3rd Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– I should like to ask the Minister of Trade and Customs, in the absence of the Prime Minister, whether the Government have any objection to the printing and laying upon the table of copies of the report which I understand has been furnished to them by the authorities of New South Wales with respect to the water supply at the proposed Federal Capital Site at Canberra.
– I do not think that there is any objection to that course being taken, and I shall see if the report can be furnished to honorable members.
– I wish to ask a question, without notice, which, if he were present, I should direct to the Prime Minister. As he is absent - and I am sure that we all regret the cause of his being away - I desire to know from the Minister of Trade and Customs if the Government will have laid upon the table of the House a copy of the guarantee entered into by Messrs. Barclay and Company in connexion with the defunct mail contract.
– I believe that Hie whole of the papers in connexion with the contract will be laid upon the table before very long, though I cannot fix the date. No doubt the paper desired by .the honorable member will be amongst them.
– I understand that the Government are not stipulating for the docking in Australia of the vessels to be used under the mail contract- which has been advertised for, it being regarded by the Government as absurd to make that a compulsory condition. I should like to know, however, if they will require the contractors to do their overhauling and ordinary repairs here.
– We cannot alter the conditions which have been published, but if the honorable member has read our advertisement he will see that tenderers are invited to make proposals on a number of subjects in regard to which net conditions are imposed, and it is the policy of the Government to have everything done in Australia that can be done here.
) - The Prime Minister has desired me to say that he hopes that there will be no restriction of criticism in the debate on the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply because of his unavoidable absence through illness, which he and we all regret. He will take an early opportunity, after his return to the House, to reply to his critics, even if the debate on the Address-in-Reply has been closed. I therefore invite honorable members to deal with questions in his absence just as they would if he were present.
-9]– On behalf of honorable members sitting behind me I desire to express our very .great sorrow at the illness which has overtaken the Prime Minister, and our best wishes for his speedy recovery,
MINISTERS laid upon the table the following papers: -
Minute by Sir John Forrest on the suggested Federal Capital Site at Canberra, near Queanbeyan, New South Wales.
Report by the Director of the Naval Forces (Captain W. H. Creswell) for the year 1906.
Report of the Military Board for the year
Transfers of amounts under the Audit Acts approved by the Governor-General in Council - 23rd November, 1906, to 12th June, 1907 - dated 5th July, 1907.
Treasury Regulations Amended - Nos. 47A, 98A, 137, &c, Statutory Rules 1907, No. 40. Nos. 96D, 145, Statutory Rules 1907, No. 41.
Defence - Financial _and Allowance Regulation’s Amended - Provisional Regulations - Military Forces. - No. 130, Statutory Rules 1907, No. 64. No. 206, Statutory Rules 1907, No. 65.
Naval Forces. - No. 69, Statutory Rules 1907, No. 66.
Public Service Act Regulation No. 104 Amended. - Statutory Rules 1907, No. 71.
Post and Telegraph Act, Regulations amended, &c. - Electoral Papers, Statutory Rules 1906, No. 107. Payment of Postage by the Receiver, Statutory Rules 1907, No. 56. Money Orders, Statutory Rules 1907, No. 57. Interfering with Stamps, Statutory Rules 1907, No. 60. General Postal Regulations - Prepayment of Postage, and Telegraphic Regulations - Undelivered Telegrams, Statutory Rules 1906, No. 62. Licences to Sell Stamps, Statutory Rules 1907, No. 31. Private Mail Bags. Statutory
Telegraphic Regulations - Electoral Telegrams; Express Delivery Service; Telephones - Military Lines, Statutory Rules 1906, No. 81.
Recommendations and approval in cases of promotions of - E. W. Bramble, New South Wales, Inspector, to be Senior Inspector, 1st Class; H. B. Templeton, Central Staff, Accountant and Senior Clerk, to 1st Class.
– In the absence of the Prime Minister I desire to ask the Minister of Trade and Customs whether the report which, I understand, has been received from an officer who was specially appointed to inquire into the condition of the finances of the Northern Territory, will be made available to honorable members?
– I have not yet seen the report to which the honorable member refers, but I have no doubt that if it has been received it will be made available to honorable members at the earliest possible moment.
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
The officer in charge of the Barwon polling booth, who was present throughout the polling hours, has no knowledge of any contravention of the law on the part of Mrs. Rawson, and no report has been received.
Debate resumed from 5th July (vide page 192), on motion by Mr. Wise -
That the Address-in-Reply to His Excellency’s Speech, as read by the Clerk, be agreed to by the House.
– I am very glad to have an assurance in the Governor-General’s speech that the Government propose to amend the Electoral Act. There are two or three provisions which I trust will be incorporated in the new Bill when it is brought before this House. I hope that the Act will be so amended as to permit of more than one polling booth being established in any polling district. The fact that under the existing law only one polling place can be appointed in a polling district, constitutes a very serious inconvenience to residents in the back blocks and in scattered rural townships. As far as my own constituency is concerned, I may mention that the township of Broken Hill, being a mining centre, is of an extremely scattered character, and the fact that only one polling place is permitted there prevents a large number of people from exercising the franchise. Under the present Act, we are allowed only four polling places for the whole of Broken Hill and its suburbs, whereas under the State law, the establishment of nine or ten polling booths - or, indeed,, of as many as the Returning Officer chooses to fix - is permitted.
– We can have an equal number under the Federal Electoral Act.
– No, we cannot. That statement shows that the Treasurer does not understand the Act. Only one polling booth is permitted in each polling district.
– But we can have as many districts as we choose to appoint.
– That complicates the position very much. I hope that we shall have the existing state of affairs altered because it constitutes a still more serious handicap to the working classes. The places usually set apart as polling booths in large towns are the local town halls, or some other building which is deemed a suitable one by the Returning Officer. Of course the wealthy classes are able to be driven there in their motor cars or in cabs. But not so the labouring section of the community. I trust that under the new Bill candidates will be permitted to spend a portion of the ,£100 to which their electioneering expenses are limited in the employment of cabs. I think it is only right that they should be free to incur expenditure in that direction if they choose to do so.
– The employment of cabs did not trouble the honorable member personally at the last election.
– It did, because a larger number of my constituents would have voted for me had I been permitted to employ cabs to convey them to the polling booths. Of course I would not have had to pay for the vehicles. Again, I do not think it is sufficient for a candidate merely to be called upon to give an account of the expenditure which he has incurred in fighting his election. I think that every penny of his expenditure - including even personal expenses - should be clearly set out in his schedule, as also the source from which it comes. Every shilling spent in an election should be accounted for. If an organization supplies money for him, that fact should be stated. I entertain no objection to people being allowed to spend money at election times. They have a perfect right to do so - just as much right as they have to expend it in horse racing, or in endowing hospitals and universities. I urge no complaint against funds being spent for political purposes, but I da think we ought to know how such funds are being spent, and where they come from. That is to say, if the Tobacco Trust, or the Shipping Combine, or the Sugar Trust, or the McKay Harvester Co., or Beale’s piano factory,- spend’ money in furthering the interests of a candidate, or if, on the other hand, funds are expended in the interests of the importers, the fact should be made public. If a labour union contributes anything to the expenses of a- candidate, it is publicly known, because an account of the expenditure has to be given to the particular union concerned. The same rule should apply all round, and a full account should be rendered of all expenditure upon behalf ,bf candidates. This is a matter of very great importance at the present moment. Rightly or wrongly, we are about to adopt a protective policy throughout Australia. The result of the recent election was to secure the return to this House of a majority who are pledged to such a policy. Consequently we are about to engage in an attempt to build up industries by Act of Parliament. That may be a good thing in many ways, but in one direction at least it is open to very serious objection. Some little time since I read an interesting article by Mr. T. P. O’Connor, well known to honorable members, both as an English journalist and as a member of the House of Commons-, entitled “America Re-visited.” In this article he made the statement : -
And finally add to these conditions the inevitable condition of Protection as applied to these American conditions - namely, that every industry, every pursuit almost, is the child, the slave, mainly the product of legislation - and you arrive at that dread and that intimate association between money-making and law-breaking which leads to that corruption in public life which to Americans is the greatest blot of their country and the greatest peril to their institutions. ‘
In view of the fact that in future many of our industries will depend largely upon Acts of Parliament - upon duties of Customs and Excise imposed by this Legislature - we may naturally assume that money will be spent in an effort to secure either the retention of the present Tariff or the passing of - a higher one. In these circumstances, therefore, it is necessary that we should know exactly how money has been spent on behalf of a candidate seeking election to this Parliament. I am also anxious that analyses of informal votes shall be made, and a statement given by the Returning Officer for each electorate showing, not merely the number of informal votes polled, but the several causes responsible for their informality. If this were done mistakes might in future be averted, and the number of informal votes considerably reduced.
– The report would be so long that the Returning Officer would practically be unable to read it.
– I do not think we need fear anything in that direction. It would merely be necessary for the Returning Officer to group together the various classes of informal votes, and show that a certain number were bad for such a reason, and another batch informal because of other reasons. I feel confident that the adoption of this course would be found beneficial. I heard with a good deal of satisfaction the announcement that the mail contract had been cancelled. I am prepared to admit that it gave me more than passing pleasure, since I have never wavered in the belief - a belief that I have often expressed in this House - that the true solution of our difficulties in regard to the carriage of our oversea mails is to be found in the establishment of a Government fleet of steamships, controlled by the Commonwealth, and manned by our own people. A few quotations from the Hansard report of the debate on the resolution submitted to the House for the ratification of the mail contract entered into with Sir James Laing and Sons, may not be uninteresting to honorable members. In submitting the resolution the PostmasterGeneral said -
We did not desire to be again placed in a corner. finding ourselves at the last moment practically in the hands of companies which, being the only ones in the trade, could dictate their own terms.
– The Government may be in the same position again, if the ships required under this contract are not built.
– I think I can show that all reasonable and business-like precautions have been taken tq provide against a contingency of that kind.
I like the words “ business-like precautions. “ The honorable member went on to say -
We are dealing with responsible men, whose reputation in the ship-building world is second to none.
Whilst the honorable gentleman was speaking Mr. Lonsdale, who was then the honorable member for New England, interjected
It is a contract with ship-builders.
To this the Postmaster-General replied -
They are the sort of people with whom we desire to make contracts.
The honorable member for Laanecoorie in the course of the debate expressed the opinion that -
The Postmaster-General and the honorable member for Richmond are to be congratulated on the excellent terms they have secured for the Commonwealth. I express that opinion the more heartily because I realize that had it not been for the special efforts put forth by those honorable members, and by the Government generally, we should possibly have been placed in a very awkward position as regards our oversea communication with the old country.
The honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne, Mr. Higgins, whose withdrawal I am sure most of us regret, although we are glad that he occupies a seat on the High Court Bench, also spoke, and amongst other things said -
The more I see of this proposed agreement the more I like it, and the more I think that the Government are to be congratulated.
The Prime Minister closed the debate, and in the course of a magnificent speech said -
The combination which is behind our proposed contract is strong enough to undertake all the tasks which confront them, and strong enough to enter into that other development of steamship communication to which I have alluded.
It will thus be seen that when the proposed contract was submitted to the House it was greeted with a chorus of approval by Government supporters, who expressed their gratification that such an excellent agreement had been arrived at. I think it will be admitted by the Government that after the amendment which I moved had been dealt with I did not harass them in any way. I recognised that my proposal had been fairly and squarely discussed, and after it had been rejected I did nothing to hamper the Government in dealing with the contract. I felt and said that the whole responsibility for the carrying out of the contract must rest with them ; that if it failed they would deserve to lose possession of the Treasury benches. But for the hopeless impossibility of the Opposition, I should say that the Government ought to be dismissed. We can well imagine how the leading newspapers of Australia, would have thundered forth their denunciations of the Watson Ministry if they had been responsible for the bungle which has occurred. Had a Labour Ministry blundered and muddled the arrangements as the present Government have done, what would have been said by the Treasurer? I can well imagine how he would have risen in his place on the Opposition benches and- gesticulated and bellowed. Would he not have said, “ Did I not tell- the House that’ the Ministry does not comprise men of business capacity ? They are men who have been taken from the printer’s shop, from the mines, the shearing sheds, and so forth ; what do they know , of business?” That is what, I venture to say, the honorable member would have contended, and we should then, perhaps, have heard a little more about the Labour Party being in office unconstitutionally, because they were not in a majority. I cannot but again express my pleasure and gratification at the bungle and muddle the Government have made over this a/fair. I have taken the trouble since last we met to gather daily what has been said in the newspapers about the mail contract, and I confess that I agree with- that Scotch divine when he pointed out that David, who said in his anger “that all men were liars,” could have said the same in his calm and deliberate moments. I once read somewhere of a newspaper editor who told Carlyle that he kept two professional liars on his newspaper staff - one to denounce the living, and the other to eulogise the dead. It would seem from what we read in the newspapers that those connected with the mail contract, if they have not kept two professional liars employed, have been able to employ some people who do not know very much about the truth. Last February, when the House met, we were told that Mr. Clarke had arrived in Australia., and that he had come, not to make fresh arrangements with the Government, or to try to get better terms, but to open offices. We were told that he had come to Australia in order to see what business could be done, and, not only to employ clerks, but to build wharfs and clocks.
– We were told that he was going to build a navy.
– We were told that everything was in “ apple-pie “ order and going right. In this connexion I should like to refer to a gentleman whom we have sent to London - Captain Collins. This representative of the Commonwealth was wired to at the time, and asked if it was a fact that Mr. Clarke had left England, and it appeared that, although Mr. Clarke had left six weeks before, Captain Collins had heard nothing about it. In the Australian newspapers of 14th March it was announced that Vickers, Son and Maxim had severed their connexion with the tender ; but it was not until four days later that Captain Collins cabled that information to the Treasurer. At another time Captain Collins stated that the contract was going on all right, because the companies had bought some old scrap iron with which to commence building the ships. I cannot help thinking that Captain Collins is “ wasting his sweetness on the desert air “ in his present office as representative of the Commonwealth in London ; a man so alert, up-to-date, who can get hold of information so quickly and readily, ought to be presented to the Intelligence Department of some enemy or foreign country. It would be of no use to offer this gentleman’s services to the British Government - that would be a “ gift from the Greeks,” worse, perhaps, than the offer of preferential trade. We have a Commonwealth Ministry who are prepared, without a moment’s hesitation, to alter the fiscal policy of an Empire. They are prepared at a moment’s notice to hurl into chaos all the trade and commerce of this great Commonwealth. Yet this great Ministry cannot tell the difference between a concession which is being hawked in the streets of London, and a legitimate tender. “ These are your gods, 0 ve people!” We have been told that it is the machinations of a wicked combine in London which have defeated this new and philanthropic company who desired to render such magnificent service to Australia. If that be so let us fight the combination. If it is a combination that is doing all the mischief let us ourselves, manfully, fight them straight out, and not go behind James Laing, or anybody else. When Parliament last met I urged that we should fight this combination, and I happened to use some words which I admit were prosy and prosaic. I said that if we desired to enter into this scheme, and we were to be met by fair opposition, we could deal fairly with that opposition, but that if we were to be met with unfair opposition, we had resources of civilization at our back. These, as I say, were prosy and prosaic words ; but since then the same idea has been translated into beautiful, eloquent, poetic language by the Prime Minister. That honorable gentleman stated -
So long as the game is played legitimately it is not a matter with which we can interfere, but if private enterprise stands across the path of public interest for its own selfish gain, the people of this country will be very speedily asked whether they do not feel called upon to take a hand in their own protection.
These were valiant words, but what have the Government done? They are going to “ take a hand “ in something, but, I repeat, what have they done?
– They have interviewed the Orient Steam Navigation Company.
– The Adelaide Advertiser, which is a strong Deakinite newspaper, stated that while in England the Prime Minister was really annoyed because the British Government, or the Imperial Conference, were not prepared to take some action - that what he wanted was action, not words. Here was a man who all his life long had allowed the splendour of words to do duty for realities ; and when he declared that he desired action and not words, I felt rather staggered that he should desire to do something besides talk. The Treasurer, in an announcement published in the press on the 20th April, stated that he had received a communication from the Prime Minister, but that there was nothing in it of a definite character. Here we have the Prime Minister’s own Treasurer stating that in a communication received from the former, “ there was nothing of a definite character.” We have been told by the Prime Minister that if this combination in London hurls itself against us the time will come when we must “ take a hand.” How are we going to “ take a hand “ ? First, it seems to me, the Government desired to know what somebody else was going to do - what the State Premiers or the State of Victoria was going to do - and then ultimately they called for fresh tenders. I venture to say that anybody could call for fresh tenders - a child could. That reminds me that Mr. B. R. Wise once said in the State Parliament of New South Wales, “A child can say ‘yes’ or ‘no,’ but it requires a Reid to say ‘ yes ‘ and no ‘ at the same time. “ Therefore, I say, that it does not require a great deal of effort on the part of anybody merely to call for fresh tenders. The members of the present Ministry, we know, have very lofty ideas. I remember the Prime Minister,, at a time when the present leader of the Opposition was at the head of the Government, speaking on preferential trade, and saying that it was sometimes necessary to throw away the humble compass and the ordinary chart and to steer by the stars. I think, sir, that it would not be amiss if the present Govern ment were to cease star-gazing for a little while, and to begin to pay some little attention to every-day life. The Minister of Trade and Customs went with the Prime Minister to England a little while ago. I am very pleased that he should have had a trip to the Old Country. But from what we can learn from the newspapers, I think it can be said of him with even greater truth than it was said by the old Roman general: “I came, I saw, I conquered.” For we understand that the honorable gentleman was able to say, even before he took off his overcoat amidst the luxurious surroundings of the Hotel Cecil, that he had arrived, had seen England, and had conquered it. When an Englishman tours in Australia, and we do not happen to like a man who has been out here about six weeks expressing opinions which do not coincide with our own, we speak of him as being only a globe-trotter who does not understand the position. But I understand that the Minister of Trade and Customs found things out in England very quickly. After he had been a day or two at Home, he expressed the opinion that the last general election in Great Britain was only a flash in the pan. He also stated that England was a country that was living from hand to mouth. Many men might have been dazed to discover such a state of things, but the Minister of Trade and Customs had a solution. It is an easy matter to point out a fault, but of course if you have a solution ready it is much more to your credit. And the Minister had a solution.. He said that if England were to buy wheat from the Colonies- - from Riverina, I presume - everything would be all right and England would be saved. It is strange how easily some people are able to solve great and mighty problems. They can see a nation in penury and point out the way to lift it to plenty in a very little while; and yet in their own country these people cannot fix up a mail contract! It reminds one of the verse -
These lofty souls have telescopic eyes
That see the faintest speck of distant pain;
While at their feet, a world of agonies,
Unseen, unheard, unheeded, writhes in vain.
Again we have been told that it was the shipping combination in England that prevented the successful issue of the debentures of the mail syndicate. But I should like to ask those who are of that opinion whether or not the criticism of the newspapers in Australia did not prevent the company - if it ever had a chance ; I do not think it had - from succeeding? I should like to ask whether the criticisms launched Against it in Australia had not a good deal to do with preventing it from being carried to a successful issue ? The Shipping Commission presented a report to the last Parliament in which it was recommended that the Government of the Commonwealth should undertake the carrying of the mails. The report contained figures proving - as we believed very satisfactorily - that the enterprise would pay and show a credit balance. But what -was the result? The newspapers were not satisfied merely with stating that in their opinion it was an unwise thing for the Government to rush into such an enterprise, but they criticised our figures, and showed to their own satisfaction very conclusively indeed that our statistics y,ere unreliable, and that, indeed, there would be a large loss, instead of a credit. One had only to read the Age, the Argus, the Daily Telegraph of Sydney, and the Sydney Morning Herald, together with the West Australian and other newspapers, to see how these journals laid themselves out to show that our figures were all astray, that our estimated income was inflated, that our estimated expenditure was not sufficiently high. Can we blame the London newspapers, in those circumstances, for publishing such articles as they did? The Age prates a good deal about the policy of Australia for the Australians, and refers to the great future of this country. In our report we calculated that Australia was going ahead, and that in the future there would be a greater volume of trade and commerce than there -is to-day. We thought that we were justified in anticipating that the country would make advances. But the Age, in order to kill what it considered to be our socialistic scheme, was then prepared to argue that we were far too optimistic, and had too great a faith in the future. I was not at all displeased that those articles were published. I knew very well when I submitted my motion in this House that it would be defeated. My honoured and respected leader, as well as one or two other eminent members of my party, decided to vote against it. I was well aware, therefore, that it could not be carried. Consequently I concluded that the articles could have no effect so far as Parliament was concerned. But I thought that the newspaper articles would in all probability be republished in London, and would help to kill the syndicate. Let me quote a sample of an article which appeared in the London Daily Mail. It was written by Mr. H. P. Lyne, an Australian, who wrote -
The finance editor of Daily Telegraph, of Sydney, considers that the freight earnings should be placed at ^’312,000, instead of £468,000, and that in addition to the subsidy of ^’150,000 there would be an annual deficiency of ^’309,000 on the service. Other independent critics foretell a considerably larger loss. The financial aspect of the scheme, in a word, is demonstrably unsound.
Well, I do not think that an article of that kind was very helpful to persons who were endeavouring to float a new company in London. So that I take this opportunity of thanking those people who wrote the articles in the Australian newspapers on this question. They and the Government supporters in the discussion which took place upon my motion helped in the same direction, by pointing out that the figures of the Royal Commission over which I presided were all astray, and that it would be impossible for such an enterprise as we advocated to pay. Besides, they went as far. as to say that the Orient Company had not paid, and that the Peninsular and Oriental Company was not paying so far as its Australian business was concerned. I venture to say that those speeches and those articles had something to do with preventing the flotation of the company, because I do not think for a moment that England is so poor - although she has been described as living from hand to mouth - that, if we could . guarantee to capitalists in London dividends of 4* or 5 per cent, on four or five millions of money, they would not be able to subscribe such a sum in spite of all the Sir Thomas Sutherlands in the world. Again, it was pointed out here that the Government could not raise the money if we went into this socialistic scheme, because the people in England would not subscribe the capital. Yet all that the syndicate required was simply the guarantee of one State for its debentures. If the guarantee of one State was sufficient to enable the money to Le raised, surely if the whole Commonwealth was behind such a scheme, there would be no difficulty in carrying it out.
– The money was not forthcoming when the State of Victoria was agreeing to guarantee tHe debentures.
