3rd Parliament · 3rd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– I wish to ask the Prime Minister if he has read the reports of the statements of the honorable members for Wide Bay and Macquarie, attributing political bias and partisanship to the occupants of the High Court Bench? If so, is his silence concerning them to be regarded as evidence of his concurrence with their views, and what steps does he propose to take to alter this state of affairs ?
– No doubt I read the reports, thoughI do not recall that they conveyed to my mind the conclusion arrived at by the honorable member. But last night I heard the honorable member for Wide Bay repeat his remarks. He then explained that the condensed newspaper report was misleading, and expressly disclaimed the intention to reflect on any member of the High Court Bench, adding an eulogium upon the Chief Justice which we all echoed. I have already had something to say on this matter in connexion with a resolution of the Melbourne Trades Hall Council embodying expressions capable of interpretation as reflecting on the High Court or some of the Justices. I pointed out officially that such criticism was wholly misplaced and unjustified; that the duty of the Court was to interpret the law according to legal principles, and that any insinuation of per sonal bias, or of the importation of personal opinion into their judgments, was unwarranted and indefensible.
– Has the Prime Minister any objection to laying on the table the correspondence between his Department and the Home Office regarding decimal coinage and coinage matters generally?
– No. The correspondence will be laid on the table as soon as it is complete. I think it is practically complete now.
– I wish to know, Mr.
Speaker, in regard to the sheaves of regulations which are constantly being laid on the table in connexion with the administration of Acts passed by the Parliament, whether there is any other way of making honorable members acquainted with what it is proposed to do in these matters. I think that Ministers, when regulations are laid on in huge bundles, should explain their contents.
– The papers are laid on the table, pursuant to statute, for the information of the House. If honorable members, after perusing them, are unable to satisfy themselves on any point, they can question Ministers in regard to it. I hardly know what the honorable member wishes me to do in the matter ; but if he can indicate any step which I can take to assist him, I shall be glad if he will do so.
– I wish to know from the Minister of Defence when the pacers in reference to the departure of MajorGeneral Hoad to Great Britain will be available to members?
– I think on Tuesday next.
– Is the PostmasterGeneral furnished with a reply to the question I asked at the end of last session in reference to location of telephone bureaux ?
– I shall endeavour to get the information, if the honorable member will again let me know what he wants.
King George’s Sound as Naval Base - Direct Taxation for Defence Scheme Pay and Allowances or Officers.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– Although I endeavoured this morning to obtain from the officers the last reports in this regard, I have not been able to see them, and must trust to memory. So far as I can recall the facts, the Admiralty has never at any time impeached the great opportunities presented by this harbor, but the scheme of defence they have favoured, at all events for the present and for some time to come, has not made it requisite to make use of them, though, no doubt, that will be changed in course of time. I am sure that those in Australia who. have had an opportunity to see this splendid harbor have formed the same opinion as Admiral Sperry ; but I am not sure that the Admiralty would appreciate any reference by me, or by any of us, to the opinion of any other authority than the eminent authorities they possess in these waters.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
In submitting the new scheme for Defence and compulsory training, will he provide -
That expenditure for such purpose be allotted from the proceeds of direct taxation ?
That time lost by citizens in training be paid for?
– My colleague, the Minister of Defence, in introducing the Defence Bill in the next few days, will deal with both these questions.
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow -
The Regulations mentioned only apply to the Citizen Forces. In regard to 1, the effect of the amendment is to enable a sum not exceeding 30s. per annum to be paid to each citizen officer of Command Staffs such as Officers Commanding Brigades and Defended Ports, and so place them on the same footing as other citizen officers in this respect. 2 and 3. No; for the reason already stated.
asked the AttorneyGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow -
Suspension of Officers - Mr. Drummond
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– Mr. Richmond was paid his full salary, though he was not restored to his former position, and suffered an annual loss of £60 in salary. Mr. Ardlie was not connected with the Richmond difficulties; he has not been found guilty or suspended on any charge, and his salary has not been reduced. The case of Mr. Drummond is not parallel. He received an allowance of, I think,£325 a year during the term of his suspension, and he was relieved of all duties. If, at the end of that time, he had returned to his duties, he would have been placed in his official position, but he decided to retire?
– Would he have received his back pay if he had gone back ?
– I am not sure that he would not have received his back pay, or most of it, if he had decided to resume duty ; but, as he decided to retire from the service, and therefore practically ceased his connexion with it long ago, we think he has been fairly dealt with.
Debate resumed from 17th September (vide page 154), 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.
