3rd Parliament · 3rd Session
Mr. Speaker topic the chair at 2.30 p.m., andread prayers.
– In answering a question asked yesterday by the honorable member for Corio, I said that Colonel Wallack is the senior military officer”under the present organization. “ To be perfectly clear, I should have said that he is the senior officer for administrative purposes. The Military Board is charged with administration, and its senior member is the senior officer for administrative purposes. This seniority has no bearing on the seniority list of the Military Forces.
– Was Major-General Hoad, whose absence from the Commonwealth gave rise to the questions of the honorable member for Corio, charged with administrative duties, or was he merely the InspectorGeneral of the Australian Military Forces ?
– The duties of the Inspector-General are laid down definitely ; they do not include administration.
– What officer, under the Minister, is at present in command of the Military Forces of Australia?
– Administration is under the control of the Military Board. In each State the District Commandant has his responsibilities. There has been no alteration of duties or status consequent upon the inspectional work hitherto performed by the Inspector-General.
– But the Chairman of the Military Board is over the State Commandant.
MINISTERS laid upon the table the following papers -
Post and Telegraph Act -
Telephone Regulations Amended -
Parts I. and XIII.- Statutory Rules 1908, No. 62.
Parts I. and VI - Statutory Rules1908, No. 63.
Part XIX.- Statutory Rules1908, No.
Postal Regulations Amended - Postcards ; Telephone Regulations Amended - Parts XII. and XVII- Statutory Rules1908, No. 73.
Public Service Act - Substituted Regulation 168 - Statutory Rules 1908, No. 100.
– On the 22nd May last, the honorable member for Yarra, for the honorable member for Corio, asked two questions relating to the administration of the Bounties Act. The information desired is now available, the questions and the answers to them being -
Question 1. Have any applications by persons under the Bounties Act been received ; and, if so, how many ?
Question 2. How much money does the Minister expect to have to pay for Bounties between now and October, 1910 ?
The above estimates have been prepared by the State collectors, and are based on the information at present available, but it is obviously impossible to forecast with certainty the development which may take place within the next two years in the articles which are the subject of bounty, and these estimates must therefore be regarded as approximate only.
South Australian Works - Ballan Post Office - Townsville Mails -Ka- toomba Telephone.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
Whether, in view of the fact that the South Australian Post and Telegraphic Department accounts show a substantial and increasing surplus of revenue over expenditure, the funds required to carry out authorized works there will soon be found?
– In reply to the honorable member’s question, I have to state that as all new works are charged to “other” expenditure, and paid for by the whole Commonwealthper capita on a population basis, the carrying out of such works does not depend upon the revenue of the State. All authorized works throughout the Commonwealth will be carried out as soon as possible.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– Inquiries are being made, and the information will be furnished as soon as possible.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows : - i am unable to say definitely ; but this work, with others of a similar character, is being carefully considered in connexion with the Estimates now being prepared.
Precedence of Military Officers
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The District Commandant has furnished mewith the following replies in the matter -
Allowances and Expenses
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
Applications were invited from officers desirous of going under the following special conditions : -
Ninety officers applied to go under those conditions, and the four selected are now on the way to India.
As the officers now sent will only be in India about four or five months, I approved of the special arrangement mentioned in answer to question 1. As the idea of citizen officers obtaining instruction in India is new, the officers sent have been informed that if they find they are put to any expense which should properly be borne by the Commonwealth, their applications for reasonable increase of the authorized scale will receive favorable consideration.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Cape Argus, Cape Colony.
August nth, 1908.
A Peninsular Epidemic. - Not Scarlet Fever this time. - Hungry Burglars at Work.
There is an epidemic in the suburbs. It is not scarlet fever, nor is it typhoid, nor influenza, nor gout caused by rich living. It is thieving. The police in each village from here to Simon’s Town are getting reports every day. In such places as Claremont and
Wynberg, shops are being broken into night after night. And, what is significant, food is stolen more than anything else. . . . ?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow -
asked the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -
Whether he has taken into consideration the advisableness of making provision in the proposed Iron Bonus Bill, for giving a bonus or bounty for the production of tin plates?
– The question will receive careful consideration.
asked the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow -
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow -
It does not appear to apply to the new conditions of subsidy with regard to the German steamers trading between Australia and German New Guinea.
Board of Trade was specially called to the matter by myself, at the Imperial Conference last year. Recent correspondence was published in the London Times’ weekly edition, 31st July, at the instance of Sir Gilbert Parker, who has more than once referred to the question in the House of Commons.
Motion (by Mr. Johnson) agreed to -
That a return be laid upon the table showing -
The number of steamers trading to Australia which have been disabled through accidents to . machinery since the inauguration of the Commonwealth.
The names and tonnage of such steamers, and the nature of the accidents in each case.
Whether such steamers were . fitted with single or double propellers.
If with single propellers, whether supplied with effective sail or other auxiliary power sufficient to render the steamers navigable in case of a breakdown through accidents to machinery.
Debate resumed from 16th September (vide page 41), on motion by Mr. Chanter -
That the Address-in-Reply to His Excellency’s Speech, as read by the Clerk, be agreed to by the House.
– I begin my few remarks this afternoon bymaking a very candid confession. In all my Parliamentary experience I have rarely faced a new Parliament or a new session with less satisfaction to myself than I face this. It is only due to the House that I should say that right at the outset. The cause of that dissatisfaction is not in connexion with anything that my friendsopposite have done, so much as with the condition of affairs on my own side of the Chamber. We have been engaged now for some time during this Parliament in clearing up some questions which were supposed to lead the way to a regrouping of parties in this House. Those questions, so far as I am aware, have been finally put away, so far as any parliamentary action may be final, and yet, notwithstanding that they have been dealt with definitely and decisively for the time being, we are in the same positionof separation, with the resulting want of power which ought rightly to be ours inthe exercise of our duties. I know of no reason why the Opposition in this Chamber should be in its present position.
– They want a solidarity movement.
– We want solidarity in our ranks. That is the main outstanding requirement of the situation. There are honorable members here who have much in common. Honorable members have been returned whose views, broadly speaking, follow the same political lines, but for some reason or other we are acting apart, with the result that the Government are enabled to do much mischief to the vital interests of this country. No consideration, personal or otherwise, should stand in the way of the alteration of this condition of affairs. So far as I know, no personal considerations do stand in the way- A clear and distinct statement has been made, so far as we are concerned, that no personal considerations of any kind stand in the way of a regrouping of parties, and the consolidation of the Opposition in this Chamber.
– But good principles do.
– Every one knows that the honorable member is a great authority on principle.
Several honorable members interjecting,.
– May I once more remind the House that when any honorable member is speaking he is entitled to express his own opinion, whether other honorable members concur in it or not ? Should any honorable member dissent from the opinion expressed, the proper time to voice that dissent is when the honorable member who is speaking has resumed his seat, and not during the course of his speech. I must ask that honorable members will, so far as may be possible - and that will go a very long way - refrain from breaking the thread of an honorable member’s speech by these constant interjections.
– I had finished what I had intended to say concerning that matter, except this - that a perusal of the Governor-General’s speech emphasizes the need of something in the direction I have just indicated. Here we have the Government sailing full speed ahead - with their friends in the corner apparently in complete accord with them as to the main planks of their platform - and certainly showing no disposition to carry out the expressed obligations of the Prime Minister, to seek a rebalancing of parties in this House so soon as the fiscal question should have been disposed of. One might reasonably expect, since the fiscal question has been dealt with, and the American Fleet has got safely away from . our shores, that the Prime Minister himself would have taken some step in this direction. The House had been led clearly to believe that he would. We remember the incident of a few months ago, when the Prime Minister, smarting under some blow which had been dealt him by his quondam friends in the Corner, brought the Governor-General in dramatic fashion from a pleasure trip to Kosciusko in order that he might hand to him the seals of office which he had received at his hands. That, we were told distinctly, was to be preparatory to a re-grouping of the Government, and of the parties in this House. We were then told that the reason the prime Minister was induced to retain his position was that it was necessary to keep his pledges to the country, and to see a measure of protection placed safely upon the statute-book. Then we were told that the Prime Minister had decided that he had certain obligations regarding the visit of the American Fleet, and that the moment those obligations were discharged
– I made no such statement. It was too ridiculous to deny.
– Quite so; but the Prime Minister’s friends made the statement for him, and so far as I am aware, it was not denied.
– It was denied by me to every one who spoke to me about it.. It was a ridiculous statement.
– I am inclined to think that the honorable gentleman did not deny it to every one who spoke to him, on the subject. I am aware, at all events, that some of his closest friends were unmistakably under the impression that it was his intention to take that action.
– They urged it upon me”, and I entirely dissented from it, saying that whoever was at the head of the Commonwealth Government the American Fleet would be sure of a hearty welcome.
– Then it is a great pity that the honorable gentleman did not take steps to publicly deny the statements that were made repeatedly in all the newspapers and went for current gossip at the time. I congratulate him. upon his robust appearance. He certainly shows no desire to quit his important post; he appears to be quite satisfied with the position that he holds, mainly as the mouth-piece of the powerful and united body below the gangway. But if the honorable gentleman has made up his mind to lead the Labour Party in the Commonwealth Parliament, it would be well for him to declare that intention publicly and decisively, so that outsiders may know exactly the position that he occupies. Above all things it is of the utmost importance at this juncture in the affairs of Australia that the Prime Minister should stop posturing, as he has been accustomed to do for months, regarding his intentions and his obligations to the people of the Commonwealth. Every one knows -I do not know whether the honorable gentleman will deny this statement also-that at Ballarat he gave a definite undertaking to his own constituents and. to the country at the last general election, that so soon as the fiscal question had been disposed of he would do his utmost to resolve the parties in this House into two.
– That is equally incorrect; it was categorically denied at the time.
– Does the honorable member deny that he made that statement at Ballarat?
– I did not say what the honorable member says I did. When the statement appeared in one of the Melbourne newspapers it was at once contradicted by me at Ballarat, and what I did say was re-stated.
– Was not the honorable gentleman’s statement to the effect that so soon asthe fiscal question was disposed of in this Parliament he would seek to reduce the three elevens in this House to two?
– There are now four elevens in this House.
– No doubt there are four elevens at present, and the more is the pity. The Prime Minister, apparently regardless of the statement to which I have referred, and which was made clearly to the people of Australia, sits securely and comfortably in his seat. He is content to be kept there by people who have just repudiated him; by people who declared at the Brisbane Conference that they would not grant him immunity from opposition at the next General Election; that they would not countenance him in any way except as a useful tool - and I make this remark with no desire to give offence to the honorable member - to do their work for them. The country is entitled to know the attitude of the Prime Minister regarding the declarations made in caucus assembled, by my honorable friends in the Ministerial corner, who find him his support in this House. The Government programme makes it very clear that he is continuing, quite contentedly, to do their work for them. He is here with all his brilliancy, colour, and art - and noone has felt and recognised the power of his brilliancy more than I have - to do their work for them. With all his gyrations, however, his position reminds one of those beautiful butterflies one sees with a pin put through them.The Labour pin is there.
– That is the king pin.
– That is so. It is a pin put there by the leader of the Labour Party, and despite his struggling-
– Would not the honorable gentleman like to be pinned in the same way ?
– I assure the honorable member that I would not.
– The tone of the Honorable member’s reply is deceptive.
– I haveno desire to feel the force of that pin. The Prime Minister, however, is pinned securely to do exactly what the Labour Party suggests he should. I congratulate him upon his position. I am afraid, however, that all the appeals that may be made to him from this side will be of no avail; and we must say of him, as it is said in the Old Book, “ Ephraim is joined to idols,” and that we shall be compelled to let him alone.
– Is it not up to him to pin the Labour Party?
– I do not think so. He isdoing their work for them better than they could hope to do it for themselves. We have LabourParties in power in Australia, and, so far as their programmes are concerned, they are not doing a tithe of the work that the Prime Minister has done, and is doing, for the Labour Party in this Parliament. From a technical point of view they would be foolish in the extreme if they sought to dislodge him from his position and to take his place. Leaving that matter, and coming to the programme that has been presented to us, I desire to make but few observations. I am as anxious as the Government are to end the session well before Christmas, having dealt in the meantime, I hope, with the three great questions that stand in the forefront of the programme.
– There are a dozenor more.
– There are a dozen, but they are all grouped in one paragraph, and, of course, we know what that means. Now that the honorable member for Lang has reminded me, I should like to make one reference to an important omission in the programme, namely, that of any reference to the appointment of a High Commissioner. Is this matter to continue to be dangled before the House in the manner in which it has been for years ?
-I answered a question on that subject last night - a measure is going to be introduced.
– Then the omission from the Speech of any reference to it is all the more singular.
– I think so.I remember distinctly that, on the last occasion, this matter was associated with the question of immigration. It was considered to be a matter of vital moment that the High Commissioner should be appointed in order that he might take control of immigration ; but now we find the latter question connected with a constitutional matter and an Agricultural Bureau. It is marvellous how this question of immigration is dealt with in this relative way. It is associated first with one question and then with another ; and it would really seem to be connected with all the legislation of Australia.
-It is most important to all legislation.
– If the High Commissioner Bill is so importantin its relative aspects, why is it not referred to in the Speech from the Throne? It is being dangled before honorable members like the proverbial bunch of carrots; and I ask whether it is to be hung up in reserve for some particular emergency ? We are entitled to know why any reference to the question should be omitted from His Excellency’s Speech on this occasion. Coming to the speech itself, I desire to call attention to the first really operative paragraph. The Government begin by placing in the forefront - only for reference, and not, it seems, for any particular purposes - the much-debated question of the new protection. Singular to say, that is the first subject mentioned in the speech, but it is only mentioned - it has to stand back, apparently, until two other questions which have been laid before us are “ sufficiently advanced.” I call attention to the very indefinite language of this paragraph. What on earth does this mean ?
Recent decisions of the High Court render necessary the submission of an amendment of the Constitution relating to the “ New Protection,” which will be laid before you when measures denning the Seat of Government and providing for National Defence are sufficiently advanced.
What are we to understand by “ sufficiently advanced”? Does it mean when these measures are passed and placed on the statute-book, or does it mean when the clamant voices of my friends in the Labour corner make some fresh demand on the Government to proceed with the new protection referendum at the earliest possible moment? I think we are entitled to know definitely what the paragraph means as to the order of precedence of these three important measures. I should like to make just one remark concerning the mover and seconder of the Address-in-Reply. For the first time this duty was given to two very old and experienced politicians - two gentlemen, both of whom have held office in the States, and who on every ground are to be regarded as “old Parliament hands.” The result was that we had two very lengthy, and, on the whole, excellent speeches. But I should like to say, in the first place, that one noted with some satisfaction the moving up of the honorable member for Riverina to his proper place behind the Government. We can only hope that during the recess he has seen his way to make his peace again with Ministers, and to trouble them no more as he did in the closing hours of last session. I presume that his taking a position immediately behind the Government yesterday means that he intends, at any rate, to trouble them no more in regard to that question which seemed to be such a thorn in the side of the Administration last session, and concerning which we had the spectacle of the Prime Minister abrogating his responsibility as leader of the House, and consigning to a Committee for investigation the action taken by a colleague in his administrative capacity. I take it that the position of the honorable member behind the Government indicates that we are to hear no more of that matter, and, if that be the case, we ought to be very well satisfied. The honorable member for Riverina made one remark to which I desire to refer. Speaking of the visitof the American Fleet he said that the Prime Minister conceived the notion of issuing the invitation so that we might receive from our visitors a lesson as to our obligation in the matter of national defence. I hope, Mr. Speaker, that that was not the predominating motive which animated the Prime Minister. While that may very well be a result, I hope that no such mercenary motive solely influenced the Prime Minister’s action. I take it that the fleet was invited so that we might show the American people that we still regard them as our kith and kin, belonging to a common race from a common stock, having common ideals and certainly common aspirations. They speak the same language and acknowledge the same common Christianity, and they form a nation of which we have a right to be proud, and in the future development of which we ought to be, and are, intensely interested. That I should say was the main reason for the invitation ; and I congratulate the Government on the magnificent entertainment that the people of Australia were able to so spontaneously provide. The visit has done good in every way; and it will be many a long year before we are able to fully estimate the great advantages which will accrue to us and to our visitors. The question of the new protection is one to which we must soon address ourselves, since it is given the foremost place in the Government programme. I have already spoken of the peculiar drafting of this paragraph in His Excellency’s speech; but I desire to make a remark to my friends in the Labour corner - to congratulate them on the way in which they have come up smiling after the way in which they were cheated last session. Forapiece of downright political cheatery commend me to the action of this Government on the harvester question. I said then, and I repeat, that there never was any sincerity in the proposal for new protection as applied to the harvester industry, for the reason that it was never once sought to be enforced. It is all very well to say that the matter was before the Law Courts ; that need not have interfered with the performance of the plain and obvious undertaking of the Government to collect the duties and pay them into a trust fund pending the decision of the High Court. However, the Government thought fit to leave the whole matter in abeyance, my friends of the Labour Party in the meantime waiting patiently. In the end, however, those honorable members were cheated of the new protection, but to-day they come up smiling as if nothing had happened ; and I congratulate them on their political philosophy. I am inclined to think that if I were sitting in the Labour corner, and had such experience of a bargain of that kind, I should not regard the position with such complacancy.
– They are not suffering; it is their friends outside who suffer.
– This kind of thing may be good labour politics, but there is very little social reform in it. There is not much, in such case, for the men outside who support the Labour Party so cordially, willingly, and self sacrificing!)’. Here we have this vague statement of the Government, which apparently is quite sufficient for the Labour corner. Ministers dangle the new protection before them, but say thatitmust await the decision of the House on two questions the discussion of one of which, at any rate, will consume the major portion of the time of the session. The Labour Party accepts the situation, and waits smilingly, perhaps to be cheated again by theGovernment of the day. However, it is a matter for them and their constituents, though I am entitled to call attention to it in passing.
-‘ ‘Cheating” is an admirable word to come from the deputy-leader of the Opposition.
– Under the circumstances, I shall not retract it.
-No one expects the honorable member to do so.
– I have not the slightest intention of substituting another word. I have never seen anything more like political cheating than the action of the Government in regard to the new protection as applied to the production of harvesters. The leader of the Labour Party may well be sensitive. Every one knows how supine he remained during the session, until he was prodded from outside, and on the last day of it, when he knew that he could achieve nothing, heroically and dramatically moved the adjournment.
– Those on the Oppositionside denounced the principle when it was first introduced. They are a bright lot to whine now.
– If the honorable member will show me how the benefitsof the protectionist Tariff can be ensured tothe workers, I shall help him in all waysto give them their fair share ; but I shall be no party to make-believe in regard to a policy which is impossible of realization, as the majority of honorable members in their hearts know this to be.
– There would not have been an appeal to the High Court had not the Government tried to compel the manufacturers to pay the excise previous to the fixing of wages.
– The men themselveshad to take the matter to Court.
– The Government of the day, having committed themselves to the policy, should have begun to collect the excise the moment the Act was passed, placing the money into a trust fund pending the decision of the High Court. Some worthy manuf acturers gave their employe good wages and conditions, and it was not fair for the Government to let the recalcitrant manufacturers continue without doing so, pending the decision of the High Court.
– After the wages werefixed ?
– Yes. Their inaction showed their insincerity. The leader of the Labour Party ignored the matter throughout last session, leaving one of. the doughty champions behind him to, very properly, make a nuisance of himself to the Government. He may therefore well be sensitive now when I use a word which exactly fits the situation. I wish in this connexion to call attention to the diatribes which have been launched against the High Court and its constitution by members of the Labour Party. Instead of blaming their own want of vigilance and the nonexercise of their power over the Government, they have abused the High Court, whose members cannot talk back to them.
– The Court is above all Governments.
– Yes, in the interpretation of our laws ; and I hope that it will remain so.
– Switzerland has not thought so.
– It will be a sorry day when it is sought to subordinate the judicial power of the Commonwealth to any Parliament composed as ours is.
– We used to be asked to trust the Court.
– Now we are asked to “bust” it.
– “Trust the Court” has been a favourite phrase with certain honorable members; but the Court having decided against them, they have changed the word, as the honorable member says, from “trust” to “bust,” and condemn the Court and its constitution.
– It is a change for the Opposition to express itself willing to trust a Court.
– We have always been willing to do so.
– The Opposition would not trust the Arbitration Court.
– We have always been willing to trust the High Court to truly interpret our legislation ; but a decided change has come over the Labour Party. Its members have indulged in diatribes against the Court because of its decision in regard to the new protection, and the power of the Parliament to deal with industrial matters. When I hear them denouncing the partiality of the Court, I am tempted to make a reply ; but I think that I had better not do so.
– The honorable member would not make a fetish of the High Court ?
– No. I would confine it to its proper function, the interpretation of our legislation.
– There is no necessity to worship it.
– We do not worship it; we merely pay it the respect due to it. I am not a worshipper of any Court, except that which we all profess to worship. I do not worship Courts composed by human hands, or created by human ingenuity. But the High Court having been set up to guard the Constitution, we should respect its decisions, and place them beyond unreasonable and unfair criticism.