– The State had not definitely decided to guarantee the debentures. The proposal had to be ratified by the State Parliament, and, further, the State Government were not prepared to give the guarantee unless the second deposit of ^25,000 was put down. The fact remains that these articles and speeches protested rather too much, and I think had the effect I have suggested. But what is to be done now? Fresh tenders are to be invited. Where? In England; this poor country that is living from hand to mouth. We are going to save England by preferential trade, and we are unable to run a mail service unless we go to English capitalists and ask them to build or supply boats for the purpose. Some people who talk a great deal aboutpreferential trade, and what we are going to do for the Empire with that policy, make the claim that we are indeed a great people. It is not a bad thing to talk, but it is a good thing also to do something. As we have been continually saying that we are a great people and a great nation, is it not about time that we proved it by doing something on our own? In my opinion it has been proved that what [ suggest can be done. I am one of those who believe that private enterprise* can make a mail service pay. If the carriage of letters from here to England under subsidized conditions never paid in the past, is not paying now, and is not likely to pay, then those engaged in the business would long ago have abandoned it, because private enterprise never renders any service to a community merely for the sake of doing so. It never renders a service which is not carried out at a profit. If there had been no profit in the shipping business engaged in the carriage of mails it would not have been the labour member for Broken Hill who brought the matter of a State service before Parliament, but it would have been the honorable member for Kooyong, who, in the last Parliament, with such stately dignity arrogated to himself the right to speak on behalf of the commercial classes of Australia. If there had been no profit for private enterprise in the business not only would the Chambers of Commerce have been found supporting the proposal, but behind them there would have been the support of the great dailies of Australia, whose proprietors think more of the advertisements of quack medicine than they do of the welfare of the people. The honorable member for Kooyong would have been supported by the managers of our great’ dailies, who, so long as they bask in the smiles of the rich, are prepared, if necessary, to enthral a nation. I say that private enterprise does make the business pay, because those engaged in private enterprises do not undertake work for the benefit of the general public. A little time ago, to give an instance of this, the Suevic, a great White Star boat, was wrecked on the Cornish coast. Unfortunately, a large quantity of frozen meat cargo was washed out of the ship, and was floating about ir> the sea. It became diseased and corrupted, but it got into some of the little fishing hamlets of Cornwall. It was not private enterprise that sent out boats to collect that meat. That must be 3 socialistic scheme, which ought to be undertaken by the Government; and1 so we found the private enterprise people of Great Britain asking that the Imperial Government should do the work. I repeat that a mail service can be made to pay as a private enterprise, or we should have had the Chambers of Commerce making the proposal which I have made. I go further, and say that, while it will pay private enterprise to carry on a mail service, it will pay the State better. The Government of the Commonwealth could secure a bigger revenue from Stateowned boats than could be secured from boats run in the interests of private enterprise, because behind the Government boats there would be a national sentiment. We have heard a great deal in Australia of late about national sentiment. I believe in a national sentiment. No country can be great unless its people are patriotic, and cultivate a national sentiment. Not long ago Sir John Madden, the Chief Justice of Victoria, at the opening of an exhibition held under the auspices of the Australian Natives’ Association, drew himself up to his full height, and expanding his ample and noble chest told the admiring multitude who were listening with bated breath, that the shirt he had on had been made in Australia. I presume that the resources of the Commonwealth were strained, but, however that may be, the shirt had been made. Sir John Madden told the people to whom he was speaking that the shirt he was wearing was an Australian shirt, and that anybody who was dissatisfied with an Australian shirt - well, he ought not to be. I noticed that very shortly afterwards, Sir John Madden went to England in a German boat. I have no doubt that the shirt referred to was starched with Australian starch. If it was not, it ought to have been, because of the national sentiment. I have no doubt that the immaculate shirt-front which Sir John Madden ex- hibited to the people had been starched with Australian starch, and an appeal was made on the occasion to all in Australia to use Australian products because they were made in Australia. I do not object to that sentiment. I fmd, however, that the honorable member for Mernda went Home in a German boat also. That gentleman and Sir John Madden have each a perfect right to go Home in any boat they like. So far as I am concerned they can swim Home, or go Home in a balloon, but I do say that if, as a Commonwealth, we were running boats of our own, it would be hypocrisy and cant for public men in Australia to appeal to Australian national sentiment, and then make use of other than the Australian national boats. In addition to the fact that there would be this Australian sentiment behind State-owned boats, it must be remembered that they could not be boycotted as the boats of a private company can be by the London shipping ring. With the Commonwealth behind them. I venture to say that they would be found too powerful for the shipping ring, for, as Mr. Deakin elegantly and ably said, “ We could take a hand in the game.” The muddle which has been made is a very serious thing for the producers of the Commonwealth. When speaking some time ago, I pointed out that it was a very serious matter for the producers of the Commonwealth not to foe able to send their perishable products Home with regularity and despatch. I shall not belabour that point now, because I intend to-morrow or the day afterwards to give notice of a motion that instead of accepting any tender for a mail contract, we should establish mail boats of our own, and I can deal with that phase of the question when that is being discussed. On the question of preferential trade, I may say that I am one of those who do not agree with all that was clone at the Imperial Conference by the Prime Minister and the Minister of Trade and Customs. Of all people in the world, it seems to me, who could talk preferential trade, if it ever meant anything, to the people of England, we should not find the Prime Minister and the Minister of Trade and Customs. They went to the Federal electors a little time ugo calling for protection. They said that protection was the policy to save Australia-. The great fault the Prime Minister had to find with the Labour Party was that, as a Federal Labour Party, we were not a protectionist party. When it was pointed out that every Victorian member of the party was a pledged protectionist, the honorable gentleman told the people of Ballarat that that was not sufficient. Perhaps he thought that they would be contaminated in the caucus by rubbing shoulders with those who were not protectionists. So these honorable gentlemen stood for protection.
– I stood for preferential trade also.
– I should like to know where preferential trade comes in with a policy of protection.
– I passed an Act in the last Parliament also to give emphasis to the policy of preferential trade.
– And the honorable gentleman failed in passing one also.
– It was flapdoodle.
– There is a good deal of that in the honorable member.
– I should like to know what this protection means to the man in the street, and to the manufacturer. What do they .mean when they talk here of protection? What is the conception of the man in the street of protection? Does he not say that everything that can possibly be made in Australia must be made in Australia ? Is not that the protection of the man in the street? The honorable member for Batman, who seconded the motion for the adoption of the AddressinReply, speaking, I take it, on behalf of the Government, said that a little while ago an Australian steam roller had been made, “ And therefore,” said he, “ we can make everything that is needed for Australia in Australia.” That is in the honorable member’s speech. “ Because we have made a steam roller,” the honorable member said, “ there is no machinery wanted to develop Australia that cannot be made in Australia.”
– I say it again.
– The honorable member says it again. When the Minister of Trade and Customs was speaking in reply to the honorable member for Parramatta, I interjected, ‘.’ What about preferential trade ? Cannot we manufacture everything here?” The Minister said, and I was amazed to hear it, that it would be some years yet before the people in Australia could produce all the machinery they required.
– I did not say anything of the kind. What I said was that it would be some years before we could manufacture everything we wanted.
– Very well, let the honorable gentleman have it that way. If I had said such a thing on the public platform, I should be taunted with being a free-trader.
– I am very glad to hear the honorable gentleman say so. The honorable member for Batman takes up a different position, for he says that all the machinery we require can be made here. The people of Australia, the man in the street, the manufacturer who is a protectionist, and in fact, all those who believe in protection, have an idea that all woodware, all ironware, and all woollen goods can be made here. If then we can make here all woodware, all woollen goods, and all ironware, what is the good of preference to England?
– Hear, hear ! It is downright imposition.
– Where is the trade to be done? When the Minister of Trade and Customs was in England, he said that preferential trade did not matter much to the Colonies, but that he was asking for it for the sake of England. I should rather like to know what the honorable member for Hume would think if some English statesman - no matter how able or how dazzling a genius he might be - even if he were one of the greatest men that England ever produced - came out here and expressed an opinion on some great question of national politics? The Minister would tell him, and rightly so, that he did not understand local conditions, and yet the honorable gentleman himself tells the people of England that preferential trade would be productive of more good to them than to Australia. It seems to me that . beneath all this seeming anxiety for the welfare of others there lurks a little bit of selfishness, because I notice that the Minister urged on the attention of the people of England the fact that we can supply England with wheat. Wheat comes from the honorable gentleman’s own constituency. If he had said that we could supply them with lead, I should not have thought him quite so selfish, because my constituency does not produce wheat, but we can produce lead. England does not produce lead. It seems to me that it would be a good thing for England for its people to grow their own wheat, instead of the land of England being devoted to deer parks and other such purposes. As they have not a lead mine of their own, if the honorable gentleman had offered to let them have our lead by putting on extra duties against everybody else, it would not have looked quite so selfish. I notice alsothat one of the South African delegates wasrather annoyed with the British Government. He stated that although the British Government represented a free-trade party, they might have done something for tobacco and sugar. I understand that they grow tobacco and sugar in South Africa. But my honorable friend the Minister of Trade arid Customs did not say anything about tobacco and sugar. He spoke only about wheat. We also understand from the Minister of Trade and Customs that he told the people of England that their doom wassealed if there was no preferential trade with the Colonies. In a book I was reading some time ago, entitled Wages ana Christianity - it is not a book produced by the Socialistic or Labour Party, but is written by a very eminent Methodist minister in England - the author states that the amount of profit assessed by the Income Tax Commissioners in England in 1904 was the largest on record. It amounted to £912,000,000, having increased by more that £230,000,000 since 1891 - a period of fourteen years. He calculated that the total income of the country, if equally divided, was sufficient to give .£200 a year to every family of five persons in England. I venture to say, if it is a fact that there is sufficient income in England, if fairly and justly distributed, to give every family of five £200 a year, any man with eyes to see and ears to hear must recognise that England has to ‘face a greater and mightier problem than that which can be solved merely by the granting of preferential trade. I say the same thing of Australia. According to Mr. Coghlan, there is an average annual income in Australia sufficient to give £46 per year for every man, womanand child in it. In the labour paper, a little while ago, I saw that the gentleman who in the last Parliament represented New England stated since he lost his seat that what was wanted was to produce more wealth in Australia, and then everything would be all right. He was a free-trader. The honorable member who has taken this gentleman’s place in the representation of New England, and whom on personal as well as political grounds I am delighted to welcome into our party and into this House, stated that what was wanted was more protection, in order to create more wealth. The honorable member argued that it would be better, when we had more wealth. But in a Commonwealth that is already producing an average annua] income of £46 for every man, woman and child in it, when we take into consideration the children that are too young yet to lisp a word or express a thought, all the children going to school, all the men and women who are too old to earn a living, all those in our prisons and asylums, the idle rich who are doing nothing, and those of the poor who will not work when they get a chance - I will admit that that is true of some of them - taking into consideration all these, and recognising that even then there is an average annual income of £46 for every man, woman and child in Australia, I venture to assert that the problem we have to settle is greater and mightier than one that can be solved merely by putting on or removing a duty. Some people have complained - I believe the acting leader of the Opposition did so - that the Prime Minister and the Minister of Trade and Customs, whilst in England, took part in party politics. I am not quite sure that I find any fault with them for taking part in party politics at Home.
– Not when they are the guests of the nation?
– I do not think our Ministers should go to England, across 12,000 miles of ocean, merely to say, “ Yes, Mr. Chamberlain,” or “Yes, Mr. Asquith.” I am not quite sure that they ought not to take some part in party politics, if they like, but I want to know on which side they are going to take part - on which side they are going to hurl the weight of their opinion and influence.
– They went on the side of the rich and influential.
– Which side did they take in England? The Prime Minister of Australia and the Minister of Trade and Customs, supported as they are here by a. Labour Party, went to England and gave their influence on behalf of the crusted Conservatives of England. In England today the Labour Party, with their backs to the wall, are fighting a tremendous fight. They are fighting against the most (powerful, the most wealthy, the most securely entrenched landed aristocracy in the world.
– Some of them are certainly most unscrupulous.
– I do not know about that ; there have been people here who have been just as unscrupulous. The Prime Minister of Australia and its Minister of Trade and Customs went to England and took sides on behalf of the most powerful and the most securely entrenched landed aristocracy in the world.
– That is absolutely untrue.
– Is it ?
– Order. I ask the Minister to withdraw that expression.
– The statement of the honorable member is absolutely incorrect. I never did anything of the kind, and I do not think that the Prime Minister did either; but since you desire it, Sir, I withdraw the expression.
-But the Minister asked for preferential trade in England. Who is asking for preferential trade in England - the Labour Party, the Liberal Party, or the Conservative Party? What nonsense on the part of the honorable gentleman ! Of course, what he said in England might have been a mere joke, but, unfortunately, the people of that country took him, as well as the Prime Minister, seriously. I think that they were justified in doing so. The two Ministers went to England as our representatives. In a speech the other day, the deputy leader of the Opposition referred to some matters, and when replying to him, the Minister of Trade and Customs said there were some things which were a mere joke, and ought not to be referred to. Some of these statements, I submit, are too serious to joke with.
– Were we to go to England and shut our mouths on the question of preferential trade?
– If you had gone to England and said one word on behalf of the workers of that country you would have got no invitations from the duchesses of England.
– I said more in favour of the Labour Party than the honorable member has ever said.
– If you had gone to England, and you had taken the part of the workers in England-
– That is a very unfair and untrue statement to make.
– There would have been no honeyed words from the Knoxites or the Fairbairn-ites.
– The Minister of Trade and Customs has again said that the statement of the honorable member for Barrier is untrue. I ask him to withdraw the remark. .
– If what the honorable member said is not a fact, what else can I say? In England, and here too, I have said more in favour of the Labour Party than has any other man. All I can say, Sir, is that the statement of the honorable member is inaccurate.
– The Minister knows that, while I do not think-
– It is a very untrue statement for the honorable member to make.
– It is contrary to the Standing Orders for an honorable member to say that what another honorable member says is untrue. The Minister, having made that statement, will kindly withdraw it.
– I withdraw the unparliamentary word, and say that the statement is unfair, but I desire to add that I have said more in favour of the Labour Party here than has any other man who has been in England.
– I do not think that the Minister said a single word in England against the Australian Labour Party.
– I said a lot in favour of it.
– What I hold is that any man who went to England to speak on behalf of preferential trade was speaking against the Labour Party in England. If you had gone to England and spoken there in favour of the legislation which the Labour Party in England wants, do you think that the Fairbairn-ites and the Knox-ites would have greeted you with honeyed words?
– Will the honorable member address his remarks to the Chair, and not to the Minister?
– In England, the Minister of Trade and Customs was taken seriously. Let us now see what Reynolds’ Weekly said. It is not a Tory’ newspaper.
– It is a very scurrilous newspaper though.
– Dealing with the Minister of Trade and Customs, it says -
You had the impertinence to call the result of the last election a “ mere flash in the pan.” Was it a mere flash in the pan which resulted in your elevation to your present position? Among other silly statements, you revelled in-
– Order ! I have twice called the attention of the honorable member to the fact that he must not addressthe Minister of Trade and Customs. He is continually using the pronoun “ you,.” and directly .addressing the Minister. I again ask him to address his remarks to the Chair.
– I am quoting from a newspaper, sir. Can I not do that?
– I am not aware, of course, what matter the honorable member is reading. In the case of a quotation, the second personal pronoun may be used, but three or four times within the last ten minutes, the honorable member has spoken directly to the Minister.
– I apologize to the honorable gentleman by saying that I hope that the phrase “ Minister of Trade and Customs “ will appear in Hansard. The following is a quotation from Reynolds’ Weekly : -
You had the impertinence to call the result of the last election a “ mere flash in the pan.” Was it a mere flash in the pan which resulted inyour elevation to your present position? Among other silly statements you revelled in was the amazing absurdity that England was living from hand to mouth. To those who know anything of Australian politics this takes one’s breath away. It is such a delicious picture - that of mighty and prosperous Australia coming to rescue penniless England from bankruptcy. Where, my dear fellow, have you got your ideas from ? Can you read ? If so, you might study the trade returns of the two countries. Can you count? If so, you might spend your time incalculating how long it will take your continent to repay this little island the many millions you- have borrowed from her.
In England, there is another newspaper, called the Clarion, which devotes a column to wit and wisdom. It contains some pearls of wisdom and flashes of wit. It says that the Minister of Trade and Customs said -
Preference with the Colonies will come. You may try to stifle it, but when Labour is throttling you, you will have to look to Colonial preference for help.
– That is. absolutely a fabrication. I have never said anything, of the kind. I never heard of this.
– That I read in the Clarion.
– Who would quote from such a newspaper ?
– That is the bible of the Labour Party in England.
– The Clarion put that statement in its column of “ wit and wisdom.” I have no objection to persons going to England to take part in party politics. But I do object to the ceaseless flow of words of the Prime Minister and the ponderous jokes of the Minister of Trade and Customs being used on behalf of the landed proprietors of England. The Minister of Trade and Customs spoke of the Prime Minister having been loyal to Australia. I think it is right that he should be loyal to Australia; but surely the people of England have an equal right to be loyal to England? I hold that if the people of England think it is not wise to go in for preferential trade with the Colonies, they are quite as justified in being loyal to England as are the people of Australia in being loyal to their country. Passing away from that, I am very glad to know that the question of old-age pensions is mentioned in the Governor-General’s Speech, though I regret very much indeed the position which it occupies there. I believe that the time has come when we ought to have a system of old-age pensions. I am in favour of the enactment of the principle, but not as a charity. Every man and every woman, whether rich or poor, should be entitled to a pension at the age of sixty-five years.
– Hear, hear. The honorable member knows that I am in favour of it too.
– Then we are not so far apart. You are all right cut here, but in England you did wrong.
– Order ! The honorable member is again addressing the Minister directly.
– I was more Australian in England than perhaps I am here.
– I am in favour of direct taxation–
– So am I.
– For old-age pensions.
So far so good. I hope that something will be done on those lines. I know that there are some honorable and distinguished members of the House who are against direct taxation. The honorable member for Wilmot, I think, said that he is against direct taxation. I could understand a number of persons being opposed to direct taxation, because it means removing the taxation from the shoulders of the poor and placing it on those of the rich. Some time ago, when I was in Tasmania, I heard the president of the National League, Mr. Fitzgerald, address a meeting. He was proving something else, and he did not want to prove anything in favour of direct taxation. But what he said came in very usefully. He was quoting figures from the statistician of Tasmania, showing that three working families pay as much in Customs duties as does the richest man in the community. I know why the rich object to direct taxation. Itis because under a policy of indirect taxation most of the revenue is provided by the poor. It is the poor who have to pay the Customs duties.
– Is there not direct taxation in every State?
– Very little. The finest political speech I ever had thepleasure of listening to in Australia was delivered by the leader of the Opposition in the Sydney Town Hall. On that occasion he said -
I warn the Treasurers of Australia that if I go into Federation I will do for the Commonwealth what I have done for New South Wales. I will take the taxation off the shoulders of the poor, and put it upon the rich.
That was a noble sentiment, and I should be glad if the right honorable gentleman would act a. little on those lines.
– I have done a great deal in that direction.
– I feel very strongly on the subject of old-age pensions. I stated during last Parliament that no Ministry, whether it be a Watson, a Deakin, a Reid, or a Knox Ministry, should be allowed to live unless it dealt legitimately, fairly, and squarely with the subject of old-age pensions. I hold that opinion to-day. I am very glad to find Tariff reform on our bill of fare, and I hope that Ministers will bring it forward, though apparently they do not consider the matter so urgent now as they did a little while back, when the honorable member for Maribyrnong used to tell us about the children starving in the streets for want of high duties. Since the honorable gentleman has been sitting at ease in Zion he has not shown much anxiety about the matter. No doubt the fiscal cry is a good one with which to appeal to the electors, whether on the free-trade or on the protectionist side; but now that the elections are over Ministers do not seem very ready to carry out their promises. I do not think that the measures for Tariff reform which they will introduce will do a great deal of good to Australia as a whole, because whatever duties are imposed will help some industries only by putting others at a disadvantage. So, too, would free-trade help some industries and disadvantage others. In my opinion, a good shower of rain confers more benefit on Australia than should be looked for from either free ports or a high Tariff. In an admirable speech, the honorable member for New England stated that the Labour Party is not a Socialist party, but a practical party advocating national co-operation. If it were not a practical party, it would not deserve to succeed, or even to live. The name given to it is of very little importance so long as its aims are clearly defined, and if we are not standing for the great principle that the products of the world’s labour should go into the hands of the producers, we are not true to our ideals. I hope that the time is not far distant when the Labour Party in this House will be sufficiently strong and courageous to set its face against the creation of further wealth by the establishment of new industries, the opening up of new mines, or in any other way, until the wealth already bestowed upon us by the munificent hands of Providence, and as the outcome of the toil, sweat, and agony of the workers of Australia, is fairly and justly distributed. The honorable member for Wilmot hopes that the time will soon come when there will be but two parties in this House. I hope so, too, because then the Labour Party will be distinct from whatever other party there may be, divided by an obvious line of cleavage. Then those who are working with us will be in our ranks, fighting under our banner and behind our chief, whilst those who are against us will have to stand up and fight us like men. I should like to see two distinct parties in this House, one standing for monopolies, for class privileges, for vested interests, for the rich and well-fed, and for the sweaters and the starchers, and the other standing for the people, for the community as a whole. Then we shall cease to have millionaires on the one hand and paupers on the other, and it will be impossible for the greed! and selfishness of a few to deny the many the right to work. The day will have come, too, when we shall see no more the tragic contrast between the position of the woman on one’ side of the street, enjoying all the luxuries and bounties provided by our civilization, while on the other her sister, whose life is as precious to her Divine Maker, has to sell her virtue to obtain bread. Then will have commenced the first act in the drama which will inaugurate a civilization based on the eternal and everlasting principles of Christianity.