.- We had yesterday the usual speech that we expect to hear from the leader of. the Labour Party. With customary disregard of facts, he claimed for himself and his supporters a monopoly of all the virtues, in the advocacy of reforms which would make for the betterment of the working classes of the community. He taunted, very unfairly, honorable members on this side - in fact, his speech was singularly unfair in many respects - with being opposed to the White Australia policy, and inferentially claimed that his was the one party of the House to whom credit cap be given for a sincere desire to see the Commonwealth a white man’s country. It may prevent the honorable member falling into a similar error in the future if I tell him that as far back as 1886, long before his party had any separate or official existence under its present title, the late Sir Henry Parkes, as leader of the great Liberal party in New South Wales, laid down .the dictum of a White Australia, and that that has been the policy of the Liberal party ever since. It will, therefore, be seen that the leader of the Labour Party, and those who sit with him below the gangway, have neither the right to make, nor the power to substantiate any claim to the exclusive possession of sincerity in this connexion.
– Only the Labour Party give any tangible evidence of sincerity.
– I have not observed that any other party give any tangible evi dence of bias in an opposite direction. The honorable member for Herbert is usually very fair in his criticism and utterances, and I remind him that honorable members on this side have, at any rate, given as much tangible evidence of sincerity on this question as have any members of the Labour Party. But the Labour Party, and not only the Labour Party, but the party with which they are in alliance in this House, have recently made another singular and wonderful discovery. After the fact has been drummed into them by the free-traders from the earliest times - after practical experience of protection for a quarter of a century in this country - they have discovered that that policy has not the power to raise wages or increase the conditions of the workers. We on this side of the .House - myself, as a free-trader, amongst others - have always contended that protection is a mockery, a delusion and a snare. We have always firmly held that protection is humbug; and, in my opinion, the “new protection” might well be called the “new humbug.” Although honorable members opposite have had the benefit of the experience and teachings of all political economists of note, and although they have seen that under the policy of protection in the older countries of the world, that where the highest protection prevails there are the lowest wages and the greatest destitution, they suddenly make the discovery that the great panacea, which was to remedy all the industrial ills of the community, and build up a great and prosperous nation of well-paid workers, has miserably failed in all essentials. In order to provide a remedy they came down last session with a new proposal to compel employers of labour to share with their employes the profits which were assured to them through the exclusive privileges which they enjoyed as a result of protective duties. This they called the new protection. Up to that period, it had always been claimed by protectionists that the sole purpose of. protective duties was to raise the standard of living and the wages of employes in Australian industries. In order that the employers might pay those wages, the price of the commodities which they were engaged in manufacturing was to be artificially raised by means of a Protective Tariff. Then it was discovered that the advantage which was to go to the workers did not go to them at all, but was absorbed by the employers for the purpose of unduly, swelling their own banking accounts. It was in vain for free-traders to explain, time after time, and even ad nauseam, that the results promised by protectionists in this regard would not eventuate, that it was natural for the employers when they obtained an advantage” to keep it to themselves, and not to pay more wages than they could possibly help. It has now been discovered by the Labour Party, though every one else knew it all along, that they have not been paying those extra wages, and this new device has been called into requisition to compel them to do so. I venture to say that the new protection will be just as ineffective, just as useless, just as much humbug as was the old protection. I go further and say that some of those connected with the Labour Party realize that just as well as I do, but will participate in this sham for the purpose of misleading and hoodwinking the wage earners to whom they look for support, for reasons which I will not mention here, but which are selfevident to anybody who knows anything about politics. The new protection can only raise wages and improve the conditions of the workers in one of two ways, which are antithetical to each other. It can do so by raising the price of goods to the consumer or by cutting off some of the profits of the manufacturer. The latter will not reduce his profits if he can possibly avoid it. What he will do if he can is to pass the added burden on to the consumer every time, and try to get more for his goods. When it comes to the last analysis, we find that the consumer is the worker himself - the man whose wages are to be artificially raised by this process. Consequently that scheme, when examined, simply means that the worker is going to pay his own additional wages - to take money out of one pocket and make himself rich by putting it into the other. The thing is absurd, unworkable, impracticable, and must absolutely break down of its own weight. It might, however, if put into operation, have, one unlookedfor result - it might force protectionist employers ultimately to ask for freetrade, and result in the overthrow of the protection evil. There is another point ii>- be considered in this connexion. We in Australia are members of a community which is very limited in its numbers. We have an area almost equal io that of the United States, with their 82,000,000 people, and spread over this vast territory we have a population considerably less than that of the City of London. Yet we, with our limited numbers, pretend to believe that we will be able to establish industries here with our obsolete methodsand out-of-date machinery-
– Surety that is not fair to> the industries of Australia?