– The honorable member might offer some evidence of unfair criticism.
– The honorable member for Macquarie, speaking at Bathurst the other day, said -
There appeared to be a spirit of partisanship in the judgments of the High Court on the Federal legislation submitted to it. for interpretation.
Why did not the honorable member say that his party had supported the Government which had made these allegedly partisan appointments, if any have been made? He left that unsaid.
– The honorable member can say it for him.
– I do not wish to say it. I make no criticism of the composition of the Court. I think it entitled to the fullest respect, by reason of its high ability, its fairness, and the luminous character of its judgments. The honorable member went on to say -
It was strange that they always had on one side two men who they knew Had democratic political principles, and on the other three men whose political principles they knew to be Conservative.
That is precisely what we have thought more than once. It is strange that those two gentlemen, who were members of this Chamber, and framed this legislation, have always been on one. side when judgments respecting it have been delivered from the Bench.
– Then the honorable member has been mentally criticising the Court.
– So has every one else.
– There are cases in which mental reservation is commendable, and this is one of them. To continue the quotation from the remarks of the honorable member for Macquarie -
It was necessary, in the interests of progressive legislation, that this state of affairs should terminate, and at the next elections the people would be afforded the opportunity of saying whether the laws should be made by Judges or by the representatives of the people in Parliament.
Will honorable members say that that is a fair statement of the case? Is this judgemade law ?
– I believe it to be judge-made law, just as the Taff Vale decision was.
– The honorable member knows better. He is aware that the Parliament made the law, and that the Court has told us what apparently he did not know when he helped to make it.
– Two of the Judges have not.
– Two of the Judges have always been on the one side; I leave it at that. Notwithstanding, the Court is entitled to the fullest respect of the people of Australia. Challenged to give evidence in support of my statements, let me quote from a speech delivered by the leader of the Labour Party at Alexandria, a suburb of Sydney. He said there a few nights ago -
In every instance where he had known progressive legislation to be passed by any Parliament they found the Judges taking the most conservative view of the legislation. There was always an inclination on the part of the Judges to construe the law against the men who were least able to defend themselves:
– The history of the world declares it.
– I should like to know what allegation against the Court could be more odious?
– That is inseparable from Judges’ decisions. I could adduce a Judge’s evidence in support of my statement.
– The Taff Vale case over again.
– I leave these quotations to speak for themselves.
– Does not the honorable member think that the side which has most money can get its case presented most perfectly, and has, therefore, the best chance of winning?
– I should like to hear the opinion of my honorable friend, who is a law student, on the subject.
– I think that it always pays to employ the best counsel.
– Is that the opinion of the honorable member’s colleagues, who seem to be doing remarkably well out of the Arbitration Court? Is it a question of the most money there?
– If they are doing well, it shows that thev have ability.
– Then the honorable member admits that it is a question of ability, not of payment. I presume he means that ability must be bought. The result is that men of great ability belonging to his party are doing exceedingly well to-day in the Courts, both for themselves and their clients.
– That is why all the members of the party are becoming lawyers.
– I would remind those who have criticised the composition of the High Court Bench that at least one of the Justices who are supposed to be conservative favoured the granting of power by the States to the Commonwealth to realize the condition of things which it has been sought to bring about. When, in 1901, Mr. Justice Higgins, then representing Northern Melbourne, moved in favour of acquiring from the States the power to enforce uniform industrial legislation, Mr. Justice Barton, then leader of the Government, spoke most favorably of the proposal. He took exception only to the terms of the motion submitted by the honorable member for Northern Melbourne. The suggestion for amendment made by the leader of the Government of that day was cheerfully accepted by the honorable member for Northern Melbourne, and with that alteration the motion was carried unanimously by both Houses. So far as I am concerned - and I doubt if there will be a single exception over here to this statement - we entirely subscribe to the opinion expressed in that motion by the unanimous voice of both Chambers. The resolution was to the effect that if the States saw fit to grant this power, we would take it and use it.
– That goes a long way !
– It was all the honorable member wanted on that occasion.
– That is not correct.
– There is no speech of the honorable member, so far as I am able to find, against it. There was the unanimous vote of the House in favour of it.
– Of course; but we regarded it as “chips in porridge.” We would accept anything the States liked to give us.
– Why does the honorable member prefer chips in porridge?
– It is only fair, in justification of Sir Edmund Barton, who has been so unjustly accused in this matter by honorable members below the gangway, to read a portion of his speech upon that occasion, which I think destroys every atom of basis of their criticism and their unfair allegations concerning the composition of the High Court.
– No one has criticised the composition of the High Court.
– If the honorable member’s statement is not a criticism of the composition of the High Court, I should like to know what is. I do not want to do the honorable member any injustice, but what does he take this to mean? Clearly, this is a reference to the new protection, and he was discussing that very subject when he made use of this language -
There was always an inclination on the part of the Judges to construe the law against the men who were least able to defend themselves.
– In all Courts.
– Including the High Court, then?
– Of course.
– I say, therefore, that this is an offensive allegation, as to the composition of the High Court, on the honorable member’s part. I quote these words from what Sir Edmund Barton said when this Very matter was before the Chamber on that occasion -
This will make it clear to the States that we are simply declaring our willingness to accept this power, if they grant it - not that we set about acquiring it in any sense that we wish to wrest the power away from them. It is absolutely necessary in our early dealings - and, in fact, in all our dealings with the States of the Union - that whatever treatment we may experience ourselves, we shall behave in the most conciliatory way to the States. I hope it will be seen that I have endeavoured to act on that principle from ‘the beginning, and it is in accordance with that principle that I think we should make the alteration I have suggested, _ so as to let the States understand, when this motion is carried and becomes public, that we are not making any application to them .to surrender the power, but merely declaring our willingness to accept that power, if they, will grant it, for the general good of Australia. That there ought to be such a power exercised, I am now convinced.
There is the answer to all the allegations those gentlemen have been making on the platforms of the country. One of the Judges who declared against them announced in this House that he was in favour of such a grant of power being made, and believed that it should be made voluntarily by the States. That is our position to-day.
– Will the honorable member assist us to get that power now?
– I will not assist the honorable member to wrest a general grant of power from the States.
– The honorable member’s leader will.
– I doubt if my leader will.
– He said that he would.
– I doubt even if he said so.
– We will soon demonstrate that he said so.
– Does the honorable member take up the position that he is not going to assist the workers in these industries to get decent wages?
– I hope I take up no such position. If the honorable member can show me a way to assist the workers, I shall help him to the utmost of my power to do so, but I am so fully convinced that all the workers W111 get from this kind of legislative tree will be dead sea fruit that I decline to commit myself to any such will-o’-the-wisp proceedings. I will tell the honorable member candidly why. Honorable members are drawing, the attention of their fellows in the various States away from a ready means of redress in this very particular. There are State Courts existing for the purpose of fixing wages - Courts agitated for and secured amongst others by my honorable friends.
– Hear, hear; because there was nothing better to be got.
– What does my honorable friend propose better by this suggested legislation?
– We should get an Australian authority winch would equalize conditions.
– Standing in the very forefront is the statement that they will accept the decisions of the State Courts, and make them the standard of the wages to be paid to these men. In their own proposed legislation they, say, therefore, that the State Courts are effective, and that in their judgments upon wages they are fair, reasonable, and satisfactory. They make those Courts the basis of their proposals.
– The honorable member knows that the State Court, in New South Wales, decided that it had not the power to give what it thought a fair thing, because it could have no influence on Victorian legislation.
– And some States have no Courts at all.
– I know that; and, strange to say, some of the places with the most ineffective Courts, and some where there are no Courts at all, are those that are being ruled at present by my honorable friend’s party. The places where these Courts are operative, and doing their greatest good, are those where there are those Liberal Governments in power which seem to be the bête noir of my honorable friends.
– The New South Wales Court confessed its inability, with its limited power, to give satisfaction.
– The New South Wales Court has been reconstituted, as my honorable friend knows, and reconstituted, I believe, infinitely for the better. I believe the time will come when that Court will have the allegiance even of my honorable friends.
– Will the honorable member meet the position of the boot trade award, commented on by Mr. Justice Heydon ?
– I am not careful to meet that position. The State Court of New South Wales can treat the bootmakers of New South Wales fairly, and there are Wages Boards in Victoria which can treat their operatives fairly.
– And do.
– I do not say whether they do or not, but they have the power to do it. I am, however, going too much into detail. The Prime Minister ought to make clear to the House and the country the extent of the power that he proposes to acquire by means of this referendum. Is it to be a grant of power, for instance, to apply fair wages rates where the industry is dependent upon a protective Tariff? If that is the full limitation of the power that he seeks, I should like to know whether it will satisfy my honorable friends in the corner. They know well that it will not. What do those honorable members want? In view of what their declared wants are, we are entitled to know from the Prime Minister what he seeks to do. The honorable member for Cook wants power to unify the industrial conditions of all the railways of Australia - the very thing for which I believe the Prime Minister left office some time ago. Does he propose to meet that demand? Does he propose to include it in the general power which he seeks to acquire from the States or not? We are entitled, particularly in view of the Prime Minister’s historic connexion with that matter, to a plain statement from him upon it. The honorable member for Batman has, or had, a motion on the paper which seeks to unify the industrial laws of the whole of Australia. Does the Prime Minister propose to take power to do that? The honorable member for Kalgoorlie wants to take over the educational systems of the States, and all round there is a general desire on the part of my, honorable friends to unify the whole of the social powers of Australia. To put it plainly, they are moving full steam ahead for unification.
– It is an urgent public necessity in the Education Departments.
– I am sure the honorable member thinks there is an urgent public necessity for everything my honorable friend suggests. I am not saying that there is not. I only want to know what the attitude of the Prime Minister is to be towards all these important requests and considerations. Is he going to take under the guise of the new protection a general industrial and social power of large range, such as is indicated in this multiplicity of requests from my friends in the corner? The House and the country are entitled to have a clear statement from the Prime Minister as to the range and scope of the proposed power for enacting the new protection. I will tell honorable members another difficulty that I see in connexion with the new protection. It is a fiscal difficulty, so far as I am concerned. Will those honorable members who favour the new protection deny that it means the confirmation and extension of the old protection? It does not mean merely letting the present Tariff alone. The machinery outlined by the honorable member for South Sydney proposes that there shall be a continual revision of the Tariff so as to fit the Tariff to the wage conditions, and I suppose conversely to fit the wage conditions to the Tariff. It is a beautifully simple proposal for constant Tariff tinkering and revision.
– My proposal did not quite amount to that.
– I can read nothing else into it.
– Not by a long way.
– The honorable member proposes that Commissioners shall he appointed to determine whether proper wages are being paid, and also, to investigate ‘ the condition of an industry, to find out, I presume from its profits, whether it will pay sufficient wages, and if it will not, then the position, so far as that industry is concerned, must be reinvestigated by this House.
– I said I would leave in the hands of such a body power to recommend the revision of the Tariff where the consumer was being oppressed by- the manufacturer.
– Surely the honorable member would give the converse power to recommend increases of. the Tariff if the Commissioners found that the wages could not be paid?
– Whether I would do that or not, I have not so far said anything on the subject. All I say is that my remarks will not bear the interpretation the honorable member has put on them.
– It is surely involved in what the honorable member has said. Otherwise I must conclude that the honorable member is a most unreasonable man, and I do not think that he is.
– The question of increases must remain, as a matter of policy, with the Government.
– And also the matters to be investigated by the suggested Commissioners. I take it that if they are to investigate with a view to reducing the Tariff the honorable member surely intends that they shall also investigate with a view to increasing it if it be found necessary.
– That point is worthy of consideration, but I would not bind myself to it.
– The honorable member knows that it is necessarily involved. .
– I do not think so.
– It is an elementary principle of equity, and therefore we have presumably a proposition for a constant tinkering with the Tariff and constant interference with business relations.
– In Canada there is in operation a piece of machinery by which the Tariff may be reduced in certain cases, but there is no proposal that the same body or piece of machinery shall make increases.
– The honorable member proposes to follow the. Canadian principle ?
– So far as the method of working is concerned, save that I suggest that a Board of Trade should be substituted for the Supreme Court.
– And the honorable member would also follow the Canadian principle with regard to the kind of Tariff that should be in force.
– The honorable member is a high tariffist. I want to say distinctly that this new protection means a new Tariff and a still1 higher one as the result of the inevitable law of competition and the rules of business procedure. More than that has been already hinted by Ministers themselves. The Vice-President of the Executive Council, speaking in Melbourne a little while ago, distinctly told the manufacturers of Victoria that if the protection they enjoyed were insufficient they should come to Parliament for more. Having regard to this and the statements made by the Treasurer, I believe that the Government intend, when they seek a grant for the new protection, to ask for still higher duties. This is what was said by the Vice-President of the Executive Council on the occasion to which I have referred.
The position is this, that we should extend to manufacturers such protection as would enable them to pay a fair and reasonable wager If they are willing, and I take it that they are - “ They are not,” interrupted a couple of voices. “ I’m not going to say anything against our own manufacturers,” Senator Best continued. “ Let us take the matter quietly and calmly. I say this is their opportunity. I’m told that a large percentage of them have for months been paying the rate of wages fixed by Mr. Justice Higgins. It is competent for them now to come to Parliament and say, ‘ Gentlemen, we are prepared to pay our workmen this standard of wages. We want to show that to enable us to do so we need further protection.’ “
That is a responsible statement made by the Minister who piloted the Tariff through another place. “ Take the harvesters,” he answered. “ That is essentially a local industry. We are justified in giving it almost prohibitive protection. If in that industry the manufacturers come and show to an expert their books, or prove by any reasonable means they can that unless they get higher protection they cannot pay the wages, Parliament will not fail to listen to their representations. If it means that they cannot pay the wages existing under the Tariff conditions, the protection must be increased.”
Those are words of weighty import.
– And of wisdom.
– The honorable member also subscribes to them. I am justified, therefore, in inferring that the Government proposal with regard to the new protection is to be coupled with one to increase the old protection provided that a case can be made out for it. If interested manufacturers are invited to make out a case for more protection, who will doubt that they will have a very hard try to do so?
– They have only to ask.
– It is a case of “ Ask and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full.” Unquestionably the new protection proposals of the Government mean a confirmation and an extension of the old protection. Let me say that I offer this criticism . in the best possible spirit, simply desiring that there shall be no mistake as to my attitude. It seems to me that my honorable friends are proposing that which is quite impossible. They may obtain a grant of power to carry whatever they like, but they cannot do that which they set out to do in respect of the new protection. They can accomplish what they propose only by enacting direct Socialism and applying it to all the necessities of Australia. If prices and wages be regulated, what is left for the manufacturer but the responsibility ? If we reach that point, I doubt whether a manufacturer will be prepared to take the responsibility unless he is to have some voice in the general direction of his own affairs. That seems to me to be the logical outcome of what my honorable friends propose. If they can by these means bring about the ideals which they seek fairly, honorably, and reasonably, from their point of view, more power to them. But this is a very serious question for the Prime Minister of Australia. If he is going to try to fix the prices of all goods and commodities on which there has been imposed a protective Tariff, while at the same time he seeks to regulate the wages earned in the industries relating to them, he is going to undertake a contract which I think is beyond the powers of a Parliament to carry out with any sort of success. I shall be glad to be shown to the contrary ; I shall be delighted if there is pointed out to me a way to give to the workman the meed which is his undoubted due. I concede to the full the right of the worker to benefit under any legislation passed by this Parliament for any other section of the community. I would point out to my honorablefriends, also, that they are proposing an entirely new principle in connexion with the new protection. So far every community that I wot of has confined its attention to the regulation of wages by law, but, strange to say, prices in those communities have always in the most sensitive way responded to the wage rates. We have only to go to New Zealand to find that as wages have increased by the operation of the Court, so have the prices of commodities. Mr. Ramsay Macdonald made this a point of special investigation when he visited New Zealand. He came back and reported that, whilst he found that in ten years the rates of wages there had increased by 8½ per cent., the prices of commodities during the same period had advanced by from 25 to 30 per cent.
– That is a good argument for the proposal to rectify the trouble.
– I should like to know how prices are to be regulated. The honorable member’s late leader had to climb down from that position only a little while ago, when he told the House that his party had decided that they could not expect to do more than regulate the wholesale prices of goods at the warehouses.
– They could not do that.
– That is what they said they proposed to do; but they certainly could not do it. Even if they could, there would be absolutely no guarantee to the general public. I can conceive of no more facile means of constructing the trusts that are so much decried than would be afforded by a mere tinkering with the prices of goods at the point at which they are dealt with in a wholesale way.
– Do not trusts all over the world regulate prices, and is not that practice going on increasingly?
– The honorable member for Parramatta has not been alive lately.
– The honorable member is right; I am not alive in the sense he is, and I say frankly that I do not wish to be. In my “ aliveness “ - if I may coin a word - I have not the habitof jumping over difficulties as my honorable friend tries to do. I believe in endeavouring to look them in the face. My honorable friends may denounce me as much as they please for doing that, but I shall keep on doing it, and I do not think that it will be found, in the end, that I have done anything detrimental to the working classes in seeking to investigate the means suggested for the amelioration of their conditions and for their relief. I should be glad to hear the leader of the Labour Party in reply. If he can show me how to safeguard the consumer and to safeguard the worker I shall be delighted to assist him in doing so in an effective manner.
– Cannot the honorable member himself find a way ?
– I candidly confess that I cannot along the line he suggests. I have taken up in this House before now attitudes that have been confirmed later on, and I tell my honorable friend again that, try as he may, he cannot do what he proposes to do. If he can, and succeeds in doing it, I shall be mistaken for once. I am reminded that the High Court has just declared that all the bitter denunciation which my honorable friends in the Ministerial corner heaped upon my humble self and those associated with me in connexion with the union label legislation was quite beside the mark. When we told them that we had not the power to enact that legislation they snapped their fingers at us and berated us with all the bitterness at their command. Apparently we were not so far out; but it would appear that unless one has not only consideration for the legitimate ends that the Labour Party have in view, but is prepared to support the particular methods proposed by them to accomplish those ends, one is regarded as a deadly enemy of their cause.
– We were told when the union label legislation was before us that we should trust the Court.
– And the Opposition have scored in three out of five cases. Let them make the best of it ; the people may suffer, but that is immaterial !
– The honorable member’s cant will not relieve the people of one bit of suffering of which I know.
– Sophistry will not help them.
– There is nothing cheaper than canting talk of that kind. In some places promises are a cur rent political coin of value, but the people outside find in the end that whatever their political value may be to my honorable friends, they have no value so far as they are concerned.
– They put the right value on the honorable member’s remarks.
– Perhaps they do, and I am sure that they put the right value on the honorable member. We shall all have our values fixed by that great average public which, on the whole, is fairly unerring, so that we need not gird at each other on that point. My honorable friend is rather young to talk in that way.
– And the honorable member is too old to hope to alter the public opinion of. him.
– Perhaps so; I certainly do not wish to alter the honorable member’s impression of me. My friends in the Labour corner seem to be very restive, and, as time is pressing, I shall turn from that point to the all-important question of defence, which finds a prominent place in the Government programme. In the first place, one observes a constant modification of the old conscript proposals of the Prime Minister. I am glad to see that modification proceeding at a very rapid rate, and I hope it will go further, so that before we have done there shall be evolved a satisfactory working scheme for the defence of the Commonwealth. At first, we were told that the militia had to go - that it had to be merged in a compulsory army which was to act without pay and without perquisites. And the volunteers, together with the militia, were to be thus abolished. It seems now, however, that the militia is to be retained; and I should like to know in what sense, and to what extent, they are to be retained. Are they to receive their present pay and perquisites? Is it proposed that the paid system and the unpaid system shall go on side by side? If so, wherein does the new arrangement differ from the present arrangement ? We have our militia and our volunteer systems today ; and the Prime Minister proceeded or the preliminary assumption that the dual arrangement had been a failure. The honorable gentleman tells us now, however, that the dual arrangement is to be perpetuated - that we cannot afford to wipe it out altogether. There is another matter regarding which I think the Prime Minister is entitled to make some statement to the House. I refer to the suggestion of the leader of the Labour Party at Alexandria the other night - a suggestion which is embodied in the proposition made by the honorable member for Coolgardie. The idea is that there shall be no further increase in the military expenditure unless that expenditure be met by direct taxation. If the Government propose to accept that proposition, how far are they prepared to enforce it; and what is the relation of the two parties opposite concerning this important matter? We mav have as many armies as we like, but they cost money; the most costly institutions in existence to-day are the armies and navies of the various countries of the world. My friends opposite, however, say that the new military proposals will cost no more money than does the present system, and are emphatic on the point that no more shall be spent from ordinary revenues unless those revenues are supplemented by some method of direct taxation. In view of the importance of the matter, the Prime Minister should tell us exactly where he “proposes to raise the money. I should like to say a word of protest against the scare which is constantly raised both within and without this Chamber; and there are, I regret to say, no greater scaremongers to-day than those who are most responsible to the country. We heard it stated yesterday that there is some terrible menace overshadowing Australia from the E.ast. But the only menace I know of to-day is in the North Sea. It may be that in the course 0 years - I think it will take centuries - there may develop a terrible menace in the East ; but I do not see any overhanging the horizon at the present time. We are in friendly alliance with Japan for some years to come, and that country has recently shown its real intentions by reducing its defence expenditure by ^20,000,000. Is that evidence of a fresh menace overhanging or overshadowing Australia? My reading of the situation gives quite a contrary indication. Last night we were referred to China; and it is suggested that the 400,000,000 people there are going to take Australia by force. If ever the time comes when the people of China become coherent - if ever the “ time comes when they break down their own internal barriers, and become a homogeneous nation - then we may fear some menace from that quarter. But so long as China is in its present condition, with 1,200 walled cities within its territory, separating each little community from the other, what chance is there for its people to so cohere as,” for many years to come, to make them a menace to us? When I see those walls breaking down in the interior of China - when I see the people “there welding themselves together in closer social intercourse,, and seeking common ideals, as they are not doing to-day, I shall begin to fear a descent on Australia. But until those conditions arise, there is more likelihood, of internal war than external war in the case of China. In the meantime, Australia should do its utmost to fill up its own vacant spaces. The honorable member for Laanecoorie last night referred to the question of population, and’ said, amongst other things, that there had teen a meeting at the Law Institute of Tokio, at which there was discussed the question whether Australia was not breaking the law of nations by its noneffectiveoccupation of this continent. But is that to be regarded as a sign of menace? Is it’ such an event as to make us leap toarms instanter. I made much the same suggestion myself during last session, and’ I repeat that the deliberate nonoccupationof a vacant continent is a standing affront to the civilization of the world.
