3rd Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker took thecbairat2.30p.rn., and read prayers.
Refund of Excess Duty - Passing Entry - Comparative Schedule of Duties - Regulation of Selling Prices
– I wish to refer to two letters, typical of several which I have received on a subject in regard to which I shall ask a question of the Minister of Trade and Customs. One of these’ letters contains the statement that -
On the 8th of May last, we took an order to indent several hundred chairs .for a restaurant, to be delivered in October, at a price, calculated (of course) on the old rate of duty, 20 per cent. With the present duty of 7s. ti. per chair, it will be quite impossible for our client to take them. We have tried several factories in the different States, but none can supply a chair suitable either in design or price.
The writer of the second letter declares that before the new Tariff was introduced he lodged his papers to clear a consignment of chairs, but has, nevertheless, been required to pay the new rate. I desire to know from the Minister whether, if duty is paid under protest in cases of this kind, and the rate proposed by the Government is reduced by Parliament, the difference will be recoverable by the importers? I desire, too, to know whether the liability for duty is fixed by the time at which an entry is handed in, or by the time at which the papers are countersigned and completed by the Department?
– All questions affecting rates of duty are matters for Parliament to deal with. As regards the time fixing the liability for .duty, I refer the honorable member to section 132’ of the Customs Act, which enacts thatAll import duties shall be paid at the Tate in force when the goods are entered for home consumption.
The honorable member has referred to a case in which an entry was partly made; but payment is demanded only] when an entry has been completed,’ and then at the . rate of . duty in force at the time. Suppose that, instead of the .rate on chairs having been increased, it had been decreased, does the honorable member not think that his correspondent, on completing his entry, would have tendered payment at the lower rate? The time fixed by the Customs Act for the payment of duties is when entries are completed. Of course, Parliament can alter the Act ; but while it remains in force I must see that its provisions are conformed to.
– If an importer pays under protest, and the rate of duty applicable to his importation is subsequently lowered, will the difference be refunded to him? Was that not done under a former Tariff ? I should also like to know whether the provision of the. Customs Act which the Minister has quoted is not in conflict with that of the Excise Act, which implies that duty is payable when goods have been imported, and whether the text-books do not say that importation is complete when goods have entered a port.
– It seems to me that only one construction can properly be put on the section which I have read.
– What is the result of paying- under protest ? ‘
– Duties are sometimes paid under protest when those paying them think they ought not to be asked to pay them, and intend to make an effort to recover the money paid.
– Is the Minister of Trade and Customs in a position to say whether the- statement of the honorable member for Perth is correct, that the tabulated return giving comparative rates of duty, which has been laid on the table, was incorrect so far as the recommendations of the free-trade section of the Tariff Commission are concerned ?
– So far as I can ascertain, it was incorrect, and the schedule is correct. I hope to lay on the table, within half an noor, the information asked for by the honorable member yesterday.
– Is the Government prepared to indorse the following recommendation in progress report No. 50 of the Tariff Commission -
We further recommend that, should the Minister certify that the retail selling prices of goods enumerated in the said table and made in the Commonwealth have been unfairly increased by reason of the additional protection given against imported goods of a similar kind, it shall be lawful for the GovernorGeneral, upon an address from the Senate and the House of Representatives, to declare by proclamation that the collection of such increased duties on the said imported goods shall be suspended until further order by proclamation.
– I am preparing a scheme in connexion with the proposed new protection, but I cannot consent to suspend the operation of the Tariff in the meantime.
– Will the PostmasterGeneral lay on the table a copy of the guarantee given to the Government by Messrs. Barclay and Co., in connexion with the recent attempted mail contract?
– I ask the honorable member to give notice of his question.
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
– The Public Service Commissioner reports as follows : -
– There seems to: have been regrading everywhere but in South Australia, where the business of some offices has increased by 50 per cent.
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Home Affairs, 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 PostmasterGeneral; upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
– I now have the information asked for by the honorable member for Yarra. It is voluminous ; and I desire to lay it on the table. It consists of copies of reports dealing with the points raised by the honorable member for Perth, and also shows the reports themselves. The documents show the items on which the free-trade section of the Tariff Commission recommended duties.
– Why not publish the whole scheme of the classification of the free-trade section?
– That is already published in the reports.
– But it has not been issued to the public; and what was stated in the Melbourne Age yesterday is absolutely misleading.
– I did not prepare the statement in the Age.
– I know that.
– I have no desire to publish anything but what will throw light on the subject, and I shall publish everything, in reason, which the honorable member may suggest. The information asked for is given in the documents which I now desire to lay on the table; and I find that there is a total of 121 items on which the free-trade section of the Commission recommended duties, but which the protectionist section recommended should be admitted free. Those items have been made free in the Tariff ; and they are shown in the list which I hold in my hand. The documents, which may be printed, are mainly in answer to the statement of the honorable member for Perth that a wrong construction had been placed on the recommendations made by himself and his free-trade colleagues.
– In connexion with agricultural implements?
– Yes ; and to me the evidence is absolutely clear that the schedule is correct.
– Is the honorable member discussing the question?
– I simply desire to lay on the table the documents to which I have referred, together with printed copies of the report with marked pages, so that every honorable member may see who is right and who is wrong.
Mr. AUSTIN CHAPMAN laid upon the table the following papers: -
Customs and Excise Tariffs - Royal Commission on - Papers respecting the “ B “ Commission as to certain” items exempted by the 1902 Tariff. Items upon which “A” reports recommended no duty but upon which “ B “ reports suggested a duty.
Ordered to be printed.
Postal Voting : Irregularities in Queensland- Cancelled Mail Contract : Guarantee - Warning Signal at Sydney Post Office - Federal Capital Site - Ministers’ Answers to Questions - Seizure of Wire Netting : Carriers’ Licences - Orient Company’s Mail Contract - Correspondence: Post and Telegraph Department.
Question - That Mr. Speaker do now leave the chair, and that the House resolve itself into Committee of Supply - proposed.
– Some little time ago I asked a question without notice as to who had issued instructions to the postmasters at Townsville and other places in Queensland to stamp certain postal ballotpapers with the previous day’s stamp.
– ls the honorable member referring to the last Federal election?
– No; to the last State election in Queensland. It was not to be expected- that” the PostmasterGeneral would have at his fingers’ ends the information I required, but since then I have had a communication from the Department in reference to the action taken at Townsville, though up to the present I1 have had no communication in reference to the action taken at Charters Towers. It is well that honorable members should clearly understand the importance of this matter, so that they may appreciate the seriousness of the action of the postmaster at Townsville. When the last Electoral Bill was before the Queensland State Parliament a clause was inserted to allow of women voting by post. I may say that that clause was accepted at the time in order to save the Bill : and though that fact may have nothing to do with- us as a Commonwealth Parliament, I desire to say unhesitatingly that so corrupt were the practices under that postal voting section, that within the Federal sphere I, for one, shall vote against any form of postal voting. T am thoroughly convinced that postal voting; has been used in. Queensland by unscrupulous people to violate the secrecy of the ballot. My belief is that, no matter how we safeguard this class of voting, we shall have undue. influence exercised.
– Would it not be better to punish the guilty than to deprive the innocent of the privilege of postal voting ?
– I see much difficulty in carrying out the system; and, by way of illustration, I shall cite one or two instances.’ Justices of the peace in Queensland go about and ask the women voters to vote 6y post, and, when the women decline to do so, those justices call round with the manager of the mine at which the women’s husbands are employed and intimate that voting must be by post. What is a woman to do under the circumstances ? If she refuses to vote by post, she feels that her refusal mav injure the prospects of her husband and her family ; and I say unhesitatingly that in 90 per cent, of the cases in which people vote by post, it is known how they vote.
Colonel Foxton. - No, no !
– I can give another instance to show how unscrupulous people have been in reference to these postal votes. When people desire to vote by post, those who are interested supply each one with a small piece of clean blotting paper for the purpose of blotting the signatures, and this blotting paper is carefully put away for future reference.
– Why did the honorable member not give information and put the Electoral Act into force? The honorable member was not doing his duty.
– The honorable member for Laanecoorie knows as well as I do the difficulty which would face an outsider like myself in putting the law in operation.
– Then why make these statements ?
– Because I know that what I say is true - the people who informed me would not tell me deliberate lies.
– Then the honorable member ought to have given information to the authorities.
– There is a case now proceeding in Brisbane in connexion with the matter.
– What was the purpose of using this blotting paper?
– So that it might be known how persons had voted.
– What about invalids and others unable to go to the poll ?
– In such cases voting by post would be legitimate, and I am not now speaking of electors so circumstanced. However, even in the case of invalids and others, it is known how they vote. As- a justice of the peace in Queensland I have witnessed a number of signatures in connexion with postal voting, and I do not hesitate to say that I knew how each elector cast his vote. I say that honestly and candidly - it is of no use saying that we do not know. I might look out of the window or at the pictures on the wall, but I should be a hypocrite to say that I did not know how those people had voted.
Colonel Foxton. - Perhaps the honorable member would not have been there had he not known how they would vote.
– I do not say that, because the people were strangers to me. For instance, I was taken to one place to witness signatures, and the electors voted dead against the two candidates I favoured.
– Did the honorable member get this information against the will of the electors?
– I could not help myself; I did not try to ascertain, but I could not fail to see “how they voted.
– The honorable member could not have seen how they voted if the electors had not desired him to see.
– I admit that if the electors had taken the matter seriously, and had desired to keep me from knowing, I probably could not have seen how they voted. In Victoria, when the honorable member for Echuca was returned, notwithstanding all the restriction^, there were 2,000 postal votes. However, I am getting away from my point. Under the Queensland Act postal ballot-papers, when signed by the electors, must be stamped with that day’s post-mark; and this is where the Commonwealth and the Post and Telegraph Department are affected. The post offices close at 8 o’clock at night, and after that hour ballot-papers which came in were practically informal, because, in the ordinary course of events, they would, not be stamped until next_ morning, and would, therefore, bear a post-mark dated the following day. After a number of such ballot-papers had come in at Townsville, there was an interview between the returning officer and the local postmaster. Permission was asked to leave the ballotbox at the post office so that ballot-papers which came in might be placed in it. There was no objection to that suggestion ; but it came to the knowledge of some people - I do not know how - that certain postal votes were informal owing to the date upon which they were signed not agreeing with the post-mark or date, and then there was another interview between the returning officer and the postmaster. This seems to be the serious part of the story; because the returning officer. was led to believe that owing to the date on which they were stamped certain ballot-papers were rendered informal. How that came to the knowledge of the returning officer I do not know, but according to a letter I have received from the Department he “went to the postmaster and suggested that an arrangement should be made to have the post office kept open for the receipt pf those postal votes until 12 o’clock at night, as it was not likely that there would be any received between that hour and 5 the following morning. As a matter of fact, I believe that only one postal vote was received within those hours; but, on the other hand, between 8 o’clock and midnight, there were a great number sent in. The postmaster said he could not keep any of the officials there, but he would remain himself until midnight and stamp the papers. Why should those postal -voting-papers be treated differently from any other postal matter? If it is possible for a postmaster to make such a distinction, it is possible for him to make a similar distinction in regard -to any document posted. Another brilliant idea conceived by the postmaster was to attend to these postal voting-papers at s o’clock next morning, and use the previous day’s stamp, which by that hour had not been altered. I maintain that the postmaster had no right to follow that course, and, in doing so, he took upon himself a very serious responsibility. This is more apparent when we realize that in those elections the candidates who were returned were beaten by an overwhelming majority, so far as the ballot-box was concerned. In one case, the candidates were beaten by over 600 votes in the ballotbox, though they secured a majority on the postal ballot-papers.
– Is that the real reason why the honorable member refers to the matter?
– I do not say so, but it is a serious matter if certain members of Parliament now hold seats owing to the negligence, or whatever we may term it, of a public official.
Colonel Foxton. - To what electorate is the honorable member referring ?
– To Townsville. I do not refer to the Charters Towers election, because that is a subject of a case before the Court. The communication I have received from the Department states that the postmaster at Townsville told no one outside his office, not even the returning officer, of the action he had taken, and that he was actuated by ‘ the purest motives, having no idea of partiality for either side. I do not wish to accuse the postmaster of desiring in any shape or form to show partiality ; I at once dismiss that idea. But the fact remains that he took upon himself a serious responsibility in stamping the voting papers in the way I have indicated, and the House should let the Postmaster-General know that in its opinion it is undesirable that there should be a recurrence of the incident. No action has been taken in Townsville for the reason that those concerned have not the necessary funds at their disposal. But for this further litigation would probably have ensued. A postmaster should not attempt to go beyond the ordinary routine of his office without consulting either the PostmasterGeneral or his deputy. Many people might be involved in expensive litigation and caused much inconvenience by such proceedings. I think that I ha.ve shown ample justification fpr bringing this matter before the House, and I hope that the PostmasterGeneral will take action to prevent a repetition of such proceedings.
.- There are one or two grievances that I want to bring before Ministers. The honorable member for Kennedy has given us an illustration of the faulty working of the Electoral Act.
– He was referring, not to the Federal Act, but to the State Act.
– - But the honorable member’s observations in regard to the working of the State Act apply with equal force to the administration of the Federal Electoral Act. I do not propose at this stage to enumerate all its defects, but I am satisfied that fresh machinery will have to be devised in connexion with its administration, and that an amending Bill is necessary. At the present time it is administered in , a rough-and-ready way by public servants and persons outside the service who are employed temporarily, and at short notice, to conduct an election. I trust that the Postmaster-General will see that in future postal officers are not called upon to carry out the electoral law, for their ordinary duties are quite sufficient to occupy the whole of their attention. The Department of Home Affairs should assume full control of the administration of the Act. This afternoon I asked a question without notice with regard to the steps taken by the Government to recover the £25,000 supposed to have been deposited by the contractors for the oversea mail service. It seems that this question, which we have already heard on many occasions in the House, will have to be asked again and again. A few months ago the Government took credit for having made a rattling good bargain, and published the intelligence that in their opinion a more satisfactory mail contract had never been entered into. We find, however, that they have floundered and foundered in connexion with it. The ex-Postmaster-General claimed that he had displayed great business acumen in connexion with the negotiations. Nevertheless the Postmaster-General to-day had to consult one of his colleagues before he replied to my question. During the debate on the Budget, I said that Messrs. Barclay and Company had certainly given a guarantee, but that as. business men they had fixed a date on or before which the bond should be entered into. As keen bankers, they now say that no bond was entered into on or before the date fixed, and that consequently they cannot be called upon to liquidate the guarantee. The AttorneyGeneral combated my statement, and said that there would be no difficulty in presenting to the House all the papers relating to the negotiations; but so far a copy of the guarantee has not been produced. When I asked that it should be presented, I was told that I ought to give notice of motion ; and when I inquired whether such a motion would be allowed to go without opposition, I received no answer from the Government. As an old parliamentarian, I recognised that in that case silence meant, not consent, but resistance. There must be some reason for withholding from Parliament and public a copy of the guarantee, but I trust that it will be produced to-morrow. . I have Been able to explain to the Postmaster-General and the House generally what was my object in> putting the question to which I have just referred, and the press and public should now be afforded an opportunity to ascertainwhether the negotiations were conducted by the Government in a business-like way. There is - another matter to which I desireto refer, and, since it relates to New SouthWales, I presume that I must speak of it with bated breath. I asked this afternoon whether the Postmaster-General would be prepared to allow a warning; light to be shown from the tower of the General Post’ Office, Sydney, to advise the public of the approach of a southerly. The answer I received was that the matter came within the jurisdiction of the Minister of Home Affairs. Nearly twelve months have elapsed since I first wrote to the Department asking that this light should be shown, and judging by the Minister’s answer, the Government are anxious to further delay the settlement of the question. I would point out that there is a precedent, for the course I have suggested. For yearsa day signal has been flown from the tower of the post office to warn those using the harbor of the approach of a southerly. Hundreds of fishermen ply for a living inand about the waters of Port Jackson, and if on nearing the Heads at night they saw a warning signal from the post office tower they would at once put back, for they would know that if a southerly were approaching it would be useless for them to go outside the Heads. Pleasure partiesreturning from trips down the Harbor at night would also be advantaged by a warning signal being shown, and since it is admitted by the Minister that the cost of erecting the light would be only £41, I hope that my request will be acceded to. The Acting Prime Minister, who, like myself, takes an interest in aquatics, will know that at night it is difficult for a man on the harbor to quickly detect the approach of a southerly.
– Is a day signal flown from the General Post Office in any of the other State capitals ?
– I suppose that if the practice is not followed in any other State New South Wales must not ask for the concession I have voiced. I do not suppose that any other Australian harbor is used so largely by pleasure parties and others as is Port Jackson. A signal from the General Post Office, Melbourne, would be of no use to those using Hobson’s Bay.
– What about a light from the Newcastle post office?
– The lighthouse there could be utilized.
– A warning would be useful at Hobart.
– Then let a light be shown from the Hobart post office as well as from any other where it will be of service. I -appeal to the Postmaster-General to approach the Minister of Home Affairs, and to offer him the use of the post office tower at Sydney for the purpose. I wish now to refer very briefly to the question of the Federal Capital site. Can the AttorneyGeneral say when the Seat of Government Bill will be dealt with? The Department of Home Affairs has provided opportunities for new members to inspect the various sites under review, and it is only right that they should enjoy such a privilege, just as older members of the House have done. I understand that the last Parliamentary party to visit Dalgety saw it under most unfavorable circumstances from the standpoint of the advocates of that site.
– They saw it under normal conditions.
– Exactly. From the standpoint of New South Wales and the Commonwealth generally it was seen by the party at the right time. The conditions prevailing on the occasion of the visit clearly demonstrated the unsuitability of the site, and Dalgety has now a losing chance.
– The honorable member must not debate the question.
– I shall not attempt to do so, sir. There is considerable feeling in New South Wales with regard to the .delay that has taken place in the settlement of this question. Two years ago I and other honorable members warned the Ministry that New South Wales considered that it was not being fairly treated.
– The honorable member has referred to the fact that there is on the business-paper a Bill relating to this question, and I would remind him that any debate on the lines on which he is now proceeding would be in anticipation of the debate which ought to take place upon that measure. I ask the honorable member not to debate the question.
– I referred to the fact that there is on the business-paper a Bill dealing with this question, in order that my constituents would understand why I was unable to go thoroughly into the question. I think that the Acting Prime Minister should take steps to remove the dissatisfaction in New South Wales in regard to this matter. I should not have risen but for the fact that the matters to which I have directed attention have received such curt treatment at the hands of the ‘Government. I trust that the Postmaster-General will consent to a light being exhibited from the tower of the General Post Office, Sydney, fo warn those persons using the harbor of the approach of a southerly. Regarding the guarantee in connexion with the mail contract which was recently cancelled, I saythat the public should be placed in possession pf a full knowledge of its terms. I never could understand why the PostmasterGeneral insists upon withholding from the press information of which the public should be seised. If the people were daily posted in the actions of Ministers it naturally follows that they would have more confidence in them. If, in connexion with the cancelled mail contract, a bargain was made which w’as irretrievably bad, doubtless the public would be prepared to make a generous allowance. . They are always ready to pardon a blunder, but in the twentieth century they require, through the channels of the newspapers, absolute publicity in regard to ‘Ministerial actions. I see no advantage to be derived from adopting Star Chamber methods by withholding information as to the terms of the guarantee. The “ shut your eyes and open veur ears, and we will give you some information to-morrow “ method will not answer nowadays. When the contract with Sir James Laing and Co. was made, honorable members will recollect that throughout the length and breadth of the Commonwealth the Government was credited with having concluded a very good bargain. I was one of those credulous mortals who stated at the time that the terms of that contract sounded too good to be true, but that if they were true the Ministry were entitled to all the kudos attaching to their action. Now, I ask that a copy of the guarantee should be placed upon the table of the House. In the early portion of the session some honorable members made the guarantee of ,£25,000 for the due performance of the contract the theme of numerous questions, which were addressed to Ministers. Their zeal, however, suddenly disappeared. I. do not see why honorable members should not be afforded the information which I seek in the ordinary way, but if it is not forthcoming in that way the only alternative presented to me will be to move the adjournment of the House.
– I join with the honorable member for Dalley in protesting against the treatment accorded by Ministers to questions asked by honorable members upon this side of the House. I think that members of the Opposition have just cause for complaint in this connexion, and especially against the PostmasterGeneral, who is a most constant offender. If a question be put to them from the opposite side of the Chamber - and especially from the Labour corner - Ministers are deferential, if ‘not abjectly apologetic in formulating their replies. But when an honorable member upon the Opposition side of the House ventures to ask a question upon any matter of public interest, Ministers evidently- think that it can be disposed of either by an evasive reply or by a request that notice should be given of the question. It is about time that we protested against treatment of this kind. I warn Ministers that if I do not’ receive satisfactory replies to any Questions which I may put to them, or if I believe that they deliberately desire to flout me, I shall be reluctantly compelled to move the adjournment of the House in order to obtain the desired information. Only a few days ago I asked a series of questions in regard to the action of Mr. Baxter, Acting Comptroller of Customs, Sydney, in calling upon three carriers to return their licences and to show cause why those licences should not be cancelled, simply because they Had acted in accordance with instructions which they had received from a Government contractor in assisting to remove certain wire netting. The Minister of Trade and Customs, in reply, informed me that he knew nothing about the matter, . which was in the hands of the Acting Prime Minister. At the present time we occupy this unfortunate position : that we have two Ministers controlling the Customs Department. The next day I addressed the following questions, upon notice, to the Acting Prime Minister -
Wales Government, have been peremptorily ordered by Mr. Baxter, Acting Comptroller for Customs, to return their licences and show cause why they should not be cancelled?