– It is not unfair.
– Many of our industriesare up to date. Take the woollen industry in the honorable member’s own State, forinstance.
– One special industry cannot be picked out as typical of all. That’, applies not only to the woollen but to otherindustries. Yet we pretend to believe that we can successfully compete with the manufacturers of older countries whohave the world’s markets before them. The thing is absolutely impossible. Weartificially increase the price of goods toour own consumers by means of protection, artificially raise the profits, End now we aregoing to try to artificially raise wages. Thiscan only go on to a certain point, when it must break down of its own weight. To findindications that the whole system of protection is already beginning to break down in Australia, one has only to look round amongst our own manufacturers. I ventureto predict that the great boot industry,, which was one of the foundational industries -to be established by means of protective duties, and which was going to do so much for Australia, will be one of the first to get into serious difficulties’, and in Victoria I believe those difficulties will- be more acute than in any other State. We all want to see high wages prevail in Australia,, but these crude devices are abortive for the purpose. There was a deviceadopted by means of Excise duties tO’ try to compel certain manufacturers to pay fair wages to their employes. This wasnotably so in the harvester industry. There was no section of -this House more insistent than those who sit in the Labour corner upon giving that industry the highest possible protection, although it was pointed out to them that the wages paid in it in Victoria were or* the lowest scale, that the conditions of labour were of the worst possible description,, and that one of the principal manufacturersin it had purposely removed his establishment to Braybrook so as to escape thepowers of the Wages Board. Evidence of the bad conditions existing in theindustry was furnished by the sworndeclarations of persons, concerned, to tha-
Royal Commission, whose reports were made available to honorable members. Yet in the light of all the damaging evidence contained in those reports, the members of that party, led by the honorable member for Wide Bay, went out of their way to insist upon the highest protection being given to the manufacturers in that industry. Later on when it was discovered that, although they were receiving increased pro.tection, they were not paying proper wages, the Excise Tariff (Agricultural Machinery) Act was specially brought into being - but not into operation - to compel them to pay reasonable wages. The honorable member for Hindmarsh and the honorable member for Grey on several occasions last session urged that Mr. McKay, of Victoria, should be compelled to comply with the provisions of that Act, but the leader of the Labour Party and some of his followers sat supinely by and made no effort to secure its enforcement. It was only on the last day of the session - when it was really too late to do anything - that the leader of the Labour Party, who knew that nothing could be done, took action in this House, and that was only a piece of theatrical make believe.
– As the result “ot the storm outside.
– A storm raised by deputations as well as by honorable members on this side of the House, and some occupants of the Ministerial corner. The leader of the Labour Party up to that time had not raised a finger to cause the provisions of the Act to be brought into operation, and he naively told us yesterday that from the first he had a feeling that it would be useless. The inference to be drawn from such an admission is that the leader of the Labour Party and some of his followers were acquiescing in what was simply a sham and a piece of political humbug. They were pretending to the workers that the Excise Tariff (Agricultural Machinery) Act would bring .about better conditions for the men in the industry, although they believed all the time that it .would be ineffective, and was not worth the paper it was printed on. When I and other honorable members of the Opposition ventured to hint that there was not only a possibility of the Act being inoperative, but of its being declared unconstitutional, we were subjected to ridicule, and charged with being antagonistic to the best interests of the workers. It is singular that whenever honorable members on this side have pointed out that we were attempting to pass legislation which the Constitution gave us no power to enact - whenever we have refused to be a party to deceiving the workers by useless and unconstitutional make believes - we have been assailed with the cry that we are enemies of the workers. We have been asked again and again to agree to the passing of such deceptive legislation, leaving the High Court to determine its constitutionality ;or otherwise. But as soon as a decision antagonistic to the views of the Labour Party is given by the High Court, it is called in question and inferentially the Justices of the Court are charged with being biased. They are said to be conservative in their interpretation of the laws, and a demand is at once made for an alteration of the Constitution. The obvious inference to be drawn from such statements is that so far as the High Court is concerned we shall have a change - that we shall have appointed to the High Court. Bench, men selected not because of their high character and probity, but because of their political leaning in one direction. I hope, however, that we shall never see in this or any other British community men raised to the Bench because of their political opinions. In my opinion the judgments delivered by the High Court in the excise cases, as well as in the case involving the unconstitutionality of the union label - another of the abortive great panaceas of the Labour Party for bettering the conditions of the workers - were absolutely free from bias. I do not believe that we have in any State or Federal Court a Justice actuated by any other motive than the desire to discharge his duties with the utmost impartiality. It will be a bad day for Australia when we allow ourselves to believe that it is possible for a Judge to be actuated by any other motive than a desire to be impartial. But in various quarters there are not wanting indications that a change would be hailed with satisfaction. Last session the honorable member for Hindmarsh impugned the impartiality of British Judges, and in the course of a speech, on the Australian Industries Preservation Bill said -
If the Labour Party had a majority in the House of Commons we should find some of the Judges construing the law in a very different way than they do now.