– I should like to again express my regret at the unhappy cause of the absence of the Prime Minister from this debate. It is to some extent an embarrassment to me. In view of the statement that he will have an opportunity after the debate is over to reply to criticisms, I am somewhat relieved; but one must always feel, if he be a man, sympathy with the illness and suffering of even his bitterest political opponents. I am sure that feeling is general in this House in regard to honorable members whenever misfortune overtakes them. Before this debate began I had it in my mind to make a remark which I cannot any longer make. I was going to say that the position of parties in this House was very much the same as that which existed in the closing days of the last Parliament. I cannot say that now, in view of the speeches which have been delivered by several members of the party sitting in the Ministerial corner. During the last Parliament it was an open question whether there was not some subterranean method of sympathetic communication between the Government and the Labour Party. It was a question which was hotly debated. But if such a subterranean tunnel existed then, it Ls quite clear now that it has been closed, because honorable members sitting below the gangway have expressed themselves with a degree of frankness which may not be pleasant to the Ministry, but which I think is more in accordance with a healthy political activity. In the wretched state of things which exists in this House - a wretched state of things which every one must admit - it is, I think, one duty which every honorable member owes to the country that he should not allow ties which are not honest. ties which are not genuine, ties which are not cemented by any feeling of political sympathy or principle, to interfere with the freest and most fearless expression of opinion in the course of public debate. The members of the Labour Party who have spoken, have done so in a spirit of candour which I think every one can appreciate. Of course, from an Opposition point of view it is pleasant for us to hear honorable members below the gangway abusing the Government which they support. But I wish to put that party aspect entirely out of sight. I say that there is one thing which we can all do, and that is to speak with the frankness which has been exhibited by honorable members to whom I have re- ferred. We owe that to the country. The present Government are in office more firmly, I think, than was any previous Government, because no one believes in them. I freely admit that the main reason for their security is the fact that although the Labour Party do not believe in them they have less belief, if possible, in the Opposition. And they are quite right in their attitude, because they can drive the Government, whereas they cannot drive us.
– The right honorable member would like to have the chance of being driven.
– In reply to the interjection of the honorable member, I think that my attitude towards the Socialist Party has been clear and emphatic enough. It has made a line of cleavage between that party and myself - and I believe that on this point I can speak for every member upon this side of the Chamber - which can never result in any political arrangement. Whatever may be the fortunes of public life for the rest of my days, I wish my honorable friends - for whom I entertain personally the most pleasant feelings, as they know - to know that there can never be any bond of alliance between us so long as they recognise the main principle which binds them together. I would like to say that one of the most melancholy spectacles in this young Commonwealth Parliament is the sight of the executive power of Australia being held by gentlemen who can sit upon the Treasury Benches and listen to this torrent of personal insult without a single feeling of resentment.
– There has been no personal insult.
– I am not speaking personally, but of our political discussions. It merely shows the unhealthy state to which this Parliament has been reduced when the Ministry can listen to these pointed attacks on their Administration, their sincerity and their conduct, without the slightest appearance of resentment, indeed as if such criticism were the language ofconfidence and compliment. So far as I am concerned, I wish to say to honorable members upon both sides of the Chamber, in the fullest and frankest way, that if I am any Stumbling block in the way of bringing about the arrangement which the honorable member for Barrier has outlined - an arrangement by which we shall have only two parties in this House - I would a thousand times rather efface myself than allow this unhealthy state of things to continue for one day longer than is absolutely necessary. If I am the difficulty in the path, I am prepared to retire, if not from public life, from any leading position upon these benches. But the time must come when this unhealthy state of things must be terminated, and when men ‘will occupy the Treasury benches, not upon the sufferance of a party which does not believe in them, but because they have behind them the honest support of a majority of this responsible assembly. I do not want to blame the Government too much, because it is very difficult to see what else could be, so long as the Tariff question remains unsettled. I admit that so long as that question stands im the way, any better state of things is impossible. But the Government owe one duty to this House, and to the country, which I do not suggest that they will shirk. It is soon enough to blame a Government when they do not fulfil their promises. So far as I can see, the Government are preparing to fulfil their promises by honestly bringing the proposed new Tariff before Parliament at the earliest possible moment. If they carry out that promise, I think they will be performing good service to the country by endeavouring to put an end, as soon as possible, to the unhealthy condition of things to which I have alluded, and they will at the same time be fulfilling the mandate which they undoubtedly received from a majority of the people of Australia. In the conduct of previous elections, no fair opportunity was ‘afforded of gauging the feelings of a majority of the electors upon the fiscal issue. But I must admit - I owe it to the manifest truth to admit it - that at the last election, there was a majority of honorable members returned here pledged to increase the duties collected under the existing Tariff. I do hope, however, that those of us who were sent here to endeavour to keep those duties down - and I am one of them - will receive some assistance) even from protectionists upon one line. It is this : What is the consideration which more than anything else in the world has turned the minds of the people of Australia towards the policy of protection? It is not the political economist, it is not the leader writer, it is not the essayist, and it is not the platform orator. The one consideration which has caused the majority of the people to become protectionists is the appeal which has been made to them upon the ground of the difference which obtains between the conditions in Australia and those in older countries - the fact that we have a higher standard of wages, which, high as it is, is one of the glories of the country. One does not need to be a member of the Labour Party to know - indeed one has learned little in political economy who does not 4c now - that the higher the wages of a country the greater is the prosperity of its people, and the greater the openings for the enterprise of the capitalist. There is a far greater sympathy between capital and labour than some people recognise. The terms seem to divide them in the bitterest possible way, but nature has indissolubly connected the two. The money, the brain, and the hands must work together. In developing the natural opportunities of a country, there must be no disunion of those mighty forces. One of my strongest indictments against my honorable friends of the Labour Party is that, in point of fact, whether designedly or not,, there is a constant tendency on their part to endeavour to separate different classes of .the community by feelings of personal hostility. What was the appeal delivered just now by the honorable member for Barrier, who, by the way, if I may be permitted to say so, made one of the ablest speeches that I have heard from him ? I admired the ability of the speech, and discovered in him a gleam of humour which had not seemed previously to exist.
– He is following the right honorable member’s example.
– The honorable member for Barrier drew a lurid picture - a picture portrayed in much of the literature presented to the people - of idle wealth and luxury “on one side of the street and of some unfortunate on the other. I should like to say that humanity is not quite so bad as it is painted. The chasm between wealth and poverty, great as it is, is not quite so wicked as some people imagine. I thoroughly agree, however, with my honorable friends that the chasm is one that ought to be bridged. It is generally recognised that wealth has its duties. They are perhaps not duties that . can be placed on the pages of a statute-book, but the man or woman who possesses wealth and does not recognise the duty of endeavouring to help those who are poor and distressed, is one for whom every man, even if he is not a member of the Labour Party, must have a perfect contempt.’ There is no more contemptible object than the man who is wealthy and has not a feeling of kinship and kindliness towards the poor. That sort of individual is a bad man, and, may I say that, when we come to the question of badness, we find it running through even the ranks of labour.
– If the duties to which the right honorable member has referred are not embodied in the statute-book they are usually “more honor’d in the breach than the observance.”
– I have the utmost sympathy with many views that are expressed in regard to this matter ; but the real reform which will remove these horrible inequalities in human life will come, not from our legislation, but from an increased sense of the human duty which each man and woman owes to the other. To the extent which my honorable friends of the Labour Party increase that feeling they are doing a public service.
– We ask not for charity, but for justice.
– That is a proper attitude to adopt. Although we may differ on many points,, might I suggest to my honorable friends of the Labour Party that they do the Opposition a great injustice when they speak of us as being here to consider only the interests of the privileged classes, and the wealthy classes. I have been before the public of Australia for twenty-seven years, and I do not think any man can say that in the whole course of my public life I have ever been found battling for the rich or the privileged. Whatever we may say about the different political parties - the Labour Party, the Protectionist Party, or the Opposition - I give all credit for an honest desire to do their best to promote the welfare and happiness of the people. That is a proper position to take up. To endeavour to depict us as being insensible to the feelings of humanity - as glorying in fighting for those who can ‘fight for themselves, as glorying in trampling on those who have no power to protect themselves - is to endeavour to present a picture that is unjust and appeals not to instincts of truth’ and humanity, but to the lowest feelings of class. I wish now to say a word or two with reference to the fiscal question. The point I desire to make may be briefly put. Honorable members have the power now to raise the Tariff, and the one principle upon which that power has been given them by the electors is that by the Tariff Australian labour may be surrounded with that degree of protection which will place the Australian worker, in his industry - on the higher plane on which he happily stands* - on terms of fair competition with the labour of other countries.
– Hear, hear.
– The Minister of Trade and Customs says, “ Hear, hear.” Unfortunately when he expresses his approval of any statement made by me, I am almost sure to be in the wrong. Such an interruption is the most unhappy that the Minister could make. When I hear it, I begin to suspect the soundness of my argument. But in spite of the honorable gentleman’s approval, I repeat that I hope that the great primary industries of this country will be remembered. I trust that once honorable members have provided for the difference between labour in other countries and that in Australia - once they have given the legitimate margin to which the capital put into these manufacturing industries is entitled - they will not so run up the duties as to inflate the profits of the men engaged in these industries over the profits of those engaged in the great primary industries of Australia. The less this gambling, element - this hankering after law-made profit - disfigures our industrial development, the better for the country. I hope that when the Tariff is submitted, my honorable friends opposite will show the true balance of their humanity by tempering the burdens they place upon the great masses of the people. I trust that they will then remember these distressed people, these homes oppressed by misery, of which we have heard. I hope that when they begin to pile up the duties on articles which are the necessaries of life, they will remember the people who are struggling in poverty.
– I hope that we shall protect labour.
– I shall bow to the policy which has been adopted. I shall honestly fight, as I have always done, for my own views, but I admit that the question was put before the people of Australia, and that the electors have affirmed the necessity, the wisdom or unwisdom, of increasing the present Tariff. But when my honorable friends couple affirmatives and negatives in connexion with my political career, I should like them to consider what my opponents would say of me if I clamoured in Australia for increased duties on the manufactures of the mother country, and then, going to England’, announced my inten tion to lower such duties. The most gigantic “ Yes-no “ of Australian politics is that of the present Government, who went round this continent clamouring for the policy of shutting the door against the manufactures of the mother country by means of higher duties on British manufactures, and then sent there representatives who, in the presence of millions of people, having upon them all the burdens of empire, clamoured for fresh taxation upon them. They clamoured to have new taxation imposed on the millions of England, although at the moment they spoke, they knew that they had no honest preference to offer. They knew also that the British Government had been commissioned by the people of England to shut this door of preference. Just think for a moment. Here was this door of preference shut by an enormous vote of the people of England. When the British Parliament met, the principle of free-trade and the freedom of raw materials and food from taxation was affirmed by the House of Commons by 478 to 98 - the most enormous majority ever known on any great question of national policy. What did the representatives of Australia expect? They did not go Home to meet British Ministers who were clinging to office with a wretched minority of supporters. They did not go Home to meet a set of political adventurers who were kept in office only because, much as they were disliked, some one else was disliked more. They met Ministers in England who had the greatest of all Parliaments standing massed behind them. Talk about the exuberance of political vanity ! To think that the most marvellous eloquence any Australian is capable of, or the most marvellous eloquence in the world- and no one is more capable in that line than the distinguished man who represented Australia on this occasion - could open the door which the people of Great Britain had bolted and barred, was to indulge in a flight of absurdity. When a door is bolted we can hit it hard ; when we know we cannot get in, it is astonishing how desperate we can be in our attempts to get in. The two gentlemen who represented us knew that they would not be called upon to prove their- sincerity by stating what they were prepared to do; and when they found this triple-bolted door of British oak they kicked and screamed and knocked, praying all the time, “ For God’s sake, do not open it.” Consider what the situation would have been if, instead of this closed door, the people of England with equal emphasis had affirmed the principle of protection. Let us consider what the position would have been if the British Ministers had responded to that eloquence, and had said, ‘ ‘ We wish to make this family arrangement with you - the people of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales are prepared to come to a friendly understanding, and are anxious for Australian wheat, without regard to their own starving farmers, and we have a mandate from the people, Mr. Deakin, to do what* you ask - what will you do?” The moment that question was asked, this gigantic Australian balloon would be pricked, and would fall lifeless to the earth. If Mr. Joseph Chamberlain had been sitting at the head of that Imperial Conference, and had said to the Australian Prime Minister, “ What will you do “ ? the Australian Prime Minister would have had to cable to the Melbourne Age for instructions as to how far he could go. And here, in passing, may I express my profound regret at the prolonged illness of Mr. Chamberlain. We may have differences about his policy, but I regard Mr. Joseph Chamberlain as one of the greatest of the men who have appeared in the politics of Britain during the past fifty years. The honorable member for Barrier does not see any great harm in Ministers, on a mission of this sort, taking part in party politics. But I say that it is the greatest abuse of the commonest rules which ought to guide men who meet to confer in any representative capacity, to discuss matters of local political concern. I make nothing of the fact that the Australian Ministers were the guests of the British Government; indeed, they were not the guests of the British Government, but the guests of the British nation. But whether guests of the Government or guests of the nation, they went there as ambassadors to a Conference to settle vexed and difficult questions. We desired that Conference to be a real living power, influencing for good the destinies of this mighty Empire. On what basis could those statesmen, brought from all quarters of the British Empire, go outside the doors of the Council chamber in order to help the political interests of a great political party? Every man who goes to the Imperial Conference must discuss questions with frankness and fearlessness. I anr. not one who wishes to see Australian representatives forgetting the spirit of the people from whom they come; and, as I say, there must be at the Council table the utmost frankness and fearlessness ;. although there must also be some courtesy. The moment the ambassadors, of a country go out of the Council chamber to help the political interests of a party, or to add to the political difficultiesof a party, and take part in the discussion of burning questions of local political concern, they do more harm to the tie which binds us together than they could do in any other way. If the Prime Minister of England and the English Treasurer, Mr. Asquith, after a great election in which the people of Australia had with enthusiasm vindicated the policy of protection, had come to an Imperial Conference in Melbourne, and had gone from the Council chamber to the factories of South Melbourne to talk of the beauties of free-trade and the absurdities of protection-
– As the honorable and learned member did.
– I was in a different position ; I did not come as an ambassador, but as a representative of the people. The honorable member will see the distinction. The Prime Minister and the Minister of Trade and Customs went Home as representing the people of Australia, and not the people of a political party. If, I say, the British Prime Minister and- the BritishTreasurer had taken any such action in this great city we should have had the staff of the Age tearing the Union Jack to tatters,, trampling it in the mud, and demanding airimmediate repeal of the Union. Cannot Australians be commonly fair to others?’ Cannot men, who use the fullest and frankest candour towards others, respect the rights of others? Cannot those who would flame in fury if those thingswere done in Australia by English statesmen feel ‘ at least a sentiment of regret that Australian statesmen did them in England ?
– The Australian representatives did little good and little harm, and the honorable member knows it.
– I do not know anything of the sort. In the illustrated Daily Graphic, which is a strong preference and unionist publication, but which does not engage much in politics,’ I saw a strong denunciation of the action of the Prime Minister of Australia and the Minister of Trade and Customs, and still stronger denunciation of the
Unionist Party of England, who took advantage of the visit of those distinguished gentlemen from other parts of the Empire in order to bolster up the rotten fortunes of the Conservatives of England. We in Australia have our political differences, but I venture to say that if we here had to choose between the Tory party of England and the liberals and radicals of England, no man in this House would stand behind the Tories. _
– Most of the right honorable member’s “ crowd “ would - those in the Opposition corner !
– That sort of self-righteous ness grows into a habit. Now I want, Mr. Speaker, to point out what the Prime Minister of Great Britain declared after these gentlemen left England. He declared, in the course of a speech at a great gathering, that the visit of the Premiers from the oversea Dominions, and the part they had taken in local politics in England, had consolidated the whole forces of the Conservative Party.
– He is a good man.
– I quite agree with my honorable friend with respect to Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman. We may not agree with everything that a public man does, but, take him as a man, he does stand, out in this way - that no amount of wealth has hardened his heart. He may be wrong in many things in the opinion of some people, but he is a man who has stood out for his own views manfully and honestly. And he has said that the one thing that has fused the Conservative Party and made it solid has been the visit of the Colonial Premiers. I say that in doing that, these gentlemen did not represent the people of Australia. We know the melancholy history of the Tory Party in England. We know how the people there have withered under the shadow of colossal wealth. I do not believe these gentlemen intended such a result as I have described ; I do not believe for a moment that the Minister of Trade and Customs had the remotest idea of bringing about any such consequence; but I do say that it was a most calamitous thing. What is the one principle - simple though it be - which extends to all the Dominions of the British Empire? You have there hundreds of millions of people of all colours, in all parts of the globe - spread over one-fifth of the earth’s surface, I believe - living under circumstances infinitely varying, from conditions of the utmost freedom to the most auto cratic rule; yet you see this mighty organization revolving through the centuries with the harmony, and the majesty, and the peace which distinguishes those vast orbs above us. What is the one principle which enables the free democracies of Canada and South Africa to stand beside the Mother Country so loyally and affectionately ? It is this : That each part of the Empire claims the right to attend to its own affairs. It is this : That neither all the might of that great Empire, with its fleets and armies, nor the city of London, with all its wealth, nor the mother of Parliaments herself, dare lay a finger on the liberties of a single Australian. Great Britain cannot interfere with us. We may tax her out “of our markets. We may turn upon her as much as we like. We may penalize her goods and her ships. But she respects our liberty, she respects our right to buy our own experience in whatever market we please. Well, is it not a poor return that our ambassadors,’ in their eagerness to secure that preference which they knew to be impossible, should have gone out into the streets and to public meetings to help the cause of one political party ? The Prime Minister, at one great gathering in London, held up the doctrine of free-trade to ridicule - to utter ridicule. He may be right; the statesmen of England may be entirely wrong ; the great body of the people of England who are behind their statesmen may be entirely wrong. But is that the proper way in which our ambassadors should play their part in England ? Do we wish them to deride the policy of others who have a perfect right to choose their own policy - and which, indeed, happens to be the policy that suits us. What about protectionist duties on wheat ? Would that suit us ? It is one of the most extraordinary things, the falsity of this craze for preference. It is dishonest, it is hollow, and there is not a man who stands in the front rank of this movement in the present Government or in this city of Melbourne, who would take onefiftieth per cent, off a single duty that touches an article of British manufacture to-day. Do you think that these people of England are utter fools? We are clever - but they are not asses ! Now about this mail contract. I have not much to say about it. I do not think that Ministers have much to say about it either. But I cannot help remembering that glorious vista of expanding Australia which was opened up to us some time ago, when the picture was drawn of these monsters of the mighty deep crammed with our cold exports - which are, I trust, in: the days to come to be one of the main cources of our wealth. But the whole thing had this one disadvantage : it was not a business proposition. Ministers talked of putting on 11,000-ton ships. There were to be 11,000 tonners for the slack as well as for the busy season. These Orient and Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Companies - ignorant people ! - when the busy passenger season is in progress put on their enormous ships - their Mooltans, but when the slack season is on they utilize the Britannias and similar vessels. These fools of the Orient and Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Companies do that sort of thing; but this grand syndicate which was going to run 11,000 tonners during the dead season as well as during the live season - what was it to them? Because, like most other syndicates I have ever heard of, they were going to get the profits and the shareholders were going to take all the risks. What was this company? The honorable member for Barrier was perfectly right. This company was a syndicate gamble. The object was that a number of builders should build a lot of ships, f/>r their great personal advantage, that some other people unknown were to make something as promoters - first robbers, you know ! - and that all the profits were to be shared by the gentlemen referred to and all the losses by the shareholders. Talk about a ring stopping them ! You take a sound business proposition to the money market of London, and there are a thousand millions waiting for you ! I should like to know what shipping firms were in this syndicate that we have never heard of. There are people very far from London who had a lot to do with it. It will be found that some of the biggest men in the syndicate were not in London, but in Sydney and Melbourne, quite near to us. We never heard of them ; we do not know who they are; but they chose the right figure-head. £125,000 a year for these 11,000 tonners, and they would have to pay £86,000 a year in canal dues alone. In that one line alone the company would have had to pay £86,000 a year to the canal authorities. The whole thing was rotten as a business proposition from first to last. It would never have failed if a gullible public had been about; but the public knew how the Orient Steam Navigation Company and the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company were working out. They knew too much this time, and they were not “had.” But the Federal Government was “had “ not once, but a hundred times, and not for one day, but for months. These ships were to begin running from Australia in February next year, with a possible extension of six months.
– With the Australian flag flying. That was a part of the scheme.
– We have not talked about the Australian flag lately. We have interviewed the Orient Steam Navigation Company instead, >and I certainly do sympathize with the Postmaster-General in that connexion.
– The right honorable gentleman’s old friends.
– I have always a good word for those who serve the people of Australia well. The Orient Steam Navigation Company have not played the part of a syndicate, and there is no doubt that they have served us well.- They were the first company to enter into competition with the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company, and that was one of the greatest services which a shipping company has ever rendered to Australia. I think we ought not to forget these things even in politics.
– They cleared out from Marseilles without our mails on one occasion, too.
– I hope we shall not carry to the grave an undying feeling of hostility to the company on that account.
– It is just as well lo remember all the facts.
– And they have carried our mails in boats manned by white crews.
Mr. -Frazer. - They have done so by compulsion.
– I deeply regret the part which the Victorian Government has played in this transaction, and I wish to say why. Worst of all was the appearance of the Acting Federal Prime Minister in the room of the Victorian Cabinet, whilst this matter was being discussed.
– The right honorable gentleman does not know the facts in connexion with that.
– We should like to know them.
– My right honorable friend the Treasurer will understand that I criticise his action only in a political sense. I say that a Federal Minister had no right to be in the room of a State Cabinet when the
State Government was going to take a large control of a Federal mail service. I wish to say exactly what I complain of in connexion with the only blame I attach to the Victorian Government in the matter. The State Premiers, when they met in Brisbane, all refused to take on the proposal, and on the initiative of Victoria. But I should not say of Victoria. Let us all remember when we are talking of Victorian Ministries and newspapers we are not talking of Victoria. As I have acknowledged before, in going through Victoria amongst people who were actively opposed to my political policy I have throughout received almost as much generosity and kindness from them as I have from my political friends in New South Wales. I think the provincial feeling which some people have an unholy desire to inflame-
– They believe in a square deal here.
– Yes; but the people down the street here who run the Melbourne Age have for years been inflaming ill-feeling between New South Wales and Victoria by a long series of contemptible insults and sneers at the people of Sydney and New South Wales.
– What about the Sydney Daily Telegraph ?
– I do not think that newspaper has ever taken up such an attitude.
– Oh. yes it has.
– Well if it has, it is just as bad.
– Both are bad.
– But one cannot compare any paper in the world with the journal to which Ihave referred. I do deplore every attempt to fan the flame of ill-feeling between the people of the Australian States. Some people in New South Wales talk of secession. I say that is the most childish talk in the world. We have gone in for this Federation, and men must stand by what they do. It will be a long time hence, and there will have to be a lot more trouble before that sort of talk can become sensible. We have to work out our problems in a manly way. When hurt by them we have to feel it ; but so far as this bond of union is concerned it is a bond which must never be broken. There is another bond which must never be broken- and that is in connexion with the Federal Capital Site. I wish frankly to admit that a great deal of the difficulty about settling the Capital Site is owing to the fact that the Minister of Trade and Customs represents Hume, and that the Postmaster-General represents another border constituency of New South Wales. If those gentlemen represented Parramatta, instead of border constituencies, the question would have been settled long, ago. The delay in the settlement of the question is partly our own fault. We have been quarrelling amongst ourselves in New South Wales. But this is a new Parliament, and I hope that we shall treat the people of New South Wales as we of Tasmania, South Australia, or Victoria should like to be treated. That is all I ask. Let us act fairly between one another as one of the conditions of union. Do not let us talk about preserving the union and at the same time disown its obligations.