– There is good reasonwhy the honorable member should discussthis matter, but is there any reason whyJapan .should do so?
– The honorablemember knows that the reason in the caseof Japan arises from our own legislation. So far as that legislation aims at, or is intended to keep intact our racial purity, it’ has no firmer or warmer supporters than honorable members on this side of theHouse.
– They are all of that opinion now !
– So far as I know, there is no member in the House at the present time who would contravenethose ideals and aspirations in any way whatever. We, on this side, are as keenfor a white Australia as is the honorablemember for Wide Bay.
– Nothing succeeds likesuccess ! Only yesterday honorable members were howling the contrary !
– What does the honorable member mean? I confess I donot understand him. It seems to be a rule with the leader of the Labour Party, the moment we subscribe to anything in which he believes, to jump around as if we were insulting him in some way.
– I hope not !
– Then what does the honorable member mean ? We are with the honorable member and his party on this question ; all parties in the House are in favour of the maintenance of a white Australia, and would do nothing by word or deed to turn the policy in a contrary direction. I have already said that the one fleck on the international sky at the present time is in the North Sea, and I refer principally to the attitude of Germany. I« tell honorable members quite candidly that I do not believe that, powerful though Germany may be, the present temper of Europe would permit that country to break the peace. But is the Government contemplating anything to meet the menace there ?
– They propose to withdraw the naval subsidy !
– The Prime Minister thinks the best way to meet this European menace is, not by going to the Old Country with a supplementary guard j but by withdrawing the subsidy we at present pay ; and I think it is due to the honorable gentleman to make some statement to the House on the matter. Is the Prime Minister still of the same opinion he expressed at the Imperial Conference, namely, that our contribution to the Imperial Navy is unpopular in this country - that the money could be put to better use locally, and that it would be in the interests of the defence of the Empire that we should cease to pay the contribution of £200,000 per annum? It is time the Prime Minister took the House into his confidence, and told us frankly whether there has been any modification of his views, and what his personal attitude is. I should think that one rule with regard to Australian defence should be to strengthen the Imperial guard at its point of greatest vulnerability, not merely in our own seas, where there is no menace at present, but wherever it might be. I am the more emboldened to make the request for an expression of the Prime Minister’s views in regard to the European menace - and there appears to be none other - by reason of what is transpiring in the Old Country. During the last ten years the burden of defence of the Empire has increased from £40,000,000 per annum to £60,000,000 per .annum in Great Britain, whereas, during the same period, the increase in Australia has been about ,£60,000; in other words, the people of those little isles in the North Sea are paying 29s. 3d. per head for the defence of the Empire, while we here contribute only 4s. 1 id. per head. I should like to know from the Prime Minister whether it is proposed to continue to increase our contribution to the defence of the Empire in the same ratio; and, further, what form our future contribution to Imperial defence is to take? Will any one say, for instance, that this increased expenditure in the Old Country would have been undertaken if it had not been in the interests of the British dependencies? It is a statement, that trips glibly from the tongues of some men in Australia that if Great Britain had no dependencies she would still have to keep up her immense army and navy. That I do not believe. I do not think there would be a tithe of the expenditure if it were not for the dependencies which compose this mighty Empire of ours. I should like to hear definitely from the Prime Minister what the attitude of the Government is in regard to Imperial defence - how much money is to be paid, where it is to be spent, what form the expenditure is ‘ to take ; in short, what form the recognition of our Empire responsibility is to take in the immediate future ? I desire to say that 1 am not averse to any adequate Australian naval preparation. I believe the time has come when we ought to be able to do something for ourselves in the way of naval defence ; and I am only anxious that, when we do build our Australian navy, we shall take care that it is a navy which will always be ready for facile cooperation with the navy of the Empire, and can be put under one perfect control when the need for it arises. We have a special obligation in respect of many of the coaling stations in the Southern Pacific, and the Prime Minister might consider fully what attitude the proposed navy would be called upon to take in regard to them. Possible enemies are gathering from all quarters, and establishing naval bases in these southern seas. If we are to do anything for the. Empire in time of crisis, we can do better than remain at home, waiting for some raider. It seems a fearsome and craven position to stop here when the Empire is in peril, not moving a foot to assist her. We should have ships which we could move where they would be most needed. Australia will be in a poor case if the naval power on which she depends is broken through in any part of the world. I ask the Prime Minister not to stop, but to materially increase, our present naval contribution, if only as a matter of insurance.That low ground alone is an effective reason for granting it. The value of our trade since the contribution was fixed has grown from £86,000,000 to£120,000,000, while the defence expenditure has increased by a paltry £60,000. The Prime Minister has said, and the honorable member for Laanecoorie said last night, that we must rely on the Imperial Navy for the policing of the seas; but, in my opinion, we are responsible for the policing of our own commerce, and should not rely on the British Navy without making an adequate contribution towards its maintenance.
– Why not pay the contribution into an Australian insurance fund of our own ?
– The insurance of our commerce round about our coasts will not insure it on the high seas. Every pound’s worth of our trade must be policed, protected, and guarded, whether it goes to a foreign or to a home port. It is our duty to look after our own trade, and if we feel that we are not strong enough to do so, we should make an adequate contribution to the Imperial Navy for doing it for us. If we do not contribute in kind, we should contribute in money, which will be quite as effective, so long as the Empire remains intact. I have an open mind in regard to the Government’s scheme of military organization, because that scheme is being modified every day, and no doubt will ultimately be such as we may consider seriously and amicably. This is how the matter strikes me : We need to increase the number and effectiveness of our land defences. But will the mere multiplication of numbers give us a better defence? Will it be sufficient without effective organization? This is what Colonel Legge, who is the officer mainly responsible for the proposals of the Government, said the other day-
– He has no responsibility - merely carrying out instructions.
– He must carry out his instructions and furnish the Minister with something to bring before the House. This is what the author of the new scheme said the other day, when lecturing on the subject. Adverting to our present position, he remarked that we have an authorizationfor 25,000, but only 22,000 are enrolled. One-fourthof that 22,000 are recruits, a further proportion is physically unfit, and not more than 10,000 are fit for war. If it costs , £600,000 or £700,000 to get 10,000 efficients, what will it cost to get 80,000?
– Eight times as much ?
– I do not say that ; but it will mean a large increase in expenditure.
– If the statement just read approaches accuracy, must not the honorable member admitthat things are so serious that Parliament should take action?
– I agree with the Minister. The rottenness of the present system - which is confessed - should be dealt with instantly by the Minister.
– And by Parliament.
– The Minister of Defence and the Prime Minister intend to let the present men control the new position.
– A few days ago, when in Sydney, the Minister said that all is well.
– I said that about the Celebrations.
– Is the Minister taking steps to remove those who are responsible for the present condition of things, or does he propose to intrust the new system to men who have made a muddle of the old? The mere multiplication of measures will not get rid of the muddle. There must be a new scheme of organization, and’ better administrative control. I make no reflection upon the honorable gentleman’s personal competency. He would be the first to admit that to-day the administrative control of the Defence Forces is at zero. That is shown whenever any little difficulty arises. It has taken the Department six months and more to find out whether it can make safe a rifle range in my constituency. Would the multiplication of numbers remedy that state of affairs ? Wouldit not rather make matters worse ; because there would be more rifle ranges to be dealt with and to be muddled? The great outstanding need is systematic and effective control, from the top, where the difficulty at present chiefly is. I ask the Prime Minister to tell us plainly what the altered condition of our defences is to be, how far the Government scheme is to be modified, and what steps are to be taken to make our land forces effective. There are other matters to which I should like to refer, and on which I shall have to speak on future occasions, particularly the financial question, which I understand is to come before us for consideration very soon. I presume that it will be dealt with in connexion with the Budget. This House will never realize its proper position, nor acquire its proper status in Australian politics, until there has been a re-arrangement of parties, and Commonwealth affairs are controlled by a Government which is not dependent upon a third party for support, but is able to command the respect and confidence of the people.
– I could not but be touched by the note of depression sounded by the honorable member for Parramatta in his opening remarks, which, like a dominant chord, echoed throughout his speech. His arguments discovered a hopeless outlook in almost every direction ; but I do not propose to follow the many windings of his speech, in which he - quite legitimately - touched upon a great variety of public topics. About the middle of it, he mentioned his profound suspicion of the methods employed by Parliaments in general, and this in particular, for the alleviation of the manifest injustices and inequalities by which we are surrounded. Those who admit the enormous complexity of social and industrial relations must acknowledge that propositions for the alleviation of an ever-changing, ever-growing, and ever-living social organism must be in their nature like the remedies applied by medical men to the human subject. They are bound to be tested by experience. We do not cherish the expectation with which my honorable friend is at times inclined to credit us, that it is possible to transform magically our citizens or our circumstances. But, admitting the difficulties which the honorable member discovers in every direction, we approach them with a greater degree of hopefulness. We have faith in the power of laws to ameliorate social conditions in some considerable degree, a faith grounded on the history of civilization. The process of developing our laws cannot stop here or now. I say this by way of apology for not endeavouring to deal with many portions of the honorable member’s address. Most of the criticism which he has offered relates specifically either to one or other of the, roughly speaking, score of proposals which the Government hope to submit in the form either of legislation or, at all events, of express propositions for consideration during this session. It will be manifest that, if we endeavour at this stage, before any measure except that relating to Marine Insurance has been tabled, to reply to the very pertinent queries which the honorable member put, it will involve an attempt on the part of the House to deal with the whole programme of business for this session, and incidentally, perhaps, with, a good deal that cannot be brought forward this session, in the course of a debate on the Address-in-Reply .
– That is to say, the honorable gentleman thinks it is inappropriate to make a statement as to the .’general scope and range of the proposals of the Government as outlined in the GovernorGeneral’s speech?
– Without putting it so broadly as that, I think, particularly on the present occasion, that, having regard to the time of year, the proposed duration of the session, the fact that most of these proposals or measures have been in one form or other already before Parliament, and that all of them, in their general principles, have been discussed in the country, we should be indulging in profitless repetition if now, when we are within a step of dealing with them practically, we should commence severally and, in a confused fashion, to discuss first one and then the other subject according to the particular inclination of each individual honorable member. All that could be expected from such a procedure would be some general and diffused light, very scattered and imperfect.
– And now we have no light.
– Then I should say to the honorable member “ Great is thy darkness.” In a day or two we shall have the opportunity of focussing the light on first one and then the other of these propositions, and of devoting the whole of our attention to each. . When we have no time for both general and special methods, who will deny that the second method of taking our work piecemeal, and dealing with each item on its own basis with specific proposals before us, must be much more practical and effective? The original purpose of the AddressinReply would furnish matter for an interesting historical constitutional essay. I do not propose to attempt it, but suggest that the Address-in-Reply, as a whole, is gradually falling more and more into disuse as a practical means pf doing parliamentary business. It is perhaps an inevitable preliminary, because there are occasions when either the Government is to be challenged, or some new policy, which isnot immediately to be embodied in- legislation, requires to be discussed in a genera! way under a variety of other circumstances too numerous to mention. Then such matters may properly and advantageously be dealt with at this stage. But in this session, on the very threshold of what ought to be a short session, and must be a crowded session, I venture to submit to the House, without any disrespect to the honorable member for Parramatta, and without challenging his right, and, in fact, his obligation as leader of the Opposition, to deal with all the questions upon which he has thought fit to touch, that, in the circumstances, the better course for us is to proceed as rapidly as we can to specific proposals and pertinent debates upon them. I shall, therefore, except in a very few instances, not accept the honorable member’s invitation to discuss in a general way matters which we must presently discuss both in a general and particular way. The honorable member might have raised questions which this would be the only opportunity of discussing, and there it would have been my duty to follow him.
– I could see a very clear duty to ask the honorable gentleman to state definitely what the Government propose to do.
– We intend to do that. As each proposal is submitted, honorable members will see in cold print exactly what is aimed at, and any further explanation and defence of it will be supplied promptly by one or other, or all, of us as the case may be. That is a course infinitely preferable to that adopted when, before any measure of a definite character is in honorable members’ hands, or any indication of the character or extent of our proposals is before them, we evoke a general criticism upon a general outline, which, in its turn, must lead to further explanation and further criticism. We are invited to -
Let observation, with extensive view,
Survey mankind from China to Peru.
If that be the proper course for the leader of the Opposition, and if he seeks to live up to that standard, I do not think the task of emulating him is incumbent upon Ministers. The honorable member cannot charge us with evading any responsibility when we invite honorable members to be good enough to assist us in dealing with the AddressinReply, and to close the general debate at the earliest possible moment in order to get to close grips upon the very questions upon which the honorable member has been catechising me.
– I notice that cheers are coming from an honorable member who took an hour and a half last night to explain them.
– And why not? When a thing is once completely explained, why repeat it ? Assuming that we are fortunate enough to dispose of the debate on the AddressinReply to-night, in which case there would be no objection to adjourning until Tuesday next, in order that honorable members might reflect upon the speech of the leader of the Opposition, our first business would be to ask the House, after little debate, and that of the most practical character, to deal with the proposal to define the site of the Seat of Government. That ought to be settled by vote, as arguments are likely to change few opinions, and most of us are familiar with them, if not in one sitting, at all events in two. With a decision upon that question, we could transmit the measure to another place, in the hope that this vexed issue would be got out of the way for some time.
– Why not extend that idea, and have no debate on any measure?
– In this particular case one evening or two ought to suffice. The site having been decided, the territory being defined, practical steps having been taken to delimit the area, to lay it out, and to plan the necessary works and buildings, the next measure to be submitted would be one to authorize the establishment of the Federal Capital. What more excellent beginning could we make than to authorize the absolute definition of this site now, and enable us to commence the other series of administrative steps which must precede the further proposal to bring the capital into actual being on that site, after it has been surveyed and laid out. Following that up immediately, my colleague, the Minister of Defence, will at once pour balm on the troubled soul of my honorable friend by giving all the information asked for in respect of defence and the suggested modifications, aims and character, cost and extent of the Government scheme. That information being laid before Parliament at the very outset, we shall be brought to close quarters with a comparatively short measure, every clause of which is of great importance and of practical application, and should be able at once not only to discuss general theories of defence, but to consider closely the particular application of the Bill to our circumstances.
– That would apply to every Bill that may be brought forward, not only in this but in every other session.
– There are on the paper federalizing measures, unifying large bodies of State laws, and therefore necessarily selecting from State laws in order to obtain the best measure for the Commonwealth as a whole. Some of these have already been before the House, but the others, which have not, will need very careful perusal, and possibly a postponement, if honorable members are not satisfied that we have been fortunate enough to choose the best course to adopt. Most of the legislation proposed this session has been ripened by previous exposition, and, in a certain number of cases, by the submission of these federalizing Bills. On these we are entitled to ask honorable members to act without any delay, and to submit that they can, without any difficulty, take them in hand and shape them. If there are some measures on which new questions arise, of course the second readings will afford an ample opportunity to discuss them.
– Is the Seat of Government Bill the same as the Bill of last session ?
– Yes, exactly. So with the measure with regard to which my honorable friend made special inquiry - that relating to the appointment of the High Commissioner. This in itself is a very short measure. It has already been before the House, and will certainly be submitted this time. If the House is in the same temper as it appears to be to-night that short Bill ought not to occupy much of our time. But, of course, the Defence Bill, short as it may be, will call for close criticism, and will, no doubt, occupy a number of sittings. It is for that reason the statement has been made in the course of the Governor-General’s speech that the new protection proposals of the Government will be submitted so soon as those two measures - the Seat of Government Bill and the Defence Bill - have been sufficiently advanced. In order to avoid the vagueness which my honorable friend appears to suppose possible in connexion with any proposals usually included under the title of the new protection, I beg to inform him that, in order to prevent misconception, the intention of the Government is to lay upon the table, in the first place, a short memorandum, now in preparation, describing precisely what their amendment is intended to do, and what it aims at, marking, as the honorable member very properly suggested, the precise extent of its operation. If we submitted first, as we might, the mere legal amendment which appears to us to carry out our intention, we should have at once provoked the cry of the legal pack in pursuit of quarry, and the familiar diversity of opinion as to the exact consequences of our particular phrases. It will probably clear the air, or at all events concentrate attention, if we say first in plain every-day English, without restraint, just what we intend to do, and then lay on the table the amending Bill. That will enable our proposals to be better criticised from the legal and every other stand-point, in order to determine whether the amendment submitted does what we intend, and nothing more nor less.
– Where is this “ plain every-day English “ ? Is the honorable member alludingto the previous memorandum, or to one to come ?
– To a new memorandum, which will state in conversational terms exactly what is intended to be done by the legal amendment that will be subsequently submitted. The memorandum will be presented first, in order that the arguments on the merits of the proposal, and any discussion in the press, or perhaps here, as to whether what we intend to do is what we ought to do may be separated from the perfectly distinct and immensely important question whether the particular amendment proposed will accomplish just that which we intend, and nothing more nor less.
– And so that the people will have a clear conception of what is proposed.
– In the first place.
– Do the Government propose to take a referendum at once ?
– There is the necessary preliminary of passing the Bill through both Houses before that could be done.
– Will the Government arrange to take a referendum as soon as possible?
– As soon as it is perfectly certain that the country is thoroughly informed of the nature of the proposal, and that there has been a means of making it understood by our electors as a whole, After that, certainly the most convenient opportunity will be availed of.
– Will the referendum be taken before the next general election ?
– Certainly not later than the next general election.
– Then there is no hurry in regard to the proposed amendment of the Constitution.
– It is desirable that there should be no delay in showing what is intended. We should allow ample time for a close examination of our proposal by the public and by legal experts.
– The whole proposal will have become hoary by that time.
– I think not. Next, let me admit that I deliver myself bound, and without hope of resistance, into the hands of my honorable friend when agreeing that he has summed up most aptly and fairly the meaning of the new protection. It is, as he declared, a confirmation and extension of the old protection. I thoroughly indorse his view. Our contention, when it was submitted last year, was - the honorable member, in spite of myself, is leading me into a general disquisition that Idesired to avoid - that it was the necessary complement of what the honorable member terms “ the old protection,” and was inseparable from it. It is in that light that the Government regard it - in that light that the Bill will be framed.
– Does the Prime Minister propose to proceed by way of resolution before introducing the Bill?
– Not necessarily.
– Then how will he get the memorandum before the House?
– I shall lay it on the table. Finally, the deputy leader of the Opposition alluded in gentle and guarded terms to the defence proposition as a whole. He still has a hankering after that blessed word “conscription,” and in one passage could not resist the temptation to refer to our proposition as “ this conscript proposal.” Yet the honorable member himself is, like every other honorable member here, a warm supporter of conscription in relation to the education of the youth of this country. He is not afraid of the word “compulsory” in that connexion. Neither are we in this. What we submit is that universalmilitary service should become and remain a part of the national education, and, like the rest of the education system in Australia, should apply to every young male in the community.
– No; there is already a “ come-down “ so far as that point is concerned. The Government say now that the system is to be applied only to particular localities.
– I invite the honorable member to withhold such imaginings until he discovers ground for them in the Bill. I do not think he is likely to find such a proposal, or anything like it, in the measure itself. It appears to us that the physical and moral training and discipline of the character provided for by the training of our junior and senior cadets ought to be an inseparable accompaniment of the education of every citizen. We believe that it will add to his efficiency, strength, and health, convey valuable lessons on the obligations of citizenship, and prove a bond uniting all classes.