Then we had a gentleman acting in connexion with the Arbitration Court of New South Wales, and who has occupied the position of President of the Sydney Trade and Labour Council, expressing the opinion that only Judges who were in sympathy with labour should be appointed. Finally we have the declaration of the present leader of the Labour Party in this House that the Justices of the High Court administer the laws from a conservative stand-point. The only inference we can draw from such a statement is that by giving a decision against the party of which he is leader the Justices, in his opinion, show that they are unfit to occupy their present position. lt is most unfair that honorable gentlemen occupying high judicial positions, and whose hands are tied, should be subjected to criticisms of that character.
– Does the honorable member suggest that I, for one, have not as much faith in the High Court as he has?
– I do not know what is the honorable member’s opinon; I am merely referring to the expression of opinion given by certain members of his party.
– The honorable member is simply making a Joss of the High Court.
– I certaintly am not doing so; but some honorable members would give to our courts a political party colouring.
– God forbid that the day will ever come when such a thing will be possible.
– What is meant by the expression of the hope to see the time when only Judges who are in sympathy with labour shall be appointed to our courts ?
– That statement was not made by a member of the Labour Party in this House.
– The aims and interests of the Labour Party in all the States are supposed to be identical, and we ought certainly to take notice of the expression of such sentiments by high officials ©f the party.
– Would the honorable member like to be saddled with all the utterances of the fossils in his own party ?
– But this is not an official of the Labour Party.
- Mr. Riley for some time was the President of the Trades and Labour Council.
– He was not.
– I believe, speaking from memory, that ihe was a member of the Sydney trades and Labour Council.
– He was not presi-. dent of it.
– Well, for some years he was either President of the Trades and Labour Council or the Labour League, but of which is quite immaterial. He was a person of high prominence in the labour organization.
– That was years ago.
– I am speaking of a man who has occupied a position of that kind, and who, I am reminded, has also occupied a judicial position as a member of a Court, and the honorable member knows this well. When we have the utterance of the honorable member for Hindmarsh which I have just quoted coming on top of that, and then the declaration of the leader of the Labour Party following that, I submit that all these declarations point to the existence of a certain undercurrent in favour of polluting the fountain of justice at its very source by the appointment of political partisans as Judges.
– The honorable member knows very well that that is a wrong inference.
– It is a reasonable inference, and the only, one which can be drawn from utterances of that character.
– No one but a politician, and a biased one, would suggest such a thing.
– No sane minded person could form any other conclusion. I hope that we shall hear no more of these statements in this House, and no more of these aspersions on our Judges, whether direct or indirect, from the public platform. If it can be shown that any Judge has administered the law with partiality, has displayed an unfair bias in favour of one side as against the other, steps should be taken to bring the matter before Parliament in the proper form. But gentlemen occupying high judicial appointments should not be the objects of insidious attacks when they are not in a position to defend themselves, necessarily having their hands tied behind their backs.
– If the honorable( member has read the newspapers at all he’ knows that the State Labour Party repudiated the statements made in respect of the Industrial Disputes Act in Sydney.
– I am speaking about a different matter altogether.
- Mr. Riley did not make that statement which the honorable member quoted.
– Well, he did not contradict the statement attributed to him, and which appeared in the Sydney press.
– Does the honorable member contradict everything which is said about himself ?
– If it were a material statement such as that was I would certainly take the earliest’ opportunity of doing so. But we do not need to go to Mr. Riley at all. We do not need to go outside our own Chamber ; we do not need to go outside the Ministerial corner. We have only to go to the honorable member for Hindmarsh and the honorable member for Wide Bay. to find that more or less direct and indirect aspersions upon the impartiality of our Judges are made upon the floor of the House.
– It would be a good deal less, not a good deal more.
– Not a good deal less, but a good deal more than appears on the’ surface. What I want to warn honorable members of is the danger that is threatening in that direction. What is meant, I should like to know, by this statement of the honorable member for Hindmarsh ? -
If we had a Labour majority in the British Parliament to-day, British Judges would administer and interpret many of the laws very differently to what they now ‘do.