– But is it not a fact that the Capital Site has been selected?
– I suppose honorable members will agree that the people of New South Wales have a right to be heard in connexion with the matter.
– Why should they?
– If South Melbourne were immediately concerned, the honorable member who interrupts would desire to be heard on the question.
– No, I should not if it broke the agreement. I should wish to keep the agreement.
– I am sure the honorable member would, just as strongly as I do myself. What I wish to say is that the arrangement made between the Premiers of the other States with me was that, whilst the distance was to be at least 100 miles from Sydney, the Capital was to be at a reasonable distance from that city. That is in the formal minutes of the Conference signed by Sir George Turner as Chairman. It is on record, and I appeal to honorable members, all of whom, I feel sure, desire to do what is right, to honorably observe the terms of that agreement, which is in black and white. What was meant by the expression “at a reasonable distance from Sydney,” when associated with the 100 mile limit ? It meant that the spirit of the bargain was that the Capital should not be given to New South Wales in one breath and taken away in another. The Capital might be in Albury, which is a very good place, with many recommendations for the purpose; but that would not be an honorable observance of the bond, because a Federal Capital situated at Albury would be, in effect, a Victorian Capital, and not a New South Wales Capital. I ask honorable members to deal with the matter in a fair way. My honorable friend the leader of the Labour Party has taken a good deal of trouble in connexion with this question, and I am glad to say is prepared to help in every way to bring about a settlement of the question congenial to the feelings of all parties. Let us try, at any rate, to make a selection which will be generally acceptable to this Parliament and to the people of New South Wales.
– Is it not an Australian question ?
– I respect that view of it when I speak of a settlement which will be satisfactory to the Commonwealth as well as to the people of New South Wales.
– The point is that it is an Australian question and the Australian people decided that the Capital should be in New South Wales.
– It is an Australian question, with a limitation, which was of the very essence of the bond. We draw a distinction between things which are of the essence of a contract and trivial things. Honorable members are aware that this Federation was brought about by that concession, and that it was of the essence of the contract of union.
– It is a pity that the minute to which the right honorable gentleman has referred was not made public sooner.
– It is a pity. I can explain how it happened. It was an unfortunate thing - a bit of miserable economy, I am afraid. The Conference was held in Melbourne. A number of copies of the agreement were struck off at the printing office in the locality. They were distributed from the Melbourne Government Printing Office, and therefore, unfortunately, did not find their way into the records” of some of the States. In that way they faded from the public mind. It was a sheer accident. If we other Premiers going back to our States had had the paper printed in our own States, it would have been public property and well known.
– All that is discounted by the fact that the New South Wales people by a majority agreed to the Constitution without that provision being in it at all.
– That was not a legal acceptance, and it was open to the other Premiers, when I came down to Melbourne, to say, “ Mr. Reid, we won’t grant what you ask;” but, having granted it, you cannot go back on it.
– Would New South Wales consent to grant the 900 square miles if we went somewhere else?
– If the honorable member had a couple of houses, would he consent to some one taking one of them ? I want to say a word or two about the Bill relating to the High Court and the Privy Council. On matters affecting the rights of the States and the Commonwealth, there is no doubt that the Constitution was intended to make the High Court the final arbiter, with liberty to the High Court, if it pleased, to allow of an appeal. I shall support the Government in any Bill they introduce to make that more clear. I hope the Government will bring in the Bill relating to income tax on Federal salaries as soon” as possible. I feel that the present state of things is a hardship on the States, and that we should ourselves clear the path without waiting for the prospective ruinous litigation. If the Government will do as they say, and bring a Bill in speedily in order to enable this Parliament to do what is right by the States in this matter, I think they will meet with general support. One of the other matters I want to refer to is the electoral system. I cannot help saying, particularly looking at certain returns, that the system under which the electors now exercise their franchise cannot be a good one, because of the enormous number of mistakes that are made on the ballot papers. I think that one fact condemns it. We want a different system. As to the vacancy in the representation of South Australia in the Senate, I regret to have to differ from my honorable and learned friend the Attorney-General very strongly. The effect of the decision of His Honour Mr. Justice Barton was to put that vacancy in the Senate back into the position of a vacancy caused by the act of dissolution of Parliament. The effect of a decision of that sort is to put things back to the time from which they started. There is a writ in existence for that election, issued by the Governor-General, to which, in respect of this election, there has been no real return made, because the High Court have decided that the election was null and void. The effect of that is to wipe it all out, and restore the original document.
– Would not Mr. Crosby have got the seat if he had lived?
– That is a matter which the Judge alone could settle. We must not study any party views in these matters, because if the opinion of the At- torney-General is good law, it is possible to upset the balance of (power in the Senate by some informality, and vo transfer the consequent election from the people of Australia to the State Parliament. If it can be done in this instance, it can be done in a hundred different ways, and in a hundred other cases. I strongly dissent, with great respect, from the opinion which has been expressed by the Attorney-General. I want to say a word in reference to the transcontinental railway. I strongly appeal to honorable members to agree, at any rate, to the proposed survey - to sanction the exploration of that line of country. The State of Western Australia, practically for all military purposes, does not belong to us. We could not defend it if we had not some facilities of this kind. It deserves so much from our hands/ Every Government that I know of has, I think, been in favour of it. I admit there was no contract, and that we shall not break a contract if we do not agree to the railway, but I think in all the circumstances we might do that much- for the people of that great State. I want to say a few words if honorable members will allow me on the question of Australian defence. We have reams of minutes about it, we have had barrow-loads of schemes, but while there are two or three things we want, the first thing we want in that Military Department is a staff of officers in touch with the recent developments of military knowledge and science, and men who have gone through the ordeal of battle in large commands. Honorable members know that to have done that does not unfit a man to be an administrator. What is the use of all our talk about a system? The system’ is a mere piece of parchment. We shall never get a good system of defence until we get really good men to administer the Department as officers. I do not want to say a single word against the able gentleman who is at present at the head of these Forces, but it was a thousand pities that when that office was vacant the Government did not get the best officer in the British Empire of the kind I have described to fill the position. As to equipment, what is the use of all our talk if our guns are obsolete? Too many of them are. What is the good of our land Forces if they are not efficient? We cannot make them efficient by passing Bills. I come now to the question of the Australian Navy.
– We want more money.
-Talking about more « money, let us talk about the Australian Navy. There are gentlemen who will grudge a fifty-pound note to one scheme of defence, and spend ,£2,000,000 upon another. I will tell honorable members my view in a few words on the question of the Australian Navy. It is as absolutely a proper thing to aim at as the development of a mercantile marine. I am not one of those who deride this desire for an Australian Navy. It is one of the inevitable instincts of a people who are growing. I hope to see Australian ships navigating the oceans of the world on the pathways of commerce. It is one of the certainties of our development that we shall have a Navy of our own, but what gigantic meanness there is in the suggestion that because we want a navy of our own we should not pay anything towards the British fleets that do defend us ! Our navy might turn out badly. It could not do much for us, but we have over the whole of the oceans of the globe an absolute protection in that little bit of bunting - the Union Jack. The Minister of ‘Trade and Customs talks of the millions of England living from hand to mouth, but just think that we pay one 160th part of the money the starving millions of England pay towards the support of the Navy ! Of course, I admit it is a wealthy country, but they are contributors to that extent. They pay about £32,000,000 for the Navy alone in the year. We pay £200,000. Australia never reached a lower depth of absolute gigantic meanness - the statesmanship of the coster-monger - than when we couple the question of an Australian Navy with getting out of a solemn Act of Parliament, out of giving our little childhood’s mite towards the enormous responsibilities which rest on the people in those British islands who have to support the whole weight of the Empire and defend us-
– It was a mistake to give a donation at all.
– Why should the two things be coupled? Why should the Prime Minister have interviews with the Admiralty inorder to explain what could be done with this £200,000? I say to those of us who talk as loyal men - and many outside went out to risk their lives in standing by the old country - surely a nation that has shed its blood for England can pay this little mite towards the cost of the British
Navy. Surely we can leave this Act on the statute-book of Australia, not because of the payment provided for, but as an acknowledgment that we are not dead to a sense of obligation.
– The whole thing was an error - the payment of a subsidy at all.
– I want to say a few words also about the Imperial Conference. The Prime Minister has had a number of views as to what was actually done at the Conference. When he was in England, he was profoundly disappointed ; when he got somewhere on the voyage he said that the Conference required looking at from a distance, in order to see what really had been done ; and when he got to Australia he said that it was one of the grandest epochs’ in the history of the Empire, and that a vast amount of good had been done. The honorable member for Hume, when he was in London, said that all it did was to ventilate a few questions. There is, however, one grand triumph ; we are to be called a Dominion.
– I did not say anything of the kind.
– I am now speaking for myself. There is one grand thing that we have achieved ; we can call ourselves a Dominion. What a marvellous triumph for the people of Australia ! Do not let us forget that. Then there is something else which has been constructed., and for which they cannot find an English name - a Secretariat. I do not want to decry that, because it may be a means of doing a great deal of good. In spite of the mysterious name, -I think that there may be a great deal of good in the Secretariat. It will do a lot more good if it will only put its heads together in order to encourage the development of the commercial relations between the parts of the Empire in , a sound, feasible way. I ask honorable members to listen to the only figures I am going to use, in order to give them an idea of the English point of view in connexion withpreference. Some Australians have an idea that our commerce is a great factor in the industrial position of England. Taking an average of the years from 1901 to 1905, I find that the trade of Great Britain with foreign countries was £678,000,000 ; with India and the Crown Colonies, which have a perfect system of free-trade with the mother country, £103,000,000 ; making a total of £781,000,000 a year; while her trade with the self-governing Colonies was £125,000,006 out of £900,000,000. That is a big trade; it is not a thing to be despised. This little spot on earth, on which the gigantic burden of Empire is superimposed, is swarming with people ; in fact, so dense is the population that if the United States had to feed the same number of human beings to-day, according to area, they would have to feed 1,500,000,000 persons every day. Those millions of fellow countrymen, with this enormous responsibility upon them, have to consider these hundreds of millions of foreign trade. But let me get away from that, because my honorable friends may say, “Oh, they are nearly all imports.” The United Kingdom has a trade £80,000,000 greater than that of Germany, and £183,000,000 more than that of the United States. In Great Britain, the increase in the export of manufactures, during a period of three years, has been as follows : - In 1904, £243,000,000 ; in 1905, £269,000,000; and in 1906, £305,000,000, showing an increase of £62,000,000 in the British export of manufactured goods in three years. What a decaying country Great Britain is ! and how anxious we ought to be about her fiscal policy !
– The Minister of Trade and Customs says that she is perishing.
– I do not think that my honorable friend should draw my attention to the Minister of Trade and Customs. I think that in England the honorable gentleman showed one sound feeling - he may have others, but I never discovered them - when he expressed his love for the rural scenery of England.
– It is very good, too.
– When I went home in 1897 I had a greater desire - and it is the one thing which the honorable member and I share in common - to see the rural counties of England than to behold all the majesty of London itself. But I had this advantage over the Minister of Trade and Customs, that when I got into the rural scenery of England and saw a strawberry bed it did not remind me of the “ tired feeling “ I had when I got amongst the dukes and duchesses who are supposed to have strawberry leaves on their coronets. The honorable member has told us his opinion of the dukes and duchesses, and it would be interesting to know what they thought of him.
– I know what they thought of the honorable member.
– Mr. Speaker, you often hear most appalling pictures drawn of the way in which Germany is passing right out of sight, ahead of England, in the increase of exports of German manufactures. Let us apply the figures for three years to France, Germany, the United States, and Great Britain. The increase during that period is, in France, 12s. 3d. per head; in Germany, 15s. id. per head; in the United States, 18s. nd. per head; and in Great Britain, £1 14s. nd. per head - the increase in the case of the United Kingdom is greater than the combined increase of Germany and the United States with their populations of 140,00*0,000. It is only fair to say that that is a per head comparison, so that that element of disparity . of population does not come in at all. In that grand old country in less than three years, there was a greater increase of British manufactured exports-
– And the people are no better off.
– That is another question. I have heard of people being rather miserable even under the shadow of a benignant protectionist policy. I have heard this Chamber ring with the most powerful cries about starving children in the streets of Melbourne. I did not believe the statement then, and I do not believe it now.
– The position of the working classes has been steadily improving in Great Britain for the last fifty years.
– Just think of the thrill of astonishment which will pass through the brain of the man who reads the Melbourne Age when he reads a statement like that. Why, sir, it almost endangers life. The Government sent Home a wretched rag of a Bill that gave a 10 per cent, preference to trade ; but it was not worth talking about ; it did not, I think, run into more than a few hundred thousand pounds. When the Tariff comes on let these honorable gentlemen with their alleged belief in preference imitate the grand example of Canada. What did Canada do? She did not bang the door of an Imperial Conference, but quietly gave England a 33 per cent, preference on her duties without a word. There ‘ was not a grand oration ; there was no scuffling on the threshold of the temple; it was very quietly done. I do not ask this Government to make such- a concession as that ; . but the Canadian Tariff is a higher Tariff than ours.
– Very much higher.
– I believe that it is a good deal higher, and “therefore I do not wish to push that argument unfairly- against the Government. But, allowing for the discrepancy between the two Tariffs, I hope, that if we adopt the example of Canada we shall offer a considerable preference to Great Britain. Such a course may win the favour of the people of England. If we show that we are animated by feelings similar to those which animate the people of Canada, our proposals may make headway with the British people; but if we try to expose their fiscal policy to ridicule, and endeavour to show that young Australia can teach them a great deal that they do not know, the reverse may happen. I often think that when the majestic John Bull looks at the little bantam chickens crowing around him he must feel proud of them, because, although they are talking a little beyond their strength, they are moved by a spirit which they get from the fathers of their race The English people do not mind Prime Ministers and Ministers of Trade and Customs from English possessions indulging in the triumphant crowingsof the poultry yard, because it is in the breed. We are always a little bigger in our spirit and in our talk than we are in reality, and it is for this reason that the deeds which have won the Empire have come about. I wish to conclude my remarks by saying that we can congratulate ourselves upon the great prosperity which now exists throughout Australia. T hope that, notwithstanding the present absolutely unfair conditions of parliamentary government, Ministers will be helped .to get rid of the fiscal question, and then, if my disappearance will lead to a more settled form of political life, I shall be only too happy to make my exit.
.- We have had a very interesting speech from the leader of the Opposition, and I trust that the dire possibility at which he hinted in some of his opening, as well as in his concluding remarks, that he may have to make way for others, will not be a necessity of the political situation. If it were, he would be greatly missed from this Chamber. With regard to his introductory remarks concerning the position of parties in this House, which he characterized as unhealthy, the sooner he and his friends, if he can command a majority holding the same opinion, get to work and alter it the sooner will they have discharged their duty to Australia. Relations like those between the Ministry and the party with which I am associated have only recently appeared to the right honorable member to be unhealthy to the body politic, because for some years he held office in New South. Wales with our support, and a short time since in the Commonwealth Parliament he was for a little while at the head of a Ministry whose direct following did not give it a majority.
– I did not stay in that position very long. I went out of office as soon as I got the opportunity..
– The right honorable member behaved in a strictly honorable way, which was to be expected of him; but he showed no uneasiness at what he now professes to regard as an unconstitutional state of affairs. With regard to what he has said about the criticism of the policy of Ministers emanating from members on the Labour benches, I do not know that any of them have gone nearly as far in the use of contemptuous expressions towards this Administration as a member from whom the right honorable member for East Sydney accepted support went in regard to the last Administration.
– Does the honorable member refer to Mr. Cameron?
– Should not some Statute of Limitations apply to remarks concerning Mr. Cameron’s speech?
– The light honorable member for East Sydney has spoken of the present condition of parties as unhealthy, and, by implication, as unconstitutional. Therefore, it is well to go back to these instances, so that we may know exactly how we stand.
– The honorable member has already done this half-a-dozen times.
– The honorable member for Parramatta is, as usual, inaccurate. I have no recollection of ever having referred in a speech made in this Chamber to the remarks of the ex-member for Wilmot. Passing from this matter to the main issue, I come to the statement of the right honorable member for East Sydney that there was a mandate from the people expressed at the election that the present condition of parties should be brought to an end. I understood him to mean that there was a mandate from the people in favour of the substitution of another Government for that now in office.
– I never dreamed of saying that. I blame the people a great deal for the present state of affairs.
– I am glad to be corrected ; I stated the impression made upon my mind by the right honorable member’s remarks. I thought from what he said that the mandate of the people was against the existence of a Government dependent for support and continuance in office upon another section of the House.
– There was a mandate for a Protectionist Tariff, which quite neutralized that expression of feeling. No one can put out this Government while the Tariff question is open.
– I am unable to discern in the result of the elections, a mandate for the displacement of the present Administration. The result does not support the statement that the people were with those who said the position was unhealthy. The right honorable member for East Sydney spent a vast amount of time - his efforts entitling him to the thanks of those on his side of the House - in going from one end of Australia to the other to try to persuade the people that they should take advantage of the opportunity which was presenting itself to throw off the thraldom under which he endeavoured to convince them they were suffering, and accept a Government which would be above reproach of any kind. But the electors did not see things in his light, and therefore we find him to-day at the head of a party which is in a considerable minority in this House. We have heard it said frequently that there is in the Chamber a majority who are in accord so far as opposition to the proposals and general methods of the Labour Party are concerned. If that is so, the sooner the issue is made clear and definite, the sooner the people of Australia know where they are, and recognise the Tory and reactionary band which is behind the right honorable gentleman the better it will be, and the sooner will they disappear as an active force from the politics of this country. A short time ago, we had congratulations among our opponents about the unfavorable result of the Federal elections in Queensland, which was the only State in which out party received a set-back. We were told: - “At last the tide has turned. Now we shall see what we shall see.” But since then, the Queensland State elections have been held, and, however much they evidenced internal dissensions and lack of unity amongst advanced
Liberals of that State, they at least demonstrated that there is no room in the great State of Queensland for the Conservative, no room for the Reactionary, who is in a hopeless minority.
– We could put all the Conservatives of Australia in a bag.
– If they are so few as the right honorable member would have us believe, they at least masquerade with considerable success. I admit that if the people had an opportunity of deciding without being colour-blind, without having their eyes dusted with a. thousand petty issues, which are sought to be introduced on such occasions, the Conservatives would find but a very small following in Australia, because this community is at heart democratic and progressive. It is not content to stand still.
– Hear, hear.
– The right honorable member says “ hear, hear.” That makes me the more surprised that the right honorable member, with all his great ability - admitting as he does, that Australians are a progressive people - should have put before them a policy of wait-a-while - a policy of marking time, as he did on the occasion of the last election. That fact shows how often the ablest amongst us are occasionally misled through accepting bad advice. I join with the right honorable member in expressing the hope that the question of the Tariff will be disposed of as early as possible. It seems to be regarded by some of our friends upon the other side of, the House as the one thing which it is necessary to get out of the way to enable all their ideals to attain fruition. With the greatest possible desire to assist them to reach the summit of their ambition, I join in the hope that the Tariff will be got out of the way at the earliest possible moment. Anything that I can do - snort of sitting up every night, although I do not mind an occasional late night- to assist in that connexion I shall be most happy to do. Concerning the remark of the leader of the Opposition that everybody recognises the value to a country of high wages as an indication of prosperity , and that it is, therefore, necessary to cultivate a greater community of interests between capital and labour - that is not quite the phrase which he employed, but it expresses his idea - I have this criticism to offer. He seems to think that a mere statement .of the beatitudes is all that is necessary, and that if we attempt to embody the high principles which he enunciates in a statute, we shall proceed beyond proper limits. My impression is that if we trust to the conscience of the individual to see that justice is done as between different sections of the community, there is but very small chance indeed of justice being done in our time. When the right honorable member says that the rule of justice should be observed, and fair treatment should be meted out, we all agree with him. We all think that. The great mass of the people think it, but the trouble is that in the great majority of cases they are at the mercy of a few unscrupulous individuals. Consequently, it is not sufficient that we should think - it requires that we should take some action to penalize those who would inflict unjust conditions upon a section of the people. So I trust that in framing the new Tariff, we shall take steps, not merely to insure the possibility of Australian workmen being employed in a particular line of industry, but that we shall follow out the initiative of the last Parliament by making some effort to insure fair conditions being extended to the employ^, while at the same time protecting the interests of the consumer. That policy was adopted by the last Parliament - I admit, in but an experimental way. Nevertheless, the experiment seems to have proved successful, and I think that an extension of that system will rob pro.tection of a great number of the objections which can be urged against it at the present time. Differing in my methods as I do from those followed by the leader of the Opposition, I trust that in connexion with Tariff alterations we shall see a considerable extension of the principle so properly insisted upon by the last Parliament. I do not intend to speak at any great length, because it seems to me that if the present session is to be concluded within a reasonable time - seeing the vast amount of work that is before us - it will be necessary for honorable members to condense their remarks upon most occasions. Therefore, I do not propose to do more than refer to one or two matters which appear to me of great importance. Amongst these is included the question of the Naval Agreement. The view has been put forward by the leader of the Opposition, and also by the deputy leader, that it is a mean thing on the part of Australia to seek to withdraw the present subsidy of £200,000 per annum. I think that the contribution itself - if it be meant in a serious spirit - is but a mean one at the best.
– Then why tear up the Act of Parliament which authorizes .its payment ?
