3rd Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– I should like to bring under the notice of the Postmaster-General what I believe to be an omission from the conditions of tender for the new mail contract. Paragraph 5 of those conditions sets forth that -
Tenders which do not comply with the above conditions (except as to white labour, deposit, and bond, which are essential) …. will be received and considered.
Although I have carefully read the conditions, I cannot find any which specifically requires the employment of white labour.
– That condition exists, and will be insisted on. [t, together with the conditions relating to the payment of a deposit and the entering into bonds, is absolute.
– I wish to ask the honorable gentleman a question in regard to the matter which I brought before the House last night. In the conditions of contract; signed by the then PostmasterGeneral, the honorable member for Coolgardie, dated 7th July, and published in the Commonwealth Gazette of the 9th July, 1904, it is expressly required that tenderers shall state the nature of the refrigerating accommodation which they are prepared to provide, and penalties are arranged for in the event of the breach of any of the conditions relating to the provision of refrigerating accommodation. I ask the honorable gentleman why the present conditions are less liberal and less favorable to the producers of Australia than those sought to be imposed by the Postmaster-General of the Labour Administration.
– Because this is not a Labour Administration.
Mr. AUSTIN CHAPMAN__ I thought that I answered the honorable and learned member last night. If he will let his memory take him back a little, he will recollect that in connexion with the present tenders, the Premiers of the States were communicated with by the Prime Minister to ascertain if they were in favour of having refrigerating accommodation provided, but they all refused to have anything to do with our proposals.
– Why should we accept dictation from the States on a matter of this kind?
– We tried to get their co-operation so as to arrange for refrigerating space. If the honorable and learned gentleman will give notice >£ any further questions he desires to ask. I shall be happy to afford him all the information he may require.
– It would be a convenience to the House, Mr. Speaker, if we were informed, in the very unfortunate absence of the Prime Minister through illness, what Minister is acting for him.
– The Prime Minister has asked me to act on his behalf.
– I wish to know from the Acting Prime Minister if there is any objection to laying on tlie table of the House a copy of the resolutions of the Premiers’ Conference in reference to the Federal Capital.
– I have not yet received a copy of the document in which they are contained; but I shall be glad to lay one on the table of the House when I get it.
– I wish to know from the Postmaster-General whether, before the Postal Rates Bill is submitted to the House, honorable members will be supplied by his department with a balancesheet setting out separately the receipts and expenditure of the telephone, telegraph and postal services.
– Figures relating to the business of the Post Office will be supplied by the Treasurer in his Budget papers, and preparations for the production of the annual report have been taking place for some time past ; but I cannot hold back the Postal Rates Bill - which I hope to present to-morrow - until the information asked for is ready.
– I should like to ask the Acting Prime Minister whether he has yet received a copy of the official report of the Imperial Conference. If he has received a copy, will he lay it upon the table of the House, so that honorable members may be able to consult the authentic record of what took place at the Conference ?
– I received a copy of the report this morning, but I have not had time to more than tear off the wrapper. I do not yet know how many other copies have been sent ; but if there is a sufficient number for distribution among honorable members, I shall see that each is supplied with one.
– Will the Minister, in order that honorable members who wish to address themselves to the questions dealt with at the Conference may refer to the official report, have extra copies reprinted at once?
– I must first find out how long the reprinting would take. The report is very voluminous. I also desire to ascertain how many copies have been sent.
– If the honorable gentleman laid one copy on the table, we could all consult it.
– The authorities in England wish to know how many copies they should print, and have sent a cable informing us of the probable cost of the printing. I am desirous, however, that the printing should be done here, unless it will cost a very large sum, and shall certainly advise the Prime Minister in that direction. It would take several days to reprint the report.
– I ask the Acting Prime Minister whether, notwithstanding his desire to promote the printing of this document in England, he will not consider the convenience of honorable members, and allow it to be reprinted in Australia. Cannot every difficulty be got over, without incurring the slightest fraction of expense, by laying a copy of the report upon the table, so that honorable members may have an opportunity to consult it?
– The right honorable member has misquoted my remarks. I did not say that I desire to have the document printed in England. On the contrary, I said that I am desirous of having it printed here, but that a communication had been received from England asking whether additional copies shall be printed there, and stating the price for doing the work. That communication reached us this morning, or yesterday. No member of this Government desires that the printing should be done in England. The right honorable member is more likely to favour a proposal of that kind than are the members of this Administration.
– The Minister , has been asked several times if he will allow a copy of the report to be laid upon the table, so that honorable membersmay consult it.
– I wish to see the report before promising to lay it upon the table.
– As the honorable member was at the Conference he knows what was said there.
– When I have had an opportunity to look at the report, I shall be willing to lay a copy upon the table. I do not know whether there is more than one copy available at the present time.
– I wish to know from the Postmaster-General whether the stamp-printing machinery for which provision has been made on the Estimates for the past six years, has yet been installed at Adelaide.
– No. Fresh machinery has not yet been purchased.
– Why have the promises made to the House by the honorable gentleman and the Treasurer in reference to this matter not been fulfilled ?
– The honorable member should question the Treasurer about any promises that that right honorable gentleman may have made in reference to this matter. I have made none.
– In view of the great increase of business on the trunk telephone line between Maitland and Sydney, can the Postmaster-General see his way at an early date to make a reduction in the charges for messages sent over that line?
– I hope to make, within the next ten days, in accordance with a promise given to the honorable member for Maranoa, an announcement concerning reductions in telephone charges.
– I desire to move the adjournment of the House to discuss a definite matter of urgent public importance, viz., “ The question of an early establishment of the Federal Capital in a suitable position in New South Wales.”
Five honorable members having risen in their places,
– I am loath to interrupt the discussion upon the Address-in-Reply with a motion for adjournment, but the publication this morning of a minute which was penned by the Treasurer, and which seems to me to be unduly appreciative of one particular site for the seat of government - in addition to containing some inaccuracies in the comparison which he introduces - renders it imperative that as early as possible after such publication some statement shall be put forward by those who hold views contrary to those enunciated by the right honorable gentleman. I do not suppose it is necessary at this stage to say that the State of New South Wales has a very strong desire that this question of the establishment within her territory of the .Federal Capital shall be brought to an early determination.
– The honorable member did not think so last Parliament.
– I say that that statement is not correct, and I would say more than that if the forms of Parliament did not forbid me to do so.
– Say more.
– Then I say that the statement of the honorable member is not true. Of course, sir, I withdraw that remark, but the honorable member who interjected is absolutely aware of certain steps which I took during the last Parliament in this connexion. He knows as well as does any honorable member that it was not my fault the question was not settled during that Parliament, and it is idle for him to pretend that he does not know.
– Upon that point I admit that the honorable member is right.
– In New South Wales there exists a very strong feeling indeed that this matter should be finally determined as soon as possible. While there is a difference of opinion in that State as to where the Seat of Government should be located, the consensus of opinion is that the particular site which has so far received the approval of a majority of members of this Parliament is not one which is acceptable to the people in New South Wales. I do not say for a moment that statements to the effect that this Parliament was influenced by ulterior motives in the selection of that site have received any great credence in New South Wales. I do not think that the people of that State attribute to honorable members of this or the last Parliament any ulterior motives or mala fide intentions in the selection of
Dalgety. But there is a feeling that the choice of that site does not do justice to New South Wales, and that in consequence of an agreement about which we have heard a good deal of late, an effort should be made to secure a site within a more reasonable- distance .of the centres of population in that State. Speaking personally, I think that an endeavour should be made to obtain a site which will fulfil all the requisite conditions for the Seat of Government of Australia much better than does Dalgety. I merely wish to say one word in regard to the general aspect of things. I absolutely fail to sympathize with those who believe that the establishment of a bush capital is not justified, and that we should hold the sittings of the Commonwealth Parliament in one or other of the big centres of population - at any rate for a considerable time to come. I wish to urge upon those who entertain that view* that, in my judgment, so long as the Commonwealth Parliament sits in one or other of these two great centres, so long will the legislation which it enacts be viewed with jaundiced eyes by the people of the other capital. There is a very grave danger indeed of friction arising, as it almost inevitably must, from the mere location in one centre or the other of one’s interests and home, and this will be largely minimized if we get into neutral territory, and our legislation is studied upon its merits. That being so, I urge that no consideration of pounds, shillings, and pence should be allowed to weigh with honorable members as against broad national interests. Whether we remain in Melbourne or go to Sydney, or whether we establish a fresh capital upon prairie land, in my opinion the cost to the Commonwealth will not appreciably differ. I think I could conclusively demonstrate that fact, but I have not time to deal with that aspect of the matter to-day. My chief reason for moving the adjournment of the House is to draw attention first to the fact that the Treasurer has thought it necessary to assume the championship of one particular site. I do not object to the right honorable gentleman expressing his opinion upon the floor of the House, as other honorable members do, in respect to the claims of different portions of New South Wales, but I say that any report which he has to make upon this subject should be made to his colleagues. It is not a matter upon which practically a State paper should emanate from the Treasurer in favour of this or that particular site.
– Especially as he was so recently acting as Prime Minister of the Commonwealth.
– Just so. further, his statement discloses an absolutely prejudiced view on the part of the right honorable gentleman. I do not suggest for a moment that he is conscious of bias, but on reading the minute which he has prepared - a synopsis of which was published in this morning’s newspapers - it does seem to me that he evidences a consistent disregard of any circumstances which tell in favour of sites other than Dalgety. That is a pity-
– I only compared two sites in that minute.
– Exactly. I do not propose to do more than compare those two sites. I wish now to express my regret that five years ago, when a Parliamentary party of inspection visited New South Wales, I had not the good fortune to be able to accompany it upon that portion of the trip which included Canberra. I wish to say at once that had I seen that site - as I have lately done - I should never have voted for any other.
– We did not go to Canberra.
– I understand that some honorable members did. I am informed that some members of the parliamentary party were driven out on a Sunday afternoon to inspect a portion of the Canberra site. I recollect the AttorneyGeneral informing me in the train the .next morning that the site was a very pretty one. Had I seen it at the time I should never have voted for any other site. Unfortunately it was only about twelve months ago that I saw it, and was converted. I wish now to point to certain remarks of the Treasurer which are contained in his report, and which seem to me to call for comment. The first matter to which I would direct attention is his statement in connexion with the facilities for obtaining a water supply at Canberra. He says -
There is, however, a sufficient supply of water available bv gravitation for a moderate-sized city from tUe Cotter and Gudgenby rivers.
That statement conveys the impression that the combined water supply of these two rivers is sufficient only to supply the wants of a moderate-sized city. Of course, “a moderate-sized city” is a term which permits of a number of interpretations.
– It means a city with a population of from 50,000 to 100,000.
– I suppose that it does. The report which the Treasurer ought to have had before him at the time he penned that minute states that in the estimation of two of the best engineers of New South Wales the Cotter River alone is sufficient to supply the requirements of a city with 250,000 inhabitants.
– That statement was based upon a very cursory examination.
– It was based upon an examination similar to that on which all our great water supply schemes have been based. Did the Treasurer make a better examination ?
– No, but I am quite certain that the statement to which the honorable member refers is founded upon a very cursory examination.
– The right honorable gentleman ought to know enough of surveying work - seeing that that was his profession - and the problems of rainfall and the run-off of water, to know that in rocky, precipitous country the run-off in proportion to rainfall is much greater than it is in the ordinary soil-covered plains.
– I advised the honorable member to get information which has never been obtained.
– I contend that it has been obtained. I can assure the Treasurer that Mr. Wade, the Chief Engineer of Water Supply in New South Wales, is one of the most unprejudiced of men.
– He was never there.
– He knows the country like a book, and he sent his subordinate engineer, Mr. Weedon, to make a report upon it.
– That officer never took anything with him beyond an aneroid.
– I should like to ask the Treasurer how much error there was likely to be in an aneroid observation at an elevation of 2,000 feet.
– A good deal.
– The ‘engineers say that they have approximately an accurate observation, and that there is not less - so far as a gravitation supply is concerned-
– They have no evidence of the summer level.
– They have evidence that the river has never been known to fail. Perhaps it would induce a more consecutive effort on my part if I were allowed to proceed on my own lines. I repeat, upon the authority of two of the best engineers in New South Wales, that the Cotter River alone is sufficient to supply the requirements of a city possessing a population of 250,000. An exactly similar catchment, though of larger extent, is to be found on the Gudgenby River. It has a capacity equal to that of the Cotter, and further a- field is the Queanbeyan River - the original supply proposed to be tapped for the Lake George site. There is also the Goodradigbee River.
– How many miles distant is the Queanbeyan River?
– Not so many miles. It is between Lake George and the Canberra site.
– The Queanbeyan River joins the Molonglo.
– Order !
– I am afraid that the example of the Treasurer is contagious.
– I stated in my report that there is sufficient water available at Canberra to supply the needs of a moderate-sized city.
– There is enough water available at a reasonable cost to supply the requirements of a city twice the size of Sydney. Further, the Treasurer is aware that it is quite a common thing to convey water a considerable distance to supply the wants of a city, but in this instance he has over-stated the distance which it would require to be brought. He has declared that a water supply for Canberra would need to be conveyed a distance of thirty miles, whereas the engineers say that it will only require to be brought a distance of twenty-five miles.
Several honorable members interjecting,
– Seeing that upon this motion the speeches of honorable members are limited, it is very unfair for honorable members who are not addressing the Chair to take up the time of the honorable member who is.
– I am glad to be reminded that my remarks are limited by time allowance, because it will have the effect of making me concentrate them a little more. The Treasurer also stated that a supply of water,by means of gravitation, for Canberra would entail considerable expense. I would ask him whether it would be likely to involve a greater expenditure than would have to be incurred at Dalgety? Is he aware that the Royal Commission which reported upon the eligible
Capital sites estimated that the cost of a water supply by means of gravitation for Dalgety would be £328,000, or does he regard that outlay as an inconsiderable one?
– It would cost very much more than that at Canberra.
– I do not think that it would cost nearly as much. In my view it would be more economical - if Dalgety were finally decided upon as the site for the Seat of Government - to obtain a pumping supply for that place. These circumstances show that the Treasurer has put the position of Canberra in an altogether unfavorable light as compared with Dalgety. The Treasurer goes on to speak of its accessibility from Melbourne and Sydney, and finding that the figures so far as existing railways are concerned are against him, since they show that Canberra is infinitely more accessible than is Dalgety from either Sydney or Melbourne, he refers to the possibilities of the future. We know what an optimist the right honorable gentleman is, and he seems to regard the projected railway from Bairnsdale to Cooma as being practically already constructed. According to the lowest estimate, an expenditure of over £1,500,000 would be necessary on the construction of the line, but that is a mere bagatelle to the Treasurer. Although he has to admit that Canberra is now more accessible - by nearly 100 miles - than is Dalgety from either Melbourne or Sydney, he proceeds to state that when therailway from Bairnsdale to Cooma is constructed, Dalgety will be equi-distant from the two State capitals, and that the prospect will then be brilliant and glowing. We are told by him that in the matter of power supply Canberra is distinctly inferior to Dalgety. I am prepared to admit that in this respect there are greater possibilities attaching to Dalgety, but from the right honorable gentleman’s report one would imagine that Canberra has no possibilities in this regard. What are the facts? Within 36 miles of the Canberra site, one of the greatest reservoirs in the world - the Barren Jack - is now in course of construction, and it is estimated by the engineers who have charge of the work that many thousands of horsepower will be perpetually running to waste there unless some means are devised to take advantage of it.
– The Barren Jack reservoir will be as large as Sydney Harbor.
– It is said that it will hold as much water.
– In dry seasons it could not be depended upon.
– According to the engineers, it can be depended upon.
– But irrigation would use up all the water.
– I can assure the right honorable gentleman that he is mistaken. A lot of the water would be used in connexion with irrigation, but provision for power schemes has already been made. Apart from this, however, I would point out that 9 miles below Canberra there is, on the Murrumbidgee at this point, a splendid site for a weir which, according to Mr. Weedon, could be built sufficiently high to enable power to be developed for electric lighting and other purposes. The Commissioners made careful inquiries in regard to the flow of the Murrumbidgee in connexion with the proposed selection of Lake George as the site of the Federal Capital, and they reported that the flow at this point was equal to 69,600.000,006 gallons, or 307! millions of tons of water per annum. Their report reads -
This quantity of water raised by a dam to an effective head would supply electrical power for lighting the city and other requirements.
From this source, we should be able to supplement the power supply from Barren Jack, so that in this respect also it seems to me that the right honorable gentleman has not done justice to Canberra. In his minute, he goes on to speak of “water frontage for recreation, sport, and beauty ; good approach and commanding view,” and declares that under this heading Canberra is distinctly inferior to Dalgety. He states that the Snowy River could be dammed, and a lock formed, to provide a sheet of water for beauty purposes and for trout fishing, and so forth. Mr. Weedon points out that the same thing could be done at Canberra.
– -By building a dam on the Murrumbidgee.
– How many miles away ?
– Nine miles.
– I question that.
– I would draw the Treasurer’s attention to the following paragraph in Mr. Weedon’s report : -
By the erection of a dam at this point a large body of water could be conserved in the two rivers, and by means of low weirs in the Molonglo River boating could be made possible throughout the entire proposed Federal Capital
Territory, at Canberra, and up the Murrumbidgee River, giving a waterway of from forty to fifty miles on the combined rivers for boating, fishing, and water carriage generally.
My only object is to point out that the Treasurer has omitted to take from this report, which I understand was before him when he wrote his minute, facts that, in justice to Canberra, should have been mentioned.
– How would the water for ornamental purposes be obtained ? By a system of locks?
– That is so. The difference in the levels is comparatively so small that no difficulty would be experienced in forming in this way a sheet of water for ornamental purposes. One large weir would be sufficient for power purposes.
– Would it be necessary to have locks?
– Only in connexion with the ornamental water scheme.
– What about the rapids ?
– There are no rapids of importance that would affect operations in this regard on the Murrumbidgee. There is one. feature of the minute to which I should like to draw special attention. The Treasurer tells us that, from the stand-point of beauty, Canberra is not to be compared to Dalgety. That is a very broad and general statement.
– I did not make such a statement.
– Under the heading of “ Water frontage for recreation, sport, and beauty - good approach and commanding view,” the Treasurer states that Canberra is distinctly inferior to Dalgety- I am, perhaps, a poor judge of scenic effect, but I have no hesitation in saying that Canberra in this respect is infinitely superior to Dalgety. The Treasurer has done Canberra a serious injustice, because while he speaks of the hills in the vicinity being only 700 feet above the general level, he fails altogether to mention the most important fact that immediately behind the site, and visible from nearly every part of it, are the Murrumbidgee mountains, which rise thousands of feet above the general level, forming the most effective and striking background that I have seen in New South Wales.
– They are 20 miles away
M’r. WATSON.- That is so, but they are so lofty that they can be plainly seen from the Canberra site. The view of
Kosciusko from Dalgety is comparatively limited, because the immediate surroundings obstruct it.
– It is wonderful what one cannot see when one does not wish to see anything.
– That is so. I do not ask the House to rely only upon my own opinion in regard to this aspect of the question. Let me read the opinion expressed by the Chief Engineer of Public Works in’ New South Wales, Mr. Wade, who writes -
In general suitability for the purposes of a Federal Capital City site, Canberra compares most favorably with any site yet suggested. The extent of gently undulating country suitable for building exceeds that of any of those other sites, while the low hills generally surrounding the city area, with the foot hills in the middle distance to the south, and the high peaks again in the far distance, forming the mountains of the southern watershed of the Murrumbidgee, give it an attraction as regards scenery unsurpassed by the others suggested.
– He had never seen Tooma.
– Probably not.
– He said the same about Mahkoolma.
– The PostmasterGeneral is an exceptionally good “bluffer,” and is endeavouring, by way of interjection, to get in a chance shot in the hope that it will strike home. The honorable gentleman’s remark is beyond the point, since Mr. Wade bao not made the statement which he attributes to him.
– Did he not report favorably on the Mahkoolma site?
– He spoke very favorably of its water supply possibilities.
– And on the suitability of it as a site for the Capital.
– He said nothing about the beauty of that site.
– The honorable member has spoken of it.
– I have not, at any time, said anything in its favour as a Capital site, although it is true that I saw from the site a, very pretty view. The Treasurer challenged me just now to point out a statement by him that Canberra, from the point of view of scenic effect, is distinctly inferior to Dalgety. I find in his minute, under the heading of “ Surrounding and adjacent scenery, with great natural features within convenient distance,” a statement even more emphatic than that which I read just now. He speaks of
Canberra as being distinctly inferior to Dalgety under this heading, and proceeds to refer to the view of Mount Kosciusko obtained from the Dalgety site. When I mentioned the magnificent background which the Murrumbidgee mountains offer to the Canberra site he promptly objected that they were 20 miles away, but in writing of Dalgety he mentions Mount Kosciusko as a background for that site although it is 40, not 20, miles distant.
– Kosciusko is worth mentioning.
– And so are the Murrumbidgee mountains.
– Are they snow-capped?
– Both Mount Kosciusko and the Murrumbidgee mountains are snowcapped.
– But the Murrumbidgee mountains are not perpetually snow-capped.
– Neither ‘is Mount Kosciusko.
– It is.
– I have seen the summit of Mount Kosciusko without snow, although it sometimes remains there very late in the season. On the Murrumbidgee mountains the snow does not remain as late. The right honorable gentleman says that there is a great similarity between the fertility of the soil of Canberra and that of Dalgety. As one who, for a good many years, has taken a great interest in soils and in land questions generally, I do not hesitate to say that there is no possible comparison between the two. In the opinion of nearly every expert whom I have met, the soil immediately around Dalgety is poor.
– Within what radius ? ft
– For some miles from the site. One has to go to Berridale on the north and to Bibbenluke on the southeast before finding good soil.
– There is good country 7 miles away.
– It cannot be said that the country immediately around Dalgety is anything more than poor granitic soil.
– It is good building country?
– Yes. Canberra, on the other hand, possesses one of the most fertile pieces of country that could be desired. The plains of undulating country which lie beyond now present, and usually present, one of the finest sights, as a piece of country, that any person could find in New South Wales. For that reason st seems to “ me that the Treasurer, probably with the best intentions in the world, has clone a serious injustice to the site which I have been advocating.