Substitute a few words, and what is the inference to” be drawn ?
If we had a Labour majority in the Australian Parliament to-day, Australian Judges would administer and interpret many of the laws very -differently to what they do now.
The inference is obvious. We have only to substitute a few words to get a declaration of the same sentiment as applied to Australian Courts. Every time a decision of the High Court goes against a certain party in this House, there seems to be a desire of its members to get up on their hind legs at once and to demand an alteration of the Constitution, or a suggestion of partiality on the part of the Judges. Why, sir, one would think that we were a lot of children here. As the result of careful preparation, we have a Constitution within the scope of which we are permitted to legislate; but; unfortunately, a certain section in this House always wants to overstep its bounds ; and when, in spite of the warnings of those who have read the Constitution, and know something about its terms, they insist upon exceeding their powers, and the High Court, -on appeal, disallows legislation of that kind, they raise, at once, a cry that the Constitution must be altered.
– Have not facilities for that purpose been provided in the Constitution ?
– Yes; but not’ for cases of that kind, because they were anticipated. All the matters in respect of which this legislation was sought to be passed in this House were under consideration when the Constitution was being framed. It was framed with a special cognisance of those contingencies, and framed in that way, it was approved by the people. Yet, whenever we find that we are bumping up against the Constitution, it is not we who must give way and confine our operations within our powers, according to their view, but it is the Constitution which must give way. We must wreathe Constitution. We must incur an enormous expense on a referendum of the people in order to bring about a change of the Constitution. Of course, under certain circumstances which we can conceive, that would be advisable and necessary ; but, surely, the Constitution is not to be changed every time we find that we have exceeded our legislative powers J Now, when is the proposed referendum on this particular case to be taken? We have failed to elicit any information on that point from the Prime Minister. But if it should be decided this session that a referendum shall be taken, it must be taken not less than six months after that decision has been arrived at.
– Not ‘necessarily.
– Well, “ not less than two nor more than six months,” from the date of the decision.
– After the GovernorGeneral’s assent has been given.
– Of course, the question is not decided until His Excellency has assented to the Bill; but, certainly, the referendum must be taken at a time prior to the next general election, and not more than six months after the passing of the Bill through both Houses. If a referendum is to be taken at any time, I say unhesitatingly that it should be taken at the time of a general election - at a time when the electors are interested in the issues at stake, and may be relied upon to go in certainly larger numbers than at any other time to record their votes - because the minimum amount of inconvenience, at that time would be put upon the electors. But if a referendum is taken at a time of normal political inactivity, there is a very serious danger, amounting almost to a certainty, that only a very small proportion of the electors will take the trouble to vote, and consequently a decision of that character cannot be taken as a concrete and proper expression of the opinion of the country as a” whole.
– The Constitution says that the referendum must be taken within six months after the passage of the Bill through both Houses.
– The Bill has to go through both Houses during the session. I am glad to see that at last we are to be afforded an opportunity of coming to close grips with the question of the Federal Capital.
– Honorable members have had plenty of opportunity.
– We .have had opportunities of a kind.
– The Government have attempted to use a good deal of trickery in that matter.
– I hope that in the consideration of the subject this session it will be approached with a serious view to arrive at a decision. We must remember that the solution of the question is important as affecting the’ future of Australia. I trust that we shall not see a repetition of those subterranean and devious methods which have been employed so effectively in the past to block a satisfactory settlement. I hope that only one idea will animate all honorable members, and that that will be to secure a capital site within the terms of the compact with New South Wales.
– Within the terms of the Constitution.