These were legitimate questions, which demanded fair replies. But what was the nature of the answer which I received from the Acting Prime Minister - presumably through his departmental officers, who appear to think that it is their duty to flout free-trade members of this House, imagining, perhaps, that by so doing their conduct will earn the approval of the Protectionist Government? I desire to point out that they occupy positions which do not entitle them to take up an attitude of that kind, and replies which savour of insolence are an insult not only to those asking the questions, . but to the House as a whole - this sort of thing cannot be tolerated. The reply which I received from the Acting Prime Minister reads -
I do not think it wise at the present moment to discuss the propriety of any action which the. Government, upon the advice of its legal advisers, proposes to take, to insure the observance of the law in regard to the case under notice.
Honorable members will observe that that reply does not touch my questions at all. I did not ask what the Government proposed to do, but whether they had authorized a certain action which had already been taken. I made no reference to litigation which is pending against Mr. Sutton. If the Minister is not aware of the action that has been taken by Mr. Baxter against the three carriers in question, I will refer him to what purports to be a copy of a letter forwarded, by that officer to these men, and which was published in the Sydney Daily Telegraph of 30th August last. It reads -
Yesterday morning, however, Mr. Sutton was served with a Supreme Court writ for having’ unlawfully removed goods from Customs control, and Messrs. Budd and Ferns and Mr. Watson have received letters, of which the following is a copy : - “ Department of Customs, Aug. 29. - Sir, - With reference to the unlawful removal without Customs authority. of goods - wire netting - subject to Customs control, I have to call upon you to immediately hand in your carriage licences to this office, and to show cause why such licences should not be cancelled. - I have, &c, j. Baxter, Acting Collector of Customs.”
I take it that such a letter has been received by these carriers, otherwise what purports to be a copy of it would not have been published in the Sydney press. Now, it is well known that these carriers cannot perform certain work unless they hold Customs licences. If they are deprived of these licences they cannot earn their ordinary livelihood. In other words, before they have been convicted of any ‘ offence, they have been prevented - owing to the arbitrary action of a Commonwealth officer - from earning a’ livelihood. I say that it is contrary to all ideas of British justice that a man should be condemned and punished before his guilt has been established. It’ would have been quite sufficient if the Acting Collector of Customs in Sydney had called upon the carriers to show cause why their licences should not be cancelled. It was no part of their duty - before acting upon the instructions which had been received from the New South Wales Government - for these carriers to ascertain whether that Government was acting legally in requesting them to undertake certain work. That . is a responsibility which should not be thrown upon them. . To whatever party a member may belong, I take it that there is inherent in each of us a feeling of reverence for the principle of justice and fair play underlying the British maxim that a man shall be deemed innocent until he has been .proved guilty. Apparently, the Acting Comptroller of Cus- toms at Sydney, or whoever authorized the sending of the letter to which I have referred, wishes to throw on these men the responsibility of ascertaining whether the State Government acted rightly in ordering the removal of certain goods. In my opinion, that is a wrong position to take up, and I hope that the Minister, now that his attention has been drawn to the matter, will see’ that the injustice is not permitted to continue.
– As a rule, we do not discuss in detail matters which are before the Courts.
– This matter is not before the Courts. Does the Minister say that he has issued writs against the three men to whom I am referring? I am not speaking of Mr. Sutton.
– 1 understood the honorable member to- say that the three men to whom he is referring were in the employ of Mr. Sutton.
– Is an employe’ responsible for the action of his principal ? Is he to be proceeded against because his principal is supposed to have broken the law ? When a firm is involved in an action at law, are. its employes made participants in the action?
– If an employe’ is caught watering his employer’s milk, even at the order of his employer, he is liable to punishment.
– If an employe of the Postmaster-General assaulted the honorable member in obedience to the orders of the Postmaster-General, would he not be punishable ?
– That is not an analogous case. But if the Postmaster-General, in his private capacity as a hatter, gave instructions to an employe’ to do something which was not legal, would it be urged that the employe, before carrying out his master’s orders, should consult the Crown Law Officers to ascertain whether his employer might possibly be infringing a law, and would the employe be involved in any legal proceedings taken if his master was guilty of an infringement of the law?
– If my employe’ were an accomplice with mie in wrong-doing, he would be held responsible.
– It would depend upon the circumstances and upon the nature of what he had done.
– The men to whom the honorable member is referring are licensed by the Customs, and cannot go on to the wharves without their licences. They knew that when they were warned by the Customs authorities not to take the goods.
– Nothing is said about that in the report.
– I am stating the fact now. These men are really Customs officials, or, at any rate, they are licensed by the Customs authorities.
– I have asked for information in regard to the truth of the newspaper reports, and it was open to the Minister to say that the reports were not true, and to outline what had occurred. Instead of doing so, he made a statement which did not reply to any of my questions. Now, we are told that these men were warned by the Customs officials that they were engaging in an illegal act. That has not been made known before.
– The honorable member is very unfairly and improperly bringing forward a matter in regard to which evidence will be taken in the courts.
– These men are not parties to the contemplated action at law.
– It is not a proper thing to discuss the case now.
– It is quite proper to discuss the case of these three men, which is not a subject of legal action. I am not discussing the case of Mr. Sutton, the contractor of the New South Wales Government.
– The men could not go on to the wharfs without their Customs . licences.
– They had their licences.
– The Department is probably asking for the return of those licences.
– The Department should not deprive the men of the means to earn a livelihood before giving them a chance to make a defence, especially when they saw policemen doing what they were doing themselves. They have been punished for an offence without even a preliminary inquiry.
– I shall tell the Attorney-General what the honorable member thinks of it.
– The honorable member may make the case the subject of a jest, but it is reallv a very serious thing for the men concerned. I do not know them, and have not been in communication with them, but I ask what will happen to them now that their licences have been withdrawn. Even the temporary withdrawal of their licences will prevent them from carrying on their business, and will throw out of work those whom they employ, and their horses and vehicles.
– Theyhave been punished without having been convicted.
– Yes. Because of the temporary withdrawal of their licences, ot her carriers will be enabled to step in, and take away part of their business, for the large firms for whom they act will not suspend operation’s merely because they canrot get these particular carters. The men will suffer an injury in pocket for which thev can get no redress, as well as an injury inreputation.
– Should carriers who have taken away gobds, notwithstanding . the warnings of Customs officials, be allowed to retain their Customs licences?
– They were acting under instructions from the Government of the State, and it was only natural for them to assume that the Government would take responsibility for their acts.
– Were they to be allowed to infringe the Customs law?
– Suppose the honorable gentleman were to employ a man to remove certain goods, would he expect him to say, “ I cannot do it, Sir William. You may be the Acting Prime Minister of the Commonwealth, but I am of opinion that, in removing these goods, I should be assisting you to break the law.”
– These men act under licences given to them by the Customs, and have no right to act contrary to the instructions of Customs officials.
– The Minister would not think it a valid excuse if carriers or other men refused to do work for him unless he could satisfy them that he was not infringing some State right or law ; but Miniscers seem to think that these carriers should have refused to obey the instructions of the Government of New South’ Wales to do certain work until they had investigated the State Government’s exact legal status in the matter.
– They are licensed, not by the Government of New South Wales, but by the Commonwealth Government.
– They are amenable to the laws of the State, and the Government of New South Wales, having instructed them to do a certain thing in the ordinary way of business, it was not their duty to first ascertain whether it would.be legal to carry out that instruction.
– The honorable member is doing the men a lot of harm by his action.
– That is rubbish, unless the Minister means to revenge himself upon them. Can I do themmore harm than has been done to them by depriving them of their living?
– No one is depriving them of their living.
– How can they earn their living without licences?
– These licences are subject to recall by the Customs authorities.
– In this case, no offence has been proved, and no accusation made. There has been a mere imputation of wrong-doing. What was to prevent the Minister, or one of his officers, from holding an investigation and giving the men an opportunity to state their case? Had that been done, and had a breach of the law been proved, action could have been taken against the men. What would be thought if our Judges sentenced persons before hearing the charges against them? The community would be up in arms.
– The honorable member is talking a lot of rubbish, and acting very unfairly towards the men.
– It is the Minister who has acted unfairly. I should not know the men if I met them. I have been stirred to this action by my sense of what is fair and just.
– And the desire to get a cheap advertisement.
– No. It isnothing to me, personally. So far as I know, the men are not constituents of mine. I am acting on reports which I have read. Had the Minister given fair answers to my questions, there would have been no need to bring the matter forward.
– If all the licensed carriers came under protection of an escort of police to do an illegal act, what action does the honorable member think the Customs authorities should take?
– In this case, the Government should fight the Premier of New South Wales, not the carriers who obeyed his instructions.
– Yes. The authorities ought to deal with those who employed these men.
– Does not the honorable member think that their employer will accept responsibility for any loss that they may suffer ?
– It is paltry for the Government, which is not game to attack the Premier of New South Wales, the prime mover in this affair, to take action against” unfortunate men who are merely carrying out instructions received in the ordinary course of business. Not only has a writ been issued against the contractor for the New South Wales Government, but the Customs officials have vented their spite and vengeance in this paltry manner against three unfortunates employed by him. It is an action unworthy of a Government, and, under ordinary circumstances, would be sufficient to oust an Administration.
– Let the honorable member try to oust us !
– The Minister knows very well that in his following there are those who, though they thought the Ministry absolutely wrong, would still support them ; the Minister is perfectly safe in issuing an invitation of that kind. I do not quite know, with the divided control there is, which Minister is responsible for the Department of Trade and Customs ; but I express the hope that those men who were instrumental in removing the wire netting from the custody of the Customs in New South Wales will be given an opportunity to state their defence, and that they will not be deprived temporarily of their ordinary work while others are allowed to step into their places.
– Surely men must not be permitted to remove goods after they have been warned by the Customs authorities?
– That is beside the question altogether: all I am saying now is that those men should have a chance of stating their defence, and should not be subject to punishment before a charge is made.
– The Acting Collector of Customs was there, and knew what had happened.
– Could the ActingCollector of Customs not have called upon these men to show cause?
– Why should he, when he knew what had happened?
– Even if it be known that an offence has been committed, a defendant is always allowed time to prepare a defence. In the case of the wire netting, however, punishment is inflicted first, and then the men are called upon to show cause.
– There is no sense in what the honorable member is saying !
– Sense is an unknown quantitv in the Acting Prime Minister. However, I wish now to pass on to other matters. Times out of number I have asked the representatives of the Government whether an early opportunity will be afforded for the final settlement of the question of the Capital Site. TheActing Prime Minister, however, has always evaded the question.
– Does the honorable member desire to postpone the Tariff in order to deal with the Federal Capital question ?
– I have not said so. The honorable gentleman need not worry about the Tariff, because we are going to practically “ knock out “ the proposed duties.
– Who, with the honorable member, is going to do that ?
– There will be plenty of assistance, as the Acting Prime Minister will find before the Tariff is disposed of.
– I must ask the honorable member not to discuss the Tariff.
– I merely referred to the Tariff incidentally, in order to intimate that the Acting Prime Minister will not be able to recognise it when we have finished with its consideration. I have no desire to discuss the question of the Federal Capital, beyond asking the Acting Prime Minister whether he can definitely say that the matter will receive consideration before the close of the session ? Surely that is a fair and reasonable question. The time for bluffing is over. The present Minister of Trade and Customs has been bluffing honorable members in regard to the Federal Capital for years, but it is now time we had some definite information.
– The honorable member for Lang has been bluffing all this afternoon.
– There is no greater . bluffer in this House than the Acting Prime Minister ; he bluffs every time a question is asked from this side of the House; and against such an attitude on his part I must protest. In fact, this is a Ministry of bluff and bluster. We get nothing but bluff, al-, though we “are entitled, in connexion with such a question as that to which I refer, to definite information. The delay in the selection of the Federal Capital Site, and other matters, are causing great friction amongst the people of New South Wales. Instead of trying to meet the reasonable wishes of the people of the mother State, the Federal Capital question, and the question of the financial arrangements are delayed, and much irritation is caused. I guarantee that if the Acting Prime Minister went into New South Wales at the present moment, he would find discontent from one end to the other, on account of, amongst other grievances, Melbourne being made the head-quarters of various Departments which at one time were administered in the adjoining State, and the persistent efforts to assist Victoria, and chiefly Melbourne, to dominate the whole Commonwealth.
– The States are squealing about their rights before those rights have been touched.
– It ought to be the policy of the Government to conciliate the
States, which, after all, are sovereign States with independent rights and privileges. But the Government policy seems to be, especially in the case of -New South Wales, what is commonly described as holding a red rag to a bull; indeed, every means possible seems to be resorted to in order to increase irritation. So acute has become that irritation -that we have now the spectacle of the Premier of New South Wales going to the extent of proposing to take a referendum on the question of secession.
– Is not that a stupid thing to do? Is it. not childish’?
– I am not concerned with the question whether the proposal of the Premier of New South Wales is stupid or not. It is not this Parliament, but the Government, who must be held responsible for giving rise to this irritation in the mother State. It ought to be our duty to make Federation acceptable and palatable to the people as a whole, and we must not forget that the people of the States are those who constitute the people of the Commonwealth.
– Does the honorable member mean that the Commonwealth ought to give way every time?
– Not necessarily; but a policy of give and take is often preferable to a policy of persistent aggression. I think it is time that honorable members were given some information as to what action has been taken, with the object of realizing on the £25,000 bond entered into in connexion with the cancelled mail contract with Sir James Laing and Sons. Earlier in the session I asked several questions on this subject, only to be bluffed by the present Minister of Trade and Customs, who was then the PostmasterGeneral. Up to the present time the honorable gentleman has not been able to give us any information of a definite character, and now that we are about to enter on the consideration of the Estimates, we ought to have some satisfactory answers to the many questions that have been asked in this connexion. Have any legal steps been taken to recover the money? Have the Government authorized their agent in London to issue a writ for the recovery of the money? Are the Government willing to lav on the table all the papers and correspondence in connexion with this matter? Honorable members are undoubtedly entitled to all the information I have just suggested. Then, we have not been af forded much information as to the terms of the contract with the Orient Steam Navigation Company ;for the temporary conveyance of our mails, though that is a matter on which Ministers ought to take the House into their confidence. I am continually being asked by my constituents for information on this subject, and it is very unsatisfactory to me to be unable to satisfy them.
– Why is the honorable member so inquisitive?
– Because it is my business to be inquisitive on matters of public importance, especially as several of my constituents are merchants in a large way of business, to whom the terms of a mail contract are of vital importance. It would not have been necessary for me to touch on all these matters this afternoon but for the action of Ministers, who compel honorable members to take this course through the discourteous manner in which questions from this side of the House are treated. Whatever ground of complaint I may have had against the present Minister of Trade and Customs, when hp was formerly Postmaster-General, I must say that,’, in regard Ito all postal matters, he was courteous enough to give me any information I desired. I always endeavour to treat every honorable member with courtesy, and I expect the same consideration extended to myself. If Ministers show discourtesy in replying to ques-‘ tions simply because they emanate from this side of the House, they must not be surprised if we feel ourselves aggrieved, and I suggest to the present PostmasterGeneral that he should adopt the plan of his predecessor, and acknowledge every letter addressed to the Department, even though the information asked for may not be available.
Colonel FOXTON (Brisbane) [4.0]. - I am unwilling to delay the House, but it is due to Queensland members that one of us, at all events, should have a few words to say on the matter referred to by the honorable member for Kennedy. I am not responsible for the fact that this discussion has taken the form somewhat of a medley. Indeed, I should have been very glad, personally, if I could have immediately followed the honorable member whom- 1 have just mentioned. I rise principally for the purpose of deprecating the introduction of matters connected with State elections into the discussions of this Chamber. This is no place to discuss matters of the sort, especially when, as I am sure the honorable member for Kennedy is well aware, the Queensland Parliament ‘ has at present under consideration a measure dealing with them.. I know nothing of the facts beyond those which have been stated by the honorable member, but it seems to me to be undesirable that such matters should be discussed here when the proper place in which to ventilate them is really the State Parliament. It follows almost necessarily that the statements of an honorable member who has posted himself up in the facts must be ex parte. They cannot be refuted hy those who may speak after him under the disadvantage of not having had ‘ an opportunity to fully master all the details. Coming to the merits of the case, and taking the facts as related by the honorable member himself, I understand that certain ballot-papers in connexion with a recent State election for Townsville were posted at the local post office. Under the State law, ballot-papers have to be posted on or before a certain date, and unless it is otherwise specified in the section of the Act relating to the matter, the time within which the papers could be posted would terminate at midnight on the date fixed. I take it that unless a particular hour were specified as being that before which they should be posted, the electors would have a statutory right to post their ballot-papers at any time before midnight on the date named. I understand^ according to the honorable member’s version of the facts, that there is a rule that the Townsville post office shall be closed, and the letter-boxes cleared, at 8 p.m., so that for four hours after the time of closing the electors would have an undoubted statutory right to. post their ballot-papers. It is complained by the honorable member that the postmaster at Townsville on the date fixed - and for the purposes of my argument let us assume that it was the 5th of the month - closed his office at the usual hour, and cleared the letter-boxes, but that at 5 o’clock on the following morning he affixed to the letters in question a stamp bearing the date of the previous day.
– He stamped them on the 6th, when he should have stamped them on the 5th.
Colonel FOXTON.- I take it that the postmaster was satisfied that the letters in question had been posted, in accordance with the Electoral Act, before 12 o’clock on the previous night* If that be so, he did exactly what the law required- of him. Had he refused to put on the letters a stamp bearing the date on which they were actually posted, he would not have carried out either the spirit or the letter of the Act, because he would have disfranchised all who had voted by post and lodged their ballot-papers at the post office between 8 p.m. and 12 p.m. on the 5th. I think that the postmaster took up a proper attitude. I repeat that I know nothing of the facts,_ but on the honorable member’s own statement and, having regard to the provisions of the electoral law of Queensland with. respect to the right of certain electors to post their ballot-papers on or before a particular date, I do not think that there is any cause for complaint. The electors enjoy the statutory privilege of posting their ballot-papers at any time before midnight on the date fixed.
– There is no limitation as .to the time when voters shall post their ballot-papers.
Colonel .FOXTON. - Speaking from memory, I think that they are required to post them two days before polling day.
– So that they may reach the returning officer before the hour ‘ at which the. poll is closed. ‘
Colonel’ FOXTON.- If the. postmaster had not sp .accommodated himself to’ the. circumstances, as to affix to these letters a stamp bearing the date on which they were actually posted, he would have deprived the electors in question pf the highest privilege which a citizen enjoys - the privilege of . electing his representative in Parliament. Some of the letters containing ballot papers might have been posted between midnight and 5 a.m. on the 6th, but probably the postmaster took steps to prevent letters so lodged being treated as if they had been posted before midnight. If the honorable member for Kennedy has correctly stated his case, it seems to me that there is no cause for complaint against this officer.
.- The honorable member for Brisbane has been very fair in his criticism, but I differ from him with regard to the essential features of the case. It seems to me that the postmaster at Townsville, possibly with the best intentions, went entirely beyond the law. As a member’ of the Commonwealth Public Service he ought not to have taken that step without the authority of his superior officer. As I understand the State Electoral Act, it requires that a. posta vote, to be effective, shall bear a cerr tain date. The honorable member’sexperience as a lawyer and a publicofficer must guide him clearly to the conclusion that it would be most dangerous toallow an officer, either in the sendee of theCommonwealth or the State, to interpret the. law as he thought fit, and to antedatepostal ballot-papers.
Colonel Foxton. - All officers have at times to interpret the law.
– They should not so act without the authority of a Court or of theDepartment in which they are engaged. If I had any control over officers who attempted to interpret the law as they pleased, I -should regard the offence as a-, very serious one. I agree with the honorable member for Brisbane that we should? not intervene in States matters unless theyaffect the Commonwealth, but I think noharm can be done by drawing the attention of the Minister to a matter of thiskind.* I understand that the honorablemember for Kennedy has made. a statement of the facts, which is in accordance with, the advices received by the PostmasterGeneral. I - presume that the Bill now before the State Parliament will definitely settle this question. I do not hesitate to say that the postmaster at Townsville acted’ in good faith, but that he committed anerror which, if allowed to pass unnoticed,, would be inimical to the proper govern^ ment of the country, and give rise perhapsto a totally wrong impression of what are the duties and privileges of our officers - an impression which ought not to be countenanced by this Parliament
– I wish to emphasize the complaint made by the honorable member for Kennedy, whose remarks apply with equal force tothe state of affairs existing under the Commonwealth electoral law. I agree that it is undesirable for us to interfere in Statesmatters, but since a Commonwealth officer was concerned in this incident, the Postmaster-General should see that in-‘ future he properly’ discharges his duty. I was a member of a Select Committee ap-. pointed by the last Parliament to inquire into the administration of the Electoral” Act, and know that abuses connected withvoting by post system were brought under its notice. It was found that many, abuses had crept into the system, particularly in connexion with a disputed election* for the electorate of Melbourne - an election which was subsequently voided. We- : discovered in that case that the system had been largely abused, and we recom.mended that certain steps should be taken to remedy the evil. I understand, however, that at the last general election the system was abused pretty generally throughout the. Commonwealth, and I am satisfied that if it be not hedged round with severe restrictions, the intentions of the Parliament with regard to the secrecy of the ballot will be frustrated- It is a system to which recourse should be had only by those who are physically incapable of attending at a polling booth, or will be absent from their electorates on the day of poll- ing. I have doubts as to the wisdom of a provision which so readily lends itself to :abuse. The circumstances which led to its institution are now met by the provisions relating to absent voters, under which a man may record his vote at a polling place -other than that for which- he is registered, and even at a polling place beyond his own electorate. I have not heard of any abuses arising under that system, and I think the Government should consider the desirableness of substituting it for the system of voting by post. The complaints made throughout the Commonwealth with respect to postal voting at the last general election are of sufficient importance to warrant the attention of the Government.