– What will be the age limit ?
– That is a detail. I am not to be led into a further digression, but, when the Bill is discussed, shall be prepared to submit some evidence from those who are acquainted with the much severer systems of the Continent of the value of such training. Despite many disabilities and grievous hardships, it is a great factor in building up national pride and true patriotism. They testify to its value in building up that sense of the unity of the nation which dissolves its classes and sects, removes local differences, placing every man side by side on an equal footing, both in receiving the advantages that his country offers and in affording an equivalent return to it and to the generations to come by preparing to become its safeguard in the hour of danger.
– The honorable member does not mean to infer that there is any lack of that feeling here?
– There is no organization of responsibility, and without organization there is at risk of stagnation.
– I do not admit even that.
– If the honorable member has noticed the obvious physical disadvantages of the undisciplined man when compared with the disciplined, he will realize that some similar alteration may be expected in the character of our youth if they are submitted at the plastic period of their lives to the healthy discipline and exercise that is lacking in other forms of school training.
– There is nodifficulty on that point.
– Despite the numerous temptations the honorable member has offered, I shall refrain from making any further reference than this to one of the greatest issues that I hope we shall ventilate, but scarcely expect the Parliament to dispose of this session - the financial relations of the Commonwealth and the States. I am happy to notice that in two of the State Parliaments the question has, or is aboutto.be, brought forward. In the Parliament of New South Wales, it has already been launched by the Premier, Mr. Wade, in a speech that, so far as the newspaper reports enable me to judge, is a temperate and fair opening of the case from his point of view. If we have now got beyond the region of mutual misapprehension and bickering to a reasonable consideration of the obligations of both Commonwealth and the States, we shall be qualified to enter upon the consideration of one of the very gravest issues that can confront this Parliament or its immediate successors. Let me so far respond to the invitation of the deputy leader of the Opposition by- suggesting that the cardinal and governing principle, that we will do well to ‘keep in mind in facing all our financial problems of this nature is that which would be supplied by the answer to the question : “ Does this proposition enable ultimately a clear and complete severance of the finances of the Commonwealth and the States?” If it does, it not only means taking a path that will lead to less friction and resistance in the future, but will put the full financial responsibility in each case upon the proper shoulders. ‘ A suggestion that at present finds favour with the ‘States is that after the debts have been dealt with they should continue for all time to share to some proportional extent in the Customs revenue of the Commonwealth. It is urged that they should, because with every increase of population the charges they have to bear in respect of the Departments Of Justice, Education, and so forth, are increased. It is urged that it is only reasonable that, since the Customs revenue is likely to grow as our population increases, the returns from the Commonwealth to the States should grow also. That appears to be, on the face of it, a reasonable contention, but without disputing its general fairness, its application in that way seems to me dangerous, and, perhaps, fatal. If the growth of population is to be provided for out of ‘Commonwealth revenues, let the
Commonwealth, which provides the funds, take the responsibility for the outlay. If the States complain that they have unproductive but necessary Departments that must be maintained at increasing cost asthe population increases, let the Commonwealth itself undertake to maintain thoseDepartments.
– As I understand it, the States say that they help to collect our revenue by providing.it.
– I do not at the moment see the force of that argument. Let me lay some stress on this point, because I submit as an almost unchallengeable proposition that we shall never have the best nor the most economic administration unlessthe Government that spends the money isthe Government that raises it. Separate thetwo - let one Government have the responsibility of raising funds, and another the responsibility of spending them - and we shall sever the two responsibilities in an unnatural fashion.
– Does that solve the problem ?
– I hold that it is not only necessary and desirable, but essential to effective administration that we should not have that separation’. What could bemore fruitful of misunderstanding, friction, and jealousy, and probably of unnecessary expenditure, thain to have a Commonwealth Department, when discussing its. own ways and means, governed by considerations outside itself in regard to the expenditure of part of its receipts in. waysthat it cannot in any way control ?
– Then it is a mere question of expediency ?
– I am not considering, the question of expediency, but of principle.
– The Conventionagreed to that scheme without any limitation of time.
– 4n,d the Convention unfortunately embodied in the Constitution a financial scheme which, although the best we could devise at the time, has made the re-opening of the whole question at this juncture inevitable. We are obliged to recast the whole of our financial relations. That was made imperative, and remains imperative. This being so, we cannot escape the duty of considering what really ought to be the fundamental considerations governing this ques-. tion; and I am venturing to submit my own view that while the States may be right in their claim to be relieved of unproductive expenditure for national ends, somewhat in accordance with our increases of revenue and of population, that surely the straightforward and direct manner of doing this is for the States to transfer to the Commonwealth, and for the Commonwealth to accept, as much of this unproductive expenditure as may be a fair charge on the community as a whole, and, therefore, on the Commonwealth itself. Then the Parliament which raises the money would be the Parliament which spends it, and the electors - the same electors, through the same machinery - would control the raising and the spending of that money. If anything can be conducive to economy and efficiency, it is surely the close relation of theresponsibility for the management of those particular Departments of the Commonwealth Service which are unproductive, and which, under the system proposed at the recent conference by theState Premiers, would be financed by them from money which they would have no hand in raising-
– How could the Commonwealth deal with the construction of roads and bridges ?
– I do not suggest that the Commonwealth should control the construction of roads and bridges.
– That is what the States want the money for.
– I fancy that the honorable member, if he looks, as I have looked, into the totals of the Estimates of the States, will find roads and bridges a comparatively small factor, while, on the other hand, there are several other Departments, absolutely necessary to national life, involving the States in heavy burdens, the cost of which will increase as population increases. All this is in the far future, but the principle is the same now and then. But in spite of the alluring arguments of the honorable member for Parramatta, I am afraid we are anticipating discussion, which will be much more effective if conducted when definite proposals are before the House, or its Committees. Under the circumstances, in order not to depart from the excellent intention with which I commenced these few observations, and not to occupy the attention of honor- able members by opening any fresh fields, I close my remarks with an earnest invitation to honorable members to assist in disposing of the Address-in-Reply, and in get ting to work on the actual measures now ready for submission.
– I agree with the Prime Minister that it is of the utmost importance that the AddressinReply should be disposed of as speedily as possible, and, with that object in view, I do not propose to detain the House very long. I concur in the main with the honorable member for Parramatta as to the necessity, bothin this House and in the country, of consolidating parties as represented here. I point out to honorable members on the Ministerial side that those who are their friends and allies within these walls are their bitterest enemies outside. Most of the opposition which those honorable members receive in the country is not from honorable members in the Opposition corner, or from the direct Opposition, but from honorable members in the Labour corner.
– The members of the Opposition corner are just as bitter.
– I do not think that the honorable member has any right to say that, because I am merely pointing out that the bitterest enemies of the Government and their supporters outside are those who are allies within the House.
– Is the honorable member speaking as the leader of the Opposition corner Party ?
– The Opposition corner Party is in the happy and fortunate position of having every one of its members as a leader. We come here unfettered in any way, and, therefore, have a right to express our views without fear, favour, or affection, entirely with a view to the good of” Parliament and the country. I earnestly hope that the outcome of this session will be to consolidate parties within this House.
– I hope the result will be to keep the honorable member on the Opposition side.
– I can assure the Treasurer that I am far happier here than ever I was on the Ministerial side.
– Sour grapes !
– Not so; personally, it is a matter of no moment to me whether I am or am not even a member of this House, but while I am here I desire to do my best for the country. If the present Government introduced measures which I felt I could support, I should support them.
– What sort of measures would they be?
– Generally speaking, they would not be measures proposed by the Treasurer. It’ may be taken for granted, at the outset, that the Treasurer is one of those who find honorable members in the Labour corner his friends both inside and outside the House, and therefore it is his game - and it is a game he plays very well - to keep on perfectly friendly terms with that party under all circumstances. I do not blame the Treasurer for one moment, but at the same time I feel that any fusion of parties must be brought about by placing that honorable gentleman in his proper position, below the gangway, as a representative of the farmers, and the supporter of a land tax on unimproved values. Practically that is his position, and he ought to be a member of the Labour Party, except that he would never submit to caucus domination, because he could not continue tobe top dog. Quite recently, when a matter of some moment to the people was before the House, the Government took up a very strange position. When the honorable member for Riverina movedfor a Select Committee to inquire into the interdiction of the letters of a certain firm, the Government, instead of supporting the Postmaster-General, left him standing alone, to be supported by honorable members of the Opposition and by many members of the Labour Party. I desire now to congratulate the PostmasterGeneral on the firm attitude he then adopted, because it has been completely vindicated by the law courts. I regret to see no reference in His Excellency’s Speech to the great necessity there is for the protection of the public from quacks and patent medicine vendors, who live to exploit the unwary.
– The regulation of quack doctors is a State matter.
– That may be, and it may also be a fact that patent medicines are made locally ; but the worst patent medicines are those which come from abroad, and they present a matter which it is our duty to control, as we can do through the Customs.
– Would the honorable member accept the support of the Labour Party in bringing about his desire?
– The honorable member knows that never for one moment have I angled for his vote or for the votes of his party. Any measure which has for its object the protection of the health of the people, and particularly the health of those who are poorest and least able to defend themselves, will always have my ardent support, no matter by whom it is proposed.
– The honorable member for Barrier has done more than anybody to direct attention to the question of patent medicines.
– And I have always assisted that honorable member, who would, I am sure, acknowledge the fact if he were present. Paragraph 3 of His Excellency’s Speech deals with constitutional matter ; and, without desiring to make any suggestion which might, perhaps, create serious strife with the States, I suggest that there is one amendment of the Constitution which could be made with great benefit to the people. In my opinion, this Parliament ought to be given power to bring about uniform registration of all professional men throughout the Commonwealth. I refer to both the medical and the legal professions; and such uniform registration would not prejudice the States in any way.
– Would the honorable member include clergymen ?
– If clergymen are regarded as professional men, then they could be included, but this Parliament does not deal with questions of religion, and I hope it never will.
– It would be a good thing if all professional qualifications were federalized, such as those of mining engineers, and so forth.
– All professional qualifications should be federalized, so as to secure uniformity throughout Australia.
– And also the professional qualifications of the pick and shovel man.
– The honorable member is making a misuse of words ; the pick and shovel man does not follow a profession, although he certainly follows an honorable calling. No man admires the skilful pick and shovel man more than I do, and no one takes greater pleasure than I do in working with pick, shovel, or axe. I do not despise the calling. I agree with Ruskin, that great honour belongs to the man who earns his living by hard work. The worst man for any nation is the lazy- man, who often lives by exploiting his fellow creatures.
– I was of opinion that the honorable member thought less of the less intellectual man.
– I am not now referring to the honorable member.
– Was the honorable member referring to me the other day, in a speech which he made in his district?
– I was not then referring to any one individually. I am ready to repeat that statement, if the honorable member wishes to hear it ; but it is not now relevant.
– Will the honorable member repeat the statement which appeared in the press?
– I do not follow the press which the honorable member follows so closely. I understand that there was a report in the Age; but I have not read that newspaper, and seldom see it. My statement was very clear, and I am ready to repeat it, because I believe it to be true.
– Let the honorable member repeat it.
– It is not relevant to the present discussion.
– What was said was very offensive.
– At any rate, it is of no moment now. I do not surrender my position; but what I said then would be irrelevant at the present time.
– The honorable member will find, if he makes the statement outside, that physically, at any rate, those to whom he applied it are his equals.
– The honorable member is a genius in regard’ to physics. I am willing to repeat my statement, either inside or outside the chamber ; but it would be irrelevant at the present time.
– If, as the honorable member has thrice said, the statement is irrelevant, he must not repeat it, and I ask honorable members not to challenge him to do so.
– I have mentioned one or two matters in regard to which there might advantageously be an amendment of the Constitution. Paragraph 3 of the Governor-General’s speech says -
Recent decisions of the High Court render necessary the submission of an amendment of the Constitution relating to the “ New Protection,” which will be laid before you when measures defining the Seat of Government and providing for National Defence are sufficiently advanced.
The defining of the Seat of Government should take but a short time; the measure providing for national defence will take longer, because its importance will provoke considerable debate. On such a subject many opinions must be expressed, out of which we may weave that which is very necessary for Australia, a sound system of national defence. I believe that honorable members are at one in the desire to place our defence on a sound basis. As for the amendment of the Constitution, the honorable member for Parramatta has pointed out that when legislation was being discussed in this chamber, and members of the Opposition and of the Opposition corner had the temerity to point out that certain proposals were unconstitutional, they were told to trust the Court. We did not wish to bring our legislation under the review of the ‘Court; we desired to confine it within the constitutional limits of our powers. But now that the Court has decided against the wishes of Government supporters and the Labour Party, they ask for an amendment of the Constitution. No doubt they have the right to do so; but I should like to know what is proposed to be done. Section 128 of the Constitution enacts, in regard to a proposal for alteration, that it - must be passed by an absolute majority of each House of the Parliament, and not less than two nor more than six months after its passage through both Houses the proposed law shall be submitted in each State to the electors qualified to vote for the election of members of the House of Representatives.
– It could be submitted at a general election.
– It must be submitted within six months.
– It might not be passed.
– It is the intention of the Government and of members of the Labour Party, I suppose, that the proposed amendment shall pass. Is the Prime Minister going to have a referendum before the next general election, or does he anticipate that the general election will be held earlier than is expected? Shall we be justified in putting the country to an expenditure of £50,000 for a referendum on this question? Is the urgency so great ? Are not the workers in the biggest industrial centres now enjoying more or less satisfactory industrial legislation? In Victoria there are industrial laws which have worked effectively for years, and in> New South Wales there are similar laws.
– Copied from ours.
– New South Wales has copied the Victorian Wages Board system because it has been found effective. Does the Prime Minister intend to pass a project for the amendment of the Constitution through both Houses, and then submit it to the electors, or does he intend to expedite the holding of the general elections ? Has he promised honorable members below the gangway that he will provide for a referendum ? Has he so far forgotten what he said in pre-Federal days in regard to upholding the Constitution as to be willing, at thefirst sign of trouble, to have an amendment submitted to a catch referendum which will record the opinion of only a small’ percentage of the electors? When a general election is held, the community is sufficiently excited to induce a fairly large number of electors to record their votes; but comparatively few would vote on a referendum taken at any other time.
– Our people roll up very well.
– The excellent discipline of the Labour Party would result in the votes of most labour supporters being recorded; but surely my honorable friend does not desire that the matter should be decided by the votes of a small section of the community? He surely does not wish for a catch vote.
– Other honorable members should do their duty, and get their supporters to vote.
– The mass of the people - who, I believe, support those on this side - are lethargic in respect to their political duties, and it is difficult to get them to record their votes.
– Then they must put up with the consequences.
– I should like some information as to the intention of the Government in regard to this matter. Are we to have a referendum within six months, or is this an idle promise? If we are to have 1 referendum, the Government will put the country to great expense without securing an effective expression of opinion from the people. In paragraph 4 we are promised the establishment of an agricultural bureau, and the encouragement of immigration, matters of very great importance. As the honorable member for Laanecoorie has pointed out, one of the great needs of Australia is the peopling of her waste places by means of an immigration policy, and also by means of irrigation colonies and other work. We want an in crease of people to effectively occupy Australia. Has the Prime Minister the cordial support of honorable members below the gangway on the very important question of the encouragement of immigration ?
– Yes, certainly.
– Then I would like the honorable member for New England to tell us how far he intends to encourage immigration, and in what direction he proposes to go. So far as I have seen, every project for the encouragement of immigration has had cold water thrown upon it by honorable members of his party. I am glad to hear that the honorable member for New England will do all he can. I am only too pleased to hear any honorable member say that he will assist in this great matter, because one of the first necessities of Australia to-day is that we should have our population increased both from within and from without. The sooner we occupy the vast territory which we have under our control the better it will be for the people of Australia. I am sure that members of the Labour Party and their supporters, inside, as well as outside, the House, would be better pleased if the position of members in the House were defined, and they knew how many of those with whom they are now working are with them and how many are against them. The proper place for us to find out exactly how members stand with regard to this question is here, and for that purpose I intend to move an amendment to the Address-in-Reply. It refers to the question of the appointment of the Royal Commission on the Post and Telegraph Department, brought before the House at the close of last session. The matter was regarded as of great moments, and the House declared that it would not be satisfied with the appointment by the Government of a Cabinet sub-committee. The House wanted an investigation, complete and thorough, into’ the workings of the postal service; but after the session terminated, the Ministry, when appointing the Commission, did something which was contrary to the declared will of Parliament. I therefore move that the following words be added to the Address-in-Reply - butare of opinion that your advisers acted contrary to the expressed will of this House in appointing a member of the Cabinet to act as Chairman of the Royal Commission on Postal Services.
The amendment, not being seconded, lapsed.
.- I agree with the honorable member for Corangamite that all professional men should be registered on an Australianregister, but I do not limit the professions to the old rules as prescribed by ancient universities, kings, or learned men. We have come to a time when every man who performs good service to his country should be regarded as doing as good work as those in. the professions. Men who hold the highest diploma in the world, except, perhaps, that of religion, have been before the courts of a neighbouring State, and shown to have been acting in the most disgraceful manner towards their fellow men. Those are the men whom the honorable member wants particularly to protect and give further privileges to as against men who are toiling and moiling to build up this country, and have made it what it is. The honorable member is not prepared to give those workers a register to enable them to get fair remuneration for their labour by means of a court. The honorable member is one of those who claim to be broad liberals, but they draw the line strictly at theirown class and at members of certain professions.
– What prevents the men getting higher wages?
– If the honorable member is in any way in doubt, I will answer his interjection, and at the same time the challenge of the acting leader of the Opposition regarding the competency of the State Courts to deal as beneficially with the workmen as a High Court Judge sitting in arbitration would do. Judge Heydon, dealing with an application of the bootmakers in Sydney not long ago, said that he was prepared on the evidence to give the workmen £2 14s. a week, but as the Wages Boards in Victoria allowed them only£2 8s., he could not give £2 14s., because it would be against the manufacturers of New South Wales to the extent of 6s., while there was free-trade between the States. That is the position the honorable member for Parramatta takes up. He says - let the wages of the higher-paid men be brought down in New South Wales rather than pass universal industrial legislation for the protection of all workers.
– That is an absolute misrepresentation, and the honorable member knows it.
– I am quoting the words as given to me by Judge Heydon himself.
– It is the inference that I object to.
– Would the honorable member have the same wages for the same industries all over Australia?
– I do not say that. I have never said it, and it is not necessary to lay down any such proposition. It is enough to say that the Court should be armed with the power of awarding such wages as may be considered necessary to enable a man to live in a civilized community, and to maintain his wife and family under decent conditions. If any honorable member does not favour the payment of those wages, and regards them as too high, let himgo before the country and say so honestly.
– Then the Court might reduce the wages in some of the States.
– If that is so, honorable members will have satisfied themselves. I say, “Leave it to the Courts.”
– Then the honorable member now says, “Trust the Courts”?
– I have always said so, and say so still. Speaking of courts generally, no one has paid higher compliments to the work of Judges than I have, although I still say that they are a conservative body, and have always conserved the rights and interests of those in possession rather than initiated or opened up new interests. I need only mention one instance which has been quoted here again and again. Why is it that Chief Justice Marshall, of the United States Supreme Court, is so often quoted? It is because he was practically the one liberal Judge who extended the powers of the document which he had to interpret. He is quoted as a wonderful Judge because of his prescient knowledge of the development of the public sentiment of the United States. He really read into the constitution of America words of an advanced character, whereas 99 out of every 100 judges read into the documents that they have to interpret a conservative view.
– Is a judge placed on the bench to make law or to carry out the law which Parliament has passed?
– I could give the honorable member hundreds of cases in the Old Country where judge-made law has been given by the Privy Council.
– The impression caused by the statement made by the honorable member was that the Judges should give interpretations according to their own opinions rather than according to the law.
– I meant quite the opposite. When a Court has given its decision, I regard the matter as ended. The Judges have, in my opinion, come to what I call an honest decision in this and every other case, but I say that the tendency of law is conservative. I go further, and say that a law student instinctively becomes conservative even by the examination of law. The whole trend of law is in that direction. I am quite in agreement with the honorable member for Corangamite in his appeal that we should all “come together.” But whom does he want to come together? The honorable member for Parramatta made the same appeal. They say : “ Let us come together and have a united party.” To dowhat? What is to hinder them having a united party now ? Who is staying their hand ? They are quite free to take any action they please. The honorable member for Parramatta states, I presume on behalf of the official part of the Opposition, that he never approached the duty of speaking on the Address-in-Reply with such deep feelings of dissatisfaction as he did on this occasion, because those sitting near to him could not present themselves to the House as a united Opposition. It is no part of my business. It is their business. But I read that the leader of the official Opposition, the honorable member for East Sydney - I do not know whether he was correctly reported or not - stated to the public press that he was quite willing to give up his position, and that the honorable member for Parramatta was willing to do the same, so that some united action might be taken by those who sit in opposition. The honorable member for Corangamite, who is one of a party, each and every member of which is a leader himself, has begun well by moving an amendment to the Address-in-Reply, which was not seconded. How was it possible to get a seconder when each member of his party is a leader, and disagrees with every other ? There could be no better demonstration of the difficulty of the course they are follow ing than that a party of seven or eight, each disbelieving in the other, should not be able to take common action even so far as to arrange for a seconder to an amendment. I mention that fact only to show the childishness of the constant whining about the solidarity of the Labour Party. Honorable members opposite are envious of our solidarity. They are envious of us because we have a common purpose, and accomplish objects that we have in view, whilst they cannot do so. That being so, they represent that our method of conducting our business is inimical to the welfare of the country.
