. If you are putting out a fire, you do not need to point out what anti-fire means. When there is a fire blazing, you are ar.ti-fire. because you are trying to put it out. When you are so engaged, who asks questions as to your attitude? You see a fire raging, and you wish to put it out, and if any one asks you to define your position you merely say, “ Do not bother me. This is a fire - I thank it is dangerous, and I propose to put it out.”
– But the right honorable gentleman does not propose to put it out.
– I hope that my honorable friend will not say that. I think that I am proposing to put it out, and, what is more, I think I shall succeed. I should like to put my view of this matter to many persons who, with a fair show of reason, say when I draw a complete picture of a socialized Commonwealth, “ Well, Mr. Reid, it is absurd, for you to deal with the question from that point of view. All
Ave propose to do is to take one step at a time. We propose to nationalize this industry, and that, and) some other, but we shall only do it gradually.” I think that I am perfectly fair when I say that, before the people of Australia adopt one part of this policy, I am entitled as a public man to show what its ultimate consequences will be - to show that the nationalization of the tobacco monopoly, for instance, is merely one step on the march to a destination. I am entitled to review the whole of the ‘march to that destination. Those who dispute my claim to take this course are taking up an unreasonable attitude. Suppose that you were offered the corner lot in a. subdivision, and that by taking up that* corner lot you would commit yourself to the purchase of successive lots until you acquired ‘the whole of the subdivision. Would it not be silly to ask you not to consider the merits’ of the whole subdivision, but to confine your attention to the corner lot? If a man warned me off the subdivision, and told me that I need concern myself only with the merits of the particular lot under immediate offer, I should say that he was distinctly wrong. Similarly, when I am told that I must pay regard merely to the merits of a proposal for the nationalization of the tobacco industry, I say that I am entitled to consider the objective towards the attainment of which that proposal marks merely one step. I am glad that my honorable friends of the Labour Party have not raised any difficulty with regard to their objective. I propose now to set forth the Labour Party’s objective in a manner which I think will be fair, because I intend to quote from one of the leading labour organs in Australia, namely, the Brisbane Worker. I am not taking my own view, but am giving that of one of the leading’ labour journals of Australia.
– It is one of the most outspoken and able of the labour journals.
– I will not deny that. Everything I have read the Brisbane Worker has been as straight as anything could be.
– The right honorable gentleman would not have such a “ set “ upon it if he read it more diligently.
– That may be, but one has not time to read many newspapers. Now, after the objective of the La tour Party was framed at the Inter- State Conference, the Brisbane Worker dealt with it in this way -
The Queensland objective-
I think I am right in saying that that is the nationalization of the means of production, distribution, and exchange.
– That was the objective of the New South Wales Labour Party when the right honorable gentleman accepted its support.
– When my honorable friend says that, all I can tell him is that it must have been buried down in the cellar - it was not on the fighting platform at all.
Honorable Members. - Yes, it was.
– It was not on the fighting platform, but it was the objective all the same. .
– All I can say is that the nationalization of land was on the platform too, but when my honorable friend assisted me in. passing a Bill to deal with the taxation of land, nothing was said about that then.
– Yes, there was, because we inserted a nationalizing clause, and the honorable member supported it.
– No. As I said before, if honorable members do a good’ thing in the way of supporting me, I shall never quarrel with them. They will never have me telling them that they are “nibbling away the sausage of Australian independence ‘ ‘ bit by bit. If they support me they are all right for once, at any rate. The Brisbane Worker says: -
Thi; Queensland objective is more comprehensive, and more exact in expression. It is also, we hold, more honest in intent.
The New South Wales objective goes really as far, but it does not seem to do so, and for that reason may be said to carry the stigma of guile. It reads as follows : - “ Securing of the full results of their industry to all producers by collective ownership of monopolies, and the extension of the industrial and economic functions of the State and municipality.”
In what can be secured “ the full results of their industry to all producers “ except by the collective ownership of all the means of production ?
– That is’ comment.
– Yes, that is not in the objective, but a portion of the article, and I echo that criticism. The Labour Leagues have been straight enough with regard to their objective. I have often complimented them upon putting their views in plain black and white. What I am quoting is plain black a>nd white, but some honorable members appear to want to get away from it.
– They have lit the fire, and are running away from the smoke.
– I do not think the Labour Leagues will do anything of the kind. At any rate, I am making my preparations on the supposition that they are going to fight til! the last, and I do not think that I shall be far out. The article proceeds : -
The mention of “monopolies” is utterly irrelevant, and that it has been merely dragged in, and is not of a piece with the rest of the sentence, is made evident by the improved reading which we get when that passage is omitted, thus : - “ Securing the full results of their industry to all producers by the extension of the industrial and economical functions of the State and municipality.” It will be seen at once that no limit is placed to “ the extension of the industrial and economical functions of the State and municipality.” In that respect the two objectives are in agreement. The New South Wales objective therefore is every bit as far ahead as that of the State. It aims to secure to all producers the full fruits of their industry by State and municipal ownership. No objective short of communism could go further.
There is a straightforward explanation of the objective which I accept, and act upon. Why, then, do I look at the complete scheme? Because it is proposed to bring all producers under the principle.
– There is no dissent from that from the Labour corner.
– I did not think there would be.
– Why should we dissent?
– The right honorable gentleman is helping us to publish our principles.
– I wish to read a few extracts from speeches made by the Labour leader, Mr. Watson, in various places, in order to show that this is really the view which that honorable gentleman takes of the objective, or at any rate did take of it then. The Brisbane Courier of 1 st June, 1905, reports the honorable gentleman as saying -
The Labour Party has for years been engaged in a socialistic agitation, which has for its object the curtailing of the liberty of the subject.
Of course that is obvious.
– I have had a lot of assistance from the right honorable gentleman in that direction also.
– As I have already said, I am prepared to go as far as honorable members please in the way of smoothing out opportunities for private enterprise. I shall give honorable members my assistance always for that purpose; but I draw the line and part company with them when they ask me to suppress private enterprise and replace it bv Government-run factories.
– We db not ask that.
– I know that my honorable friend does not, but he comes from Tasmania. In the next month in Queensland the leader of the Labour Party said -
The collective principle is the beacon light guiding the Labour movement.
In the same month he said -
I for one believe that Socialism is inevitable, and that the trend of modern industrialism could admit of no other solution. There is no escape from the tyranny of capital. Without the slightest difficulty money could be found to buy out every enterprise in the land.
That is plain enough. The honorable gentleman gives his own personal guarantee that he can raise the ^1,000,000,000 without the slightest trouble.
– How much ?
– The amount is ^1,000,000,000. I do not say that honorable members would give that much to the present owners of these enterprises, but that is Mr. Coghlan’s valuation of them. In July of the same year, in the Protestant Hall in Sydney, Mr. Watson said -
The Socialism of the Labour Party was this : they looked forward to the ideal when collectivism took the place of competition in the world - when production would be for use and not profit.
I think that was the aboriginal state of the dismal tribes of antiquity. Everything with them was for use, and not profit. They never lived beyond the day.
– That is continental enough for anything.
– I quote these passages to show that the leader of the Labour Tarty has publicly declared himself in the spirit of the objective. That objective points to complete Socialism. I have accepted the challenge, and if my honorable friends are right. I shall be defeated, and properly defeated.
– But the right ‘honorable gentleman should not call himself an antiSocialist.
– I think it is the greatest absurdity in the world which describes a man as a Socialist, because he uses the power of the State to promote the opportunities of private enterprise. . The radical difference between a Socialist and an anti-Socialist should be obvious enough. The Socialist says that capital, private industry, and the relations between employer and man are all wrong, and all rotten, and that the result of them is that the man is defrauded, that capital defrauds him of that which belongs to him. If that be so, Socialism is justified. I shall not take up the time of the House in arguing the matter here. I am only anxious to put the question clearly. T wish’ to say that one of my strongest objections to Socialism is that it begins bv destroying the liberty of the individual, and that the object of it is to destroy individualism.
– No, to expand it.
– I shall expand the expression I have used, and it is one very commonly used.
– In the sense that a policeman destroys the liberty of the burglar2 that is all.
– We will take that definition : Every man who has got a farm is a burglar. Every man who has got a factory should have a policeman to run him in and stop his factory, because he is a burglar. Every man who runs a team on the roads is a burglar, and some policeman should run him in. Every man who has a shop, a warehouse, a ship, or any implement of private enterprise is a burglar, and should receive the attention of the police. I am glad that the honorable member for Perth is a straightforward Socialist. I am much obliged to him, and I have no more to say on that subject.
– That is the kind of argument which makes the statements of the right honorable gentleman ridiculous.
– I wish now to ask the Prime Minister whether this progressive land tax, of which we hear, is to be an open question in the Cabinet.
– Or whether it is. to be lost in the forest.
– We may all have strong differences of opinion, but we all have a certain admiration for the right honorable the Treasurer, because of the way in which he will occasionally break over the traces. The right honorable gentleman, who is the custodian of the Commonwealth finances, replies to the financial policy of the Prime Minister, as expressed in Svdney that the Federal land tax, which is to suppress all State land taxes, is an indirect way of robbery. that it is’ indirect confiscation.
– No, no; I did not say that. I said it was introduced for the purpose of bursting up estates.
– I should like to read the very words I am going on, and this time I will stick to the press, because I quote from an interview reported in the most reliable journal in Australia - the Melbourne Age. I find that the right honorable gentleman is quite right. The expression he used was this-
Bursting up estates seems to me another way - an indirect way - of confiscation.
– I said it was introduced with that object.
– If’ it does it, it is it. Surely the right honorable gentleman admits that if it does it, it would be wrong even if it were not introduced with that object? The thing would be the same whatever was in the mind of the man who introduced it.
– I said that if it were introduced for revenue purposes-
– Is the right honorable gentleman going to climb down on what he said ?
– Not at all.
– Very well.
– I do not wish to be misrepresented. If the right honorable gentleman will read all that I said I shall be quite satisfied. But I do not think he should pick out portions of what I said.
– I am reading what the right honorable gentleman said.
– The right honorable gentleman commenced by a reference to the bursting up of estates. He did not begin my statement at the beginning.
– I do not think that any reasonable critic will expect me to read the whole of a speech because I make a quotation from it. I shall read the expression of the right honorable gentleman’s view on this point, towards the end of the interview. The right honorable gentleman generally comes with a strong rush towards the end.
– I said something about land, like anything else, being subjected to taxation.
– Quite so.
– Then why does not the right honorable gentleman quote that statement ?
– I am- quoting the right honorable member’s remarks in opposition to the proposed land tax
– But do not misrepresent me.
– If I were to begin talking about misrepresentation, I should become bilious. It is impossible to give every word of a long speech from which one makes extracts. No one ever expects such a; thing from any one But myself. The Treasurer went on to say -
I am altogether opposed to a Commonwealth land tax.
Is that right? What does the right honorable gentleman say to that ?
– Everything I said is to be found in the report.
– The right honorable gentleman continued -
I am surprised that any one should think it necessary, for Commonwealth purposes, to embark on land taxation-
This is the Treasurer speaking to the Prime Minister -
Such a proceeding would make federation ten times more unpopular. At any rate, I am absolutely opposed to it.
That is a straightforward declaration, and I can understand it.
– Does the Treasurer still hold to that position?