– Yes, and in conformity with the letter and spirit of the compact made between the. Premiers of the States, in consequence of which New South Wales consented to enter the Federation. I trust that a site will be chosen as close as possible to the 100 mile limit within which we are not permitted to go ; and that our choice will be acceptable to the people of New South Wales and the whole of Australia - not of the present generation alone, but of generations yet to come. I trust that the interest of all Australia will be considered quite apart from the claims of any particular politician, and that we shall be able to settle the question without resort to those methods which have done so much to retard a satisfactory settlement hitherto. As to defence : the Prime Minister made a statement to the House yesterday concerning, what some of us regard as a form of conscription - at any rate concerning the compulsory military training of the male members of the community. I tried by meansof a question while the Prime Minister was speaking to get him to state what would bethe age limit to which the compulsion would extend ; but he was not prepared to make a> statement on the point. I believe that any form of compulsory military service imposed upon the citizens of Australia will’ not be acceptable to the majority of them. I do not think that our people, as a rule, arein favour of the importation of any of themore objectional features of Continental military methods. Hitherto we have beencontent to rely upon a partially paid’ service and a volunteer service; and I believe that it only needs encouragement tobe given to those branches to insure any number of people being enrolled for the effective land defence of this country as taras we can hope to make it effective in the absence of a denser population. We have a coast line of something like 8,000 miles todefend. It seems unnecessary to stale that our principal line of defence in Australia does not consist in military preparations at all, though they, of course, are necessary;, but consists in populating the barren spaces, particularly around our coasts, with at thriving and productive people. Our greatest security against invasion and aggression will be to use the continent that wehave, to develop its magnificent resources, to open up trade relations with other countries, and to establish commercial intercourse,, which always makes for peace and a tendency to the cessation of war and aggression. If we follow a policy in that direction weshall do more to insure the peace of Australia than by means of all the armieswe can train, and all the money we canspend on military equipment. I believe that it is a good thing to have a citizen soldiery, and it is wise to have our schoolboys - and’ even our schoolgirls, for that matter - trained, drilled, and the boys formed intocorps. After they leave school, up to, say, the age of twenty-one, and perhaps a littlelater, the boys should be given every encouragement to keep up and extend thetraining which they have learnt at school -, and, above all things, they should be taught to shoot straight. But if we are going toattempt to force military training upon the whole of the male members of the community, irrespective of their occupations or ages, I venture to say that an immense amount of hardship will be entailed upon a -great many breadwinners. It is all very well for those living in populous places - though even they will be subjected to an immense amount of inconvenience - but those living remote from the populous centres will be subjected to great hardship. I believe that if the Volunteer service were made attractive enough, and the partially-paid service were encouraged, we should have a -sufficient number of volunteers and militia for the defence of the country to make compulsory service unnecessary. I do not, however, desire to make a speech on the military question at this juncture. I simply wish to say something in regard to the defence policy generally. As .to naval defence, I should have been very glad to hear the Prime Minister make some statement to the “House as to the intentions of the Government regarding the subsidy we are now paying to the British Govern.ment for the presence in our waters of the British-Australian Squadron. I should like to have known whether ne still perseveres in the opinion that we should no longer continue to pay a subsidy, or that we should in any wa.y curtail the subsidy now paid. I believe that -so far as the general public of Australia are concerned, they would not sanction a withdrawal of the subsidy for a. moment. If a referendum on this question of naval defence could be taken at the next general -election, I believe it would result in an -overwhelming expression of opinion in favour not only of continuing the subsidy, “but of considerably increasing it.
– To what extent would the honorable member increase it? Does he think the contribution should be -pro rata of the population? That would involve a subsidy of several millions.
– I do not believe that the British people look to us for a contribution on that basis, but I think without any hardship to ourselves we might easily increase the existing subsidy from £200,000 to ,£500,000 per annum.
– What practical good would that do? It would be a> mere drop “in the bucket.
– Then of what practical good would be the expenditure of a like amount annually in building a navy of our own? It would, at any rate, “be a more respectable contribution towards the upkeep of the Squadron, which is stationed in these waters chiefly as a protection to our commerce, and which affords that protection not because of its numerical strength, but because it is recognised as part and parcel of the great British Navy. In proposing to spend large sums of money upon Australian naval defence, I think the Government are proposing the expenditure of money in an absolutely futile way. In my opinion, an Australian Navy for the protection of the harbors, rivers, and coastline of Australia, controlled and under the absolute disposal of the Australian Government in time of war, would be simply useless. A navy to be of any use at all must be aggresive as well as defensive.
– I think we have heard that before.
– It cannot be repeated too often if it is to be impressedon the minds of some honorable members. No doubt in time to come when we have a population of from 15,000,000 to 20,000,000, we may begin to talk seriously of building a navy of our own, and then only on a limited scale. The, honorable member for Riverina, in moving the adoption of the Address-in-Reply, invited us to regard the visit of the American Fleet as a lesson upon the necessity of having a navy of our own. He pointed out what the United States has done in this direction, but what he neglected to point out was that the United States did not begin to acquire a formidable fleet of its own, such as we have just seen in Australian waters, until the population exceeded 80,000,000.
– Surely that is not so. The United States Fleet licked the British Fleet when the population of the United States was only a few millions.
– I am speaking of. an up-to-date navy comprising a number of battleships, such as are being constructed to-day.
– The United States Fleet referred to was up to date at the time.
– That may be so, as far as the vessels went, but it was not a first-class navy as we understand it to-day, or even as understood at that time.