– The honorable “member for Kennedy has correctly stated the facts in regard to the Townsville incident, and instructions have been issued to prevent its recurrence. Neither the central authorities in Sydney nor Melbourne were -“in any way responsible for it.
– I understand, that that “is so.
– It “ appears to have been the result of ignorance of the law on the part of the local postmaster and the “‘official administering the State Act. Like the honorable member for Kennedy, I consider the complaint a very serious one, and I hope that such an’ incident will not occur - again. I agree with a great deal that, the honorable member has said in reference to the system of voting by post. The whole -system is open to very serious abuses and -verv grave dangers. I make that statement with a full knowledge qf the facts, gained whilst temporarily administering the Department of Home Affairs, and I trust that when the amending Bill is introduced, furother precautions will be taken to prevent the abuse of what ought to be a very useful system.
Colonel Foxton. - There can be no objection to taking further precautions.
– Not only can there be no objection to doing so, but, in view of the fact that justices of the peace have signed batches of these ballot-papers, there is every need for taking greater precautions.
Colonel Foxton. - The honorable member for Kennedy was one of those who ^signed them.
– That is true.
– I hope that the honorable member will not do so again.
– I witnessed them. That is all.
– It is contrary to law for a justice of the peace to. sign a blank ballot-paper.
– I did not do that.
– Bring the offenders before the Court.
– In one instance they were brought before the Court. In’ regard to the complaints concerning the postmaster at Charters Towers, I wish to say that they have not yet been inquired into. .
– I do not desire the Minister to deal with that matter, seeing that it is sub judice.
– In order to ascertain how far the Postal Department is responsible for the irregularities to which attention has been called, I have given instructions for a full inquiry to be made. In regard to the bond for ,£25,000 which was deposited in connexion with the mail contract recently cancelled, I desire to say that the Government have nothing whatever to conceal. A copy of the bond was laid upon the table of the Senate to-day, and another copy will be placed upon the table of this House. Of course, the Executive “officers frequently have some information that they desire to keep private, but even at this stage of the proceedings the Government have nothing to conceal from honorable members. In regard to the remarks of the honorable member for Dalley concerning the necessity for exhibiting a warning signal from the tower of- the General Post Office, Sydney, to apprise the public of the approach of a southerly, I wish to say that I should be very glad if I were able to afford the public many facilities which they desire. But to provide them with clocks in” the towers of post-offices all over the Commonwealth, and with other similar con- veniences, would necessitate a very large outlay indeed. At the present time the Commonwealth is continuing the services which were formerly rendered to the public by the States. It is for that reason that the day signal upon the tower of the General Post Office, Sydney, is still being exhibited. I recognise the usefulness of a night signal such as the honorable member for Dalley has suggested, and will make representations to the Department of Home Affairs with a view to ascertain if something cannot be done in that direction. I am sure that we shall be glad to co-operate with the State in that connexion. As to the Ministerial rebuffs to which the honorable member for Lang called attention, I can assure him that they were quite unintentional.
– I should Uke to say one or two words upon that delicate matter connected with the calling in of the licences of the three hapless individuals who set out one morning to earn an honest livelihood, and at the close of the day found themselves practically deprived of the means of doing so by the great Government of the Commonwealth. I think that this Parliament is entitled to know the facts of that case. Has it come to this : That the Government will not disclose to the House what it has done in this connexion, and also the reasons which prompted its action? I do not wish to interfere with the processes of the law in any way whatever, but I submit that we are entitled to know the facts of the case. Why have these men been deprived of their licences?
– They have not been deprived of them.
– They have been deprived of the use of them.
– They are under suspension.
– I wish to ask the -Acting-) Prime Minister one question, and if he will give me a satisfactory reply to it, I shall be quite content. I desire to know whether these men are permitted to earn their livelihood to-day in the same way as prior to their licences being called in.
– I believe that they are, but I am not quite sure. My reason for saying “I believe that they are” is that, in conversation .with the Minister of Trade and Customs, I suggested that their licences should be held by the Department, but that, until something further was done, they should not be deprived of the means of earning their livelihood. I believe that my suggestion has been adopted.
– It is satisfactory to have that assurance from the Acting Prime Minister. So long as these carriers are under no disability as a result of the action taken by the Government of New South Wales, I am perfectly satisfied.
– I am not positive about the matter, but I feel sure that the facts are as I have stated.
– Have their licences been cancelled?
– Pending this matter being dealt with in the ordinary way, will the Acting Prime Minister see that these men are subject to no disability unless they have been’ guilty of a flagrant offence?
– I do not care to discuss the matter.
– I am not asking the Acting Prime Minister to discuss it.
– Unless there is something of a. flagrant character against them they will not be punished with undue severity.
– Under the circumstances, I feel that. I shall be acting more in the interests of the carriers themselves by refusing to press the matter any further. The Acting Prime Minister has practically told us that these men are suffering no disability at the present time.
– That is what I believe.
– If the Acting Prime Minister, believes that, I take it that his statement at least expresses his feeling in regard to the whole matter?
– I have told the honorable member the nature of my conversation with .the Minister of Trade and Customs.
– The Acting Prime Minister has assured us that unless there is something of a very flagrant character against these men, he will take care that they suffer no disability. I am content to rely upon his definite statement. I am sure that we are all delighted to hear that these carriers are being still permitted to earn their livelihood - as they have every right to do - and that they, are not to be subjected to any disability simply .because they had the bad luck to be employed by their usual employer without, perhaps, knowing anything of the merits of the dispute.
– 1_ believe that they were warned and directed by the Collector of Customs at the time.
Mi. JOSEPH COOK- Let us suppose that they were. They have been accustomed to work for this particular contractor, and I have yet to learn that it is the duty of a working man to make inquiries into minute legal technicalities before accepting a job. I tell the- Acting Prime Minister candidly that if he intended to hit anybody he might have hit- some one bigger than these poor - defenceless men. However, I arn. glad to have his assurance that they shall not suffer any disability-
Sit William Lyne. - Unless their offence is a very flagrant one.
– Exactly. Of course, if they broke the law consciously, as they must have done to have been guilty of a flagrant offence, we must permit the law to take its course.
– That is to say, they ought not to be punished unless they were warned by the authorities.
– A warning by the authorities” in. itself is not sufficient. There are a large number of authorities engaged about the wharfs.
– Upon the question of carriers1 licences, there is only one authority.
– I repeat that there are a good many authorities engaged about the wharfs. -
– The carriers would naturally think that they were not doing very wrong in acting as the police were acting:
– Exactly. Unless they have been guilty of a very flagrant offence, they should be permitted to earn their livelihood, pending the final settlement of. these cases.
– If the statement of the Acting . Prime Minister had been made a couple of days ago, it would have saved a lot of time to-day.
– I am quite content with the assurance which has been given by the Acting Prime Minister, and therefore I shall say no more about the matter at the present stage.
Question resolved in the negative.
Customs and Excise Tariffs. In Committee of Ways and Means: Consideration resumed from 4th September (vide page 2842) of motion of Sir William Lyne -
That duties of Customs and duties of Excise be imposed according to the following Tariff (vide page 1648)…………
– I had intended to conclude my remarks last evening but for the fact that I represent a New South Wales constituency, and that at the present time serious friction exists between that State and the Commonwealth Government.
– The honorable member may call it “ friction,” but I call it “ fire.”
– Before dealing with that question, I desire to mention that this morning I received a further communication relating to the inequalities of the Tariff proposals of the Government. I do not suppose for a moment that I occupy a different position from that occupied by other honorable members, but by almost every post I am inundated with circulars or private letters embodying complaints in reference to the Tariff. . The complaint which reached me to-day comes from a gentleman in my own electorate who is engaged in the conduct of a large carriage factory. His complaint has reference to the new duties imposed upon carriage-makers’ material. He writes -
At present they are almost prohibitive. The first item is that of wheels. Duty charged at 33s. per set irrespective of quality; duty on wheels formerly 20 per cent, ad valorem is now 33s. per set, and will amount to, on a i£ B quality wheel, 95 per cent.; C quality, 112 per cent. ; D quality, 155 per cent, on invoice cost irrespective of freights, charges, and profits, which must be added. We have been negotiating to put machinery into our works, but in view of the duties being imposed we have abandoned the idea. If material for those wheels could be obtained in the country there would be good reasons for imposing a specific duty. America is the only place in which hickory can be procured, and the demand is so great that it takes as long as eighteen months at a time to land wheels in Australia. There is no wood in this country you can substitute for hickory. Therefore, there is no benefit in increasing a duty unless it is for revenue purposes.
He says, further, that light buggy wheels will have to be imported, whatever Tate of duty may be charged on them, but that if their cost be unduly increased by the Customs impost, the demand for light sulkies and light buggies, which are now used so largely in the country districts, will lessen, and many of those who now use them will have to do without them. Furthermore, he informs me that if those employed in carriage building in country towns - and presumably in the cities, too- rare compelled to pay too highly for imported timbers, they must close their works, or make their establishments merely repairing shops- Hickory sulky shafts, on which the duty is now 3s. per pair, will, he says, have to be imported even if the duty is made ros. per pair, because no Australian timber which can be substituted for hickory has yet been discovered. The demand for American hickory is so great that there is difficulty in securing supplies, and consequently its price is rapidly rising. But if, in addition, a high Customs duty has to be paid on it, its use- in Australia will be practically prohibited. With respect to the duty of 5 s. per gallon on Harland’s varnishes, he says that if the rate were £1 they would still have to be imported for the particular kind of work for which they are used:
– Surely we can make varnishes.
– A number of Australian factories are engaged in the manufacture of varnishes, but my informant, who has had a long experience’ in coach building, and particularly in .the making of buggies and sulkies, tells me that the varnishes suitable for the finer kinds of work are not made in the Commonwealth, and must therefore be imported. I do not claim to have any technical knowledge of the subject ; but I feel sure that my correspondent would not make this statement without having good reason for doing so. I trust that when the Tariff is dealt with in detail, the Minister will give consideration to these representations. The old rate on imported timber had the result qf causing local timber to be substituted in heavy vehicles, but it is the general opinion of makers of light vehicles that hickory is essential. Therefore, any duty on it must be regarded, not as a protective tax to cause the substitution of local timbers, but as a revenue tax, and I see no justification for increasing the revenue tax on this article from 20 per cent, to 95, 112, and even 155 per cent, ad valorem. When Tariffs are being discussed, there will always be on one side those who wish to impart a strongly protective incidence to them, and, on the other, those who desire* the acceptance of the principle of freetrade. But the Braddon section of theConstitution having made it necessary toraise a certain amount of revenue for Commonwealth purposes, and for distribution among the States, it is impossible for us tohave a wholly protective Tariff or to adopt> free-trade. What the Government” appears to have done is to select certain lines1 of manufactures for protection, and to impose prohibitory duties upon goods likely to compete with the output of these indus-i tries, endeavouring to make good the consequent loss of revenue by imposing or increasing duties on articles which cannot bemade here, and, but for the need of revenue, would be on the free list. Hence the Tariff has met with all-round criticism and’ general condemnation. When the first draft’ Constitution Bill was put before thepeople of New South Wales for acceptance: they voted against it largely because of the Braddon provision.
– At the first referendum, there was in New South Wales a majority for the Bill. -Mr. THOMAS BROWN.- Not the necessary statutory majority. The other States recognised that Federation would be a farce if New South Wales did not join the union, and at a Conference of Premiers, the draft Bill was modified to limit’ the operation of the Braddon section for a period of ten years. I have from the outset, both in New South Wales and in this Chamber, emphasized the view that that section has introduced a vicious principleinto the financial relations of the Commonwealth and the States, and is likely to cause friction and misunderstanding. It is a sound and recognised principle of government that the spending power should* be with those who have the taxing power -r but under the operation of the Braddon section, the Commonwealth is made the taxgatherer for the States, and the authorities of the States are thus able to spend money in regard to the raising of which they have no responsibility. Consequently, it’ is difficult for a taxpayer to determine whether the authorities of the State or of the Commonwealth are to blame for what he deems to be extravagance. My objection to the Braddon section is as strong to-day as it was at the outset. ‘ In my opinion, the Commonwealth should impose taxation only for its own needs. If its revenue exceeds its needs, it should, still exercise the greatest economy. There should be no boom ex- penditure. Every proposal for expenditure should be justified, and any surplus revenue should be returned to the States. But the Commonwealth should not be bound by any obligation, such as that in the Braddon section, to impose taxation amounting to 20s., when it requires only 5s. for its purposes. Although this principle has been in force for only some six years, it has been a fruitful source of friction between the States and the Commonwealth. There is a growing disposition on the part of the States to shirk their responsibilities in connexion with taxation, and to shove those responsibilities on to the shoulders of the Commonwealth Parliament. Hence in my own State - I am not so familiar with the politics of other States - leading politi-. cians, who were strongly opposed to the Braddon section at its inception, and who stumped the country in opposition to it, and were largely instrumental in bringing about the limitation of ten years, are now as enthusiastic advocates of its retention as are any of its original supporters. I do not think I am doing them any great “injustice when I say that those gentlemen have been converted to the principle, not because they have seen reason to alter their opinions in reference to the effect which this section has on legislation, but because it provides an easy -means of raising revenue for the States, while relieving the States Treasurers of the obligation which ought to rest upon them, to provide the funds necessary for the States expenditure. I take this opportunity to state my position in” reference to the Braddon section, and to the proposal which is being urged to give an extended operation to that section of thirty years or more. I now desire to say a word or two about the unfortunate relationship which is springing up between the several States and the Commonwealth Government It must be remembered that the Commonwealth Government and Parliament are not things apart from the States Legislatures, but that both can claim in their particular spheres to be equally representative of the electors. The Commonwealth Parliament owes an allegiance to those electors who have given us the several powers under the Constitution; and it is to those electors that this Parliament must appeal for ratification of its acts. The operations of the Commonwealth Government and Parliament, whether now or in the future, must affect the electors in the various States; and it is in the interests of those electors that there should be no friction between the Commonwealth and the States Governments. Any politician or public man who endeavours to foment friction, and bring about strained relationships between the two governing powers, is no friend of united Australia, and is no friend, ultimately, of those electors whom he endeavours to influence. But there has been a disposition on the part of the States - not one particular State, but all the States, more or less - to treat the Commonwealth with a certain amount of hostility. There has been a disposition to make theCommon wealth a chopping-block for the purposes of particular States, and, latterly, the Commonwealth has been used as a means to gain advantage for a particular political’ party in a State. In New South Wales, at the present time, there is serious friction between the State Government and the Commonwealth authorities. If the Commonwealth Government are inflicting the great injuries on the State that are alleged - if the Commonwealth Government are treating the State Government in the highhanded and unfriendly manner we have been led to suppose - then I myself and other members, who represent “that S.tat.e, are failing in our duty if we do not challenge the power which is responsible for the wrong. Further, the Federal . Government are not true to Federal principles, or to their duty under the Constitution, in so acting, if the charges can’ be sustained. The criticism is. directed not merely against the Government, but against the whole of the Federal Parliament; and each member of this Chamber must take his share of blame if there be any blame. For instance, there is the imposition of a duty on wirenetting, about which so much has been made in. the neighbouring State of New South Wales. It is alleged that it is unconstitutional for the Federal Government to tax State imports, and on that allegation the New South Wales Government base the high-handed action they have taken. I remember that when the first Taiiff was. introduced it was proposed to eliminate the taxation on State imports; but, if I mistakenot, legal advice was sought, and Parliament, in its wisdom, decided that we were within our rights, and acting fairly to all the States in not differentiating between. States imports and private imports. No doubt there is a constitutional point involved. Originally, when the first Tariff was imposed, we were not in a position to get a definite decision on the point. No High Court had then been constituted ; but a case had been taken to a State Court, and a decision given, the alternative left to the Federal Government being either to appeal to the Privy Council or constitute -a High Court. What was done was to constitute a High Court, which is clothed with power such as, I undertake to say, no other Court in the British Dominions possesses. Like the Supreme Court of the United States of America, it is the custodian and interpreter of our Constitution/and the question raised by the recent occurrences in New South Wale? comes well within its province. Is it the State Government or the Federal Government which should appeal to the Court? It is recognised as a good principle in law that the aggrieved . person is the one who should appeal for the justice he considers is denied him. The High Court has now been constituted over three or four . years, and there has been ample time for any of the States Governments to appeal. New South Wales is not treated differently from the other States in this instance; all the States are in a similar position. The imports of all the States Governments are taxed alike; so that, if there is a grievance, it is one shared by all the States. No State, however, beyond New South Wales, has seen fit to make any protest, and even the Government of New South Wales have paid the duty charges up to the present. Quite recently, however, the people of New South Wales awoke one morning to find the newspapers filled with reports of the extraordinary action of the Premier in going down and seizing by force a large quantity of wire-netting, which had been imported by the State Government for distribution amongst the settlers in the rabbit infested districts. I have here a report of the Sydney Morning Herald of what took place, and it shows that great prominence was given to the occurrence. The headings are as follow : -
Then follows a description of what took place; and I gather that the Secretary of the Tender Board and an officer of the Law Department went to Darling Island, accompanied by a number of carters and police, and removed the wire-netting on trollies to the Government Stores. One paragraph of the newspaper report gives the following highly sensational account -
Mr. Baxter, Acting Collector of Customs, wasin charge of the Customs officials, and directed’ their operations. The conflict between the twojurisdictions was comic. A Customs officer laid his hand on a roll of netting. A police officer laid his hand on the shoulder of the Customs officer and ordered him to desist. The companions of the Customs officer urged him to take no notice of the policeman. The wharf labourers enjoyed the humour of- the situation, and raised their hilarity to great heights by calling “ blackleg “ to the Customs officer.
– It is largely in the nature of comedy, but it is comedy with an element of tragedy behind it. If this action is going to breed ill-feeling between the States Governments and the Commonwealth Government, it will cease to be a comedy. Why was this extreme action taken by the State Government? It is claimed by the Government - and it is only fair to say so - that the action was taken because it was considered an injustice was being done to the State ; it was considered that the Federal Government were exceeding their constitutional right in charging a duty on the wirenetting. And because the Premier of New South Wales had satisfied himself that his view in this regard was correct, he resorted to this extreme action.
– Is it not a fact that the New South Wales Government had been paying duty on Government stores for some months before?
– Since the introduction of the first4 Federal Tariff duties have been paid on States imports. The Government of New South Wales is now engaged in a general election. It is fighting for its political life, and no doubt in the heat of a political battle feeling runs high, and sometimes statements are made and actions taken that are susequently regretted. But the ethics of right and wrong are applicable to political contests, just as they are to the every day relationships of our citizens, and any departure from them is to be condemned. It is alleged that the State Government, in making this theatrical display, was largely actuated by political motives.
– That is a proper charge to make.
– I think that the honorable member has some justification for that statement, since the Government did not attempt to take this action until it was in the throes of a general election. Another point. is that it directed its attention to a line of imports which affect a large body of electors, and refrained from taking action with respect to other imports which did not so directly affect the community. In the State political contest which has been waged fiercely in New South Wales for some weeks State issues have disappeared from the forefront, and prominence has been given to ‘Federal questions. The electors have been invited by the State Government to support an action which , they say, was taken to vindicate State rights. I would remind honorable members that State rights could not be vindicated in that way. The action taken by the Government of New South Wales might appeal to the passions and prejudices of a large section of the community, but even if, as the result of the election, the Ministerial party were returned in overwhelming numbers the question as to the right of the Commonwealth to impose duties on States imports would still remain in the position that it previously occupied. There is a legal channel through which a settlement of the question may be obtained, and there was absolutely no occasion for the theatrical display made by the Premier of New South Wales. A fact worthy of notice is that the State Government confined its attention to one line of goods, although at the time there were in the Customs sheds many other State imports which were dealt with in the ordinary way. Mr. Baxter, the Acting Collector of Customs in New South Wales, is reported to have made the following statement-
In this case no proper . entries were passed, and the Premier, as representing the State of New South Wales, sought to have a distinct breach .of the Commonwealth law committed, and he was using the police for the purpose of trying to carry out his evident intention. The carrier who took away those goods stands in the position of having to answer to the Customs authorities for his action. He is licensed by the Customs, and he will have to explain forthwith why his licence should not be suspended or cancelled.
Mr. Baxter went on to say that goods imported for the Railway Commissioners, as well as for the Department of Public Works, were taken from the ship which brought out the consignment of wire-netting and were .dealt with in the usual way. Why did not the Premier of New South Wales seize those imports?
– Because no farmers’ votes were likely to be affected by such a seizure.
– That may be the explanation. A seizure of material required for the Public Works Department, the Railways Commissioners, or the Water and Sewerage Board, would not have appealed to the self-interest of such a large section of. the community as did the seizure of wire netting. This wire netting is not being imported for the purposes of the Government. It is brought out for resale at cost price to settlers all over New South Wales. A large quantity has been so distributed. The Government did not propose to fence in with wire netting the vacant Crown lands of New South Wales, and, as a matter of fact, only a small quantity of wire netting has been used by it to inclose the State experimental farms.
– And some of their land scandals.