– I am sure that he does. I want now to refer to one or two very important matters that are not mentioned in the Governor-General’s speech. A number of interesting announcements in connexion with Captain Collins, Mr. Knibbs, and other gentlemen who have been appointed to the Public Service of the Commonwealth, are made in it; but I think that it is quite unusual for such trivial matters to find a place in a Speech from the Throne. One of the most important matters that should have engaged the attention of the public is omitted from the speech. Five years ago we passed an Act providing for the repatriation of kanakas from Queensland. Under that law, within six months from the present date every agreement between a planter or other person and a kanaka in Queensland will be absolutely void. Such agreements are to terminate on 31st December next, so that six months hence any person who employs a kanaka will be liable to a penalty of ,£100. The expression in the Act is, I think: “ Under the provisions of the Pacific Island Labourers Act.” I am not familiar with that measure, but my honorable friends from Queensland, who know more of it than I do, will correct me if I am wrong. I understand that the effect of that provision, read with the Queensland Act, is that after the 1st January next no kanaka can be employed under agreement in Queensland. The agreements will be cancelled after the date named, and any human being in Queensland who employs these unfortunate men thereafter will be liable to a penalty of £100. Surely the question of the deportation of the kanakas ought to have attracted the attention of the Commonwealth Government. Wherein lies the importance of the appointment of Mr. Knibbs as Government Statist, or of giving Captain Collins a trip to London, as compared with the position of these islanders who. within six months, will be absolutely deprived of their means of existence in Australia? Surely this question might well have engaged the attention of the Government, and should have been referred1 to in the Governor-General’s speech. Whilst we were perfectly resolved to bring about this change, I am certain that there is not one representative of Queensland who does not earnestly desire it to be made in the most humane and considerate manner. This Parliament will be exposed to odium if these men are not sent back to their islands in the most careful and humane way. They cannot remain in Queensland, because they are denied the right of subsistence by work there after the end of this year. The subject is one that might well have been brought to the notice of this Parliament, and I consider that in this regard there has been a’ lamentable oversight. There is another matter to which I desire to refer, and to which no reference was made by His Excellency the Governor-General. I do not blame the Government for that, because I admit that the subject comes within the category of those that might well be omitted from the Governor-General’s speech. We are told that the Government took a strong proceeding in defence of the rights of self-government in Natal, and protested against the interference of the Imperial Government in local concerns. That protest came from a Government most of the members of which, two or three months ago, addressed s! petition to the Prime Minister of England - because an address to the King means an address to the Prime Minister; the King can do nothing in active legislation - for a change in the parliamentary system of Great Britain. The very Prime Minister who stood up for the right of Natal to manage her own affairs approached the Prime Minister of Great Britain and Ireland - approached the British Government - with a request that the parliamentary system of Great Britain and Ireland should be altered.
– The right honorable member appears to have already forgotten that I opposed that petition being addressed to the King, and had an amendment, striking out from the motion all reference to His Majesty. My amendment would have been carried but for an Opposition trick.
– But did not the honorable and learned gentleman vote for the motion ?
– I spoke against the part of it in question, and had prepared an amendment that would have altered it.
– The honorable and learned gentleman is being driven into . a number of extraordinary positions. I. moved art amendment, and the Prime Minister ought to admit that it raised the position I took up. I understood there was some difficulty in putting my amendment.
– So there was in regard to the amendment that I proposed. I gave notice of my intention to move that the petition to the King be omitted from the motion.
– But that does not interfere with my argument.
– It does absolutely. Mr. REID. - I have just said that I do not consider that the petition in question was one to the King himself. I took it as a petition to the Prime Minister of Great Britain and Ireland.
– I would not have sent it to the Prime Minister either.
– Was there any secret power compelling the Prime Minister to vote for a petition to the King on the subject of Home Rule for Ireland? If the honorable and learned gentleman objected to a petition on the subject being presented to the King, was he really so irresponsible for his actions that he deliberately voted for that to which he was opposed? No explanation could put right such an action.
– None, except that an Opposition trick shut the door on my amendment.
– My point is that this Parliament should not have made any representation either to the King or the British Government on the subject of an alteration in the parliamentary system of the mother country.
– So far, I quite agree with the right honorable member.
– Then why did not the honorable and learned ‘gentleman vote with me ? v.
– Because the right honorable member shut out the amendment I proposed moving.
– Do not say that I did so.
– Well, the Opposition did.
– Surely that did not deprive the honorable and learned gentleman of his right as a man not to vote for something of which he disapproved. Surely this sort of position is not going to become fashionable in Parliament. I trust that such explanations will not be accepted. What hidden power was it that “compelled the Prime Minister to vote against his convictions ?
– No hidden or other power affected my vote, or even sought to affect it. I preferred the unamended motion to the amendment moved by the right honorable member, and had no choice except between the two.
– There was no necessity for the Prime Minister to vote for that petition to the King.
– I had either to vote for that or against “ a just scheme.”
– Oh, oh!
– The whole motion or none.
– Now, the honorable and learned gentleman could not vote both ways, clever as he is.
– The right honorable gentleman has done that often.
– If our population, instead of having 20 per cent, of people from Ireland, or the descendants of Irishmen, had 20 per cent, of Poles and the descendants of Polish people, and only 1 in 10,000. from Ireland, I think that our friends would have put a little postscript in the petition to the King asking him to use his great influence with the Emperor of Russia to give, self-government to Poland.
– Hear, hear ! Why did not the right honorable gentleman move that amendment?
– I can. understand’ Irishmen, or the descendants of Irishmen, voting for Home Rule.
– Not all of them.
– Because they look upon it as a patriotic thing to do, and they are people who have suffered, as we all know, most atrociously in the past.
– Which the right honorable member tried to perpetuate.
– No. I raised that very issue.
– The right honorable gentleman did when he opposed the petition.
– The honorable member must allow me to proceed. I implored the House not to bring this question into the arena of Australian politics. I did not wait until the House had made a. mistake and then criticise it. From my place at this table I put it strongly to the House that this was a matter concerning the local selfgovernment of the people of the Mother Country, that just as we would not allow them to interfere with our affairs, we ought not to interfere with theirs, that on the eve of a general election in the Mother Country it was particularly objectionable, and that we could trust the wisdom and justice of the people of the Mother Country to remedy every just grievance of Ireland. I asked the House to keep that burning question out of Austraiian politics, and they might have responded’ to my appeal ; they might have said, “ On consideration, we agree with your views, and we will not commit this mistake.” But, in spite of my putting this position clearly and plainly, and moving an amendment which raised these considerations, my honorable friends brought the question within the sphere of Australian politics, because no House has the right to use the name of the Australian people without authority. There are occasions of national grief and misfortune’ which call for national manifestations in which the mass of people are one. and in which the Government, in approaching the Throne, represents the feelings of the whole people. But even in Australia this is a burning question. It is a matter on which there are strong differences of opinion. The result of adopting the petition was that every man who considers that his authority was abused has the right to demand an account of the action of his representative, and it is too late to say that we are raising this question. The intrusion of such a question is by those who used the name of the people, not by those who opposed it. There is another important matter which is not mentioned in this speech. Surely the book-keeping arrangements of the Commonwealth form one of the most important matters that could engage the attention, of this Parliament.
– I think that clause 18 of the speech covers it.
– It seems to me a very important matter.
– It will be dealt with in the Budget.
– I accept that explanation, which may be a perfectly proper one.
– Clause 18 does cover it.
– It is a fair reply that it may be considered a matter for the Budget, but it certainly is one to which we shall have to address our serious attention. I come now to the Commerce Act and the regulations which have been issued under that measure. There is an impression that the Opposition are opposed to legislation to put down adulteration and frauds. That is an absolute injustice. There is no human being, I hope, in this Parliament who will not give the fullest powers to prevent adulteration or frauds, especially any fraud in connexion with food. There is no quarrel or difference on that subject at all ; but once you have legislation to prevent frauds and adulteration the law should stop. It should not interfere more than is absolutely necessary with the operations of trade, especially with the operations of the Australian exporters of Australian produce, because they have to fight their battle, not here, but elsewhere, in competition with the whole world. If you create two sets of difficulties for them, you do not help them : you handicap them in the stress of competition. I am quite with those who would pass measures for the prevention of adulteration and fraud; but I submit that any attempt on the part of the State to become a guide as to the quality of an article, or the shade of quality of an article of commerce, is an attempt to undertake a function which it has no right whatever to assume. It is a delicate enough question, in all conscience, between buyers, to decide the precise quality of an article, such as butter. One of these people said to me the other day, “You may grade your butter as you like, but if you had a dozen Government brands on your boxes of butter no London buyer would buy a single box without sampling it. He would not take your brands.” He will personally sample the butter to satisfy himself, and the effect of creating grades is that the first grade butter will be the same as if there was no mark on it at all, and if first quality be branded by the Government by mistake as second quality, the buyer will take every care to get the benefit of that mistake. If the .first quality be branded by mistake as second quality, he will say : ‘ This is only second quality, and I must give you so much less.” It may be just as good, however, as the) butter which is branded “ first.” Why should the Government involve themselves in these extraordinary complexities of relative qualities? Let us suppress adulteration and fraud; but this attempt to grade commercial articles is, I think, a hideous mistake. In my view there has been a gross abuse of the understanding in this House when the Commerce Bill was being considered. The honorable member for North Sydney asked the Attorney-General a question about grading when the Bill was going through the House, and according to a letter from the secretary of the Sydney Chamber of Commerce, who refers to Hansard, but does not give the page, the honorable and learned gentleman said -
We are not taking the power to create qualities, grades, sizes, weights, and ingredients. .
I am trying to answer the honorable member’s questions. We do not intend to create grades.
There is an absolute statement by the Attorney-General as to the effect of the Bill, and the Minister in charge of it said -
There is to be sufficient grading to enable us to distinguish bad goods from good goods.
I can understand that in the sense of adulteration or fraud, but I do not think that any one took the remark to set aside the deliberate statement of the Attorney-General as to the effect of the Bill. I strongly object to these stretches of authority in connexion with the trade of the Commonwealth.
– The Government do not grade, do they?
– There is a series of regulations which have been, sent out by the Government, and which - I have not very carefully read them - I think provide for a series of qualities, first and second. If the butter is honest and sound, not adulterated, I hold that the branding of a man’s goods as first class or second class is an unwarrantable infringement of the rights of the producers of Australia. It never does any good, because a London buyer will not take the brand for No. i quality, but will give a No. 2 price for a No. 2 brand, even if the quality is really first class. That is a great pity, because, as I say, our producers are struggling under a number of difficulties in meeting the competition of all countries and all colours; and anything which impedes the success of our producers is a calamity, and only justifiable in the cases I have mentioned, namely, fraud or adulteration.
– Do. the butter exporters object to having a Government brand?
– r believe there is a great difference of opinion - that a large number are in favour, while a large number are against a Government brand. But I do not care what the exporters think - whether they are for or against. We have no right, I say, to go into shades of qualities of honest goods - goods not adulterated. We have troubles enough in carrying on the Commonwealth without entering into projects of this sort. I now wish to refer to the Anti-Trust Bill. Again, we on this side are prepared to deal with monopolies and trusts just as severely as, I think, are my friends opposite. But let me call the attention of the House to one clause in this Bill. I should like to ask the special attention of honorable members opposite, and of the Prime Minister to clause 5, which provides -
The Comptroller-General, whenever he has reason to believe that any person, either singly or in combination with any other person within or beyond the Commonwealth, is importing into Australia goods (hereinafter called “ imported goods “), with the intention that they may be sold or offered for sale or otherwise disposed of within the Commonwealth in unfair competition with any Australian goods, may certify to the Minister accordingly.
I appeal to the House. Whilst honorable members are prepared to suppress trusts, and may be prepared to increase Customs duties so as to regulate the importation of goods by single importers, in the ordinary operations of trade, I ask whether the House is prepared’ to apply the provisions of an Anti-Trust Bill intended to suppress trade combinations, to any individual importer of goods in Australia, whether he is or is absolutely not connected with a trust.
– That is anti- Socialism.
Mx. REID.- But my dear friend- if I may so address the honorable member for Maranoa - wha’t I desire to say is that it is wrong to adopt a protective prohibitive policy under cover of a series of departmental inquiries. Let the importers know what the position is. If we think it right to make a certain duty 30 per cent, instead of 20 per cent., then let us make ic 30 per cent., so that the importer may know what is the price of his admission to our ports. But we have no right to fix a Tariff of 20 per cent, and let an importer bring goods under that Tariff, and then allow a Minister, on a report from a Board, to find that the importation of those goods tends to prejudice Australian manufacture or the remuneration of labour in the factories. Of course, manufacturers always say they cannot pay their men at a certain rate unless they get more duties - that has always been the cry. The wrong lies in this - that a man comes prepared to pay the duty, which is the toll on entering the market, and the Department can shut out his goods and put them on the list of prohibited imports, because some manufacturer says that if thev are allowed to come in thev will interfere with him and his business. That is a way of bringing in a prohibitive Tariff by regulation, which T do not think any man ought to b9 in favour of. It is infinitely better to put the duties up than to entangle people in that way. There are one or two other matters to which I desire to refer, including that of the re-distribution of seats. I do not understand the reason why the resolutions affecting New South Wales and Victoria have been put off for a fortnight or so. There may be some reason, but what I am anxious about-
– The resolutions in regard to all the States are fixed for the same date.