.- May I, as one who has not spoken on any specific motion relating to the Capital Site, draw honorable members’ attention to what I consider to be the expediency of having an amendment of the Constitution,, so as to eliminate the condition as. to the 100 miles limit from Sydney. I am sure that honorable members will, at all events, give me permission to draw their attention to the alleged expediency of such a change; and I shall say what I have to say as shortly as possible, and endeavour to support it by a reference in an article which appeared in the English press just before the adoption of the Constitution. We all remember the circumstances under which the limit of 100 miles was fixed as the nearest point to which the Federal Capital could be brought to the metropolis of New South Wales. That condition was made, I think, without much reason. It was decided at the Premiers’ Conference that the Federal Capital should be in New South Wales, and Sir George Turner, in order fo prevent the possibility of its being fixed in Sydney, moved that the limit of 100 miles should be stipulated. I never agreed with that condition, which I thought ‘to be made without tiny other consideration than that arising from the jealousy there was at the time on the part of Victoria of the possibility of New South Wales having the capital. In this matter we, as a Commonwealth, have adopted the precedent set us by America. When this question was under consideration here in 1901, on the occasion of the Centennial Celebrations, there was almost a universal chorus of denunciation of Washington as the Seat of Government. It was pointed out that society there was largely composed of civil servants, politicians, and third-rate pressmen, with the addition of a large body of professional touts who were paid large salaries to importune members in favour of particular interests. It was also pointed out that almost every one of the special capitals created in the States of America, which had followed the example of the Federal Government, had been found to be a failure. The Seat of the United States Government was changed to Washington in i8o.r, and for thirty or forty years regularly, every year, there was a motion in
Congress in favour of members going back to some centre of population where an atmosphere, not altogether political, might be breathed by honorable members. The fact is that the compromise in regard to Washington was adopted, because some of the southern States had declined to join the Union. It was pointed out, when Hamilton asked that the southern States should consent to the debts incurred during the civil war being paid by the States per head of population, that some of the States had no debts, and that it would be inequitable to adopt his scheme. Then, on the occasion of the second great debate in 1789, Hamilton promised that if the southern States consented to his adjustment in regard to the debts, he would secure, or endeavour to secure, that the Federal Capital should be at some site on the Potomac, thus placing on record the first instance of log-rolling on any great public question. I shall not put the matter in my own words, but call the attention of honorable members to an article which appeared in the Saturday Review, of 1.9th May, 1900, just before the Commonwealth Constitution was finally adopted. I do not say that the article is perfectly accurate in its forecast as to what would occur under Federation, because it predicted that through the unification of the States there would at once be a unification of the debts and a saving of at least 1 per cent, in the interest, and we know the value of that conjecture. This is the reference to the Federal Capital -
The man must be fastidious indeed in his ambition who cannot find satisfaction in shaping the destinies of a “continent. If the wider opportunities now offered to intellect and energy should draw into politics a class which has hitherto stood aloof, this Bill will have conferred no less a boon on the Empire than on Australia. For undoubtedly the degeneration which threatens, or has befallen, all democratic Governments to-day results from the absorption of power by the political machine and its manipulators. For this reason we regret that mutual jealousies have prevented the colonies from fixing on Sydney or Melbourne as the capital _pf the Federation. Such self-abnegation is perhaps more than could reasonably have been expected from colonial1 human nature, and yet it was so obviously thebest thing to do for the future of the continent that we could almost have hoped that patriotism might have sufficiently stimulated magnanimity. As it is, the result must inevitably be that someobscure and inoffensive township which arouses no jealousies, but which awakes no enthusiasm, will become the seat of Government. It will1 probably exist for and by politicians only, and accordingly can hardly have many charms as a place of residence. We greatly fear that what is gained in the magnitude of the political issues will be lost to some extent in the locality where the game is played. In the United States, both Federal politics and those of individual States suffer from the fact that they have to be carried on as a rule in towns which have only come into existence ad hoc, and have no other claim to recognition cither as centres of intellectual, social, or business life. How much of the interest taken by the best class of minds in this country in politics would evaporate if the political centre were to be transferred from London to some obscure provincial town ! It may be hoped that common sense may in time cause Australian political activity to gravitate towards some acknowledged centre of national life.
Here is a point of view which honorable members ought to remember before they decide to establish the Seat of Government in some place sequestered from the healthy play of public opinion that is not purely political. It does us members good sometimes to come into intercourse with men not merely political, but who bring to bear commercial, financial, and social views generally, which we are not accustomed in this House to often hear brought to bear on the formation of opinions by honorable members.
– There would probably be isolation.
– Probably. I do not know that the representatives of Victoria are particularly anxious that the Federal Capital should eventually not be in Sydney - and I mention Sydney because the Seat of Government has to be in New South Wales. When this matter was under consideration at other times, I remember several honorable members interjecting that they had no objection to Sydney .being finally chosen.
– Who is the writer of the article just quoted?
– - It is an anonymous article. My object really is to ask honorable members to seriously consider before they adopt what has been acknowledged to be a. mistake on the part of most of the American States, and even on the part of the United States Federation, and to give their attention to the expediency of amending the Constitution so that “this Parliament may have an opportunity, without the limitation to which I have referred, of fixing the site of the Federal Capital.
– I hardly desire to embark on this discussion at the present time. I may say, however, that although I have reported to the Government on almost all the sites that were recommended- by the Commissioners who examined them on behalf of the Commonwealth Government, I have never done so on my own motion. I happened to be Minister of Home Affairs when the sites were first reported on by the Commissioners, and it was my duty to visit the sites, and express an opinion for the information of my colleagues, that information being placed before honorable members afterwards. I do not know that any honorable member is under an obligation to take notice of any opinion I express on the Federal Capital Sites, because my reports contain nothing more than an expression of individual opinion, and I do not desire that they should. I have had some professional knowledge and experience which may qualify me to express an opinion on a matter of the sort, but that is by the way. I do not desire honorable members, or the people of the country, to be guided by any opinion of mine unless it commends itself to them. In regard to the present aspect of the matter, I was specially asked by the Premier of New South Wales to visit Canberra and report upon the site. I declined at first, because I thought that I ought not to undertake the task in view of my position in the Government, and the fact that the Federal Parliament had already expressed their opinion, behind which I thought I ought not to go.
– Did Mr. Carruthers ask the Treasurer to specially report on Canberra ?
-Mr. Carruthers asked me to visit Canberra, and I presume intended that I should report upon it, otherwise my visit would have no object. If I take the trouble to inspect, am I not to give the people of the country and the Parliament the advantage of any information I have?
– How long was the Treasurer at the site?
– I was there one day, which is quite as long a time as was spent on other sites by honorable members, who now express themselves freely in regard to these questions, although in most cases they have no professional knowledge. I do not desire the leader of the Opposition to take any notice, of my views and opinions unless they commend themselves to him. I come from the far west of Australia, and no one would suggest for a moment that I have any personal interest in any of these sites. I do not suppose it is very likely that I shall ever sit in the Legislature when the seat of Government is in the new Capital - the chances are against that being the case. It will be seen, therefore, that I have not what is vulgarly called “ any axe to grind.” I am in this matter not the representative of the Government, but merely a private citizen. I am not going to advise in any other than a just way, not even to please the honorable member for” East Sydney or the leader of the Labour Party. I cannot help it if the site in question does not commend itself to me as much as it does to some other honorable members. What is the honorable member for South Sydney driving at? If my report had been according to his way of thinking would he have said anything? Because I cannot make my views to his order, he would seem to think that I have some ulterior motive.
– No one suggests that.
– Then what is all this discussion- about? I can tell honorable members that I feel a great burden of responsibility in giving an opinion on a matter of this sort.
– It is only a private opinion.
– Nevertheless it involves a burden on a public man to place on record a definite- and decided opinion on an important matter of this kind. I hold no brief for Dalgety, nor i for any other place within New South Wales, but if I am able to give information to my fellowAustralians, and to the members of this House, my desire is to afford them, the advantage of it. It is they who are the judges of its value.
– The Treasurer has had his name attached to documents upon every subject under the sun-, from the British Navy down to the aneroid, with the result that he has only tended to confuse his readers. I explain his failure to appreciate Canberra from the fact that he got his surveying experience in the desert, of which we have very little in New South Wales.
– The right honorable member does not speak in that way when he comes to Perth..
– I am not referring to the exploration of Perth, but to the Treasurer’s magnificent exploits when exploring the desert country in the heart of Australia, which I hold to be worthy of the highest admiration, and such as will keep him in memory as one of the great figures in- Australian history. Whilst I do not admire my right honorable friend from the literary point of view, I admire his achievements- as, an explorer. Had the Premier of New South Wales known how far the Treasurer had committed himself to Dalgety, he would not have asked him to visit Canberra, because once the right honorable gentleman has formed an opinion, and expressed it two or three times,, no power on earth can cause him to alter it. He needs a little of my flexibility. For some time past the honorable member for South Sydney and myself have been in thorough accord in regard to the Federal Capital question, and he moved this adjournment motion with my full concurrence. I preferred that he should do so in order that not the slightest savour of party feeling should be imported into the debate. I thought it better that the leader of the Labour Party, who for the last twelve months has taken great interest in this matter, should bring it before the- House than that there should- be any ground for the suggestion that it was being brought forward as a party move by the Opposition. On the question of expense, I wish to say that the fixing of the Federal Capital should not involve any enormous outlay. The matter will be within our control, and not one penny can be spent without our full approval. There are two ways of beginning the founding of a capital. One is a most extravagant way, which would be utterly unjustifiable, while the other is moderate and prudent. The main point to which I direct attention is this : The Convention decided that the Federal Capital should not be placed in a great city. That was the reason for the special provision relating to the territory for the Seat, of Government. Much as I should like to see the Capital placed in Sydney’, I know that the people of New South Wales could not be asked to give such valuable land for nothing. The people of Melbourne would not deal in that way with their property, because they are sensible men. Would it not be a gross injustice to Victoria if the Commonwealth were to take over the magnificent block of buildings in which we meet without honestly paying the State for it ? The arrangement was entered into by the then Premiers of the six States of Australia, and embodied in a formal minute, that the capital should be in New South Wales, and, on the faith of it, I engaged to put a Bill through the New South Wales Parliament providing for a second referendum. I fulfilled my part of the contract, putting the Bill through, and .loyally advocating the acceptance of the draft Constitution as amended. I do not make an idle appeal to honorable men when I ask this House to show a desire to fulfil the obligation, but for which Federation would not have come into existence.
– Federation .would- have come about despite New South Wales. What a boast for a statesman to make.
– I do not boast of being a statesman. If I am one, what must the honorable member be? No doubt Federation would have come about at some time. What I wish to direct the attention of this House to is the minute of the six Premiers in regard to a resolution of the Parliament of New South Wales. It is in these terms -
It is considered that the fixing of the site of Capital is a question which might well be left to the Parliament to decide; but in view of the strong expression of opinion in relation to this matter in New South Wales, the Premiers have modified the clause, so that while the Capital cannot be fixed at Sydney, or in its neighbourhood, provision is made in the Constitution for its establishment in New South Wales at a reasonable distance from that city.
That minute was signed “ George Turner,” “G. H. Reid,” “James R. Dickson,” “£. C. Kingston,” “ E. Braddon,” and “John Forrest,” the Treasurer being one of the signatories. While I do not for a moment say that New South Wales .has the right to dictate to this House where the Federal Capital shall be, I express the hope that in giving effect to the undertaking of the Premiers honorable members will, if possible, endeavour to fix on a site which, while commendable .to them, will be a fair .interpretation of the arrangement.
– Dalgety is a reasonable selection.
– That is a matter of opinion. I do not presume to dictate to any honorable member on this subject, but, as a representative of New South Wales, I am perhaps better able to judge of the feeling of the people of that State than are the representatives of other States, and I believe that I faithfully express it when I say that the people of New South Wales do not regard the selection of Dalgety as a compliance with the understanding. They would, however, regard the selection of Canberra as an honorable and fair discharge of the obligation entered into on behalf of the Federation by the six Premiers. It was absurd for the Treasurer to attempt to decide the claims of Canberra by one day’s visit to the site, and to condemn it after so short an inspection. -I r, I]–: have not time now to deal at length with the reports of the engineers who have examined the place, but I draw the attention of honorable members to the following passage from a report by the Chief Engineer for New South Wales : -
In general suitability for the purposes of a Federal Capital site, Canberra compares most favorably with any site yet suggested. The extent of gently undulating country-
– That is inaccurate.
– The right honorable gentleman and myself ‘might naturally be expected to disagree with the opinion of any engineer who described as a “ gentle undulation “ any declivity which we might be asked to climb. The passage continues - suitable foi building exceeds that of any of those other sites, while the low hills generally surrounding the city area, with foot hills in the middle distance to the south, and the high peaks again in the far distance forming the mountains of the southern watershed of the Murrumbidgee, give it ‘an attraction as regards scenery unsurpassed by the others .suggested.
Other reports show that there is an enormous water supply available, and it has been estimated that a sheet of water seventy^ miles long could be provided at small expense within a few miles of the proposed site. Of course, the House cannot deal with this measure now, and I have referred to these details only by way of providing a counterpoise to the unfavorable minute of the Treasurer. I hope, however, that the whole question will be settled with as little delay as possible. 1 have already admitted that much of the delay which has occurred has not been the fault of the House, and .has been due to circumstances which I have detailed; but I hope honorable members will brush aside the struggle of the Montagues and the Capulets between the advocates of Bombala, Dalgety., Tooma, and Albury. I am as strongly in favour of .Dalgety against all the other sites, with the exception of .Lyndhurst - for which I originally voted - as I have ever been.
– The right honorable member has not seen Tooma.
– I did not go to see it, because its selection would not comply with the terms of the understanding between the Premiers.
– The selection of Dalgety does not do that.
– I do not think that it does. But when practical men .prefer neither A, B, nor C, and have to exercise a choice between them, they make it according to alphabetical order, or in some other arbitrary manner. It is a case of “ don’t like” with me in this matter, just as it is with the members of the Labour Party. They do not like the Government, and they do not like the Opposition any better, and therefore they keep the milk in che cocoanuts. The only request I make to honorable members at the present time is that they will take this matter into their serious and early consideration, bearing in mind the terms of the understanding between the Premiers, in virtue of which I carried through the New South Wales Parliament a Bill enabling the second referendum to take place. I do not ask the House just now for its judgment upon Canberra, or any other site, but I do ask the Government to bring the matter before us as soon as possible.
.- As one who had not inspected any of the eligible Capital sites, but as an ordinary member of the public who was of opinion that a large sum of money had been expended in connexion with the choice of the future Seat of Government, and that it was desirable that some finality should be reached, I recorded my vote upon the last occasion that this question was discussed in favour of Dalgety, and I do not see any reason why this Parliament should not adhere to its deliberate choice. If there be any doubt as to what is the best site available, let us take a referendum of the people as to where the Federal Capital shall be located.
– The honorable member would take a referendum upon the question of paying one’s debts.
M!r. MALONEY. - I wish to see a great experiment tried in connexion with a different form of land tenure from that with which we are most familiar. We have the advantage of the experience of the United States in connexion with the selection of its capital, and we know that if they had the opportunity the States forming that union would to-day approve of the land surrounding the Seat of Government being nationalized instead of being alienated in fee simple. Seventy years ago Washington was seen in imagination by one artistic man who was not appreciated in his day by the Americans, and who died of a broken heart. But those who have seen that magnificent city can appreciate the idea which he had in his mind when he designed it. Let us in Australia benefit by American experience, just as we have benefited in the freedom of our laws by the example which was set by the youngest daughter of the motherland when she separated from her on account of injustice. Had it not been for the action of America our laws would not be as free as they are to-day. Let us build a city which will be a glory to our race. If the people of the Commonwealth desire to have a voice in the selection of the Seat of Government, why not secure the passing of a law which will empower the Commonwealth to purchase even the city of Sydney if it chooses to do so, upon the valuation of the property owners themselves?
– Hear, hear. Take it from them.
– The leader of the Opposition has sufficient common sense to recognise that there is more in my statement than he has “given me credit for. I said why not empower the Commonwealth to purchase even the city of Sydney upon the valuation of the property owners themselves - the valuation upon which they are willing to pay rates and taxes. At first sight, my proposal might appear unjust to the State. But I am sure that the right honorable member, with his legal training, will agree that if a property owner is going to be taxed upon his valuation, he will make a fair valuation,, and not an absurd one. Under those circumstances the State would not be robbed, as Victoria is being robbed to-day, and has been robbed in the past. But “ a plague on both your houses.” Let us settle this matter quickly, and .get to work and build a city of which Australia will be proud.
– I have listened with very great! interest to the discussion which has taken place upon the motion for adjournment, submitted by the honorable member for South Sydney, and also to the fervid appeal which has been made by the leader of the Opposition, who now asks us as honorable men to undo all that we have done in connexion with the selection of a Federal Capital Site. Upon what ground does he make that appeal? Upon the strength of a piece of paper which he has discovered, and of which the people of Australia knew nothing whatever until after Dalgety had been selected by this Parliament-
– Why, it is contained in Quick and Garran.
– I have heard appeals made by the right honorable member upon previous occasions. I happen to have in my pocket to-day a statement which he made here in 1904. Whilst he was Prime Minister - and we must all admit that we should be able to place some reliance upon statements made by a Prime Minister in his official capacity - he declared -
This is a question of serious importance, which I hope will never be reconsidered.
His remark had reference to a request that the question of the selection of the Capital Site might be reopened. He continued -
I ‘hope that those who have this matter at heart will rest satisfied that the Government will loyally regard the decision of this Parliament, unless it is rescinded, and so far as I am concerned any attempt to rescind it will meet with my strongest opposition.
With all the right honorable gentleman’s cleverness, he will experience some difficulty in explaining away a statement of that kind. It did not take him three years to alter his opinion, because in 1905 he said -
As to the Capital Site,, we agreed to force the postponement of the Bill re-affirming Dalgety, because we believe that next session, after the heat engendered by the New South Wales Government and Parliament had evaporated, we shall have an excellent chance of altering the site either to Lake George or some other site near the Great Southern Line, vastly more eligible than Dalgety.
– Hear, hear.
– The honorable member for South Sydney cheers that statement. What did he say when he was Prime Minister?
– I said nothing in favour of Dalgety, I will guarantee.
– No, the honorable member seems to have sworn a vendetta against the Monaro site. I suppose that he has publicly advocated at Least half-a-dozen different sites.
– Not quite so many as that.
– The honorable member will remember that he voted for Lyndhurst, that he advocated the selection of Tumut and Batlow, and that he also urged the selection of Mahkoolma.
– I did not.
– He will remember the efforts which he made to induce them to inspect some further site, which they refused to visit upon the ground that they had seen quite enough.
– I was looking after their physical health.
– The honorable member by his rapid changes irresistibly reminds me of the office boy who on Monday wrote “Hired out “ ; on Tuesday, “Tired out”; and on Wednesday, “ Fired out.” He has moved from pillar to post, but I take no exception to his attitude. I am content to remark that it is a singular circumstance that most of those honorable members who have inspected Dalgety support its selection, whereas many of those who chide the Treasurer - who by the way is eminently fitted to express an opinion upon its merits - with having remained at Canberra only a day, have never seen it, and some honorable members who condemn Dalgety have never paid a visit there. They talk about the right of New South Wales to dictate to the Commonwealth. Surely we are old enough to realize that Sydney does not constitute New South Wales, and that New South Wales does not constitute Australia. The honorable member for South Sydney, however, despite all his cleverness, will not draw me off the track, and thus prevent me from quoting what he said in this connexion when he was Prime Minister. He declared -
I feel it to be my duty to stand by the selection the House has made.
– Immediately, of course. I was merely opposed to the immediate reopening of the question. Let the PostmasterGeneral quote the rest of my remarks. He is acting most unfairly, as usual.
– A little time since, when the honorable member for South Sydney was speaking, I called attention to the fact that his remarks were limited to halfanhour. Those of the Postmaster-General are limited to a quarter of an hour, so that in his case it is still more unfair for honorable members to interrupt him1.
– By way of personal explanation, I wish to say that I have never attempted, on the floor of the House, to misrepresent any honorable member - as the Postmaster-General is doing - by quoting only a portion of what he has said.
– If the honorable member says that I have misquoted him I regret the fact.’ The statement which I have read was handed to me-
– By whom?
– Not by the right honorable member. These are the sort of tactics which are employed, especially by the leader of the Opposition, who this afternoon has made a frantic appeal to honorable members to alter the deliberate choice of this House. Does he not know that for party purposes in New South Wales an attempt is being made to blame the Commonwealth Government for the delay that has occurred in connexion with the settlement of this question ? Only yesterday I received a telegram from Sydney stating that the Government of New South Wales had withdrawn all the reservations around the eligible Capital Sites. What is the motive underlying that action ?
An Honorable Member. - From whom did the telegram come?
– From Mr. Wood, the Chairman of Committees in the Legislative Assembly of New South Wales. All these reservations have been withdrawn, so that” the land around Dalgety and other sites may be taken up, and the Commonwealth may be compelled to pay more for it.
– There are no Crown lands around any of the sites.
– The honorable member knows that there are Crown lands reserved all around them. I remember the honorable member telling us that there were about 10,000 or 20,000 acres of good land at Batlow.
– That land is not situated amongst the Capital Sites.
– I do hope that I shall not be again called upon to intervene during the course of this debate. These repeated interjections on the part of honorable members are most unfair, and as I am sure no honorable member wishes to be unfair, I ask them to cease from interrupting.
– Those honorable members who are in favour of Dalgety do not care what New South Wales may da in this House, because she has already done her best. In the first Parliament, there were thirty-two representatives from New South Wales, thirty-one of whom voted against the selection of a site in the Eden-Monaro district, and only one in favour of it. They displayed a remarkable unanimity, and one has to be very generous to believe that it was the result of solid conviction, and not of dictation, by the Sydney press. In my opinion, an alteration of the Constitution (will be required before we can substitute any other site for that which we have already chosen. I am quite prepared to* meet the opponents of Dalgety at any time, What is the use of making frantic appeals which are based upon sympathy and pieces of paper that Ave have never seen - appeals by a gentleman who has previously, declared that this matter had been definitely settled ? I believe that the membersof this Parliament are determined that New South Wales shall not be permitted to dictate to it in this connexion. Are we going to say that we will be content tosubstitute an inferior site for Dalgety simply because it is closer to Sydney? What does it matter to us whether it is closer to Sydney or not? We want to choose the best site for all Australia. This is an Australian matter-
– Then let us go toTooma.
– Tooma happens to be in the honorable gentleman’selectorate, and he says that it is a very nice place. Similarly, Canberra is a very good site, but I maintain that in the opinion of honorable members who are prepared to judge impartially, it is not to be compared with Dalgety. What I fear is that if once this question be re-opened, asnearly every honorable member who hasvisited Tooma voted for it, and if any change is made, the result would probably be that the Tooma site would be chosen.” I am opposed to the selection of Tooma, and consequently against any. effort being made by honorable members to re-open the question. Section 125 of the Constitution provides -
The seat of Government of the Commonwealthshall be determined by the Parliament and shall be within territory which shall have been granted to or acquired by the Commonwealth and shall be vested in and belong to the Commonwealth, and if New South Wales be an original State shall be in that State and be distant not less than one hundred miles from Sydney.
Such territory shall contain an area of not lessthan one Hundred square miles, and such portion thereof as shall consist of Crown lands shall be granted to the Commonwealth without any payment therefor.
The Parliament shall sit at Melbourne until it’ meet at the seat of Government.
It will thus been seen that under the Constitution the Federal Capital must be inNew South Wales and not within 100 miles of Sydney, whilst the Parliament of the Commonwealth is to determine its precise location. My point is that under the Constitution this Parliament must determine the question ; that, as a matter of fact, by the;
Seat of. Government Act, we have decided that the Capital shall be within 17 miles of Dalgety, and that, before we can depart from that decision, we must secure an amendment of the Constitution. The leader of the Labour Party may smile, but neither he nor the leader of the Opposition have suggested that an alteration of the Constitution would be necessary if, as lias been proposed, the Seat of Governnent were to be transferred to Sydney. The leader of the Opposition says that he is anxious that this question shall be settled. If the Seat of Government Act be ripped open, so to speak, Tooma will probably be selected, and the whole question will again tie locked up.