– I have no desire to be drawn into a discussion of the New South Wales land scandals. Had there been a principle at stake, the Government would have been on solid ground in seizing other State “imports. If Customs taxation- could be avoided by such a step, if State imports were beyond the scope of Commonwealth taxation, “ the uniformity of Tariff legislation would be destroyed. In such circumstances, the Government of a State where the majority of the people believed in free-trade would simply indent large quantities of general merchandise and re-sell it to the public at cost price. There would be chaos so far as uniformity of Tariff legislation was concerned. No doubt that is one reason why the Commonwealth holds that States imports must be subject to taxation, just as are private imports. Whilst the action of the Government of New South Wales is supported by many people in that State, many others there take up a more reasonable attitude. When the telegraph wires flashed to the different States the news of what had been done, one of the first public men to express an opinion upon it was the honorable member for Parkes. No one can fairly say that the honorable member is hostile to the party led by Mr. Carruthers. It is practically a section of the Federal party which he represents. ‘ In an interview with a representative of the 5 Sydney Morning Herald he characterized the action of the Minister as “ a most unfortunate indiscretion on the part of the State Premier.” Then, again,
Senator Millen, who in State politics was a prominent: member of the same party, and still belongs to it, referred to the action as a “ regrettable incident.” These gentlemen pointed out that .there was open to the State Government a proper constitutional method of determining the question at issue. Mr. David Storey, a member of the Liberal and Reform Party in New South Wales, who has been in State politics for some years, expressed himself very freely with respect to Mr. Carruthers’ action. He is reported to have said -
No doubt the people of this State are very much incensed at the manner in which they have been treated by the Federal authorities. Still, bad as that is, it does not warrant the high-handed action of the State Premier. He should set a better example to every person in the State.
He concluded -
There is no doubt the whole move has the suspicion of being an electioneering one, and, if that is so, it is really unfortunate. Why did the Treasury wait until the eve of an election before making a seizure? Some goods must have come into Port Jackson Harbor during the past three years for the State upon which it had to pay duty. In this case I think it will be found that the State will be considered as a corporation engaged in. trade. If that be not so, then for goodness sake let us have socialism in everything, and understand exactly where we are.
That was the statement of a gentleman who cannot be said to be Hostile to the party led by the Premier of New South Wales. The honorable member for South Sydney, who is a level-headed man, and does not often permit his feelings to run away with his discretion, characterized the whole thing as “ an electioneering dodge,” and Mr. McGowen. the leader of the State Labour Party, practically reiterated that opinion.. I find also that this action on the part of the State Government has been adversely criticised, and justly so, in other States. As soon as information reached Queensland the Premier of that State, in the course of an interview, said -
The action, he thought, was not justified by the circumstances, nor was it likely to le r.pproved of by the country generally.
He went on to say -
The New South Wales Government vas not. really called upon to take heroic measures, for the reason, if no other, that it had already a judgment in its favour, a judgment when the Federal authorities attempted to impose Customs duties in a similar case. More mair that v-ns not necessary. There was a High Court open to them in I lie event of infringement of the Constitution. To resort to force at the present juncture was to invite ridicule.
Then the leader of the Opposition in the Queensland Assembly, Mr. Philp, is reported to have said -
He did not consider the course taken by the Premier of New South Wales was justifiable. lt was not a wise course, nor was it dignified.
Acting Superintendent Mitchell, in whose division the incident took place, was on the wharf early in the afternoon. He stated that the matter was treated in different manners by the different people connected with it. Comedy and drama were strangely mingled, and at times the whole position seemed to the onlooker like a huge farce.
But whilst the situation possesses all the elements of comedy, it also has in it the elements of tragedy. If the present friction is being fomented for purely political purposes, and if at future State elections Federal issues are to be introduced with a view to putting before the electors a false idea of the Federal attitude, the result must be disastrous to a united Australia. If such action does not end in the disintegration . of the union, it will certainly be productive of discord which will be detrimental to sound government. It will leave behind it .a bitter feeling which must operate in the direction of weakening the Federal sentiment, and of reproducing the sad episodes reported from South America, where people who should be one in Sympathy and aspiration are at bitterest enmity with each other. I hope that the Commonwealth Government will deal with the present position in a firm manner. In my judgment the attitude of past Governments in attempting to concili-“ ate the States authorities has resulted in the latter becoming very much’ like spoilt children, who, if they cannot get their way in every respect, consider that they have a legitimate grievance. The attitude taken up by Mr. Carruthers is not only undignified, but it is derogatory to the maintenance of constituted authority, and only serves to heap ridicule upon the State which he represents. At the present time there are those who say that the Premier of New South Wales is more like a monkey on a stick than a reasonable administrator. I repeat that past Commonwealth Administrations are to some extent responsible for this unfortunate position, in that they have treated the States Governments- with such undue consideration .that the Hatter are now disposed to adopt the role of the spoilt child, who “ plays up “ whenever he cannot get exactly what he wants. I am pleased to know that leading public men in New South Wales, whose- opinions will carry some weight in that State, when the heat of political passion has subsided - men like the honorable member for Parkes and the honorable member for Robertson - have so firmly expressed their disapproval of the action of Mr. Carruthers. I earnestly trust that in the years to come we shall not have any more exhibitions of a similar character. Their tendency undoubtedly is to bring, the State into disrepute, and to strike a blow at the Federation. In the course of his very able address the other evening, the honorable member for Parkes quoted from the utterances of Professor McMillan Brown, who is at present delivering a series of lectures in Sydney. He expressed the opinion that it was very desirable to encourage settlement upon our territorial lands, and to discourage the congestion of population in our large cities. He said that the best type of mankind was produced under rural conditions, and that the cities had to draw their vitality from the country. He further^ added that he was in favour of any movement which would have the effect of extending -the facilities for establishing in our midst a rural population. Members of the Labour Party have always advocated that principle. It is one of the primary planks of their platform. We believe that Australia will never become truly great whilst its fertile lands and large mineral deposits remain locked up and unexploited, and whilst its population is concentrated in large cities under unhealthy conditions. We welcome the adherence of the honorable member for Parkes to that doctrine. Probably he does not favour the methods by which we propose to achieve our purpose. But what are methods except means to secure an object? If the honorable member has n. better’ method for securing that object. I do not think that the Labour Party will quarrel with him in regard to it, because, once the object has been secured, we shall have attained the end for which we have been working. But when the honorable gentleman came to deal with means, he departed from many of the principles which have been laid down by the Labour Party as essential to the attainment of this end. In the first place, -he -made -the extraordinary statement that the demand for land in New South Wales is not so -large as it appears to be. -He gave it .as a- reason -why settlement has’ npt taken place more quickly, that the public has been taught to think that it should get land very cheaply, and therefore is not prepared to pay the prices asked by private holders which, he considered, not unreasonable. I do not know how he arrives at these conclusions. As a matter of fact, the legislation of the Stale has not made things too easy for the settler. My opinion is that the high prices charged for Crown land, and the harsh conditions insisted upon in connexion with its purchase, have done much to retard settlement. When a man goes into the wilderness, and proceeds to cut out of the forest a home for . himself, he has to expose himself to considerable hardship, and, notwithstanding his great expense of capital and labour, must wait.. -it least five years for a return. But when settlers have to nurse their land, nol merely for five, but for ten or fifteen years, they feel the conditions to be such that only those who possess considerable capital can afford to comply with them. In many instances, after men have spent all their capital and most of their lives in trying to make homes in the country, they have failed, and their land has reverted to pastoral occupation. But for years the demand for land in New South Wales has been increasing. Unfortunately, that State, like Victoria, is hide-bound, and the opportunities for obtaining land, either from the Crown or from private holders, are so few that settlement is blocked. The honorable member for Parkes says that the ballots which take place do not represent the legitimate demand for land; but in this connexion the following figures should prove interesting: - When fourteen small blocks, not exceeding 600 acres each, were made available at Brookong, near Narrandera, 1,114 applicants balloted for them. At Molong there were sixty applicants for one block of 650 acres; sixty-one applicants for one block of 700. acres, at a place 25 miles from Wellington; 350 applicants for six blocks in the New England district ; at Port Macquarie, fifty-two applicants for nine blocks; at Corowa, 281 applicants for eleven blocks; at Gobbagombalin, 202 applicants for 145 blocks ; at Mvall Creek, twenty-two applicants for three blocks, and at Rocky Creek, 296 applicants for eleven blocks.
– The demand for land exists throughout Australia.
– I believe so ; but it is more noticeable in New South
Wales and in Victoria than in other States, because the opportunities for obtaining land under conditions which allow a fair return for the expenditure of capital and labour are restricted in these States, by reason of the large amount of alienation which has already taken place. Whilst in years gone by there was considerable speculation in country land, that is largely prevented by the existing legislation. Every application for Crown land is considered by a Board, and if found to be illegitimate, the money deposited in connexion with it may be forfeited.’ Then, again, a single applicant has to give place to a married applicant, and an applicant without capital to an applicant who has capital. These, and other conditions, have largely eliminated mere speculation. But the figures which I have read show that there is a great demand for land, and many disappointed applicants for it. All over the State of New South Wales sons of farmers, who are those best qualified to take up land, find it impossible to get it. They travel throughout the State engaging in ballots, and say that it is as reasonable to hope to gain a fortune in Tattersalls sweeps, as to hope to secure a holding by success in balloting. - The other day, in my electorate, in a district in which’ something like £6,000 was paid to land agents to improperly secure improvement leases, a block of 700 acres of what was considered poor land was made available for settlement, and there were twenty-nine applications for it. A large number of applicants went to the ballot; but an appeal was made against the Board’s ratification to the successful applicant, on the ground that he had not driven in a peg at one corner by a certain time. Ultimately, the question went to the higher Courts, with the result that the appellant was put in possession. I refer to the case to show that, so great is the desire for land, that men will spend money in trying to secure it bv taking advantage of the technicalities of the law. In New South Wales, land monoply has reached very large proportions, and leading economic thinkers say. that the monopoly of land, to a large extent, determines the monopoly of wealth. If land is held in the hands of a few, the wealth of the country must, as a natural corollary, be in the hands of a few. I find that New South Wales has alienated 48,081, ,-(14 acres of her best country lands. Of this area, 11,256,871 acres are held by 69,438 families, the backbone of the country, and the great producers of its wealth; 13,994,182 acres are comprised in 5,500 holdings not exceeding 10,000 acres each ; and 22,831,261 acres are in the possession of 722 holders; so that nearly half of the alienated area is in the hands of fewer than 1,000 persons. On the other hand, over 500,000 persons who have the right to vote in State and Commonwealth elections, do not possess land. In regard to the possession of wealth, I find, from the latest statistics given by Mr. Hall, that the number of persons possessing less than £200 each is 61,286, their accumulations representing ,£5,474,600. The number of those who possess between £200 and £5,000 is 123,695, and their accumulations amount to £110,603,000, while the number of those possessing over £5,000 is 10,853, and their accumulations represent £259,674,000. According to Mr. Hall, probably half of the accumulated wealth of New South Wales is held by fewer than 3,000 persons, while over 550,000 adults have no interest in the accumulated wealth of the State, which he estimates at £375,752,000, and other competent authorities at £400,000,000. We hear of the great wealth of Australia, and statistics are quoted to show the value of our productions, and of our accumulations per head of population ; but the real prosperity of a community is to be determined by the distribution of its wealth. Notwithstanding the mineral, agricultural, and pastoral resources and potentialities of New South Wales, there are sweated workers in her large cities whose conditions are paralleled only in the larger cities in the old world. In Sydney, at the present time, there are about 1,000 young women and girls employed in shops and factories- for wages of 5s. a week, and less. Some of them are receiving no wages at all, but are living in hopes that when they perfect themselves in their particular industry they may be placed on the wages list. In the Arbitration Court of New South Wales there has been a revelation as to the miserable wages paid to men engaged -in the large retail shops in Sydney. Those men pass hundreds of pounds through their hands every week, and earn much profit for their employers ; and yet they receive the miserable pittance of 30s. or £2 per week, and, if it be the latter sum, they regard themselves as on the top rung. Such are the conditions which obtain in Sydney, and which we, who represent the labour movement, desire to see improved. We wish to see sweating eliminated, and decent wages paid. We feel that so long as land monopoly exists, and so long as the best of our alienated lands is in the hands of so few people, who utilize it for the primitive purposes of running stock, and do not use it to its full capacity, there will be concentration of wealth in the hands of the few, with the result that large numbers of people must live under wretched conditions, approximating to those of the congested centres of the old world. I trust that, as the outcome of humane and just legislation, we shall be able to make this country one in which decent white men can live with advantage and comfort. We trust that Australia will not be a sweaters’ country - that we shall not have large numbers of men and women living under sweated conditions, by which they are not only demoralized, but become a menace to -our civilization. I hope we shall endeavour,. by fair and equitable legislation, to improve the conditions of the workers whenever opportunity offers. We have only a limited population in this great country at the present time. There is but a fringe of people along the coast-line ; and there are many miles of territory that is practically very seldom trod by the feet of man, and is in a condition of primitive occupation. We cannot hold this continent under such conditions for anygreat length of time. Indeed, the surprise is. that we have been able to hold it so long. We can only hold this land on the condition that we fill it with population. If we desire to make Australia a part and parcel of the Empire to which we belong, we must encourage the immigration of people of our own kith and kin. Where is the sense of talking about immigration when we cannot retain our own people - when we cannot provide reasonably and legitimately for the needs of those already, here - when young men and women of our agricultural districts are forced beyond our borders ? If these, people simply removed to other parts ‘of Australia, there would be no loss to the Commonwealth. But people are in large numbers moving from the central districts of New South Wales to New Zealand, and also to Canada and South Africa. This indicates an unhealthy state of affairs : and to talk about the encouragement of immigration while that state of affairs continues is to delude immigrants and talk bunkum. We must make the conditions such as will invite immigrants. I know there are those who consider that the only immigrants who should be encouraged are those of the manual labouring class, so that when labour is wanted in the factory, in the mine, or on the station, it shall be easy to procure it at a cheap rate. But if such labour cannot be employed for the whole of the year, then a certain burden must fall on the States, and hence it is that we have soup kitchens, labour bureaux, and other forms of Government assistance in slack time. It is to this reservoir of labour th’at employers resort in busy times. Such are not conditions to attract the best classes of labour from the old world to Australia. Such are not the conditions which will keep in our midst men and women who have sufficient enterprise and energy to make the best of life, and if we cannot keep our own people there is no use in introducing the wrecks and cast-offs from -other places. Such a policy, so far from being an advantage, would create new social troubles. The sooner we face this matter as a community, and regard it from a practical stand-point, the better it will be for us. The sooner those who are engaged in Droduction on a large scale recognise that they owe something to the State, and that their possessions, whether they be in land or otherwise, largely rest on the progress of the community as a whole, and the sooner an endeavour is made to create a population existing on sound industrial lines, the better it will be for all. Therefore, I trust that, as the outcome of the serious consideration which is being directed to social problems in this twentieth century, owing largely to the presence of the Labour Party in politics, we shall discover a solution of the evils I have attempted to describe. Very serious problems face modern civilization, and those problems must be solved. The main problem is presented to us in the slums and in the sweated lives of the masses of men and women, and in the fact that 1,000 people, for example, own half of the best land in New South Wales, while that land is not being put to profitable use. The problem is also represented by the fact that, although New South Wales is a wonderful producer of wealth - one of the largest in the British Dominions - the whole of that wealth is in the hands of less than 200,000 people, no less than 550,000 people having no’ lot or part in it. Unhealthy conditions obtain in our cities, and these necessitate soupkitchens and other relief movements, thus leading to a loss of moral stamina and creating a menace to racial progress. If these evil conditions are not improved we cannot expect to hold our own in competition with other races. These barriers toprogress which we are transplanting from, the old world are a menace to our civilization, and a disgrace to our Christianity! Such are the problems that face us at thevery door of the twentieth century, and our future safety and progress lie in their solution.
– - I listened to the Acting .PrimeMinister’s Budget speech with very great attention, and I recognise the difficulties hemust have had, not only in preparing that speech, but in deciding, during his absence in England, while engaged on the work of the Commonwealth, on what Tariff to submit to the House. In common with other honorable members, I regret the absence of the Prime Minister, and I am sure that we all hope that he will verv shortly return, restored to health, and able to take his proper place as the leader of the Government. The Acting Prime Minister, in hisspeech, referred tq the great prosperity which Australia has experienced since the inauguration of Federation. While I am willing to give the Commonwealth Parliament and Government every credit that isdue, I do not think that they are entitled to the credit for our prosperity. There is no doubt that since 1902 our progress has been largely due to the fertility of our soil, our abundant sunshine, bounteous rains, the industry of the people, and more scientific methods of cultivation. The honorable member for Calare, on the other hand,- referred to the great poverty which he says is to be found in Australia, and to the consequent establishment of soup kitchens and other relief movements. I do not think the honorable member should have made remarks of that kind, because they are not called for in this country. My opinion is that the bulk of whatever poverty there may be is due to the fact that .there are people who look for work and do not want it when it has been found for them.
– The honorable member has had only a limited experience.
– I have had as much experience as the honorable member, and, possibly, have worked as hard, if not: harder, than he has.
– I beg to differ from the honorable member.
Mi-. HANS IRVINE. - The people whoreally know me are not likely to differ from “trie on that point. In my opinion there is very little poverty in Australia, and, as a matter of fact, it is a difficult matter to. get labour in the back country to-day, either for farming or mining. I cannot understand why the honorable member for Calare should insist that there is extraordinary poverty in a country like Australia, where we have such abundant harvests and such great prosperity. Had the honorable member said that there was great prosperity, but no progress, I should have agreed with him- As a matter of fact, our population has increased by less than half a million since Federation ; that increase is only what we might have expected naturally and without immigration. The fact does not say much for Federation or for our progress; it means that, as a people, we have stagnated. We shall continue to stagnate until we regislate with a view to attracting population, and settling our lands. Australia can never become a great- self-contained country until we have population, and the present Government and its predecessors in office should have legislated to attract it. We have been told that the total revenue received last year by the Commonwealth was £12,832,266, and that our expenditure during the same period amounted to £4,987,301. That appears to be a fairly large outlay, having regard to the revenue actually available for Commonwealth purposes. This year, under the new Tariff, it is anticipated that we shall have a revenue from all sources of about £13,745,200, or an increase of £912,934, which will come chiefly from the primary producer and the consumer. Every man, woman and child in the Commonwealth will have to bear increased taxation to the extent of 5s. per head, and practically the whole of that increased revenue is to be expended on various works. . Our expenditure this year will amount, it is estimated, to £5,967,992, as compared with an expenditure of £4,987,301 during the preceding . twelve months, and will represent about £1,500,000 per 1,000,000 of the population. That is a large expenditure for a limited number of people to be called upon to bear, and it must be admitted that the worker will have to carry the greater part of the taxation necessary to provide for it. On turning to the Estimates we find that there is an increase in respect of the cost of administering nearly every Department. I recognise that it is right and proper that the cost of our services should increase when we are getting value for our money, and are engaged in carrying out reproductive works; but, unfortunately’, the Federation has not yet engaged in any undertaking which is likely to increase our revenue, and so lead to a reduction in the burden of taxation. The Government should make a definite announcement of their policy, and let us know what they propose to do, with a view of encouraging people to settle on the land. We have heard for some time many representations as to the necessity for land settlement, and I have no hesitation in saying that we have in all the States millions of acres pf land available for settlement without resorting to any general taxation proposals such as have been suggested during this debate. There is plenty of land available in Queensland, Western Australia, New South Wales, and South Australia. Even in Victoria, which we are told sometimes could be covered by a pocket handkerchief, there is plenty, of land available for industrious men, and facilities are offered to them to get on to it.
– There is a good deal of land available, even in Tasmania.
– That is so. Unfortunately, we do not know what steps the Government contemplate with a view to reduce the incidence of taxation, and to further develop our industries. The passing of the Bounties Bill will mean that this Parliament will be committed practically to a further expenditure of something. like £500,000, with a view to fostering new industries in the Commonwealth.
– This House, not the Parliament.
– Quite so. I agree with the proposal made in another place, that we should establish, first of all, a Federal Bureau of Agriculture on lines similar to those on which the Bureau of Agriculture in the United States of America is conducted. Such an institution would enable the people to obtain analyses of the soils and other authoritative information with regard to cultivation and production. It would furnish information as to the crops best suited to the soils of various districts, and its experts would instruct and teach the people what to grow, and how to earner what they produced,, and prepare it for the manufacturer. These are changes which, so to speak, should go hand in hand with the bounties proposals. I recognise that there are some difficulties in the way, but they are not numerous, and I think that a Federal Bureau could be carried on in conjunction with the States Departments of Agriculture-‘ The matter certainly requires some consideration, and I think that we should have from the Government some definite announcement on the subject. When the right honorable member for Swan was Treasurer he submitted to the Conference of Premiers at Brisbane a scheme in substitution for the Braddon section.
– And a very good scheme too.
– I recognise that its adoption might interfere with the capacity of this Parliament to provide for great national works yet to be carried out. I realize to the full as I never did as a member of the Legislative Council of Victoria, that the Federation at all times must be paramount. The States must occupy a more or less subordinate position, and the Federal Parliament must enter upon its work in a truly Federal spirit. The sooner we recognise that the better. At the same time, we have to remember that the States in agreeing to federate did not intend to create a master to rule over them, and do little but place fresh’ burdens on the people. We have to remember that the electors of the Commonwealth Parliament are identical with the electors of the States Legislatures, and that whilst the Government are the managers honorable members generally are the directors of the great Commonwealth institution. As directors it is our dutv to instruct the managers, and if they do not attend to the necessities of the country in the way which we, as representatives of the people, expect them to do, we have our remedy. Although the Acting Prime Minister said he could not agree with the financial scheme submitted to the Premiers of the States by the right honorable member for Swan, he did not indicate an alternative scheme.