– Are they? I was told that was not so - that they were down for different dates. What I want to impress on the House is, first, that after two or three good seasons all the talk about towns being depopulated in New South Wales is shown to be absolute nonsense. The rolls, after good seasons on the Darling, show an increase on the previous rolls of only 2,000 electors, although those of nineteen and twenty years of age a year or two ago are now twenty-one years of age. In the case of the Riverina there are only 800 additional electors, after the good’ seasons of two years before.
– But the rolls are in rather a bad state.
– They have always been so; I think the state of the rolls a crying shame. All the talk which we had from the Minister, and which, I suppose, was accepted, about depopulated towns has been proved to be absolute fiction. There were, no doubt, people who left districts, but not in any numbers to warrant the arrest of a measure of justice. The difference then was 20,000 between different electorates, and that was an atrocious thing. I hope we will not act in a party sense in connexion with this matter. The redistribution lias to be passed’, and let us pass it at once. If we are going to pass the scheme I hope the Department will push on with the rolls. I do not attach much weight to what information comes to one, but I have been informed that, according to some of the electoral officers, unless this matter is attended to within a very few days, the. difficulty of having everything in . order bv December will be serious. I cannot credit or believe the possibility, but such a statement has been made.
– I think New South Wales will require a re-collection of names, the rolls are so bad.
– As to anything that will tend to make a better system, we are all in accord. My own view .is that we ought to imitate New Zealand1, and allow an automatic arrangement of boundaries as time goes on. With regard to the Capital Site, I am very glad that the Government are going to give a chance to settle that matter this session. I .think we ought to settle it finally one way or the other.
– And early.
– Will the right honorable member for East Sydney be satisfied if we choose the same site?
– I accepted that site because I could not get a better one ; and that is a sensible attitude to take, I suppose. But now there is a chance of getting a better site, and I am going to do all I can to get it.
– That is another question.
– It is a matter we will have to settle j but whatever we are going to do let us do it.
– The sooner the better.
– The sooner the better. I can speak for my own State ; -and it is in the interest of every honorable member who represents New South Wales, whatever be his party, to see this matter settled. There is a justifiable feeling of resentment on the question, and we have only to put another State in the same position, to realize the feeling in New South Wales.
– The Government of Victoria have given notice of their intention to charge a rental of ,£3,000 a year for Government House.
– Frankly, my surprise is that the Victorian Government did not do that long ago. I do not see why the Commonwealth should not be able to pay for such things. The State of Victoria has given us this magnificent Parliament House for years for nothing, or, at any rate, at only some small expense. I say frankly that, whilst we have no Government House of our own, and we use the State buildings, which must have cost the States large amounts, we ought to look on a demand of this sort in a friendly spirit.
– Then let us occupy” only the Government House in New South Wales.
– That is a matter we will have to consider in connexion with this question. I do not object to the Commonwealth paying for what we get. The Commonwealth is strong enough to pav, and we ought to do so. I utterly deplore the present state of things in this Parliament. I feel that we cannot get to a sound position until the people have a chance of deciding what is to be done. There will be a desire on our side to endeavour to pass any useful measures that
M-av be submitted to us during the expiring days of this Parliament ; and, so far as the Tariff is concerned, I certainly do think that, since we have appointed a Commission, and since the Commission is reporting already upon a number of things which ought to be attended to, we might all agree ro r’o what .we can in reference tq removing hardships and anomalies which do not raise questions of principle. If a question of principle is raised, every man must vote according to his convictions ; but as regards revision,, in the light of hardships and inequalities, there may well be a general feeling of desire to remove every element of dispute.
Sitting suspended from 12.50 to 2 p.m.
– The duty of replying to the criticism that has been offered on the Governor-General’s speech, which devolves upon me to-day, is one which can be easily discharged without imposing any serious burden upon the time of the House. The criticism to which the speech has been subjected was considerate on the part of the two honorable members who were good enough to move and second the Address-in-Reply. Suggestions were offered by them, which, of course, will receive full consideration in respect of the matters on which they were urged. It was but natural that the honorable member for Barker, in the course of his telling review of many important questions, should lay stress upon a national question which has an important bearing upon the State of which he is a representative, and I can assure him that the possibilities of the Northern Territory have by no means escaped the attention, of this Government. So far as our opportunities have permitted us, we have followed up the proposed transfer of that Territory from the point at which it was previously laid aside, at all events for a time, at the suggestion of the Government of South Australia itself. We have lost no opportunity of advancing it, and very shortly the correspondence which will be laid upon the table of this House will enable honorable members to judge how fast we are coming to a practical issue. The great extent of that Territory, and the strategical importance of its position, must not blind us to the fact that the same work of development, which has been required in more favoured parts of Australia from the white man’s point of view, would be doubly necessary in a country where, in the low-lying lands at all events, the heat is severe, and in settlements which would be separated from us by a considerable voyage until the Transcontinental Railway shall have been constructed. But, freely admitting all these considerations, it appears to me that the Commonwealth, representing the whole of Australia, is under an obligation to undertake the care of and responsibility for that great tract of country, so soon as reasonable terms can be arrived at. There is a business side to the transaction, which cannot be neglected. Money has been spent by South Australia, and a good deal more will need to be spent by us. The taxpayers will require us to examine very carefully the amount of the commitment which the acceptance of this Territory would involve. Beyond that I know of no obstacle in the way of its transfer, and shall certainly be very glad for anything which can. be done by us in that connexion. I confidently count on the assistance of honorable members generally to remove any obstacles which may exist. Passing by for the moment the other portions of the able speech of the honorable member for Barker, and turning to the cogent, practical, and spirited utterance of the honorable member for Moira, I have to admit that the restrictions under which we labour in dealing with the great question of immigration are those to which he has called attention forcibly. Speaking with his own intimate knowledge, not merely of this State, but of other States - in fact one might say of Australian farming and Australian farmers - he called attention to what has long been a serious evidence of an unsatisfactory condition of things in most of the States. This has caused the sons of our farmers to be driven far from the paternal home, although in the neighbourhood of that home there, may be tens of thousands of acres well fitted for ordinary cultivation, or fitted, by the application of water, for intense culture - lands upon which they would gladly settle, but upon which they are not afforded an opportunity of settling at present. Beyond that I do not desire to go, because the facts involve, by implication, a criticism of the land legislation and administration, for which most of us have been more or less responsible in one or other of the States. But I fully admit that the proposals which will be submitted for the encouragement of further agricultural settlers from Home must be safeguarded by assurances from the several States that such persons when brought out to Australia to be placed upon the soil shall be able to find land upon which they can settle with a decent prospect of earning by industry and ability the livelihood which they come to seek. In that regard, I may remind the honorable member that the letter which has been addressed to the Government of every State since I had the opportunity of meeting the Premiers in conference in Sydney, has requested from each as the most essential piece of information, a statement of the number of immigrants which each is prepared to absorb annually, and for whom they are prepared to find land. That information is necessary in order that we may know upon what scale the proposed efforts of the Commonwealth to put the circumstances of Australia before the people of the mother country, and to attract suitable settlers from there, shall be undertaken. With that knowledge to hand, I hope to be able to submit at a later period of the session - and probably in connexion with the Estimates - a vote which shall be reasonable in amount, having regard to the work that is to be accomplished. It will not be, so to speak, a project in the air. We shall not be drawing a bow at a venture. The vote will -be proposed in accordance with the official representations of each State as to the number of people it desires, and the inducements which it is prepared1 to offer them. When equipped with that data, we can judge how best we may endeavour to reach that” section of the population of the mother country, which hives off year after year, to some other portion of the world, to whom we can s’afely say. - taking all conditions into consideration - that they will find better prospects in Australia than are now open to them, so far as I am aware, in any other part of the globe.
– Better in what respect?
– Better in respect of the opportunities which will be afforded them of making an honest livelihood and of founding permanent homes with less disabilities than are imposed upon, them elsewhere.
– And with a better prospect of keeping those homes?
– I believe so. I believe that in Australia they will be absolutely secure, to a degree that is unknown in many other countries.
– Is it proposed to encourage the immigration of artisans ?
– Of course the development of agriculture will necessarily increase the opportunities for employment which are afforded in the towns, and there we can trust by means of industrial legislation to tempt other classes of workmen. An immigration policy, based upon official assurances, proceeding upon facts, and put fairly before the people of the old country, will, I hope, represent the initiation of a great movement. Taken in concert with those amendments of the land laws, and their administration, which it is a matter of public notoriety several States are considering, this ought to put us in a better position in the mother country than we have ever occupied before, both from the standpoint of attracting suitable immigrants, and of providing for them when they come hither. I quite recognise the necessity for proceeding with caution at the outset, because any blunder - any set back at this time - would be liable to re-act upon us for a considerable period. The House has always recognised that any provision for the encouragement of agricultural immigrants can be neither primary nor exclusive - that we need to see first that those farmers’ sons to whom the honorable member for Moira so aptly alluded are not shut out of their patrimony. But in this immense continent there is room and far more than room, for all the farmers’ sons we have, and for ali that we can attract here. If they do not obtain the best opportunities for commencing life in this new world, the fault will lie very much with its legislators. We are perfectly aware of the differences in climatic conditions, of the existence of unsuitable districts in which agriculturists would be unwisely planted, and of the burdens which would be imposed on them, if they were placed too far away from markets or from railways. Having a knowledge of these facts, we should be able to provide against our old mistakes in legislation. An endeavour is being made in some States to prevent past errors. With our experience of the past, and the knowledge that even what were previously deemed unfruitful parts, are capable of successful cultivation by means of modem appliances and methods, some of which are of comparatively recent discovery, we are in a position to embark in what I believe, will prove to be a successful competition for immigrants of the same blood as our fathers, of the race which has made Australia, Canada, and New Zealand what they are. There is, in the old land, no dearth of persons seeking new homes, and, in providing new homes for such persons, while we shall do a- great deal for them, we shall do much more for the future of the Commonwealth. With that brief reference to tlie speeches of the mover and seconder of the Address-in-Reply, I come to the criticism of the leader of the Opposition. His remarks on the Governor-General’s speech dealt mainly with an omission. The repatriation of the kanakas now in Queensland ‘has not escaped the attention of the Government, but the subject, as well as certain other topics, was not referred to in His Excellency’s speech, because our programme appeared likely to grow to inordinate length. In point of fact, we have not heard any complaints about it on the score of its brevity. But the public have been kept very fully aware, through the press, of the steps which this Government has taken. Last year we opened communications with the Queensland Government, in order to inform ourselves of the actual number of kanakas whom it would be necessary to repatriate. We have obtained from that Government, from time to time, rather meagre lists of those who appear to have, under the Act, the undoubted right to remain in Queensland, because they went there prior to a certain date, or engaged in certain vocations. But we have also sought to inform ourselves of those who may have what may be called reasonable moral claims to be allowed to remain, either because they have married white women, or because they have established themselves in such a way as to give them some claim to permanent residence. So far, we have only partially succeeded in obtaining that information. But a Commission appointed bv the Government of Queensland to investigate the matter has been sitting for some time, and is required to report this month. It has proceeded from place to place in the sugar districts, inquiring into these questions, and endeavouring to ascertain how many kanakas there are, what are their conditions, and what claims deserving of respect they may have to remain in the State. We have asked the Queensland Government to oblige us at the earliest moment - confidentially, if necessary, because, although the evidence has been taken in public, it has not yet been laid before the Queensland Parliament - with copies of the report and minutes of evidence, so that we may equip ourselves for action without the least delay. We are also in communication, through the High Commissioner of the West Pacific, with the British Resident in the Solomon Islands, and the British Resident in the New Hebrides, from whom we have asked the specific information what is proposed to be or can be done when repatriation commences in the groups over which they have charge. We have other information about these groups from unofficial sources, and we are aware that the Resident in the Solomons is particularly anxious to be able to receive and provide for that half of the kanakas who have come from those islands. It is believed that fully one-half of the kanakas in Queensland are Solomon Islanders. Hence there has been no neglect in this matter with which we are chargeable. The House will soon be made aware officially, by the laying on the table of the final replies giving the information desired of the steps which have been taken during some years past to provide for the humane and considerate treatment of the kanakas. The difficulties which appear to surround repatriation tend’., on examination, to disappear rather than to increase. Partly because of the labour traffic, and partly for other causes, there has been a great depopulation in certain islands under civilized control, and no peril, will be run by any native landed there, whether he does or does not belong to one of the few remaining villages. We begin to see our way, therefore, to deal not only with those who desire to return to their own villages and can do so, but also with others who do not wish to go back to their homes, for reasons personal to themselves or for other causes. We see our way, happily,, to make safer arrangements than at one time appeared likely when it was thought that the only choice lay between returning the kanakas to their own villages and allowing them to remain in Australia. The leader of the Opposition, if he was not aware of these steps, had every right to ask for an explanation of what is being done ; but reference was not made to the subject in His Excellency’s speech, because it was not thought desirable to include all the subjects capable of being treated at present only in a tentative fashion.