– That is a very good gag.
– I have no desire at this stage to discuss the relative merits of the several suggested sites. I. simply point out that the Premier of New South Wales, urged on by some one - and we find the leader of the Opposition and the leader of the Labour Party in perfect accord as to the desirableness of Canberra - requested the Treasurer to inspect the Canberra site. The right honorable gentleman did so, but could not make a report to order, and now that he has set forth in cold type his honest conviction that Canberra is not a suitable or satisfactory site for the Capital, he is bitterly denounced. This is not a party question, and I suppose that the Minister of Trade and Customs does not indorse all that the leader of the Labour Party has said. All that I ask on behalf of Dalgety is fair play. It has been chosen as the site of the Capital, and although the most desperate efforts have been made to induce honorable members to reconsider their decision, not one of those who voted for that site has, to my knowledge, made a move in opposition to it. The people of Monaro scorn these attempts to secure Tooma as the site of the Capital, and I warn the leader of the Opposition that in backing up those who are seeking to reopen this question, if ever the Seat of Government Act is ripped up, and Dalgety struck out, Tooma will probably be selected, and the settlement of the question still longer deferred. Is the right honorable gentleman prepared to go back on the solemn statement made by him when Prime Minister that he would Le no party to any attempt to alter the decision of the Parliament in a way that might cause Melbourne to continue the Seat of Government for another twenty years? It is admitted by those who have no axe to grind, that Dalgety is an eligible site, and that being so, I urge honorable members to allow the decision of the last Parliament to remain undisturbed. It is useless for any honorable member to attempt to draw a red herring across the trail. Victoria has as much right as has any State to a means of access to the Federal Capital. The Premier of New South Wales, the other day took exception to the fact that we desire to .have means of access to the Capital from the Border of Victoria and the sea. Let me ask him - and I have- put many questions to him without securing a reply - whether it is the desire of his Government that, the Capital shall be walled in and the people of Victoria and other States shall only be able to enter the Capital by means of the gateway that New South Wales chooses to provide? Have the people of Australia no voice in the settlement of the question? Have not the people of New South Wales voiced their views by a majority of thirty - one to one, and should not the decision arrived at be adhered, to? Are honorable members opposite going to say that they cannot represent New South Wales? We have heard a lot of silly talk about the desirableness of submitting the question to a referendum in New South Wales. Surely honorable members will not hold that it would be fair to do anything of the kind? Party moves in Sydney are being bolstered up by such proposals, but the people of Monaro are prepared to accept the decision, not of any one State, but of this Parliament as representing the determination of the people of Australia on what is decidedly an Australian question.
.- I was under the impression that the cause for such heated remarks as those to which we have just listened disappeared some months ago. I am rather surprised at the warmth exhibited’ by the Postmaster-General in the defence of what, if it be a sound proposition, should require no such display. I have hitherto held that the best site beyond the 100-mile limit is Tooma, and I say, without hesitation, that if we had to consider this question as a purely Australian one, without any limitations such as are imposed by the Constitution, we should decide in favour of that site. The PostmasterGeneral asserted that nearly every honorable, member who had visited Welaregang voted for it, although they had previously made up their minds to support the selection of other sites. If the House is going to make a fresh selection, without any consideration for the compact made by the Premiers of the several States, then I would urge that a far more eligible site than is Dalgety can be found.
– At Tooma.
– This bears out what I told the House.
– It is idle for the honorable gentleman to indulge in doubleshuffling, and to talk in that way. We know that it is mere “ make believe “ on his part. The compact to which the leader of the Opposition has referred was for some time available to only a limited number of people in the Commonwealth, and in that respect a very great mistake was made. The practical obliteration of the record of that compact, which ought from the first to have been available for the guidance of this Parliament, is. the outstanding error made in connexion with this question. Had that document been made public from the first, I am satisfied that we should have settled this question four years ago. It would have been unnecessary to expend, as we have done, large sums in connexion with the inspection of sites more than 200 miles from Sydney. Much expenditure has been incurred in the making of surveys and the publishing of pictorial pamphlets with respect to various sites beyond the 200-mile limit, which, in view of that compact, should not be considered, and in this way there has been a wilful waste of public money. We are bound to have regard to the public welfare, and therefore the compact made after careful consideration by the States Premiers must be respected by the Parliament of the Commonwealth. I recognise that, as a representative of the people, I am bound to respect the compact, notwithstanding any conclusion I may have formed as the result of the inspection of the sites that have been submitted for our consideration. I propose to do so, but if a majority of honorable members are not prepared to consider it and indicate their intention to vote for a site beyond the 200-mile limit, I shall feel justified in voting for the site which I consider to be best adapted for what is to be the home of the Federal Parliament. We have to select a site, not to please Mr. Carruthers, Mr. Price, or Mr. Bent, but such as ‘will be in every way suitable for a home for the Government of the indissoluble union of the Commonwealth. We must fight for the selection of a site that will do credit to our judgment in the days to come. I have carefully read the reports, and have made a personal inpection of various suggested sites, and I can honestly say that, of those visited by honorable members during the last four or five years, none, with the exception of Canberra, compares favorably with that to which I have given my allegiance. As the leader of the Labour Party has shown by the report of the Chief Engineer of Public Works of New South Wales,- Canberra, which comes within the compact, possesses claims for consideration to which we must give some attention. We must give Mr. Wade and Mr. Weedon, the engineers who have presented a detailed report on the site, every credit for having put before us a clear, tangible statement. That being so,. 1 do not see in what way the argument of the Postmaster-General applies. That honorable gentleman is in the happy position of representing a constituency in which are situated the two sites likely to come immediately into conflict, though formerly Canberra was not included in the district represented by him. I can sympathize with the PostmasterGeneral in his fear that some change of opinion may come over the House on this question, but I cannot agree with his contention that there must be an alteration of the Constitution before the name of any other eligible site can be substituted for Dalgety.
– That is a most ridiculous contention on the part of the PostmasterGeneral.
– It only shows the extremes to which a person may be driven to find an argument when no reasonable argument presents itself. The Treasurer seems to have taken up the position of reporter-general on the Capital sites. It is true he tells us that he does not desire us to take notice of his reports ; but I say, with all respect to him, that if he had written those reports as a private member, and not as a Minister, we should still have given to them that credence which is due to the capacity and knowledge he displayed as an explorer in days gone by. As it is, however, when he, a Minister, who is, and should be, part of the Administration, stepsout to take sides on a question of this kind, he must expect his utterances to be regarded as those of a Minister of the Crown, and not as those pf John Forrest,
M.P. The Treasurer deliberately published these reports, hoping that the public would notice them, and that they would have some influence in the interests of the electorate represented by his friend, the Postmaster-General. While I am sure that the Treasurer has the knowledge necessary to guide a man to a correct opinion on such questions as that of altitude, climate, water supply, and so forth, so essential to a Capital Site, I am not satisfied that he possesses the knowledge necessary to form a final conclusion on an allimportant question of the kind. However, 1 feel assured that the House is nearly tired of this eternal discussion on the Federal Capital Site question, and every member would welcome the arrival of the final stage, when we shall satisfy the people with a definite conclusion. There is every reason why we should come to a decision now, if practicable, and in my opinion it is practicable. ‘ The question really resolves itself into this: Are we going to abide by the compact or are we not? If we are going to abide by the compact, then we must look for the Capital Site on territory between 100 and zoo miles from Sydney. What sites are there between those two lines? My time allowance has expired, and I can only express the hope that an effort will be made to settle the question before we enter upon the discussion of the Tariff.
– I am sure every honorable member in his heart deprecates the speech delivered a few minutes ago by the PostmasterGeneral. We all know that that honorable member has what is popularly called an “inflammation” on this subject. Whenever it comes up for discussion he allows himself to be thrown into a heated condition wholly unbecoming to a Minister, especially when delivering himself on a subject on which we all hope the mind of the House is thoroughly open at the present time. The honorable member for South Sydney gave no justification for the Postmaster-General’s attitude, because he merely drew the attention of the House to the fact that a report of a semi-official character had been made by the honorable member for Swan, and that the report was not justified by the facts. The leader of the Labour Party, it seems to me, was perfectly justified in drawing the attention of the House to the fact that this semi-official opinion was one likely to mislead the House. The speech just delivered by the
Postmaster-General appeared to me to be a studied attempt to prejudice a full House against the attitude of New South Wales on this question. The honorable member is in no way justified in saying that there- is any bitterness existing on the part of the people of New South Wales with regard to the postponement of the choice of the Capital Site. But every honorable member will recognise that if the Constitution had decided that the Capital Site was to be within the boundaries of Victoria, the Victorian people would have regarded seven years as a very long time for which to delay any definite step towards a choice. The Postmaster-General has spoken as though Dalgety had been chosen in a legal, constitutional way. The honorable member knows very well that the way in which this site was chosen was so illegal and unconstitutional that the Government have not the courage to take one single step towards acquisition, because they know very well that the High Court would be moved to restrain them, on the ground that the Act was ultra vires. It has been pointed out most clearly by two or three legal members that before we can choose a Capital Site the territory must either be granted by New South Wales or acquired by the Commonwealth. When it was pointed out that this House was not in a position to choose a Capital Site, the Prime Minister said: “ Well, if the Bill does not have the effect of giving us a site, it will at least indicate the direction in which we wish to have the site ‘chosen.” And that is all the action of this Parliament stands for; it is merely an indication that at that time there was a desire that Dalgety should be submitted to this Parliament and placed at the disposal of the Commonwealth by the New South Wales Government. I feel very! strongly against the Capital ever being fixed in any great city. It has been frequently stated in the House, and I have often heard it in private conversation with Victorians, that they would rather see the Federal Capital in Sydney than on what they call a “ bush “ site. The honorable and learned member for Angas has pointed out that so far as a site has been chosen, it is a bush site ; and that this result is entirely the work of the Victorian people, through their representative, Sir George Turner. It was proposed that the Capital should be in New South Wales, and Sir George Turner, rather than have it fixed in Sydney, proposed to the Premier of New South Wales that the chosen site should be beyond 100 miles from Sydney.
– Does Sir George Turner acknowledge that?
– It is acknowledged, because it is part of the reported proceedings that Sir George Turner wished to stipulate for that condition; and that was the immediate cause of the choice being limited to some bush site.
– Was not that done in order to meet some conditions which f.he present leader of the Opposition was unfairly claiming?
– It was originally provided that the Capital should be in New South Wales.
– In the Convention scheme ?
– Yes. It was through Sir George Turner’s intervention restricting the territory to an area not less than roo miles from Sydney, and although the present leader of the Opposition tried to get the limit reduced to seventy-five miles, the other Premiers would not consent. I am in favour” of the Federal Capital being away from any of the large cities. Every honorable member who has been in this House during the last six years must have clearly recognised that the effect of the Seat of Government being in this city has given the State of Victoria an enormous advantage over the other States. Three or four years ago I submitted to the House a calculation which I had made, and which showed the effect on the voting power of this House. My calculation showed, and the divisions showed, that although New South Wales, by reason of her greater population, was entitled to a sixth more representation in this House, Victoria had enjoyed one-sixth more voting power than New South Wales.
– What has that to do with the Federal Capital?
– A great deal, because it shows that it is unfair to the other States to establish the Federal Seat of Government in the capital of a State. I do not care whether the city chosen were Sydney or Adelaide, the same unfairness would result to the other States. Another great advantage of having the Federal Capital in the country, would be that none of us would have anything to do but the work of Parliament. My firm belief, based on nearly seven years’ experience in this House, is that if the Capital of Australia were on neutral ground, and the members had not any other business to occupy them, they would begin work at ten o’clock, im the morning, and probably the session” would be finished in three months at most. We should be free from the influence of the local press, whether of Sydney or Melbourne, and I undertake to say that Parliament as a whole would be a freer Parliament on neutral ground than it can be in any State Capital. One word in regard to theattitude of New South Wales. I do not think the Victorian people quite realize how New South Wales regards the question. I have witnessed no bitterness on. the part of .the New South Wales people,, though I have observed considerable disappointment. And I am not surprised, because, as honorable members will recollect, about three years ago the Melbourne Argus newspaper deliberately advocated the election of a bunch of four senators from Victoria, on the ground that they had declared themselves in favour of an unlimited’ or indefinite postponement of the choice of a (Capital Site; and 80,000 people voted for those four. Then the Melbourne Age actually had an article to this effect - “ It is true,” it said, “ that under the Constitution the Capital Site is to be in New South Wales, but the Constitution does not say when the site is to be chosen, and, therefore, we are justified “ - and I use almost the newspaper’s very words - “ in applying to this question the principle of the Merchant of Venice, and saying that you shall have your pound of flesh, although when you get it- is entirely another matter.” When the two leading newspapers of this State take up that attitude, it is not surprising that the New South Wales people should begin to take a somewhat hopeless view of the question. I should like to say, in reply to the fervid remarks of the Postmaster-General, that, so far from the people of New South Wales feeling bitterly towards the people of Victoria in this matter, they are only suffering; grievous disappointment because of the lack of the true Federal spirit which should lead the representatives of Victoria and of all the States to readily fulfil the obligations laid upon them by the Constitution.
Debate interrupted. Business of the day called on.
– Before the business of the day is called on, I should like to ask the Treasurer if he will say why the stamp printing machinery to be installed at Adelaide has not yet been procured?
– The honorable member cannot ask a question now, since a motion such as that which we have been dis- cussing can be called on only after the time for the asking of questions and the giving of notices of motion has elapsed.
– On the point of order, I would draw your attention, Mr. Speaker, to the fact that notice has been given of three questions, which appear on the businesspaper, but which have not yet. been answered. I think that it is usual to provide for the answering of such questions before the business of the day is proceeded with.
– We are following our ordinary course, which is to allow of the putting of such questions, if there are a few minutes to spare after a motion of adjournment has been dealt with. If there has been no time to spare, we have gone straight on to the Orders of the Day, as is required by the Standing Orders. An opportunity will be afforded later for the putting of the questions referred to.
– I move -
That Standing Order No. 215 be repealed, and that the following Standing Order be adopted in lieu thereof : - 215. (a) A member shall be appointed by the House to. be Chairman of Committees, and when so appointed he shall continue to hold office during the continuance of the existing Parliament, unless the House shall otherwise direct. The Chairman shall take the Chair of all Committees of the Whole.
In the event of. more than two members being proposed for the position of Chairman, the election shall be by open exhaustive ballot.
The Prime Minister gave notice of this motion, and it is unfortunate that he is not able to attend to move it himself. In his absence I move it for him. It will carry into effect what I believe to be the desire of honorable members, that the term of office of the Chairman of Committees shall be extended from a session to the duration of a Parliament.
.- I oppose the motion, because I think that the Chairman of Committees, if we are to have such an officer, should be chosen at the beginning of each session. However well a member may fill this position, even if he does so as splendidly as you, Mr. Speaker, have done - and you are the best Speaker in whose presence I have spoken - the shorter his term of office the better. I do not hold with the election of a member of the House to either the position which you ornament or the Chairmanship of Committees, because thereby a political party loses votes, and a constituency is disfranchised at every division. Those who have heldthe Speakership in the Legislative Assembly of Victoria have had very sorry experiences. For instance, Sir Graham Berry was not again returned to political life after he had acted as Speaker. Mr. Bent lost his seat and his deposit of £50 when presenting himself for re-election after having filled that office.
– Was that because he had been Speaker?
– I think so. The last Speaker, Mr. Mason, also lost his seat, and has not been in Parliament since.
Mr.Frazer. - The honorable member will make Mr. Speaker uncomfortable.
– You, Mr. Speaker, have performed your duties in an exceptional manner, and have, therefore, no reason to fear for your seat. I am not speaking against you in any way. But the best ruled Parliament in the world, that which legislates for the country to which every politician looks as to the political schoolhouse of Europe - I. refer to Switzerland - is presided over by a President and a Chairman of Committees, both of whom are elected only for the session, while no President can hold office during two consecutive sessions. If a division is called for I shall vote against the motion, because I think it my duty to protest against the proposal to lengthen the term of office of the Chairman of Committees. The last occupant of the chair is a friend of mine, and a member of the party to which I belong. Therefore I am not animated by any personal feeling in this matter. I maintain that three years is too long a term, and although I have not seen what I complain of in this Parliament, I know that in other. Parliaments the competition for such a position has. led to the consulting of whisky bottles in private rooms on too many occasions.
.- I think that we should avoid putting up for tender at the beginning of every session the position of Chairman of Committees ; but I am of opinion that we should not limit our powers in the matter, and evidently the
Government think so too, because they wish to provide that the Chairman shall hold office during the continuance of the existing Parliament “ unless the House shall otherwise direct.” What is aimed at could have been better obtained by amending standing order 215. That standing order reads -
A member shall be appointed by the House each session to be Chairman of Committees, who shall hold office until his successor is appointed.
The object in view would be obtained By the striking out of the words “ each session.” If the motion before the House be carried, we shall be able to get rid of the existing Chairman only by moving directly for his lemoval, whereas if the standing order were amended in the way I suggest, the appointment of some one else could be moved without the need for invidious action against the present occupant of the chair, or unpleasant references to the manner in which his duties had -been discharged. The intention of the Government seems to be merely to avoid the need for appointing a Chairman every session. I do not know that there is any objection to making the appointment every session ; but there is an objection on the score of policy to continually changing Chairmen, when there is no strong reason for such action. The principle I have endeavoured to follow from the beginning, and which will regulate my vote on the next motion, is that a member who has carried out the duty of Chairman of Committees fairly well should be retained in that position.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
.- I move -
That the honorable member for Kennedy (Mr. Charles McDonald) be appointed Chairman of Committees of this House.
If this were not a new Parliament, I should content myself with moving the motion without making any observation upon it; but as we have several new members, two or three words to commend it to the House may not be out of place. I propose that the honorable member for Kennedy be appointed Chairman, because of his wide parliamentary experience. Before his election to this House he was a member of the Queensland Parliament. Ever since the inauguration of Federation he has been a temporary Chairman of Committees here, and last session filled the position of Chairman. I think that all those who saw him in that position will admit that he filled his office to the general satisfaction of honorable members. He was impartial, courteous to all, and anxious to advance the interests of honorable members in every way possible. His knowledge of the Standing Orders and of parliamentary customs is perhaps unrivalled, with the exception of your own, Mr. Speaker. If honorable members again show him their confidence, I think that they will have every reason to regard his appointment with the greatest satisfaction.
.- I second the motion. This is not an occasion whereon the merits of the candidate for office need be extolled. As has been very properly said by the honorable member for Boothby, the honorable member for Kennedy has already fulfilled the duties of the Chairman of Committees with honour and credit to us and to himself, and with an ability and impartiality such as we hope his successors will emulate. It has been said that his knowledge of Standing Orders is unsurpassed by that of any one except yourself, Mr. Speaker. But what is more important as a qualification for the occupant of this office is that he. should exhibit absolute impartiality regarding every party, interest and individual in the Chamber. I have the greatest confidence in recommending the honorable member for Kennedy as a gentleman who will deal faithfully and fairly with honorable members, and who will perform hia duties with credit to the important post for which he is a candidate.
– I move -
That the motion be amended by leaving out the words “ Kennedy (Mr. Charles McDonald) “ with a view to insert in lieu thereof “ Laanecoorie (Mr. Charles Carty Salmon).”
It is not necessary for me to make any personal recommendation of the honorable member for Laanecoorie. No doubt honorable members have made up their minds as to the candidate for whom, they will vote. The honorable member for Laanecoorie has had a long parliamentary experience, both here and in the Victorian Parliament. I leave it to the House to choose whomsoever they may think best fitted for the Dosition.
Question - That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the question - put. The House divided.
Majority … … 5
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
– I need scarcely remind honorable members that the vote which has just been taken has resulted in the election of the honorable member for Kennedy as Chairman of Committees. We have already had experience of theway in which he discharges the duties of that office, and I am sure that nobody can take exception to it. I congratulate him upon the success which he has achieved upon the present occasion, and I am sure that during the currency of the present Parliament nobody will regret its choice.
.I wish to express to honorable members my high appreciation of the honour which they have conferred upon me in electing me to preside over the deliberations of the Committees of this House. I hope that I shall be able to discharge the duties of that high and honorable office in a manner which will reflect credit not only upon the House, but upon myself.
– Perhaps I may be pardoned for saying a word or two upon this occasion. I desire to thank very heartily indeed those honorable members who were good enough to express their confidence in me by recording their votes in my favour. I am particularly pleased that I received the support of a number of honorable members who, by their votes, showed that they did not regard this matter from a party standpoint. In my opinion the election of the Chairman of Committees - an election to a position of great honour and dignity - should be entirely free from any partisan spirit, and it affords me the greatest possible pleasure to reflect that in the division which has just taken place I did not receive the undivided support of any particular party in this House. I thank honorable members very sincerely, and I need hardly assure the honorable member for Kennedy that if at any time my services can be of value to him, they are at his command. I feel certain that the traditions of this House and of the Mother of Parliaments, upon which our procedure is modelled, are perfectly safe in his hands, and that honorable members will have no cause to regret the step which has been taken to-day.
Debate resumed from 9th July (vide page 243), on motion by Mr. Wise -
That the Address-in-Reply to His Excellency’s Speech, as read by the Cleric, be agreed to by the House.
.- During the progress of this debate a good deal of criticism has been levelled by members of the direct Opposition against the Government and against the members of the Labour Party. Consequently I propose to offer a little criticism upon the position occupied by members of the Opposition. They have described the manner in which the Labour Party conducted the recent elections. I need hardly say that they have not had the temerity to confront us in this House with some of the absurd misrepresentations which were made to do duty during the late campaign. I propose to quote a few of their mis-statements, so that honorable members opposite may have an opportunity of substantiating them, and so that the party with which I am associated may be afforded an opportunity of replying. No such opportunity was afforded us during the late elections, except to a very limited extent. Upon the other hand, a statement had merely to be made by the leader of the Opposition in the privacy of his own chamber to insure its insertion in large type in. the daily papers of the following day, through whose medium it probably reached from 80,000 to 100,000 individuals. Corrections of these accusations made by the Labour Party reached only the handful of people who happened to be listening to the speakers at political meetings, because the daily press of Australia deliberately refused to give to our views the publicity which they gave to the utterances of our opponents. At the recent election we were assured by the leader of the Opposition that the supreme issue before the people was that of Socialism versus antiSocialism. It is a notable circumstance that the right honorable member has not attempted to define either Socialism or antiSocialism. He was content to put this airy issue before the electors, and I may add that in support of it a number of misstatements and fabrications were employed which did not reflect credit upon the .persons who used them. But, although the leader of the Opposition declared that the issue was one of Socialism versus antiSocialism, when speaking at Toowoomba, a little time ago, he practically proclaimed’ himself a Socialist. He said -
If industries cannot be established without protection let the Commonwealth Government establish them, because we can then be quite sure of the position of the factories,, of proper wages being- paid, and decent hours being kept. There would be then no one to sweat, because there would be no one to make a profit.
Hi made that statement in 1901, and yet at the last election he declared himself an anti-Socialist. The charge was also levelled against the Labour Party that its members were a lot of atheists. I hold in. my hand a pamphlet which was printed by the Democratic Union, of which the right honorable member is president, in which the following passages occur: -
Hyndman, a leading English Socialist, declares that “ Christianity is merely the chloroform agency of the confiscating classes.”