– It is but a mean contribution at the best. It has been urged by publicists in England that if Australia contributed according to her population, and in proportion to the expenditure of the old country, she would pay £5,000,000 instead of £200,000 per annum. Those who believe that we should provide no local naval defence, but should trust entirely to the Imperial Navy, should advocate the payment by Australia of her full proportion of the cost of maintaining the great navy of which we are all so proud. To talk about a contribution of £200,000 per annum being of any importance or value to the British Admiralty, in view of its annual expenditure of between £30,000,000 and £40,000,000, is in my opinion utterly fatuous. But while a contribution of ,£200,000 per annum is but a small consideration to Great Britain, it is of very considerable importance to a young and sparsely-settled community such as ours. The leader of the Opposition expressed the pious hope that we should have an Australian navy, and that we should build vessels in which we could take a national pride, but he neglected to indicate that he is prepared to vote anylarge sum towards the creation of such an institution. I remember that when I had sufficient temerity - while temporarily occupying the Treasury benches - to propose on the floor of the House that we should place upon the Estimates a sum large enough to permit of a start being made with the establishment of a mosquito fleet for coastal and harbor defence purposes, I met with nothing but ridicule - I admit entertaining enough - from the right honorable member. Every art that he could call to his assistance to kill that proposal was employed in opposing the smallest beginning of an Australian Navy. That was the reception which my proposal met at the hands of the right honorable member, and there does not seem to me much more on his part than a pious hope for the establishment of an Australian Navy. I think, however, that by means of a local expenditure of the present subsidy of £200,000, plus an equal amount from revenue upon the creation of the nucleus of a sea defence, we could render to the Empire as a whole a service more efficient than can be secured by a contribution of £200,000 per annum to the British Navy. I venture to assure the leader of the Opposition that a proposed allocation of revenue for the creation of an Australian Navy, or for Australian coastal defence, if he prefers to so describe it, would meet with a much heartier response from the taxpayers of Australia than would a contribution by the Commonwealth Government for the up-keep of the British Naval Squadron in these waters. It must be apparent that if the money were to be spent upon our own ships, in which we could take a pride, and which we could build, man, and, in times of trouble/ operate, we should secure a larger vote for naval purposes than we should be able to obtain in the form of a contribution towards the Imperial Navy. We should certainly obtain a response to a proposal of that kind, whereas nothing better than cold indifference is accorded a vote for a naval subsidy. I do not for a moment suggest that in the event of war we should run a little show of our own. I recognise that in order to insure effectiveness in such circumstances, we must have only one man in charge of operations.
– If in war, why not in peace? Is not peace a time of preparation for war?
– I dare say that the honorable member is aware that in times of. peace we work our land forces according to the drill manual of the British Army. We use the same weapons as are employed at home, and on some occasions, in order to preserve uniformity of method and equipment, we have even contemptuously thrust aside inventors who have put before us what seemed to be. practical improvements in rifles. We go to an extreme - I do not say an improper extreme - in that direction. If, in the case of our land forces, we have the same drill and use the same weapons and ammunition as are employed in the British Army ; if but for the fact that we have our own officers, we follow the British land system of defence, how can it be said that it is impossible to follow the high traditions attaching to the British Navy in relation to particular methods of naval defence ?
– Does the honorable member think that we should, for example, secure one standard of discipline in time of war, if, in time of peace, we had two controls?
– I see no insuperable difficulty in the way. I do not wish, however, to enter upon that phase df the question. The present annual subsidy is a contemptible, paltry sum to offer Great Britain, but it is of great importance to us if we are to establish anything in the shape of an Australian Navy. There is only one other point in relation to the defence system to which 1 desire now to refer, and that is the continued harping on the part of the Opposition upon the question of the appointment of an Australian to the command of our Forces.
– There is no objection on the score that the officer in command is an Australian.
– I know that is said, and, I dare say, honestly felt ; but since we are told that we should have in command a field officer who has seen service and who has had large commands, I think it necessary to remind honorable members that a great number of Australian officers have seen active service, and that many of them were complimented in very high terms for the work they did in the South African trouble.
– And some of them have never had a scintilla of promotion.
– We ought perhaps to remember that the greatest neglect in that respect has been shown by ourselves in Australia.
– That is the point I was seeking to make.
– I fully admit what the honorable member has said, but there is a certain conclusion which I wish to put before the House. Apart altogether from the service which our officers have seen, and the fact that, within their grades, they have shown themselves in the main highly efficient, I would point out that for many years, they have been tutored by men specially selected in Great Britain, with the object of fitting them to take over the command of the Australian Forces. Does it not argue that we must have had extremely bad luck in the selection of the officers who were sent from England to Australia, and in many instances received high salaries, that to-day after twenty or twentyfive years of tuition, our own officers are not considered qualified to take charge of the comparatively small number of men comprising our Defence Forces ?
– No. The reason is that the moment a scheme has been formulated by those officers it has been torn up by the Parliament.
– In respect to the actual command of our troops, and the methods of drill as well as in other directions we work on the lines of the British Army, and I think that apart altogether from the num ber of troops we are going to have - whether we are to have a militia or a volunteer force or a system of compulsory training, which, by the way, I favour - we have in Australia officers capable of undertaking the highest command that could be given them here.
– Can the honorable member name an officer who is so qualified ?
– I could name several who would make no greater bungle than was made during the South African war by some of the British generals. But if we applied to Great Britain for an officer to command our Forces it would be very much like drawing a prize in a lottery, if we secured a man better qualified to command than are some of our own officers. I do not for a moment say that there are not in the British Army generals with much greater knowledge and ability than are possessed by Australian officers; but our chances of obtaining one of them is verv much like the chance of drawing a winning number in a lottery. On the whole I think the departure made recently is quite justified. I do not wish to say one word in eulogy of Major-General Hoad, but from what I have seen of him I am disposed to regard him as a very able man. I have no desire to say anything upon the question of preferential trade, because, although I am a very strong believer in the principle, I must admit that there is no hope of anything practical coming out of the proposals in this regard unless the feeling which, I believe, exists in Australia is freely reciprocated by the people of Great Britain. The question of whether a preferential trade bond should be entered into between the different parts of the Empire is primarily one for the people of Great Britain to determine. It is for them, with a full knowledge of their own conditions, to say whether they are likely, in the long run, to be benefited or injured bv the consummation of such a scheme. Therefore, while expressing my own belief that such an agreement would beneficially affect Australia I do not pretend to suggest how it should be viewed by the people of Great Britain. I do not feel inclined to take up time worrying over the question of preferential trade, in view of the apparent decision of the people of Great Britain. But there are one or two other matters about which I desire to say a word. We have, in my conception, a very difficult financial period ahead in Australia. There are a number of broad Australian questions which require treatment at the hands of the Federal Parliament, and each one of which involves a rather serious addition to our expenditure. In the first place, the Northern Territory - leaving out any question as to the details of the agreement - empty as it is to-day, constitutes an absolute menace to the security of the other portions of Australia. To take over the Territory means a fairly large additional annual expenditure - that is inevitable. Then all parties are practically pledged to old-age pensions, and that again means a large additional expenditure. To-day, the leader of the Opposition said that he agrees with the Government - and I can say the Labour Party emphatically agrees with the Government - in its desire to establish, at any rate, the nucleus of an Australian Navy ; and that cannot be done without money. There are other proposals for railways, which, if carried through, mean money ; and, bearing all these things in mind, perhaps the most serious matter to which we can address ourselves at the moment, as a representative body, is the question of ways and means. I must say that this Government is exhibiting an indifference to the question of ways and means, which, to my mind, is almost reckless.
– The question is not pressing ; that is the reason.
– I suppose there is a disposition on the part of the Treasurer today, as there is on the part of a great many Treasurers, to trust to the chapter of accidents to provide the revenue necessary for all those grand schemes, which every one agrees with, but which cannot be carried out without making financial provision. First, we have the Treasurer putting forward proposals dealing with the difficulty which is created by what is known as the Braddon section of the Constitution, and the probable or possible cessation of the operation of that section at the end of 1910. The Treasurer put before the Chamber a series of proposals, which, to my mind, were not sufficiently debated, or’ sufficiently understood, by honorable members ; because, otherwise, those proposals would have provoked much more serious objection than was raised by myself and one or two others. The proposals have since been adopted by the States Premiers at their Conference in Brisbane ; and the Commonwealth Treasurer returned from that Conference expressing a surprised joyfulness that the Premiers had adopted that portion of his scheme. I think that the surprise should have been exhibited if the States Premiers had been insane enough, from their local stand-point, to refuse the proposal. Certainly, it is the most prodigal proposal, from the stand-point of Federal finance, that could possibly have been put forward. I remember hearing the leader of the Opposition express his abhorrence of the Braddon section, though that right honorable gentleman has since found reason to think that the section is not quite so bad as he then deemed it.
– I hope the honorable member will allow me to correct him. I have always been opposed to the inflexibility of the Braddon section, which creates an absurd state of things ; and I am, and always have been, in favour of making the section more flexible.
– The right honorable gentleman’s election manifesto did not express that idea quite as clearly as one might have wished. However, I do not desire to deal with that point now, but to direct the serious attention of honorable members to what is involved in the proposal of the Treasurer, which, I understand, was agreed to by the States Premiers in Conference. First, the Treasurer proposes that in lieu of the three-fourths of net revenue from Customs and Excise, be the amount large or small, the Commonwealth shall pay annually to each State for ten years after 1910, a fixed sum equal to the average annual amount .of three-fourths of the net revenue from Customs and Excise which the State has contributed during, say, the five years preceding. So far as I am concerned, I have always objected to the principle, rump and stump, of the Braddon section. The whole design on which the finance system of the States and the Federation was built up was rotten. The Commonwealth should have been left dependent on its own resources, both for the raising and the expenditure of money. _ But we have to take things as they are until, of course, they can be altered ; and I am quite prepared, as I said at Hobart two or three years ago, to agree to a fixed payment, preferably a payment on a per capita basis. Whatever fixed sum is eventually agreed upon is of comparatively minor moment, so long as the Commonwealth is freed from the extraordinary provisions of the Braddon section. But the Treasurer is not content with granting a fixed sum equal to that which the States have been receiving on the aver* age, since he goes further and says that if three-fourths of the total net revenue received by the Commonwealth from Customs and Excise in any year after the 31st December, 1910 - that is, after the termination of the agreement - exceeds the aggregate amount of the annual fixed sum guaranteed to all the States, any such sum in excess is to be distributed amongst the States per capita. That is an excellent idea, perhaps, from the stand-point of a parochially-minded person; but what does it mean? It means that the States Treasurers are to get, on an average, at least as much as they get to-day, and all that there is over. In other words, in lean years the Treasurers wil 1 get what they have been getting for, say, the last ten years on an average, and in the fat years they will get all that is over the average. In’ other words, again, they are to get at least as much as they do to-day, and as much more as comes in.
– It will keep them up to the mark.
– The honorable member is, I think, new to the question; but can he conceive of any system of finance conducing to the honest control of the Treasury and of the people’s taxes, which means that in fat years surpluses cannot be accumulated to make up for the deficiencies of lean years? That is the position the Federal Treasurer will be in if the agreement suggested by the present Treasurer is carried out.
– Did the honorable member ever know an Australian Government to accumulate its surpluses?
– I am glad to say that in the State in which we are to-day there have been a number of surpluses, though they have not been accumulated.
– They all go to credit.
– In South Australia every surplus goes to the reduction of the national debt, which is an equivalent, and a good way of carrying a surplus forward. This year £300,000 of surplus in South Australia will go to the reduction of the State’s indebtedness.
-But even that is not accumulating surpluses for lean years.
– What I want to point out is that if there is a deficiency through our meeting the requirements of the lean year that is inevitable - and even a series of lean years we may regard as occasionally inevitable - how is that deficiency to be made up? By going to the money market and borrowing - that is the only way.
– Additional taxation.
– Not through the Customs, anyhow. I desire honorable members to seriously consider whether the Treasurer’s proposal to give the States Treasurers more than they now receive, in consideration of their giving up their claims under the Braddon section, is one any sane Parliament, situated as this Parliament is, ought to accept.
– Not more than they receive.
– I can quite believe that the right honorable gentleman does not understand what his proposal is.
– That sort of argument does not appeal to me.
– I am sure that the right honorable gentleman’s argument in favour of his scheme does not appeal to me,, and I do not think that it will appeal to the House. He proposes, if I can read language correctly, to give to the States, first, the average, for five years, of what they have received - that is a fixed sum; and, in addition to that -
If three-fourths of the total net revenue received by the Commonwealth from Customs and Excise in any year after 31st December, 1910, exceeds the aggregate amount of the annual fixed sum guaranteed to all the States, any such sum in excess to be distributed among the States fer capita.
– That is after they have received the guaranteed amount.
– The Treasurer guarantees the States the three-fourths average in the first place.
– We may receive more revenue than we expect. In that case the three-fourths will be greater than the average on which the guaranteed payment is based.
– I cannot follow the right honorable gentleman.
– The amount paid to the States can never come to more than three-fourths of the revenue received.
– I suggest to the right honorable gentleman that he, as Treasurer, will not find that he will have a very large sum of money in hand at the end of a given period if he loses the Braddon section.
– The honorable member suggests that the revenue is going to decrease.
– No; but under the Treasurer’s proposal the States in the lean years will get the average based upon what they now get, whilst in fat years they will get up to three-fourths of the revenue of the Commonwealth.
– Yes, but there are to be no lean years. We are going to increase.
– The optimism of the Treasurer shows itself, not only in his precious scheme, but also in his last remark. He says that there are to be no lean years. We all hope so ; but, even supposing that there are none, the Federal Parliament will be no better off so far as concerns the control of its own revenue than it is at the present time. It will still, according to the right honorable gentleman’s own admission, return to the States three-fourths of all revenues received from Customs and Excise.
– We pay a great deal more than the three-fourths now.
– The right honorable member absolutely ignores the possibility that there may be worse times ahead of us. He appears to have no thought for the morrow. Let that take care of itself !
– If my plan did not exist we might still be paying£700,000 over the three-fourths.
– That is what we have been doing, and if the Treasurer’s scheme is to be carried out, the Government will pay a great deal more; or it may be paid when my honorable friends in the Opposition corner come into office. Then the surplus that the right honorable gentleman talks about so very confidently will be swallowed up several times over. If he has so much money in hand, why does he not bring forward a scheme for the payment of the old-age pensions that we have been talking so much about? But on the top of this method of dealing with the Braddon section, to which I invite the attention of honorable members, we have another proposal from the Government. I do not know whether it was mentioned in the Governor- General’s Speech, but to-day the Postmaster-General gave notice of a postal rates proposal, which I understand includes a proposition for penny postage. Notwithstanding the awful slump which a similar proposal endured in this Parliament a few months ago, the Government brings it forward again, regardless of the fact that according to the estimate of the officials it must mean a loss of £300,000 per annum for several years.
– The Post Office is paying its way this year.
– But our revenue cannot stand such a loss. Does not the Treasurer know very well, too, that the Post Office only pays its way because we never set out the amount already spent as capital on account of the Department?
– It pays no interest.
– It pays no interest. I do not wish to be misunderstood. I do not say that the Post Office should be looked upon as a commercial department only, and be expected to pay interest. I only put forward that argument in respect to the interjection of the Treasurer. But whether the Post Office pays its way or not is no answer to the criticism that we have no right at this stage, with large commitments ahead of us, and with new Australian duties to be undertaken, to. forego such a large amount of revenue as is involved in this proposal for penny postage. I am not against penny postage on its merits. I hope the day will arrive when our finances will be in such a condition that we can afford to have penny postage. But before we take on luxuries let us look at what may be regarded as necessaries. Therefore in my view penny postage can afford to wait.
– It is not federal to have different rates of postage for people in different States.
– That, after all, is only, a minor difficulty. I hear various grievances spoken about by different sections in different States, but amongst all the grievances, real or unreal as they may be, which, one hears mentioned, one never hears amy complaint made about postal differences so far as charges are concerned; and the question of penny postage or twopenny postage is not one of the grievances that creates any stir throughout the States. We have much more substantial grievances than that.
– The Federal Capital question, for instance.
– On the Federal Capital question, I have at present only this to say - that I must express my objection to the Treasurer in his official capacity constituting himself a pleader for one particular site.
– As a commissioner.
– As the all-embracing commissioner for one site.
– I looked at them all.
– But the right honorable gentleman is perpetually bombarding the Clerk at the table with papers expressing his opinion on all sites and all conditions.
– If my opinion is not worth anything, the House need not take any notice of it.
– I am sorry to say that the right honorable gentleman’s last effusion contains such a number of inaccuracies that I shall take the trouble to comment upon it at some other time.
– It does not suit the honorable member, I suppose.
– Certainly it does not suit me; but, in addition to that, in my opinion it is not a proper thing to use the facilities of the Government in this way. It is not proper for him to use-
– What facilities ?
– The printing office, for example.
– I have not subjected it to any special strain.
– I invite the serious attention of the House to the matters of finance to which I have directed attention.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 7.45 p.m.
– I have listened with some surprise to the criticism which hats fallen from certain honorable members with regard to the expediency of speaking to the AddressinReply. I venture to submit that, notwithstanding all we have heard, the experience of those who have had much to do with public affairs in parliamentary life has been that the debate on the AddressinReply is not by any means void of utility. The honorable member for Gippsland, in speaking of this, referred to myself, and to the fact that on one occasion I had, when in office, dispensed with the Address-in-Reply debate. But that was a very remarkable occasion, when it was, for reasons with which the honorable member is familiar, essential that no time should be lost in getting to actual business. But in ordinary circumstances I think that a debate on the Address-in-Reply affords a very useful opportunity for honorable members to discuss in a wider way than would otherwise be possible the broad as pects of questions that are likely to come before them in detail in the Bills to be submitted to the House. I therefore make no excuse for adding my tribute to the stream of debate on the Address-in-Reply. There is one matter on which I should like to say a word, though I feel I must approach the subject with considerable diffidence, because I was not a member of the House, and, therefore, not present when it was fully debated here on a previous occasion. I refer to the mail contract, or the authority which this House gave for entering into and carrying out such contract. I do not propose to enter upon a discussion of what has already taken place, and is now done with ; but the right honorable the leader of the Opposition referred to-night to the Victorian Government and the action they took in the matter. I disclaim, of course, any desire to hold a brief for the Victorian Government, but I think that to some extent their action has been misconstrued. Knowing the gentleman who is at present in the lead in that Government - the Acting Premier, Mr. Davies - and his colleague, Mr. Swinburne, as I do, and knowing them intimately, as colleagues in a Government come to know one another when thrown together at times of considerable difficulty, I feel absolutely convinced that neither of those gentlemen is capable of lending himself to what he would believe to be a mean or dishonorable action. It is quite possible there may have been some misapprehension, but I feel absolutely certain that both those gentlemen, when they took the action they did, did so in the full belief that they were not violating any agreement or understanding that had been entered into with the Premiers of the other States. For all that, I must say that I was sorry when I saw that any one of the States Governments was having anything to do with the mail contract. I was sorry when I saw it proposed that the States Governments should together enter into or exercise any control in the matter of the contract. It is absolutely a Federal matter, and it ought not to be touched by any State Government. The reason I refer to this now is that the Federal Government are calling for fresh tenders, and the form of tenders and the action to be taken upon them are entirely matters for that Government in its administrative capacity. Quite properly they have not invited any criticism bv this House of the form of the tenders. They take all responsibility for that as an Executive act. Without desiring in any degree to violate their privileges or to enter into a general discussion of the form of these tenders, I might be allowed to make a suggestion which I think would be of some little service. I should say that there should be embodied in the conditions of tender one to the effect that no State Government should acquire any financial control or interest in or over the contract. We propose to enter into a contract which is not merely a postal or mail contract. It must be remembered that on the former occasion, as at present, one of the stipulations included in the conditions of contract was that a certain speed should be maintained. And there was another requiring that the boats should have a certain carrying capacity. I am not sure whether that is included in the new conditions of contract.
– The stipulation as to speed would be applicable to a mail service.
– Not exactly. The limitation of the time of transit is essential to enable the Department to protect itself. But were we dealing only with the carriage of mails between certain places, why should we attempt to interfere with the speed at which the ships might be run between those places ? We must remember that in a matter of this sort every additional restriction or condition adds to the difficulty of the Commonwealth in securing a service on satisfactory terms. What I venture to suggest is that the Commonwealth is not merely contracting for the carriage of mails, but also for the establishment of a regular service which, in addition to the carriage of .mails, will, it is hoped, be of the greatest use and benefit to the Governments and peoples of the various States in the carriage of products. That is an additional responsibility which the Federal Government undertakes in stipulating for a service which will effect these purposes. When we contract for a mail service which in addition to carrying our mails, will be capable of carrying at certain rates of speed large quantities of perishable cargoof various kinds, it is necessary to depart to some extent from the principle of leaving the contractors to make all their arrangements themselves. They must make all their business arrangements. They must have the most absolute liberty to deal in the ordinary business way with their customers, whether they be States Governments or individual merchants, but the
Federal Government might well ‘impose a restriction upon any State in the Federation acquiring any financial control over the contract.
– That might have the effect of preventing an extension of the service in the way achieved by the arrangements at present existing between Queensland and the Orient Steam Navigation Company.
– I think that what I suggest need not prevent any State from subsidizing the company, after the mail service has been established, for a special or additional service. What I object to is, that in doing that any State should, either by way of mortgage, or in any other way known to the law, obtain an effective control over the conduct of the service. Another subject upon which I desire to say a very few words is that of the Federal Capita], which has already been so much debated. On this question I feel myself at a considerable loss, since I have but an imperfect knowledge of the facts, and did not hear the discussion of the matter in- this House on previous occasions. But I do say that if, as the leader of the Opposition urged to-night, the fact is that, looking at the contract as a matter of good faith and not merely of literal or legal language, the real essence of the bond between the Premiers, on which New South Wales was induced to enter the Federation is to be found in some other terms or some modification of the terms embodied in the Constitution, no matter what the inconvenience may be, I for one feel bound to adhere to that condition. That is, I would carry out the contract not merely in the letter as expressed in the Constitution, but also in the essence, if the essence requires some modification, or someaddition to these terms. I think the suggestion put forward by my honorable friend’ the honorable member for Fawkner - I understand it was very frequently made in this House before by other honorable members - that this Parliament should take up its position in Sydney for ten years after the expiration of the first ten years of the Federation, leaving the matter open for settlement at the end of that period, offersa means by which we might get over a great many difficulties. I also agree, however, with the honorable member, that all we have to look to is the actual bargain, and’ that if any arrangement of the kind suggested is to come, it can only, if it be any modification of the bargain, ‘be effected at the instance and by the desire of the honorable members who represent New South Wales, which was brought into the Federation by that agreement. I desire to add my tribute to what has already been said about the very great services, in one sense, which were rendered to the Commonwealth by the Prime Minister and his colleague, the Minister of Trade and Customs, when in England. I join with those who sincerely and earnestly deplore the unfortunate illness which has befallen the Prime Minister. Notwithstanding that, it becomes our absolute duty to speak about the matters with which the Prime Minister was dealing in London just as if he was present, and it is quite in accord with his chivalrous character that he should have requested the House to do so. I do not suppose that any of us can think that very much actual solid benefit was achieved by that embassy. In one respect, namely, in regard to the question of preferential trade - and here I may say that I am heartily in support of what I understand as preferential trade - the cause of preferential trade, to my mind, was not advanced one step. It was rather, possibly, to some extent thrown back by the result of the Conference, but it would be most ungenerous in us not to admit that the magnificent power of speech which the Prime Minister possesses has made an impression upon our fellow citizens in Great Britain, has brought us somewhat nearer to them, and has, to some extent, opened their eyes to the fact that there is a growing, an active, and an ambitious dependency of Great Britain in these southern seas. That, to my mind, is a very important step gained. The right honorable the leader of the Opposition spoke slightingly of the expression. “ Dominion” being adopted instead of the word “ Colony “ to describe the self-governing dependencies of the Empire. I do not think there is very much at any time in a mere change of name, but this particular change of name is an indication of a coming, if not an actual, change in the attitude of the people and the Government of England towards us. There has been what is to my mind a rather unfortunate tradition in existence with regard to the Colonies ever since the war of American Independence. Great Britain lost its American Colonies then through bullying them, and the tradition ever since then has been “Whatever you do you must not bully the Colonies.” In fact, statesmen have gone so far as to say, “ If it is disagree able, you must be very careful how you tell even the truth to the Colonies.” That is where the trouble comes in.