– Who is going to undertake this repatriation ?
– The responsibility rests upon us, since the repatriation will take place under Commonwealth law ; but also with the Queensland Government, under the legislation by which kanakas were introduced into that State.
– Has the Prime Minister seen the statement of the Premier of Queensland, that he will take no steps in the matter.
– I have seen in the press statements on this subject from all sources, but have heard nothing from the Premier of Queensland of that kind. The correspondence which has passed between us indicates no such determination on his part. Having thus disposed of the one criticism of the Governor-General’s speech offered by the leader of the Opposition, let me say a word in respect to the parallel which he apparently intended to draw between the action taken by me in connexion with the recent disturbances in Natal and that taken upon the motion dealing with Home Rule submitted by the honorable and learned member’ for Northern Melbourne. There was no intervention of mine in either. As the papers have been laid on the table, it is not necessary for me to do more than refer to them; but, perhaps, I may remind those who have not read them that the terms of our cablegram to the British Government with reference to Natal were as follows: -
Since an intervention of His Majesty’s Ministers for the United Kingdom with the administration of the self-governing colony Natal would tend to establish, even with regard to prerogative of pardon, a dangerous precedent, affecting ail the States within the Empire, Your Excellency’s advisers desire most respectfully appeal to His Majesty’s Ministers for reconsideration of resolution at which they are reported to have arrived upon this matter.
I do not think anything could be more carefully worded. The precedent about to be established! would have applied to us in the future as much as to Natal. Although, fortunately, the circumstances of this country do not render us liable to the particular peril which then threatened, and still threatens, the scattered settlers of Nattai, where the white people form only a fraction of the population, yet, for all that, a precedent for intervention, once established, could, and probably would, have been applied to any or all of the self-governing States of the
Empire. Surely, then, it was well within our province to remind the Imperial Government that whatever action they might take in this particular connexion might at any moment in other connexions most vitally affect us as one of the selfgoverning States. Beyond that reminder we did not go. We passed no opinion on the merits of the question, but thought that we were quite justified in asking the Imperial authorities to consider the full consequences of the precedent which was then threatened, but was not established. If in the slightest degree our cable contributed to the decision arrived at, I think we have every reason to congratulate ourselves upon its promptness. With regard to the Home Rule resolution, my position was exactly the same, as was made perfectly plain from the outset. The motion contained three paragraphs, to two of which, if I remember aright, I took exception. I strongly urged that the portion of the motion which appealed to His Majesty through his Ministers should bes deleted’, and that this House should content itself with following our own precedent in the representations made with regard to the employment of Chinese in South Africa, by merely recording its opinion, as members of another place had been invited to do. This would have avoided all appearance of intervention on our part. Having pressed ‘ that strongly upon the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne, who was in charge of the motion, he, although still preferring to adhere to its original form, kindly agreed that the portions of the motion objected to should be withdrawn, and that the resolution should simply express the opinion of this House. The honorable and learned member was prevented from adopting that course, not bv any action of mine or of other members on this side of the House, but by honorable members opposite, who, being altogether opposed to the motion, thought it better for their own purposes that it should be carried as originally proposed1. Curiously enough, therefore, whatever responsibility exists for the appearance of interference from Australia because of the appeal to Bis Majesty rests upon the opponents of the resolution, and not upon me.
– The Minister stated that honorable members should express their opinion to the people of England.
– I stated that we should express our opinion, which il would be open to the people of England to make themselves acquainted with, but I objected to any official appeal being made to His Majesty. I thought that if we expressed our opinion, the people of England would accept it for what it was worth, and then act as they thought fit. This was no intervention at all.
– The Minister also said that we should express our opinion for the guidance of the people of England.
– I said that we could express our opinion in favour of a just scheme of Home Rule, and not in favour of any particular party scheme. We declared a principle without putting forward any cut and dried political scheme. I believed then, and believe now, that a just scheme of Home Rule would contribute to the strength of the Empire, and was prepared to express my opinion to that effect.
– The Minister stated that he had no objection to- personal expressions of opinion outside, but thought it was undesirable that there should be any official expression of opinion from within.
– That is immaterial now. So far as honorable members on this side of the House are concerned, the resolution would have merely expressed an opinion for the information of those at Home who cared to make themselves acquainted with it. It was owing to the amendments proposed bv honorable members opposite that the resolution took the form of an address to His Majesty.
– Could not the Prime Minister have avoided voting for a motion to which he objected?
– I did not think that I should be justified in voting against the motion because it proposed to make an appeal to His Majesty. That did not warrant me in voting against a declaration in favour of a just scheme of Home Rule.
– In fact, the Prime Minister, regarded it as a small matter.
– No,* I did not ; but, as the honorable member knows very well, in public life our choice is in most cases not between “the course one would follow in every particular, but between, the only courses then open. We simply declared for justice. When it became a’ matter of choice between voting for or against an expression of opinion in favour of a just scheme for Home Rule., not otherwise defined, though it was accompanied by what I regarded as an unwise and unnecessary petition to His Majesty, I preferred to vote for the just scheme. I could not honestly vote against justice.
– The Prime Minister might have brought down a motion of his own.
– I communicated to honorable members on this side of the House the amendments that I proposed to move, and received an intimation that they would be, supported ; but the action taken by honorable members opposite prevented the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne from withdrawing the portions of his motion to which objection was taken.
– Does the Prime Minister think that, as a Parliament, we had authority to represent the people of Australia! in the matter? That was my main point.
– Yes, that was the right: honorable gentleman’s main point, and I told him, in reply, that, when challenged, we were fully entitled to express our opinion. The wisdom, or otherwise, of adopting that course is another question. As to our right, there can be no doubt. In the absence of all criticism upon our conduct during the recess-, even in the manymatters mentioned in the GovernorGeneral’s speech, I am obliged to refer to the criticism which has been directed to myself. The leader of the Opposition was good enough to quote from my assertions that the co-existence of three relatively equal parties in this House was detrimental to responsible government. I have said that often, and, if it will satisfy the right honorable gentleman, will say it again. I have not altered that opinion, nor do I see any reason to alter it. We are carrying on constitutional government in this country - as we have been for the past three years - under the greatest disabilities, and while three relatively equal parties exist these disabilities must continue. I do not think any one in this House, or out of it, has risked more than I have in endeavouring to bring about a legitimate solution of the problem. I am not concerned now with personal justification, if such were needed. Other opportunities for that have been presented, and will still be presented. I simply mention the fact that I have gone to the extreme length that I thought just a’nd fair in order to put an end to the three-party system, so far as it could be brought to an end, in order to permit of constitutional government being effectively carried on. I am bound to ad- mit, however, that, so far, I have by no means succeeded to the extent that I desired, But, even in the facet of the division of my party, and against the desires of some of my oldest and best political friends, I was not afraid to take the course in 1904 which I thought would have fed to a proper andreasonable arrangement of a working character. I do not for one moment regret having sought that which I think it was the duty of each one of us to seek - that is, to endeavour, as far as lay in our power, to modify existing party relations to the degree necessary to give us an united and distinct responsibility on the part of the majority in this House.
– The Prime Minister has already said that he never intended that condition of things to last.
– Which condition of things ?
– The condition of things which the honorable and learned gentleman has just now suggested, the alliance in connexion with which he took such risks in order to restore responsible government.
– T took the risks of entering into an alliance in the hope that by that means we should have a closer approach to responsible government. We have had constitutional government and responsible government of a kind. If there were thirty parties instead of three in the House, each independent of the other, we should have constitutional and responsible government, but it would not be consistently effective government as it ought to be in the interests of the people. In order to secure more effective government, I took that risk of alliance.
– The honorable and learned gentleman has stated since “that he took that course only to gain breathing time. .
– That was- stated in the agreement which was signed at the time. We knew that the alliance was made between two different parties who. on the fiscal question, were at absolutely opposite poles. Consequently we sunk the fiscal question for a fixed and definite term in the hope that by the time it expired we might have arrived at some arrangement of a mutual character which would have enabled us without any breach of fiscal faith to continue to carry on. But that was only a. hope, and it was always recognised that’ if that hope failed, quite apart from our own choice, and by the very force of events, we must necessarily resolve ourselves into our original parties. That was plainly foreseen, and expressly provided for.
– That was not what the honorable and learned gentleman said at all. He said something quite different.
– What I have said is said, and remains on record. I only hope that when I am .quoted the whole of the context of my remarks will be quoted ir. each case.
– What have some of the honorable and learned gentleman’s political friends on this side said about it?
– They are as free to express their own opinions as I am to express mine. However deeply they dissent or have dissented from the view I have taken, so far as mv judgment on the matter is considered, I have dona right. I was and am bound to follow the course which commends itself to my judgment, irrespective of the criticism of friend or foe. What I was about to say was that, so far from having suddenly sprung my objection ro three parties upon the House and the country, r proclaimed it directly it became necessary, and that was on the first occasion on which I addressed the public after the election at the close of 3903, when the three parties were returned in relatively equal numbers. It was when speaking at the Australian Natives Association’s annual January celebration I first called attention in a pointed way, and with emphasis, to the existence of the “three elevens,” and the necessity for ending or mending their separate and conflicting feuds by a partial and temporary fusion *in order that practical legislation and consistent administration might be secured.
– It had existed during the previous Parliament
– In a much modified form, because we had taken some considerable time to settle down, because while the fiscal question was1 before us we were divided practically into two parties, and because the work of Federal organization in which we were engaged removed a number of questions from the immediate political arena, the consideration of which at the time would otherwise have divided us. A similar condition of affairs existed to a certain extent in the previous Parliament, but only in a form which had been in existence in every State Parliament, and with which we were quite well acquainted.
The situation only became impossible at the close of the elections in 1903. It was before Parliament met that I expressed what the right honorable member for East Sydney chooses to call my abnormal appetite for alliance. Given three relatively equal parties, how can you carry on the business of the country without either an alliance or an understanding between two out of the three parties? It was impossible. We tried it in this House, and, of course, our Government went clown early in the life of the Parliament. I have never complained that it did go down, because if it had passed the particular difficulty by which it was then faced, sooner or later the other two parties would have united against us, and we should have gone out. There is no reason for complaint because we went out. The Labour Party then came into power.
– Is the statement that I quoted from the newspaper to the effect that the honorable and learned gentleman made some offer to the Labour Party to continue in office inaccurate?
– I am coming to that. It says a great deal for the right honorable gentleman’s lapses of memory to bring up as an entirely new accusation of his against me now what was made an accusation against me at the very time when I was in negotiation with him. I was then publicly reproached by members of the Labour Party, because I had been in communication with them after leaving office. I made public representations to the Labour Ministry that if they would consent to limit their measures for the session, or for a further time, to those which we were mutually agreed upon, and would consent to leave the rest of their programme in abeyance, I should be only too glad to keep them, or any other Ministry, in office, on the same terms.
– I never heard of that offer until now.
– I was attacked again and again, and had to defend myself in the right honorable gentleman’s hearing in this House on thai very ground. The right honorable gentleman will find from Hansard that I was censured in and out of the House, not bv his own friends, but by members of the Labour Party, who thought that, after making that offer, although it was not accepted, I should have given, them a longer opportunity of showing what the future might enable them to do.
– I knew that the honorable and learned gentleman had been in communication with the Labour Party, but I did not know of any distinct offer.