Karl Marx, the greatest Socialist authority, declares that Socialism “ makes war against all prevailing ideas of religion.”
The Geneva Socialistic Alliance indorsed by resolution “ the demand for the abolition of all worship and the substitution of science of faith.”
This pamphlet was broadcasted throughout Australia at the last elections in opposition tj the Labour Party. To my mind, it would be more honorable for the leader of the Opposition to make these- charges upon the. floor of the House where we have an opportunity of replying to them. I would further point out that in the first session of this Parliament the leader of the Opposition, who has charged other people with having introduced it, made some statements concerning the sectarian question. Upon the nth January of this year, in referring to the Labour Party, he said -
That alliance between Cardinal Moran and the Labour Socialists is of a most extraordinary character. . . . We may be sure that an alliance between two such parties, working upon an arrangement of support in return for concessions, constitutes one of the gravest dangers in Australian politics to-day.
That is nothing short of a barefaced false hood. I contradicted it in the daily newspapers of Sydney, and have- lost no opportunity to deny the assertion that the Labour Party has recognised any religious body, either on the one side or the other. An honorable member occupying so ex alted a position as is that of the leader of the Opposition ought not to make such statements merely for the purpose of securing votes. During the debate we have been told by the right honorable gentleman that the direct Opposition do not represent the capitalists of Australia. Let us test that assertion. At the general election the right honorable gentleman asserted that the issue was Socialism versus anti-Socialism, and that there were only two parties before the country. I find that the Employers’ Federation is reported’ in the Sydney Daily Telegraph of 15th April, 1905, to have carried this resolution -
The necessity for prompt action and close or.ganization, in order to fight the socialistic demands of the Labour Party, was fully recognised, and a determination was arrived at to enter upon such a work in each State without delay.
If it be true, that there were only two parties before the country, can it be said that the Employers’ Federation supported the Labour Party? In such circumstances they must have supported the leader of the Opposition and his followers, who must’ be here to-day as representing the Employers’ Federation of Australia. Then again, the president of the Svdney Chamber of Commerce is reported in the Sydney Morning Herald of 12th April, .1905, to have said -
Hitherto the Chambers of Commerce of Australasia had in the main moved only when legislation had been actually proposed, but he would earnestly submit that they could now fittingly and very properly co-operate with other organizations for what, he claimed as a national purpose, and not a party purpose, with a view to securing united action upon a precise and definite programme which would make for stability and confidence’ at home and abroad, and be in clear opposition to the socialistic efforts of that minority (The Labour Party).
Did not the Chambers of Commerce support the right honorable gentleman and his policy of anti- Socialism ? I say that they did, and that these capitalistic institutions are ranged behind the right honorable member and his party who are here to-day to do their bidding. It was also, asserted during the election campaign that the Labour Party desired to destroy the sanctity of the home and the marriage tie. I am aware that the leader of theOpposition, when pressed, repudiated the statement, but his followers gave voice to it all over the country. The honorable member ‘for Lang during the course of the campaign said that the Labour Party were Socialists, that the Socialists were endeavouring to break up the marriage tie, and that consequently the Labour Party were doing so. Despite our statements, and the passing of resolutions at Labour Conferences, to the contrary, these deliberate falsehoods ‘were spread broadcast over Australia with the sole object of sidetracking the electors, and preventing them from voting on the clear issue before them. I propose now to devote some attention to the deputy leader of the Opposition, the honorable member for Parramatta, who has been touring the country denouncing the caucus and the Socialism of the Labour Party. He has declared that the land tax proposals of our party mean confiscation, and has made various other charges against us. I do not know whether honorable members generally are aware that the deputy leader of the Opposition was first returned by the Labour Party to the Parliament of New South Wales; that he was taken by them from the coal mines of Lithgow, and sent into the State Parliament. Some of the planks upon which he was elected read as follows : -
A Workshops and Factories Act to provide for abolition of sweating.
The establishment of a Department of Labour, a National Bank, and a national system of water conservation and irrigation.
If anything is socialistic that is -
The extension of the principle of the Government acting as employer through the medium of the local self-governing bodies.
There is to-day no more socialistic proposal in our .programme than is that.
The recognition in our legislative enactments of the national and inalienable Tights of the whole community to the land - upon which all must live and from which by labour all wealth is produced.
The honorable member has much to sayabout the caucus pledge of. the Labour Party, and, before dealing with his assertions in this .respect, I think it necessary to point out that when he was originally returned to the State Parliament the party had no pledge. .Shortly after his election the following motion was adopted on division : -
That in order to secure the solidarity of the Labour Party, only those will be allowed to assist at its private deliberations who are pledged to vote in the House as .a majority of the party sitting in caucus has determined.
There were twenty-eight votes in favour of this proposal, and eight against, and I find amongst the list of those voting in the affirmative the name of the deputy-leader of the Opposition.
– The honorable .member is telling tales out of school.
– There is nothing to hide. I am endeavouring to show that the honorable member for Parramatta is a political turn-coat. I warn honorable members in the Opposition corner who have not yet .made up their minds to which party they are going to attach themselves, that if they join with the honorable member for Parramatta, he will desert them the .moment he finds that by association with them his own interests are at stake. During the election campaign, the honorable member for Parramatta, as I have said, referred to the land tax proposals of the Labour Party as meaning confiscation. When he was first returned to the Parliament of New South Wales, he was a very strong supporter of land taxation, as “I shall show by putting before honorable members quotations from speeches made by him and reported in the New South Wales Hansard. Speaking in the State Legislative Assembly on the financial statement, he is reported in , Hansard, volume 62, page 381.4, to have made the following statement : -
An honorable member a few minutes ago asked another honorable member if he wished to tax the thrift of the country. It is not the thrift of the country, but the legalized theft of the country that we want to tax - the men who have taken, through the medium of land values, something which they did nothing to create, who have taken from the people the result of their own flesh and blood, who have taken it by the machinery of
These are the utterances of an honorable member who has been telling the people of the Commonwealth that the land tax proposals of the Labour Party amount to confiscation. During the election campaign, he had also a good deal to say with respect to the proposed establishment of an Australian Navy, and insinuated, at various meetings held by him in New South Wales, that because the Labour Party were endeavouring to abolish the Naval subsidy, and to devote the money so paid away to the upbuilding of an Australian Navy, they were disloyal, and wished to “cut the painter.” The honorable member himself has had something to say about “ cutting the painter.” Listening to his long oration in this House the other day, one would have thought that he was, and always had been, one of the most ardent loyalists in the land, but I felt constrained to remind him of some of his republican speeches. I made a careful note of the words used in the House last week by the honorable member, who said -
So the question resolves itself into this : are we going to continue to allow the Imperial Navy to police our commerce on the high seas whilst we .pay not a cent towards its upkeep ?
– Where are those republican speeches of the honorable member?
– The honorable member is at liberty to find them if he can.
I have found them.
– The honorable member could not have had much difficulty in finding them, since they are contained in a pamphlet compiled by the Labour Party, who trade on them.
– We are going to compile a pamphlet showing the many “yes-no” attitudes which the honorable member’s party have adopted.
– The honorable member himself has been guilty within the last few years of an emphatic “ yes-no.” He was
– That is absolutely untrue.
– Order ! The honorable member must withdraw that remark.
– I shall do so, sir, and say instead that the honorable member’s assertion is absolutely incorrect. The Premier of New South Wales sought to show, by publishing only part of certain correspondence which had passed between us, that I wished to stand in opposition to the Labour Party.
– The honorable member has quoted only parts of certain statements made by the .honorable member for Parramatta.
– The honorable member must not interrupt.
– The ‘ honorable member for Parramatta is quite competent to quote any parts that are missing. According to the New South Wales Hansard, vol. 61, page 2386, on the question of Republicanism, he stated in the course of the Australian Federation debate that -
On the broad outlines of the scheme I should like to say one or two words about the question of Federation under the Crown. I do not know that I am a red-hot Republican - at any rate, not one of those Republicans who can say they will do nothing until they can get a Republic. I believe the destiny of these Colonies will be that of a Republic^ and whenever it comes I shall certainly hail it, if it does come in a way which will meet the aspirations of the great bulk of the people without any great hardship accruing.
Further on he said -
The great objection I have to Royalty is . . that it has a tendency to the creation of servility, that it tends to set up orders of beings in the State, different castes and gradations in society, and all that kind of thing which is subversive of the great intelligence and education of our time.
These were the utterances of an honorable member who recently sought to make out that the Labour Party are disloyal simply because they desire an Australian Navy.
– That statement was made by the honorable member for Parramatta something like thirteen years ago.
– If I were to quote from statements made by the honorable member for Parramatta every year since then, it would be found that he had turned many political somersaults. When the question of the Australian Navy was under discussion in the State Parliament, he said something different from what he did during the recent general election. In the
New South Wales Hansard, vol. 67, page 5/3, we find the following statement attributed to him : -
It has been asserted to-night that those who dare say a word concerning the operations of our fleet are disloyal to the Mother Country. I repudiate any such assertion. The honorable member who made so much of loyalty to-night was mistaking loyalty for servility. Those who rebel against all servility cannot, therefore, be called disloyal. . . . The limit of loyalty of any people must always be determined by a sense of obligation to one’s own people.
That last clause, referring _to the “limit of loyalty,” fairly describes the attitude of the Labour Party to-day in relation to an Australian Navy. Those who call themselves anti- Socialists turn to the Labour Party and say - “ You are in favour of nationalizing monopolies ; and if you are in favour of nationalizing some things, you must be in ‘favour of nationalizing all things.” That is a most absurd argument, but I may turn it against the antiSocialists, and say to them, “ If you are antiSocialists, you must mean to convert all the undertakings which to-day are socialistic in Australia into undertakings conducted by private enterprise.” The public debt of Australia is about £236,000,000, and of that £195,000,000 are invested in socialistic undertakings by the various States. Amongst these undertakings are railways and tramways, representing £136,000,855 ; telegraphs and telephones, .£3,750,000; water supply and sewerage, £29,000,000; harbor and river works, £17,000,000; defence, £2,500,000; immigration, £3,000,000; advances to settlers, £508,000 ; land for settlement, £745,000 ; and loans to local bodies, £2,416,000; total, £195,000,000. If those gentlemen who call themselves anti-Socialists are sincere they must contemplate overturning all this socialistic work and experiment carried out by the States Governments and handing the undertakings over to private enterprise. But we know quite well that they do not contemplate any steps of the kind, and that their antiSocialism is only so much humbug. If from the public platform they were to tell thepeople of Australia that such was the meaning of their anti- Socialism, they would get very short shrift from the electors. Their argument can be aptly illustrated by a case, in which a doctor, summoned to attend a patient suffering from some physical infirmity, prescribed a bottle of medicine composed of. amongst other drugs. a few drops of chloroform. The medical man was of opinion that three or four drops of chloroform, in combination with the other materials, would afford a cure for the disease.
– Were the other ingredients to counteract the chloroform?
– No; the doctor thought that the combination would bring about certain desired effects. Now, according to the argument of the anti-Socialists, it might have been said in this case, that if three drops of chloroform were good, a whole bottle full would be better. The Labour Party, in laying down a remedy for the diseases of the body politic, have come to the conclusion that so many drops of Socialism will be good for the people. When a monopoly works injuriously to the general public, to the employes in the in dustry, and to producers of raw material, then the Labour Party contend that the time has arrived when the monopoly must be taken over and conducted by the people in the interests of all. But the antiSocialists continue to advance the ridiculous argument that because the Labour Partypropose to administer two or three drops of Socialism, they intend to take over everything - to nationalize people’s houses and have State kitchens, to nationalize the children, and, doing away with the marriage tie, have free selection of wives. These are the sort of statements made by the anti-Socialists on platforms throughout the Commonwealth on occasions when they are reported, while the speeches of the Labour Party are ignored by the press ; but they do not dare advance such arguments in this House, where they can be refuted. In the course of this debate the honorable member for Hindmarsh referred to a publication called the Patriot, issued by the Treasurer in Western Australia, and he told us that the issue which he had seen, that of the 22nd November, bore an intimation that it was registered as a newspaper for transmission through the post. Subsequent inquiries, however, showed that the paper had not been registered until 7th December, and that there had been no issue of the Patriot after 22nd November. This paper would pass through the post-office at the smaller rate fixed for registered newspapers ; and I am greatly disappointed that no statement or explanation has been given to us by the Treasurer. I hope the Postmaster-General will make some inquiries into the occurrence.
– If anything improper has been done, I shall see who is responsible.
– I am glad to hear that from the Postmaster-General. I conducted a newspaper in New South Wales for four years, which was registered for transmission through the post. With that newspaper was a supplement, Which also bore an intimation that it was registered, but when I asked the postal authorities whether it could be sent at the lower rate, seeing that the newspaper itself was registered, I received the reply that the supplement could not, and that, by making an intimation to the effect that it could, I had rendered myself liable to prosecution.
– The Patriot was not a newspaper at all.
– It was merely an electioneering placard, containing some of the greatest misrepresentations that could be made, and it could not by any stretch of the imagination be called a newspaper. However, I am glad to hear the PostmasterGeneral say that he will make inquiries, and deal with those, if there are any, who are responsible for the occurrence. What has been the result of the great electioneering campaign conducted by those who are called anti-Socialists ? They started out with the intention to abolish the three party system in this House - to reduce the number of parties to two - but the leader of the Opposition has only succeeded in creating an extra party, the members of which, so far as I can see, though returned on the antiSocialist ticket, object to sit with him and his colleagues, and have taken their places in the corner. Then the honorable member for Fremantle was elected as an anti- Socialist, but in the very first speech he made in this House he declared himself in favour of State insurance as opposed to oldage pensions. There is also the fact that, while the leader of the Opposition says he is going to vote for the reduction of the Tariff, the deputy leader has signified that he is not going to offer any obstacle to the raising of the Tariff by the protectionists, because he recognises that there is a majority in the House in favour of protection. That is a pretty attitude ! *
– I think the honorable member scarcely represents the honorable member for Parramatta correctly.
– What I say is correct. The honorable member for Parramatta said he would not offer objections to a Tariff on the lines laid down .by the people who had returned a majority of protectionists.
What sort of party would the Labour Party be if every time they found a majority against them, they gave up the fight for their principles ? As soon, however, as the members of the Opposition find a majority against them they, because they cannot get on to the Treasury benches and enjoy the emoluments of office, turn their coat, and practically fall in with those who have previously been their opponents. Then what is the attitude of the honorable member for Dalley, who has interrupted me on several occasions? That honorable member has been a professed free-trader, but he now says, “ I am not going to be an outandout free-trader any longer; I shall vote protection so far as my electorate is concerned.” And he soon gave us an earnest of his intentions in this House. These are the effects of the campaign of the leader of the Opposition ; a fourth party has been created, and his own party torn into shreds and patches. The leader of the Opposition has stated that he was told there were practically only two parties in the House on a division - one party for the Government and one against - but he said, “ What is the good of our challenging the Government when the Labour Party has come to a caucus decision to support the Government?” That is a peculiar way for the right honorable gentleman to get out of his responsibility.
– Where did the right honorable gentleman get his information as to a caucus decision?
– I do not know where he got his information, but I do know that it is not correct. Every member of the Labour Party is free to vote in any way he likes upon the AddressinReply, and yet the members of the Opposition shelter themselves behind this creation of their own imagination. Why does the Opposition not test the feeling of the House? They know that if they did so, they would find themselves in a very ridiculous position. It would appear from the newspapers that there is a majority in the House in favour of anti-Socialism; but if the Opposition moved an amendment to the AddressinReply, or a no-confidence motion, they would soon find out how they stand. While the honorable member for Dalley is going to be a protectionist to a certain degree, and the deputy leader of the Opposition is not going to offer any resistance to the raising of the Tariff, the honorable member for Lang is determined to offer every resistance, and will take every opportunity to reduce the Tariff. These are members of a party which a little while ago was banded together on the one sacred issue of free-trade. There has been so much ignorance displayed by the members of the Opposition as to the Labour Party’s objective, platform and pledge, that I propose to now place on record what the platform and pledge are. ‘ They are as follow : -
Labour Party’s Federal Platform.
Objective. - (1) The cultivation of an Australian sentiment based uponthe maintenance of racial purity and the development in Australia of an enlightened and self-reliantcommunity.
The securing of the full results of their industry to all producers by the collective ownership of monopolies and the extension of the industrial and economic functions of the State and municipality.
I hereby pledge myself not to oppose the can didate selected by the recognised political organization, and, if elected, to do my utmost to carry out the principles embodied in the Federal Labour Platform, and on all questions affecting the platform to vote as a majority of the Parliamentary Party may decide at a duly constituted caucus meeting. I further pledge myself not to retire from the contest without the consent of the Executive of the Political Labour League of New South Wales.
I know that some honorable members of the Opposition have not had an opportunity to obtain this information before, because the newspapers refused to print it; but they will not be able to say in future that the opportunity has not been presented. The Labour Party’s objective is -
– Hear, hear.
– Even the honorable member for Kooyong will admit that the first part of the objective is good. Our next aim is -
The securing of the full results of their industry to all producers.
Will the honorable member, or any member of the Opposition, say that he objects to producers having the full results of their industry ? If any one does object, why has he not the courage to say so ? Our method for bringing this about is -
By the collective ownership of monopolies, and the extension of the industrial and economic functions of the State and municipality.
Apparently it is the means, but not the end, that is objected to. If honorable members are in favour of producers having the full results of their industry, but object to our methods for the attainment of that object, why do they not put forward some proposal of their own? The first plank of the Labour Party’s platform is the maintenance of a White Australia, which a number of people say is not needed. The honorable and learned member for Parkes, however, at a Chinese function in Sydney, held on the 1st November last, said, according to the report in the Sydney Daily Telegraph of the following morning -
He hoped the time would come when the Federal Parliament would regret the extreme view it had taken of the Chinese question, and that they would allow the Chinese to come to Australia without imposing such conditions as at present existed.
– They are not all as bad as he is.
– No; but those favorable to a Black Australia range themselves in this House behind the leader of the Opposition.
– Those who are behind the leader of the Opposition are not in favour of a Black Australia. That is a misrepresentation, and no one knows it better than the honorable member does.
– What I say is that the advocates of a Black Australia are sitting behind the leader of the Opposition. They are to be found nowhere else in the Chamber. The honorable and learned member for Parkes has been a little more honest and outspoken in his statements than some others have been. Our next plank is the nationalization of monopolies. The members of the Opposition are continually asking what monopolies exist here. They contend that there are no monopolies in Australia.
– The Governor-General’s Speech contains no indication of an intention to legislate for the suppression of monopolies.
– No; and I very much regret it. I intend to deal with some of the omissions from that Speech. That monopolies exist in Australia is being realized by sections of the community whose members do not support the Labour Party. Speaking at the adjourned annual meeting cf the Chamber of Manufactures in Melbourne, the Chairman, Mr. Atkins, said -
The shipping ring was hampering the development of Inter-State trade, which should have followed Federation. It cost more to send goods from Melbourne to Adelaide than from New York to Adelaide. . . . That combine would have to be dealt with by the Commonwealth by running cargo steamers or other methods.
The Chairman of the Chamber of Manufactures here practically calls on us to provide for the running of State-owned cargo steamers, and thus supports a socialistic proposal. The next plank on the Labour Party’s programme is the holding of a referendum on the Tariff question. When a proper Tariff has been framed we wish to hold a referendum so that the people may vote “ yes “ or “ no “ in regard to it, and the matter may be settled for a definite time. No one deprecates more the division of parties by the fiscal question than does the Labour Party, and no party is more ready to come to a fight with its opponents on a straight-out issue. 0.ur next plank is the imposition of a progressive tax upon unimproved land values. I regret that no mention is made in the Speech of the intention to impose a land tax. Paragraph 9 speaks of the increase of immigration as not being commensurate with our needs or opportunities. Then paragraph 15 refers to the steps taken for the repatriation of Australians from South Africa, a socialistic step which has been indorsed by the Premiers of the States and by the Opposition. The fault I have to find with the Government is that thev propose to encourage immigration, and thus increase the competition in our labour market, without trying to remedy the existing land monopoly. Any scheme of immigration which is independent of a proposal for putting an end to the land monopoly is absurd. The Prime Minister is the President of the Victorian Land Settlement Division of the Immigration League of Australia, which publishes the statement that -
Doyou know that there are 56,245,760 acres in Victoria, and that of this area 34,518,526 acres are occupied, but that of the latter only 4,269,877 acres are under cultivation….. We must secure land for our own people in Victoria before land can be offered to immigrants.
The termination of the existing land monopoly should go side bv side with any steps taken for the promotion of immigration. I should like to see a land tax imposed to burst up the big estates, which would give an opportunity, first, to our farmers’ sons and others already in the country to obtain holdings, and, secondly, to those who immigrate to secure homes in Australia. The Labour Party advocates the restriction of public borrowing, the passing of navigation laws, and the establishment of a Citizen Defence Force, which includes the formation of an Australian Navy. We have been accused of wishing to cut the painter, because we desire to provide our own means of defence. But Lord Brassey, in speaking at the inaugural dinner of the Grocers’ Exhibition, is reported by the Daily Telegraph, of the 24th September last, to have said -
Referring to the movement in favour of an Australian Navy … it was useless for the motherland to expect her daughter States to subsidize the Imperial Navy. Australia desired an Australian Navy, remaining in local waters in times of peace, but to be placed at the service of the Empire in time of war.
In Lord Brassey’s opinion, Australia ought to begin with a small, efficient, permanent force of men, backed by strong, well-trained reserves, and ought, at first, to only build torpedo-boat destroyers and submarines. As the naval organization expanded, the motherland could supply, either bv gift or loan, cruisers and other combatant vessels from the Home reserve.
Lord Brassey cannot be regarded as one who wishes Australia to cut the painter. The last plank on the platform of the Labour Party is the amendment of the Arbitration Act. Then follows the pledge which has been so much objected to, and which reads as follows : -
I hereby pledge myself not to oppose the candidate selected by the recognized political organization, and, if elected, to do my utmost to carry out the principles embodied in the Federal Labour platform -
Not those brought forward by any member of the party - . and on all questions affecting the platform to vote as a majority of tne Parliamentary Party may decide at a duly constituted caucus meeting. I further pledge myself not to retire from the contest without the consent of the executive of the Political Labour League of New South Wales.
– God save the King !
– Although the honorable member is trying to cast ridicule upon the Labour Party, the party to which he belongs is copying our methods of organization. The Governor-General made reference to the Imperial Conference. The Prime Minister represented my views there when he advocated preferential trade and the establishment of a Secretariat. With regard to paragraph 4 of the speech, I shall assist the Government to my utmost in trying to make the Tariff effective upon the lines of the new protection, which considers the employes as well as the employers. In paragraph 6 of the speech is an indirect reference to old-age pensions. I am dissatisfied, because the Government have not made some definite proposal for the establishment of old-age pensions. The proposal has been dangled before the electors sufficiently long, and the time has arrived when it should be given effect to. The leader of the Opposition, speaking at the Town Hall, Sydney, about three years ago, ridiculed Federal old-age pensions. He said that the Labour Party were advocating the adoption of a Federal scheme of old-age pensions, and declared that it was cruel to hold out any such hope to the old people of Australia, seeing that it was impossible to give effect to it during the period of the operation of the Braddon section of the Constitution. I notice that the right honorable member is now advocating the establishment of a Federal oldage pension scheme, while favouring a continuation of the Braddon section. I do not know how he can reconcile his attitude of to-day with that which he adopted three years ago. Paragraph 7 of the GovernorGeneral’s Speech deals with the proposed transfer of the Northern Territory. I have no desire to dwell at length upon that question now, but when the proposed transfer is under consideration, I shall have something to say upon it. Whilst the Government are attempting to encourage the productions of Australia, I hope that they will not fail to offer substantial encouragement to its tropical productions. If we were to offer inducements to white settlers to cultivate products which are indigenous to the Northern Territory^
– Just as we offer inducements to the sugar-growers of Queensland?