– The Labour Party was not solidin connexion with the proposed appointment of a Commission to inquire into the administration of the Post and Telegraph Department.
– I explained after the trouble was over that no section of the House was freer than were members of the Labour Party to take what action they pleased on matters that were not essential to the party’s platform. We are in agreement only to carry out the pledges we make to our constituents, and those pledges are embodied in the Labour platform and published to the world.
– That is the silken cord that holds the Labour Party together.
– That is a very apt interjection. The honorable member for Corangamite said just now that we had only to speak, and the whole of the people fell into line behind us. Why do they do so? It is because we have their common interests at heart - because our ideals are good. Would any one suggest that we could send a mandatory notice to the people, and the unions of the Commonwealth, that they must support us? We do nothing of the kind, but when we raise an issue which is fair and true, the people spring to arms to support us, believing that in doing so they are acting rightly.
– Then the party communicates with them sometimes?
– We ought to do so sometimes, and I trust that we shall do so. We believe inour principles, whether they be considered by others right or wrong, and we put them in black and white, so that all may know what is essentially the policy of the party. I was somewhat disappointed by remarks made by the deputyleader of the Opposition concerning the Prime Minister, whom he described as the tool of the Labour Party.
– He explained thathe did not apply that term in an offensive sense to the Prime Minister.
– No explanation would justify a deputy-leader of the Opposition in levelling such a charge against the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth.
– The Prime Minister himself did not take offence at it.
– I am not here to defend the Prime Minister. He needs no defender.
– The Labour Party’s own newspaper has so described the Prime Minister more than once.
– As to political manoeuvring, I may say at once that my knowledge of the Prime Minister convinces me that he is as keenly alive to the proprieties, and as sensitive in respect of his duty, as is any man I have met. Having said so much, I wish to compliment the Prime Minister on his foresight in extending to the President of the United States an invitation to allow the Atlantic Fleet to visit our shores. It was an excellent idea, and will have a far reaching effect on the friendly feelings of the two advanced nations concerned. After all, we are a nation,and I think that the visit will have a goodeffect, not only on Australia, but on all communities in the South Seas. It will prove advantageous at this particular stage even to the Mother Country, of which we hear so much; but I think it would beabsolutely wrong and futile for us to attempt in any way to lean solely on those powers - on either the Old Country or America - for support or protection. No nation worthy of the name can rely upon another for protection without deteriorating. No nation worthy of the name, and certainly no community of British people, should hesitate to provide for its own protection.
– If we had not been federated the Fleet would not have visited us.
– I said in Sydney, recently that we were thinking and acting nationally when we extended to the Fleet an invitation to visit our shores. I am glad to find that the young people, more particularly, of Australia in dealing with big questions are thinking federally, and talk as Australians. They forget arbitrary State boundaries, and in that fact lies our greatest hope. Whatever may happen in early days of the Federation, I am satisfied that a year or two hence we shall find existing throughout the Commonwealth a complete national spirit. I desire now to refer to a matter of the greatest moment, touched upon by the deputy leader of the Opposition, and that is the question of the new protection. The honorable member accused the Labour Party, and particularly myself, of having sat still last session, and of having refrained from attacking the Government for their failure to take action to compel compliance with the decision of Mr. Justice Higgins in the McKay wages case. I have never made any display in Parliament ; I have never risen to speak from a mere desire to be reported.
– The honorable member made a display on the last day of last session.
– I did so, because of the inaction of which we complained after the judgment of the Court. But Iwould remind the honorable member of another occasion when he accused me of wasting the time of the House, and of making a great outcry about something that I knew I could not carry out. That was his declaration when I submitted a motion that the passing of a Commonwealth system of old-age pensions was an urgent public duty. He declared then that there was no “ business “ in it, and asked where were we to get the money to provide for a Commonwealth system. Subsequently when, with the Government, we secured the fruition of our desire, he said that he was more in favour of the system than we were.
– The honorable member voted against my amendment providing for an old-age pension scheme being passed during the session, and yet carried his proposal into effect during the samesession.
– Did I? There are some men who have so warm a regard for a proposal that they are prepared to amend it out of existence. We have had that difficulty to cope with. When honorable members have before them a proposal that will carry out their purpose they should stand by it. We knew what our object was at the time to which the honorable member refers. We knew what we had in view, and we were successful. Some honorable members of the Opposition, but not many I amglad to say, are sorry that we were.
– What an infamous statement ! The honorable member knows that it is incorrect.
– Was one vote cast against the proposal for old-age pensions?
– The fact that there was not is a compliment to the House. But what are some honorable members saying outside? They declare that the Surplus Revenue Act is unconstitutional, and they suggest that its validity should be tested in the Courts. Without that Act the payment of Federal old-age pensions would be delayed. All these are issues that must be considered, and I touch upon them only to show what progress we have made. Section 2 of the Old-age Pensions Act provides that it shall come into operation on 1st July, 1909, or at an earlier date, to be fixed by proclamation. That being so, if the States desire to do justice to those entitled to pensions, they may at once agree to the Commonwealth Treasurer retaining their proportion of the cost of a Commonwealth system of invalid and oldage pensions, and instituting that system without a moment’s delay.
– And there are on this side of the House honorable members who have done more than the Labour Party have to induce the States to do that.
– In all these matters of advanced legislation the Opposition would save themselves a great deal of trouble by exhibiting a placard with the words, “ We were more strongly in favour of these proposals than you were at any time.” That is the statement which they repeat again and again. The honorable member for Parramatta has just declared that his party were more strongly in favour of the policy of a White Australia than were the Labour Party. As a matter of fact, strong and bitter criticism of the White Australia legislation came from the Opposition quarter. In fairness to the Opposition, however, I may say at once that I feel personally indebted to many of them for the support which they gave to that policy - and more particularly in its application to the sugar industry - at a time when they must have had grave doubts as to whether it would be a success. They must have felt it difficultto support that policy when they had before them so little that appealed to their judgment. But to say, as the honorable member for Parramatta has said, that the whole of the Opposition is in favour of a White Australia is to speak without a proper appreciation of what members of that party are doing. The honorable member for Parkes is an unswerving opponent of the policy, and a number of others are with him.
– The honorable member and his party only favoured it for industrial reasons.
– The honorable member is placing an utterly wrong complexion upon our advocacy of the policy. The least of the reasons that we advanced in opposition to the employment of coloured labour was its effect on industrial conditions. We pointed out that the real danger which it involved was the racial one.
– Certainly, but the honorable member did not advocate a White Australia policy on that ground.
– Order ! The honorable member will have an opportunity to speak later on.
– I wish now to deal with the question of new protection. It is true that the Labour Party had to remain quiet when we had not at our disposal the machinery to compel compliance with the mandate of Parliament.
– The Minister had power to collect the Excise.
– I wish I could have taken that view ; but this Act was not passed in the same way as those relating to the Sugar Excise and Bounty. Why was that? To protect the manufacturers, who came whining to Parliament.
– The measure could have been repealed.
– It was difficult to get the Act passed as it was. The Treasurer and the Prime Minister were afraid that if the Excise were first collected, some small manufacturers, especially, would be embarrassed, seeing that the Excise would have to be paid before the machines were sold, or the machines kept in bond.
– There were also financial objections.
– That is so. Under the Constitution three-fourths of the net revenue raised from this Excise must go to the States; so that if, for example, £100,000 were realized, £75,000 must be handed over by the Commonwealth, with the result that, if £100,000 were claimed in bounties, the Commonwealth would find themselves £75,000 to the bad.
– It was the honorable member’s own legislation.
– And if the cost were many millions, I should be prepared to pass legislation which would do justice and lead to the progress of Australia, because I should not regard such expenditure as a loss.
– Is the honorable member not reflecting on the Attorney- General in connexion with the drafting of the Bill?
– The difficulty is not in the drafting, but is constitutional.
– This is the first time I have heard that the honorable member was so susceptible about making the little man, McKay, pay the Excise.
– It was not McKay we were thinking of. It is a fact that some of the smaller manufacturers have been paying the wages prescribed by Mr. Justice Higgins, while larger men - industrial rascals I call them - have not only broken their promises, but have been underselling other men who have observed the undertaking they gave. The honorable member for Parramatta and others say they are prepared to give the larger powers asked for, but that the matter must be left to the Wages Boards, and so forth; in other words, that unprincipled men may be allowed to undermine men who have kept good faith.
– Why was the Act not administered?
– The Attorney-General and the Minister of Customs have explained again and again that the Excise was not collected because there was no authority to do so until it was proved that the wages were not those prescribed by a Justice of the Arbitration Court, by Parliament,or some other body. In my opinion, the Government was dilatory in not bringing these cases before theCourt; and there is no doubt that the Government proceeded very gingerly in dealing with the manufacturers. Speaking individually, as the member for Wide Bay, I say that the bringing of the action against McKay by the Agricultural Machinery Employés Association is a service that will result in benefit to the Commonwealth, and Parliament should reimburse that union the expense then incurred. We cannot, as a general rule, say that the expenses of all such actions should be paid by the Government, but this, we must remember, was a suit which, if it had succeeded in the High Court, would have enabled the Government to collect the Excise.
– After what the honorable member has said as to the absurdity of the Act, I think the Government ought to pay for its folly.
– The absurdity of the Act lay in the gentle care taken of the manufacturers. Every honest man knows that it was the tender feeling for the manufacturers which resulted in the Excise not being collected.
– Was that the reason the Excise was not collected?
– Surely the Government would not do such a thing?
– The honorable member for Wide Bay has been frequently interrupted, and has experienced great difficulty in proceeding with his speech. I have two or three times appealed to honorable members, and I once more ask them to refrain from interjecting.
– The judgment of Mr. Justice Higgins will in future economic, political, and social discussions be quoted, I believe, quite as largely as are the judgments of Mr. Justice Marshall on the interpretation of the United States Constitution. In this judgment we have laid down, for the first time in history, an interpretation of what is “ fair and reasonable “ remuneration to men who perform useful service in the community. On this point Mr. Justice Higgins said -
The provision for fair and reasonable remuneration is obviously designed for the benefit of the employes in the industry ; and it must be meant to secure to them something which they cannot get by the ordinary system of individual bargaining with employers. If Parliament meant that the conditions shall be such as they can get by individual bargaining - if it meant that those conditions are to be “ fair and reasonable “ which employés will accept and employers will give, in contracts of service - there would have been no need for this provision. The remuneration could safely have been left to the usual, but unequal, contest, the “ higgling of the market “ for labour With the pressure for bread on one side and the pressure for profits on the other. The standard of “ fair and reasonable “ must therefore be something else ; and I cannot think of any other standard appropriate than the normal needs of the average employé, regarded as a human being living in a civilized community. I have invited counsel and all concerned to suggest any other standard ; and they have been unable to do so.
There we have a declaration on economics which, I think, will stand the test of time, and form the foundation of many similar decisions. It is there shown that the law of competition is gone, and that the remuneration for useful labour, under certain conditions, shall be such as to enable the worker to keep himself, his wife, and family, in a reasonable state of comfort, as citizens of a civilized community. How many of our people are there who cannot so live to-day ? The honorable member for Parramatta has told us that this defect as to remuneration cannot be remedied by law. That, however, is a declaration I have heard ever since I first entered Parliament ; indeed, I have read it in economic books from my earliest youth. We are told that under the law of competition an employer cannot give more than he gets; but, at the same time, why is it that in many instances, in the face of the increased production of wealth, there is a lower standard of comfort than formerly ? If a country is increasing in wealth, why should the people of that country be reduced in comfort ?
– Is it a fact that they are?
– Relatively it is a fact. There are cases where it is not so ; but, even if what I state were not the fact, will any one say that the men who do the great bulk of the work in the production of wealth in this or any other country get a “ fair deal “ ? Can any honorable member justify the accumulation of wealthas we see it here and in every other civilized country in the world while willing workers cannot earn enough to provide reasonable comfort for their dependents? No honest? man will admit that such a system can stand.
– The honorable member is thinking only of mechanics, and not of producers.
– I am thinking of all. The honorable member is one of those who say that if we bring in a measure to deal with everybody he will support it. The “fat man” calls for one grand scheme of reform, but declines to support any measure which benefits one class; and that has been the conservative position from the year one.
– We say that the honorable member and his colleagues are conservative because they legislate for only one class.
– Let the honorable member introduce an all-embracing measure, and then he will have a legitimate cause for complaint if we do not support him. I should like to refer to a little circular sent to honorable members at the time the legislation to which I am referring was passed. The name of H. V. McKay appears as that of the author of it. Mr. McKay appeals to farmers and the general public for protection against foreign “Trust” competition on the grounds that they will suffer, and the workers will suffer with them, if the Harvester manufacturing industry is wiped out locally. That was an appeal by a large capitalist here for protection from capitalists abroad. He said, in effect, “ Unless I get protection from capitalists outside, I must go under, and my workmen and the farming community will suffer. I, although a wealthy manufacturer, cannot hold my ground if you do not protect me from capitalists outside.” Parliament gave him the protection for which heasked, under the promise that he would pay to his workmen the wages prescribed by the Arbitration Court. When under examination before Mr. Justice Higgins, he stated that hewas financially able to pay whatever wages might be prescribed as fair and reasonable. Yet, when that Justice prescribed certain rates, he appealed from the equity to the law of the case, and his appeal came before the High Court, not on the question whether the rates prescribed were fair, but on the question whether the Constitution empowered the Parliament to do what it had done. The capitalist who got protection against foreign capitalists declined to give the same treatment to his employes. Yet now we are told by the honorable member for Parramatta, and others, that it is wrong to ask the people to amend the Constitution so as to give us thepower to make protection “ actual as well as possible,” as the Prime Minister said.
– Why not remove the protective duties?
– That is the suggestion of a political child. Many of the manufacturers are paying the wages prescribed, and are good men to be penalized in order that the industrial rascal may be punished? I would vote for the repeal of theduties if thereby only those who acted unjustly by their fellows would be punished ; but I am not ready to do injustice to the manufacturers who are loyally keeping their pledges. To repeal the duties would be like firing into an innocent crowd which contained one or two miscreants. I hope that the country will, at the earliest moment, empower Parliament to single out and penalize those who will not act justly in this matter. We desire fair competition ; but if one setof manufacturers pays good wages and another bad wages, the former must in time go under,and the workers will suffer.
– Why cannot the Parliaments of the States deal with this matter?
– In New South Wales Mr. Justice Heydon, dealing with a dispute in the bootmaking trade, said that on the evidence before him the men were entitled to a wage of £2 14s. a week, but that he could not fix that rate, because in a neighbouring State only £2 8s. was paid, and the New South Wales manufacturers would be at a disadvantage if they had to pay higher wages than their neighbours. As to what I was reported to have said at Alexandria regarding the judgment of the High Court, I wish to explain that I made no reflection on that body, and have never reflected on a Court. It must be remembered that the newspaper report was a condensed one. In nine cases out of ten, Courts give a conservative interpretation to the instruments which they are called upon to construe, and in an article in the Statist, published in 1898 or 1899, Mr. Justice Rees, dealing with the interpretation of labour laws from the earliest days to the passing of the Workmen’s Compensation Act, showed that up to the time of Lord Campbell’s decision regarding common employment, the most restricted view was held of the rights of workmen, and if there was any opportunity, under common employment rules and decisions, to brush aside a claim for damages, it was taken. In the early days, the Judges, before allowing damages, always insisted that it should be proved that wrong had been done by an employer or his agents. The very study of law, as I have already said, makes a man more or less conservative.
– The Legislature can rectify the judgments of the Courts.
– That is what we desire in this case. ‘ I have expressed no opinion reflecting on the wisdom, honesty, or impartiality of the Justices of the High Court. I know the Chief Justice, as well as, if not better than, any other man in this chamber. While the members of the party to which I belong had, at one time, reason to look not too kindly upon him, we all gave our hearty concurrence to his appointment. But, as a layman, I do not think that the weight of argument was in favour of the majority decision.
– The study of law does not deprive men of the ability to interpret Acts of Parliament.
– It inclines men to follow precedent too closely, so that anything new is likely to be upset. When the honorable member for Parramatta was speak ing, the honorable member for South Sydney interjected that the leader of the Opposition had declared himself in favour of the proposed amendment of the Constitution to allow of the enforcement of the new protection. That statement was challenged, and I shall, therefore, read an account of an interview with the right honorable member which was published in the Sydney Daily Telegraph on the 13th July last. Criticising the resolution of the Brisbane Conference in regard to appealing to the people for an amendment of the Constitution in respect to industrial legislation, he is reported to have said -
In that demand I heartily support them, both on the grounds of justice and expediency. Justice, because it is part of the moral contract between the State and the manufacturer; and because the new protection will enable the workers to get what the duties were intended to give them. Expediency also concurs, because another condition must attach - the just right of those who give the protection and who will bear the burden of it. The conflict of interest between the manufacturer on the one hand, and the artisan on the other, will enable the masses of the people, who are all workers, to see that they are not unduly burdened by “either employer or fellow worker; because many of them, perhaps the bulk of them, have no helping hand of this fraternal kind. Therefore, it is that I am prepared to recommend that the Federal Parliament be granted the power to make, by means of threatened duties of Excise, the manufacturers deal fairly by their workmen, or suffer some reduction of the benefit they get from the duties on imports. When Parliament gets the power, Parliament will have no easy task in giving effect to it. But we can try. All free-traders, in my opinion, should support the scheme, if only because it will bring a great deal of daylight to bear upon the hitherto hidden workings of that which they believe to be a mistaken and -injurious policy.
If that is not in support of what I have said, I do not know what language could convey it. The right honorable member for East Sydney is at least entitled to the honour that belongs to the leader of a party. He has made the statement, and those who follow him are bound by what he says.
– Not a bit of it. That is so in the honorable member’s party, but not in this.
– Then, Mr. Speaker, you will have to reconsider the question as to who shall be called upon first in any debate. If the ..leader of the Opposition cannot speak for any one but himself, then, the Opposition has come to a very serious state. . If the leader of the official Opposition - the gentleman who signed his name to the manifesto on which his party went to the country, and were elected - cannot speak for his party on an important issue like this, what is the Parliament coming to? In that interview, the leader of the Opposition amply showed that Tie was in favour of giving this Parliament power to deal with industrial matters in the shape of the new protection, and expressed the hope that all free-traders were of the same opinion. Did not that statement express the view of the party ? Is not the honorable member for East Sydney accepted as its leader? If he is, I can surely accept his statement as carrying his party with him, but when I propose to do so, I am met with a chorus of “noes.”
– The honorable member has just been claiming that his party does not need to act as one man.
– In this matter they will have to act as one man, because effective new protection and arbitration form part of the platform to be submitted at the next election. Honorable members need not become candidates, but if they do stand they must all agree to do what they promised their electors they would do. If the honorable member for Wentworth, for instance, wished to be a candidate to represent the Labour Party, he would have to be selected by a league. If he agreed with the platform, he would sign it. He would have to agree to support all the matters that are in the platform, or he would not be selected. The candidate puts the platform to the people, and if they elect him, they elect him to carry out that platform. The matters in the platform are essential, and he must support them, but, of course, in non-essentials he is not bound. Does the honorable member for North Sydney say that this question is a non-essential ? Is the question of seeing that the employes get fair and reasonable wages under a protective system a minor one upon which any honorable member can take his own course? If that is the position occupied by theOpposition, it is hardly worth while bothering about it, becausea party of that kind will not long be tolerated by the people.
– We arenot obliged to agree on essentials.
– That makes it even worse. If the members of the Opposition are not pledged even on essentials, is there really an Opposition at all? Small as the
Government Party are, they have a few essentials to which they are pledged, and on which they must stand together, and they can make some progress, but if these interjections express the convictions of the party in Opposition, it is little wonder that the honorable member for Parramatta approached this debate with grave doubts as to whether he was here properly as a party leader.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 7.45 p.m.