– It was stated in the press at the time, and the resolution in reply carried by the caucus was published. My offer was made in the very town-halt speech from which the right honorable gentleman quoted to-day at a gathering at which the leader of the Labour Party, then Prime Minister, was present. I then made an appeal to him to give the guarantees I have mentioned, and! pointed out the conditions on which he could secure a majority to support him. So far from being secret, the matter was proclaimed from the house tops. It was often mentioned here afterwards, and yet the leader of the Opposition comes down in this extraordinary fashion to-day as if he had made a remarkable discovery.
– The Vice-President of the Executive Council suggested that the newspaper from which I quoted forged that report. Bte sa.i,dr that the statement appearing in the newspaper was manipulated ; so he could not have known anything about it.
– The information appeared so often in the newspapers that it could not have escaped the attention of a single member of the House. I have no wish to go over the whole matter again in detail, but when the Labour Party came into power, they too tried1 the experiment of one party out of three relatively equal parties governing without an understanding with any other party. Finally, they arrived! at an understanding with a portion of our party in order to maintain themselves in office ; the very thing I had been pointing to as an absolute necessity if constitutional government were to be carried on. Then came the motion by which they were defeated. So far as I was concerned when I undertook to support the proposed amendment in the Arbitration Bill, as I said at the time, and as I have repeated over and over again since, I had not the faintest suspicion that it would be made a vote of want of confidence. The Labour Ministry was bound to go out as our Government went out, and as any Ministry jj. formed from a single one of the three parties must go out. There was no question about that, but I have always regretted that the Labour Government left office so soon, as well as that they resigned on that- particular topic. There were larger matters upon which it was inevitable that they must come into conflict with the other two parties in the House, and on which thev would have .gone out, but with much less bitterness and on what I would have considered a more appropriate occasion. I was utterly irresponsible for the particular time and manner in which the Labour ‘Government went out.
– Surely the honorable and learned gentleman was not irresponsible?
– Ves, because I had pledged myself to support that particular amendment in the Arbitration Bill when it had no party significance. It was not until days afterwards that the Ministry decided to regard it as a vote of want of confidence. When I agreed to support it, I had no idea that it would be made a Ministerial issue.
– They were not ‘defeated on a particular amendment, but on a motion to go into Committee to consider it, and the honorable and learned gentleman voted with us on that motion.
– Because we had already, in connexion with the question of preference, agreed to conditions which I considered necessary, and naturally I did not consent to those conditions being altered. However, the Labour Government must have resigned, and it was only the choice of that or some other motion on which they should retire very shortly. I should have preferred if they had left office on a broader question. It was again an attempt by one of the three parties to govern the House without any alliance or understanding with either of the other parties, though eventually, they had an understanding with a portion only of our party. That is the position to-day. The right honorable member for East Sydney exults in comparing the numbers Ministers have with the numbers they ought to have. I would prefer the numbers we ought to have. I would much prefer to have a majority of our own party. No one denies that. But in the meantime, the King’s Government must be carried on, and the business of the country must be transacted. So long as it is transacted in accordance with the programme and principles we submitted to the constituencies, we shall be only doing our duty) to continue where we are. I recognise, however, that so soonas the right honorable gentleman comes to an arrangement with the other party our Government too must go out. Previous Governments have fallen in that way in this House, and our turn will come whenever the majority chooses. We have no control over the Labour Party. We offered them nothing save that which is embodied in our programme. We have no undertaking with them with regard to the next elections. We have their general resolution, already published, to give us a support
– It is not the Prime Minister’s fault that there is no undertaking.
– Certainly not; but it is the fact. Here we stand, united with, them in a general way on the business that is being done in this Parliament. Individual members are perfectly free-
– Were portfolios offered members of the Labour Party ?
– Not that I remember.
– The honorable member for Kennedy, according to statements in the press, has said that there was such an offer.
– I do not think that he did. If my memory serves me rightly, the Labour Party’s resolution, to have no alliance, was passed some months before. That put their acceptance of portfolios out of the question.
– Were they offered?
– As I have already said, I remember nothing of the kind. Such an offer would have been practically meaningless, and hence there could have been, no communication on the subject of portfolios. The honorable member for Kennedy said, I believe, that had the Labour Party chosen, it could have secured portfolios. Of that there is no doubt. Had they cancelled their previous resolution, and agreed upon the terms on which they would unite with any other party, they certainly would have had an offer of portfolios from my right honorable friend, the leader of the Opposition, or from myself.
– The honorable and learned gentleman should speak for himself.
– I am speaking with due regard to our experience of the right honorable gentleman. Has he not told us that he could not have carried any of the legislation .he passed when Premier of New South Wales except with the assistance of the Labour Party ?
– In one Parliament I had a majority independent of the Labour Party.
– They simply swelled the majority.
– That is not the right honorable member’s statement.
– In one Parliament I had a majority independent of the Labour Party, and in another I had not.
– In a statement here in the State Hansard made at the close of his Ministerial career in State politics, the right honorable gentleman admitted that, but for the Labour Party, he could not ha:ve passed a single measure.
– I quite agree that I could not have passed the biggest measures, and they were measures for which I had fought all my life.
– Were they not on his platform ?
– The Labour Party in the State Parliament adopted part of his platform when they went to the country. When I stated a short time ago that those who looked for the support and assistance of the protectionists of this country must consent to meet the needs of our injured industries, by granting protection to them, the right honorable gentleman said I was offering an insult to both parties. Yet he offered precisely the same insult to the Labour Party in the Parliament of New South Wales when he .asked its protectionist members to sink their fiscal principle in order to help him to carry his land tax proposals.
– He did not ask them to do anything, of the kind.
– I never asked them to do a single thing.
– I have heard protectionists, who were at the time members of the Labour Party in the New South Wales Parliament, say again and again in this House that the reason they put aside protection for the time was to enable them to support the right honorable member for East Sydney’s Government in carrying the land tax proposals.
– That is right.
– Therefore, according to the right honorable member, when he asked them to do that, he offered them an insult.
– I did not ask them to do anything.
– The right honorable member asked them to put aside their fiscal faith in order to achieve another of the objects they had before them.
– They were at liberty to do whatever they pleased. They could have voted against me just as well as for me.
– And they can vote against me just as well as for me. The two positions are precisely the same. The La- bour Party support this Government as long as they please - they are free to determine for themselves how long that shall be - just as the Labour Party in the Parliament of New South Wales supported’ the right honorable member for East Sydney. They thought that he was giving them legislation which they preferred to any other then possible. That is the. position of the Labour Party in this House, and as long as they hold it they are likely to support the present Administration. They are under no pledge to me or to any one else. When they think the leader of the Opposition can serve them better, they will give him the support that they gave him formerly.But I have been led aside by my ingenious friend, the honorable member for Dalley. I was speaking of the three-party system in this House. I have criticised it from the first, and do not admire it now; but it is here, and we have to live with it. All that I have to say is that when the leader of the Opposition twits me, as he continually does on the platform, with consenting to do the business that we were returned to do with the help of a second party, and without a majority of our own, he points to the existence of a condition of things that I deplore, and would gladly avoid. At the same time, he does not remember, or chooses to forget, that there are worse evils than that of threeparty government. Our position would be indefensible if it involved the sacrifice of the principles on which we were returned, and that is whatthe right honorable member tried to wring from us when we attempted to work with him to displace the three-party system.
– That is notquite fair to me. Mr. DEAKIN. - If he had succeeded in going to the country as he proposed, without warning to his allies, who had placed him in office, kept him there and were prepared to keep him there, he would have caught the protectionists between the Labour Party on the one side and his own friends and supporters on the other so as to make Tariff reform impossible for years.
– Would the right honorable member for Balaclava have been a party to such a thing?
– The right honorable member freed the right honorable member for Balaclava and’ his colleagues from such an imputation by stating in this House, in reply to me, that he took a personal, and not a Ministerial, responsibility for his course in postponing Tariff reform indefinitely.
– How could one help taking a personal responsibility?
-The right honorable member, who expressly fread his colleagues from the imputation of responsibility, is now asking me to accept their acquiescence as warrant for something, the sole responsibility ofwhichhe took upon his own shoulders.
– There was no division in the Cabinet on. the subject.
– Because, according to the right honorable member’s own statement, the Cabinet was not consulted on this point. Although I cannot, for the moment, place my hand on the statement, I shall be able to give him chapter and verse for it within a few minutes. I was asked, by way of interjection, I think, why I did not attack the right honorable member’s protectionist colleagues, and replied that I understood he had! already freed them from responsibility in this matter.
– What matter?
– The proposal that, by means of a surprise dissolution, the fiscal truce should be prolonged till 1909 or 1910. That was the rock on which we split.
– Does the honorable and learned gentleman think that a speech can be put in the mouth of the GovernorGeneral by one Minister without consultation with his colleagues?
– No; but I have been relying on the right honorable member’s statement, and shall continue to rely on it until he reads it from Hansard, and deliberately withdraws it.
– What was done in that connexion was done by the unanimous voice of the whole Cabinet
– The honorable member refers to the framing of the GovernorGeneral’s speech at the opening of last session ?
– Yes - the course proposed to be adopted.
– That course, so far as it affected the fiscal question, involved the burial of the Tariff Commission’s reports - if they were of a fiscal character - till 1909, and the light honorable member for East Sydney, correctly or not, took upon his own shoulders the whole responsibility.
– How could I speak of what was to happen in 1909-10?
– The right honorable member attempted to get a new Parliament elected on other issues, and’ pledged to prolong the fiscal truce.
– Who, except the honorable and learned member, ever said that that course did involve the sinking of the fiscal issue till 1909-10?
– The leader of the Opposition has said over and over again in this House and on the platform that it did.
– That is a point on which the protectionists in this corner feel very much aggrieved.
– They, must feel aggrieved! not with me, but with” their own leader, who has made this statement again and again.
– Where is it?
– No; I assure the honorable and learned gentleman that he is entirely wrong. The question of going to the country could not arise until a dissolution had been granted, and we had not got as far as that.
– Here I have it. In volume 25 of Hansard, page 413, I am reported to have said on the 1st August, 1905-
When the Prime Minister -
That is, the present leader of the Opposition - sought to change the policy of fiscal peace until May, 1906, into a policy of fiscal entombment until 1909, the situation was entirely changed.
– Did not his fiscal allies in the Cabinet agree to that?
– I am not aware.
– That was a personal declaration of my own.
What did I say then ?
– And as purely personal I have always treated it, for several reasons. Consequent!)’, by that personal declaration of his, the right honorable member at once revived three parties in this House. He carried with him his own fiscal party. But could we see the fiscal question entombed until 1909? Did not the right honorable member know that he could not expect to carry with him those protectionists who were supporting him ?
Then the right honorable gentleman made this interjection -
They wanted the fiscal peace to last for three parliaments.
– I never got as far as a policy for the country.
– That quotation proves my case. I say again that there are worse things than the three-party problem to consider. The immediately worst thing at that time was the burying of the fiscal question by the right honorable and learned gentleman until 1909, without consultation with his allies, without consultation with those with whom he was supposed to be working, without consultation with those to whom he had promised a full fiscal statement by or before the j st May, 1906.
– The honorable and learned member will see that he destroyed that agreement at Ballarat by giving me notice to quit.
– The quotation does not justify that statement at all.
– Let the honorable member read it as I have done.
– When I got notice to quit the agreement was destroyed.
– No’ word of that speech departed from our agreement. What destroyed it was his own act. What I said then of his negative policy I say still. The right honorable gentleman makes it a complaint that we have said that Socialism and anti-Socialism cannot be defined. As I pointed out to him, by way of interjection, what we have always said, is that his Socialism and antiSocialism cannot be defined. There is one extreme point beyond which even Socialism cannot .go, and that is nationalization of an industrial operation. Yet the right honorable” gentleman, coming forward as an avowed opponent of all Socialism, at the same, time approves the nationalization of our railways.
– Oh, dear ! Railways to spread private enterprise over Australia.
– I undertake to say that in Europe there is not a language in which the right honorable gentleman could make the declaration that he was an anti-Socialist, and couple it in the same breath with the statement that he was a supporter of the nationalization of railways - I cannot go into other enterprises in which we are engaged, and which he also approves - without his being ridiculed if he still claimed to be an anti-Socialist. I shall not allude to old-age pensions’ or the lowering of railway rates.