– Exactly. Such encouragement might be very effectively offered quite apart from the proposed transfer of the Northern Territory to the Commonwealth. Paragraph 16 of His Excellency’s Speech says -
T am happy to say that the last year was one of great prosperity throughout the Commonwealth.
It may have been one of great prosperity to capitalists, who may have increased their banking accounts and their dividends. But it is our duty to see that the working man shares in that prosperity, and that the capitalist and large employer are not the only persons who benefit by it. A few days ago, Mr. Trivett, the ‘Registrar of Friendly Societies in New South Wales, delivered an address which was reported in the Sydney Daily Telegraph of the 6tb inst. Amongst other things, he said -
I am unhesitatingly of opinion that with our existent social conditions it is impossible for the average citizen to pay a sufficient annual contribution to meet the whole of the sickness contingencies of life at a rate of sufficient benefit to make the sick pay of real effective advantage during invalidity.
A statement like that, coming from an admitted authority upon the question in New South Wales, which I suppose is the most prosperous State in the Commonwealth today, does not provide very entertaining reading. This Parliament ought, I contend, to endeavour to bridge the gulf between :the great prosperity of the country and the poverty of the working classes. We ought to insure that the latter shall obtain some fair share of the prosperity which an all-wise Providence has bestowed upon us. I come now to the question of the Federal Capital. In my judgment, the greatest obstacle to the settlement of that question is the Premier of New South Wales, Mr.- Carruthers. He has adopted an extremely unfederal attitude for a considerable time past. Not only does he wish to upset the decision arrived at by this Parliament, but he desires to dictate the course of action which we shall follow in respect to the Northern Territory. Whilst a party of members of the Commonwealth Parliament were inspecting the Territory for themselves, with a view to acquiring a knowledge of local conditions and of its future, Mr. Carruthers at a Conference of Premiers in Brisbane, was endeavouring to induce the other Premiers to adopt an attitude of open hostility to the Commonwealth taking over that Territory. His action under all the circumstances was most unjustifiable. Mr. Carruthers, it will be recollected, was a member of the Federal Convention, and one who avowed himself a great Federalist. Yet he now proposes to take a referendum of the electors of New South Wales upon the question of whether that State shall secede from the Federation. In short, he minds everybody’s business but his own. I am of opinion that by the time he answers all the questions relating to the land scandals in New South Wales, which will be put to him during the approaching general elections in that State, he will have had ample to explain. It would be a sorry matter indeed if New South Wales had to depend upon Mr. Carruthers, to see that justice was done to her in Federal affairs. In connexion with the Federal Capital, it is interesting to note that during the last Parliament, the leader of the Opposition expressed himself as follows : -
I am prepared, as far as I am concerned, as a member of this House to accept the decision which was honestly arrived 1 at without any manipulation of votes, and which expressed a preference as between Lyndhurst and Dalgety.
Yet the right honorable member now declares that he is going to turn round and vote in favour of upsetting the decision which this Parliament arrived at. The reopening of this question may lead to its not being settled for many years. If it be reopened I shall certainly vote for some site other than Dalgety.
– Why ?
– Because I prefer another site. When the proposal is under consideration I shall be prepared to assign reasons for my action. I think that we should pause before we upset the deliberate decision of this Parliament at the instigation of the Premier of New South Wales, who cannot mind his own business.
– He says that he will not allow the honorable member to support Dalgety.
– That fact does not influence my determination in the slightest degree. I am responsible to. my constituents, and I am prepared to act independents either of the Premier of New South Wales or of the leader of the Opposition in fearlessly discharging what I conceive to be my dutv. I do not propose to trespass upon the time of the House any further. Honorable members have afforded me a very patient hearing, and have refrained from interrupting more than was necessary, for which I. am thankful. The attitude which is taken up by the Labour Party would- I maintain, conduce to a happier state of things than that which obtains in older lands. Honorable members opposite mav ridicule our proposals, but I have the satisfaction of knowing that there are some verv eminent men in all parts of the world who support the position that we take up. From the Svdney Daily Telegraph of 31st May, of last year, I. learn -
At the West Australian dinner, held in London last night, Mr. Winston Churchill, Under Secretary for the Colonies, was present. In proposing the toast of “ The Commonwealth,” he said : “ Australia’s development had been grand, but it was different from any other community in the world. Sometimes, when he saw populations of millions, trodden in the slush of great cities or forgotten and famished on vast expanses of territory, he considered that Australia, was wise in following collectivist rather than competitive ideals and watching with care over the fortunes of the rear-guard andthe weaker portions of the army of labour and industry.”
That is the attitude which we take up - an attitude which is indorsed by the Church of England Social Union in the mother country, by the Christian Socialists throughout the world, by some very eminent Christian men and scientists in Australia. It is .an attitude which we shall continue to adopt irrespective of the libels and calumnies levelled against us by our opponents, who, not having a policy of their own, wish to gain the Treasury benches by misrepresenting the aims and ideals of the great humanitarian Labour Party.
.- As a new member, it is not my intention to occupy the time of the House at any great length. Most of the subjects enumerated in the Governor-General’s Speech have been dealt with by some of the older and more prominent members of the House, and therefore I shall not weary it with a reiteration of the various planks embodied in the Vice-Regal utterance. I should like to preface my remarks by adding my testimony to that which has already been given by other honorable members to the splendid manner in which the Prime Minister represented Australia at the Imperial Conference. Whatever opinions we may entertain as to the concrete results of that Conference, we must all admire the way in which he represented the Commonwealth in the Councils of the Empire. It seems to me that he has lifted the prestige of the Commonwealth to a level with that of other nations of the world, and the value of his work cannot very well be measured by words. In the first place, I should like to touch upon the question of immigration. So far, that subject does not appear to have been dealt with very fully, although it is one of the most important, if not the most important, question of public policy with which we shall be called upon to deal in the near future. I regret that it does not occupy a more prominent position in the Government platform. It seems to me that whatever policy may be adopted by this House, it will be valueless unless we have the people within . the Commonwealth to give effect to it. At this early stage in our history, it seems to me that what we require more than anything else is a broad, bold, developmental policy. If we are going to initiate such a policy - and I hope that we shall, certainly several planks in the Ministerial platform indicate that the Government recognise the necessity for so doing - side by side with it we shall have to adopt an immigration scheme. During the past few months, I have had an opportunity of travelling through various parts of Australia, and my opinion is that nearly every branch of craft and industry within the Commonwealth is starving for want of more people and more labour. Within the agricultural areas of Victoria, there is .a desire for more labour and an inability to get it. In very many manufacturing industries the same want is felt. We have not sufficient labour in the Commonwealth to properly carry on the great industries which have been .already established. If it be our desire to establish additional industries, we must have .more labour in order .to develop those industries. If we look at the history of America, we find that the great secret qf her progress is that she has invited immigrants to enter her territory and assist in her development. I think that the Commonwealth Parliament .has been wiser than America in that it has passed an Immigration Restriction Act, which prevents the admission of “undesirables.” But we have made a mistake in refusing to allow the desirables to come in. Contemporaneously with the initiation of legislation in the direction of protection to native industries and the development of our various primary products, we need to secure a large influx of the desirable class in order that we may extend those industries by a supply of more labour.
– There is no hindrance to their coming.
– The point that I wish to make is that the Government should initiate a comprehensive scheme of assisted immigration. There is plenty of room for a desirable class of immigrants in nearly every branch of industry in the Commonwealth. I am- pleased to learn that it is the intention of the Government to submit Tariff resolutions at an early date. As a protectionist, I believe that we should frame an effective Tariff in order that we may develop to the full the national industries of Australia. We know that the Commonwealth is rich in natural resources. It possesses climates and soils which enable it to grow every product that it is possible to raise in any part of the world. In mineral resources we have yet to learn that we .are inferior to America. And yet we know that America, during the last 100 years, has increased its population at the rate of from 750,000 to 1,000,000 per annum, whilst we have remained practically stati’onary. Our population should be increasing at the rate of 300,000 or 400,000 per annum.
– Our population is increasing in as great a ratio as is that of any other country.
– I admit that the natural increase ie satisfactory; but that in itself is insufficient. It should be supplemented by a vigorous scheme of immigration.
– Should we not classify the immigrants?
– That is a matter of . detail.
– Is the honorable member aware that it is proposed to bring out people to compete with our own workers in industries that are already overcrowded ?
– I think that by the use of proper machinery a classification could be conducted without trouble. In this connexion I am pleased to observe that it is the intention of the Government to appoint a High Commissioner in order that in the event of a comprehensive scheme being carried we may have in Great Britain the machinery for the_ selection of immigrants in such a way as to prevent Australia being flooded by an undesirable class. It was my privilege recently to visit the Northern Territory, but I shall not deal at length with the question of its transfer, since it must be discussed at a later stage. Without referring to the tentative agreement between the Commonwealth and South Australian Governments, except in so far as to express the opinion that some of its provisions require to be modified or amended, I may say that my impression of the Territory is that it is a white man’s country, and that it has within it all the elements of a great development. I believe that it has great mineral and agricultural possibilities, and that in the course of time it will become one of the important States of Australia. We import every year £6,000,000 or £7,000,000 worth of fibres and products of a tropical character, the whole of which, by the extension of reasonable Government assistance to settlers, could be grown within that territory. The general development of that part of the Commonwealth is, however, a matter of money, -and I was very pleased to observe that the honorable and learned member for Flinders last night gave special prominence to the necessity of settling the financial difficulties between the States and the Commonwealth in order that many great developmental schemes now pending might be carried out to the general well-being of the nation. A large expenditure is vitally necessary in connexion with the Northern Territory. It could hardly be expected that a newly-populated prosperous and civilized State could be added to the Union without a very considerable outlay, and the probability is that we shall have to spend something like ^10,000,000 or ^12,000,000 before we can lay even the foundation of anything like a prosperous settlement in the Northern Territory. We know that it has cost every State of the Union from £20,000,000 to £25,000,000 to lay down the foundations of proper settlement, and from that experience we can gather what will be our experience in connexion with the Territory. We have to find out, in the first instance, whether it can be populated and developed by white races. That is one of the elements necessary to making it a State, and having decided that it can be so populated and developed, it will be for the genius of the Commonwealth to devise a policy that will enable it to be properly improved. There are many points in the Governor- General’s Speech that might be touched upon in the course of this debate, but we know that every one of them will later on form the subject of discussion. In passing, however, I should like to refer to the trouble constantly arising in connexion with the selection of the site of the Federal Capital. It is unfortunate that the time of the House has to be wasted over a matter that, after all, does not make for any large development in the Government of Australia. As one of the electors of the Commonwealth, I was under the impression that the Capital Site question had been settled. I find now that there is a desire on the part of the Parliament to re-open it.
– A desire on the part, not of the Parliament, but of certain honorable members.
– And of the Parliament, too
– I cannot help thinking that the House has been influenced to a greater extent than it should have been by what may be described as the parochial pertinacity of the Premier of one of the States. This House should be wise enough and strong enough to settle the question iri accordance with the Constitution, and to establish the Federal City upon a site which, in its wisdom, is best calculated to serve the interests of the people generally.
– What does the honorable member think that the Premiers meant by, the words “ a reasonable distance from Sydney “ ?
– The determination of that question is bounded by considerations as to the extent of the area within which the Capital is to be erected. As I understand it, the limitation imposed by the Constitution is quite clear. It is that the Capital shall be established somewhere within New South Wales, and at a distance of not less than 100 miles from Sydney.
– What is the interpretation of the phrase “ 100 miles from Sydney “ ?
-“ 100 miles from Sydney “ is the express limitation in the Constitution. No one can say what is a reasonable distance from Sydney. The Constitution clearly gives us the right to choose an area in any part of New South Wales, as long as it is outside the prescribed limit of 100 miles from Sydney. However, I am not going to discuss in detail what is the true interpretation of section 125 of the Constitution. All I know is that the House in its wisdom, and after full discussion, has settled this question, and it seems to me that we should not reopen it without substantial reason being given.
– And another place has also dealt with the matter.
– That is so. We have reached a stage at which we should undertake some of our very large schemes of development, such, for instance, as those for the expansion of our primary industries by means of bounties or other methods, the development of our manufacturing industries bv a proper system of protection, and the general development of our mineral resources. And we should begin by deciding that, as far as possible, in the central areas of Australia, the great water-ways of the
Continent shall be used for irrigation purposes. We have in Australia large areas over which there is but a limited rainfall. But nature has provided us with some of the finest rivers in the world, notable among which are the Murray, the Murrumbidgee, and the Darling. At present they are almost useless, because we are failing to take advantage of the splendid opportunities which offer to chain their waters for irrigation purposes. If we were sufficiently seized of the splendid possibilities that we are allowing daily to pass by we should not permit this question to remain one hour longer in abeyance. Certain difficulties have arisen under the Constitution in respect to the control of these rivers, and the riparian rights attaching to them, and these are obstacles to our dealing with them. We have the control of the navigation, but the question of control, so far as irrigation is concerned, is not expressly dealt with in the Constitution. The absolute control of the waters of these rivers must, in the course of time, pass over to the Commonwealth, and it requires only the consent of the States to enable that change to take place. By vesting the Commonwealth Parliament with the riparian rights to the waters of these three large rivers, and placing their disposition under an InterState Commission, which is already provided for in the Constitution, the States would be enabled to carry out their large schemes of irrigation without being hampered by State jealousies, or the differences of opinion that have arisen in times gone by in reference to this all important question. I believe that for the great bulk of the future primary production of Australia we must look to irrigation schemes stimulated by the use of the waters of our rivers, and that is why I consider that the settlement of the riparian rights in respect of the principal rivers in the Commonwealth is one of the most important tasks with which we could be called upon to deal. It is a question that will certainly have to be determined in the near future, if we are going to make as much use of these waters as we ought, as an enlightened people, to do. We should be stimulated by the splendid success of irrigation in older countries, and notably in the United States of America and Egypt. I shall not further occupy the time of honorable members, although every, one of the subjects mentioned in the Governor- General’s Speech are of vital interest to me. I may have more than the degree of optimism usually found in a new member, but I hope and believe that the House will settle down to the great foundational work of nation building, to the settlement of the financial relations of the States and the Commonwealth, and to the upbuilding of a great developmental policy for Australia, causing this nation to rank, as it deserves, among the foremost in the world.
– I desire to say a few words on the AddressinReply. First, although only a new member, I regret very much that the old, time-honoured custom of invoking the Divine blessing on our labours has been neglected by the Government of the day. The honorable member for South Sydney referred to the recent State elections in Queensland, and to the “set back” that what he termed the Conservative Party had there received. The Labour Party in that State went to the country as a party, and came back fifteen in number less than they set out. If the Labour Party call that progress, I am quite satisfied that that kind of progress shall continue for some time.
– The Labour Party in Queensland went to the country fourteen strong, and came back eighteen.
– In toe last State Parliament in Queensland the Labour Party numbered, I think, thirty -one or thirty-four, and they came back from the elections numbering eighteen or fourteen, as the case may be - I do not know the exact figures. However, the point is immaterial, except that I desire to disabuse the minds of honorable members of any idea that the Labour Party have made such rapid strides in Queensland since the last Federal election. As to the Imperial Conference, Mr. Deakin, while in England, assumed an aggressive attitude which we all commend, and of which I for one am proud. , But, unfortunately for himself, and I think for the Commonwealth, he adopted quite a different attitude when he returned to Australia, and found himself, I suppose, to some extent in “ deep water.” Some time ago I noticed in the Sydney Bulletin a cartoon depicting the courage of the Prime Minister while in London, the honorable- gentleman being shown holding up a hoop on which was inscribed, “ Preferential Tariff,” and at the same time pinching the lion’s tail and saying, “Jump, you beggar.” Speaking still in a metaphorical way, I may say that when he came to Australia, and saw the Australian kangaroo, he pleaded with that animal not to jump - in other words, he retracted what he had said in London. It is hard to understand what the Prime Minister thought, or does now think, of the Imperial Conference. In speaking at the Australian Natives’ Association meeting in Melbourne the other day,, he said -
The Imperial Conferences have the value of freedom of debate, of complete consideration, but in power they are no more potent as conferences than the conferences of Premiers held in Australia.
I do not know whether the Prime Minister wished to,make little of the Imperial Conference or little of the Australian Premiers’ Conferences held from time to time; but either attitude is regretable. The. honorable gentleman went on to say -
All that either of them can do is to recommend to their respective Legislatures and Governments the particular courses recommended at those meetings.
Paragraph 4 of His Excellency’s Speech refers to the Tariff Commission. I am pleased to learn that the Commissioners have almost finished their labours, and that we shall shortly have before us a Bill dealing with the much-vexed question of the Tariff. I may state that I, was returned with a mandate from my electorate, to secure protection for Australian industries,, and so far as I can assist the Government in passing reasonable protective measures,. I shall be pleased to do so. The question of bounties is also referred to in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech. I do not know that I am altogether fascinated with tha idea of giving bounties to encourage industries. We should give every industry the protection necessary to foster it, and if that be done, industries will spring up without the aid of bounties. In some instances bounties are necessary; but I can assure the House that I shall do my bestto make sure that any bounties .granted, shall go to the producers. In the State of Queensland we have had some experience of bounties paid by the State Government for cotton growing; and in that State, as well as in the other States, a little assistance might be given in that way to this industry. But the State Government hedged the bounty round with the condition thatabout 5,000 bales must be produced in order to obtain the bounty, with the result that the cotton company got the money, whilst the growers did the work, the producer in that instance not receiving- the benefit intended. In Victoria some time ago, another example was afforded in con- nexion with: the- bonuses paid to encourage the export of. butter.. It was well known to those in the trade at the time that the butter producers of Victoria reaped .no im, mediate benefit, though they may have received some benefit in the market as the export trade was worked up. However, the export trade would probably have expanded under any circumstances, though, perhaps, with the bonus, it advanced more quickly.
– At all events, producers did not reap the whole of the benefit, but only a portion.
– The producers reaped very little benefit from the bonus, because a number of keen business men came to Melbourne from Sydney, and they, together with equally keen business men in Melbourne, received the money of the Government, because a certain amount of butter had to be shipped - and farmers could not do the shipping - before it was paid. When this matter of the encouragement of industries was being referred to during this debate, an honorable member interjected, “As we do in the case of sugar.” It is a pity that the sugar industry could not have been developed without the assistance of a bounty; and my own opinion is that it could have been helped more effectively in another way.
– In. what way?
– By a protective duty. During the last five, years there has, roughly speaking, been ^1,500,000 collected in excise on sugar in the .State of Queensland, and there has, been paid, as bounty to the sugar growers, ,£250,000. These figures are. not exact, but are within a thou. sand or two of the correct amount. I ask. honorable members, as common-sense business men, to say whether that state of affairs should be allowed to continue, or. whether the sugar industry should carry that burden for all time? Of course, it was not intended that the sugar industry should bear the burden for ever; but what I have described is the actual state of affairs ; and, further, the whole weight of the bounty falls on the States, producing sugar.
– That is quite an error.
– The non-producing States are credited in the. inter-State adjustment of accounts with the excise duty on all the sugar that enters those States. Victorians or South- Australians, as the. case may be, claim that they are so patriotic and so gracious towards the White Australia policy - to which I have no objection whatever - that they bear the cost; but I contend that the cost is thrown back on the sugar-producing States of Queensland and New South Wales, the growers in which have to pay the excise duty.
– The excise is credited to Queensland in the same way, and the whole people of the Commonwealth contribute pro rata towards the cost of the bounty.
– I think the honorable member is wrong; however, we may pass from that matter. I have no desire to alter existing arrangements, but I am merely throwing out the suggestion that when a Bounty Bill, or any Bill to encourage the development of certain industries, is brought before the House, our object should be to see that the producers, or the working men, as the case may be, benefit as well as the men who invest their money in the industries. Paragraph 6 of His Excellency’s Speech refers to the financial arrangements between the Commonwealth and the States. The honorable member for South Sydney, in speaking the other evening, apparently wished us to infer that it is “ like the impudence “ of the various States to ask that if there is -a surplus over the average amount received by them during the past five years, they shall receive three-fourths of that surplus. The States Governments have their obligations, and the States have their rights, which must be conserved ; and if there cannot be -some reliance placed upon the proportional return of revenue from the Federal Government, the States Premiers will be left in a state of uncertainty in regard to their finances.
Sitting suspended from’6.30 to 7.45 p.m.
– I am open to conviction as to the desirability of transferring the debts of the States to the Commonwealth. At present I cannot see that Queensland would benefit by that transfer, and until I am convinced that it would benefit I shall oppose the taking over of the debts by the Commonwealth. The federalization of the debts of the States will mean, in the end, the handing over to the Commonwealth of the control of their railways, and, if a section of the House had its way, of their land as well. Mention is made in the speech of the Governor-General of a Commonwealth oldage pensions system, about which there has been a good deal of talk. We all sympathize with the aged poor, and would like to make their declining years comfortable. I am with the honorable member for Barrier in thinking that it would be best to provide old-age pensions for all. The cost would probably be not so heavy as some persons believe. The two oldest and most populous States have already old-age pensions schemes. In Queensland there is an indigent poor allowance, which is a pauperizing thing, having a degrading effect on those who receive it. Unfortunately, the desire in all this talk about old-age pensions has been not so much to relieve distress as to make political capital. I would give no opportunity ‘for political influence in this matter. In my opinion, every person, whether poor or not, should have the right to claim a pension on attaining the age of sixty-five years. There are many poor persons in my division who shrink from asking for an allowance from the State, because they feel that they may be regarded as paupers. Strangely enough, the two States governed by Labour representatives have not provided old-age pensions for their people. No doubt the establishment of a Commonwealth old-age pensions fund would relieve the authorities of the States of the burden of supporting their aged poor, and I think that an arrangement could be made which would suit all parties. I ami keeping an open mind with regard to the proposal to transfer the Northern Territory to the Commonwealth, though at present I am opposed to the transfer because of the great responsibility which the administration of the Northern Territory, would place upon us, and the expense entailed in developing country which contains so vast an area of unfertile land. All 1 know of the Northern Territory is that Queensland is indebted to it for a pest which has cost us hundreds of thousands of pounds. I refer to the cattle tick, whose ravages have been so disastrous to that State Coming now to the proposals for a new mail contract, there is a lot that I shall leave unsaid, because other honorable members have forestalled me. They have handled the Government pretty severely in this matter. Prior to his departure for London, the Prime Minister, speaking at an Australian Natives’ Association meeting, said that we were federated, but unfortunately unfederal. If any one action of the Commonwealth Government has done more than another to create an unfederal spirit in Queensland it has been that of not making Brisbane a port of call for the European mail boats. Before the Orient steamers were brought to Brisbane, we were suffering from the very high rates of freight, especially upon butter, imposed by a shipping ring. It may surprise honorable members to learn that we were paying f d. per lb. for having our butter carried to London by a line of steamers the directors of which were paying a shipping combine %d’. per lb., or 33^ Per cent., for the right to visit Brisbane, the combine not sending steamers there. This fact opened my eyes to the possibility of reducing the freight on butter, and an agitation was started with that object in view. Not only had we to pay this high freight for butter, but the combine compelled the steamers which were bringing goods to Brisbane to tranship them at Sydney into the coastal steamers, and to travel from Sydney to Brisbane empty.