– I do not think so.
– There is a good deal of trouble in it. The sooner those who are charged with the responsibility of the Imperial affairs in which we are all concerned, make up their minds that their first duty is to put the whole facts of the Imperial situation - of our rights, our interests and our duties - before us, the citizens of the self-governing communities throughout the Empire, the sooner we shall be likely to arrive at some solid, tangible, and business-like conclusion on the question.
– The word “ Commonwealth “ is much more impressive than “ Dominion.”
– I shall not quarrel about words. I think it is only after all a nominal recognition, and if we are ever to have a real recognition of our position as a Dominion, as something distinct from a Colony, it can only come by our showing that we are prepared to undertake our share of the burdens and the responsibilities, as well as to claim our share of the rights, of the Empire. So long as the whole burden of maintaining the defence of this great Empire rests upon that congested and much poorer population in the British Isles, to which the right honorable the leader of the Opposition referred to-night, so long will the people of Great Britain, as well as their rulers, continue to regard us as being in a state of political tutelage and political dependence. I am not going into the figures to-night, because I do not intend to weary honorable members if I can possibly help it on this the first occasion on which I have had the honour to address this House, but figures have often been put before honorable members to show the absolute inequality between our poorer fellow-citizens in Great Britain and ourselves in our share of the burden of common defence. I do not, for my own part, think that those figures are absolutely proportionately accurate. For instance, when it is said as it has been said to-day, that the Imperial burden for naval purposes is £32,000,000, or approximately 1 6s. per head, and that ours is, roughly speaking,1s. or1s. 6d. per head-
– One shilling.
– I do not think that statement correctly or accurately estimates the proportion, because we must bear in mind a few disturbing elements. The
British fleet has to protect a vast commerce, which is mainly of benefit to Great Britain itself, especially the Indian commerce. Again, Great Britain has an enormous carrying trade not merely of its own or of Colonial products, but of the products of foreign countries.
– Great Britain’s shipping per head is not greater than Australia’s shipping per head, is it?
– I am coming to that point. I was going to show that those figures do not necessarily correctly represent the proportions. I do not say, on the other hand, that we ought to elide altogether from the equation the Indian or foreign shipping traffic, because we have a foreign shipping traffic to some slight extent, and we shall acquire an Indian traffic no doubt as time goes on. Although, however, those figures do not correctly represent the proportion, still, as every one must admit, there is a vast and shocking disproportion between the burden, if it can. be called a burden, which is borne by us, with all our individual as well as corporate wealth, and the burden which is borne by our much poorer fellow-citizens in Great Britain in maintaining that common fleet which gives us all protection. We shall have another opportunity, I understand, of discussing the defence question in general. I suppose, although I do not know that anything is said about it in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech, that an opportunity will be given to this House of discussing the question of the Naval Agreement, which will, of course, throw open the whole matter. I do not propose to-night to occupy the time of the House at any length on that subject. We have heard a good deal about an Australian Navy, and we have also heard a good deal about the Australian subsidy to the Imperial Navy. To my mind, both those expressions are capable of widely differing interpretations. The idea of a country like Australia - a new and free country - placing itself under a policy which would compel it to pay for its liberty and for its defence by an .annual tribute of large sums of money, without having any effective representation on the body which has to deal with that money; to control the Navy, or to control the issues of peace and war, is, to my mind, utterly repugnant. I go so far as to say that, for such a policy, under which a country has to buy its freedom, its liberty, and its defence by paying tribute money to any other country, no matter how nearly related to itself, to be a success is contrary to all the lessons of history from the earliest times. It is not, moreover, the kind of representation which would be effective for us. It is not the sort of representation which, to my mind, anything like an Imperial Council would afford to us. But an Imperial Council, or any other body - call it by what name you will - even if it have representation from Australia, Canada, and the other selfgoverning British dependencies thereon, would never rise above the status or the rank or the responsibility of a Board of Advice unless, and until, the British Parliament was willing to concede to it some of the real governing power of the Empire. So long as the Ministers who advise His Majesty the King in determining the issues of peace or war, who govern the Departments, both military and naval, who control the whole policy of the Empire and its relations with foreign countries - so long as those Ministers are responsible, and solely responsible, to the Parliament of Great Britain, so long will it be impossible for us to have any effective representation on any central body whether it be called an Imperial Council or otherwise. It is for that reason that I feel the very great difficulty of this question. If it were possible for us to have a great Imperial Parliament in which we should all have real and effectual representation, then much of the difficulty would be solved, because there would be no disgrace, no dishonour, no want of security, even in our paying under such circumstances very large sums of money as our contributions towards the common defence. I can see very little chance of any such real or effectual representation. Then what is the alternative? Here, sir, we are faced with one of those great problems - not we in Australia merely, but the people in Canada, and all the selfgoverning dependencies of the Empire - which have never yet been solved by any other community; and for this simple reason, that there never has been, so far as I am aware, an Empire like the present British Empire. There have been great, perhaps even greater Empires proportionately. If we look at the Roman Empire in ancient times, or if we look at the Spanish Empire in mediaeval times-
– They had only a handful of people.
– The Spanish Empire had a great many millions of people, and in its geographical extent was as great as, perhaps greater than, the British Empire at the present time. But though there have been great and world-wide Empires before now, there never has been an Empire composed of absolutely self-governing, free, and independent communities in different parts of the world. That is precisely what creates in connexion with the defence of the Empire one of the most difficult problems with which any nation or Parliament can be confronted. I am quite in accord with those who believe that if we with our 4,000,000 people, or even with double the population, were to attempt to defend by military force this enormous continent and immense coast line, or even to defend ourselves with what has been called a mosquito fleet, or a fleet of small cruisers which would keep round our own coast - we should find that such protection would be no protection at all, as it never could be. It is quite true that with our 4,000,000 people, if we were ail in arms, if we were all trained to war, if we had very heavy taxation, and had as large a navy as we could create or buy, manned by properlyequipped and well-drilled seamen, we might, probably would, be able to defend the main lines of our commerce issuing from the principal ports. We should probably be able to defend those parts of Australia which are most thickly populated. But I hold that if we had every male person from sixteen to sixty years of age in arms we could not possibly hope to maintain for ourselves the control and sovereignty of this enormous country.
– We could lick any nation in the world if it came here.
– I shall be quite prepared if the necessity should arise to follow the honorable gentleman into the cannon’s mouth if he likes, but still we can only look at the facts. A country three-fourths the size of Europe, garrisoned by a population not larger than that of the County of Lancashire, never has been, and never will bet able to maintain control in the presence of a hostile nation. Our sole and only substantial defence - and the sooner we come to recognise the plain, obvious facts the better - is not merely the maintenance, but the continued predominance of the naval power of the Empire to which we belong. Our forefathers, of whom we are proud, have won for us that sea power which means not merely the possession of a few more ships than are possessed by other countries, but means also that the number of people skilled to take part in these things, the courage, the discipline, the naval spirit of the whole nation, have to be maintained. Now what is the position? We find, sir, that the whole of that great burden is practically borne, as has often been said before, by the citizens of Great Britain and Ireland - 41,000,000 people. I leave entirely out of sight all those unemancipated peoples who are British subjects and with whom we practically have little or nothing in common so far as political institutions are concerned. Taking the real citizens of the free, self-governing communities, you have some t 2 ,000,000 people who, as yet, have not taken upon their shoulders any share of the burden of that great responsibility. I do not count what we have done here as anything. Canada has done nothing. That cannot continue. The people who already bear that great burden cannot always permit us to remain absolutely free from bearing our share of it. We, in our own self-respect, do not desire to remain free from the responsibility which has always attached to every country of freemen from the beginning of the world, namely, the responsibility of defending themselves. I venture to think that when this question comes to be threshed out, some way may be discovered whereby we may be able to maintain - what you may call an Australian Navy, if you like - a certain number of Imperial ships which shall be manned by our own men, officered by men who have been trained here, and who shall be under our control except in so far as it may be necessary to have a general control in time of action, and yet which, in both war and peace, will co-operate at all points with all other sections of the Imperial Navy. Some such scheme as I have outlined may possibly be arrived at ; but I shall not now enter into the discussion of so complicated and technical a matter. In any case I shall refrain from doing so until I have heard the opinions of honorable members who have already debated the subject at considerable length. ;->But whatever method be adopted, our expenditure during the next ten or fifteen years must increase to an amount which it would be imprudent, perhaps, to name, but which will be considerably over £.1,000,000 a year - a fact to which it would be absurd to shut our eyes. The question of how we should share the burden of defence is one upon which opinions may vary; but the fact that we must be prepared to gradually but steadily take it upon our shoulders should not be longer overlooked. We are sometimes told that Canada is doing nothing. The Dominion is in a very peculiar position. If we were at liberty to speak as freely here about the position of Canada compared with that of Australia as we might in talking to our friends, the conclusion would be arrived at that we should not hang back waiting for what Canada may do. We must thresh the matter out - ascertain what our duty is, and then manfully take up our burden. That is the only way in which to acquire recognition of our position as a selfgoverning and free British Dominion. As we shoulder our burden, we shall acquire with it rights and interests of a substantial character such- as we have not hitherto enjoyed. My worst enemies have never spoken of me as a visionary, and, therefore, it will not be termed the dream of a visionary when I say that, in view of the probable increase of our population, I may live to see the time, and I hope that every honorable member will do so too, when Australia will be able to relieve the suffering millions of the British nation of the cost of policing the South-eastern Seas, and the Islands which are in them. There will come with the performance of that duty rights which will be given to us gradually”. We shall have more weight in the Councils of the Empire. Agreements with foreign powers relative to islands in the South Pacific will not be made before a substantial opportunity has been given to us to voice our opinions with regard to them. That has been done. Imperial Ministers are charged with the whole weight of responsibility for Imperial affairs. They have to provide for the defence of the Empire. Therefore, while they have at times consulted Colonial authorities, these consultations have often taken place after the matters to which thev related have been arranged, and when the views of the Colonial authorities have not coincided with those of the Home authorities, naturally the latter have prevailed. « As the great British Dominion in the Southern Seas, separated from the other parts of the Empire by great oceans, and, as the Prime Minister recently pointed out, by lands inhabited by nations differing from us. in colour and in race, we can, I think, look forward to the time when, if we take our share of the burden of the Empire, we shall be able to claim our share of rights of control. But the bearing of the burden involves great additional expense. Then the transfer of the
Northern Territory from South Australia to the Commonwealth is proposed. That, if made, will involve large expenditure. So, too, will the active policy of immigration which the Government propose. I agree with the leader of the Labour Party, that the Government have not stated, or even indicated, how they propose to finance these great undertakings, and if honorable members will have patience with me for a few minutes I shall say a word or two upon the financial question. When Federation was entered upon it was provided by the framers of the Constitution that the revenue from Customs and Excise duties should go to the Commonwealth Government, their object being, in my view, that with that revenue should be taken over, as an equipoise, the burden of the debts which had been contracted by the various States. Finance is one of the most difficult problems with which Governments have to deal, and the only reason why financial operations are conducted in at all a business-like way by representative assemblies is, that Parliaments before voting Sup’ply must provide Ways and Means. If we allow the ten years during which the Braddon section has force to expire, without making the provision contemplated for the management of the debts of the States, the financial relations between the Government of the Commonwealth and the Governments of the States will be very dangerous from the taxpayers’ point of view. The Commonwealth Government will have arevenue enormously in excess of its ‘needs, no matter how deeply it may feel inclined to dip its hands into the Treasury. Its Treasurer will be under no obligation to find ways and means for meeting any proposal he may bring before the Commonwealth Parliament; but the Treasurers of the States will have to wait months, and it may be for a whole year, before making up their accounts, and providing Ways and Means for their yawning deficits, in order to ascertain how much of the Commonwealth surplus will be returned to them. The framers of the Constitution in giving the Commonwealth Government the revenue from Customs and Excise duties, which must rapidly increase as our population grows, with the right to take over the States debts, the ‘conversion of which would inevitably lead to a reduction in the yearly burden of interest, intended that, under ordinary circumstances, it should live entirely upon that revenue, without imposing direct taxation. I think that is the spirit of it. This Parliament was not to be hampered in any way ; it was to possess the power of taxation in every shape and form, as every Government and responsible power must possess it. If the necessity arose, it was to exercise that power. But- what I think was in the minds of the people when they assented to the Bill was that for all the ordinary purposes of Commonwealth government this vast revenue of Customs and Excise - balanced as it was by the duty to pay interest upon the debts then taken over - should meet all the necessities which might reasonably fall upon the Government.
– That is not what we were told in New South Wales. There we were assured that the Federal Government could resort to direct taxation. We were told that they would have a right to do so, and the right honorable member for East Sydney promised that if he entered the Commonwealth Parliament he would seek to impose direct taxation.
– The honorable member is not a good interpreter of what I promised.
– No doubt the leader of the Opposition is well able to take care of himself. He has usually shown himself to be quite capable of doing that. I thoroughly agree with the honorable member for Barrier - in fact, I said only a few moments ago - that it was intended to invest this Parliament with the- fullest and most unlimited powers of taxation.
– The right honorable member for East Sydney told the people of New South Wales that the inclusion of the Braddon blot in the Constitution would force the Commonwealth Parliament to resort to direct taxation.
– Nonsense ! I got a termination put to the Braddon blot at the Premiers’ Conference.
– Coupled with that power, I believe the general impression was - of course I can speak only of what I believe j we all have our different experiences, and I am judging by my own experience.
– -In Victoria. I was speaking of New South Wales.
– Yes. The general impression was that the Commonwealth Parliament would be able to carry on the vast national duties thrown upon it out of the great surpluses from Customs and Excise revenue that it might reasonably be expected to possess after paying the interest upon the
States debts taken over. For that purpose the period prescribed by the Braddon section was, as I have always believed, inserted. The framers of our Constitution contemplated that we could not take over the States debts at once. To my mind, their transfer will be a matter of the greatest financial difficulty. The operation will certainly demand the closest attention, and will probably occupy a very considerable time. The’ framers of the Constitution therefore said, “ We will give you a period of ten years in which to take over the States debts, and during that time, in order that you may not have unlimited power to deal with the finances, we will take a rough and ready short cut by providing that you must hand back to the States three-fourths of the Customs and Excise revenue collected.” It was not intended that that three-fourths should be anything more than a mere makeshift for a short time, until this Parliament should perform the duty which the Constitution intended it to perform, of settling the financial relations between itself and the States.
– The Braddon clause was made perpetual bv the Convention.
– But the idea of th? Convention was absolutely departed from.
– I thought the honorable member was quoting what the Convention had in its mind.
– No. We are all aware that the Convention went one way and then another on several occasions.
– We want to know what the people did.
– Exactly. We want to know what was the real essence of the bargain which was accepted by the people of the Commonwealth. I quite admit that in a matter of this sort it is very desirable that we should arrive at an agreement with the representatives of the various States. If we can arrive at such an agreement as will accord with our own view of what is right, I think it may save some friction. But I do say that, whether we arrive at such an agreement or not, the responsibility and the duty of settling this question rests entirely with the Commonwealth Parliament. Over and over again we have had conferences between representatives of the Commonwealth and the States Premiers and Treasurers upon the subject, and over and over again rights have been asserted on one side or the other. At this stage, I merely desire to say that, glad as I should be to see a definite agreement arrived at, if this Parliament either unduly delays the settlement of this vital question or accepts any settlement which does not accord entirely with its own view of what is the best thing to do, it will be abdicating the most important function which the people have intrusted to it. I am pleased to observe in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech a definite statement that we shall be afforded an opportunity of dealing with this matter during the present session. Let me urge upon the Government the absolute necessity of dealing with it at the earliest possible moment. I have already pointed to the vast additional expenditure which must necessarily fall upon the Commonwealth Government in the approaching year. I have said that I believe that expenditure can, with prudence, be met - great though it undoubtedly will be - out of the surplus Customs and Excise duties, without resort to the imposition of direct taxation. We cannot take over the States debts at once. But just let us look for a moment at the figures. At the present time we have a large surplus. With the exception of Western Australia, all the States are possessed of surpluses in their State accounts. The two largest States of the Union have very large surpluses indeed.
– The surpluses of the States aggregate £3,000,000.
– Of course, adjustments may have to be made, so that the weakest States may have their finances arranged in a way that will not bear too hardly upon them during the transition stage. But our revenue is increasing, and we have every reason to hope and believe that it will continue to increase. Upon the other hand, if we take over the States debts - those debts which the Constitution requires us to take over - and convert them, we may reasonably hope - and you, sir, expressed a similar hope in the Convention - that ultimately we shall be able to save something like J per cent, upon our indebtedness. Possibly we may not be able to save so much at first, but ultimately we may be able to save that amount. It needs but a very simple arithmetical calculation to show that if we can effect a saving of J per cent, upon £200,000,000, it will be equivalent to £1,000,000 per annum, while a saving of £ per cent, upon that sum would represent £500,000 per annum. Next to the settlement of the Tariff - I quite recognise that until that unfortunate question has been got out of the arena of politics we cannot do anything-
– It is highly unfortunate that we should again be called upon to settle what was supposed to have been settled some time ago.
– It will never be settled.
– I mean settled temporarily in order that we may be afforded breathing space in which to deal with some of those great duties which the people of Australia have intrusted to us. It would be very foolish for a man, when dealing with conjectural matters of this sort, to go into figures ; but having regard to the increase which we may reasonably expect in the Customs and Excise revenue, and the savings which, if we take over the debts that we are entitled under the Constitution to take over, we may reasonably expect - and gradually, within the next ten, twenty, or thirty years, large savings will be effected - it is not at all beyond the region of possibility that we may meet the rapidly increasing expenditure of the Commonwealth without imposing direct taxation upon the people. In such circumstances we may be able to leave the imposition o’f direct taxation to the States Parliaments.
– Whilst populating the country ?
– I would remind the honorable member that the more we populate the country, the greater our Customs and Excise revenue will be.
– But shall we, without direct taxation, provide something for the people to do, or give them land upon which to live?
– I am not desirous at this juncture of entering upon a consideration of the various schemes of assisting immigration. There may be differences and agreements between us, but it must be admitted that the more the population of the Commonwealth increases the larger will be our revenue and the easier it will be to meet our increasing burdens, notwithstanding that those burdens may to some extent grow with the community. What I desire to press upon honorable members, however, is the absolute urgency, if we are really going to do what the people of Australia, under the Constitution, have declared to be one of our first duties, of taking over the debts of the States. If the great savings that we ultimately expect to obtain are to be secured, we must proceed at once to dis- charge this duty. I have taken from the latest return published by the Treasurer some figures that I propose to put before honorable members. It is too late now to think of dealing this year with any of the debts of the States, but I find that during the ten years, 1908 to 1917, States debts amounting to £68,552,000 will mature. Are we going to allow the States to continue to make their own arrangements for the conversion of these loans ? The conversion loans themselves might have a currency of twenty or thirty years or more. Every year that we put off this most important duty we render it more difficult to perform, and make more remote the time at which we shall be able to derive the very great benefit which the Commonwealth credit may reasonably be expected to secure for us in the conversion of States loans. It has been said that the Commonwealth would not stand better on the London money market than some of the States. I doubt that, but even if ic be true the Commonwealth must make a beginning. Until we have a Government consolidated stock which comes to be known to the people who deal in securities of this kind in the great world of finance, we shall not be able to derive the great benefit of the Commonwealth credit.” We must scon make a beginning, and what I submit with great confidence and in the hope that my voice may go with that of others to bring about a solution of this question, is that we ought to have, some time this session, a clear, definite scheme submitted for our consideration by the Government - a scheme which will provide not only for the settlement of our financial relations with the States, but for the transfer of the whole of the debts of the States to the Commonwealth.
– We submitted such a scheme last year.
– That was one that could not possibly be carried through.
– But the Government brought down that scheme.
– I am not suggesting that the Government have never attempted to deal with the problem.
– The honorable and learned member holds that we should bring down another scheme.
– Certainly. I do not desire the same one to be again submitted. I fully recognise the efforts which the Treasurer has made to arrive at an agreement with the Premiers <pf the States, and I think it would be very desirable if such an agreement could be effected. But I wish to urge upon him as well as upon honorable members generally that the matter is one which cannot be delayed very much longer, and that the Ministry and the House must recognise that the settlement of it is a Constitutional responsibility resting 011 this Parliament and this Parliament alone.