– All the statesmen who are dead, then, were Socialists.
– I shall not allude to the 101 matters in which the State, in Aus- tralia, intervenes when it thinks it is for the public good. Any one of them would destroy in Europe the claim of a man to be anti-Socialist who at the same time upheld those forms of State action. The member for East Sydney has no possible warrant for assuming that title as indicating his views. Whatever he may be or become, he is not yet an anti-Socialist.
– What .is the Prime Minister’s objective, I should like to know - the Labour Party ?
M!r. Watson. - The honorable and learned member for Parkes pointed that out.
– Now, so far from having sheltered myself behind vague statements, I have been consistent from the first. When I went to Ballarat in 1904 to speak on the methods and organization of the Labour Party to the league which was then founded, and when I gave my friends in the corner the criticism which has been so often read Over to them since for their edification, the proposed resolution put into my hand included a condemnation of “ Socialism,” I handed it back to the committee at once, and said, “ Unless that portion referring to Socialism is struck out I decline to move it. I am not here to criticise the platform of the Labour Party, whatever it may be called, but their methods and organization. Besides-, Socialism .is a. term so differently applied by different persons that it will mean nothing in the motion. Say, if you like, what proposals you object to, bub define them, and say exactly what yow support, but do not hide behind a label which is differently applied bv almost every person who uses it.” I struck out the reference to “ Socialism.” Was not that proof enough of where I stood?
– Oh, oh ! Now the honorable and learned gentleman is a convert.
– The right honorable gentleman talks about my being a convert, if not to Socialism, at all events, to an association with Socialists. Here was a time; when, as he has been reminding us, I was out of office - here was a time when I was criticising the Labour Party, and, as he says, taking hold of every point I could to criticise, yet I refused to make any reference to Socialism, because it would ha.ve been wholly misleading or meaningless.
– The Inter-State Congress had not adopted Socialism at that time.
– Just as far as they have adopted it now. The next time I spoke at Ballarat, a year ago, was just before the dissolution speech was put in the hands of the Governor-General. At that time, still out of office, I repeated the same remark - that a criticism of Socialism or anti-Socialism was futile unless it was accompanied by a definition of what you included under the one and excluded under the other. I devoted myself to a consideration of both sides, which occupies several pages of a reported speech, that is either in everybody’s hand or can be easily acquired. I went through the rival programmes, and pointed out how far we were socialistic in this country, how far we ought not to be socialistic, and how far we ought not to be anti-socialistic ; where we ought to draw the line between the two, how we ought to measure their advantages, and put both of them on a business basis. I pointed out that one question to be considered of each project was, “ Did it pay ?’ ‘ and that another question was, “ How did it fit in with the socialistic structure we have erected and are living in ?”
– What is the honorable and learned gentleman’s opinion about that now ?
– I said then what I say now, that, using the terms strictly, in my opinion not 10 per cent, of the people of Australia would, on a scientific classification, having regard to our present systems of government, be called Socialists. I went on to say that, taking anti-Socialism as defined by the right honorable gentleman in his programme, I did not believe that 10 per cent, of the people of Australia would support that attitude.
– The honorable and learned gentleman wiM be on a lovely fence before he is done with it.
– I do not wish to follow the right honorable member’s precedents of that kind. I pointed out that 80 percent. of the people of Australia looked at this question as the honorable member for Moira did yesterday - from a practical common-sense stand-point. They said, as the leader of the Opposition sometimes does, “ If this is a reasonable proposition, which will be good for the people of this country, not too costly, and reasonably effective, we are perfectly prepared to use it, brand it with whatever name you like, call it Socialism, anti-Socialism, or anyother ism.” When the right honorable member was having a troubled existence in the Parliament which he did lead, the only measure of his own that he did carry was denounced as socialistic legislation by the most thoughtful and careful students of the question in his own party. Consequently, when he was in power, he was under the taboo of his own followers, who were really the anti-Socialists.
– Oh, no, I was not. I had a grand solid army in those days.
– In each Chamber his friends condemned bis Bill as distinctly socialistic. How, then, when it suits him to take off one hat and put on another, can he consider that by changing his hat he changes the man underneath, it ?
– The honorable and learned gentleman wears both hats.
– I wear neither.
– Well, is the honorable and learned gentleman a Socialist or an antiSocialist ?
– F rom the E European n stand-point - from the stand-point of the fiscal party with which the right honorable gentleman is allied in English politics, we are all Socialists in this country. From the stand-point of extreme Socialism, we are most of us clubbed antiSocialists - it all depends on the point of view. If you desire to judge our Government to-clay what are they to be judged on ? First of all on what they have done, and next on what they propose to do. Take the record of last session and read it through. Pick out! our measures, and say which are socialistic and which arte anti socialistic. Neither the name “ socialistic “ nor “ antisocialistic “ applies with any fitness to a single measure passed’ last session. Now take the programme for the coming session. Take the actual business with which we have to deal, and not any “isms” or “ ologies “ or abstract propositions, - lake our concrete propositions. Take to-day’s programme measure by measure, and ask yourselves, “ Is this socialistic or antisocialistic?” It will be found that neither name fits a single measure. All the Bills are practical. Is the measure for the destruction of monopolies socialistic or anti-socialistic? All depends on how it is proposed to destroy the monopolies, as the right honorable gentleman has said- This shows that neither name can be fittingly applied to the measure.
– It depends on whether a measure is popular or not.
– What I have said of this Bill applies to .every other item on the programme. They are business proposals for business purposes, call them what you please. The people of this country will neither accept them because they are called socialistic, nor reject them because they are anti-socialistic. They will look at each measure on its merits. If they approve, they will accept it, call it what we will ; if they disapprove of a. measure, they will reject it. call it what we will. That is why I say that when Che right honorable the leader of the Opposition, instead of criticising the programme of work - with the one single exception of one part of the anti-trust Bill - sweeps the whole of our measures aside, he gives his case away. He admits that, so far as our programme is concerned, his cry does not fit. He therefore attempt’s to distract attention from our programme, and to put a false issue before us in regard to some “ism” or abstract idea - not an issue connected with the concrete business we are here to consider’ and do, but some abstract theory we are not here to consider, and could not give effect to if we would.
– Does the Prime Minister call the beacon light and objective of the labour movement an abstract idea, or a bogy ?
– I ask him what he calls the beacon, light and objective of the items embodied in our programme? I ask him are they, or are: thev not, justified on their merits?- The fact that other proposals are in the Labour Party’s programme does not disqualify them or relieve him from examination and criticism.
– What about the tobacco monopoly ?
– The honorable and learned gentleman is sound on that. He says that all that is required is regulation.
– Exactly. Th* Bill we have before us for the preservation of Australian industries will incidentally be sufficient to deal with that monopoly. I previously digressed in response to interjections when making some remarks on the fiscal situation, to which I am now obliged to call attention for a moment or two before sitting down. But I must relieve myself from one imputation, though I do not attempt to do so in regard to many others, because that has been already done sufficiently. I must relieve myself from a new imputation, so far as I am concerned, with which the right honorable the leader of the Opposition has been good enough to favour me. The right honorable gentleman complains that at the time he was appointing the Tariff Commission, I did not warn him of the serious consequences likely to ensue to the Government because of that Commission. Why should I attempt to warn the right honorable gentleman of what he himself warned the House in. stronger language than I should have liked to use? Speaking on the 26th October, 1904, and looking forward to the Tariff Commission–
– That was long after the Royal Commission Had been resolved on.
– No; it was not long after it had been resolved on. It was not appointed for months after.
– Were my remarks not made on Supply, when the honorable and learned member for. Indi submitted a motion ? That was long after the Commission had been resolved on.
– It was on the Budget, and the honorable and learned member for Indi moved by way of amendment that the proposed vote be reduced by1s. On that motion the right honorable the leader of the Opposition himself said- -
If either wing of the Government finds that a difficulty has arisen under which the loyal protectionists and the loyal free-traders find it impossible to continue together on the present basis, Ithink I can say for my protectionist colleagues, as well as for my free-trade colleagues, that from that moment we part company.
Then a little lower down the right honorable gentleman said -
That is the basis on which the Government rests. The moment that that basis becomes impossible, the existence of the Government becomes impossible.
So it will be seen that the right honorable gentleman at the time when the appointment of the Tariff Commission had just been resolved on. saw the whole situation so clearly as to say that when the reports of the Commission came down, if the raised the fiscal issue, they would divide the then Government, and make its existence impossible. The reports might separate the protectionists on the one side from the freetraders on the other.
– I did not say that the Tariff Commission’s reports would do so, but “ if they do so.” That was looking two years ahead.
– Exactly, and we were looking two years ahead then, and still looking eighteen months ahead when I spoke at Ballarat, though the right honorable gentleman then declined to wait a moment longer. _ But he saw at the time when this Tariff Commission was granted that its reports might sever his own Government; and when he complains that I did not warn him, I have only to remind him of what he himself warned’ the House. On this question of fiscal peace I re-echo the statement made by the honorable member for Moira yesterday in regard to the position of our party - a statement which I was glad to hear from his lips, though it was made without my cognizance of his intention to make it ; we had not discussed the question together. The protectionists who went to the country in 1903 on the programme of fiscal peace and preferential trade, tied their hands, in my opinion, against the bringing down, of a complete revision of a Tariff such as we intimated must follow sooner orlater. We said that when a truce was first proposed. Experience required to be gained, and would be gained ; the investigation of the Tariff was to gradually test its fitness or unfitness for Australia. When that had been, done, we stated that we should be prepared to reopen the fiscal question, but until then, our programme was fiscal peace, except as to preferential trade. After that the right honorable leader of the Opposition appointed a Royal Commission to investigate the Tariff, a step of which we had long foreseen the necessity, but which he took, as he has told us to-dav, entirely of his own motion, and with the full approbation of his own judgment. When that Tariff Commission was appointed he foresaw as the Quotation I have read shows what the consequences might be in his own Cabinet.
– Hear, hear !
– And, of course, he foresaw what the consequences might be in the House as well as in his Cabinet. If a report wereto come from the Tariff Commission in which the fiscal question was raised, honorable members would have no other choice except to range themselves under the standards to which they belonged. We are not yet confronted by that situation. The proposals which have been submitted by the TariffCommission so far have been unanimously indorsed. Although it might be said that those proposals do raise the fiscal question, evidently it is felt they do not raise it in any such form as to accentuate the differences between us, so that those particular proposals can be dealt with apart from the fiscal issue. The other recommendations which follow may be of the same tenor, and in that event the fiscal issue will not be raised, and members will vote on merelyfinancial or some similar grounds. But let the Tariff Commission bring clown a proposal which involves the fiscal issue, either for a reduction of duties which we believe to be necessary for Australian industries, or for an increase which we believe to be unnecessary, and at once our fiscal peace and fiscal truce disappear. No protectionists can vote for an antiprotectionist proposal, and no free-trader, if there be one in this House, can vote for an antifreetrade proposal in connexion with an amendment of the Tariff.
– They would not vote upon any report of a Commission, but on some proposal submitted by a Government.
– They would vote, it is true, on proposals submitted by a Government, but the hand of the Government would be forced by any recommendations from the Tariff Commission which involved the fiscal issue. The Government is not a post-office simply to convey to this House the recommendations of the Tariff Commission. When the Commission was proposed to be appointed, and I was challenged as to our position, and the responsibilities we should have towards its recommendations, as it was the work of our own hands, I pointed out that, like every other Commission, it would sift the evidence to the best of ite ability, and would forward its recommendations to Government and Parliament; and that Government and Parliament would then deal with those recommendations in accordance with their principles and their judgment. Now, that will be the course which will be followed!, when this Tariff Commission, or part of this Tariff Commission, makes any recommendations involving the fiscal issue. It will be impossible for this House, or any House, or any Government, to put aside the recommendations of such a Commission without those recommendations halving been considered and deliberated upon. We can neither adopt nor can we set aside the proposals of that Commission without giving them the full and careful consideration which the length and importance of their inquiry demands. Whether it advises a higher duty or a lower duty, the Government and the House must decide for itself in accordance with their principles. They cannot evade or avoid that duty now that we have gone so far, and thev have done so much. Now, sir, one word in conclusion.