– Is this still taking place ?
– It has been discontinued since the Orient steamers came to Brisbane. The contention that the Commonwealth Government, in contracting for the carriage of mails, should have regard to nothing else is, I think, opposed to common sense. The Government should use the promise o’f a subsidy as a powerful lever for the protection of shippers against shipping combinations, by securing reasonable rates of freight for perishable products. Ministers profess a desire to protect the workers of Australia. There are thousands of men in the Commonwealth who work, not eight, but up to eighteen, hours a day on their farms and holdings in the effort to make a living. They require consideration as much as those who work at their trades for only eight hours a day. We should protect them from the imposition of high rates of freight on the produce they send to London.
– Is the honorable member prepared to support the running of State-owned steamers to give them relief?
– I do not think that necessary. If I thought it wise, I would support it. Like the man referred to. by the honorable member for Cook, who was satisfied with three drops of chloroform, I am disposed to commence with a small dose. The Government, in contracting for a mail service, should stipulate for reasonable rates of freight, and impose conditions which will prevent the loss of produce by the fluctuation of temperature in the holds. It should also require the maintenance of a reasonable rate of speed. To comply with the conditions of a proper contract, large steamers must be used. Their consumption of coal will be considerable, and to make a profit they must carry large quantities of cargo. No cargo is more profitable than perishable produce, and if contractors could be assured of full cargoes for their refrigerating chambers, tenders would probably be made at a low rate of subsidy. Reference has been made to the fact that the Governments of the States were asked to participate in some scheme for the carriage of cargo. I happened to be a delegate to one of the Conferences which was held upon this question,, and the scheme which was placed before that body was wrapped up in more mystery than was the mail contract itself. We could not obtain any information from the Government as to what the cargo service was to be, or as to where it was to start from and where it was to run to. As far as our State was concerned, wa simply told the Commonwealth Government that we would be quite satisfied if they arranged for a good mail service. At the time we hoped that they would be able to do so. In the light of subsequent events, however, it appears that, not only were they unable to arrange for a cargo service, but they were also unable to arrange for an improved mail service. By their action in connexion with the mail contract, they have upset the whole commerce’ of Australia, so far as the shipping industry is concerned. Not one of those connected with it knows the position which he occupies. We have had to make temporary contracts for shipping,, or be left out in the cold, and I venture to say that, during the next twelve months, it will be found that our shipments of butter will be very much disorganized, owing to the interruption caused by the Commonwealth Government to a line which has been serving us tolerably well, though perhaps not quite so well as we would have liked. However, this willo’thewisp undertaking has been got out of the way, and I think that any business man will admit that it was doomed to failure from the beginning. Its history dates back some few years. In 1904, the Commonwealth Government converted a Commission, which had been appointed by, the Victorian Government, to inquire into certain rebates made by shipping companies, to various individuals, into a Federal body. I am referring to the famous Butter Commission. The Commonwealth Government converted that Commission into a Federal body with the object of widening the scope of its inquiry. Perhaps it is merely a coincidence that in the first place Mr. Croker was counsel for the Victorian Government, that afterwards he acted in a similar capacity for the Commonwealth Government, and that still a few months later he was appointed agent for Messrs. Laing and Sons. If there be anything connected with the shipping business which I abhor it is the granting of rebates, which are merely the means adopted to tie shippers to a particular line of steamers. The Commonwealth Government, after endeavouring to show the people that they were their friends, attempted to secure from the States a promise to support the mail contractors, and Mr. Croker made, an effort to obtain control of the butter freights of Australia. Had he been successful, the new line of steamers would undoubtedly have been built. The butter freights of Australia are a consideration to any shipping company, and if the Government permit any outside line of steamers to get hold of them independently of our mail service, a much larger subsidy will be demanded for carrying our mails than is demanded at the present time. I have no desire to advertise any line of steamers, but speaking from experience, I say that the Orient Steam Navigation Company have made the shipping facilities of Australia what they are to-day. That company came here in the face of great opposition, and those who have done business with them during the past twenty-five years know something of the service which they have rendered to Australia. I am pleased to notice that they have come to the assistance of the Government at the present time. At this stage I wish to intimate that I cannot support any Ministry which is so unfederal in its attitude as to exclude from the itinerary of the mail steamers such an important State as Queensland. If provision be not made in the new contract for the vessels to call at Brisbane, I claim that Queensland should be exempted from contributing her share of the mail subsidy. That is the feeling throughout the northern State in respect of this matter. Paragraph 14 of the GovernorGeneral’s speech reads -
The work of gradually returning to their homes the Pacific islanders, formerly employed, has proceeded without friction or hardship, owing largely to the co-operation of the British officials in the Solomons and New Hebrides with the Queensland officers temporarily transferred to the Commonwealth service in connexion with this undertaking.
I do not think that Queensland desires to reverse the decision of this Parliament in that connexion. Certainly a few have agitated in that direction, but personally I do not advocate the retention of the kanakas. I am just as anxious to preserve Australia white as are most people, but we ought to recollect that the persons with whom we are dealing are human beings. I credit honorable members with entertaining humane feelings even towards blackfellows. Perhaps such cases have not been brought under the notice of the Government, but several instances of extreme hardship have come under my own observation in connexion with the deportation of the kanakas. I have actually seen children torn from their parents,, the latter being deported and the children being left behind. I say that the Government should see that the deportation of these people is carried out with as little hardship to the islanders as possible. Concerning the proposed amendment of the Electoral Act, I trust that the matter will be considered very carefully, and that some system of purging the rolls will be adopted. Honorable members know that it is the easiest thing in the world to get one’s name placed upon the Commonwealth electoral roll. In my own constituency I know of several glaring cases of that description. One individual in particular had his name upon the roll for the same division no less than eleven times.
– How often did he vote?
– I do not know, but I am aware that his name appeared upon the roll eleven times. Then, as the result, of an error, the name of one of my own family appeared upon the roll twice.
– What party was responsible for that?
– I do not know. The electors seem to send in claims every time they are asked to do so, and upon each occasion their names are placed upon the roll. During the course of this debate something has been said in reference to what is known as the “ new “ protection. My idea is that we should endeavour to legislate for the whole community, and not for any section of it. I wish to be as broadminded as possible, and consequently I sa that, where all parties cannot be served, we should endeavour to serve the greatest number. Under the Excise Tariff (Agricultural Machinery) Act which was passed by the last Parliament the manufacturers of harvesters and farm implements in Queensland, who wish to apply for exemption from the payment of excise, are required to make their applications in Melbourne, either personally or by proxy.
– The President of the Arbitration Court visits Brisbane.
– That consideration only makes the existing condition of affairs worse. I hold that ‘ these applications should be dealt with in Brisbane. Of course, this is more a matter of adminis’tration than anything else,i and therefore I urge the Government to look into it with a view to seeing if Queensland applicants cannot have their cases determined in that State. If, instead of sending a representative over here, they employ a Melbourne solicitor, or his agent, they find that, as is only to be expected, they do not understand the business. Unnecessary expense has to be incurred in sending a man all the way to Melbourne to do what the law requires. In paragraph 13 of His Excellency’s Speech, we have an intimation that the Government propose to introduce a Bill providing for the transfer of the control of coastal lights from the States to the Commonwealth. I should like to see these lights taken over as soon as possible. The matter is one on which I feel strongly, and I hope that the Bill to give effect to the declared intention of the Government will not impose om light-house keepers such restrictions as prevail in New South Wales. There a light-house keeper is not permitted to entertain a friend at night without receiving special permission from the Government, although, as a matter of fact, a certain deduction, by way of rent for the premises occupied by him, is made from his allowance. I propose now to refer to the Commerce Act passed in 1905, to which no reference was made in the Speech. That measure was passed by Parliament because of an impression that it was necessary to regulate the trade and commerce of Australia. Subsequently the Minister of Trade and Customs invited trade and official representatives from the various States to meet him in Sydney to assist in drawing up regulations under the Act. I had the honour to be the trade representative of Queensland at that conference. The Minister presented his ultimatum to the delegates and then went off to his electorate presumably to make his election sure. The trades representatives resented his conduct.
– They did not resent it.
– The Minister perhaps will remember that with the exception of the representatives of the fruit-growers of Tasmania, the whole of the trade dele. gates withdrew from the conference as a protest against the Minister’s action.
– It was not anything of the kind. There was some underground engineering, by the honorable member perhaps, as well as by two’ or three others, but they very soon returned to the conference. It was Che work of Mr.’ Myers and one or two others.
– I went to the conference with an open mind and a free hand, feeling that the traders should have some voice in determining the regulations under which they should work. The Minister, however, placed before us certain regulations, saying in effect, “ These constitute my ultimatum, and I am not going to recede from them.”
– That is not a fact.
– At that conference, one of the trade representatives from Victoria told the Minister that we had been brought there to decide whether we should be fried, grilled, or stewed, and that we objected to any one of those processes. I should not have gone so fully into details but for the interjections of the Minister.
– I do not mind ; it is all vapour.
– I wish to deal with some of the matters affecting traders under the Commerce Act.
– Some of the delegates said they wanted to decide whether there should be such a law as the Commerce Act, and I replied that all that they had to decide was the nature of the regulations to be framed under the Act.
– The whole question at issue related to compulsory grading, and not to the passing of the Act itself. I said at the conference, and repeat now, that the compulsory grading of butter under the Act has imposed an unnecessary burden on the producers of Australia, without conferring any benefit. . :
– The London buyers wish more stringent regulations to be passed.
– What about our own people?
– What about the commission agents ?
– And what about Denham faking butter and sending it Home?
– I object to Mr. Denham doing anything of the kind just as strongly as- I object to the Commonwealth Government officials grading butter. The system has not led to any improvement in the quality of our products, and particularly of the produce that is offered for sale on the local market. As a matter of fact, it has caused to be thrown on the Australian markets a lot of inferior butter that smart business people attempt to palm off on an unsuspecting public. The oversea customer escapes this inferior article, but the local man is neglected by the Government. I am very much in favour of the American system of “ eating what you can, and canning what you cannot.” I object to the principle that we should export our very best products, and place our inferior ones on the local market. I come now to the question of weights. The Commonwealth Government have a peculiar conception of the meaning of the words, “ 56 lbs. net.” Let me briefly state the difficulty experienced by Queensland traders in regard to this matter. When a box of butter is opened, it weighs, with the paper wrapper, 56½ lbs. The average weight of the paper is 3 ozs., although sometimes it is as much as a quarter of a pound. If the paper and butter in a box weigh 56½ lbs., the Commonwealth Government stamp the box with the words “ under 56 lbs.” They do not indicate what is the extent of the shortage. Each box. so treated is exported with a Commonwealth stamp upon it to the effect that it contains less than 56 lbs. of butter, whereas, even if the paper weighs a quarter of a pound, it contains56¼ lbs.
– Why is this done?
– I do not know. This action is taken by the Customs authorities under the Commerce Act regulations. As long as I have been connected with the buttery industry, it has been the trade custom in London to weigh a percentage of all the butter offered for sale there. Although the Department of Trade and Customs may stamp butter-boxes for export in the way I have indicated, the buyer in London does not take it for granted that the Government stamp correctly sets forth the weight. He weighs a percentage of the boxes for himself.
– Then where does the injury come in?
– The injury to the butter producers is that the Government place on every box a marik. that is incorrect. It is true that we have had to make rebates in respect of short weights due to shrinkage, but there has not been any attempt to defraud the London buyer. If the Minister thinks that the buyers at Home are poor simpletons who need protection, I would invite him to have one deal with them. That would be sufficient to satisfy him that they are as smart as are most of the Australian people.
– It appears to me that they require to be.
– I admit that. The: point that I wish to make, however, is that we have an army of officers employed in placing incorrect stamps on butter-boxes, and causing a great deal of inconvenience to shippers without serving any useful purpose. I do not know what is the system in the other States; but in Queensland, butter for export is very often opened on the wharfs, and exposed to the heat as well as to the micro-organisms in the atmosphere, in order simply that a Commonwealth officer may be satisfied that each box contains56½1bs.
– Is each box opened in order that the quality mav be tested?
– To get at the weight.
– Cannot the weight be ascertained without opening these boxes?
– I cannot understand that statement.
– If honorable members understood the regulations under the Commerce Act, they would be disgusted, if not with the part played by them in passing that, measure, at least with the action taken under it by the Government.
– The Act is viewed favorably by every one save the butter agents.
– I am not a butter agent.
– But the honorable member knows what he is talking about.
– That is so. I have been interested, although not as a middleman, in the butter industry for something like twenty-five years. My present attitude is taken up at the request of the men who milk the cows and make the butter, so that the real producer has had a voice in the matter. It is useless to say that the measure is objected to only by the commission agents. That is not so, because the Act suits the commission agents admirably, seeing that it very often takes a fair amount of responsibility from his shoulders, and places it on the shoulders of others. I should like to touch lightly on the question of immigration, and to express my pleasure that the Government have at last decided to give some encouragement in this connexion. Of course, we are all desirous to see a good class of immigrants. We are try- ing to get rid of the kanaka, but we have made no attempt to get rid of the Chinaman. If there is one class of people I do not wish to associate with, or to have associating with us, it is “the Chinese, and next to them, I suppose, the Japanese. But, as I said in reference to the kanakas, we must be humane and fair in our treatment. I do not know who is responsible for the occurrence to which I arn about to allude. _ It appears that in China there is a system of selecting wives which is hardly ever likely to be adopted in Australia, namely, a system of obtaining them for three months on trial, at the end of which they are sent away if they do not prove satisfactory. A certain Chinaman in the Commonwealth, who is reputed to be a respectable man, sent home for a wife, and the woman was allowed to land in Australia on paying a deposit of £25. The Chinaman was quite willing to pay £100 and keep his wife, or intended wife, but the Commonwealth Government, through some of the Departments, were not satisfied with the wife, and decided that she must return to China at the “expiration of three months. I think the Minister of Trade and Customs had something to do with this matter, and, if it be not too much trouble to him, I should be glad to know yhether he, or the Chinaman himself, is to choose the latter’s wife. I am not anxious to encourage- the immigration of Chinese to Australia, but if we are going to object to them, we should object at once, and not admit them on paying a deposit of £25, and afterwards insist on deportation. We know before they come that they are undesirable, and I ask the Minister of Trade and Customs if he is responsible for the state of affairs I have indicated to look into the matter, and see that no hardship is inflicted in this particular case.
.- It is certainly news to me that a Chinaman, or any other coloured person, can .enter Australia on paying a deposit. I understood that the Act was passed to absolutely prohibit the introduction of any more Chinese. If the Act allows a Chinaman or his wife to enter the Commonwealth on payment of £100, the sooner the Act is amended to make it absolutely prohibitive the better. When a proposal to that effect is made, I trust we shall have the assistance of the new member for Moreton, who appears to be greatly opposed to the introduction of Chinamen. As to the Commerce Act and its operation, there have been found in this city of Melbourne a number of samples of silk containing at least 50 per cent, of tin. I am quite sure that the Minister of Trade arid Customs is now pleased at the action of the honorable member for Darling and myself, when we inserted an amendment in the Commerce Bill including apparel and boots and shoes and the materials from which they are made. This amendment enables us to catch those fraudulent importers who place on the market goods which are not what they purport to be.
– What about fraudulent manufacturers ?
– Unfortunately fraudulent manufacturers are under the State law, and cannot be touched by the Commonwealth Act. When the Bill was before the House an effort was made to introduce an amendment which would also include manufacturers who put into their goods materials calculated to deceive the public, but, as I say, that is a matter that rests with the States. If we have an opportunity to amend the Constitution, as I think it ought to be amended, so as to bring the whole of commerce and trade under the Commonwealth, the desired alteration in the law will no doubt be made. The honorable member who has just .resumed his seat has told us that manufactured goods which are too poor to export to Great Britain are sold to Australians; and if that be so, I hope the party of which he is a member will urge upon the Governments of the various States to take action in order that the people of the Commonwealth may not be subject to this un fair treatment. Yesterday afternoon, when the honorable member for Barrier was concluding his speech, the honorable member for Capricornia interjected satirically that what he had said would “ look well in Hansard,” thus conveying the idea that the conditions described did not prevail. There is no doubt that what the honorable member for Barrier said will read well in Hansard, because it is the absolute truth. We all remember the statement of the paid agitator of the Employers’ Federation of Victoria, Mr. Walpole, who went about preaching that marriage is a luxury for the workers. Along with that statement we have to consider the evidence given in the starch case in Melbourne, the evidence given in the case of the shop employes in Sydney, and in the case of the timber combine in Western Australia, where employer after employer enunciated the doctrine that workers have no right to get married. Honorable members opposite talk of the “ sanctity of home life,” and prate about the “marriage tie.” What do they do when they advertise for a couple to work on their land? Every time the advertisement finishes up with the words “ no encumbrances.” Under such a condition, I suppose. I would be absolutely debarred from applying for a job of the kind, as I happen to have children. The doctrine enunciated by the secretary of the Employers’ Federation has never been repudiated by honorable members in the corner, and the man is still in the employment of the organization.
– The statement has been denied many times.
– The president of the Employers’ Federation is here to take the part of the secretary, and I can say that, when I was in correspondence with the latter, he said that he has made the remark as a joke. Even the Methodist newspaper of Victoria - and no one will accuse that publication of having any sympathy with the Labour Party - declared that Mr. Walpole had no right to say anything of the kind either in joke or in earnest. A similar doctrine was enunciated in the Sydney Ferries case, and also by Mr. Teesdale Smith, I believe, in Western Australia, when the timber workers there were before’ the Arbitration Court. The solicitor for the workers said to one of the employers, “ You have not allowed for women,” and the reply was, “We do not employ any women.” “What if a man be married,” asked the solicitor, and the witness said, “ I like to sec every one married.” Then the solicitor asked, “ Do you think a man and his wife and family can live on 30s. a week “ To this the employer responded, “ We never take them into account.” Of course, marriage is not taken into account. No doubt the remarks of the honorable member for Barrier will look well in Hansard, and, as soon as a few more of the workers learn what the other side really mean, there will be further statements that will read well, not only in Hansard, but in outside publications. I am well aware that the Tariff will be one of the chief pieces of business during this Parliament. I shall take up the attitude I took up when the Tariff was last dealt with; that is, vote for the highest possible duty on every occasion. The Government Whip, when the Tariff was last dealt with, had no need to ask how my vote was going ; but I shall vote for the highest duties only on the condition that the workers get their share of the protection. I am very sorry the honorable member for Mernda is not here, and I wonder whether he would pay any of his employes full wages on a six months’ holiday. I have my doubts as to whether he would. I am pleased that I had a little to do with the formation of the Starch Workers’ Union, and to know that they are obtaining a little better wage than they did before. A clause, placed in the Victorian Factories Act by a gentleman who is a member of this House, or by the Government of which he was a member, is known as the “ reputable employers “ clause, and it would appear that there are no “reputable employers” in the starch trade, seeing that they could not fix a wage. It might, therefore, be concluded that the employers are all disreputable; and, though I would not say that they are, Mr. Justice Hood has said so. Instead of the Song of the Shirt, by Tom Hood, we have now got the “ Song of the Starch Workers,” by Mr. Justice Hood. The evidence showed that these workers are truly sweated, and no doubt their case will be referred to when the Tariff is under discussion, . and when, I hope, they will receive consideration. But the new protection will have to be grafted on as much as possible. I know that in a number of instances it will be impossible to give effect to the new protection, “but where it is possible I shall do my utmost to have effect given to it. I am delighted that the Minister has come to this way of thinking.
– We provided for it before.
– Only as the result of action by two members of the Labour Party, the honorable member for Boothby and the honorable member for Wide Bay. The honorable member for Maranoa wished to know what was to be done to protect the workers, and the Government Whip asked, “ Will you force the Massey-Harris Company to protect its workers,” showing that his education had not proceeded as far as it has to-day. The records of Hansard prove that the protection given to those employed in the sugar industry is due to the efforts of Senator Pearce, another member of the Labour Party, who, when it was proposed to give a rebate for sugar grown bv while labour, moved the insertion of the condition that, white labour should be employed under fair conditions or the growers should not receive the rebate. A similar motion was made by a Labour representative in. regard to the spirit duties, and again in connexion with the harvester duties. The amendment moved in the lastnamed case was withdrawn at the request of the Minister to allow him to bring down a proposal of his own.
– I asked ..for its withdrawal so that a provision might be properly drafted.
– The honorable member for Moreton complains that’ the manufacturers of Queensland will be placed at a disadvantage in being compelled to come to Melbourne if they wish to escape the Excise. But provision should be made for application in Brisbane.
– That provision has been made.
– I heard of an instance in which a Queensland manufacturer sent to Melbourne to make an application under the Act. Of course, it may have been too late to apply in Brisbane.
– The honorable member cannot suppose that I would force men to come from Brisbane to Melbourne.
– I do not think that it is likely that they will be required to do so. I trust that, in any proposal that is made, the Government will see that fair conditions are given to the workers. I do not think that 22s. 6d. or 25s. a week and keep, the wage paid in the sugar industry,, is a sufficiently high one for the workers in an industry which is protected by a duty of nearly 50 per cent.
– A protection of £2 is not equal to a protection of 50 per cent.
– The duty on sugar is £6 a ton.
– But there is also the Excise.
– That is refunded where white labour is employed under fair conditions.
– Who gets it?
– The Colonial Sugar Refining. Company takes most of it. That company is backed up by every member in the Opposition corner. Would the honorable member vote for a proposal to nationalize the sugar industry ? I have my doubts about it.. With regard to old-age pensions, it has been said that the members for New South Wales and Victoria need riot bother very much about the matter, as the old people of their States are already provided for; but I, for one, am anxious that the aged poor of other States shall also receive consideration. I trust that the Government will do something in this matter, and not treat the statement in the Governor-General ‘.s Speech merely as a placard showing their good intentions. The honorable member for Hindmarsh spoke the other day of the tactics employed by Government candidates in Western Australia in regard to the issue of a newspaper called the Patriot. I have a copy of the Victorian issue of the same journal, with a picture of the Prime Minister on the title page, whereas the. Western Australian issue had a picture of the Treasurer. I regret that the Prime Minister cannot be present to-night, but that shall not deter me from criticising the Government which he leads. The last two or three pages of the Victorian Patriot are devoted to- an eulogy of the work of the- Deakin Administration, and to what’ they call an exposure of the Labour Party’s - “ baseless claims,” and of the risks which the country will run if it suffers that party to come into power. Some of the paragraphs in the Victorian Patriot do not appear in the Western Australian issue, because in Western Australia the Government were supporting free-traders; while here they had to be whole-hog protectionists, lest the Labour candidates should, go further than they. This is one of the paragraphs to which. I refer -
Under these circumstances, of what use is it for protectionists to vote for labour men? Make no mistake, the protectionist cause, and all that it means, is safe only in the hands of the Liberal protectionists. No other party makes it the paramount issue. No other party can or will put up a fight for Australian industries and Australian workers. Those then- who believe in the policy of “Australia for Australians “ should support no other candidates but those indorsed and recommended by the Ministry.