– Before referring to the remarks of the Prime Minister, I will address some attention to those of the honorable member for Wide Bay. The tone of his speech was to me at least quite unexpected. He assumed an attitude that was not justifiable. He practically smote his breast, and said, “ Behold, I am not as other men, and especially as these other men on that side of the Chamber.” He, with that self-righteousness, asserted that many of those on this side of the Chamber had never supported proposals such as a White Australia, old-age pensions, &c., for which he and his party took the credit. He added that even where they had supported those measures, some of them were hypocritical, and he and his alone were genuine. I am rather astonished that those statements should come from a man who had not arrived in Australia when some of our leading men had begun action in those directions. He came here and found something done. He gives no credit to those who did it. He came here and assisted in more being done. He gives no credit to those not of his party who worked with him. Such an attitude cannot be justified, and I am much surprised that the honorable member for Wide Bay should have assumed it. Then he made other statements, which he really contradicted by his own previous remarks. He chose to believe that there was or might be, some difference between the leader of the direct Opposition and his followers on the question of the new protection. He said that that difference could not exist, or should not exist, if it did, and appealed to you, Mr. Speaker, if it existed, to declare that the right honorable member for East Sydney should not be called upon, or recognised, as the leader of the Opposition. Yet he, himself, had previously said that his party were not bound hard and fast on all questions, but were bound only on a limited number of questions, while on all others they exercised their own free will, and had shown’ by(. their actions that they could be found on each side of such questions. Does’ he refuse to give an equal liberty to an Opposition ? Does he say-that they should be more bound than are the members of his own party, although they have no pledge? But he added, in reply to ah interjection from me, that on an essential matter such as this, ‘ there could be no difference of opinion, and that the leader must bind the party. I am not saying that there is, or will be, a difference of opinion, but I take exception to that statement.
– The honorable member for Parramatta showed that there was a difference.
– I am speaking of the party, and not of one individual. I do not say. that there is, or is not, or that there will, or will not be, a difference of opinion. But the party of the honorable member for Wide Bay has proved that on an essential of an election, like the question of free-trade and protection - a dividing line ; a fighting issue - the members of the Labour Party have been found on each side. It is only the party itself that can decide what is essential, and no one party can decide for another. Where now does the criticism of the honorable member for Wide Bay stand? It is absolutely baseless, disproved by his own statements and attitude, and by the statements and attitude of his own party. He did not do himself justice in the remarks he made about that matter, or in those other remarks to which I first alluded regarding the genuineness of the help given by members of this side of the House in connexion with certain democratic proposals which his party favored. He also tried to justify certain remarks about the Judges of the High Court. He said he did not criticise the Judges. I very much regret that he should have made those remarks at all. They can amount to noting but a criticism of the Judges, and it is most undesirable that we, who make laws which the parties affected may remit to the Courts for interpretation, should impugn either the accuracy or the honesty of the Judges whom we have appointed, and each of whom, when we appoint him, we believe to be an impartial and honest man, who will give his genuine opinion on legislation passed by us.
– We should bitterly resent similar criticism of the Parliament from the Bench.
– Certainly. Surely the Bench lias more reason to be protected than Parliament has from undue criticism.’ If it is possible to affect their independence, that is the way in which it might’ be affected. ‘ Parliament makes every provision to protect the Judges from interference, and surely should protect ‘them from interference by the Parliament itself, in the interpretation’ of its measures. The’ honorable member for Wide Bay tried to escape the charge of criticising the Judges by claiming that he merely said that their occupation and study ‘ made them take a conservative view. Surely he does hot mean to say that that study, which is absolutely necessary for the interpretation of laws, is such as to cause the Judges to give wrong interpretations. There can be no conservative or liberal interpretation of laws. There is a right or a wrong interpretation. If the interpretation is right in the opinion of those who give it, and .they give it honestly, it is neither a conservative nor a liberal interpretation, but is one ar-. rived at after honest inquiry. Consequently, his criticism, if there was anything in it at all, amounted to an imputation that the Judges were so affected by conservatism, whatever that may mean in this connexion, that they would not allow their judicial faculties full play, and. consequently, gave what he regarded as a Wrong decision. I deprecate that tendency, of which we see too much, immediately a decision does not agree with our opinion, to turn round on those who gave it, and question their intelligence, capacity, or honesty. The honorable member made another remark, the tenor of which I did not fully appreciate, but I have heard a similar observation made by him, and some members of his party, on a previous occasion, and it seemed to me to indicate a desire to loosen the ties between Great Britain and Australia.
– It is scarcely fair to charge members of the party generally with such a desire. The honorable member knows that the charge does not apply to all the members of our party, if it applies to any.
– I do not think that it does. I merely said “that I had heard the honorable member for Wide Bay, and one or two other members of his party, ‘ make a similar remark previously, and that it seemed to me to indicate a de- sire on their part to loosen the ties between Great Britain and Australia. I am not suggesting that the observation was intended to go so far as it seemed to me to do, but the honorable member, the leader of the Labour Party, after referring to the United States and Great Britain, said that he did not wish to see Australia leaning on either of those powers. He expressed a. desire for the creation of an Australian nationality, apparently for independence of the help of Great Britain. The expression of such desire might not have been intended to indicate a wish to loosen the ties between Great Britain and Australia, but, on the other hand, will the honorable member say that when Australia has become independent of help in the way he desires, and when what he describes as an Australian nationality has been established, it should be ready to go to the aid of Great Britain - to place its fleet, or its army, at her command in a struggle with any other power? I have never seen an indication of such a desire on the part of those who have made statements of the kind to which I refer ; but whether I have correctly gathered what the honorable member for Wide Bay intended to convey, I leave him to say.
– I do not think that the honorable member is fair to the honorable member for Wide Bay in drawing such a conclusion as he has done.
– Why does not the honorable member for North Sydney say straight out that the honorable member for Wide Bay advocates republicanism?
– I am saying not what the honorable member wishes me to say, but what I think. If the honorable member for Wide Bay denies that in making the remarks in question he had any such intention as I have suggested, I shall certainly accept that denial. I cannot see the wind; I can only judge by indications the direction in which it is blowing. It will be a sorry day for Australia and the Empire as a whole when the bond of union that has held us together, and has meant so much to the people of the Com- mon wealth, is snapped, and separation takes place.I regret that the honorable member for Wide Bay is not in his place in the House, for I would rather make any observations that I have to offer about him in his presence. And so with the Prime Minister, who is also out of. the Chamber. He treated the discussion of the Address- in-Reply in a very light manner. His attitude suggested his saying, “ I am assured of my position. I have made my arrangements; my contracts are concluded. I am going to occupy my present position for the remainder of the session, if not for the remainder of the Parliament, and, therefore, I can afford to treat the discussion of the Address-in-Reply in a lighter manner than a, Prime Minister has everdone before.” I am glad to see that the honorable gentleman has just entered the chamber. In taking up this attitude,I do not think he recognised the importance of the debate, or that he was altogether courteous to the deputy leader of the Opposition. The Prime Minister certainly did say that the estimation of the value of the debate on an AddressinReply was diminishing, but I would remind him that he has not proposed that the practice of moving an Address-in-Reply shall be abolished. We have had the Government programme set out in the baldest manner possible, the speech made by His Excellency being, with one exception, the shortest on record at the opening of a session. The Prime Minister has offered scarcely any amplification of the vague and brief statements contained in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech. Surely Parliament is entitled to something more. The question at issue is not merely whether we favour the ends proposed to be obtained by the measures foreshadowed; but also the method of attaining those ends. Some of them involve large matters of policy, and the opinion of Parliament, which has to be tested to some extent on the AddressinReply, would be affected by an outline of them being put before it. Some of these proposals have been before us on a prior occasion, and unless there is a change of intention on the part of the Government, we do not expect any statement in regard to them. Take, for instance, the question of the new protection. All that we want to know is the direction which the proposed amendment of the Constitution is to take. Is it intended, as was proposed in the Bill submitted on a previous occasion, toprovide for the imposition of Excise, or for something more? Is it intended to provide for the partial or the complete taking over by the Commonwealth Parliament of the power to legislate in respect to industrial matters? We are asked to vote upon the Address-in-Reply in the absence of any information on these points. The Prime Minister might be justified in trying to abandon the practice of an Address-in-
Reply, but, since he adheres to it, he ought to extend to the Parliament the courtesy thathas generally been shown by all Prime Ministers and Premiers in this connexion. The Prime Minister dealt with somewhat greater fulness with the subject of the financial relations of the Commonwealth and the States. I do not think an apology was necessary. His announcement appeared to me - although he may not have intendedhis remarks to be so understood - to be neither more nor less than an appeal for unification.
– Not a bad idea.
– The honorable member for Melbourne Ports is ready toexpress his opinion onthe subject freely and candidly. Will the Prime Minister do so?
– I do not see that what I proposed can be regarded as even the slightest step towards unification. It is a separation of the finances, and not a unification.
– Will the Prime Minister say whether he is in favour of unification?
– Not of the finances. That is impossible, I think.
– Not in respect of the finances, but generally?
– The one would cover the other.
– Not necessarily. The Prime Minister’s statement was really an argument in favour of unification.
– Not inthe least. I said that there ought to be a separation of the finances of the Commonwealth and the States. There is such a separation in the United States of America, and the honorable member does not suggest that there is unification there, though that is an exact parallel.
– I do not; but the honorable gentleman went on to say that if, when the separation of which he spoke took place, the States found that they could not provide for any service, they should hand that service over to the Commonwealth. The States have hitherto depended largely on the Customs and Excise revenues. Prior to Federation, the chief items in their balance-sheets were the Customs and Excise revenue on the oneside and theinterest on the debts on the other. In 1906-7 the revenue from Customs and Excise was £2 6s.10d. per head, and the interest on the debts of the States was £21s. 7d. per head of the population.
Those are the two large items of Australian revenue and expenditure. The Governmentdo not propose to take over the whole of the debts of Australia at present.
– That is the proposal of my colleague, the Treasurer.
– The Government propose only to provide for the interest at present. We know that the debts of the States cannot possibly be transferred for many years. They will have to be taken over as they fall due. We cannot profitably convert them, but the taking over would be practically effected, as regards the financial aspect, if the Commonwealth guaranteed interest on the debts. The Commonwealth does not propose to guarantee the whole of the interest on the debts at first, but to guarantee only £6,000,000 ; and the States are left then with balances for which it is proposed to assume responsibility gradually over a period of thirtyfive years. I might, in passing, say that it seems to me - unless the Treasurer or the Prime Minister has some other explanation - that there is in this marked inequity in the treatment of different States. This payment over thirty-five years does nothing to reduce the balance of the debt; but, at the end of that period, no State is responsible for any further payment on account of it. Consequently, there is a forgiveness of debt, if we may call it so. This forgiving, however,is not on an equal per capita basis, as is the case with the first £6,000,000, but represents in one State say £5 per head, and in another say £30 per head of the population. That, I think, will be found an inequity that will cause strong objection when the scheme comes to be considered. But, apart from that altogether, when the responsibility for the whole of the interest on existing debts is assumed, it is not to be supposed that the States can go on without incurring further debt - there will still be interest on debt to provide; The Stateshave their development still to carry on, and may even be required to develop more rapidly in the future. If there is any large accession of population, the States will have to incur debt to construct railways and other public works necessary, because, with immigrants to settle and to find profitable fields for their exertion, new land must be opened up. It is absurd to say that because the Commonwealth has refused to borrow the people of the States and the members for the States will ever be satisfied with the rate of development that can be obtained out of revenue. Debts must still be created, and the Commonwealth takes over the greatest source of revenue for the payment of interest.
– And leaves the States re venues free from obligation.
– No; the States have their obligations apart altogether from the interest on debt, and those obligations are increased in every Department as population and settlement increase.
– The whole of their present railway revenue will then be free.
– It is free, but it has to be applied to the expenses of the railways.
– But over and above those, there is a large income when there is no interest to meet.
– In the last year or two there have been consider - able surpluses, but in other years since Federation there have been deficits.
– If the States have no interest to pay on the capital cost of the railways the whole of the revenues will practically be profit.
– But the States will have interest to pay on new works after the Commonwealth has taken over the debts. The. Commonwealth is now raising a certain amount of taxation, and so are the States ; and practically those amounts balance the expenditure, although, in some years, there are surpluses and in some years there are deficits. At any rate, the whole of the revenue of the Commonwealth and States practically balances the expenditure of both States and Commonwealth ; but if there be given to either Commonwealthor States an undue share of revenue, then an opportunity is given to the side which has too large a revenue to squander it - and this opportunity will be availed of, we may be sure - while there is placed on the side which has too little revenue, theobligation to raise fresh taxation in order to meet the expenditure which there was quite sufficient revenueto meet previously without that taxation. The honorablemember forNepean forgets that the States are now receiving out of Commonwealth revenue the money to pay interest on their railway debts, and that that is the revenue which the Commonwealth proposes to seize for all time, so that there shall not be any share of that revenue to enable the Statesto meetordinary expenditure and interest on new debts.
– In any case, the States will be £8,000,000 better off.
– If the Prime Minister looks at the matter in that light-
– It is true.
– How can it be true that they will be £8,000,000 better off when there was returned to the States last year nearly £9,000,000?
– We keep on doing that in perpetuity.
– No; but the Prime Minister proposes to pay £6,000,000 of the interest still and the whole of the interest on the present debt thirty-five years hence; but, after that, no matter what the increase of population and revenue may be - and the latter may go up to £50,000,000 or more-
– There are other avenues of revenue besides Customs.
– Of course; and are not the States using them?
– Unfortunately, no.
– Some taxation has been remitted in New South Wales.
– A small amount, but not nearly so much as ought to have been remitted when New South Wales got the tremendous windfall of revenue from the Commonwealth. There has been a very small remission lately ; but the States have been using other sources of taxation ; and some of them, such as Tasmania, have found a difficulty in creating new ones. The Government of that State have used their powers pretty severely, and the taxation represents, I think, 8s. to 10s. per head more now than it did before Federation.
-There is not a land tax in Tasmania.
– There is a land tax in that State. I have shown no anxiety to support any undue claim made by the States. Perhaps the Prime Minister has not read a communication which I sent to the Sydney press on the financial relations.
– I have, but I should be glad to.have it summarized in. Hansard.
– I do not propose to go into that matter now. I agree with the Prime Minister that we should not lengthen this debate by going into details, and I am only now following his remarks on the financial question. I do not take entirely either a Commonwealth or a State view of the matter; and in the communication to which I refer I endeavoured to show that the States had no right to claim, as some are claiming, their gross expenditure from the Commonwealth. The States urge that their expenditure is 86 per cent, of the whole of Australia, while that of the Commonwealth is only 14 per cent., and that these figures represent the relative proportion of revenue which ought to come to each. I think that that is a fair statement of the case put by some; and I showed in my letter that the States have no right to claim that the gross expenditure should be taken into account, but only the net expenditure, after crediting the revenue from the services and assets committed to the charge of Commonwealth and States respectively. I stated that when we credit the revenue, and when we allow for a transfer of old-age pensions to the Commonwealth, the percentages are quite different; speaking from memory, I think the percentage of expenditure works out at 73 per cent, for the States, and 27 per cent, for the Commonwealth. I showed that under those circumstances the anticipation of the States as to the revenue to be returned to them was altogether excessive - that a much smaller amount would be the proper proportion if we applied the revenue of Australia, both Commonwealth and State, to the expenditure of Australia in proportion to the revenue raised by each; that is, if we made the contribution in proportion to the income from taxation. But I also had to recognise that out of consideration to those States that are not in the best financial position - and this consideration has been recognised to some extent by the Government - something more than the proportion established by those figures would have to.be provided for the States at first. Now, it is quite proper that there should be a rest for a time to enable the growth of population to bring the proportion into existence ; but, after that, I think the States have a right to some consideration and some assistance from the Government towards their expendituredue to increase in population. I do not say that it should be the full proportion established from these figures.
– Does the honorable member think that the amount can be calculated now?
– It could be calculated if it were to be arranged per head of increased population, but not if it were to be three-fourths, or two-fifths,or any other like proportion. It might not be anything like what’ the States have been getting per head of the population, and it need not even be the proportion which I think I established by the figures I communicated to the press. We must recognise that the Commonwealth will have its purposes to consider, and that its needs will expand as much as, if not more than, those of the States. But the latter claim that if their populations immensely increase, and they are compelled thereby to enlarge their expenditure on the services left under their control, and, perhaps, to borrow to provide for the development necessitated, creating further interest liabilities-
– And earning a larger revenue, as, for instance, by increased railway traffic.
– From some of their expenditure there would be no increased return, and it must be borne in mind that the initial expenditure on railways is seldom fully remunerative.
– They might make the old railways pay better.
– Not necessarily. Railway rates fixed when the population is comparatively small cannot be maintained when the population is larger, and the goods traffic is heavier. Besides, reductions will be asked for the sake of development.
– Greater profits might be made, even with reductions of rates.
– That is mere supposition. I think that the Prime Minister will find that the Canadian States are making a claim similar to that of our States.
– It has been recognised for some time past.
– For a time it was not recognised. They were allotted certain moneys, and have since claimed further assistance. I do not know whether that assistance has been given.
– I think that it has.
– I am not sure. They have been claiming further assistance for thereasons I have given. If they have received it, the recognition of their claims foreshadows the recognition of the claims of our States. I admit that this is not a matter for the immediate future; but if the Prime Minister acknowledges that any agreement should be only for a period, he thereby allows that it is not wise, at the present time, to absolutely and finally separate the finances of the Commonwealth and the States.
– 1 am afraid that it cannot be done for a long time to come, though I spoke of it as an end in view after the debts are paid. To do justice, we ought not to have one Government raising money, and another spending it.
– I am with the Prime Minister in desiring separation, so far as it can be obtained, and in making what connexion remains as simple as possible. There should be no longer such an arrangement as that requiring the refunding of two-fifths or three-fourths of the Commonwealth revenue to the States, and necessitating the raising of three or four times as much revenue as the Commonwealth needs. I should not have dwelt on this subject so long had it not seemed that the Prime Minister foreshadowed absolute and final separation, the Commonwealth retaining the , whole of the Customs and Excise revenue-
– And ultimately taking over responsibilities for expenditure which would be just to the States.
– That is for a period, as regards the debts.
– And after that.
– A State may value some obligation returning no revenue more than another returning a good revenue. There is the national sentiment, which the honorable member is always striving to encourage, and a State sentiment, both being very proper in their way. I hope that he will not again create the appearance of an effort by the Commonwealth to secure unification.
– I do not think that there is the least effort in that direction.
– To say to the States, “ We will keep all the revenue, but if there is any service that you find too heavy, hand it over to us,” will be taken as an attempt to secure unification by starvation.
– I do not regard it as a progressive movement to take over first one service and then another; but if one looks into the future, after the settlement of the debts one sees that there must be an arrangement for a fair basis in perpetuity.
– Does the Prime Minister say that any arrangement must be until the debts have been absorbed, after which the matter must be
Considered again ? We cannot, in fairness, have a final arrangement now.
– That is my contention. I was suggesting an alternative to a proposal by the States going far beyond the assumption of the debts - something to continue for ever.
– My opinion is that, at the present time, we cannot make a final agreement which will be satisfactory to either the Commonwealth or the States.
– It is not possible to do so now; but the States, having made a proposal as to the far future, I put an alternative.
– I understood that the Prime Minister was proposing a final arrangement, under which, for thirty-five years, certain things would be done, and that after that the finances would be entirely separate.
– No. At the end of thirty-five years there must be a readjustment, and this is the principle I should prefer then and now.
– I am glad to have even that explanation. It would be regarded as serious for the States if the very large source of revenue upon which they have so greatly depended in the past were entirely taken over by the Commonwealth for all time. If that happened, we might see repeated here the experience of America, the Commonwealth having more revenue than it could legitimately use, and spending it lavishly, as money has been expended by the Federal authorities in the United States - for instance, by means of a war pension system under which pensions have been paid on account of more men than actually served.
– It is to prevent that that I suggest counterbalancing obligations.
– There the Prime Minister gets on dangerous ground. If the absorption of State functions and powers is decided by the wish of the people and a proper alteration of the Constitution, well and good, but if the States are to be forced to agree to it under financial pressure, it will be all wrong.
– The people of the States are the people of -the Commonwealth.
– That is why I do not wish to see one of their agencies given an extravagant sum and the other too little, money being wasted by one authority while the other is forced to impose taxation which would be unnecessary if there were a proper allotment of revenue.
– Under the American Constitution there is no exceptional burden of taxation by the States.
– ThenI do not know what exceptional taxation means. In the States of America the most extraordinary assortment of taxes is levied to be found in any part of the world. New Zealand took the idea of taxing commercial travellers from the States, some of which are forced to seek every means of raising revenue, while the Federal Government has so much money that it often does not know what to do with it. The Prime Minister alluded to the Seat of Government Bill. The representatives of New South Wales, and many other honorable members, will be glad to have the Capital question settled. The objections of representatives of New South Wales have been caused by the apparent desire to place the Capital in such a position as would make it seem that the concession givento the State is given grudgingly, and not in accordance with the understanding registered in the Premiers’ memorandum. There seems to be a desire to keep the Capital, not 100 miles from Sydney, but as far as it can be taken from that city.
– Dalgety is not so far from Sydney as either Albury or Tooma.