– What about the land tax?
– I do not mind responding to that interjection. Neither our programme nor our administration have been assailed. Such a tax is not put forward in the Governor-General’s speech, but I have no wish to refuse its consideration. It suited the right honorable the leader of the Opposition to make it appear that the’ interest that has been taken by myself and others in the land question since the accomplishment of Federation had only arisen during the past few months, since the honorable member for Bland definitely launched his proposal for a progressive land tax. I can safely say that, for my own part, I have, been dealing, so far as opportunities permitted, with the land question ever since Federation, as I did before. The only way in which I can fix the day to which I am about to refer is by saying that I think Mr. Irvine was still Premier of Victoria. The Australian Natives’ Association called a meeting in the Athenaeum Hall, Melbourne - I think it was in the year 1903 - for the purpose of considering irrigation ; and, as much turned upon the land question, I took occasion then, as I have done since, to excuse myself from any comment upon the land taxes passed, by the States in Australia. I surmounted the difficulty, as I have done since, by turning up some of the old speeches delivered by me in the Legislative Assembly of Victoria, which contained mv views upon land taxation, land monopoly, and land generally, reading these extracts out as my then opinions - the opinions which I still hold. That was, as I say, probably three years ago.
– Were those opinions in favour of a. progressive land tax ?
– They included a progressive land tax.
– The Prime Minister’s views include that?
– My personal views always have done. I read those extracts to show that, although an Australian Minister and member, I had not altered the attitude which I had previously occupied in Victoria upon this question. Before the subject came up again, the consideration of the possibilities of immigration had brought me face to face, in a very clear and1 distinct manner, with the urgency of dealing with our great estates of arable land. The honorable member for Moira yesterday gave illustrations from his own experience relating both to this State and New South Wales, of the cases of hard working men - in one instance which he mentioned, the case of a man with money and experience - seeking land from State to State, and unable to find it. It is incontestable that such a state of things exists in several States. It is incontestable that, while that condition remains, it will be idle for us to be offering to emigrants, or would-be emigrants, from the mother country, temptations to come here with such illustrations of the failure of men who know the country, and who can choose their land with wisdom, to find homes for .themselves. Confronted with this additional responsibility with regard to immigration I have, in correspondence with State Premiers and elsewhere, taken every opportunity legitimately open to me of pressing upon their attention, and upon public attention, the necessity of making much more land available. Because, whether we are Federal or State representatives, there are many of us who recognise that the land question is the root of almost’ all other social and political questions.
– The only question is in whose jurisdiction it is.
– Until the land question is settled, no question can be settled finally.
– But can we settle it for the States ?
– The States, or some of them, have been applying themselves to its solution with very imperfect success; and with the States still rests the responsibility of dealing with it. They are the proprietors of Crown lands, and we are not, as a Commonwealth ; though as citizens of States, we are, of course, charged in our individual States with responsibility for what is done. But what we do say - what I do say, at all events - is that, land tax or no land tax, every form of Government which Australia possesses, from the municipalities up to the Commonwealth Government, is properly usable by the Australian people in the endeavour to settle this country. And I say, sir, without criticising State legislation, State action or State inaction, that it is perfectly within the competence of the Commonwealth to enter upon and take its share in dealing with this land question when its legitimate occasion arrives. When we begin to deal with immigration, we begin to deal with the land question. The two are so closely associated that we cannot but turn from one to the. other. What I said at Ballarat - of which the right honorable member chose to read only one portion - was that I intended in the following week to deal with this land question at length in Adelaide ; that, owing to the length of the speech, and physical exhaustion, I was not prepared to deal with it fully then, ‘and that, therefore, I answered a few of the questions put to me out of courtesy.
– The questioner stuck to the honorable gentleman like a man.
– And my answers were in conformity with the answers previously and since given by me on this question. I said that I would deal with it at Adelaide within a week; and at Adelaide within a week I did deal with, it at length - again, to the extent of two or three pages of my printed speech. So that just as with the question of Socialism and Anti-Socialism, I made my position perfectly clear in South Australia. I showed the other Federal issues with which it is and must be associated. Between my meeting in Adelaide and tha meeting which was held in Sydney, the Premiers’ Conference took place. The Premiers, at that Conference, despite the very friendly argument which I addressed to them, chose to carry two important resolutions. I pointed out that if those two resolutions were to be accepted by the people of Australia, land taxation, instead of being a theoretical proposal, would become a practical proposal forced into the arena by the declaration of the Premiers that old-age pensions would require to be provided for out of some fresh source of taxation.
– They deny that.
– They do not .deny it. One Premier said that he was willing to make certain Customs concessions, which were mentioned at the Conference. I invited an expression of opinion upon the subject, and pointed out the importance of such an expression of opinion, stating that if we had the assurance that the Premiers would consent that part of the Customs revenue should be used for old-age pensions, that would relieve the pressure upon us, but that if we did not obtain more of the Customs revenue, they were in effect bidding us to resort to direct taxation. They discussed the question amongst themselves, and refused to put on record any resolution consenting to our taking any further portion of the Customs revenue. Therefore, I was bound to point out - owing to this development having taken place after I spoke at Adelaide, and at Ballarat - that, as I had shown at Ballarat, the land question was intimately associated with Federal finance, and with the question of immigration. That position is indisputable.
– Then are we to have three taxes upon land ?
– It is for the citizens of Australia to determine whether they will have one. three, or thirteen taxes upon it.
– Why not have a tax upon the banking incomes that people make out of land - on the mortgagees as well as the mortgagors ?
– 1 pointed out that it was perfectly within the competence of this Parliament to deal with all forms of direct taxation, and that no form of direct taxation was likely to afford it the same opportunities of dealing with settlement and immigration as land taxation. But in making that statement I committed no colleague of mine, nor the Ministry, because, so far, the Government has not considered either land taxation or several other alternatives in connexion with the land question, which may come before the consideration of this Parliament before long.
– Are we Jo understand that the Prime Minister himself is in favour of a progressive land tax ?
– I have said that when I had the responsibility of dealing with land taxation in the Victorian Parliament I favoured the taxation of unimproved land values on the progressive principle. I have not altered my opinion since then, but speaking either individually, or as the head of this Government, I make no promise of Federal land taxation. My colleagues have vet to consider not merely land taxation, but whether the land question does not call for consideration at our hands in connexion with other proposals which may accomplish the same end1.
– Somebody will go up in a balloon when the Government do consider it in Cabinet.
– It has taken the Prime Minister half-an-hour to say nothing.
– I am sorry that my honorable friend, who was a Minister of the Crown in New South Wales for a considerable period, cannot realize that in this instance, as in many others, each Minister owes an obligation to his colleagues. I will not place any of my colleagues or supporters in a false position by declarations which, at present, are merely abstract and theoretical. When the Government entertains any intentions in this regard, they will submit a concrete proposition, which the honorable member will be unable to make sport of in this way. In the meantime, the Government have not considered the tax. and its prospects are matters of speculation, and not of fact.
– The Treasurer has already expressed a personal view.
– The Treasurer has expressed a personal view upon one form of land taxation for a particular purpose - a view which he is perfectly entitled to hold.
– That is all that we desire to obtain from the Prime Minister.
– The honorable member wished to obtain from me either more or less than that. The question of immigration will bring us face’ to face with the land question, whether we like it or not, within a comparatively short space of time, and both members and Ministers will be obliged to consider them with an open mind. Nothing in my past or present opinion supplies any obstacle to our dealing with both fully and effectively. The Federal power is ample, though many have not yet realized ils scope in these directions. Beyond that I decline to be drawn at the present stage.
– Why is the Prime Minister so sensitive about the inclusion of the Railway servants in the Arbitration Bill being a violation of the Constitution and so indifferent about State rights in regard to land taxation ?
– When the time comes, if any land taxation proposals are submitted, I shall be able to show the right honorable member a broad distinction. I cannot show him a distinction between something which exists and1 something which does not now exist. I should have concluded my remarks half-an-hour ago had I been permitted to follow mv own line of thought. What I desire to say is that the Government have submitted a programme, which so far has not been challenged. It consists of practical proposals of pressing importance, which are capable of being dealt with. With due respect to the honorable member for Barker, I say that all of these proposals are capable of being dealt with this session if we could persuade ourselves to deal with “them as business men on business grounds. I am sorry that I have spoken for an hour-and-a-half. under pressure, because I wished to set an example which might be followed. But, having disposed of the personal, the abstract, and the remote, I ask honorable members to coma back to the business that is actually before us. I invite them to establish a record1 by making the debate upon the Address-in-Reply the briefest that- has yet taken place.
– Notwithstanding that the GovernorGeneral’s speech contains 36 paragraphs.
– But the greater portion of that speech relates to proposals which will come before us in a direct form, and can be much better debated when we have specific propositions submitted. They can then be dealt with, point by point, and statement by statement. Criticism of our administration during the .recess we are of course open to, although we have had none yet. But r do hope that we shall not begin to discuss in open debate what we must soon debate in Bills. With the assistance of honorable members there is no- reason why we should not dispose of the whole of the business that has been outlined by the Government in time for a reasonable dissolution. The Ministry are anxious to be as considerate as possible to every honorable member. But we ought to realize that this is the last session of the present Parliament, and to recognise that before we go to the country, we have a great deal of work to dispose of, some of it of enormous importance, and all of it of great practical utility. I feel sure that I shall I do appeal to honorable members in vain. I do not ask them to weaken their criticism of the Government, but to shorten it, so as to enable us in the briefest possible time to get over a stage which, except for the opportunity it presents of criticising our deeds during the recess, is really becoming a useless survival.
– Our trouble is that we cannot understand the honorable gentleman.
– If the honorable member will afford us the chance of dealing with our definite proposals he will begin to understand me little by little.
– The Prime Minister’s speech to-day has given intense delight to the Labour corner.
– And also to the honor- . able member himself. Several times his face has been wreathed in smiles.
– I think that we have had the best of it.
– I dismiss the ViceRegal Speech, which has not been challenged. I dismiss the possibilities of the remote future. I ask the House to come; to business, to enable us to rise as early as possible in order that we may consult our constituents as soon as the electoral rolls are available. My honorable colleague, the Minister of Home Affairs, will shortly be able to lay on the table of the House a paper showing that since the Electoral Act was passed not a day has been lost in pressing forward all the necessary steps precedent to a general election, and that even now we are .anticipating a favorable decision of the House in regard to the redistribution of seats, so that no time shall be last at any .stage. The electoral officers throughout the Commonwealth are acting, and every possible step is being taken to expedite putting the rolls in proper order. At the earliest moment that the very complicated necessities of dealing with this enormous Commonwealth electorally permit, we shall inform the House, probably within a week or two, of the margin of choice afforded. We shall be able to demonstrate easily that, instead of hanging back, or even waiting for authority, we have pushed ahead, so that it would have been impossible to have the rolls prepared earlier than the date which we shall name as that at which the House can go to its constituents.
– Do I understand the Prime Minister to say that the Government are going on with this matter at once?
– We are going on with it now.
– This is a non-party question.
– The resolutions will be proceeded with early, and meanwhile we are avoiding, by the steps we are taking, all possibilities of delay.
– There are two Victorian schemes : which is to be adopted ?
– The second; which was promulgated, with maps, within the last few weeks. The first has. lapsed.
– I am verv sorry to h,°?.r that.
– In conclusion, let me repeat a few words uttered at the rising of the House last year, as an indication of the course and the policy which we had mapped out for ourselves. The speech of the Governor-General affords proof of our sincerity and earnestness in giving it effect. I then said -
The next election, so far as this Ministry is concerned, will be fought in defence of Australian interests, in the interests of the producers, workers, and consumers, for whose benefit our recent measure - the Anti-Trust Bill - was framed. To protect them against unfair competition, against fraud, against the competition of underpaid and overtasked workmen, Will be the aim of this Government. Speaking as far as it can be outlined, the programme will be protection in al! ils aspects, fiscal, industrial, and against all monopolies; preferential trade with our own countrymen, population for the land, and land for the people.