– He hopes to do so.
– The country expects’ him to do so. It is only right that the States Treasurers should know what they are to expect from the Commonwealth. The Acting Prime Minister said that the right honorable member for Swan’s scheme was impracticable. If he holds that view, he should tell us what, in his opinion, is a practicable scheme; he ought certainly to submit an alternative proposal. I do not propose to discuss this question at length, since it has already been dealt with during this debate by other honorable members ; but I desire to say that some at least of the proposals made by the right honorable member for Swan were fair and reasonable. If we are to carry on the duties of Federation, and take over more services from the States, then our expenditure must increase. The tendency of the Government seems to be to take over new services before we are really prepared to administer them. In making this statement, I have in mind more particularly the action of the Ministry in regard to the question of quarantine. There are some matters which might be allowed to remain for a time in abeyance, but there are others that are urgent and necessary. I think it is highly desirable that the Commonwealth Government should say definitely what are their proposals in regard to the transfer of the debts of the States. During the operation of the Braddon section we have to return to the States three-fourths of the Customs and Excise revenue, and if at the end of 1910 we take over the debts of the States, nearly the whole of the revenue will be absorbed.
– If we take over the whole of the debts, nearly the whole of the Customs and Excise revenue will be required for the payment of interest.
– Quite so. . Possibly the States may agree to our taking that step, but I do not think that they will. They need revenue to develop their territories, and it is only right that they should learn, without further delay, how the Government propose to proceed” in this matter. It is also expected bv the people that the Government will proceed without delay with the Bill to. provide for the appointment of a High Commissioner, and to establish in London large, commodious, and centrally situated offices. Speaking as a commercial man, I may say at once that I regard the establishment of a Commonwealth office in London as being most essential. It would be a reproductive work. Within the last year or two I have had- an opportunity to see the excellent work done by the Dominion of. Canada in making known its resources to the people of the- old world. I have been told that Canada-, spends annually some hundreds of thousands of pounds in advertising. ThePrime Minister and the Treasurer, when in London, doubtless saw their commodious^ offices there. Consignments of produce arrive almost every month from Canada, and are displayed in the Canadian offices. Maps showing lands available for settlement and pamphlets setting forth the facilities for settlement provided by the Dominion Government are also obtainable there, whilst there is on view a model of a steamship showing the class of berths with which immigrants to Canada are provided. Every facility for obtaining ‘ inforor- .mation with regard to Canada is offered the people of England, and, as the result of advertisements and lectures in Europe, the Canadian Government have practically doubled their population. Meanwhile, we have been stagnating. The Commonwealth Parliament has had five clear years in which to make an effort to secure an influx of population, but practically nothing has been done. I was glad to hear the Acting Prime Minister the other day refer to this question. He said he was in treaty with the London County Council for a ninetynine years’ lease of a block of land in a central position in London. I know the site well, and would thoroughly approve of its selection. I should be delighted to hear. the Acting Prime Minister announce that the Government had secured a lease of the land, and had decided to erect suitable offices upon it. That is an undertaking which the people of Australia expect the Government to ‘carry out. After the appointment of a High Commissioner and the establishment of suitable Commonwealth offices in London, the Agents-General of the several States will no longer be necessary. The Commonwealth High Commissioner could have the assistance of experts from the Agricultural Department and the Lands Department of each State, and could make arrangements to give the people of the old land some idea of our mineral, dairying, agricultural, and pastoral resources. Displays could be made of everything that we produce. The Commonwealth offices could, in fact, tx made a miniature exhibition.
– Does the honorable member approve of the site offered to us?
– I think it is one of the best in London, and, as I said when the Bounties Bill was under consideration, I wish I were in the position to take it myself, with the object of pushing on the industry with which I am connected. I do not think a better site could be secured. Any one who speaks of the necessity of choosing a site in the heart of the city of London does not understand the conditions of the commercial world. After 7 o’clock at night one might discharge a cannon in any of the streets in the heart of London without fear of hitting any one. As a matter of fact, I do not think that one could get a meal there after 8 o’clock at night. We do not want to establish Commonwealth offices in a locality where there are no people. We ought to erect them upon a site near to the theatres - a site which people- will have to pass in Hooking to their amusements. The site suggested by the Acting Prime Minister is an admirable one from that stand-point. If we established our offices there, by means of electric lights and display windows they could be utilized to illustrate to the sightseeing populace of London the resources of Australia. Between 7 p.m. and 11 p.m. tens of thousands of persons pass that particular site. The effect of advertising our resources in the windows of these offices would be te draw attention to the wealth of Australia in a much more striking manner than the Agents-General can direct attention to it. At the present time, one State has an office at Westminster, another in the city, and a third in some other locality. I maintain that a combined display is what we require, if we wish to direct attention to our resources and to attract population. I blame past Administrations for not having stated definitely what they proposed to do in regard to the appointment of a High Commissioner and to the establishment of Commonwealth offices in London.
– We propose to obtain the site suggested.
– If that be done, I presume that the erection of “the necessary buildings will occupy two or three years. In the meantime, I suggest that we Ought to lease temporary offices in a central position. An arrangement might then be made with the States Governments for the Agents-General - if the States intend to continue their separate representatives in London - to move into the new buildings when they were completed. Some of the Agents-General of the States are doing excellent work1. In this connexion, I may specially mention the Agents- General of Victoria, New South Wales, and Western Australia. But they, are all working apart from one another. As a matter of fact, there is some jealousy existing between the representatives of the different States in the world’s metropolis. That jealousy ought not to exist. We desire to establish Commonwealth offices in London- offices in which all the Slates will be able to display their products to the advancement of Australian industry. Whilst I thoroughly approve of any proposal in that direction, I should be better pleased if I were informed that the Acting Prime Minister intended to take action. I do not believe in delay, because I hold that it is harmful to Australia. We want more people in the Commonwealth to share our prosperity and our taxation. The conversion of the States debts can better be brought about by the appointment of a High Commissioner. It has been said that in converting the various State loans we shall require to proceed very slowly. Personally, I do not think we ought to experience much difficulty in that connexion. If we could effect a saving of only £ per cent, upon our States debts it would be equivalent to ^600,000 per annum, whilst the saving of £ per cent, would represent no less than- -£1,200,000 annually. Surely some effort should have been made .in this direction ere now. Had a saving of only i per cent. been effected upon- our indebtedness during the past five years, it would have represented no less a sum than £3,000,000 saved to the people. Under such circumstances surely the conversion of these debts was worth accomplishing, even if we had had to pay a special financial expert to visit the old country, and ‘ endeavour to bring our debenture-holders together. If we had only provided for the transfer of the debts and for converting them when it suited us to do so, we should at.- least have accomplished” something. ‘ I ‘have no desire to say any more upon this phase of the question, but when the Acting Prime Minister again addresses the Committee I trust that he will give honorable members definite information- in regard to the appointment of a High Commissioner and to the transfer and conversion of the States debts. I hope that he will also inform us as to what he intends to propose in substitution for the Braddon section of the Constitution: Of course it is essential that the States shall know their financial position, otherwise the present feeling of disaffection towards the Commonwealth will increase. ‘ It is our duty to work harmoniously with the States, and to give.them no cause for believing that the Commonwealth Government wishes to take advantage of them. I now wish to say a few words in regard to the Tariff proposals of the Government. As a protectionist I have seen the benefits accruing from a protective policy, and I have also witnessed the evil effects of free-trade. But if I cannot get all I want, I intend, upon the principle that half a loaf is better than no bread, to take what I can get. There is no doubt that throughout the Commonwealth the people at the last election pronounced themselves in f avour of protection. But they did not declare themselves in favour of a prohibitive Tariff, and I do not intend to support one. During my recent campaign I did not address a single meeting at which I did not say that I would support an effective measure of protection, but would oppose prohibitive protection. That is the attitude that I intend to adopt towards the Tariff.
– Does the honorable member consider that a duty of 30 per cent, upon wire netting is a prohibitive duty ?
– Certainly. We must not unduly tax the primary’ producer or consumer. On the contrary, we must give every person an inducement to better his position in life. It is the desire of every man to improve his position, not merely for his own sake, but for that of his family. I have seen the evil effects of prohibitive protection in America and on the Continent. Our population being small, I can only characterize the prohibitive duties proposed by the Government as absurd. The highest duties that I intend to support are those which have . been recommended by the protectionist, section, of the Tariff Commission, and even some of these I think ought to be reduced. I trust that the ‘Government will endeavour, to remove the uneasy feeling which exists throughout. Australia that they are attempting .to take advantage of their opportunity to add to the burdens of the people..’ I am satisfied that that was not their intention, in framing this Tariff. Thev desired to merely assist the establishment of further industries. But I would point out’ that they are proposing to still further protect industries which are already iii a flourishing condition. Our woollen mills are. actually .refusing orders, and vet the Government propose to assist them by the imposition of duties upon their products ranging from 40 to 45 per cent. I trust that the Ministry will withdraw any. proposal to impose higher duties than those which have been recommended By the pro- tectionist section of the Tariff Commission. As I have already stated, in some cases even those duties are too high. If the Ministry will act in the way that I suggest they will gain, not only my hearty support, but that of many other honorable members who view this question through the same glasses. I know that they desire to make Australia a self-contained community. But we cannot accomplish that if we erect prohibitive barriers around our shores before we have a sufficient population to bear the burdens imposed upon them. If we desire prohibitive protection, we must proceed slowly, as Germany and America did. Their protective Tariffs are prohibitive, but those countries are self-contained, the former having a population of 60,000,000, and the latter of 80,000,000. Those countries did not erect their high protective walls immediately. They started with a small wall, and gradually increased its height.
– Upon that principle, we ought to increase the duties levied under the old Tariff.
– Those duties were sufficiently increased when we federated. Our population, on the other hand, cannot be said to have increased. The Attorney-General will be at liberty to talk as much as he pleases when I have concluded my remarks. If I am not talking common sense, I am quite open to correction. I repeat that I have seen the evil effects of free-trade in Great Britain, and I consider that the adoption of that policy ‘ would prove a curse to the Commonwealth. We must secure effective protection, but we must not adopt a prohibitive Tariff. That is why I am opposed to the Government proposals.
– So long as we get effective protection, that is all that we desire.
– But there is a difference between effective protection and prohibitive protection. I hope that the Government will recollect that a limited population, such as we have in Australia, cannot continue to bear the burdens which this Tariff imposes upon it. Let us use our best endeavours to direct the attention of the old country to our resources. Let us stimulate industry, but do not let us do so by means of prohibitive duties, which can only result in the creation of trusts. In passing, I may mention that when I was in . California two years ago I visited some of the large tinning factories there. ‘ During one of these visits, I inquired, “ How is it that such exorbitant prices are charged by the stores for all those tinned goods?” The reply which I received was, “ We make the prices. We have a combine, the membersof which meet together with a view of ascertaining how many tins of fruit each will be putting up during the year. This year we find that the ‘ output will be about 50,000,000 tins, and as our home consumption amounts to 35,000,000 tins, we shall1 have 15,000,000 tins to burn - that is, todump in free foreign ports.” Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 7.45 -p.m.
– I saw canned fruit which, in California, was retailed at half-a-dollar, sold in London for 10d. These facts show that a country does not benefit by prohibitive protection; that the result of prohibition is to build up combines, monopolies and trusts, which exploit the people who are taxed for their benefit. In America there is also a strong iron and steel combine, which manufactures largely in excess of American requirements, selling the surplus chiefly to Great Britain for less than is charged to American manufacturers. Some persons say that that is the salvation of England, but, in my opinion,, it is detrimental to the interests of many English workers, who, for lack of effective protection, find it difficult to obtain employment. I am in favour of effective protection, but opposed to. prohibition.
– The Government desires only to make the Tariff effectively protective.
– The ideas of Ministers differ from mine as to what is effective protection. Duties of 100, 200 and 300 per cent, on manufactured articles, and of 10, 15, and 20 per cent, on raw materials, are higher than merely effective protective duties would be. If Ministers had adopted the recommendations of the protectionist section of the Tariff Commission, I could have fallen into line with them, but I am opposed to the Tariff as it stands. ‘ When in London, I, saw soldi wholesale, at 2d. a lb., singed Canadian bacon, which costs; more ,than ordinary cured bacon, and is worth 5d. a lb. wholesale where it is manufactured. If Great Britain had a duty or* bacon, her consumers might have to pay more for it, but more work would be given- to her people. We ought to try to encourage industries here, but we should do what we can to prevent .the building up of monopolies and combines.
– Would it not be well to devote our attention first to the building up of industries, dealing with monopolies later on?
– It must be remembered that we have a population of only 4,000,000 people, and must rely on other countries for the consumption of the bulk of our production. When our population has doubled or trebled, we may perhaps raise our barriers, which, in the first place, should not be higher than is reasonable, and when we become a nation of 30,000,000 or 40,000,000 we may, if we like, adopt the policy of prohibition, as America and Germany have done.
– Is it not in the early stages that protection is so necessary?
– As a nation we are only in swaddling-clothes, although we are apering the manners of nations whose population is numbered in tens of millions, while ours is numbered in millions. We must protect our industries, but we ought not to unduly increase the cost of living to our consumers, or handicap our primary producers. If we have prohibition, trusts and combines will spring up. In America the supply of almost everything except fresh air is controlled by trusts and combines, and in New York, because of the huge sky-scrapers that tower twenty and thirty stories high, even fresh air is difficult to obtain.
-: - Are there not combines in England?
– There are combines almost everywhere. We wish to” keep them out of Australia. If we adopt prohibition, legislation will be useless to prevent the growth of combines. The honorable member for Hindmarsh has stated that the Excise legislation passed last Parliament to regulate the price of harvesters has been ineffective. What we must do is to prevent the birth of combines. The Tariff Commission spent 2j years in travelling from one capital to another, examining witnesses to obtain all the information available in regard to the operation of the last- Tariff, and the needs of our manufacturing industries. The Government might have been expected to fix the rates of duty in accordance with the recommendations of that body, which were based on solid reasons. Unfortunately they have not done so. When I heard the Acting Prime Minister say that it was intended to give Great Britain a preference, I thought the proposal a wise one, because, we owe so much to the old country. With out the protection of her flag, under which we are proud to live, the Japanese, the Germans, or some other people might take possession of our territory, which we find it so difficult to settle. I find, however, that in regard to the bulk of the goods which we import wholly from Great Britain, no preference is given, and that the difference of 2j and s per cent, between the British and foreign rates in many cases is merely a nominal preference.
– Does the honorable member suggest that the preferences should be increased ?
– Yes; in some cases. The Government should have taken as a basis the recommendations of the protectionist section of the Tariff Commission, and allowed Great Britain preferences of 5 and 10 per cent.
– That would have shattered many of our industries, because it would have made the rates of duty lower than they were under the last Tariff.
– Great Britain should receive a reasonable preference in recognition of the fact that it is to her protection that we owe our liberty and freedom. We might well give a preference also to Canada, South Africa, and New Zealand. I should like to see the principle of Imperial preference adopted, and based on broad lines, without any huckstering for reciprocal benefits. We shall get reciprocity sooner or later, because the world wants our goods; but if we erect prohibitory barriers against importation, we may find barriers erected to keep our exports out of other countries.
– We cannot give preferences unless we have protective duties.
– Undoubtedly ; but it is ridiculous to talk of duties of 45 per cent, against the foreigner, and 40 per cent, against British goods, when the particular goods are supplied by Great Britain, as giving a preference to British manufacturers. Such duties give no advantage to British manufacturers, and unduly tax our consumers and primary producers, who are the backbone of the country. I should like Ministers to know that the country is opposed to the imposition of excessive duties. I have always been a protectionist, and think, as many others, including Mr. Chamberlain, do, that if England does not soon adopt protection, she will decay, instead of remaining progressive and prosperous. But even under the late Tariff, although we were prosperous, we did not progress. As I pointed out earlier in the evening; the population, since the inauguration of Federation has increased by 400,000 odd, but that is only a natural increase, and not an increase by immigration. Surely some progressive policy will be announced by the Government in order to remedy, the present stagnation. We all desire prosperity, but with prosperity there ought to be progress. The more people we have to divide the burden of taxation and share our prosperity, the better for the country.
– If we had more people, where should we put them”?
– I think that a few years ago the honorable member was a working man himself ; and if other working men adopted the same industrious methods as he has done, they would become land-owners also. There is any amount of land available for industrious men; and in any of the capital cities of Australia may be found persons willing to finance men who wish to become freeholders. I have had ari experience of farming on a fairly Urge scale, and also of other industries, so that I am not speaking without knowledge.’ I had fully expected that the Government would! earlier have ‘ announced that if, in the opinion of honorable members, the Tariff placed before us was too high, they would be willing to adopt more reasonable duties, approaching the recommendations of the Tariff Commission. Had such an announcement been made, this debate would not have been so prolonged ; but I recognise that the discussion has done good, because it has given us time to consider the Tariff, to ascertain the anomalies, and to realize that the proposed increases of duty are too high. If, when we get to work on the details, we can arrive at what is fair effective protection, I have no doubt that many of the items may be passed in globo. I desire to say, however, that I shall, oppose the prohibitive protective proposals of the Government. I do not desire to discuss the items now, but Imust say that we ought not to ruin the mining industry in Western Australia, for instance, by imposing too high duties on rnining machinery.
– Cannot mining machinery be made here ?
– I have heard it said that we can make any kind of machinery in Australia, but, in my opinion, that is not so, though substitutes may be made here’, in which there is not so much wear as in the imported article.
– We can make mining machinery in Australia just as well as it can be made anywhere in the world.
– It is the honorable member’s lack of experience that leads him to express that opinion.
– I am expressing the opinion of experienced men.
– I have had experience of various classes of machinery ; and I have always endeavoured to obtain the local article in preference to the imported article, or the British article in preference to the foreign article. That has been my rule of trade always; and if I could get machinery made in Australia which would do its work effectively, I would take it, even if it cost 20 per cent. more. The honorable member may know all about his own business, but I am afraid that he does not know much about mining machinery, electrical machinery, or portable engines. There are numerous classes of machinery the manufacture of which is not even attempted in Australia. If I were to discuss the Tariff now, I .could point out many anomalies, as I hope to do when we reach the details. My wish is to bring about reasonable reductions in the proposed duties, so that they may not be oppressive to the worker.
– The worker will get on all righ’t 1
– But the worker has to be looked after, and not legislated out of existence, as he will be in danger of being if we pass the Tariff as proposed.
– Chapman. - The worker ought to have a good time, seeing that everybody desires to look after him !
– The worker is having a good time just now, or, if he is not, it is because of his own lack of industry. There is no country so free or fertile, or one which offers so many opportunities to the working man as does Australia. I have seen most of the world, and I know no country where land is available on easier terms, if a man really desires to make a’ home for himself.
– The honorable member has had a peculiar experience !
– I have had a large ‘and varied experience - possibly a larger experience than that of the honorable member. I speak as an Australian native, who was born in Melbourne, but who has a knowledge of the Australian States. As to the friction which there may be between the States and the Commonwealth, the Government should, as far as possible, endeavour to allay the feeling of discontent which is now observable in the large centres of the Commonwealth. The people . desire to know their position, and the Treasurers of the various States also desire to know what the policy of the Commonwealth Government is in regard to the Braddon section, the conversion of the debts, and so forth. We should no longer pursue.an indefinite policy of increased taxation and procrastination. We should not pursue a policy of spend all and save nothing, but a policy which will tend to make the country more progressive. We are prosperous enoueh, thanks to our own industry and our magnificent climate and soil ; but we can never become a nation unlesswe increase our population. In my opinion the Govern ment make ‘a mistake in attempting to erect a high fiscal barrier before we are a self-contained people. What I desire is a reasonable and effective protectionist policy, . and I hope the Government proposals will be such that I hall be able to support them. I hope the Government will recognise the feeling there is throughout “the country in regard to the Tariff, and that thev will acknowledge the work being doneby the primary producer. I speak to-night for the purpose of explaining my position, so that the Government may not rely on my vote unless they are prepared to amend their proposals. I am in sympathy with the object of the Government, as every protectionist mustbe. I speak as a producer and a manufacturer , and as such’ I desire efficient protection. But prohibitive protection is bad for the producer as well as for the consumer. If we have excessive protection, it will mean what it meant in the boot trade in Victoria in years gone by. At that time many of the boot workers were practically starving, through excessive competition, and though
We have wages boards now to protect the workers, if there is over production we cannot export our boots to England. The same remark applies to almost every industry. I recognise that many manufacturers desire extra protection, so that the may make more profit, and further exploit the consumer. At the same time, the Government, possibly wisely, have thought that if the protection be increased, it will enable otEer manufacturers to be established, aind so promote sufficient competition to do away with present monopolies. In the course of this debate I heard an honorable) member refer to the bottle business, about which I happen to know a little. In view of the evidence I have received from wine and spirit merchants and others in New South Wales and Victoria,I do not think that that honorable member made out a case. In my opinion the old duty was sufficiently, high, and, Indeed, the same may be said of dozens of other items in the Tariff. My idea was that the Tariff Commission was appointed to remove anomalies, anil not to increase taxation ; but the Government have deemed it expedient to propose largely increased duties, and against those duties I shall have to vote. I hope, however, that Ministers will afford me an opportunity to support them, because, as I said before, my sympathies are with them, although not with any proposals for prohibitive protection.
– The honorable member’s sympathies are not with the Government if he thinks that the old Tariff is better than the proposed Tariff.