– We have heard much of musty parliamentary usages, and I desire to say at the outset that I am pleased to find still prevailing the custom which requires of old members that they shall extend special consideration to the newcomers. I have observed, however, that some honorable members new to the House are not disposed to be so gracious to their more experienced fellow representatives. From my point of view the question of the Tariff, with which we shall shortly be invited to deal, is one of the greatest importance to the Commonwealth. Around it is wrapped the whole question of reform, as well as the problem of what financial arrangement shall take the place of the Braddon section, and until we have determined whether the Tariff shall be merely revenue-producing or one granting industrial protection we cannot hope to grapple effectively with the financial difficulties that confront us. It seems to me that when we are called upon to determine what shall be the Tariff for Australia we shall find many members of the Opposition advocating, as they did some time ago, the imposition of direct taxation. I remember certain addresses delivered some years ago by the honorable and learned member for Flinders in which he favoured land taxation, and which I keenly appreciated. For some time, however, he has remained silent in respect to that question ; but it seems to me that with the settlement of the Tariff, the Treasurer, when looking around for further means of producing revenue, will find it necessary to propose the imposition of land taxation. I sincerely trust that the new. Tariff, instead of being as the present one is, merely revenueproducing, will be such as will afford industrial protection. It is idle to tell the workers of Australia that we are passing through a period of unprecedented prosperity. The leader of the Opposition declared this evening that the trade of Great Britain had gone ahead by leaps and bounds - that its export trade had advanced to the extent of £60,000,000 during the last three years - but I ask what is the use of telling the worker in England of the great advance which its export trade has made if the improvement in his own individual conditions have not been commensurate with it. And so I ask honorable members what good purpose can be served by telling the workers of Australia that during the last few years a great wave of prosperity has passed over the land, and that all the States have had magnificent surpluses, unless we can at the same time show that the workers have participated in those surpluses? The fact that our shops may be filled with choice meats and enticing confections is nothing to the worker and his family if he has not the wherewithal to purchase them. I am a representative of a large industrial constituency, and sincerely hope that the implied intention of the Ministry to give the country not merely a revenue:producing Tariff, but one conferring industrial protection upon the people, will be carried into effect. During the debate I have heard several references to the manufacture of starch. I am rather sorry that the representative of starch is not at present in the House. It has been hurled at protectionists time after time that many of the protected industries pay very small wages, and that, therefore, protection is useless to the workers. I agree with that statement, and I may inform protectionists in the House.-especially in view of the conditions existing in the starch trade, that unless a living wage is given to those employed in that or any other protected industry, I shall vote free-trade every time. It is useless for anybody to tell me that an industry, I care not what industry, will not pay a Jiving wage. If an industry is worthy of protection, it should properly remunerate the workers engaged in it; and unless a living wage is paid I shall take the risk of losing my seat by voting freetrade whenever an opportunity occurs. We have heard hard words used in reference to the two Ministers who represented Australia at the Imperial Conference. Those Ministers, perhaps meaning well, went Home with the idea of bringing about certain relations between Australia and the old country. Their good intentions in this respect were not reciprocated ; and I suppose they are now satisfied that if the people of England do not desire preferential trade, it is not our place to foist it on them. As a protectionist. I object to the further importation of manufactured articles which has the result of keeping our artisans out of work, and that being so, it is only human that I should not wish to see our food products exported in large quantities to the old world, if the effect there would be to cause the British working man to pay higher prices for his eatables. I think the British people are themselves the best judges as to whether preferential trade would or would not be beneficial to them. While I listened to the castigation which certain honorable members have administered to our representatives at the Imperial Conference, in consequence of their political utterances while in England, it struck me as peculiar that the only bond between themselves and the political party with which their names were connected there was that they both were protectionists. Honorable members seem to lose sight of the fact that those politicians, who were in harmony with our representatives on the question of preferential trade, were really the Tories of the old world. I am very sorry to see the question of old-age pensions so lightly touched on in His Excellency’s Speech.
– That question has been touched on in every GovernorGeneral’s Speech.
– That is so; and we now look to the Government for a consummation of our desires in some ‘comprehensive system of old-age pensions applying to the whole of Australia. Of course, it is essential that the wherewithal should be obtained for the purpose, and. in this connexion, I could not help smiling when the leader of the Labour Party pointed out to the Government that the revenue would hardly be. sufficient to cover the expense of taking over the Northern Territory and carrying out the railway and other large schemes which have been mentioned. If the revenue is not sufficient to enable us to carry out our enlarged Federal functions, what chance can there be of earmarking a portion in order to carry out the essential reform of a Federal scheme of old-age pensions - a scheme under which pensions will not be doled out as they are in one State, as a sort of charity, and in another State in a not much more satisfactory manner, while in four States there are no old-age pensions at all ? Old-age pensions should not be left at the will of any future Government, in view of what occurred in Victoria, when a Government, which had no sympathy with the policy, deprived a portion of the aged poor of that assistance to which they were entitled. I hope that Commonwealth old-age pensions when established will be made a charge on the revenue for ever, so that the pensioners may not be exposed to such a risk as that to which I have alluded. We have been told that defence is a question which we must consider. I do not know whether the fact that the Military Barracks are in my constituency makes me a military man, but, in common with others, I am of opinion that we ought to regard the matter of defence much more seriously in the future than in the past. We are told in many quarters that the Australian will not take his part in the defence of the Empire. But my belief is that the Australian, if he be given something to fight for, will fight just as strenuously as the citizen of any other nation. It will never be necessary in Australia to have a compulsory form of service. It is very apparent to me that if the Governments of the past had given any inducement to the youths of Australia to join the Defence Forces they would have been joining in larger numbers to-day. In Victoria for some .years past there has been a system of training cadets in schools. The Government paid the cost of the training, and the parents found the uniforms ; but after leaving school, in order to earn their own living, all the training was lost because of an’ absence of any method by which a youth might become a senior cadet, and then find his way into an adult force of some real value in the defence of the Empire. As to the senior cadets in Victoria, instead of inducing youths to join, there seems to have been more of an endeavour to deter them as much as possible, each cadet being called upon to pay for his own uniform. That is not the way to induce the young men of Australia to take part in the defence of the country. As to naval defence, we have been told during the course of the debate that it would be impossible for us, a handful of people, to create a fleet or a land force sufficient to defend Australia from any enemy who desired to land here.
– Major-General Hutton said it would be impossible for an enemy to land here.
– Major-General Hutton is a gentleman who did not learn his soldiering in Australia, and I know that many are of opinion that the Australian soldier is unfit to take his stand amongst the soldiers of the world. Major-General Hutton came here with a great flourish of trumpets, and he assured us that we were so far from the base of supplies of any foreign country, that it would be impossible for an enemy to effectively occupy Australia for any considerable time. We know that a handful of (people, no more numerous than is the population of Tasmania, held the whole of the British Forces at a disadvantage for a long while, and it took the whole of the mercantile marine of Great Britain to supply soldiers, forage, food and war material during the Boer war. Yet, in spite of what Major-General Hutton said, we are told that some nation could so attack us that we could in no conceivable way defend ourselves. I believe, in common with many others, that it is quite possible for the defence of Australia to be effectively maintained by the Fleet which is at. present in Australian waters being employed in the Indian Ocean or the Atlantic Ocean. As a general matter of warfare, it matters little if one portion of the Empire suffers considerably as long as the outcome of the war is that we are successful. . We know that there is little lamentation on account of loss of life in any battle so long as the result is satisfactory. But while we in Australia are not more selfish than are the people of any other portion of the Empire, still, we do not wish to be put into such a position that we shall suffer considerably by having our ports bombarded and out cities perhaps held up to ransom. Therefore we should be prepared for the defence of our shores by having a mosquito fleet of our own. I agree that it would be impossible for us at present to bring into operation a large Australian fleet. Our purse would not be long enough for that. But by starting on small lines and building by instalments, we might have a fleet quite sufficient for Australia’s present needs. I suppose we shall be told by those who do not believe in encouraging Australian manufactures that it is quite an Utopian idea to think that we shall be able to build our own submarines and torpedo boats. But for my own part, I believe that in time we shall have dock-yards sufficient to build for ourselves cruisers large enough to meet Australia’s requirements. In my opinion, it is useless to think of solving our defence problem unless we determine that the whole of the munitions of war and armaments for our ships, as well as for our land Forces, shall be produced in Australia. We are so far from the markets of the old world that in time of war we shall necessarily be thrown on our own resources. It is therefore necessary for us to prepare to manufacture for ourselves all that is required for defence purposes. The question of the Federal Capital has been mentioned. It was a surprise to me, as a new member of this Parliament, that the question should be raised again. I am aware that it suits the purposes of certain Sydney politicians to raise it, but it is not a matter with which New South Wales as a whole is much concerned, because that State cannot be injured in any way by the Capital being situated in one portion of New South Wales h preference to another. I quite agree that the prestige of Sydney may be affected, or perhaps there mav be commercial advantages ‘from having the Capital situated in a place that may suit the Sydney people. But certain members of the State Parliament in Sydney think they can derive political advantage by raising a cry about the Federal Capital. Although I am new to this Parliament, I have unfortunately taken part in a few political fights, and know perfectly well the force of a cry that appeals to the people of a particular electorate during a campaign, even though it may not be of much interest to the State at large. I am of opinion that the people of New South Wales as a whole are not so much concerned about the Federal Capital as many Sydney representatives would have us believe. It is not my intention to occupy the time of the House any longer. I felt it to be desirable that, as a new member, I should make an attempt to get my “ sealegs,” so to speak, so that I might address the House more comfortably on any future occasion when I may have to discuss any question.
Colonel FOXTON (Brisbane) .- It was not my intention to address the House on this motion, and I should not have done so except that I desire to put matters right in regard to a couple of questions, one of which affects me personally, whilst the other affects the State from which I come. Before touching upon those questions, however, I should like to add my tribute of congratulation to the Prime Minister upon the remarkable effect which his orations have had in the old country. As was remarked by the honorable member for Flinders, the position he attained there by his oratory must have forwarded- the great scheme of preferential trade which he has :,o much at heart. Placed as the hon- 01 able gentleman was, being called upon to undergo such strenuous labour by the demands of his official duties at the Conference, and at the same time having to attend to the obligations imposed upon him in connexion with social affairs, it was marvellous to me that he was able to get through so much work as he did. I think it must be admitted, also, that he created for us a very excellent feeling among the British people. I desire to express my extreme regret - and I am sure that it is shared by every member of the House - that the honorable gentleman should not be able to be present, and that the debate should therefore have been- shorn of one of its principal points of interest ; because I feel confident that honorable members in all parts of the House were extremely desirous of hearing what the Prime Minister, had to say in regard to what he did in the old country. The first point’ to which I wish to refer is in relation to an interjection which I made while the honorable member for Kalgoorlie was speaking. He expressed himself as being of opinion that the immigrants now being brought into Australia for the purpose of relieving the stress in the sugar industry were in future likely to come into competition with workers in other branches of industry when their agreements in that connexion had expired, or possibly during the off-season, when their services are not required in the sugar industry. I interjected that that could not be said of kanakas. The honorable member appeared to be of the opinion that because I interjected to that effect I therefore desired, in common with other honorable members who have been returned to this Parliament, and sit on this side of the House, to induce the Federal Parliament, if possible, to retrace its policy in regard to the exclusion of kanakas. That was not my idea at all. No matter what their views may have been in regard to the particular legislation to which I have alluded, Queenslanders as a whole have loyally accepted the decision that the kanakas have to go, and those of them who are interested in the sugar industry, in which the kanakas were employed, are doing their very best to overcome the undoubted difficulties with which they are faced, as a result of their deportation.
– The honorable member will admit that I accepted his assurance, and that of the honorable member for Oxley on that point.
Colonel FOXTON. - Quite so, but lest the little dialogue between us should be misunderstood elsewhere, I desired to put myself right in regard to that matter. I should like to add that, although Queensland loyally accepts the verdict of Australia on this question, it is not without the display in connexion with that legislation of a certain amount of derision, almost of amusement, if the matter were not so serious a one for Northern Queensland I have no hesitation in saving that of all the coloured people to be found within the limits of Australia at this moment, or at any time during the last five or ten years, the kanaka is the least objectionable. I can say that after many years’ experience in Queensland of various coloured races. Numbers of the kanakas were Christians, and very sincere Christians, and they set an excellent example to many white people. The kanaka was confined to the industry for which he was imported, under later Queensland legislation, at all events, and that legislation was very strictly’ enforced. He did not come into competition with workers in other industries, and while he has been deported, there have been left i’n our midst, speaking roughly, ten times as many coloured people who, as regards their habits, religion, and everything else, are infinitely more objectionable. That is why I say that in Queensland that particular legislation by the Commonwealth Parliament has been regarded with a considerable amount of derision.
– That would not seem to indicate that the planters of Northern Queensland are desirous of meeting the views of the people of Australia.
Colonel FOXTON. - Undoubtedly they accept the decision which has been come to by the Federal Parliament. They cannot do anything else, though I have no doubt that a great many of them would like to see the kanaka back again.
– Does it not seem to indicate that, having got rid of the kanaka, they are trying to get a more objectionable alien to take his place?
Colonel FOXTON.- In the person of the Spaniard?
– No. I was alluding to Indians.
Colonel FOXTON. - They cannot come into Australia. There are some already here, and if they cannot find lucrative employment in other industries, I have little doubt that they will seek employment in the sugar industry as soon as the period for the payment of the bonus expires, and they will be no better than the kanaka was for the production of sugar. I was one of those who, as far back as 1883, were returned to the State Parliament of Queensland, pledged to get rid of the kanaka as far as it was then possible to do so. We passed an Act which provided that at the expiration of five years from the time at which it was passed, no more kanakas were to be introduced into Queensland. At the expiration of that period it was brought home to all of us who had supported that measure of exclusion that the sugar industry was going to be very seriously hampered by it. Almost to a man, those who had voted for it recanted, and fresh legislation was introduced under which provision was made for limiting the employment of the kanaka strictly to the sugar- industry. That provision has been faithfully carried out. When we in the Queensland Parliament adopted a measure of exclusion, we had a justification for our action which could not be urged by the Federal Parliament, and that was that in the recruiting of the kanakas hideous abuses had been rife. By later legislation, those abuses were remedied, and ceased from that time forward, and to describe the system of employment then adopted as slavery would be ridiculous, because the men introduced under it thoroughly understood their rights and privileges. I have no wish to weary the House with this matter, and I mention it merely in order to set myself right in regard to it. The other question to which I should like to refer is that of the mail contract. A good deal has been said about the muddle into which the matter has been allowed to get. I am sure there must be very few in the House who are not heartily thankful, as I have no doubt the Government are, that the difficulties in connexion with the proposed contract have been terminated. The honorable member for Flinders has anticipated me in connexion with one point which I had noted as being well worthy of consideration by the Government, if it were not too late. That was in regard to imposing a restriction upon the contractors against entering into any contract with a State which would give that State a financial control over their operations. During the speech of the honorable member for Flinders, the PostmasterGeneral interjected that such a restriction would probably interfere with the right of a State to contract for special services such as those which have been rendered to Queensland by the Orient Steam Navigation Company. But, as was explained by the honorable member, that was not at all the idea which we had in mind. While on this subject, I should- like to appeal to the sense of fairness and justice of honorable members, and ask whether it does not seem that the position in which Queensland has found herself under the present contract is an unenviable one, and one which this Parliament should remedy as soon as possible in any new contract which is made. In order to induce the Orient Steam Navigation Company to send their steamers to Pinkenba wharf, on the Brisbane River, just below Brisbane, Queensland has had to pay the company a sum of £26,000 a year, less £5,000 found by the Commonwealth. The honorable member for Flinders pointed out most justly that it is in part only a contract for the carriage of mails, and is in part - and I think I shall be able to show the greater part - a contract for the supply of cold storage for the carriage of a particular kind of produce.
– There is nothing in the conditions regarding that.
Colonel FOXTON.- No, but I am going to refer to a speech made in the last session of the last Parliament by the Prime Minister. He said, referring to the £125,000 which was to have been paid to Messrs. Laing and Sons under the contract which has just been annulled, that of that amount ,£45,000 might be regarded as the subsidy for the carriage of mails, and that the odd £80,000 might be regarded as for a mercantile service. If I remember rightly, the honorable gentleman added: - “In the same way as France and Germany give subsidies to their mercantile marine. ‘ ‘
– And he pointed out that the £80,000 would be 2 per cent, on the capital required, which was estimated at £4,000,000.
Colonel FOXTON. - Yes. That being so, and seeing that Queensland would have had to pay its share of that £80,000 a year if the contract had been carried through, it is only right and fair, although I admit that Brisbane, a great commercial centre, 600 miles beyond Sydney, is isolated, that the tenders should be called in such a way as to make it compulsory that the steamers should call at Brisbane.
– Would the honorable member include Tasmania?
Colonel FOXTON.- I understand that it is not so essential to Tasmania that the steamers should call there, at least not all the year round. As a matter of fact, I understand that Tasmania is excellently served by certain of the mail steamers or subsidiary steamers which call there in the apple season, and that the service is perfectly satisfactory.
– A service which the Tasmanians have to pav for.
Colonel FOXTON. - All they have to pay for is freight, whereas not only have the Queenslanders to pay for freight, but their State has to pay £21,000 a year in addition. That is what I complain of, and if the service is to be a mercantile service to the extent, as is admitted, of twothirds of its value, as distinguished from a mail service, then each State, according to its needs, should have some recognition in regard to the ports at which the steamers should be compelled to call. I sincerely trust that in these circumstances, now that alternative tenders have been called, when those tenders are considered, this matter will receive due consideration at the hands of the Postmaster-General and his colleagues, and that those tenders which provide for the steamers to call at Brisbane will be the ones to receive acceptance at their hands.
– We will not neglect Queensland.
Colonel FOXTON.- I am glad to testify here that I am satisfied in my ownmind that the Postmaster-General is distinctly sympathetic towards us. He told* us so, and I believe he meant what he said. But we want more than sympathy.
– Queensland wantsthe boats.
Colonel FOXTON.- We want the boats. I know the Postmaster-General is most sympathetic, but a man can be sympathetic, and his interest end there. What we want is that the honorable gentleman should put his sympathy into practice.
– We are keeping our eye on the boats, too.
– The Government’s trouble isthat the boats are not built.
Colonel FOXTON.- I wish to touch on a matter to which I have given considerableattention, and which I notice is mentioned” in the Governor-General’s Speech in what seems a somewhat half-hearted way. I allude to the transfer of the Northern Terri- tory. I notice that, instead of this matter being put first in the paragraph which deals with it, the fact is first mentioned that the Members of Parliament who went to the Territory must have enjoyed themselves very much, and that, no doubt, the information they gained would be of great value when Parliament considered the proposed transfer. The paragraph in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech is as follows: -
As my visit to the Northern Territory was of the deepest interest to me, I feel confident that the tour of inspection made by Members of the Parliament must prove of great value in your deliberations upon its proposed transfer.
I have no doubt it will. I found it of great value myself. I was contemplating going there, knowing what was depending, and I was exceedingly glad to make the trip. I learnt a great deal ; but on going into them I found the figures somewhat startling. I discovered that the Port Augusta to Oodnadatta railway, which it is- proposed by the agreement that the Commonwealth should take over and pay for at first cost, cost £2,318,242. Although I cannot gather it from the reports of the South Australian Railways Commissioner, which seem to be constructed in such a way that it shall not be possible for any one to find out the deficit on any particular line - and in that respect they differ from those of some of the other States - I have it from writers from the South Australian point of view that the annual deficit on the working of the line is £82,000. We start with that. Then there is the debt of the Northern Territory to be taken over. That is still more startling, for I find that with a population, so far as I can gather from statistics, of about 3,300 persons throughout the whole Territory, about two-thirds of whom are Asiatics, leaving about 1,100 Europeans - men, women, and children - the debt due by the Northern Territory is not less than £3,217,500. Those are the figures as I have them from the official records, but in the correspondence which preceded the provisional agreement, I saw it stated by Mr. Price, the Premier of South Australia, that the debt was not less than £3,400,000. I do not know how he makes that out. At al! events that community occupies the unique position of having a public debt of over £1,000 per head, which is unprecedented, I should imagine, in the history of the world, more especially when we consider that two-thirds of the population are Asiatics. We are told, however, “ That is all right; there is nothing extraordinary about it. The land is worth so much. Put it at an absolutely nominal sum, and it is sufficient to cover the debt.” I have always understood that the security of a public creditor was not the desert, unoccupied land, but the capacity of the population upon that land to pay the interest upon the debt. I find that there is a deficit of not less than £140,000 a year in the finances of the Territory, so that, adding the deficit of £82,000 a year on the Port Augusta to Oodnadatta railway, we get a deficit of something like £225,000 a year for the Commonwealth to take over on the transfer of the Territory. A great deal has been said about defence in connexion with the alleged necessity for taking over the Territory. I, for one, think that is a bogy. I venture to say that if an enemy were to land at Port Darwin he might be able to do some damage at Port Darwin, and to the railway and the railway works there, but it would be an absolute trap for him so long as there were any British vessels afloat which could intercept his supplies from his base of operations. The same thing can be said of a number of harbors on the northern and northwestern coasts of Australia, where an enemy might land with equal facility. Why not defend all those places? Why spend all this money for the purpose of defending an isolated spot on the northern coast, where there happens to be congregated together a mere handful of people, because 3,300 persons constitute the population of the whole Territory, with an area of 531,400 square miles, being about four-fifths of the area of Queensland. Why not, for instance, take steps to defend Cape York Peninsula in Queensland? An enemy could land there just as easily as, possibly more easily than, at the other place. I think that the proposal to take over the Northern Territory for the purpose of defending it is not sound. In addition to that we have the Commonwealth bound down under the agree” ment to construct a railway from Oodnadatta to Pine Creek. The distance by the telegraph line is about 1,100 miles. Possibly the railway would have to be deviated, because the telegraph line goes over ranges where the railway could not be taken. The greater portion of the line would run through what is practically a desert. I notice that although provision is made by which the railway can be taken north from Hergott Springs through Queensland, by. way of Birdsville, and then away to the
Northern Territory, that would involve a considerable detour, and increase the length of line, thus increasing the cost of construction to, say, £5,000 a mile, which I fancyis a fair estimate, and making a total cost of £S)500>000- The Commonwealth, therefore, would have to “face an expenditure of no less than £11,000,000, if it fulfilled its obligations.
– If they went by that way they would have to go over 100 miles of flooded country.
Colonel FOXTON. - I believe so. When the Treasurer was in Queensland the other day, he was interviewed on this subject. He said that the possibility of connecting Pine Creek with the Queensland system had not been brought under his notice by the Queensland members. He also stated that he was in favour of the direct line from Oodnadatta to Pine Creek, but advocated the construction of a line from Hergott Springs to Birdsville and Cloncurry, when the matter of facilities afforded by Queensland for rapid communication had been suggested to him.
– I do not think I made the first part of that statement. I said it was not in the proposal.
Colonel FOXTON. - I have a report of the interview here.
– We all approved of joining on to the Queensland system.
Colonel FOXTON.- I know that I am right in what I have said.
– Is it part pf the transfer that the Commonwealth is to build that long railway ?
– If that is so, good-bye to the transcontinental railway. We cannot take on two jobs like that.
Colonel FOXTON.- This is what the Treasurer is reported to have said at the interview : -
The proposal had not been brought under his notice by the Queensland representatives in the Federal Parliament.
– Of course, when you got to Cloncurry, you would be connected with the Queensland system?
Colonel FOXTON.- I will go a little further back. It says: -
The matter of the proposed transcontinental railway was then mentioned. Sir John Forrest did not appear to have given any thought to the proposal to link up the Queensland lines, and so by a comparatively small Federal expenditure secure a transcontinental line through the best part of Australia. The proposal, he said, had not been brought under his notice by the Queensland representatives in the Federal Parliament.