– America had the Monroe doctrine, and did not believe in aggression
– I am perfectly aware r.f that. I point out that the cost of a single battleship to-day exceeds £1,000,000, and with 4,500,000 people in Australia, what kind of a fleet could we expect to build ?
– Who is talking about building battleships?
– I am aware that the immediate proposal is to build torpedo boats, destroyers, and cruisers on a small scale ; but only as a beginning - the nucleus of a complete navy.
– Is the honorable member of opinion that we should have no naval defence ?
– No; but I believe we should most effectively contribute to our naval defence by assisting the Mother Country to increase and maintain her navy.
– By subsidies?
– Yes. I believe that it would be useless to spend money in the way proposed by the Government, and that the money would be better spent by subsidizing to a larger extent than we now do the British Navy, to secure the protection of the British Fleet.
– We should do nothing ourselves?
– Anything we might do ourselves in this direction would be but supplementary to what is done by the British Government. In time of Avar, in roy opinion, any vessels at our disposal, of whatever kind they might be, should be placed absolutely at the disposal of the British Admiral on the Australian station. Divided control is fatal in time of war.
– The present Minister of Defence has said that an Australian Navy is a disloyal project.
– He has said nothing of the kind.
– I propose to produce the quotation.
– I am aware that a number of people desire from the most praiseworthy motives to see an Australian Navy established. They think that we should be independent of British protection, and that it is time Ave struck out for ourselves. But they have not counted the cost, and they have overlooked the fact that in these times Avar vessels constructed to-day are practically obsolete tomorrow. It would be an ever-increasing drain upon the people in the form of taxation should the country be continually experimenting in new types of war vessels, when Ave might avail ourselves of the expenditure of the British Government, and of the experience of the highest naval authorities in the world in matters of naval construction. It would be futile for us from the point of view of taxation alone to involve ourselves in heavy expenditure of this kind either by direct taxation or by loans. Although I realize that some people in the community are imbued with a patriotic desire that Australia should begin to rely entirely upon her own resources for her protection, I cannot shut my eyes to the fact that there is a section in the community assiduously, though not openly, promoting the idea of the establishment of an Australian Navy from entirely different motives. There is a section in this community who make no secret of their desire to cut the painter from the Mother Country.
– Who are they. ?
– They assiduously fan this proposal for an Australian Navy, not because they wish to co-operate with the Mother Country in the defence of Australia and the British Empire, but because they secretly hope, in time to come, to see the proposed Australian Navy used as an effective weapon of offence against the British Empire, and in defence of an Australian republic.
– Who are they? Let the honorable member name some of them.
– I could name some, and the honorable member knows some of them. They are among his most active political friends at election times. I said a section of the community, and did not refer to individuals at all. L raise this note of warning in order that those who are actuated in this matter by praiseworthy motives may pause before they are taken too far in that direction, and in order that they may not be made catspaws by the section to which I have referred. We had indications of the feeling to which I have referred in some of the speeches which were made in connexion Avith the recent American Fleet celebrations in Sydney.
– Indications that an Australian fleet might be used against the Mother Country? The honorable member need never fear that.
– The honorable member is too sanguine. That was the only inference which could be drawn from the character of some of the incidents in connexion Avith the visit of the American Fleet. I shall be on the alert for any developments in that direction. So far as I am concerned, the British Navy and Empire is good enough for me, and I am no less a loyal Australian than any of my friends who desire to see the establishment of an Australian Navy, because 1 am also loyal to the British Empire and the British Crown. I hope that the day is far distant when we shall no longer see British warships in the various harbors around Australia. I trust that we shall always see them there and in increasing numbers. I cannot shut my eyes to the fact that in the Pacific, in the not far distant future, we are likely to witness the greatest naval struggle of modern times. That struggle will not be - as some of my Honorable friends appear to think - with certain adjacent Asiatic races, but rather with some of England’s nearest neighbours, and greatest commercial rivals upon the Continent. It is particularly important, not only that we should maintain the present strength of the British Fleet in the Pacific, but that we should augment it, so that our great commerce may be protected. It is merely a question of a few short years before the completion of the Panama Canal, which will open a new and extremely busy highway of commerce between the Old Country and Australia. As a matter of fact, it will be the principal highway of commerce between Europe and Australia, and between the Eastern sea-board of America and the Commonwealth. I recognise how necessary it is that we should have effective naval protection in these waters, not only in time of war, but also in time of peace, so that we may not be unduly hampered by the presence of foreign naval powers who, year after year, are asserting and spreading themselves more and more over the whole of the Southern and portion of the Northern Pacific. I do not close my eyes to the fact that Great Britain’s commercial, rivals are establishing naval bases across the whole of the Pacific .from the North-east portion of Australia to the coast of South America. What is being done % Great Britain in that direction honorable members know. Unfortunately, she does not seem to be meeting this naval expansion in the way that it should be met. Unfortunately, too, our Tariff is operating very seriously to our disadvantage by reason of the duties which it imposes upon the products of the members of our own race who have become settlers in the islands of the Pacific. Instead of attempting to promote settlement in those islands, and to foster their effective British occupation, we have, by our legislation, deliberately imposed barriers to that settlement - barriers which must recoil upon us in time of trouble.