– No doubt there were anomalies in the old Tariff, and those anomalies I shall assist in removing, though I cannot support the present excessive protectionist proposals.
– I thought the honorable member was a protectionist !
– I was always as good a protectionist as the Acting Prime Minister. I do not think it necessary to say. more at the present stage. I have given the Government an opportunity to avail themselves of my support, and I hope they will take advantage of my offer. I feel sure that many honorable members in this corner desire to support the Government in their desire for protection; and I hope and believe that. I have so explained myself to-night’ as to make my position clear.
– I have listened with some interest to the speech of the honorable member for Grampians, and while I agree with him that there is prosperity throughout Australia to-day, I certainly disagree with his statement that there is verylittle poverty to be found. If the honorable member desires to see poverty he has only to go round his own city; and his expressions of opinion to-night only prove the truth of the statement that one naif of the world does not know how. the other half lives. In Adelaide the poverty cannot be seen in an ordinary walk round the city, but it is there all the same ; and I am sorry to say that we shall always have poverty with us so long as the present sweating conditions obtain in some of our industries. I do not desire to speak further on that phase of the question at the present time. I was rather amused to hear the honorable member for Grampians say that the Government had his sympathy in regard to protection. I am very much afraid that though the Government has his sympathy, the Opposition will receive his% vote. The honorable member is the most curious mixture of a protectionist I have ever come across; and what his protective policy is I cannot make out. He has talked for a whole hour, during which he has told us that he desires to have effective protection - which will not be too high, and which will show consideration ‘to the consumer, the manufacturer, and every. body else.
– Including the worker.
– Yes, and to the worker ; & these people will have the honorable member’s sympathy, but, as I say, the Opposition will have his vote. The honorable member also said that he does not wish for protection on bottles.
– I did not say so; the honorable member misunderstands me.
– I understood the honorable member to say that the late Tariff imposed quite sufficient protection on bottles.
– I was referring to the speech of the honorable member for Batman.
– At any rate, the honorable member said that the old Tariff gave quite sufficient protection on bottles. Personally, I do not know much about bottles, though I once had the pleasure of making one. Whether that bottle turned out to be a good one or a bad one, I do not know ; but I have since endeavoured to collect some information in regard to the manufacture, with the result that in my opinion bottle makers are not afforded sufficient protection. I am going to help the Government to make the Tariff an effective one, and to make it effective we must have fairly high protection for everything that we can produce in Australia. I do not consider that we” are the helpless people that the honorable . member for
Grampians would have us believe. I an* glad to learn that the farmers of Victoria, like the farmers of South Australia, use more local than imported machinery, and1 that they probably do so because they find the Australian production) more durable. I am satisfied that the position ‘ will be the same in regard to machinery generally. When the leader of the Opposition spoke last weekhe expressed his grave concern that a Ministry with only ten supporters in a Parliament of in members should occupy the Treasury benches. He said that the centre of gravity was not in the right place, because the Labour Party .really exercised the power to legislate, although without responsibility. The Labour Party have no desire to shirk their responsibility.. They are ready to take up the administration’ of the affairs of the Commonwealth as soon as they find in . this House a majority’ prepared to support them. . We ought, rightly, to have a supporter in the honorable member for Paramatta. He told’ the Committe the other night that the Labour Party was far more effective in its present position than it was when it occupied the Treasury benches.
– The honorable member knows that is- so.
– Then the honorable member, if he wishes to do his duty to the Commonwealth, should see that the leader of the Labour Party is placed on. the Treasury benches at the first opportunity. -
– We cannot shift1 this Ministry ; they are like limpets on a rock.
– We .cannot . hope to shift them whilst the Opposition cross to our ‘ side of the House whenever . we go over to their side. It seems strange that the largest party in the House should be compelled practically to follow - I do not know for how long: - a much smaller combination.
– They have got us on toast.
– It looks like it; The reason is that the honorable member for Dalley and his party refuse to act when the opportunity offers.
– If I supported the Labour Party, instead of being on toast I should* be in the fire.
– Then the honorable member and . the . party to which’ he belongs are likely to remain on toast. It is not correct to say that it is within the power of the Labour Party to compel the present Government to fulfil their desires. -If it were, we should have had on the statute-book long ago an Old-Age Pensions Act.
– Then it comes to this : that the party must not do anything until it is sure of its ground.
– It is usually said that we are prepared to resort to all sorts of wild schemes, but I hope that we shall always refrain from - taking action until we are, as the honorable member suggests, sure of our ground. It is incorrect for the leader of the Opposition to say that the Labour Party cannot act independently - that we act always as a brigade. The right honorable member takes advantage of every opportunity, both in this House and outside, to misrepresent our party. I like fair fighting, and have no desire to misrepresent the Opposition or its leader. If it be true that we always act as a brigade, how is it that we are so often found divided? We did not vote so solidly for the Parliamentary Allowances Bill as did the Opposition.
– That is an incorrect statement.
– I merely wish to show that we do not always act. as a brigade, and that we have as much independence as have the members of any other party.
– Outside the programme.
– And inside the programme. The honorable member has shown by his interjection that he knows nothing about the Labour Party.
– He is a new member.
– What is the good, of a programme, if one does not stand by it?
– We act unitedly, so far as our pledges to our constituents are concerned. Every representative who is an honorable man should do so; but the difference between our party and others in the House is, that we put our pledges in black and white so that we cannot wriggle out of them. I have known honorable members of other parties to experience no difficulty in getting away from their pledges. So far as questions not included in our programme are concerned, we have power to act as “ our consciences and judgment dictate, and we do not fail to do. so. I should not remain two days in this House if I could not exercise my independent judgment.
– The Labour Party vote unanimously on many questions outside their platform.
– I hope that the Opposition will do the same.
– There are not half a dozen cases in which, we have voted unitedly on a question outside our programme.
– There are one or two notable cases in which the Party have done so.
– We vote unitedly when we think we are right, and we divide when we think there is room for a difference of opinion. I come row to the Tariff, with regard to which I do not propose to say much until we reach the schedule. I admit, as others have done, that it is far from being perfect. In some instances it presses very heavily upon the poorer classes of the community, whilst not providing for more employment by the extension of manufactures.
– It has as many anomalies as existed under the old Tariff.
– I agree- that it has many anomalies. The duty on kerosene is an illustration. I fail to see that much more employment will be afforded by that duty.
– Is the honorable member opposed’ to it ?
– I am, and always have been. The Labour Party in South Australia - which was always a protectionist one - agreed from its inception not to support a tax on tea, cocoa, kerosene, or any article which could not be grown or manufactured in that State.
– Is the honorable member aware that kerosene is produced in Australia ?
– I am. I know also that it is said that the cost of producing and refining kerosene in America is less than id. per. gallon. If that be so, we have here a magnificent field for the production of’ kerosene at an enormous profit, even if four times the wages paid in the United States of America be received by those engaged in the industry here, and I fail to see why any protection should be necessary. Kerosene is used only by the producing class and the poorer sections of the community. Those in better circumstances may use gas, electric light, acetylene, and other illuminants, and I am not going to join with others in penalizing the poorer classes of the community. I do not represent producing interests, and therefore, unlike many other honorable members, I have not to “ trim ‘ ‘ on this question. I recognise, however, that our producers, for the most part, use kerosene, and in their interests as well, as in the interests of the poorer classes in the cities and towns, I shall oppose the impost. If the statements that I have heard with regard to the production of kerosene in Australia be true - if it be true that we can supply the world with it - then there is a magnificent opening for the industry. The moment kerosene can be produced, here at a fair price, and it is shown that a combine is underselling the local men, I shall be prepared to assist in crushing that combine. I should hot like to adopt the outrageous abortion that has been put forward in the name of a Tariff by so-called free-traders. I have no hesitation in saying that the Tariff recommended by the free-trade section of the Commission would raise as much, if not more, revenue than will the Tariff submitted by the Government: It has been referred to by the Opposition as a freetrade Tariff; it is really a revenue one, and; therefore, most objectionable to both free-traders and protectionists. It was recommended because direct taxation is coming nearer and nearer. T,he number of honorable members irb favour of such taxation is steadily increasing, and what is still more important, we are approaching a time when we shall have to raise more revenue. In these circumstances the free-trade section of the Commission recommended a revenue Tariff to stave off direct taxation.
– The Acting Prime Minister favours direct taxation.
– I am delighted to hear it, and feel confident that if the present members of the Opposition before long are not advocating it, others will be taking their places. The proposals of the free-trade section of the Commission are designed to raise revenue without protecting Australian industries. With such a Tariff I shall have nothing to do. The honorable member for Grampians said that we ought to build up a Tariff by degrees, and, as the Attorney-General very properly interjected, if that be so, we ought to add one more brick to the Tariff wall. I hope, however, that we shall pass a Tariff that -will stand for at least twenty years, so that our manufacturers and business people will know exactly where’ they are.
– To give them stability.
– We must have stability. If we were to have such a Tariff as the honorable member, for Grampians appeared to foreshadow it would be so low that there would be a constant agitation for more protection.
– Australia is a protectionist country, and the fiscal fight must continue until we get effective protection.
– Exactly. I wish the people to realize what a protective Tariff can accomplish. It will be time enough for us to lower the duties, if they are dissatisfied, after they have seen the result of its working.
– Just now the honorable member wanted to fix the Tariff for twenty years.
– The honorable member must not put words into my mouth. I said that if the Tariff would endure for twenty years, so much the better.
– Will not the honorable member accept the verdict of members of this Committee, a majority of whom are protectionists ?
– Not necessarily. I will accept the verdict of the Committee if the Tariff is framed to my liking, but not otherwise.
– I will accept it if the duties imposed are reasonable.
– That is precisely my position, I desire this evening to say a few- words upon the Defence Department - a Department which has not been touched upon to any extent by honorable members during the course of this debate. But before dealing with that matter, I wish to make some observations upon the principle which was embodied in the Excise Tariff Act of last year. I refer to what is known as the new protection. I maintain that we should know how this principle is working, what effect it has upon our employers and employes, and how the Government have administered the Act. As honorable members are aware, it was .understood that an increased duty upon agricultural machinery was to be levied conditionally upon our local manufacturers paying their employes fair wages. In order to decide what constituted fair wages, provisions were inserted in the Excise Tariff Act of 1906, which read -
Provided that this Act shall not apply to goods manufactured by any person in any part of the Commonwealth under .conditions as to the remuneration of labour which -
are .declared by resolution of both Houses of the Parliament to be fair and reasonable ; or
are in accordance with an industrial award under the Corr, mon wealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act, 1904; or
are in accordance with the terms of an industrial agreement filed under the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act, 1904.
The Act should have been made to embrace the conditions, as well as the remuneration, of labour. It doe’s not leave room for dealing with the question of apprentices, with the hours of labour, or with the. employment of women. When it was put into operation some employers in South Australia at once applied to Mr. Justice O’Connor, the President of the Arbitration Court, for exemption from the payment of Excise’. In New South Wales, where the first ex:emption was granted, the employes in the industry had no knowledge that such an application was being made. After having looked into the regulations, Mr. Justice O’Connor forwarded to South Australia an intimation requiring employers to post in their workshops, for seven days prior to their applications being made to. the Court, a notice of their intention to apply for exemption from the payment of Excise. He also directed that any employ6 who was dissatisfied with the wages which he was receiving should be at liberty to complain to his employers, and to lodge a complaint with the Court. Messrs. Bagshaw and Sons were amongst the first employers in South Australia to apply for exemption. Had an employe ventured to complain that he was receiving insufficient wages, I do not hesitate to say, not only that he would have been dismissed, but that he might have found it difficult to obtain employment at his occupation in the State, or even in the Commonwealth, because he would have been black-listed. When Mr. Justice O’Connor’s order was received, I at once communicated with the Minister of Trade and Customs, pointing out the injustice of the latter portion of it, and asking that where there was an association of employe’s that association should be permitted to appear before the ‘ Court and to act for the whole of the employes in the trade. “ Mr. Fairbairn. - What evidence has the honorable member of that?
– I will give the honorable member sufficient data before I have concluded. The Minister of Trade and Customs forwarded my letter to the. President of the Arbitration Court. Mr. Justice O’Connor at once altered the regulations. He declared that while he would not allow the association as such to represent the employes in Court ; he would permit it to engage counsel, and he would allow any employe to give evidence before the Court. That was a fair arrangement, with which the employes were thoroughly satisfied. What happened? About eighty-two firms applied for exemption from the payment of Excise.
– In South Australia 105 firms have applied for exemption.-
– But in the first place eighty-two firms applied for exemption. They had to satisfy ‘ Mr. Justice O’Connor that they were paying their employe’s fair wages. The first firm, to take action was that of- Messrs. Bagshaw and Sons, who called their men together and told them that if they insisted upon obtaining an increase in their wages, the firm would be obliged to close down, because they had not made a penny profit during the year. A subsequent examination of their balance-sheet disclosed that they had made a profit of ^4,-975 upon a capital’ of £25,000, or about 20 per cent., notwithstanding that the head of the firm and one nephew were receiving £5 10s. a week each, and another nephew £4. 10s. a week.
– That fact was elicited in the Court.
– Exactly’. When this firm came before the Court, what happened ? They put forward a fine big German, of thirty-eight years of age, who, working as a labourer, declared that he was receiving 6s. . 6d. per day. That. I contend, was a miserable wage for him ‘to be paid. I am glad to say that in South Australia we pay .our builders’ labourers 8s. a day. But the -representatives of the union knew precisely .what the man had been getting, and when their counsel questioned the witness in regard to the matter he had to admit that he had only just received an increase from 5s. 10d. per day Mr. Justice O’Connor thereupon said -
He attached no importance to the evidence of this witness. Every man was not calle’d upon to be a hero.
The President of the Arbitration Court could see that this witness had to come- forward and give whatever evidence his employers asked Kim to tender. At that time mo wage had been fixed lor the different branches of the trade. Accordingly the employes met and drew up a scale of wages, which they submitted to their employers. When the latter went before the Arbitration Court there was no agreement “between them and their employes as to the wages which should be paid, and, accordingly, Mr. Justice O’Connor suggested that the parties should confer together. They did so. When the association of employes was formed the employers not only permitted Senator Trenwith to address them during working hours, but they declared that they were willing to help the association. When the conference between the parties was held, the employers gave a guarantee that no workman would be penalized for any part that he might take in that gathering, or for any action that he might take before the Court. What followed? The parties’ arrived at a satisfactory agreement as to the wages that should he paid. Upon 4th June last Mr. Justice O’Connor declared that he was perfectly satisfied with the arrangement, and accordingly he made the agreement arrived at the’ award of the Court in eighty-one cases. The Court ordered that, provided these employers were paying the rate of wages specified in the industrial agreement, they should be exempt from the payment of Excise j but that if the agreement were departed from they should, pay the Excise. Honorable members heard the Minister of Trade and Cusoms tell me yesterday that,’ so far, no Excise had been collected in South Australia. I want to know the reason why it has not been collected. This is a most important experiment. It is one the results of which honorable members should be fully acquainted with before they are called upon to deal with a single item in the Tariff, because a similar .principle ought to be applied to every branch of industry. Strong protectionist though I am, I say that unless the workers are to obtain a fair share of the protection which it is proposed to extend to the manufacturers, I shall favour allowing the workers and the consumers to purchase their goods as cheaply as possible. It has often been said that there is always poverty in protectionist countries. That fact, I contend, is not the fault of protection, but rather of the want of protection. It has been too long a case Oi free-trade in flesh and blood with the manufacturers and of protection for themselves.
If we are going to protect the manufacturer we must protect the workman.
– It is rather a late awakening.
– We have to see that we have a Minister in office who will administer the Act.
– We can insure protection to the workman under a protective policy, but we cannot secure that result under a free-trade policy.
– I am satisfied that one of two things Kas happened. Either, the temporary occupant of the office, during the absence of the ex-Minister of Trade ‘ and Customs in England, knew nothing whatever about the provisions of the Act, or he has failed to administer it. I do not care which is the correct position. The matter is so important that I shall tell the Committee exactly what has happened. I have a list of the names here, but I am sorry that it is not complete. ‘ I know’ that some firms are loyally carrying out the . agreement.
– Many of them are doing so.
– Yes. Messrs. Shearer, of Kilkenny and Mannum, were paying only 7s. a day for skilled blacksmiths. They are friends of mine, and when I asked if they thought that .a fair wage to pay to competent artisans, they replied “ No,” but that other firms, were paying less. I knew., too, that they were doing all that they could to teach boys their trade, which other firms were not doing. They said to me, “ If we were put on the same footing as other firms, we should pay higher wages,” and they have loyally done so since. Messrs. C. H. Smith, of Ardrossan ; Shearer, Kilkenny and Mannum ; J. F. Mellor, S. Perry, J. W. Jones, Hawke and Co., Kapunda, C. F. Linke J. L. Campbell and others have all loyally paid the wages agreed upon. But can the Government give any reason why those employers who have not obeyed the award of the Court have not been punished ?
– Has it been definitely ascertained that some employers have not obeyed the award?
– Yes. I shall prove that by reading a letter which was sent in the first place to Mr. Justice O’Connor, who returned it saying that he could deal with the matters referred to in it only on application being made to him in the Arbitration Court. A copy of the letter was forwarded to the Customs Department, and another copy given to me. It was written by the secretary, under instructions from his association, and is as follows -
Adelaide, July 10, 1907. To His Honor Mr. Justice O’Connor,
President of the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration.
We regret to have to report that various firms in this State are not carrying out the wages agreement which you declared “ fair and reasonable “ under the Excise Tariff Act. The firms we have to complain about are among the 82 to whom you granted exemptions conditional 011 observing the agreement.
The employers appointed four of their number (Messrs. J. A. Bagshaw, A. May, - Forgan, and - Mickan) in addition to all their counsel, to agree upon wages, with three representatives of the workmen and our counsel, Paris Nesbit, K.C. … As you are aware, the agreement was mutual, there was no majority vote or casting vote.
Messrs. J. S. Bagshaw and Sons classified their workmen and then called them into the office one at a time to sign an agreement they had drawn up; they had the option given them of accepting or of leaving. Nearly all the tradesmen were classed as “ Slow, under average capacity.”
I am sorry that no tribunal was provided to determine what men should be regarded as “ slow,” as “ under average capacity,” and as “not used to the trade.”
– That appears to be the weak spot of the award.
– The words used are contained in the agreement.
– Yes. They were introduced by the employes. It was found difficult to provide for the incapacitated, the old and the slow. There has been no arrangement between employers and employes to decide the matter.’ What was done, in one case, will be seen from the letter which I have been reading. The writer continues-
Very few indeed were given the “average capacity “ wage. Every labourer without exception was classed as “not used to the trade 6s. 6d.”, although many of them are excellent men, who have been in their employ for many years. Only a few men declined to sign, and these had to go. We think you will be able to understand the position of a workman alone in the office with an employer having to decide immediately whether he will accept an unjust classification, or whether he will chance securing work elsewhere. Most of the men have wives and families dependent upon them.
Messrs. J. S. Bagshaw and Sons Limited, dismissed one man (a sheet iron worker) because they thought he gave our Secretary information about the skill required for his work when we were fixing wages. This man did not give the particulars about the work he did, they charged him with doing so, and would not take his word or refer the matter to our Secretary, but dismissed him. They did this the morning after the evening the wage was settled, the line “Sheet-iron workers” was called on by the employers before tea, but as J. A. Bagshaw wanted the rate fixed very low and made out that no skill was required our Secretary asked for the item to be left out until after tea, and during the interval he procured full particulars from a recent departmental foreman, who had started in business for himself the week previously. Messrs. J. S. Bagshaw and Sons Limited also dismissed the shop steward of the union (the man who collects members’ contributions) at the end of the same week, without notice, and declined to give him a reference,, although he had been in their employ twenty-five years, and his recent foreman and his fellow workers testify that he is a good tradesman. He is a most inoffensive man, and would not say an ill word against the firm. He is a man of great forbearance, and did not wish us to say anything about his treatment ; he said God would punish them.
– Unfortunately, God cannot get at them until they die.
– The manufacturers do not seem to be more considerate than the importers.
– As for the importers, if the honorable member will come to Adelaide, I can point out firms who, night after night, and month after month, bring back their employes, giving them a shilling for tea money, but no overtime, and, in some cases, even saving 2d. on the tea money by giving them tickets on the production of which they can get tea at certain restaurants. The guarantee was given in writing that no man should be penalized for his connexion with the union, or for any action which he might take in regard to this new protection. I may say that Mr. Bagshaw is one to parade his religion before the public. The writer proceeds -
At a meeting of our Association held on June 19th (a -fortnight after the Conference settlement) two employes of the same firm reported that they were not being paid according to the agreement, and that others were not. The Chairman had called for a report from each shop. Another employe’ of Messrs. Bagshaw and Sons who was present told the firm the next day of what transpired, and both these men who had spoken were dismissed that day.
On Friday last, July 5, another employe’ (of the same firm) who had lately become Treasurer of our Association was dismissed. No one can understand why he was put off unless it was on account of his connection with the union. Probably it was because I had been sending notices to him by post of our meetings, and the firm recognised my writing on the envelopes, and p’erhaps because he was our Treasurer.,. This man is a very quiet reserved man, he thinks he was put off on account of the letters being addressed to him, the man who was foreman over him until he started for- himself a month ago speaks highly of ‘ him and says he works hard all -day, “ and will” not speak, unless spokento, and he thought he would be appointed foreman of his department when he left. The shop-steward who was dismissed was also entitled to the fo’remanship of his department - in the opinion of the other foremen and workmen. When a man applies for a position now this firm requires him to answer a number o’f questions and they record the answers. Some o:f the questions are as follows: - “Unionist or’ Non-unionist.” ‘.’ Where worked last.” “Why released.” “ Have you any references,’” and . “How many-“ and “Who from.” “ Have_ y ou any relations in other factories” (Is this to identify unionists and keep a ‘black list?). “Where served time” (this from a firm who try to make out that they do not require skllled men) “Where educated” “Nationality” *’ Occupa-tion “ “Age,” “ Married or Single.’!