In another paragraph, which deals with the Labour Party, it is contended that -
If the Victorians are protectionists they are forced to abandon their policy at the caucus.
That statement is absolutely false. Ministers know that there was no greater advocate of protection than myself during the consideration of the Tariff. Notwithstanding that fact, although the Government did not support my opponent, the Government organ in this city backed him up as much as it could. The paragraph continues - »
The decision of the caucus is the only thing that counts. If a majority of the party happen to be free-traders or nondescript tiscalists, the minority must vote with them. This is the caucus law and has to be obeyed.
It is only in regard to the planks of our platform that members of the Labour Party are bound by the decisions of the caucus. In other matters they have’ as much freedom as other members, as the division lists show, the instances in which the party has voted solidly, except on matters affecting the planks in the platform, being very few;. I should like to know who paid for the issue of the Patriot? .Is its cost shown in the expense account of any Ministerial supporter?
– How many numbers were issued?
– The copy I have is marked No. 3. The honorable member was surprised to find himself selected as a Ministerial candidate, and wrote to the newspapers indignantly repudiating the selection; but, notwithstanding, I believe that no supporter of the Ministry was run against him. I do not know if this newspaper was used in his interests after the slap in the face which he had administered to the Ministry. I cannot understand the action of an organization in selecting as a representative a candidate who had not promised his support. Another paragraph in the Patriot is this -
Incorrect assertions. Baseless claim to legislative work. Members of the Labour Party are so constantly making incorrect statements as to the work of that party, that it has become absolutely necessary to set out the real facts. By way of preliminary, let it be remembered that the House of Representatives consists of 75 members. No Federal proposition can become law unless this House approves of it. In the first Parliament the House was divided as follows : - Protectionists and supporters of the Ministry, 33 ; free-traders and supporters of the Opposition, 23 ; Labour members, 16 ; the Speaker, 1 ; total, 75. Clearly 33 members could do touch more than 16; but it is equally clear that unless the 33 Ministerialists amalga mated with, or obtained the support of, some other party they could not carry anything. The same condition. necessarily obtained with respect to either the Free-traders or the Labour Party.
The statements in this newspaper were brought up to date so far as the Acts passed by the Ministry were concerned. Why then was not correct information given in regard to the numerical strength of parties at the time the Patriot was issued? The Labour Party in the lastParliament numbered twenty-five, and now numbers twenty-six, and we hope that it will be larger in the next Parliament. But probably if this Ministry is in office at the next elections it will keep on using the figures applying to the first Parliament.
– They suit them better.
– Yes; but surely such conduct is nut honest. The Labour Party numbered more than the Ministerial Party last Parliament, and why have not the Ministerialists the manliness to admit it? We have been asked why we do not get rid of the Government, if we so much object to it? As the honorable member for Hindmarsh has said, while we dislike the present Ministry, we hate the Opposition still more. We think that we should get less from them, because they are less democratic. A number of honorable members contend that the Tariff should be got out of the way so that the Labour Party may be attacked, and put in its proper place as the Opposition. I do not mind how soon that comes about. We shall then have a clear line of cleavage ‘between parties. If the Labour Party had never entered this House; apparently the only thing for parties to quarrel about would be the possession of the Treasury benches, and we should have had continual combinations to displace the existing Government, as in the earlier political history of Victoria and the other States. To continue my quotations from the Patriot -
It will thus be seen that no party by itself carried anything in the Federal Parliament, notwithstanding the repeated assertions of the Labour Party to the contrary. The next point of interest, therefore, is : “ Who initiated the measures that were passed, and for which such great credit has been taken by the party to which attention is called.” The answer is that every single measure was promulgated, introduced, and carried on the initiative of the Liberal Protectionist Party, and not one Of them was suggested or approved on the motion of the Labour Party.
That is absolutely false. The minimum wage provision in the Public Service Act was carried on the motion of a member of the Labour Party, and, as I have shown, the new protection was initiated in the same way. When the Australian Industries Preservation Bill, or the Anti-Trust Bill, as it was better known, was before us, an amendment providing that the workers should receive something like fair conditions was moved by the Labour member for Perth. Where then is the truth of the statement that the Government have done everything and the Labour Party nothing?
– By whose votes have the Labour Party carried these reforms?
– Sometimes by the votes of the Opposition, and sometimes by the votes of the Government. On other occasions the Opposition have combined with the Government to defeat our proposals. The honorable member for Moreton objects to allowing the wives pf Chinamen to enter the Commonwealth, but when the leader of the Labour Party moved to secure the direct exclusion of Chinese, the members of the Opposition, helped the Government to defeat his proposal.
– Not all.
– I admit that the honorable member is right occasionally.
– Has not the honorable member got any spots upon his own furniture?
– Yes, and no doubt when the honorable member speaks he will point out where they are. Perhaps he will be able to say what particular colour they are. The article to which I was referring declares that not one measure owes its enactment to the efforts of the Labour Party. That statement is absolutely false. This paper is not registered for transmission through the post, but I believe that many of these newspapers passed through the post. Almost every- honorable member who was opposed by a Ministerialist would know whether they were circulated.
– Does the honorable member think that anybody, apart from members of the Labour Party, read those newspapers ?
– Yes. In a letter which I had occasion to write to the press of this city during the recent campaign I pointed out that the Labour Party were bearing the brunt of the fight against the free-trade reactionaries in New South Wales. The Age was careful to eliminate that statement, because it did not accord with its own book. But everybody is aware that within a radius of 100 miles of Sydney not a Ministerial candidate offered himself.
– They would have lost their deposits if they had done so.
– I wish now to say a word or two upon the hostility of the Victorian press to the Labour Party. It is well known that both the free-trade and protectionist organs of this city are opposed to us. The Age, while supporting Ministerialists in some cases, advocated the candidature of honorable members who occupy seats in the Opposition corner. After the Ministry had selected their candidates for the Senate, that journal urged the claims” of only one of them and of two others who had been selected by the Argus. It has frequently been asserted that the Labour Party is losing strength. In answer to that charge, I would point out that, in Victoria, the leading Labour candidate for the Senate polled 131,500 votes, as against 116,000 polled by the leading Ministeralist. I quite understand that some honorable members will say that that was due to the fact that the Labour candidate received a certain sectarian support. But if he did so, the Ministerial candidate was upon precisely the same ticket. Our candidate polled 16,000 votes more than did his opponent’, although he did not have the advantage of having his claims advocated by the Age and at least half the papers of the State. Our second candidate polled 131,071 votes, as against 87,000 registered on behalf of the Ministerialist, and our third candidate polled 83,000 votes, as against 37,000 recorded for the lowest Ministerial candidate. What, then, becomes of the jibe that the Labour Party is going back? I desire now to show the absolutely unfair attitude which was taken up by the press of Victoria towards the Labour candidates. I have here a diagram showing the quantity of space which was given to reports of my own speeches by the Age newspaper, and that which was devoted to those delivered by my opponent. The latter received five columns, whereas I received approximately a quarter of a column. I object to a newspaper which professes to be fair adopting such tactics. Further, it is well known to every one who has contested an election that when a candidate advertises a meeting it is the custom for the newspaper.in which the advertisement appears, to notify at the foot of the election notices that the meeting is to be held. I have in my possession copies of the whole of the electioneering advertisements which appeared in the Age upon two dates, and from these it will be seen that every candidate, with the exception of myself, was given the benefit of the notification to which I have referred. To single me out for such unfair treatment is playing it very low down.
– The Age treated Senator Trenwith worse than that.
– Both morning newspapers were opposed to me, but I happened to be contesting a small electorate, and consequently I was able to get round it, and overtake some of the misstatements which had been made by my opponents. I hold in my hand a sectarian “dodger” which was issued during the late election, and which I had intended to read to the House. However, I do not propose to do so now. It was issued by a certain sectarian organization in this city with a view to damaging my candidature. Not only so, but it was actually distributed at the church doors upon a Sunday. A copy of it was given to my wife upon leaving that building.
– That was not fair.
– It was playing it lower down than I shall ever play it to obtain a seat in this Parliament. What would be said of the Labour Party if it dared to attend the churches and distribute its literature? Further, I happened to be a member of this particular church, and I know that the authors of this “ dodger “ actually asked for permission to place it in the pews of the building. Rather than resort to such discreditable tactics, I would prefer to retire from public life. In the’ division of Balaclava, it will be recollected, a dispute arose as to who should be selected as the Conservative candidate. It is a singular circumstance that, whilst our opponents were telling the workers in my electorate and in the division of Batman that they were to be divided upon the question of religion, the Argus of the 5th of December last should have suggested that Mr. Nicholas Fitzgerald, M.L.C., Mr. Mccutcheon, M.L.A., and Mr. N. Levi, ex- M.L.C., should be appointed arbitrators to settle the dispute. Now, it is well known thai- Mr. Fitzgerald is a co-religionist of Archbishop Carr, and, I believe, Mr. McCutcheon is a member of the Methodist Church. The Argus did not like to allow sectarianism to divide the electors of
Balaclava, and in order that the balance might be held fairly, they suggested that Mr. Nathanial Levi, who is a Jew, should act with the two first-named gentlemen. I suppose they thought that he would prevent them from having a quarrel. As evidencing the attitude of another journal in this city, I wish to point out that Senator Russell and ex-Senator Styles were advertised to hold meetings in Bairnsdale upon the same evening. Senator Russell had a large meeting, but only about half-a-dozen attended the meeting advertised by exSenator Styles, with the result that it was abandoned, and the ex-Senator had a talk with the few present for a while. Nevertheless, a report of three-quarters of a column appeared concerning the meeting which was not held, but not a line was published in reference to the meeting which was held.
An Honorable Member. - I would have a new newspaper.
– So we would have if we had the money necessary for the venture. If we had some of the money which has been extorted from the workers - as was proved in the famous starch case-
– The honorable member for Mernda is a protectionist.
– Is he? I suppose that is why he selected a member sitting in the Opposition corner to attend to the interests of his constituency while he is absent. When one of the witnesses in the starch case to whom I have referred was under cross-examination regarding the value of certain articles, she was asked, “ How much was the cloak which you are wearing.” Her reply was, “ It is not mine; I borrowed it.” I suppose that some of the raiment in which certain individuals are attired has been stolen from the workers. We have been assured on previous occasions that honorable members have no right to refer -to Tasmania ia..connexion with the need for factory legislation. The honorable member for Franklin has repeatedly declared that everything was as it should be in the State which he represents. But I learn from the report of the Commission which has been inquiring into these matters, that in the brick kilns of Tasmania the men work from seventy-seven to ninetyone hours per week, and that the wages of females employed in the clothing factories range from 10s. to us. per week. In one instance, the girls were taken on as learners, and during the first six months were required to work for nothing. Yet the honorable member for Capricornia yesterday had the effrontery to contemptuously sneer at certain remarks emanating from this side of the Chamber by saying that they would read well in Hansard. They will read well in Hansard, because they are true. The existing state of things cannot, continue very much longer. I venture to think that in a very little time the Labour Party will be in a ‘majority not only in this House, but in every State throughout the Commonwealth. In the coffee palaces of Tasmania, girls are receiving from 8s. to 15s. per week, kitchenmen from 14s. to 20s., and second cooks 20s. Similarly, clerks are in receipt of from 10s. to 12s. per week. In every branch of industry in that State the prevailing rate of wages has been proved to be too low. There is not a State in the union in which we cannot find many industries in which the workers are underpaid. We know that even in the division of Capricornia the operatives in the cane fields are only to receive 22s. 6d. per week under the contracts which the Colonial Sugar Refining Company wish them to sign.
– Twenty-two shillings and sixpence per week and their keep is the ordinary wage to be paid during the offseason for general farm! work.
– Does the honorable member speak of ’22s. 6d. per week as an ordinary wage?
– I should like, to feed the honorable member for Capricornia on some of the stuff given these men.
– I should like to see some honorable members opposite trying to live on such a wage. Some of them spend more in a single “ shout” than they are prepared to pay to many of their workers for a full week’s wage. Another matter to which I desire to refer is the cry raised so often and repeated again and again, notwithstanding repeated denials and resolutions carried by labour conferences, that the Labour Party is not sound on the question of ‘the marriage tie. It is said also that if we had our way we would destroy the sanctity of religion. Can it be said that we have ever ignored the sanctity of the Sabbath, as some of our opponents have done, by distributing electioneering bills at the doors of churches ? That has been done by my opponents in the electorate which I represent. Recently a very interesting case, arising out of st dispute in connexion with the election for Balaclava, was tried in the Victorian courts, when evidence was given that paid* agitators were employed by the Australian Women’s National League. I may sa>> in passing, that one of these women someweeks ago was fined £5, with £5 costs, for breaking the electoral law at Geelong. At. the trial of the case to which I have referred, one of these paid organizers stated in evidence that’ she was receiving £30 or £40 a month from the league.
– They paid her well.
– I think that some of them received far more than they were worth. Those who paid the money did not receive good value, so far as the political return was concerned. Mr. Chomley also gave evidence that he received .£40- a month for organizing work done by him, on behalf of the Citizens’ League. I should like to know whether the expenses of these organizations have been included in the electoral accounts submitted by any candidate at the last general election. If theprovisions of the Electoral Act in regard to the expenses of candidates are to be broken in this way by organizers - if weare to have at work organizers such- as those who have been operating in the electorate of Echuca recently - the law will become a dead letter. We must have an amendment of the Act so as to absolutely prohibit organizations from spending money in advertising candidates. I have before me three advertisements - taken from theAge, the Argus, and the Herald, respectively, and published under the heading of “ Election Notices “ during the last election campaign. The Act provides that no election notice shall be published unless it contains the name and address of the person authorizing it ; but as a matter of fact, not one of these advertisements gives the name and address of the person responsible for it. I should like to know what action the Electoral Department intends to take in order to compel these newspapers to give the names ,of the persons who sent in these advertisements for publication. Mr. Hewison, who claimed that he was one of the founders of the Women’sNational League, said, in the course of a . speech delivered at Brighton, during theelection campaign -
The fact was he had been the first speaker at the foundation of the League; some had called him the father of it-
If he is, I cannot congratulate him on his offspring - and for twelve months he had spoken for it ^throughout Victoria. But then the league got an organizer who changed the whole tone of the league’s political work, and instead of arguing against Socialism on industrial and economic grounds it was made an assertion by the league against the Labour Party that they sought to Upset the marriage tie and religion. He contended at the time, with emphasis, that the Labour Party’s platform did not necessarily involve that conclusion, and his opinion was endorsed by leading writers. At a meeting of the league he said the making of that assertion against the Labour Party was a mistake, and ihat it was impolitic. Frankly, he told the league that the allegation was extreme, and that, if it were persisted in, no matter how strong the league’s other arguments were against the Labour Party, the league would not be so successful against the party as it might be otherwise. After that statement, he was asked to see Janet Lady Clarke. She said “ We think this a good move, this cry, and we think we ought to stick to it. -
Janet Lady Clarke had not a word to say sis to the truth or otherwise of the state.ment. She was content to say - “ We think that this cry is a good move, and that we ought to stick to it” -
Some of our people do not like you hitting us «o hard about it.” The question between them was whether the league should fight with that particular weapon. Janet Lady Clarke said, ““We want to stick to it. We do not want to lose your services either; so will you hold your tongue about it “ ?
– Where was this statement published?
– It was published in the Age of 1st December, 1906. I have no objection to urge against Janet Lady Clarke.
– Who is she?
– She is the President of the Australian Women’s National League. The vice-president was recently fined -£5 and £5 costs for a breach of ‘the Electoral Act. All the offenders in this respect have not yet been caught, but at the next general election we hope to obtain evidence against others. I have always advocated the extension of the franchise to women, and have no objection to Mrs. Clarke, or any other woman, exercising Tier right to vote; but, to my mind, a woman lowers her sex when she takes up the attitude that it is unnecessary to consider the truth of an assertion; and that the only consideration is whether or not the making of it is a good move. Those who have been responsible for this cry against the Labour Party know that there is not a particle of truth in it. It has been admitted by the Argus that the home life of the Labour Party is just as good as is the home life of any of the Opposition.
– That is putting it very mildly.
– I admit that it is. At many of my “ election meetings I certainly did not put it so mildly. What I did say was that if some of the statements that I had heard were true, I could not say that the home life of many of our opponents was as good as our own. And yet these honorable members have the audacity to lecture us on the question of morals, and to say that our party believes in the breakingdown of the marriage tie ! I did not intend to speak at such length, and I shall conclude by expressing the hope that when we deal with the Tariff we shall see that every one connected with our industries - the workers engaged in them and those who consume that which they produce - receive a fair deal. I hope also that we shall sq amend the Electoral rAct as to prevent ‘the issue of papers such as have been circulated in Victoria and in other States, advocating the claims of certain candidates. These publications cannot be described as newspapers, and yet the cost of issuing them does not appear in the accounts of any candidate. I trust that we shall. likewise prohibit the introduction of paid organizers in the conduct of elections, and prevent the publication of pamphlets by the Employers’ Federation and others. a3 a matter of fact, the Employers’ Federation distributed twenty or thirty different leaflets in my electorate. Men were sent to my meetings to distribute them, and I told my friends to secure as many as they could, for it was good business to do so. I trust they will make an effort to distribute more. We sadly need education, but the education which the workers will receive in the near future will be such as to place them on a higher plane than they have ever previously occupied.
.- It was not my intention to take part in this debate, and I have to apologize for addressing the House without making any preparation. But when I saw this morning that the Age was making another attempt to dragoon honorable members - to stop their mouths, declaring that there ought to be no opportunity for us to speak to a motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply - I determined to speak. I recognise that it is the province of the press to comment upon the political opinions of honorable members in such manner as is thought necessary in the public interest. I have always expected, and trust that I shall always be subject to criticism; but it is idle to say that one of the most important privileges that we possess should be curtailed. I do not advocate any abuse of that privilege, but the suggestion that our right in this respect should be curtailed is against reason, and I am sure will be resented by most honorable members.- So far as I am aware, the procedure of the House affords honorable members no other equal opportunity to canvass the work cf a Ministry during recess, nor do I know of any other opportunity open to honorable members to place before Ministers their views with respect to the various subjects for legislation outlined in the Governor-General’s Speech. We have had during this debate several most illuminating speeches. For instance, the honorable member for Barrier enlightened, not only the House, but the whole community, as to the attitude of the Labour Party towards the Ministry. The honor able member for Yarra, who has just resumed his seat, has also thrown a light on the present situation. If the debate has served no other object, it has at least been informative in the sense that it has enabled the House to ascertain what are the relations existing between that strong party in the Ministerial corner and the occupants of the Treasury benches. I have been returned to this House with an anxious desire to secure the passing of such legislation as is designed to serve the best interests of the community. I decline to admit that my honorable friends of the Labour Party have the right to arrogate to themselves the exclusive privilege of conserving the workers’ interests.
– The Labour members would not be here if the honorable member had his way.
– Oh, not at all. But I contend that the Labour members have no right to take up the position I have indicated. Around about me there are employers of labour, and in the Opposition ranks there are professional men and others who are sincerely anxious to see the condition of the workers improved. There are many honorable members opposite with whom I have been in personal contact outside the walls of this House, and they will admit, I think, that my desire has been to help the workers, not under any caucus bond,, but-
– There is a caucus in the comer where the honorable member sits.
– If so, we are a caucuswithout a distinctive leader or pledge, and with only the one common desire - though we do not claim that that is our exclusive privilege - to do what we believe right in the interests of the whole community without exception. My great grievance against the Labour Party is that they work for an exclusive class ; and I repeat that they are not justified in arrogating to themselves the whole desire and the power to see that class benefited. I should like to say a word or two about the present position, which has been criticised so strongly by those who have already spoken, and will, no doubt, be referred to in terms quite as strong by others to follow. Surely my honorable friends in the Ministry must see the humiliating position in which they are placed at the present time by adverse criticism.
– We, at any rate, look welt under it.
– Some honorable members fatten under it. I have no authority to speak in a collective capacity on behalf of the honorable members who immediately surround me, but I think I am justified in saying for the whole of them that thev are here to support even the Labour Party if the latter bring forward measures for the common good. I have repeatedly said that I do not care who occupy the Treasury benches, so long as solid, and just, and equitable legislation is introduced, and soundly administered. I hope the time is not far distant when there will be a distinct cleavage between those honorable members who are free, and those who are not free - between- those under a distinct and definite pledge, from which they cannot depart, and those who have the right to exercise individual judgment in the discussion of the measures introduced.
– - We are pledged only to our constituents.
– .The honorable member for Kooyong is just as strongly pledged as we are.
– I am pledged to my constituents, but I am subject to no caucus rule. As to the Prime Minister, I say with all sincerity of him, as my personal friend, that it is to be deeply regretted that so distinguished and able a man should be at the present time laid aside. It is the desire of every one of us that he should take a sufficiently long rest to enable him to come back completely restored to health, and also, I think, that there should be no effort or attempt at any action during his absence which would remove his Government. Once or twice an opinion has been expressed which I do not share, that the Prime Minister on his visit to Great Britain did not accomplish all he desired, and an effort has been made to underrate the work he did. It is true that he did not bring about what was the ostensible object of his visit, namely, preferential trade. We were told the other day, in an able address, that the Prime Minister had gone to England and taken up an attitude against the will of the whole of the people at Home, who had declared strongly against preferential trade. I hope, however, that eventually a satisfactory arrangement will be made by which we may secure preference within the Empire - a preference which, I think, could be scientifically adjusted. No doubt preferential trade will mean sacrifice on the part of both Great Britain and Australia - there must be mutual concessions. Notwithstanding, the startling figures we have heard, showing the enormous prosperity of Great Britain, and notwithstanding the fact that British trade exceeds the trade of the three great nations of France, Germany and the United States of America, these latter are making proportionately gigantic strides, and we must be prepared to meet the situation. . Under the circumstances, therefore, I hope that a just arrangement for preferential trade within the Empire may be brought about. In my opinion, the Prime Minister, during his visit to England, raised the status of Australia. He occupied a high platform, and his great eloquence provided a valuable advertisement for this country. The position and conditions of Australia secured a prominent consideration which they had never before received in quarters which he was able, by his eloquence, to approach and attack ; and, if there were no other result, he, as:sisted by the Minister of Trade and Customs in that gentleman’s own way, succeeded in raising our status in the opinion of the people at Home. The Minister of Trade and Customs, with that marvellous faculty of his, secured a position in the
Conference which, when I read the Imperial invitation, I think he was, on the whole, justified in taking. _
– It was the only door they were able to force open, and the Minister of Trade and Customs did it himself. Mr. KNOX. - Yes; some of us might not have been so successful in securing entrance info that exalted Conference. But, as I say, I think that the honorable gentleman was right in what he did, seeing that the invitation requested the presence of the Prime Minister and such Ministers as might accompany him.