– Possibly, it was the intention of the Premiers’ Conference to place the Capital as far away from Sydney as possible.
– No; the memorandum shows that the 100 miles limit was adopted so that, while the Capital should not be in the neighbourhood of Sydney, it should be within a reasonable distance of that city. In my opinion, Dalgety, by reason of its locality and the difficulty of access to it, is not so desirable as other sites that could be obtained. It seems to me that if we adopt it, we shall commit the Commonwealth to a site which will be regretted in the future. But whatever site may be selected, it will be the duty of the New South Wales representatives to insist that the decision of Parliament shall be given effect to at the earliest possible moment. I hope that the selection will be such as may be accepted as a real fulfilment of the promise given to the people of New South Wales, and that being so, the Commonwealth and
State authorities will thereafter work together happily and readily, the State giving not merely what is provided for by the Constitution, but any reasonably larger area. If the State is satisfied that it has been treated on the basis of the constitutional understanding, then surely the State will be more ready to work amicably with the Commonwealth, and to try to meet it in every reasonable way. I hope that our decision will bring about that amicable relationship. The question of defence has already been dealt with. I would take exception, as the honorable member for Parramatta has done, to the panic that some people in this community have been trying to create in order to get the assent of the people to certain proposals. I think that is altogether unjustifiable. Years ago our people were singing that jingoistic ditty, the refrain of which was -
We don’t want to fight, but, by jingo, if we do
We’ve got the ships, we’ve got the men, we’ve got the money too !
I do not favour such jingoism, nor do I approve the creation of a panic, or the statement to the world that we are not in a position to defend this country - that we may be, and can be, overrun unless a certain policy is adopted. We have over 4,000,000 people in Australia to-day, as many as were in Great Britain at the time of Queen Elizabeth, and those 4,000,000 odd not only defended their own country against countries which had populations far in excess of their own, but commanded the near seas, and even went into the Pacific and Indian Oceans and created one of the brightest pages in British history.
– Is the case to-day exactly on all-fours with the illustration that the honorable member uses?
– The case is that it would be more difficult to put any strong body of men on the shores of Australia to-day than it would have been to land a force in England in those days. The difficulty has not decreased, but has rather increased in the interval, because the British Navy to-day is a power beyond all comparison with that which existed in the time of Queen Elizabeth.
– Surely, not relatively?
– In the middle of last century Britain alone was able to meet the whole of the fighting navies of the world.
– I am not speaking of the last century. Proportionately Britain is stronger to-day even than she was in the days of Queen Elizabeth.
– It was the wind that saved England in the time of Queen Elizabeth.
– I venture to say that the fighting spirit of the England of that day would never have allowed a landing, even if the wind had been favorable, or, if there had been a landing, would never have allowed an occupation.
– Does the honorable member think that Australia ought to do nothing ?
– I do not ; but I object to that panic-raising which is only an invitation to those powers that we are said to fear to consider the very enterprise that we wish to avoid.
– Those same powers probably know more about our affairs in that respect than we know ourselves.
– They may know about our affairs, b~ut they may not know our fears. If, as is proclaimed, we have not the ships, and have not the men, surely we will not say that we have lost our courage, too.
– What is the good of courage if we do not prepare?
– We know the good of courage. If there had not been superior courage in some of what were once the smaller peoples of the, world, they would not be in the vanguard of the nations to-day.
– Even Tommy Burns has to train. »
– I did not know that the Minister’s policy was founded on the methods of American prize fighters. That is where he gets his inspiration, apparently. I should never have gone to that source for my policy.
– I merely suggest to the honorable member that no matter how good a man, or nation, may be, there must be preparation or training.
– I am not against preparation, or even against drilling every man in the community, but I do not want to see reckless expenditure and taxation of the people* to a degree that there is no necessity for. I am quite with the cadet training, which I think is excellent. You take them where you can readily get them - in the schools where they are placed for other training. It can be effected with comparatively small expense, and it will make the cadets ready to be trained into good and effective troops at short notice later on. But we have another proposal for compulsory training. If it were not going to cost an enormous sum, or to interfere severely with the occupations of the people, I should say at once that such drill would do them no harm, and would even do them good, but we must take care what we pay in making excessive preparation for what may or may not happen. The dearest wars that ever were waged have never been fought, if I may use that expression. It has been the preparation for wars that never took place that has cost more money, and is costing more to-day, than has the longest and the bloodiest war.
– Very likely the preparation prevented the Avar.
– Sometimes it assists to bring war about. Sometimes it does prevent war, and I am not against preparation to every needful degree, but I do not wish to see us flinging ourselves, in a fit of military excitement, created largely by panic pictures, into an absolutely unnecessary expenditure which is no safeguard to Australia, because as great a safeguard could be secured without it. There can be no attack on Australia by a military force without at least two months’ warning, and it is regarded by good authorities, and by the Defence Committee in Great Britain, as absolutely impossible to put on to the shores of Australia, if there is any interference at all, any. large force of men. This was said by, Colonel Foster, a distinguished British officer, who is the Director of Military Science at the Sydney University -
In considering defence matters, some idea of the scale and nature of the attack must be formed. Otherwise wasteful and needless preparation will be made to resist purely imaginary « dangers. It would be instructive for those who are possessed by dread of an invasion to investigate the conditions under which the rare oversea invasions recorded in history have been launched. Napoleon failed to find opportunity to put 100,000 men across 25 miles of channel,” although he used effort and brains without stint to make it possible. The United States in 1862 moved an army of 120,000 very deliberately some 200 miles over inland waters, but this proved a great undertaking, and not devoid of serious risk from naval interruption, although it was covered by a greatly superior fleet. Again, in 1899, some 40,000 men were sent across the Pacific to the Philippines, but only a few at a time, and with no possible enemy at sea. England succeeded in moving 30,000 men to the Crimea, and France more, but the allies had complete command of the sea, and used their fleets to escort the expeditions. The Japanese, uninterrupted by sea, took some months to ferry 400,000 men a short distance to Manchuria.
The necessity of avoiding any possible attack during transit, and the vast amount of shipping required, makes it impossible for any Power but England to effect the transport of a large army over the sea with rapidity and certainty. The despatch to South Africa of 250,000 men over 6,000 miles of sea, which was effected at the rate of 1,000 men per day, is by far the greatest movement oversea recorded in history.
– About two years ago a great expert, quite as able a man as Colonel Foster, said there would never be a line of battleships south of the line. I think there were sixteen here the other day.
– A great many people have said things that even when uttered did not find acceptance. I know also that a great many things have been said about the future, especially the distant future, which at the time they were said probably were true, but times change. If the times . change, we have time enough to change with them.- But Colonel Foster’s statement commends itself to our common sense. We have seen the difficulties of modern’ transport, and know that so long as there is a British Navy « moving, it is impossible to put any force on our shores. If there is no British Navy, or it has been severely defeated in the Eastern seas, it may be possible to land some men here, but it would take a long time to land any number, and surely there will be opportunities of drilling those trained in their youth, so long as we keep up the war materiel, without spending large sums of money many years beforehand. Some day a Treasurer will come forward, and assert that the expenditure which has been going on for years is wasteful, and will appeal to a Parliament which is in financial difficulties to abandon it. That will certainly * happen if the expenditure is excessive. I do not know what the naval proposals of the Government are. The latest statement on the subject by the Prime Minister which I have been able to discover is contained in the following report -
At a dinner given by the members of the Royal Yacht Club of Victoria at their clubhouse, St. Kilda, to the officers of the American Fleet, to-night, the Prime Minister said : “ The people of Australia have for the first time seen a fleet of battleships, forming an object lesson of what a fleet in being is that I most ardently desired my countrymen to see, and Australia would do well to study the policy of those behind the men and guns.
What that policy referred to was I do not know.
– The honorable member is reading a telegraphic report, which was extremely brief, lt omitted my reference to the display of the British Navy at Portsmouth, as well as my allusion to the unfortunate fact that very few of us have been fortunate enough to see that Fleet. I then proceeded to point to the American Fleet as a present display of somewhat the same character.
– The policy behind the men and the guns, in the case of the American Fleet, is the policy of 80,000,000 of people.
– I went on to point that out.
– Whilst the policy behind the men and the guns of the British Fleet is that of 40,000,000, in addition to the people of the rest of the Empire, which embraces an enormous population. According to the report, the Prime Minister continued -
You are worthy of the name of Britons and Australians. You cannot be’ content to accept defence, ultimately, at any other hands but your own ; and you must do your share in providing yourself with a navy that will suffice for harbor and coast defence.
That is the most definite of late statements by the Prime Minister, in regard to this matter, that I have been able to obtain. I should like to know what the coast defence, of which the Government speak, is to be. Is it to consist merely of torpedo-boat destroyers, that may venture a certain distance out of port, or of an effective coastal defence for Australia? That is a point on which we have not been enlightened in His Excellency’s Speech.
– But we have already enlightened the House on the point. We have pointed out that we propose to begin with harbor defence, and to go on with coastal defence, gradually extending our naval system as our population increases.
– Then we are not to have an Australian Navy. The establishment of such a navy is to be left to some other time? All that the Prime Minister proposes is that we shall have a few boats in our harbors to assist the forts in preventing an enemy from entering.
– And then to go on with the coast defence, and so onward.
– But that is not in the present proposal, and it does not mean an Australian Navy. If it does, then the different States, in pre- Federation days, had for some years a navy. Victoria has had its Cerberus and South Australia its Protector.
– The honorable member is quite right in saying “ had.”
– And has now. Queensland also had its gun-boat.
– Queensland’s navy was twice the size of that of any other State.
– Yes ; Queensland had two gun-boats. If that is to be the extent of the Government proposal, the word “ navy “ is an extraordinary one to apply to it. On the other hand, if we are to proceed with the proper defence of our coast-line, even a navy like that which recently visited us will “not be sufficient.
– What? Not sixteen battleships ? 0
– Even sixteen battleships could not adequately defend 8,000 miles of coast-line.
– I think we could try to do so if we had so many.
– We might try, but, even with that number, we should find it impossible to adequately protect 8,000 miles of coast-line. The Prime Minister’s proposal, it would appear, is to adopt, with some improvements, the system in force among the States in pre- Federation days - to put, for defence purposes, in our harbors a few boats. Even that system, which, at the time, was considered so desirable, was dropped whenever the State Treasurer found himself in a difficulty. It is a mistake to talk of the Government proposal as one for an Australian Navy. Many of the public believe that we are to have a great Australian Fleet. How could we provide for it? I know that the Labour Party suggest that we can do so by taxation. It is becoming the party of taxation.
– Better than borrowing.
– If we are to provide a real navy by means of taxation
– We are not talking of a navy.
– If the Government are to provide for a real navy out of the revenue collected during the few years within which that navy must be established, if the first vessel is not to be obsolete when the last is constructed, it will be interesting to hear what the people of
Australia have to say when they find themselves taxed to provide it.
– Surely we can do as much in the way of taxation as Great Britain. The people of Great Britain pay 30s. per head in the matter of defence.
– They pay about ,£60,000,000 per annum on defence as a whole. If we are prepared to spend so much, why have we not recognised more fully what Great Britain is doing for us in this direction? The cry that we hear here is : “ Australia for Australians ; the Empire for Australia” ; but not “Australia for the Empire.”
– I have not heard that cry.
– No; we only hear the one cry, but the other is involved in our policy. We say that Britain is to help us to defend ourselves. The millions of Great Britain are to spend their money in doing so. They are to protect our trade routes, and come to our assistance whenever we need help. And what do we offer in return ? Do we offer to assist them in providing this defence? Do we propose by legislation to impose on Australia a reciprocal necessity? Are, the vessels of our navy, when it is created, and our men, to assist Great Britain ? No ; we impose careful limitations. We try to put every obstacle in the way of a man leaving Australia, and say that if he does go, it shall be of his own free will, and not at the expense of the Commonwealth. That does not suggest Empire reciprocity.
– Does not the honorable member think that Australia is of some value to Great Britain?
– And Great Britain is of high value to Australia.
– We find in Great Britain an outlet for our goods, and a free market. On the other hand, Great Britain finds here an outlet for her goods if she can climb over the wall that we have erected to shut them out. If anything, the advantage is on the side of Australia. I am not dealing with this question from the stand-point of free-trade or protection. I’ am dealing with the facts as they present themselves to me. We are to have “Australia for the Australians.” No one objects to that; but we should like also to hear the cry of “Australia for the Empire.”
– Did we not fight for the Empire in’ South Africa?
– Certainly ; but many Australians who left to fight in South Africa did so at the expense of the British Government, although it is true that some Australian troops were paid for by us. I do not suggest that the people of Australia approve of the attitude to which I have referred. If Britain were in difficulties to-morrow, we should “find the people of Australia willing to go to her aid. And yet we hear from Ministers the cry of “ Australia for Australians,” instead of “ Australia for the Empire,” although our demand also is that the Empire shall be for Australia, and shall bring to bear all its forces’ to defend her. Thus the people in Great Britain are !o be taxed year in and year out to provide a navy to protect not only the commerce of the Motherland, but the trade and the people of Australia. They are to be taxed, but are we to remain in peace by our own hearths, having secured our harbors, careless of the fact that Britishers in some other part of the Empire are being bombarded with shot and shell ! It is said that once we have secured the safety of our harbors, we shall have discharged our duty ; that we ought not to contribute anything to the great fleet that polices the seas and defends the commerce of the whole Empire, including our own; that we have nothing to contribute towards its maintenance, and nothing to thank the British Navy for. That, however, is not the view of Australia.
– What does the honorable member suggest we should contribute?
– I say that the object has been to avoid contributing anything. We should be ready to contribute more than we have done to the upkeep of the British Navy, rather than to reduce the little we have given.
– Will the honorable member tell us what he thinks would be a fair’ contribution ?
– I .shall be ready to do that when I chance to be on the Treasury Benches. That is where such proposals should come from. I am merely objecting to the broad general policy, and am not taking into consideration the exact number of” pounds, shillings, and pence. I am objecting to a policy which would reduce the little we give towards the upkeep of the British Navy, and am urging that we should give as much as we can or as much as we think is reasonable to assist in our own defence.
– The Labour Party have always been solid against giving anything.
– That is not quite correct
– I wish now to draw the attention of the Prime Minister to a paragraph in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech dealing with a subject with which I have had some association. I refer to the paragraph relating to the passing of a Commonwealth navigation law. I do not know whether the Bill to be brought forward will be that which was introduced last session in another place. That Bill departed from the recommendation not only of the minority of the Commission - a minority of four, of which I was” one - but from the recommendation of the majority of five members. I do not take special exception to that, but this Commission was foi lowed 0by a Conference in London, called at the request of the Imperial Government, and assented to by the Commonwealth Government. At that Conference certain resolutions were adopted unanimously by members, including Mr. Lloyd-George, the President of the Board of Trade, the representatives of the Colonial Office and the Board of Trade representatives of the shipowners, a Commonwealth Minister, and the honorable member for West Sydney. But the Bill has, in some cases, not attempted to carry out what was then agreed upon. Those resolutions which, as I - say, were unanimously adopted, improved the position as regards British shipping ; but the Bill has gone further in the way of injuriously affecting that shipping than in some instances did the original Bill introduced before the Conference. I think that the Prime Minister has had some correspondence with the- British authorities on the subject; but I do not know whether, in consequence, any alteration has been made in the present measure.
– I cannot charge my memory with the details.
– If what I say is .the. case, I think the Conference has been treated in a most extraordinary way, which makes a bad return for the ready agreement of the British representatives to our controlling our own coastal trade and shipping registered in . Australia ; and it would be interesting to know whether the Bill to be introduced now differs from the Bill of last session. I think the House has a right to know - and the honorable member for Flinders drew attention to this matter on a former occasion - how the various pro- posals which are now before us, and others which are foreshadowed by the Government, are to be provided for financially. We have old-age pensions to be provided for, and there are many other proposals with which I cannot deal now, but which will require expenditure. Even if the Government get all that is expected in the way of revenue, and after 1910 an arrangement is come to with the States, there will, if these promises and proposals are carried out, be an absolute shortage, unless borrowing is resorted to. We are getting into a serious position, and I do not wish to see the Commonwealth so manage its finances as not only to cripple the States, but injure its own reputation. We have, so far, generally speaking, managed the finances with commendable caution and safety ; but we are now holding a looser rein on the purse, and I am very much afraid we shall be brought face to face with difficulties unless the Government limit their promises or show where they are going to obtain the necessary money. At present it seems to me that the Government are committed to what will necessitate either borrowing or future taxation, and if they largely increase taxation and at the same time make it necessary for the States to take a similar step, I do not think the Commonwealth reputation will be improved. The Prime Minister, in the course of his remarks, said he was sorry to see that the deputy leader of the Opposition was in a dissatisfied state of mind. Other honorable members have said, or intimated, that those on this side of “the House seem very depressed. But if there is one party in this House which ought to be in a dissatisfied and depressed frame of mind, it is the Government party. The position which the Government occupy today is one of their own seeking and maintaining. Their party is the smallest in the House - so small that about one-half of them wear officers’ uniforms - and while they profess to lead the House, the truth is that they are led by another party who are the real masters of Parliament. IT I say that the present unsatisfactory state of affairs is one that ought not to be agreeable to, or bearable by, any man of independence, who desires to guide his own policy through Parliament, I say it on the authority of the Prime Minister himself, who is the critic of his own action. Some years ago he declared that he would never occupy such an unfortunate position again.
– A wise man changes his mind.
– It may be there is some attraction - I shall not say what - which has caused the honorable gentleman to change his mind. It may be the attraction of those with whom he is associated; but, at any rate, he is occupying a position which is more calculated to cause him dissatisfaction, than the position occupied by any party or man in the chamber. I am sorry that the Prime Minister should so belie his previous utterances.
– I hope the honorable member will stick to that line of argument when I quote him on the Federal Capital question next week.
– I shall support everything I have done on the Federal Capital question; and the honorable member knows that I acted fairly to him and to the site he favours although I am against it.
– Will the honorable member continue to so regard that site ?
– I shall support the site I am in favour of ; but I should not refuse to act fairly, when in an official position, even to a proposal to which I was opposed.
– The honorable member is not in an official position.
– And I have no anxiety to be, and, at any rate, I should not like to be so under the conditions accepted by the present Government. Although I respect the members of the Ministry personally, I do not know how they can hold their position on the present terms. We find direct changes in the Ministerial policy. Speeches made by Ministers some time ago, showing certain views, are controverted now, not by others, ‘ but by themselves ; and a policy which was at first regarded adversely by them has now been adopted, and is advocated in picturesque and powerful language. And why? Be: cause it has been forced upon the Ministry by another party; and I. quite admit that there must be submission, if the Government’s only wish is to retain their position. In one sense I do not regret that they do retain their position, but I regret the fact for their own sakes, because, -for many of them, I have a higher opinion than such retention seems to justify. It will be seen that the taunt thrown by the Prime Minister at the deputy leader of the Opposition and others on this side can be returned with interest. If there be any dissatisfaction on this side, it, at any rate, is not the result of the indefensible action of any honorable members or of the party as a whole - it is not caused by their occupying a demeaning position. If there is no dissatisfaction inthe mind of the Prime Minister with his present position, he has departed from the attitude he assumed some years ago; and I should be sorry to think that such is the case.
– I realize that we shall have another opportunity to deal with the various measures foreshadowed in the Governor-General’s Speech, and, therefore, I do not intend to refer to them now, but merely to say a few words on one or two matters raised in the course of the debate. The deputy leader of the Opposition in referring to remarks made by the leader of the Labour Party at Alexandria on “a White Australia” used some very strong expressions about “cant,” and so forth. He has stated that there is no need for a party to defend the White Australia policy ; but I would remind him of the attitude of some of his prominent supporters, as shown by the report of a Conference which met in Melbourne last year. Let me read some extracts from the Melbourne Herald. of 24th October last -
Socialism - Opponents in Conference - Remarkable Speeches - Australian Laws Condemned - The Kanakas Eulogised.
At the annual Conference of the Australian Women’s National League in May last, it was decided that it would be wise to take advantage of the great influx of women to Melbourne at the time of the Australian Exhibition of Women’s Work to hold a Conference of representatives of all the anti-socialistic organizations of women throughout Australia. The Conference was opened this morning at Cliveden, the residence of Janet Lady Clarke, the President of the Women’s National League. In addition to members of this league, there were representatives present of the Women’s Branch of the People’s Reform League of New South Wales, the Women’s Liberal League of New South Wales, the Queensland Women’s Electoral League, the South’ Australian Women’s Branch of the Australasian National League, the Women’s Branch of the Mount Gambier Farmers’ and Producers’ Political Union, and the Progressive League of Tasmania. All the States but Western Australia were therefore represented.
Mrs. Molyneaux Parkes, of New South Wales, moved the following resolution - “ That while the Conference approves the principle of a White Australia from the racial point of view, it considers that the importation of coloured labour is necessary for the development of the tropical territory.”