This firm, -which has reduced the , wages’ qf its employes on’ the- ground that they are slow, and under average capacity, has issued a circular to. the public in’ which it. is stated that it employs none but the -most’ competent workmen.
– What proportion- .of those in its factory are classed as slow and under average capacity ? ‘ !. Mr. HUTCHISON.- I. do not know ; but all its labourers are said to be so. classed. The writer goes, on to say - - This -firm encouraged their men .to join theAssociation when it was first formed .about nf-, teen months ago . -. until they secured the present ‘ duties in agricultural implements and machinery, in’ the newspaper correspondence I send you they state that “No employe will be penalized only on account of- his connexion with the union,” oV- words to. that effect. . “.’Mr.’. Mcwilliams. - The duty was increased only on the distinct pledge that. Excise would be imposed if ‘.proper, wages were not paid.’
– Quite., so, .and I wish to know from, the Government why. the . Act- has npt been . administered. . The writer says further -
Yet since they wrote this they dismissed the two’ “men who. reported at our meeting whencalled upon, and the Treasurer. The week prenous to trie’ Conference- at which the wages- were agreed upon -they made inquiries’ about who were union men .and. who were not, and gave the non union men an -increase of .one. penny perhour on their low wages. The .Conference agreement’ would still considerably improve the wages of ; these men if it had been observed.
The new- protection has “not done’ al] “that we exp’ected from ‘ it, “or’ .all’’ that the Government should’ have’ seen was “ obtained from it. ‘ -“
– It has had’ a very good effect.
– It has had a good effect ; but for how long ? It has increased the wages of those in the pay of the best employers, but as now administered it may have the effect of running some of them out of the business, leaving the industry in the hands of the unscrupulous employers who, apparently, can defy the law with impunity.’ I have been able to get a great deal of information on this subject, and I wish to know why the Government has not been able to get it. Mr. Wilks. - Perhaps Ministers did not wish to get it. - Mr. HUTCHISON. - Are Ministers going to allow manufacturers to defy the law, or is the Act defective? If so, Parliament should have been “informed. The Government is ‘ without . excuse. ‘ It should have insisted on the- strict administration of . the law,- and if defects were made apparent, “ they should have been brought before Parliament for amendment. If” legislation of this “kind “is likely to prove a failure, we should know that that is so. ‘ Something definite must be determined ,upon in regard to this matter before : we go much further with the Tariff. ‘
– Is it not most unfair to those who : PaY good wages that the Act is not being strictly administered?
– I have ;said so. The letter goes on to say-‘
If you obtained particulars cif the number of. men employed and the wages paid . to each (which I -think you asked for during the hearing of the case of Messrs. Bagshaw and Sons in April), you will find the wages of many much below the mutual agreement. Probably Messrs. Bagshaw .-and Sons intended to tell the .Court that they” had improved the payment of men. they thought worthy’ .since the Court adjourned* in April! It’ was unjust -on their part to give only the -non-unionists the penny ah hour increase, and -they probably . did this to cause the disbandment of their men from .the union.. When arranging for the first conference the employers . suggested rules which ‘ they forwarded to our .association in April 19. - One reads as follows .–“.The . employers pledge themselves that no employe shall be penalized on- account of any “part that he may take in the conference, and it is to bc distinctly understood and agreed that all. remarks made .during the conference will be entirely without prejudice.”. After negotiating with qui-‘ association about . the first conference,’ they’ suddenly ceased negotiations, and took it upon themselves to arrange the con- ference, .posting up’ notices in their factories. intimating “. that the men., in each factory should, send delegates. “At .the .opening of that, conference “they” objected to six of the. ten. delegates’” our association had elected, and that our seven country branches had approved of, and declined to go on while they remained, so we had to withdraw them, except one. At a well attended meeting of the Manufacturers’ Protectionist Association, called: specially to consider a request which was made by the Australian Agricultural Implement and Ironworkers’ Employees’ Defence Association, after discussion, it was unanimously resolved-
Our association cannot now get any one to act as shop-steward at Messrs. Bagshaw and Sons.
They cannot get. any one now who dare attend1 a meeting ; and it is the most outrageous intimidation I have ever seen in South Australia -
At our meeting last Wednesday not’ one of their employes was present, and we had over 80. financial members there until recently. Two members employed there sent apologies to our last meeting on account of other engagements. There is no doubt the employes of this firm are badly intimidated. Besides our objection to the curtailment of the liberty of the men through fear of dismissal after so many have been dismissed, we think these men should help to pay our heavy legal- expenses, and we have no means, of collecting their contribution. As the men .would benefit as the result of the wages agreement, it is only fair they should help to pay the cost of obtaining it.
The employes were advised to form a union, and to apply to the Court ; and now, in order to stop the existence of the union, the men are so intimidated that they cannot collect money to defray the legal expenses -
The other chief case we wish to bring under your notice- is that of Messrs. May Bros, and Co., of Gawler.
Messrs. May Bros, and Co. do other work besides making goods subject to Excise. We believe they paid the men right through the shop the rates under the heading at which they classified them, so they were fair in that respect, although we claim the classifications are in the majority of cases unfair, they are mining and general engineers as well as makers of excisable goods. When they started again after shut- ting down for a few days they did not re-engage the secretary of our Gawler branch, nor the shop-steward, nor treasurer, nor delegate to our first conference. The latter happened to be chairman of the meeting (on. the Monday prior to the re-hearing of the cases for exemption) at Gawler, when we formed the present branch.
At the first conference his. employer objected to him taking part, as he was not at that time engaged upon making excisable goods, but the chairman overruled the objection in his case.
The shop-steward not taken in was only engaged 011 excisable goods during the last few days of his employment.
The Gawler, members are of the opinion that these men were: not re-engaged on account of their connexion with the union.
One Adelaide firm wants their strikers under 21 years to sign an agreement that they will accept apprentices’ rates of wages. A condition of the agreement! is that’ their term of employment may be terminated any day. It is therefore evident there is no desire or obligation to teach such youths a trade extend.ing over a term of’ five years. Striking is not a. trade, it is labourer’s work, and the wages agreed upon at conference is 7s.’ 6d: per day, the same- as for labourers used to the trade, those who think themselves worth 7s. 6d. although’ under 21 may demand that rate and: leave if they do not get it, the great majority of strikers under 21 will be- content to be classed as “ youth labourers.” We would like your, decision on the above matters.
We hope that you will, give instructions that copies of the wages agreement must be posted up in each factory. There are a. large number of shops in the country which are probably ignorant of the rates.
That is the statement by the Secretary of the Employe’s Association. If the return I. asked for long, ago had. been supplied1 - and it was; a return which, for simplicity’s sake, was confined to South Australia - we should have known whether the firms are carrying, out the agreement. I- know myself that. some, firms are not carrying out the agreement. For instance, Schrapel is. working his employes fifty-six Hours a week, though the wages have never been increased ; and when the men asked for the agreement to be carried out they were told that if they did not “ like it they could lump it.”
– Has that manufacturer applied. for exemption?
– Yes, and he got. it on condition that the Minister carried out his part of the bargain. We must remember that we have to consider the .revenue of. the country, and that this sort, of evasion cannot be permitted. I may say that Messrs. Brebner and Keefe are not carrying out the agreement; and -I’ should like to know what the Minister proposes to do in the matter. This legislation was a. new experiment ; and we were justified in expecting the Government to see that it had a fair and proper trial, and that honorable members were informed as to the result. That has not been done; and the responsibility, therefore, is not with the House but .with the Ministry.
– It is with the House too.
– I admit that when we come to deal with, the whole Tariff it will not be possible to treat all manufacturers as the manufacturers of agricultural implements have been treated. There is no doubt, however, that some method to insure fair wages and conditions of labour must be adopted. The fixing of prices bristles with difficulty.
– Will the honorable member Vote for high duties unless the workers get a share?
– Not if I can help it. As honorable members know, the Labour Party have been considering a scheme, the details of which have not yet been worked out, but which was outlined by the honorable member for South Sydney in his speech the other night. Under that scheme, we think that it will be possible to affix a Commonwealth trade mark and duty stamp, just as easily as other revenue stamps are affixed ; and .if we can get a Minister who will carry out the policy I do not anticipate any .difficulty. No doubt the scheme has one great weakness. Manufacturers are not required to take any notice of the law, unless there is some one to see that it is carried out ; and’ if the Minister does not ‘Undertake that duty, we shall only penalize every fair employer without doing the employes any good. However, that is a difficulty in the removal of which I trust we shall have the assistance of legal members of this House. Although we may pro- te(:t the manufacturer .and the employe, ft must be remembered that there, is such a variation in the classes and qualities of goods that it may be impossible to fix prices to the consumer; but I believe that when the -employes are on an equal footing .competition will fix prices.
– Would it not be better to socialize the industries straight out?
– I believe we are coming to Socialism in regard to some industries ; in any case, we must make the provision that is .necessary in the interests of all concerned. I am glad to say that, ever since I have been in Australia, now for twenty-three years, all apprentices to. the printing trade, to which I belong, have had to be bound. I have had under me several apprentices who are now doing well y some in South Australia, and one in South Africa ; but I am sure they would not have done nearly as well if they, had been employed by any of the manufacturers of agricultural implements to whom I hav»- referred. We must deal with wages and the apprentice question; because there must be skilled workmen, or there will be some ground for the statement of the honorable member for Grampians that we cannot ‘turn out machinery as well as it can be turned out in other countries. Personally, I was bound an apprentice for seven years, and all who enter the printing trade have to serve at least six years ; and that is good for both the trade and the boys. We have also to lay down conditions for manufacturers who employ girls. Under all the -circumstances, there must be some kind of tribunal, because -we cannot possibly leave the Minister to see that the Act is properly carried out.
– –The honorable member has made out a case for investigation.
– I think so; and that is why I called for the return to which I have . referred, and which would have been of much assistance to us. There is another industry which shows the necessity for some kind of tribunal. According to the Tariff, it is proposed to give increased protection to makers of bicycles; and yet I see that the Wages Board in Victoria has actually fixed the minimum for an adult in this trade at 27s. 6d. a week. I am not going to vote protection, for any manufacturer who says that an adult is worth only 27s. 6d. per -week. We are told that the crying need of Australia is a larger population. Surely we ought to be prepared to provide that every man shall receive a wage on which he may support a wife and family. I should be sorry if any acquaintance of mine were to marry some poor girl at a time when he was receiving’ only 27 s. 6d. a week. I should tell him what I thought of him. For the protection of our race, we must prevent the. payment of unreasonably low .wages. It is simply scandalous that- in any Dart -of the Commonwealth there should exist a Board prepared to find that 27 s. 6d. is a reasonable wage for an adult.
– The duty on bicycles is j£5. per machine.
– I have ridden a good many thousands of miles, on a bicycle put together in Australia, the tubing alone having been imported, . and I could not wish for a better machine. I believe in patronizing, as far. as possible, ‘local industry,, and, provided, that it be satisfactory, am prepared to pay a little more for an Australian article than I should have to pay for an imported one. In my opinion,; we can turn cut the best of everything. I. have never had a better suit than that : which I am now wearing, and it; is made of . South Australian tweed.’ Owing to the action of the Labour Premier of South. Australia., the local tweed factory’s output has. been increased by 40 per cent. . Mr.. Price-,, on platform after platform, has urged the people to support local industry, and this is one result of his effort. If our- free-trade friends would not cry” stinking -fish ‘.’ so often-if they were prepared to stand . up for our manufactures, . our industrial position would be improved.
– The’ action . taken by Mr Price shows what could be done if protectionist’s would only practise what they preach.
– Protectionwill undoubtedly establish various ‘industries, and they will expand as soon as we encourage them. -For- want of encouragement half the looms in the South- Australianfactory year after- year remained idle. Such a state of affairs’ is due largely to the; fact that so many people are prepared to decry the productions of their own ‘ country.. There is one class of manufactures to . which I am not in favour of granting protection. I refer to flannels’. In the Argus of 23rd January, 1906- andI have no reason . to doubt this statement - there appeared a paragraph’ giving the analyses of imported, and Victorian-made flannels. I . regret’ to say that itwas shown’ that out of twenty samples of Victorian flannel only five consisted wholly of wool,the rest being adulterated ‘with’ from” 26 to 58 . per cent, of cotton.
– I think the Tariff Commission substantiates that statement.
– Quite so Of thirty-six ‘samples of imported flannel, only fivewere adulterated , the percentage , of cottonbeingfrom 28 to. 40. per cent.. I trust-trialwe shall insist on the public being able to knowwhattheybuy If weare going”’ to grant protection to these industries;we wish tobuy an articlecontainingapropor tion of cotton you may do so. Weshall see that all these goods, are so labelled as to indicate of. what they are composed.”
– And do the same with the imported article.
– We can deal with the imported article at the present time. Unfortunately; as. I have already . pointed out, when the Commerce Bill was before us the Committee saw fit to reject an amendment which I moved: providing that a true trade description should remain on all goods until they reached the consumer. What is the use of merely insisting upon a true trade description being placed on goods until they pass through the Customs when the labels may be torn off’ and the consumers subsequently victimized ? We shall have to do something in the direction I have indicated, and. subject to that condition . I shall be prepared to grant a little more protection than I should otherwise do.
– Do not talk of more protection.
– The honorable member has devoted so much of his time to inquiring into only one side of the fiscal question that he has never had an opportunity to look . at’ the other. I believe that nothing short of a co-operative commonwealth, which is yet a long wayoff will prevent the pocket-picking of the public by traders in the way’ that has taken place under the new Tariff. Honorable members must admit that no other term could be properly applied to the tactics of many traders.
– It is outrageous that the honorable membershould thus libel honest traders. .
-Iamnot libel ling honest traders ; I am. speaking only. of dishonest ones. I never, libel any man, but I have no hesitation in describing as.it should be described every . attempt to defraud the people. Traders have been indulgingin wholesale robbery. I. am quite preparedto allow traders to secure a fair, or; if honor able members please, a large profit, but I Object to pocket-picking.. ‘I propose to show the honorable member, for Parramatta what, one of the . prominent . grocers ofAdelaide had to say about this question,.and,he. will then be able , todeterminewhetherornotI havelibelledhonesttraders.Thesouth AustralianAdvertiserwrites-
Keroseneisonelineinwhichtheincrensewill befeltseverelyforatimeatleast,astheduty represents3dpergallononcasestuff,while bulkoilispraticallyugaltered.Thisresulted in an increase of the retail price on- Friday; of is. per tin, but as one prominent grocer put it yesterday, the consumer should not be called upon to pay this increase, because when the duty was 3d. ‘before, the price was 8½d. in bond, and notwithstanding the remission of the duty, the price to the retail storekeeper steadily advanced by farthings and halfpennies, till it reached 10½d. at the Port,
That was after the duty had been removed. so with the threepence now, the pricein the city was141/8d . In the face of that, he maintained . that the oil trust should not ask the consumer to pay the increased duty.
I requested my wife to show me her grocery bill for a week after . the introduction of the Tariff, and in looking over it I found that in only two cases had an increase in price taken place. She was charged½d. per packet more for candles, and is. more for a tin of kerosene, than she had to pay under the old Tariff. The account, of course, did not include any item of clothing. My wife said to our grocers, Messrs. Downes and Co. , of North Croydon, South Australia, “ Have you put up your prices on account of the new Tariff ?” and they replied that there was an increase in respect of only a . few lines. Mr. Downes told me the other day that he had Just called on an old lady, who had said. to him” I do not know whether I can give you an order this week, because I shall have to pay something like 5s. more than’ I paid, last week for the goods that I want.” On looking at the list . of groceries that she required, he found that’ it did not contain one article the price of which had been increased.
– Are Downes and Company in a large way of business ?
– They have’ a. big business.
– No doubt they had big stocks before the new Tariff; was imposed
– The honorable mem ber for South Sydney has been citing two cases’relating to two big emporiums . which do not in any way affect the position of the small trader, who has to buy from week to week.
– I can give a list of. articles on which prices have been increased by some traders.
-The small retail business men buy from the wholesale merchant, who has added the increased duties to hisgoods, andconsequently.theretailer . hastocharge increased . prices.
– In that case, the wholesale merchant is robbing the public, and is using the unfortunate retailer as a tool.
– Then the honorable. member should not speak of ‘the retailers as robbers.
– Some of them have not been free from blame.
– A trader last week proved conclusively to me that he had suffered a heavy loss by reason of the new duties.
– If honorable members turn to page 16 of the Budget Paper’s they will find a statement showing ‘that the Customs and Excise duties paid last year in South Australia amounted to £2 os.9d. per head of the population. We have heard a great deal about the enormously increased burden which the Tariff will inflict upon the people. The South Australian Register asserted recently that the revenue’ to be collected under the new Tariffrepresented12s. a week, to every family of six.
– The honorable member for Robertson last night made the same statement.
Mr.HUTCHISON. - Then he must have obtained it from the same source. A simple calculation will prove that a Tariff that meant a. burdenof12s, per week for every family of six would raise a revenue of£21,000,000 per annum. -As I have said, the Budget shows that South Australia last year, under the old Tariff, raised £2 os.9d. per head of the population, and the Treasurer estimates that next year the ‘Customs and Excise revenue collected there will represent £2 3s. 23/4d. per head of thepopulation, or an “increase of only2s. 53/4d. per head’ for the whole year. If we are able to. establish new industries as the result of such a small increase- of taxation, we shall have done a great work
– The Brisbane Worker publishes a very different calcula- tion.
– Has it correctly workedout what will be the. effect of the Tariff?
– The Brisbane. Worker gives the Tariff slops and itis a prominentLabourjournal.
– It is a newspaper withwhichI haveoften disagreed on many points.
– It . is the boss Labour paper. “Mr. Tudor. - No, the Sydney Worker is.
Mi. HUTCHISON.- I am not here to discuss the merits of the various Labour newspapers. During the debate great stress has been laid on the financial position of the’ Commonwealth, and the growing necessity for an increased revenue if we are to exercise all the powers with which we are vested under the Constitution. If we are to speedily exercise those powers and to take over unproductive services, such as quarantine and light-houses, if we are also to provide for the payment of old-age pensions we shall require a largely increased revenue. So far, very little emphasis has been laid upon the fact that in taking over these Departments from the States we shall relieve them of a great deal df financial responsibility. That is a factor, I submit, which ought .to be taken into consideration when we come to re- arrange our .financial system owing to the discontinuance of the -Braddon section of .the Constitution. I have heard a great many complaints by honorable members about the financial position with which we shall be faced in the near future. But, with the exception of the ‘honorable member for Flinders, the only suggestions made as .to how. additiona’l revenue might be secured, have emanated from members of the Labour Party. The honorable member for Flinders told us that, even if we do not incur ‘a single new obligation, we shall be faced in three or four years with a deficiency of a million. He suggested a remedy - the good .old borrowing remedy, which has been the curse Of the States.
– Did I suggest that?
– Yes. I understood the honorable member to say that we could borrow.
– The. first .to suggest borrowing .was the Acting Prime Minister.
– What I said was that a certain (portion of the expenditure upon new works and additions might properly be attributed to a capital account and could .be. paid for by means of short Joans, with sinking funds.
-I .disagree with the honorable member’s proposal. There are many sources of revenue open to us without crushing the poor or ‘impoverishing the rich. There was a time in the history of the States when it was absolutely necessary .to borrow money for the purpose of building railways and develop ing our country. But that day has gone by - I hope for ever. Surely we have now reached the stage when we can live within our income. Need I point out that in this country absentees have millions of pounds worth of property which we have to protect’? Every pound that is expended upon public works enhances the value of that property, and yet its owners contribute nothing to the revenue through the Customs. To my mind, it is high time that we dealt with this class. I do not want to see absentee property owners in Australia. If we desire population, let us get rid of our absentees-
– We are rid of them. That is the trouble.
– But by taxing their property we shall get rid of them altogether. If they choose to come here and live I shall be amongst the first to welcome them. I was simply astounded at the statement made by the honorable member for Flinders in regard to the civil servants. Of course, I recognise that they were his bete noir whilst he -was a member of the Victorian Parliament.
– At any rate, the ‘ honorable .member never seemed to be satisfied :unless he was harassing or disfranchising them. Now he comes here to misrepresent their position. .He -stated during the course of his speech - .and it was the acme of absurdity for him to 3o so - that we paid nearly ^250,000 a year to the same boys and youths for doing the same workthat they did six years ago. How could they be the same boys and youths - if they entered the Public Service at fifteen years .of age - after they had served six years ? Does he mean to tell me that the Public Service Commissioner, whom we appointed to prevent men from being pitchforked into the Service to do boys’ work and to draw salaries which they are unable to earn, is actually allowing that to be done?
– I cannot tell the honorable ‘member by means of .an interjection, but I will tell him all about it before the debate closes.