– I listened with a great deal of interest to the speech of the Prime Minister, and I often envy him the gift of that graceful, elegance of diction and flowery language which holds the interested attention, yet conveys no intelligible meaning to the listener. Honorable members, 1 think, are most anxious for enlightenment upon the attitude of the honorable and learned gentleman and that of his Government in regard to the proposal for a progressive land tax; but he has fenced the question so adroitly that he has left the House in considerable doubt as to his real position, and has provided himself with a number of avenues of escape from possible awkward questioning in the future. Although it is necessary that we should know his exact position in this matter, we are as much in the dark in regard to it now as we were before he rose to speak. It has been not inaptly said of the Governor-General’s speech that, whereas that of last session was the shortest on record, for perhaps one of the longest sessions we have had, this is the longest speech for what will probably be one of the shortest of our sessions. The mover of the AddressinReply practically censured the Government when, at the commencement of his remarks, he declared that the speech contains a number of proposals which cannot be submitted to the House, and carried into effect during the present session. I hold the opinion that, seeing that in the present position of parties, even a semblance of responsible government is impossible, we should confine our efforts this session to absolutely necessary legislation only, and should deal first of all with the proposed redistribution of seats, so as to get an earl) appeal to the electors, and the return of a House which will more closely represent the opinions of the country. At the present time, this House misrepresents the country, because the electors have not had an opportunity to express their opinions on some of the most vital matters proposed for the consideration of Parliament.
– The honorable member should be content to speak for himself. He may misrepresent the country.
– I may fairly claim to represent my own constituency, because I was returned by an absolute majority of votes, but a great many members, especially in the Labour corner, represent only minorities.
– There are more minority representatives on the Opposition side of the chamber.
– We should not permit for any longer than is unavoidable, the continuance of arrangements which, under a pretence of an adult franchise, give people in one electorate three times the voting power of those who live in another electorate. Such a state of affairs is a disgrace to us as a Parliament which should not be tolerated for a moment longer than is necessary. Therefore, if the Government really believe in the principle of equal representation - of one man one vote, which is supposed to be so dear to a certain section of honorable members - they should lose not a moment in bringing about a redistribution of seats, and in immediately remitting to the country for decision all those questions of national importance with which it is proposed to deal. An appeal should be made to the electors as soon as the rolls can be prepared, and I would strongly urge that it should take place not later than October next. If this course were adopted, an opportunity would be afforded to residents in the rural districts to record their votes. When an election takes place in the middle of December, the harvest is at its height, and thousands of men in the country districts cannot leave their occupations to attend the polling booths, because their absence from their holdings at such a time might result in very heavy loss, if not ruin.
– Would the honorable member disfranchise thousands of others for the sake of those whom he mentions ?
– Cannot they vote bv post?
– No. The farmers’ men can better vote bv post.
– I am not wedded to any particular month for the holding of the elections, but I am anxious to bring about an appeal to the country at a time that would be most convenient for the electors generally.
– Hear, hear; say next March.
– The present Parliament must be brought to an end not later than December, lt the honorable member for Bland could suggest any means by which the elections could be put off until March, no doubt his suggestion would meet with ready indorsement by. a number of members. We know, however, that no such delay could take place without an amendment of the Constitution. If the elections are held in December thousands of voters will be disfranchised, and the new Parliament will te composed of members elected in many instances by minorities. That is what I want to avoid, lt should be the desire of all parties to obtain a straight-out verdict upon the main issues submitted to the electors, so that we might have a majority upon one side or the other, irrespective of the interests of parties. It is only by means of such representation that we can arrive at the will of the majority, and if any honorable member can suggest a more suitable time than I have mentioned I shall be only too ready to fall in with his ideas. I am anxious that we should have removed from us the reproach that we cannot induce a majority of the electors to record their votes. How can we do so if the election is held at such a time that thev cannot go to the poll? Whilst the re-adjustment of seats is the first matter that we should take in hand during this session, there are two other important questions to which we might address ourselves, namely, the settlement of the Federal Capital Site, and Federal quarantine. The three matters to which I have referred are the only urgent Questions with which we are called upon to deal, apart, of course, from the granting of supply necessary to cover the period between the dismissal of this Parliament and the meeting of the next. None of these matters need involve any party strife. The Prime Minister has given no clear indication of his intentions with regard to the proposals of the Labour Party. Apparently he is approaching nearer and nearer to their platform. Some little time ago he stated mat the question of land taxation was one entirely within the province of the States, and he declined to recognise that the Federal Parliament had anything to do with it. In the course of his next public deliverance he modified his previous attitude, and, finally, he coquetted with the proposal of the Labour Party for a progressive land tax. His latest utterance on the subject of land taxation is sadly out of tune with his declarations of a short month ago, and he appears now to regard it as, not only advisable, but obligatory upon this Parliament to deal with the question. These three separate declarations have been made within the short space of one month, and show that the Prime Minister possesses a wonderful faculty for climbing down. His utterances of to-day cannot be taken to represent his opinions for to-morrow, and his’ convictions of to-morrow can by no means be relied upon to hold good for the day after. However much we may admire the personal qualities of the Prime Minister, we cannot escape the conclusion that he is a difficult kind of opponent to dea’l with. He Is as slippery as an eel, and exceedingly difficult to handle, because it is impossible to pin him down to any one set of opinions, or any particular line of policy. ‘ At present his great anxiety is to raise the fiscal issue, and yet at the last election he told the country that the time had arrived when fiscal strife should be ended. The Minister for Trade and Customs also declared that the fiscal issue was dead - that it was settled for all time; and vet he is .now joining with the Prime Minister in declaring that fiscal warfare must again be entered upon. I wish to quote the statement made by the Prime Minister upon this subject at the opening session of this Parliament. He said -
If we commence with the acceptance of the fact that the fiscal issue is dead, the way is open for dealing with the practical problems before us with a much freer hand than we have hitherto possessed. Up to the present, considerations foreign to these problems have weighed upon our minds, and have occasionally deflected our views in spite of ourselves. The fiscal issue being put aside, we are free to look these questions straight in the face.
In view of that declaration, we are entitled to ask the honorable and learned gentleman what has brought about this wonderful change in his opinions during so short a period. We can further recollect that when he joined an alliance with the right honorable member for East Sydney, at the time the Reid-McLean Ministry was formed, he still held the view that the urgent need of the country was fiscal peace. Two of his present colleagues, the honorable members for Hume and Indi, at that time broke away from him, and sat in opposition on the cross benches, and declared for fiscal war, whilst the honorable and learned gentleman was himself sitting behind a Ministry that was carrying out his own, policy of fiscal peace. These honorable gentlemen were at each other’s throats at that time, and we now find them sitting together on the Treasury bench in perfect amity, all pledged to fiscal war when they had previously declared that the most urgent need of the country was fiscal peace. This is a most peculiar position for us to face, and it leaves us in doubt all the time as to what ls, the actual attitude of the Prime Minister on all these questions. We have no guarantee that between this and the general election he may not make some other somersault, and once more declare that he is done with fiscal strife for ever. Touching the position of the Government in relation to the Labour Party, we are faced with another peculiar set of circumstances. After the Prime Minister’s declaration in favour of fiscal war, the protectionist manufacturers of Victoria approached the Federal Labour Party with a proposal for an alliance between the protectionists and the Labour Party, on the basis of mutual concessions. That probably was in view of the Prime Minister’s declaration in favour of high protection. What was the (result of that conference? The Labour Party refused to have anything to do with such an alliance, and the Prime Minister was, in consequence, left practically out in the cold Why ha should seek to continue in alliance with a party that repudiates and insults him on every conceivable occasion is more than I can understand. I am unable to understand how any man having a spark of proper feeling can continue to hold office in such humiliating circumstances as those in which the present Prime Minister and his colleagues hold office. Let me show what the official organ of the Labour Party in Queensland says about the Prime Minister. I quote from a leading article in the Brisbane Worker, headed, “ The Perfidious Deakin “-
Laugh and jeer as we may at G. H. Reid, what can we wish him worse than the partnership of Alfred Deakin? He built his little house upon the faith of Deakin ; had he read his Encylopedia Britannica more closely, he might have been forewarned by the parable of the house built upon sand. Deakin is all sand - sand without grit, quick-sand. Woe betide the political wayfarer who ventures his feet that way ! There is no foothold in Deakin. He is true to nobody, not even to himself.
That is the way in which the organ of the Labour Party in Queensland describes the present ally of the leader of the Labour Party.
– Will the honorable member read what they said about the right honorable member for East Sydney ?
– I have already read that what they said was that the worst they could wish him was an alliance with the present Prime Minister.
– They said more than that.
– I’ am not concerned so much with that at the present time.
– The honorable member should read what they said about his alliance with the honorable member for Lang.
– I am not concerned about something which never existed, and I do not think I ever insulted the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, either as a friend or an opponent, but the difference, so far as the leader of the Opposition is concerned, is that the right honorable member for East Sydney is not in alliance with, nor has he any understanding with, the Labour Party. They are not working together, and are not pulling the same coach in double, harness, as is the Prime Minister’s case, and, therefore, anything which the Brisbane Worker may have said in regard to the right honorable member for East Sydney has no application to existing circumstances. The article to which I have referred goes on to say -
Look what has happened. During the crisis that preceded the downfall of the Watson Ministry, Deakin was at one and the same time in secret negotiation with both Reid and Watson ! So Tittle was he concerned about the political principles at issue, that he could not make up his mind which side to join ! . . .
The attitude which the honorable and learned gentleman then assumed is practically his attitude to-day. He is holding out one hand to the leader of the Opposition and the other to the leader of the Labour Party. I will not wound the honorable and learned gentleman’s feelings by quoting what follows. I do not think that he knows even at the present moment what the ultimate result will bc, or where he will ultimately find himself. He has openly favoured the idea of an alliance wilh either party. A Prime Minister holding opinions so elastic may end them convenient to himself, but they are very embarrassing to everybody else, including, 1 suppose, his allies. I wish to say a few words about the speeches delivered yesterday by the honorable members for Barker and Moira. The honorable member for Barker, in referring to the item in the Governor-General’s speech about the acquisition of the Northern Territory, indorsed the idea that it should be acquired by the Commonwealth. I also, with some qualifications, indorse that idea. I think it advisable that, as a Commonwealth, we should acquire as much territory as we possibly can, in view of the future development of Australia in connexion with immigration, the increase of population, and the development of rural industries. I have suggested, and I now repeat the suggestion, that if any scheme is approved of by this Parliament, by which this Territory can be taken over by the Commonwealth, it should be handed over to the Socialists; they should be at liberty to take full control of it, and experiment with their theories in a land absolutely free from all the trammels of civilization as we know itMr. Webster. - Does not the honorable member think that it would be a good place in which to plant the single tax doctrine?
– 1 do, and if the Commonwealth will hand the Territory over to me I shall undertake the administration of it on those lines, with a promise, I believe, of far greater success than is likely to accompany any experiments on socialistic lines, to which the single tax idea is entirely opposed.
– Let the anarchists, like the honorable member, go there.
– That is a stale and oft-repeated joke of the honorable member, which has no application whatever to me or my principles. The administration of 1 he Territory, under my plan, would be carried out on lines of individual freedom 10 the fullest possible extent, consistent with the equal freedom of everybody else. In the course of his speech, the honorable member for Moira referred to the first paragraph of the Governor-General’s speech and the reference to the general prosperity of Australia at the present time. He chided the anti-Socialist, for having declared thai Socialism would ruin the country ind bring about stagflation, and so forth, and, inferentially, associated the progress and prosperity which has marked Australia during the last few months with the socialistic legislation which has been carried by the Commonwealth Parliament, Everybody knows perfectly well that the prosperity we have enjoyed is due, not to any legislation, enacted by the Federal or States Parliaments, but to the good seasons which have occurred all over Australia. I do not think that any Parliament of the States or the Commonwealth Parliament can take any credit to itself for bringing about these conditions. Those conditions have been brought about in spite of legislation passed by these Parliaments.
– Is not the honorable member aware that Mr. Carruthers takes credit for all the good that has happened to New South Wales.
– I do not know that he does, but even in that event I should speak as I have done. As it is now 4 o’clock, I should be glad to have leave to continue ray remarks on a future occasion.
– What further time is the honorable member likely to occupy ?
– At least another halfhour.
– I have no objection. Leave granted ; debate adjourned.
House adjorned at 4.3 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 8 June 1906, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1906/19060608_reps_2_31/>.