The mover said that there were two points of view in connexion with this subject. One was the claim on behalf of a perfectly white community, and the other was the best meansof developing the tropical territory, especially the Northern Territory, which was now going to waste because of the prejudice against coloured labour. . .
Mrs. Hatton, of Toowoomba, Queensland, seconded the resolution. She said that the sugar growing industry in Queensland was now languishing because of the difficulty in obtaining labour. The demand now greatly exceeded the supply. The industry was going out of Australia. She agreed with the motion, so far as it was possible, and believed that it was possible with discretion to get in coloured labour. . . .
Mrs. Chataway, of Mackay, said that it must be recognised that they could never bring the kanaka back again. . . . Mrs. Hawker, of Adelaide, supported the motion. She agreed that the King’s Indian- subjects should be admitted to the Northern Territory. The subject was of importance to all Australia. The colour line should take in the greater portion of the Northern Territory, a great part of North Queensland and part of the north of Western Australia.
Mrs. Molyneaux Parkes, replying to the statement of Mrs. Chataway - wife of Senator Chataway - that the kanaka could not be brought back again, said that - they should put in a Liberal Ministry favorable to the kanaka, and then the thing would be done.
Who would form that Liberal Ministry but the honorable member for Parramatta and other members of the Opposition.
– No chance of that.
– Thank heaven! There is no chance of the honorable member forming a Ministry.
– Does the honorable member insinuate that the members of the Opposition would vote for the introduction of coloured labour? If so, he is quite wrong, and has no right to make such remarks.
– The members of the Opposition are not game to vote for the introduction of coloured labour, though many of them would not be here if it had not been for the efforts of women like Mrs. Molyneaux Parkes and Mrs. Jenkins, who went round their electorates lecturing on behalf of the party. Mrs. Jenkins, New South Wales, is reported to have said -
She had long been in favour of a White Australia, but was not ashamed to say that she had changed her opinion.
The resolution was unanimously agreed to.
– Who is there on this side in favour of coloured labour?
– The honorable member for Parkes is a member of the
Opposition who is in favour of the introduction of coloured labour. The Opposition would be ready to charge the Labour Party with holding the views enunciated by the Labour Leagues of Australia.
– Labour mem>bers assert that they are not bound by anything but the platform which they sign. They deny the right of Labour missionaries to be regarded as stating their policy.
– I do not, for a moment, say that a resolution carried unanimously by a conference of Labour Leagues would not bind the Labour Party.
– Would the ^honorable member regard a resolution of a meeting of women holding labour views as binding the party?
– The meeting to which I have alluded was not a mere meeting, but a conference of women representing Liberal organizations from every part of Australia - anti-social istic women. The speakers whose remarks I “have read are not women who do not know what they are talking about.
– Mr. Tom Mann was engaged by the Labour Party ; *but will the honorable member admit that the views which he expressed are those of the party
– The anti-Socialists were very ready to charge the Labour Party with Tom Mann’s views.
– And the Labour Party repudiated them.
– The members of the Opposition do not like similar treatment now. Since prominent lecturers of the anti-socialistic party who lecture in the constituencies to secure the return of mem.,1 of the Opposition deliver speeches such as I have read, it shows that it is necessary for the Labour Party to make the maintenance of a White Australia the first plank in their platform. I wish now to quote a few words uttered by the leader of the Opposition ; though he has said so many conflicting things that it is getting to be a joke to quote him. At the last election he went round Australia misquoting and misrepresenting the objective of the Labour Party ; but, as- is usual after he has made a few statements about a thing, he gets to understand it, and then finds that he agreed with what he has been abusing. In an address on Socialism, delivered -at Helensburg on 31st August last, he ls reported in the Daily Telegraph to have said -
The Labour .objective began “ To secure to all producers the full results of their industry.” Who in the Heavens, or on earth, or even down below, wanted to do anything else by the use of political power? Then they came to the means by which this was accomplished : “”(*) by the collective ownership of all monopolies.” That was a very clever line, but it was only padding.
That it was not only padding was shown by the action of the leader of the Opposition when the leader of the Labour Party moved for the nationalization of the iron industry. The leader of the “ Opposition went on to say -
If that was to be the limit of Socialism there was no need to fool about it any longer. Then there was : “ (i) and the extension of the industrial and economic functions of the State and the municipality.” Who in Heaven or on earth objected to that? This Labour objective was a magnificent thing - but it was the creed of every true Liberal.
The right honorable gentleman said that he was in favour of securing to the producers the full result of their industry. What could be more socialistic than that? Economically, that is the Alpha and the Omega of our aims. Having pinned oneself down to that, it simply becomes a matter of ways and means. If the leader of the Opposition could show us a better way of accomplishing the object, which we have in view than that which we propose, we should gladly adopt it.
– What does the honorable member mean by securing to the producers the “full result of their industry”?
– The honorable member had better direct his question to the leader of the Opposition, who says that he is in favour of it. A good deal of sympathy has been expressed in the chamber to-day at the helpless; impotent and brokenbacked situation of the Opposition. We are all very sorry for the members of that party, who cannot even put up a decent fight to give interest to the proceedings. We should all like to see them patch up an alliance; but while there are now two parties on the Opposition side, we are promised the formation of two more. The other night in Sydney it was determined to start a new free-trade league, and the opinion seemed to be that the movement was bound to fail, unless they repudiated the present leader of the Opposition. “ We must dissociate ourselves from Reidism,” they said. Another member of the Opposition is initiating a party to be called the Protestant party, so that while they are trying to patch up an alliance between the two parties already in existence, there is a promise of two more to take their places. The Opposition are talking about forming an alliance, and yet we find the deputy leader and the leader of the Opposition themselves in direct hostility on the question of the new protection. The honorable member for East Sydney laid it down emphatically in the Daily Telegraph of 13th July last that he was going to support the Labour Party inan amendment of the Constitution to provide for new protection. It is almost inconceivable that the deputy leader of the Opposition did not see that statement in the press in big bold type, but he stands up to-day and tells us that he is not in favour of an amendment of the Constitution for that purpose.
– I said that if honorable members opposite could show me a way to do it I should be very glad.
– The honorable member, unfortunately, can never see his way to do things. Whilst he pretends to be in favour of the thing itself, he grumbles about the way in which it is going to be done, and, consequently, is always found in opposition to the principle.
– The honorable member’s party has made a sorry mess of it up to now.
– The struggle is young yet, and the honorable member will have an early opportunity of voting against the proposal to amend the Constitution. I think that in the end the action taken by Mr. McKay in the harvester case, in going to the High Court to have the instalment of new protection on the statute-book wiped out, will be the very best thing that could have happened, because the people of Australia are sure to give us such an amendment of the Constitution as will remove harassing restrictions which encompass us, when we try to help the workers, and put these schemes altogether beyond the reach of the High Court in future. I am sure that no one would like more than the Labour Party to see a clearly defined issue between the political parties in the country, because we believe that, the more clearly issues are defined and put to the people, the more quickly will the Labour Party take its rightful position in charge, not only of the legislative machine, but also of the administration of the affairs of the Commonwealth.
.- I agree with the honorable member for Cook, that we wish to reach some of the measures contained in the Governor-General’s Speech as soon as possible.I listened anxiously while the Prime Minister outlined the measures that were to be taken first, but I heard no mention of the Manufactures Encouragement Bill, which was before us in the closing stages of last session. I was surprised to notice during the recess the repeated attempts on the part of the Government to foist on the public the statement that members on this side of the House were responsible for the defeat of that measure.
– The honorable member helped a bit himself.
– That is about as accurate as other statements that come from that corner.
– How much assistance did the honorable member give to other industries ?
– A Government, if it has a policy, does not, as a rule, look to members of the Opposition to carry it through. This Government brought forward and carried other matters, so to speak, off their own bat, with, of course, the assistance of members in the corner, but it appears that, in spite of all the talk from members on the Government Bench with reference to the iron industry, there has been very little sincerity about the Government proposal from beginning to end.
– We have a fairly good Tariff, any way.
– The honorable member seems to have changed his opinion even upon that matter. He stated in Sydney that he was not satisfied with the Tariff, and would like a little higher protection in many items. He now says that he has a fairly good Tariff. For my part, I hope that the Tariff, good or bad, will be left as it is for some time to come, because I believe that the commercial community would be better served by leaving it alone for a while than by constantly tinkering with it. The Treasurer was very earnest about the Tariff. He bullocked it through, and we can congratulate him on the physical energy which enabled him to withstand the great strain of that task. If, however, he was as much in earnest about the Manufactures Encouragement Bill as he was with regard to other industries that he wanted to encourage, surely he could have shown the same capacity for bullocklngit through.
– I should have had it through now if it had not been for the : honorable member and his party.
– The honorable men,ber knows that at his request I sat down and said nothing in order to enable him to get the Bill through.
– It is a pity that the honorable member was not as anxious about other things as he was about the iron bounty.
– What I complain of is that honorable members who were anxious about other industries in their own States, and” whose political beliefs ought to have led them to support an industry of such .great importance as the iron industry is, should have let the Bill slide, and that the Government should have brought it in at the fag end of a long session, and then blamed the other side because it was not carried. We all know the facts about that last day. If anybody was responsible for the Bill not being carried I believe it was the leader of the Labour Party, because he moved the adjournment of the House, and occupied nearly the whole of the last morning in discussing a matter which has been before ais at various times ever since I became a member. He did not advance that matter in any way by the supposed urgency of his action that day. To say, as the Treasurer has said, that the honorable member for Illawarra was responsible for the measure being dropped, is to beg the question altogether. That honorable member, in a speech which, according to Hansard, did not last ten minutes, moved what he thought was a proper amendment to the Bill. A short speech of that kind could not have blocked the measure if the Treasurer had been in earnest about it.
– The honorable member knows perfectly well that I was in earnest.
– If so, the honorable member took a very poor way of showing it.
– I have given notice of the Bill to-night. The honorable member had better help me, and not talk it out again.
– The Treasurer is unfair in saying that I attempted to talk anything out. 1 hope that in this matter he will be as earnest as he has been with regard to other industries, which have got the protection they asked for, and in many instances more than they asked for. I trust that the Ministry will not shelve this question until the last hours of this session, but will go on with the Bill, and allow the House an opportunity of expressing an opinion upon it. If the Treasurer had been as certain of the support of the corner on this question as he was in other matters, probably the Bill would have been introduced and carried into law before last session terminated. I want to see the responsibility put upon the right shoulders, and members given an opportunity to show on which side they are. If the members of the Labour Party are prepared to crush out the industry in order to push forward their nationalization proposal, I hope that they will be forced to take up that attitude both here and, if necessary, in another place. We have in the Governor-General’s Speech much in little. We have the barest mention of many items that we have often seen before, but we all realize that the Government cannot hope in so short a session to carry the whole of them info law. We hope, at all events, that the House will have a more explicit statement of the defence proposals of the present Government. I listened with much interest to the speech delivered last session by the Prime Minister when outlining his defence proposals. He told us then that they would cost very little more than our defence system was costing us at that time. The new scheme was going to supersede the old one. Since then, however, we have had modification after modification, and we find now_ that the Prime Minister does not propose to wipe out the old organizations. The militia and other branches of the Defence “Forces are to retain their present position, and the new scheme is simply to be tacked on to the present one. We are spending now something like £1,000,000 per annum on our defence system, and according to the Prime Minister’s very unsatisfactory figures, the new scheme is going to cost about £1,500,000 per annum.
– To what scheme does the honorable member refer?
– To the conscription scheme. When introducing the proposals of the Government for compulsory training, the Prime Minister said that they would cost about £500,000 per annum more than our present defence system. Even with’ that increased expenditure, I do not. think we shall have a very efficient force. I am sure that we shall have an unnecessarily expensive one without efficiency.
– We should never do anything !
– I do not say that, but I do say that with the right men at the head of affairs, and with proper organization, we might have done far more than we have with our present system.
– Does the honorable member think that the Government themselves know what they are going to do?
– We wish to ascertain what they are going to do. Whenever a flaw in their scheme is point-ed out, they are prepared to amend it. It has already been amended almost beyond recognition. In the present system, there are many details that require to be altered. The question that was put for me this afternoon to the Minister of Defence was the result of some information I received in reference to the allowances made to militia officers sent outside the Commonwealth to be trained. We have had for some time a scheme under which certain of our permanent men have been sent Home, as well as to India, for lengthened periods, to obtain further military training. The Minister of Defence, very wisely, I think, has extended that privilege to militia officers. We have in the militia, officers as intelligent, as enthusiastic and as capable as are to be found in the Permanent Forces, but under the new system a very harmful and invidious distinction has been drawn. The militia officers were asked what allowance they were prepared to accept in respect of expenses if they were sent abroad. They were informed that the regulations in respect of the allowances granted to members of the Permanent Forces sent abroad were to be departed from - that they would not receive the same grants. That simply meant that those having the most money at their command would go at the least cost to the Government; it did not mean that the best men would be able to avail themselves of the new system. The allowance made to the militia officers should have been in accordance with the regulations. They should have received without cavil the grant made to permanent men.
– We all say that.
– But as a matter of fact they have not. We are now told by the Minister that if any of them want more, and make application, their allowances may be increased. They ought to be given to understand that their travelling expenses and allowances will be the same as thosegranted to the permanent men. No distinction should be made. Coming to another question, it appears useless to’ criticise the administration of the Postal Service. We hoped, after the votetaken last session,, that we should have, at any rate, an effective Commission, appointed to investigate the working of theDepartment, but having regard to the character of the Commission - to the fact that a member of the Ministry is at its head - it seems to me that very little good will come of it. It appears to have beer* appointed, not to do any good work, but te whitewash the Department, and if necessary the Ministry. After months and’ months of pleading, we still meet with the same delays, difficulties, and bother, the same cry of want of funds and material, as we did a year ago.
– And we have the same waste of time.
– If, as the result of my appeals, the Treasurer were to placeat the disposal of the Post and Telegraph Department a sum sufficient to meet its requirements, it could not be said that my representations had been a mere waste of time. But it seems to be almost useless toattempt to induce the present Government, by any common argument, to do anything that they do not wish to do. As the Treasurer seems to have a particular set on the Post and Telegraph Department, we have very little hope, until the Ministry is turnedout of office, of having anything much better than the present chaotic state of affairs.
– I am strongly in sympathy with the Department.
– I wish that the honorable gentleman would manifest his sympathy by granting a little more hard cash for the service in New South Wales.
– I have granted the Department more than it ever had.
– It needs a great deal more than it has had. The Treasurer will correct me if I am wrong, but I understand that last year £200,000 was asked for in respect of works already in hand or in contemplation - works which were absolutely necessary - and that the Treasurer simply provided £103,000, so that many of these proposed undertakings had to go begging.
– That is not correct.
– I should like the Treasurer to give the exact figures, for I know that those I have quoted are somewhere near the mark.
– One cannot obtain even a small country mail service costing £20 per annum.
– I have granted a good many £20.
– Votes are passed, and yet nothing is done. The weeks pass into months, and the month’s into years, and we have still the same old promises, with no fulfilment.
– Last year the Department spent within £7,000 of its appropriation.
– My complaint is that the Department does not ask for enough. If it is granted all that is asked for, and spends all that it receives, it is a disgrace to those who manage it.
– If the Department gets all the money that it wants, and spends it all, there must be mismanagement.
– The Department does not say that it obtains all that it wants.
– Until the Department, not only in New South Wales, but in all the States, receives a grant that will put it on a thoroughly efficient basis, we can have little hope of proper administration. The complaint has been that we have starved the postal service in order that its accounts might show a credit balance.
– No, that was done in order that there might be a bigger balance to return to the States.
– Whatever the reason, it was a great mistake. We can undo what has been done only by making to the Department a large grant, that will enable it to be placed on a proper basis. Had any private business been managed as the Department has been, it would have been in the Bankruptcy Court long ago.
– How much does the honorable member want in his electorate? He has already been promised some works that are not very urgent.
– I am criticising the general policy of the Department; and if honorable members were to enter into all the postal grievances of their electorates, I am afraid that this debate would not be finished so early as is expected. There is no doubt that, like many other honorable mem bers, I could occupy quite an hour in dealing with particular complaints and requirements in my electorate; but, as I say, I am now dealing with the general policyof the Department, and contending that if we are to have efficient administration, we must be prepared to make the necessary grants to the Postmaster-General. Penny postage would no doubt involve some cost to the people ; but, nevertheless, I am as enthusiastic a supporter of the reform as either the present or late Postmaster-General. If we cannot have international penny postage let us have Inter-State penny postage, because communication within the Commonwealth ought to be on a common basis. There are at present very invidious distinctions in the charges for the same postal service in different States, whereas in the Commonwealth administration there ought to be uniformity. this can be attained only by making the present rate one penny. The reform might bear hardly on some of the States, but not to any great extent; and I think that the increase of business would go far to make up the decreased revenue. We find very often that the easier and cheaper and better facilities of this description are made the more they are availed of by the general public. There are other matters referred to in the speech to which I desired to refer but at this hour, and in view of the shortness of the session, I think my object will be best served, and the business of the House also expedited, by my repeating the hope that the great national proposal to establish the iron industry will receive the attention it warrants If it be only as an adjunct to our defence proposals, this matter should receive early attention. It is humbug to talk about establishing a small-arms manufactory, and manufacturing our own guns, when we have to import the necessary iron. If we are going to defend ourselves we must take cars that we not only have our forces, but the means to manufacture weapons within our own boundary. For these reasons and many others that have already been emphasized; I hope we shall have an early opportunity of dealing with this great question.
.- Of all Governor-General’s Speeches, I think this is, perhaps, the shortest-long speech ever delivered. The speech itself is com prised in a total of five paragraphs and it is supposed to cover the busi ness which the Prime Minister and his colleagues anticipate will occupy us twelve weeks. But the programme is of sufficient magnitude to warrant us in believing that, if the Government is really serious in proposing to proceed with the various measures, the session will occupy at least twelve months. Apart from new protection, the Seat of Government Bill, and National Defence, which in themselves are very large questions which might easily occupy twelve weeks, we have further business set forth, as follows : -
The programme, judged by past experience of this and other Parliaments, is really Gilbertian in its humour ; and no one other than the optimistic gentleman who occupies the distinguished position of Prime Minister would ever dream for one moment that any Parliament, and especially one composed of the conflicting elements to be met with here, could possibly dispose of the business in a session of the limited length contemplated. I join with those who have expressed the highest appreciation of the Prime Minister’s action iu inviting the magnificent American Fleet to visit our shores. The idea was well conceived ; and on the acceptance of the invitation everything that could reasonably be done was done to uphold the dignity and prestige of the Commonwealth in the way of entertainment. The Prime Minister is certainly to be complimented on the success which attended the visit. Throughout the celebrations there was a spontaneous expression of cordiality on the part of the whole df the people, marred only by one disagreeable incident. An attempt was made by a high ecclesiastical gentleman in New South Wales to interfere with the negotiations of the Government so as to create a wrong impression as to the purpose and meaning of the visit, and to read into it a covertly hostile demonstration against the British nation. I am pleased to know that that effort to make it appear that the visit was intended as an indirect menace to the Old Country was absolutely dispelled by the speeches made by Admiral Sperry and om. cers accompanying him. Those gentlemen made it very clear to Australians and to the world in general that they recognised the great bond of loyalty existing between Australia as a colony and Great Britain. They recognised that the people of Australia are loyal to the traditions, institutions, and flag of the Mother Country. This they made very clear in their speeches. They also made it clear that the fleet visited New Zealand and Australia, not only as a compliment to the people of these Dominions, but chiefly as a compliment to the British Empire, of which they form so important a part. Therefore, the attempt to give a wrong impression abroad as to the object of the fleet’s visit, and to divide the community into two hostile factions working independently, and welcoming the fleet from two mutually antagonistic motives, happily failed. I hope that this failure will be a lesson to those who tried to create disagreeable friction in connexion with the celebrations, and that in future it will be recognised that the great heart of the people will always respond to the promptings of loyalty to our great Motherland.
– The honorable member should ask leave to continue his speech to-morrow.
– If the Treasurer is willing to adjourn the debate, I shall ask leave to continue to-morrow.
– Will the honorable member help us to finish to-morrow ?
– Certainly. I shall not occupy much time.
– Is it the pleasure of the House that the debate be now adjourned, and that the honorable member for Lang have leave to continue his speech tomorrow ?
Honorable Members. - Hear, hear.
Warming of the Chamber.
Motion (by Sir William Lyne) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
– I ask you, Mr. Speaker, if temporary means can lie adopted- to warm the air of this chamber. I have heard several honorable members complain of the extreme cold, which is having a prejudicial effect upon their health. Several of us came here quite well, and have contracted colds by sitting in the chamber.
– Yesterday no means could be adopted to raise the temperature, but to-day the heating apparatus has been working, and probably to-morrow conditions will be still further improved . I had hoped that there might bemore opportunity to push on with the improvements in hand, so that by Tuesday next something like normal conditions would prevail, but when the House is sitting it is not so easy to get on with work as it is when the House is not sitting.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 10.30 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 17 September 1908, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1908/19080917_reps_3_47/>.