– So that I should not misrepresent the honorable member, I took the trouble to turn up Hansard, in order that I might quote -his exact words. I like to speak of a subject of which” I have most knowledge. Take my own trade as an example. ‘I have had to take .apprentices, to pay them, and. to teach, them their trade. In the initial stages of their apprenticeship, they were worth almost nothing to me, but Before their term had expired they were able to do a man’s work. In the same way I believe that those who were doing boys work in our Public Service when they entered it six years ago, are performing men’s work to-day. I do not believe for a moment that we are paying . £250,000 extra annually to men for doing boys’ work. The statement is absurd upon the face of it. I was a member of the Commission which was appointed in South Australia to investigate the working of the Civil Service of that State. We appointed a Board’ to classify the whole service, and its classification was accepted’ by the Public Service Commissioner of the Commonwealth as a guide to him. I hada conversation with the Commissioner some time ago in regard to the non-payment of increments to South Australian officers who had been transferred to the Commonwealth, and whose existing and accruing rights
Avere preserved to them under the Constitution. The Commissioner informed me that the reason why those increments had not been paid was that if they had been met, when the present occupants of various offices either died or resigned from the service, he would be called uponto pay their successors more than the work which they performed was worth. That/ is sufficient evidence that the Commissioner has taken good care that he is not paying too much for the services which are rendered. I can tell honorable members of a number of cases of absolute sweating throughout the service. All that the Commissioner has done has been to sweat some members of the service, and to give big salaries to others. I am simply astounded at his power.
– With what would the honorable member replace it ?
– No doubt the in terjection of the honorable member is prompted by the experience of New South Wales. I can assure him that I was shocked when I learned what was going on in that State. Things were bad enough in South Australia, but I must say that they did not approach the conditions which obtained in New South Wales.
– As a whole the Federal servants have been treated very well.
– Some of them have been too well treated whilst others have been badly treated.
– Would the honorable member revert to the system of political influence ?
– If we have a cor rupt Parliament and a corrupt Ministry I admit that anything is possible. Butno accusation of that sort has ever been made against this Parliament. If at any time I find that the wrong man is being pitchforked into any office in the Commonwealth Service simply to suit a Minister, I shall not hesitate to raise my voice in protest. ‘ But my experience in South Australia was that, whilst I could often prevent injustice being done to an officer, if I had attempted to secure him undue promotion or an unf air increase of salary other members of Parliament would very soon have exposed what I had done. What is the position at the present time ? Does the honorable member for Dalley know what influence is being used to-day? Can he account for some of the appointments which are being made? I have had some cases put before me, the nature of which has astounded me. But I have simply had to say,” I cannot help you. I wish that I could.!’
– Has the honorable member proof of that?
– I. have proof to the satisfaction of everybody.
– If the Public Service Commissioner has done wrong he can be removed from his position.
– I have often heard the Postmaster-General bring most astounding cases of injustice before this House; But to produce proof of such cases would have only resulted in the dismissal of the officer who was. suffering injustice.
– Does the honorable member blame the Commissioner for that ?
– No. If he were an archangel he could not satisfy every one. He has to depend upon the information which is supplied to him by his inspectors. I deprecate a great deal of what has been done by the Public Service Inspector in South Australia. The position is that we appoint a Deputy PostmasterGeneral in the various States, because he is supposed to know how to conduct the post-office. That officer may say, “ I want a message boy at such-and such a place. The work cannot go on unless I get him.” Or he may say, “I want a letter-sorter at such a place, and the work cannot go on unless I get him.”
But the .Public Service Commissioner is able to say, “ Oh, but you cannot .have him.” He possesses the most autocratic power that exists outside of Russia. The honorable member, for. Dalley has asked me if I can cite any cases pf injustice. I propose to give one. As honorable members are aware, applicants for positions in the Telephone Department are required to pass an examination. Three y.ears ago nine candidates passed that examination, . and during the interval which has .’since elapsed three of them have obtained casual employment. One of these candidates” was an exceedingly smart girl, according to the testimony of the head of, the Department) and with the other two rib fault could be found. The .business of the. Telephone Department in South Australia has been, extending so rapidly that some officers in the” exchange have been so overworked that they, have actually fainted whilst upon duty.. Others have been sent away “upon leave on account .of illness..
Vet, when an application was made. to. the Public Service “Inspector for additional, girls in” the Telephone Exchange, “ the necessary ‘ assistance was refused. ‘ This- is. an .extract from the Adelaide Register, of the : 23rd May’ last - -.
The recent examinations for. telephone attendants :and .telegraph messengers have (writes the South Australian correspondent of The Transmitter) caused a lot of dissatisfaction, due. “principally to .the fact that candidates were expected to know more than” -the notification of - the set subjects implied, especially as regards the arith metic It was stated that-the. questions would be .in the first four rules, and yet the candidates were required to have a knowledge of proportion, fractions, and algebra, to successfully answer the questions. Thi- irony of- the whole matter is that in our State two young ladies who were’ successful in a former examination, and have been engaged as temporary attendants for some considerable time .during the past three years, but were unable to secure permanent employment owing to the lack of vacancies, had to again submit themselves for examination,’ and were found ‘ among those who failed to pass— the questions in arithmetic “being so- much stiffer on this occasion, than formerly, and yet- these “two unfortunates” have proved themselves expert telephone attendants. We fail to see why a- - telephone attendant, who in the ordinary course of’ duty would not be called upon’ to perform anything more arduous than - from’.an arithmetical point of view - add up a few . columns of figures, should be expected to pass an examination- practical! v “as regards this subject upon all fours with ti University junior examination.
Surely it. is enough to .submit to one examination girls who wish to become telephone operators. What is the -use of examining such girls in a- subject like algebra? On being appointed, the girls naturally forget all . that . they learned tq ‘ qualify to pass the entrance examination, and. three years later are not in a position to go up for examination again: In Scotland, on one occasion, when an applicant for the position of exciseman was asked the distance of the sun from the earth, he said that he did not know, but. that he thought it was far enough away not to interfere with the discharge of his duties. A very proper reply to an unnecessary question. I regard many of the questions which are now asked as unnecessary,, and I hope that some of the examinations will be abolished. The Public Service Commissioner should have power to arrange the examinations, to fix rules, and to say what names on a list .should be accepted; but the Deputy Postmaster-General or the Minister should have the right to say how: many employes should be appointed, .andhave the power to dismiss them if unsatisfactor.v . At the present time no inquiry is made as , to the character pf the boys taken, on, or as. to their parentage, which is a very, important thing- in connexion, with the Public Service. Consequently there- are boys, pf very bad character in the Service. On. one occasion I brought before, the Minister, a case in which a man- had. been caught red-, handed in . theft. Something had gone, wrong at every place to which he was appointed, but, instead of being punished, he, was promoted, and. when I brought the case, forward, an attempt, was made to put the’ b’lame’ on . a dead brother, who had borne, an excellent character., Coming to another matter, I think that a great- blunder has beencommitted. _in. handing, back ‘to the States dyer. ^5)000,006 of surplus revenue .with-, out crediting it against the transferred properties. We are now coming to the end of our financial tether, and,- later on, probably it will be proposed that we- should- borrow ‘ money -to. buy. back for,the people buildings which now belong to’ them.,’ surely the’ veryheight of absurdity. Every, penny returned to the States over and “above their threefourths of the Customs and Excise revenue, should have been credited to transferred properties. “ I wish now to deal with a Department . which honorable, members do not seem too ready -to criticise, one that ‘isunproductive, but most’ expensive, the Department df Defence. On page 73 of theEstimates, ^941,916 is provided for defence expenditure, of which- ^594,629-‘ will gp to the Military branch.” This, accordingto the Minister, is -what’ we” are paying to- train less than 1 per cent, of Australia’s manhood, and to provide an indifferently equipped force of .something like 23,000 men. Is it not a state of affairs which should be tackled by Parliament ? The sooner the better. Honorable, members who take the trouble to read Colonel Reay’s admirable pamphlet will get some valuable information about the Swiss system. The Swiss army costs £1,500,000 per annum, and Switzerland could, within a few hours, put into the field a well-equipped fighting force of .232,000 men, while-, she has also an armed reserve of 44,000, and a second unarmed reserve of 262,000, although her population is smaller than that of the Commonwealth. We have a richer country than Switzerland to defend, and the fact that we are the only people who own an entire continent should make us alive to the need for providing effectively for defence, seeing that we have a coast line of 8,000 miles to guard. Defence should be a burden of which every citizen should be prepared to carry his share. The frank statement of the Minister that, although we have been federated for nearly seven years, we have not yet a scheme of military organization capable of development, was most remarkable and disquieting. Until something is done to obtain such a scheme, so that we may get value for our money, it might be wise to consider the advisability of curtailing our defence expenditure. The Minister has told us that to train 100,000 men in accordance with our present methods would cost no less than ..£2,000,000, an expenditure which is out of the question so far as Australia is concerned. Before the Budget debate is concluded honorable members should pay the closest attention to this subject, and should do all in their power to assist the Minister to overcome the difficulties which confront us. I do not blame him .for not having done all that he wishes. In my opinion, no Minister has yet been able to properly control the Military Department’. There is a power in that Department which should be broken up or curbed.- ‘ It is monstrous that we get so little for our expenditure on defence. The Swiss system has been held up as a model for us to follow, and we might very well adopt some of its features ; but it must be remembered that Switzerland is hedged round by armed powers, and that her people are military enthusiasts. The nation sprang into being by force of arms something like 600 years ago, and its surroundings have made it necessary to be prepared for hostilities at any moment. Happily, our situation is different. It would be difficult to arouse in Australia military enthusiasm such as- exists in Switzerland, and I do not know that it is necessary. But we must provide efficiently for our defence. A splendid thing about the Swiss system is that no man can be an officer in the army who has not passed through the ranks. When I first came into this Parliament the then Minister of Defence - he is now Minister of Trade and Customs - promised, in answer to a complaint which I had made, that it should be possible for rankers to receive commissions. But 1 find that, not long since, the son of a State Commandant, who, so far as I know, has not done an hour’s drill, has been given a commission, while young enthusiasts who had given years of study to military work have been passed over. I myself have always been a military enthusiast. In the old country thirty years ago I belonged to the volunteer force, and twentythree years ago was a non-commissioned officer in the old South- Australian volunteer force. Later on I helped to raise, and became a member of, a Scotch corps in Adelaide. When’ one of its officers had to retire because he had reached the age limit, and another left, I was urged by the Commanding Officer and the men to apply for a commission, but I declined to do so, because the uniform of a Scottish officer costs more than I could well afford. But, on being urged, I agreed to make the necessary application. I may say that, when the corps was raised, I, as a. member of the Parliament of South Australia, was in a sufficiently good position to satisfy the military caste as to my qualifications for a commission. Together with Sir Josiah Symon, who was not a member of Parliament at the time, I was asked to attend and address a meeting convened to advocate the* establishment of the corps. I attended the meeting, and joined the corps myself. When the number of members of the State Parliament was reduced I was out of politics for eighteen months, and employed myself during that time in conducting a: Labour newspaper. Will it tse believed that when I was thus engaged, an officer came to trie and said, “ Hutchison, if you want to get your commission you had better use your influence-“ ? I replied that I had never used influence in my life, and would not allow Kim to say a word on my behalf, because I wanted to see what the Defence Department would do. I acted as officer for ten months, and when I applied for a commission I did not receive a reply. When, however, I was returned to the Federal Parliament I found the Staff tumbling over each other with apologies and explanations why I did not get my commission. Are we to allow that sort of thing to go on?
– What rank would the honorable member have’ held ?
– I should have been a lieutenant. I found, however, that 1 would have to take command of a company, and, as I felt that my parliamentary duties here would not permit of my doing justice to myself or the force, f preferred to sever my connexion with the latter. There were several similar cases ; and Major-General Hutton was in command at the time. One of the finest young fellows 1 have known, of the highest character and great ability, who had gone through all the ranks up to that of a colour-sergeant, and was a valued public servant, was urged by his commanding officer to apply for a commission. However, he was disinclined to do so, because, as he said, he knew that it meant expenditure which he could not afford. It was pointed out to him that his refusal would mean a great loss to the Company ; but, simply because he was an employ! in a modest position, he did not satisfy the demands of the military caste, and therefore did not get his commission. This young, man did not come to me in connexion with the matter, but a friend of his did, and I was asked whether, as a member of Parliament, I would permit this sort of treatment to be meted out to members of the Defence Force. I pointed out that if I interfered it might mean that the young man would suffer for it afterwards. 1 discovered that there were three young men in a similar position ; . and when I put a question on the notice-paper asking for information, an attempt was made by the Head-quarters Staff to find out to which individual I was referring. A remarkable thing happened. The application was sent in during January or February, I believe, but it. was not sent on to the staff office until three days afterwards, which brought it into the next month, thus enabling- the’ applicant to be discovered, and possibly marked. That is the sort of administration which must be put an end to ; and only a strong Minister ‘of Defence can supply the remedy. Whether a man be a “cook’s son “ or a “ duke’s son,” to use the words of Kipling, if he be fitted for the position and his character is’ good, he ought to receive the appointment. Indeed, as I say, we ought to go further, and, copying the Swiss system, refuse to give a man a commission until he has passed through the ranks. Another point on which we might copy the Swiss system is this - that if an officer contracts debts which he cannot pay, he ought at once to be relieved of his command. I have had some experience in connexion with officers and bad debts, and I am glad to say that the Minister of Defence did all in his power in particular cases to see that justice was done. These facts all go to show how rotten is this institution, which is costing us about £1,000,000 per annum. I quite appreciate the difficulties of a layman in administering a Department like that of Defence;. but if those officers who are there for the purpose of assisting the Minister are not able to devise a proper scheme, it is time that the amounts voted for their salaries were struck off the Estimates, and the services obtained of others who are qualified for their positions. For twentythree years I have been of the opinion that we. should have a compulsory military force. What we first have to do is to determine how much” money we are prepared to spend on the Defence Department. Having decided how- to apportion the money between the army, the navy, and so forth, we are faced with the important question of how to obtain the largest number of trained men, and the most efficient equipment, for the sum at our disposal. I- do not think that we ought to spend more than £1,000,000 per annum for a considerable time to come. It is the duty of every citizen to share in the defence of the country, and, that being so, service ought to be compulsory; but here I depart from the Swiss model. Although the Swiss system is all that is to be desired, I do not think it is suited to our conditions, and, therefore, ,we ‘ought to devise some more convenient system. I now give merely an outline of suggestions, because I do not pretend , to be a military expert ; the Minister has in the service officers who will be able to say whether what I propose is or is not practicable. If the service be compulsory there will be no necessity to spend a single pound on uniforms. At the present time recruits in some instances are made trained soldiers before they are served with uniforms, but under our system it is thought necessary to have uniforms, the supposition being that it is the uniforms which attract the young men. If, however, the service were compulsory, with no need to hold out attractions, the men could go through the period of training in their ordinary clothes.
– Some encouragementmust be given to the recruits.
– The money usually spent on uniforms might be utilized to afford encouragement in the form of ammunition and shooting prizes, good shooting being one of the first essentials of a soldier.
– There must be some distinguishing badge.
– There is no distinguishing badge now for recruits. Years ago thousands of school children were trained in South Australia, and uniforms were not found to be necessary.
– Perhaps it would be better not to have uniforms, in case a military spirit were encouraged.
– I do not desire to encourage a military spirit, because I object to militarism. But we know that if we are against war we ought to be ready for war, and no country in the world is so unprepared as Australia is at the present time. It is all humbug to talk of hordes of Asiatics invading the Northern Territory. If hordes of Asiatics could be sent over here in a short time there would be danger, but,” as’ a matter of fact, they cannot. We know the trouble that Great Britain, with all her resources, had in sending men fast enough to cope with the Boers in South Africa.
– If we offered no defence it would not be difficult to land men in the Northern Territory.
– But what would be the use of their landing in the Northern Territory? They would die off like flies. It would be impossible to shift large bodies of men from any Asiatic Country faster than we could deal with them here, with help from the British Navy. The scheme that I would advocate would be on the following lines: I would try to bring into line the greatest number of trained soldiers with the best equipment. The best beginning would be to train all the school boys for the service. I would depart from the Swiss model, because we are so short-handed and our country is expanding at such a rate that it would be impossible to withdraw our youths from their workshops and other employments for a month or six weeks at a time.
– Would it be a good thing to do?
– I believe that it would be a splendid thing to do. It would make men of our boys. In Switzerland the process of training compels the men to go through hedges, leap stone walls, march and counter march for a whole day at a time, and generally submit to a course of severe physical exercise. That is the kind of thing to put stamina into our youths. Our boys, having been trained at school, would have a preliminary knowledge of discipline. They “could be taught to shoot, and when they arrived at manhood, they would be drafted into the regular regiments. But our industries could not endure the disorganization incidental to drafting large numbers of men into training camps for long periods. I have been in training camps that lasted only four days, and where very useful work was done. When I became a . volunteer in the old country, I had to put in thirty recruit drills, and when they were completed I had to put in, at least, nine company drills, and three, battalion drills during the year. The system which was followed is one which could easily be adopted here: .The volunteers were drilled in a drill hall during the winter months. A company was drilling every night in the week. If I happened to be attending a class for study op. the Monday night and my company was drilling on that night I was allowed to fall in on the Tuesday. If I wanted to go somewhere else on the Tuesday I fell in on the Wednesday, and if for some other reaSO’1 the Wednesday was not convenient I fell in on the Thursday. There was no difficulty in completing the number of drills required during the year.
– I understand that the honorable member would not be in favour of compulsory training in this country. “Mr. HUTCHISON. - Undoubtedly I should be if it were practicable. I believe that it is every man’s duty to take, part in the defence of his country, and to be a guardian of its’ liberties. The honorable member, is, I understand, afraid of militarism, but what has he to fear when all the citizens of the Commonwealth ure trained and drilled? If there were an attempt at tyranny, like the recent attempt of Premier Carruthers, the people would be able to defend themselves and their country’s ‘ interests. No doubt the Minister of Defence would be told by his experts that what I recommend would not be sufficient. But what I am anxious to secure is some training for our youths without harassing employers or upsetting industry. If the experts say that it is not possible to secure a properly trained’ force under such a system, I point out that when some of the South Australian artillerymen were sent to the Boer War, Imperial officers who saw them at work said that they were little inferior to the artillery of the Imperial Army, and did splendid service. I remember that when one of our batteries was depleted through sending men to the war, Colonel Ramsay Smith, of the Medical Staff, took it in hand, not as a medical man, but as an artillery captain, and in a few months he had that battery up to its old strength and efficiency. I quite agree, however, that it is impossible to work a volunteer and militia force together. It has been tried in Australia, and has always failed.
– The two systems cannot be worked together, even in connexion with a fire brigade. We tried it in Melbourne.
– The two systems have never worked side by side, and never can. Nor do I think that much success will attend efforts to drill a part of the rifle clubs. The whole must be drilled or none. Men will not care to join rifle clubs if some enthusiasts want to have drill, and try to persuade the others to consent against their will. If anything is done in this direction the drill must be compulsory, though it should be made as little harassing as possible. But, of course, the rifle clubs affect only a. very small part of our defences. I am astonished at the statement of the Minister, that we have been able to . keep up our Volunteer Forces only by omitting the medical examination.’ I think that that is a very great pity. Although I do not look a very strong man, I have had to be on duty continuously for sixty hours. I did not object ; but men who looked much stronger than I did were unable to undergo the strain. If we have no medical examination of the young men entering ‘our forces an injustice may often be done. No man should be called upon to engage in drill unless he is certified to be medically fit. A man might be injured by the strenuous work that he is sometimes called upon to perform as a member of the Defence Forces. I am satisfied that Australians trained in the way I have mentioned would be capable of doing even better than the Boers did in South Africa. There is still another very important branch of defence to which we must devote attention. Unlike Switzerland, we have 8,000 miles of coast-line to protect, and I recognise that there is no hope of our being able to build a navy of our own in the true sense of the word, since a battleship of the Dreadnought type costs £1,500,000. It must be admitted that such an expenditure will be for some time beyond our reach ; yet we’ must be prepared to police our waters against the probable raiders of our commerce at a time of national emergency,when the Imperial warships might be withdrawn. I find that one oceangoing destroyer of the first class, six coastal destroyers, and two firstclass torpedo boats, would cost £930,000, and it is proposed that that expenditure shall be spread over a period of two years. I agree with those who say that we could not at the present time bear that expenditure, added to a military vote” of over £800,000. I regard the Naval Agreement Act as a wretched, trumpery arrangement, and the sooner we repeal it the better. The subsidy is of. no importance to the Imperial Treasury, but it would go a long .way towards providing for torpedo boats and cruisers for the defence of our coast. I am satisfied that it would be well if all parts of the Empire having coast-lines to defend built their own navies, and that the several squadrons so constituted would be of as much assistance to Great Britain in time of war as were the squadrons of the allies to the Athenian Navy at Salamis. Even if our vessels were not first-class battleships, they would be a splendid auxiliary force in time of trouble. If we proceeded to lay down the foundations of a navy of our own we should have, in Australia more docks, more ship-building yards, and more factories for the production of warlike stores, and; we should be able to do far more than we are now doing with the £200,000 paid annually under the Naval Agreement. I have occupied the attention of the Committee at some length, but I felt it my duty to deal with the two questions of the new protection and the defence of Australia. If we have officers who, although connected with our military organization for some years, are yet unable to devise a workable scheme, there must be something wrong. On the other hand, if they have a scheme for the defence of Australia, by all means let it be submitted by the Minister to the House. I speak in the interests of the taxpayer. Although I belong to a party, many of the supporters of which do not desire any military expenditure,. I recognise that whether they desire it or not, our circumstances are such that we may be called upon at any time to defend ourselves, and that we should therefore prepare for such an emergency.
House adjourned at 10.38 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 5 September 1907, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1907/19070905_reps_3_38/>.