– That is all nonsense. The press put that in themselves.
Colonel FOXTON. - I am not complaining of the right honorable member, but leading up to an argument which I intend to use.
– A railway from Hergott Springs to Cloncurry would link up the Queensland system.
Colonel FOXTON.- That is right.
He did not consider such a Une would be national in character, to the same extent as the proposed line through the Northern Territory north and south. It would not be a Commonwealth line or under the control of the Commonwealth. He believed that if a line were constructed from Pine Creek, thence along the shores of the Gulf, connecting with Cloncurry and southwards vid Cooper’s Creek and Hergott Springs, it would open up valuable mineral country and grazing lands. It could be connected with all the existing trunk lines of Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, and South Australia, and would constitute a great national central line. It would cost a few millions, certainly, but Sir John Forrest indicated that he did not consider the amount anything to be alarmed at. He thought it would pay ; railways always paid.
That is not our experience.
– They have made Queensland what it is.
Colonel FOXTON.- Yes j but the lines do not all pay.
He had carried out a good deal of railway construction in Western Australia, and it had always paid. He was opposed to the proposal to build a line from Oodnadatta to Pine Creek.
That is the point I wished to make, and the right honorable member proposed then to connect with Cloncurry.
– That was right.
Colonel FOXTON.- That seems to me to give the whole show away. If he and his colleagues are in favour of that line there is no need for them to go to Cloncurry. They would only have to bring their railway to Camooweal. Queensland does not ask the Commonwealth to construct a railway into its territory. It would be necessary to build 120 miles of railway to get to Cloncurry.
– We do not actually mean Cloncurry.
Colonel FOXTON.- I only cite what the right honorable gentleman is reported to have said.
– How can I know exactly where it will go? I only meant in that direction.
Colonel FOXTON.- Once the Commonwealth connected with the Queensland system where would be the necessity to run a line from Cloncurry to Hergott Springs when we would have a main trunk line through Queensland to give direct connexion with the largest population to be found in Australia?
– That is part of the bargain which South Australia asks the Commonwealth to make.
Colonel FOXTON.- That is why the proposal ought to be rejected. The right honorable gentleman admitted that he had not considered this matter.
– I had considered it long ago.
Colonel FOXTON.- That is a remarkable admission to be made by a member of the Government which proposes that this House shall ratify a contract which would commit the Commonwealth to an expenditure of £11,000,000 when the Northern Territory and the Oodnadatta railway together have a known deficit of £225,000 a year, and this alternative has never been considered 1
– Surely the honorable member did not believe the statement, although he read it in print.
Colonel FOXTON.- I believed it, and I am glad to find that the right honorable gentleman has considered the linking up with Queensland. I am astonished that, having done so, he is a party to asking the House to commit the country to an expenditure of £11,000,000 when an expenditure of £3,000,000 would serve.
– It would be a very good line. We could go that way to Western Australia.
Colonel FOXTON.- I am inclined to think that the whole proposal is a mere stalking horse to secure the Western Australia line, because in the provisional contract there is a little clause about a connexion with Western Australia.
– The adoption of the proposal would not further the Western Australia project.
Colonel FOXTON.- Frankly I do not see any connexion between the two, and therefore I wonder why reference was made to Western Australia. Although a connexion with the Western Australia system is provided for, New South Wales cannot link up under the agreement - South Australia cannot be compelled to permit New South Wales to link her system with that of South Australia.
– The connexion would be with the Queensland system
Colonel FOXTON.- If a railway were taken round by Birdsville, it would be necessary for New South Wales to make a connexion from Bourke and into South Australia.
– Such a line would go through a lot of useless country.
Colonel FOXTON.- Yes. The Treasurer has complained that the question of linking up with the Queensland system was not brought under his notice by the representatives of that State. But the proposed contract was put into our hands only on the day preceding the prorogation of Parliament following the short session held in February last.
– It would have been foolish for me to have said that.
Colonel FOXTON.- I am glad that the right honorable gentleman did not say it. I have been prompted by the observations which he is reported to have made to bring before him and the Government the desirability of properly considering the linking up with the Queensland system before asking the House to commit the Commonwealth to an expenditure of something like £11,000,000. As a new member, it would not be appropriate for me to comment at great length, or in terms such as older members might use, upon the anomalous position which the Government occupy, but, in my parliamentary experience, it is unprecedented to hear a Government attacked from its own side of the House by all except the mover and seconder of the AddressinReply.
– It is nothing new in this Chamber for the Government to be attacked by a supporter. The honorable member should have heard Mr. Cameron attack the Reid Administration.
– There was only one Cameron attacking us, but there is an army of supporters attacking the present Government.
Colonel FOXTON.- I agree with the leader of the Opposition that the present state of parties should be terminated at the earliest possible opportunity, and I am glad that the leader of the Labour Party is o’f the same opinion. The honorable member for South Sydney says that it is the duty of the Opposition to bring it to an end ; but surely it is more the duty of that party which attacks the Government while maintaining it in power.
– The honorable member would not have the Labour Party dismiss a faithful servant.
Colonel FOXTON.- I feel sure that the leaders of the two parties to which I havereferred voice “the opinions of those whom they lead, and they, being in accord in the view that steps should be taken to terminate the present state of affairs, it will, no doubt, be terminated at no distant date. If, as the honorable member for Coolgardie says, it is no uncommon thing in this Chamber for a Government to be attacked by its supporters, we shall obtain a good deal of diversion as well as instruction from the speeches of members of the Labour Party, whether they are in the nature of frank criticism such as that of the leader of the party, or are attacks like those of the honorable member for Hindmarsh, who gave us such a practical illustration of his preference for casting out one devil in place of seven.
– Tq what party does the honorable member belong?
Colonel FOXTON. - It is sufficient for me to belong to the party which is opposed to Socialism. There is one other matter to which I wish to refer, the question of the Naval Subsidy. Every one must admit that if it were not for the protection afforded us as an integral portion of the Empire by the British Fleet, we should beat the mercy of at least half-a-dozen nations. We cannot hope to be able to defend ourselves for many years to come, possibly not for generations.
– That is a very pessimistic view.
Colonel FOXTON.- I do not think so. The honorable member for Darwin has stated that we could hold our own against the world, and, no doubt, we could make a good deal of trouble for any nation attempting the invasion of Australia. We might spin out the struggle for years ; but at what cost to ourselves?
– A foreign foe would never effect a landing in Australia.
Colonel FOXTON. - Undoubtedly it could effect a landing if we had not the British Fleet behind us. It could effect a landing even if we possessed an Australian Fleet such as is now proposed. But just as the Boers were able to give the British a lot of trouble - and other precedents can be found in history - we could put any invading nation to an enormous expenditure, both in blood and treasure. But what would be the cost to Australia? We should have practically to fall back upon guerilla warfare and the best of our manhood would be wiped out in the struggle.
– No, no.
Colonel FOXTON.- I am certain that that is the opinion which is shared by a large portion of the thinking section of the community.
– Major-General Hutton declared that no General would come to Australia with a view to conquer it with a smaller force than 300,000 men, and the idea that that number could be transported here is unthinkable.
Colonel FOXTON.- The Imperial Defence Committee think otherwise. They are of opinion that Australia is liable to be raided. For us to desire to establish a fleet of our own is a very proper aspiration. Notwithstanding the contrary opinion which has been expressed by the Imperial Defence Committee, I believe that the existence of an Australian Fleet, and the knowledge .that we could very seriously hamper an enemy in an attempt at raiding or invading our shores, would confer upon what is now known as the “ Austraiian Squadron “ freedom to operate in other parts of the world. We should thus be able to assist in our own defence. The honorable member for South Sydney has declared that the annual subsidy of £200,000 which we now pay under the Naval Agreement is a mean contribution. I hold that we should be acting in a still meaner fashion if we discontinued it. He declares that our proper contribution to the maintenance of the Imperial Navy is £5,000,000 per annum. He altogether forgets that if we were contributing that sum towards the maintenance of the British Fleet we should be entitled with the mother country to a full voice in the decision of Imperial questions. In his speech at the opening of the Imperial Conference the other day Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman is reported in the Times to have put the position thus -
The cost of naval defence and the responsibility for the conduct of foreign affairs hang together.
If we were to contribute £5,000,000 yearly as our full share of the cost of maintaining the British Fleet we should be entitled to all the powers and privileges which that expenditure would confer upon us. We should have some voice in the making of war and peace which at the present time is exclusively enjoyed by the Imperial Government under the control of the Imperial Parliament. I suppose that there are a good many honorable members in this House - certainly there are many persons in the country - who are in favour of a complete severance of the ties which bind Australia to the mother country.
Colonel FOXTON.- I am glad to hear that it is not so.
– It would not be a good business proposition.
Colonel FOXTON.- But then the persons to whom I refer are not business men. To those of us who do not desire such a severance, who feel that we share in the prestige of the Empire, and who desire to continue to do so, it is a very proper aspiration that we should in time be in a position to claim our share - it may be a limited one - of the powers and privileges which are now exercised by the Imperial Government. I have spoken of evolution in that direction. It is going on every day. As we grow in population, wealth, and importance, our relations with the mother land will imperceptibly change. Undoubtedly in the minds of the statesmen and people of the mother country we occupy a totally different position to-day from that which we occupied fifteen or twenty years ago. That change is due to our growth. It is for us to decide - as was pointed out by the right honorable member for East Sydney, we have absolute freedom in this matter - whether the forces which are at work in connexion with this movement shall be centrifugal or centripetal. I am glad to be assured that there are none in this House who desire that those forces shall be centrifugal, and that all wish to cement the ties which already bind us to the mother country. Surely it is not too much to. ask that we should give some earnest of our desire at- a future time, to claim those rights and privileges to which I have alluded. The discontinuance of the Naval Subsidy would be a most distinct step in the opposite direction. Possibly, our contribution - as was urged by the honorable member for South Sydney - is of very small moment to the Imperial Exchequer, although it is something very considerable to us. If it be more than we can afford, by all means let us pay less, but do not let us discontinue the subsidy entirely. Let us increase it if possible, and by so doing we shall show that we appreciate in the highest degree the protection which the British Fleet affords us. The subsidy is not by any means in the nature of tribute. Under the existing agreement, a large number of Australian officers and men enter the fleet, and we are thus practically paying for their services, whilst at the same time laying a solid foundation for that greater development which I sincerely trust will come at no very distant date, perhaps - as the honorable member for Flinders said - within the lives of many of us here this evening. I am afraid that I have occupied the time of the House at undue length, and therefore I will conclude by thanking honorable members for the patient hearing they have accorded me.
.- I wish to ask the Minister of Trade and Customs whether he will consent to an adjournment of the debate, as my remarks will occupy some considerable time.
– It is rather early yet ; it is not 10 o’clock. I know that it has been the custom to adjourn a little earlier than usual on Tuesday evening, owing to honorable members from other States having travelled a long way, but I hope that a request to adjourn at this hour will not be preferred very often. I should have liked the House to sit on until half-past 10 o’clock, but under the circumstances I will consent to the adjournment of the debate.
Debate (on motion by Mr. J. H. Catts) adjourned.
Motion (by Sir William Lyne) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- I desire to draw the attention of the PostmasterGeneral to the conditions of the mail contract, which were gazetted last Saturday. Upon reading them this morning, I saw that they contain no provision for, no suggestion whatever of any request as to, cold-storage accommodation in connexion with the new mail service. The Victorian Minister of Agriculture - Mr. Swinburne - has already drawn attention to this omission, and I certainly think there would be a great imperfection in the proposed new mail service if some provision in that respect were not directly made. It is all very well to say that this is a contract for the carriage of mails, but it has never been solely regarded as such. It has always been understood that contractors for the carriage of our oversea mails would be required to make provision for the transportation of perishable products. I think, therefore, that this is a matter that ought to have been distinctly and unequivocally provided for in the conditions. I do not know whether the whole of the conditions have been laid before the House - I have not had time to examine them - but I have been given to understand that in connexion with the abortive contract which has just been cancelled there was an undertaking that cold-storage accommodation would be provided.
– Contractors generally tender to provide certain coldstorage space, but they have never been specifically required under the conditions of tender to do so.
– If it were distinctly provided in the conditions that the contractors should supply cold-storage accommodation, and . that the Government would do everything possible to assist in making a collective contract on behalf of the producers in the various States to guarantee a certain amount of freight, it would be found that, instead of being a burden, the provision of cold storage as well as accommodation for passengers, would work with distinct advantage to the contractors themselves. I hope it is not too late for the PostmasterGeneral, either, by expressed conditions in the proposed contract, or by some assurance, to show that it will be to the advantage of the contractors to offer to provide special coldstorage accommodation, and that he will make it publicly known that the provision of such accommodation is not to be ignored.
.- On Thursday last, when I put to the Prime Minister a question relating to the administration of the Immigration Restriction Act, he stated that I had not so clearly indicated the nature of my inquiry as to permit him to reply. I could not, within the limits of a question, clearly put before him the case I wished to make, and I desire, therefore, to avail myself of this opportunity to ask the Minister of Trade and Customs, who, I understand, is acting for the Prime Minister, what the Government intend to do with regard to the Act. It has been held by the Attorney-General, as it was by Sir Edmund Barton, when a member of this House, and also by the right honorable member for Adelaide, that sub-section k of section 3 of the Immigration Restriction Act does not prevent aliens from being landed and doing work on shore provided that they are mustered before their vessel leaves port. I have before me a copy of the decision of the Attorney-General, who holds that so long as such men are mustered before their ship is granted her clearance papers, they may go anywhere, and do anything they please. I contend that this is not the spirit, although it may be the letter of the law. When that Act was passed it was never intended that the section should be so read. The interpretation placed upon it by the Attorney-Generals reads -
Whether he- a prohibited immigrant - does or does not work when ashore does not affect the exemption. The question may arise whether the Contract Immigrants Act 1905 passed subsequently to some of the previous decisions -
The decisions by Mr. Barton and the right honorable member for Adelaide, to whom I have just referred - affects the question. Under section 8 of the Act the exemption of crews of ships is limited to the crews of vessels engaged in the coasting trade in the Australian waters, where the rates of wages specified in the agreement are not lower than the rates ruling in the Commonwealth. There is nothing in the papers to show whether the crews iri question come within the exemption of the Contract Immigration Act; but in my view it is immaterial whether they do or not, as I am of opinion that crews of oversea ships acting under the orders of the captain in loading their ships in port are not immigrants within the meaning of the Act.
The question is not confined to the mere loading of ships in port. A case in point occurred a little while ago in Sydney, where there is at present an industrial dispute between the Coal-lumpers’ Union and the Coal Stevedores’ Association. Aliens were allowed to be transferred from their ships to lighters - which is practically tantamount to their going on shore - and to work winches in loading coal on certain vessels. That I contend was contrary to the spirit of the Act, because in so working they were breaking a strike. Under the Contract Immigration Act men are not permitted to be introduced - and this prohibition is not confined to aliens - under a contract to break a strike. A man may not come from any part of Europe or the United Kingdom for such a purpose.
– Or to work for a lower wage.
– That is so. If it is considered necessary to provide for a prohibition against men being employed in those circumstances, honorable members must recognise that aliens should not be allowed to land under the Immigration Restriction Act. Another case occurred recently in Queensland. The Ku,nana Maru came down the coast, and loaded and discharged her cargo with an alien crew. 1 am informed also that in a Western Australian port a short time ago alien crews were allowed not only to discharge their own cargo, but to unload railway trucks. That is altogether contrary to the spirit of the Act, and if permitted to continue may lead at any time to international complications. Let us suppose for a moment that a Japanese crew were allowed to land at Sydney. That crew might engage, not merely in loading or unloading vessels, but in work of any kind, and very serious trouble might arise. The Colonial Sugar Refining Company has large refining works in Svdney, and also employs a very large number of coolie workmen in Fiji, which is a comparatively short distance from our shores. In the event of an industrial dispute between the company and its employes in Sydney there would be nothing to prevent the former from bringing over from Fiji several hundred coolies to break the strike. The coolies would merely be required to muster not once in twenty-four hours, but when their ship was leaving port.
– And the ship might be kept in port for six months.
– The company could keep the vessel anchored in Port Jackson as long as it suited them, and send the men on shore to work in various capacities. 1 would therefore ask the Minister of Trade and Customs whether it is the intention of the Government to so amend the Act as to insure that our intentions in passing it will be carried out?
.- Referring to the remarks made by the honorable and learned member for Bendigo as to the provision of refrigerating space on- mail steamers, I may say that if it is the Government’s intention to stipulate for such space under the new contract for which tenders have been called, I emphatically protest against Brisbane being left out as a port of call. If it is fair for refrigerating space to be provided tor the ports of Adelaide, Melbourne, and Sydney, or of any other State, then Queensland must share the benefit. It is all very well for the Postmaster-General to say that in no previous contract has refrigerating space been stipulated. As a matter of fact, before the contract which has just fallen through, refrigerating space was made a condition. If refrigerating space is specified for - as I hope it will be, because it means quick transit for the dairy produce of every State - the same treatment should be meted out to Queensland as to any other State of the Commonwealth.
– The honorable member for Maranoa is, I think, mistaken in regard to refrigerating space having been stipulated for in all previous contracts. However, the reference to the past is only by the way. Mail matter is not carried in an ice chamber; and it would not be a mail contract if the provision of refrigerating space were made a condition. The three essential conditions of a mail contract are white labour, a deposit, and bonds ; but beyond these, tenderers can make any offer they like in regard to speed, space, and so forth - the contract is as wide as the ocean. Naturally, the Government, in making a contract, will give preference to those tenderers who offer the greatest facilities.
– It is just as necessary to have the dairy produce carried as it is to have the mails carried.
– I quite agree with the honorable member, and that principle has been recognised in the acceptance of every tender. It would not pay a tenderer to enter into a contract to carry the mails, unless he also carried produce. The difficulty in making a stipulation of the kind suggested is that the Government could not give preference to Victoria or New South Wales and leave Brisbane or Hobart out of the allotment of. the space. That is why the conditions have been drawn so wide, and every provision has been made to allow the contractors to state what they are prepared to do. As I told honorable members the other night, the desire of the Government is to see that fair play is meted out to every State; and under the conditions of the proposed contract, I think that will be found to be the result. It ought to be remembered that the Government must take the responsibility of making a recommendation after submitting to the House the particulars of the tenders. Nobody is keener than the Government in the desire that there should be not only refrigerating space, but the greatest possible speed and the greatest convenience at the lowest possible cost ; but we must be careful to see that no preference is given to any particular State. If honorable members look closely into the contract they will find it is, as I say, as wide as the ocean; and personally - and I can also speak for the Government - I am anxious, if possible, to make some arrangement that these mail steamers shall go to at least one of the principal ports in each State. The Government are quite with both the honorable member for Bendigo and the honorable member for Maranoa in their desire that refrigerating space should be provided, but we think it wise to give the tenderers every opportunity to tender, so that there may be the freest and most open competition. If the Government feel it wise then to agree to certain other stipulations or provisions, they will be prepared to do so, and come to the House for ratification. Honorable members will see the difficulty of a hard and fast stipulation, which would have to be followed up by other stipulations regarding the amount of space and the price. Then, if we went so far as that, why should we not go further, and stipulate for certain fares? We must be careful in making stipulations that we do ‘ not do what is done under other kinds of contracts, namely, make the minimum the maximum. As I said before, it would not pay a tenderer to contract without providing plenty of refrigerating space ; and we are anxious for open competition, in order to secure not only speed, but low rates, in the carriage of produce, as well as in the carriage of mails.
– Then why not say so?
.It would have been far better for the Government to have stipulated for Brisbane and Hobart to be included amongst the ports of call. It is idle for the PostmasterGeneral to say that there is going to be free competition all round. We were told that when the Orient Steam Navigation Company’s contract was before us; but, although Queensland had to pay £16,000 as her proportion under the contract, she had also to pay the Orient Steam Navigation Company £26,000 per annum, in order that the boats might call at Brisbane. We were told from the table in this chamber that if the mail steamers had to call at Brisbane, one extra boat, if not two, would be required to carry on the service. But the very moment thecontract was entered into, Queensland wascalled upon to pay the £26,000, and noextra boat was found necessary. It appears to me that Queensland is going tobe left out of this contract, as she was left out of the Orient Steam Navigation Company’s contract.
– Queensland is no more left out under this contract than isVictoria or New South Wales.
– The Postmaster, General knows very well that it is idle for any shipping company, under a contract, tocarry the mails, if the terminal port is at Adelaide; and if the new contract be entered into, the steamers will come on toMelbourne and Sydney. Further, the Post and Telegraph Department allows at contracting company - and I am sorry that a stipulation to the same effect is not made under the next contract - to carry large parcels per parcels post on in their steamers to Melbourne and Sydney.
– That is not stipulated.
– Does the PostmasterGeneral tell me that the whole of the parcels brought out by the mail steamers are going to be carried overland to Melbourne, Sydney, and Brisbane?
– They will have to be.
– That is simply ridiculous ; and I am sure the PostmasterGeneral has more common-sense than co allow such a state of things. It is idle for the honorable gentleman to try to dismiss this matter in an offhand way. Queensland has not been treated well in the past, and I hope the Government will try to treat that State reasonably under the new contract. I say honestly, however, that I do not believe the Government are entering into this contract in a way that will do justice to the State I represent. The provision of refrigerating space is only a just stipulation. I admit that it is not fair, perhaps, to the Post and Telegraph Department, but the mail subsidy has always been regarded asfar above the amount required for the mere carrying of mails, and has been paid for the express purpose of securing better and quicker means of transit for perishable commodities. Nearly all contracts hitherto have stipulated for a certain amount of refrigerating space, and, as I have already said, although it is the Post and Telegraph Department which enters into the contract, the large subsidy is regarded as being paid with the object I have already indicated. I hope that Queensland is not going to be galled upon to again pay £26,000 per annum under the new contract. It would certainly be fairer and more honest to Queensland and the country generally, to call for tenders stipulating that the mail steamers shall call at both Brisbane and Hobart.
– In reply to the honorable member for Herbert I may say that I have not had anything to do in the past with that particular phase of the operation of the Immigration Restriction Act. I have read, however, what happened’ in the three cases to which the honorable member refers, and I assume that the action taken was due to the interpretation of the law given by the Attorney-General in each case. -Therefore it is to be presumed that that is the true interpretation of the law. I can only say personally that I do not think that was intended ; but we. cannot go behind the interpretation of the law. I have no power to say whether anything will be done, but I shall certainly make representations to the Prime Minister, such ‘ as have been made to me to-night.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 10.16 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 9 July 1907, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1907/19070709_reps_3_36/>.