– Other Ministers have been excluded on previous occasions.
– But the invitation, on this occasion, was couched in different words. I desire to say that I am utterly opposed to the proposals of the Government in relation to the transfer of the Northern Territory; and I take this opportunity to make my position clear. In my opinion, the only way in which we can deal effectually with this question is to establish a new tropical State, including the whole of the northern area. I cannot suppose that it would be possible for the Commonwealth Ministry to administer this large Territory with satisfactory results. And now, as one of the members of the Navigation Commission, I wish to protest against the proposal made in the Senate to introduce at once a Navigation Bill. Other members of the Navigation Commission occupy seats in both Houses; and I contend that the contemplated action is an insult to us. The Commission had a Bill remitted to it, and with the concurrence of the Minister, after a report had been made, it was held over until the Conference in London had dealt, with the matter. This Navigation Bill, ought to be remitted to the Royal Commission, which has not yet been dissolved.
– Surely not !
– The members of the Commission gave a large amount of time to their work, and did a good deal of travelling in connexion with it. But had I known that it was not to be allowed tobring its labours to a completion, I should not have consented to act as a Commissioner. For this reason I enter my protes”t against the action of the Government in another place.
– Practically all the recommendations of the Commission will be carried out.
– I have not been informed that that is so.
– The whole matter will be laid before the Senate.
– Then why should the Commission remain in existence? We have not yet received our discharge. If the Governor-General had told us that our services were not further required, we should have known where we were.
– It was not intended to cast any reflection on the Commission.
– Turning to another matter, it seems to me that the Government should seriously consider its position, in view of the humiliating criticism of the Labour Party. It is not for me to say what Ministers should do, but the leader of the Opposition has, in the most generous way, and of settled purpose, offered to stand aside, and, indeed, to leave public life, if the proper Constitutional arrangement of parties can thereby be secured. With regard to the mail contract, the Ministry was very adroit in cancelling it before meeting Parliament.
– It would have been cancelled when I was in London if I had had my way.
– The Minister was enlightened in London as to the machinations of the syndicate. We, on this side, said that we regarded the terms of the contract as excellent if they could be secured. But we did not think that they would be secured, and our convictions have, unfortunately, been verified. I have read the conditions of tender for the new contract, and I am afraid that another mistake is about to be made. What is £50,000 or £100,000 to capitalists who have the command of immense sums of money, and are able to give orders to ship builders? A clear distinction should be drawn between tenderers who possess large fleets, or have a large amount of capital invested in shipping, and mere speculative builders such as the syndicate concerned in the cancelled contract. I admit that it is difficult to make a distinction, but it should be made, though the Government has done nothing in that direction. In conclusion, I would, say that, in my opinion, honorable members should not forego their right to comment on the programme, policy, and administration of the Government, and the debate on the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply is the only opportunity for effectual criticism of that kind.
– It seems to me that the honorable member for Kooyong would make a good leader for the
Corner Party. I understand that he isbusily engaged at the present time in trying, to secure a larger room, perhaps to copy the example of the Labour Party, and hold a caucus there. He should know all about caucuses, especially Chillagoe caucuses. I intend to deal with only a few of the subjects mentioned in the Speech of the GovernorGeneral. In paragraph 4 of that: Speech, it is stated that -
The Reports of the Royal Commission upon, the Tariff already forwarded are under review. You will be asked as soon as possible to consider proposals for the amendment of the existing Tariff, in order to place our national industries upon a sound and permanent basis under equitable conditions.
I am a free-trader, not through force of circumstances, but from conviction. I cannot see how protection will benefit the workers, particularly those of Western Queensland. Everything they eat, drink, wear, and use is imported, and what they produce has tobe exported for sale in the markets of the world at whatever price it will bringTherefore, I hope that the Government, whatever its proposals, will not overlook: the necessity of making conditions equitable. No doubt the decision of the constituencies has been for protection. The honorable member for Yarra has told us that he would vote for the enforcement of prohibitive duties. I would gladly do so too, because that would bring- about direct taxation, which is one of the planks of the Labour Party. But what would the States then do for revenue? Some honorable members-have told me that the Tariff could? be both prohibitive and revenue producing, and when I questioned one of them on the subject, he said that he would impose prohibitive duties in regard to articles which could be manufactured in Australia, and revenue duties on articles which we are forced to import. The Minister of Trade and Customs recently stated that we should” make everything we require in Australia, and export the surplus. Does he think that ships will come here empty, in order to take away our exports? And does hepropose to build a ring fence around Australia, and make us absolutely selfcontained ?
– We should then be another China.
– Yes; but worse off thanChina. We should have nothing to export if we could not exchange trade with the other nations of the world. I am ready to give protection to the workers, but I shall fight, if necessary, for twelve months at a stretch against any proposal to tax articles which cannot be manufactured within the Commonwealth. I shall not sacrifice my principles because they are opposed to those of the majority. I come from a fighting stock. The Labour Party has had to fight its way up from the very bottom against adverse circumstances. No doubt this fighting has put us in fair trim to do the work of the Opposition. The leader of the Opposition says that he is willing to sacrifice himself in order to bring about constitutional government, when there will be only two parties in the House, one for the masses, and the other for the classes. The sooner that comes about the better I shall be pleased.’ I should be glad to go into Opposition to-morrow, and would do so but for the fact that, like a. good democrat, I have to obey the will of the majority.
– The caucus.
– Surely the honorable member knows what discipline means. It is discipline, obedience to command, and bulldog tenacity that has brought the British people to the position which they hold. Every member of the Labour Party has sprung from British stock. There is not a foreigner amongst us, and we intend to stick to our principles. In paragraph 6 of the Speech it is stated that -
The subject of the financial relations between the Commonwealth and the States has been further discussed with the State Premiers, and the results arrived at will be communicated to you. The great issues affected, including the federalization of old-age pensions, will be considered in this relation.
Some such promise as this has been made to every Parliament since Federation was inaugurated. When the leader of the Opposition was in power a Commission was appointed to inquire into the old-age pensions question. The present PostmasterGeneral was its chairman. That Commission visited and took evidence in each of the States, and reported that a Commonwealth old-age pension system was necessary, and should be provided as soon as possible. But the Cabinet of which the honorable gentleman is a member has done nothing to give effect to that report. If the Treasurer had his way, the providing of old-age pensions would be made impossible for ten years after 19 10, because he wishes, in effect, to extend the operation of the Braddon provision by a .decade. Why has the Government put old-age pensions on its programme? In my opinion, the reference in the Governor-General’s Speech is merely a shop-window decoration, and Ministers have no intention of carrying this promise into effect. Why does not the PostmasterGeneral say candidly and plainly that the Government cannot provide for a Commonwealth old-age pension system? I am ashamed to have to continually tell my constituents, while nothing is being done to bring it into existence, that I am in favour of a Commonwealth old-age pension system. The old people of my constituency look to me to do something for them, because the Queensland Government gives married couples who have reached the age of sixty or sixty-five, and are incapacitated, only 7s. 6d. per week. How can two persons live on such an allowance? It is pauperizing and degrading to treat people in that way. This Parliament has affirmed the system of old-age pensions. Even the most conservative members of the first Commonwealth Parliament affirmed that the adoption of a Federal system of old-age pensions was imperative. Yet we are as far off the realization of any such scheme as we ever were. The Government can find money for the purpose of sending a High Commissioner to England - thus greasing the fat sow - or for the purpose of taking over the Northern Territory from South Australia, but they cannot provide funds for old-age pensions. In passing, I wish to say that if I were offered the whole of the Northern Territory for nothing I would say “Keep it, I do not want it.” Upon one occasion I travelled overland from Longreach to Oodnadatta, and I may tell honorable members that the solitude very nearly drove my two companions and myself mad. There was not a bird to chirrup in the bush, there was not a fish in the water, and in nine cases out of every ten the water was so salt as to be undrinkable. Every night that we camped the solitude made us wish that we were back in civilization. No vote of mine will ever be recorded in favour of taking over that Territory. Need I remind honorable members that Camooweal, in Queensland, is within sixteen miles of the South Australian border, and that there are pastoral stations in and around it. If the Territory were such good country as is reported, would not the squatters of Queensland have crossed the border long ago? Yet in the Age of this morning I read an article strongly recommending small settlers to go to the Territory and’ engage in “mixed” farming. I do not know what is meant by “mixed” farming, but I do say that the farmer who goes there- will become “ mixed “ very quickly. The Speech of the GovernorGeneral states -
A progressive scheme for the improvement of harbor and coastal defence is under consideration ; our fixed defences are receiving special attention; the number of members of our Military Forces proceeding abroad for instruction and training has been increased; provision for a further increase of naval and military cadets will be made; the progress of the Rifle Clubs is still satisfactory ; the local production of the munitions of war will be provided for.
I wish to ask the Minister of Defence whether anything has yet been done to prevent officers who have been sent abroad to obtain instruction at the expense of the Commonwealth - particularly to Canada and India - from accepting more lucrative positions under other Governments? After we have expended a large sum of money to render officers efficient, it frequently happens that they quit the Commonwealth service. I have in my mind one officer in particular who was sent to the old country. I refer to Lieutenant Innes. He passed through his period of training there, and was returning by way of Canada. The Canadian authorities saw that he was a smart officer, and accordingly offered him a better position. He at once’ sent in his resignation and accepted the offer of the Canadian authorities. As a result we not only lost his valuable services, but also the money which we had expended upon his training. Something should be done to prevent a repetition of that sort of thing. I recognise that it is a wise step for the Commonwealth to send officers to be trained abroad, particularly in India, where they have to perform frontier service, which is almost equivalent to active service, and where they naturally become thoroughly efficient. I commend the Government for proposing to increase the number of officers to be sent abroad for instructional purposes. But I do not think it is officers who are near the age of retirement who should be selected for this training; they should be young men who have displayed marked ability. With regard to the proposed establishment of a factory for the production of munitions of war and small arms, I wish to say that ever since the Federation was established the same promise has been made. I. wish to know from the Minister whether he is still shuffling. -Only the other day I directed his attention to a paragraph in the newspapers stating that Brigadier-General Gordon was coming from New South Wales to give him valuable information as to the establishment of such a factory. But I learned from an interview which the Minister has since had with a representative of the Age, that he does not propose to take any. notice of the information imparted to him by the Commandant of New South Wales until certain officers return from the mother country.
– The honorable member can rest assured that the sanction of Parliament to the establishment of a small arms. factory will be asked for this session.
– I am very pleased to hear it. It is ridiculous for us to call ourselves a nation when we have not the machinery necessary to take even the twist out of a rifle barrel. If we wish to take it out, the weapon has to be sent either to the old country, or to Germany, or the United States. We cannot manufacture a smalls aim, and we cannot make ammunition. We have to import the cordite with the brass casing of the cartridges. These things are imported from the old country. What, position should we occupy if Great Britain were at war ?
– It will be put all right during this session.
Mi. PAGE. - I now come to the question of the mail contract. I do not flatter myself that I am a business man, but I know how to make a “ quid “ when I see one lying about. From the very first day that this contract was made I was led to exclaim, : What is the meaning of this?” Having, had some experience in Queensland, of that smellful business known as company promoting, I saw that the trail of the company promoter was .over it all. Consequently I was led to ask myself, “ How much are these fellows to get out of it?” Everything has turned out just as I predicted. The contract has been nothing more nor less than a big company swindle, and the Government are to blame for not having recognised it long ago. Only yesterday the honorable member for Barrier during the course of his speech was prompted to inquire,. “ What would have happened if the Labour Party had been in power, and had made, such a muddle?” I know what would have happened. We should have had the Treasurer going from one end of the Commonwealth to the other and bellowing like a. bull, “ These are the business men who cannot even run a mail contract.” What I maintain is that if we are going to make a contract wholly and solely for the carryingof mails, honorable members ought to assist the Queensland representatives in securing justice for that State. Queensland happens to be the :State that is most inconveniently situated when the vessels come to Australia via Fremantle and Adelaide. The consequence is that Brisbane is left out altogether, so far as the provision of refrigerating space is concerned ; and refrigerating space on the mail steamers is as important to the industrial life of this country to-day as is the carriage of letters to its business life. I maintain therefore that in any contract made by the Federal Government provision should be made for refrigerating space, and that a share of that space should be reserved for the northern State. There is no reason why Queensland should be compelled to pay £26,000 over and above her share of the subsidy -£i6,ooo - in order to induce mail steamers to call at Brisbane. When the time comes for the acceptance of tenders, I therefore hope that not only the Victorian members will be with us in seeing that we get our due, but that the New South Wales members also will assist us. Otherwise, I shall consider that Queensland is shamefully treated. Paragraph 16 of the Governor-General’s Speech reads as follows : -
I am happy to state that the last year was one of great prosperity throughout the Commonwealth. A remarkable expansion is manifest in local production and export trade, as well as in Customs receipts, and the revenue derived from the Postmaster-General’s Department.
Now I want to ask honorable members in all sincerity - why do we want to interfere with the Tariff at all, and to increase the taxation of the masses of the people when such words as those are put into the Governor-General’s mouth? Victoria was never in such a prosperous condition as she has been during the last twelve months. Why do not honorable members let well alone? We were fold before the last general election that Victorian industries were starving, and that her manufacturers and workers were crying out for relief through the Tariff. The present Government was returned to power, and since then we have been informed that the industries which were starving have been placed on a firm and solid basis. What need is there to interfere with the Tariff when the industries of the country are in such a flourishing condition? My own opinion is that the Government does not want to go on with Tariff revision at all. Another little matter to which I wish to refer relates to Socialism. Honorable members opposite need not be afraid. I will give them what I have to say in small doses, so that they can swallow it easily. A little while ago there was published in the Argus a report of a speech delivered by Mr. Swinburne at a farmers’ conference. Mr. Swinburne made use of the following observation: -
The farmer was a great Socialist, and demanded that the Government should be socialistic so far as he was concerned. . . . They were compelled, at the farmers’ instance, to inquire into new crops and seeds, secure new markets, take a hand in arranging freights for transport, and make good roads.It was astonishing to see to what extent the Government had to take part in the organization and the union of farmers. Organization was almost focussed in the Government.
Now I wish to point out that the opinions said by Mr. Swinburne to be entertained by the farmers of Victoria are shared by those in the Maranoa electorate. I do not mean the whole of it, because the greater part of Maranoa is given up to one of the greatest industries in the Commonwealth, sheep and cattle raising but in the southeastern portion of Maranoa there are a number of selectors growing wheat and other crops. Many are fanning in a big way. I have received from them the following letter, dated Roma, 14th May, 1907 : -
The Hon. James Page, M.H.R.
Sir, - I have the honour to inform you that at a meeting of the United Maranoa Farmers’ Association, held at Roma on nth May, I was instructed to write to you and request that you would be good enough to use your utmost endeavours to bring about the nationalization of the farm machinery and implement industry by the Federal Parliament.
Thanking you in anticipation,
I have the honour to be,
Your obedient servant,
H. Rainford, Secretary.
So that high duties on farming machinery have made these farmers Socialists ; for the reason why they want the industry nationalized is because of the increased duties put upon their implements. They were quite satisfied when their machinery was allowed in duty free and competition was keen amongst the manufacturers and importers. But now there is a ring.
– Was not that resolution rescinded at the next meeting?
– I will make the honorable member a sporting wager of£100 that it was not. I will lay the letter upon the table of the House, and if he has any doubt about it, he can wire to the gentleman from whom it comes. The farmers of Maranoa are satisfied that the Government is virtually robbing them through the increased duties imposed on farming implements ; and, for my own part, I am quite satisfied that they are being robbed by the manufacturers instead of by the importers. Now, so far as Socialism is concerned, there were a number of ladies going through my electorate prior to the election, telling the people that I did not believe in the marriage tie, and wanted to take their children from them. I assure honorable members that I want nobody’s “ kids,” and wish to break nobody’s marriage tie I am a mild-natured man so far as that goes, and should like to inform Mrs. Clarke that I do not wish to take her children away from her.
– What Mrs. Clarke?
– The President of the Victorian Women’s League. When people stoop to such tactics as that, all I have to say is that my electors have known me for many years, and are quite aware that I have not burst up any one’s marriage tie, nor any one’s home, nor have I asked anybody to keep my children, nor expressed a wish to take theirs from them. If that is the only thing they have to say in regard to Socialism, then we can stand that every time. All I ask them to do is to give us a square deal. Suppose that we were to go about telling persons of the little escapades of honorable members on both the Government and Opposition sides, what would they think of that? I have met honorable members in rather queer places at queer times.
– What was the honorable member doing there - is that a fair question to ask?
– I was there on official business. But joking aside, I am satisfied that our party is strong enough to stand that sort of criticism,, and that instead of doing us any harm, it will do us good. I hope that when the Tariff is brought forward, some of the free-trade members will not funk, but will show the same solid front when they see an attempt made to impose upon the masses duties which are unfair and unjust, as was shown here on a former occasion.
– I do not propose to speak at any length, but as an old member of the State Parliament, and a new member of this House, I could not allow the debate to close without expressing some of the opinions I hold in regard to the matters referred to in the Governor-General’s Speech and other matters which are not contained therein. I agree with other speakers that the
Address-in-Reply is a parliamentary form which ought to commend itself to every one concerned. In the first place, itaffords an opportunity to every member of a new House to become acquainted with his peers. It also affords an opportunity to an honorable member to confirm his platform utterances. And it is an opportunity which has been availed of freely for passing liberal criticism on a Government which I think was entitled to receive that criticism. The honorable member for Maranoa alluded to paragraph 16 of the GovernorGeneral’s Speech. I expected that he would touch upon the financial question, but he did not. A Treasurer who bases his estimates on years of plenty will in all probability have to take a pull when the plenteous time has passed away. I, as a business man, feel that, however great our nation is going to be, however plentiful money is to-day, the time will inevitably come when the word “caution” will have to be written, and we shall have to go slowly. What are the proposals which are in the air? I do not think that in any of the debates during the last six years the members of this House have questioned the financial position. It was never anticipated, I think, that the House would attempt to trench upon the privileges of the States in their financial arrangements. It was never contemplated, in my opinion, that the House, at any rate during the first ten years of its existence, should exceed the annual expenditure which, under considerable difficulties, was agreed upon at the Federal Convention. But what do we find? From the returns presented to the last Parliament, we find that the expenditure has increased from _£3, 900,000 to ,£5,020,000. I venture to say that when the Treasurer brings down his Estimates they will show a still further increase. I ask honorable members to recognise what, is in the air. First there is a proposal to take over the Northern Territory. The honorable member for Brisbane out the case well the other night when he pointed out that it would involve an expenditure of about £11,000,000. Next there is a proposal to establish a Capital in the bush. How many more millions will that involve ? Then we have a proposal to construct a transcontinental railway, and a number of other proposals are in the air. I am afraid that unless the people take a pull during the term of this Parliament - and in mv opinion it will have to be taken - then when the year 19.10 comes round, a serious position will have been readied. We shall have trenched upon the 75 per cent. of the Customs and Excise revenue, and what will became of the State revenues and the State requirements? It is true that we represent the Federal citizen, but it must be remembered that we also represent the State citizen, that he, at any rate, is represented by the State Parliament, and that it is not retrenching. The Commonwealth took over three Departments from the States, and one would have expected that there would have been a determination on their part to retrench, but to-day - dealing with Victoria only - the expenditure reaches something like £8,500,000. That is altogether too much. It was never contemplated that a great expenditure should go on ‘ under the State Government in addition to that under the Commonwealth Government. It was never intended that the Commonwealth should authorize expenditure to the extent which it has done. Some honorable members have spoken about direct taxation. In my opinion, we do not want direct taxation. There ought to be no necessity for its imposition. Our population is limited, and a system which would bring in more people would be acceptable to everybody. I desire to say a few words regarding the Naval Agreement. I understood that, when the Prime Minister and the Minister of Trade and Customs went to London to attend the Imperial Conference, they carried no authority to pledge this country to anything, and yet I find that the Naval Agreement is to be broken. For what purpose?
– The honorable member does not hear anything about that now, though !
– No; I believe that if the electors were appealed to they would say at once that a better agreement - I am not going to deal with the amount of the subsidy, which, perhaps, is too little - could not be made. At any rate, Great Britain has never shown a desire to hurt those with whom she has been associated. In all her transactions with a beaten foe she has always shown that magnanimity for which our nation is proverbial ; and if she has shown that same magnanimity to us as regards the slight charge she has made for defending us, then all honour to her. I believe that if the matter is debated in the House - and, no doubt, it will be - there will be an overwhelming majority in favour of the Naval Agreement. What are we getting for our subsidy? I think that we are getting even more than the honorable member for Wentworth said, when he put the case very clearly in a morning newspaper some time ago. We have the protection, not only of the Australian Squadron, but of the British Fleet on the China station, and it is from that quarter that it is said we may expect trouble. In my opinion, however, we are not likely to have any trouble. It is nonsense to talk about this country building up a Navy, but even if we attempted to do so we should need some (protection in the meantime. I suppose that honorable members are aware that the building of a high-class cruiser must involve a very large expenditure of time and money. The cost of such a vessel would be something Like£1,500,000, and its construction would occupy from two and a half to three years. It is idle for us to play at being a nation. I have no doubt that some system by which we could protect our coasts and assist the British Navy in time of trouble would be acceptable and proper ; but how many ships can we build ? What money have we available for such a purpose? There is a very old song that used to be sung by Britishers -
We’ve got the ships, we’ve got the men,
We’ve got the money too.
But the Commonwealth has neither the men nor the money for this undertaking. I dare say that the honorable member for Maranoa will recognise that we have not enough men to carry on our shearing operations, and to perform other services in connexionwith our rural occupations.
– We were able to send some to South Africa.
– That is so. We all were delighted with the reception given by thepeople of Great Britain to our representatives at the Imperial Conference. The outstanding feature of that Conference was the loyalty evidenced by General Botha to the British flag, and even if the gathering had no other result, the great sentiment of loyalty which permeated it would fully justify it. There are many other matters with which I should like to deal, but I take it that other opportunities for their discussion must necessarily occur. I do not wish at this late hour to inflict a lengthy speech upon the House. I thank honorable members for their kindly attention to the few words I have said, and sincerely hope that however we may differ on political questions, that camaraderie which is one of the best features of a Parliament will be evidenced, not only by myself and my confreres on this side, but by honorable members generally.
– I should like to move the adjournment of the debate.
– I do not know how many honorable members are anxious to take part in the debate, but I trust that, if possible, it will be closed to-morrow.We have no desire to unduly curtail the discussion of the motion, but I would remind the House that it has been before us for some days, and that it should be brought to an early close. I am prepared to agree, as I did last night, to the adjournment of the debate at a comparatively early hour, since we are still early in the session, but I trust that we shall bring it to a close, if not to-morrow, at the latest on Friday. If honorable members conclude the debate to-morrow the Government will be ready to agree to an adjournment of the House until” Tuesday next.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Bruce Smith) adjourned.
Motion (by Sir William Lyne) agreed to -
That leave be given to bring in a Bill for an Act relating to Quarantine.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
Cancelled Mail Contract
asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
House adjourned at 10.40 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 10 July 1907, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1907/19070710_reps_3_36/>.