Something has been said in reference to the appointment of a High Commissioner. 1 think it was due to the House that some reference to this question should have been made in the Governor-General’s Speech. The need for the appointment of a High Commissioner is daily growing more and more acute, but yet it does not seem as if any practical steps in that direction are to be taken during the present session. I think that the Prime Minister - even so late as yesterday afternoon, when he addressed the House in reply to the criticisms of the deputy leader of the Opposition - might have taken honorable members into his confidence upon this subject. I must confess that I felt disappointed that he did not do so. It is becoming increasingly apparent that something will have to be done in the direction of making such an appointment at an early date. Another matter which demands attention is the appointment of an adminstrator for Papua. But here, again, nothing of a practical character has been done, notwithstanding that the people of our only dependency have made urgent representations to the Government regarding the necessity for making an early appointment. There are several other matters to which I had intended to refer in connexion with the Address, but which I shall not now touch upon in view of the promise which ] made to the Treasurer last night that ] would curtail my remarks if he consented to an adjournment of the debate. I did propose to make some reference to our navigation laws, the Northern Territory, the Agricultural Bureau, the Iron Industry, the Electoral Law, Penny Postage, and the Public Service Act. But as an opportunitywill be afforded me of dealing with those matters when they come before the House, I shall reserve my remarks under those headings.
– The honorable member is so brief that I believe he has fallen under the influence of the Treasurer.
– I am afraid that in failing to take advantage of my full rights of criticism at various times I have exhibited rather too much magnanimity to the Government. I do not expect that’ I shall receive very much credit for my action, but I shall have something to say upon the matters to which I have referred when they are submitted for our consideration in the form of Bills. Unless the Government “are going to prolong the session. to a very much later period than the twelve weeks’ which they have indicated. I do not anticipate that we shall be called upon to deal with some of those measures this year. Even by using more than ordinary expedition we cannot expect to deal properly in both Houses, before the close of the present year, with such matters as Naval Defence, the location of the Federal Capital, and one or two of the other large questions on the business-paper. I shall not occupy more time now, because there are others to follow me, and the day is getting on ; but I express the hope that due regard will be paid to that fact, and that speeches will be curtailed so as to bring the debate to an end as speedily as possible.
– I am sorry that the honorable member for Lang should have found it necessary to bring in the “cut-the painter “ bogy. In the old political days of New South Wales we used to hear a great deal about the Kiama ghost, and during the last Federal campaign there was another bogy known as the “socialistic tiger.” Now, when we are driving in the first pegs for the establishment of a national defence policy, the “cut-the-painter “ bogy is introduced, but it is too absurd to take notice of. The only inference to be drawn from its introduction is that the Opposition is without a cry for the next election. The dear old socialistic tiger has cleared out.
– The leader of the Opposition keeps it in his back yard.
– In any case, a new bogy must be found. Any argument is better than none.
– Has the Labour Party abandoned Socialism?
– My honorable friend would be facetious. I shall answer his question later, when socialistic measures are before the House, and ,he will be challenged to say whether he is socialistic or anti-Christian. I am very pleased to be one of those who, last session, assisted in taking the first steps towards a national defence policy. If our defence is to be effective, we must have a good ‘base of supplies. That has now been provided for by the Tariff. The Governor-General’s Speech might well be called a defence speech. Although the military training of the people is essential, the development of the iron industry, the encouragement of immigration, and the settling of men on the land,” and the securing to the workers of the full results of their toil, are all connected with the defence problem. While I am pleased that the Prime Minister is evidently greatly restored in health, and back in his place at the head of the Government, I think that conditions would be better if the party to which I belong had a share in the administration of the Commonwealth. The wail of the Opposition has been long and loud, and has awakened pity even in the hearts of members of the Labour Party. One of its grievances is that, although the Labour Party has not possession of the Treasury Benches, Ministers are so much in sympathy with their aims that the Government programme is such as might be put forward” by a Labour Ministry. It is true that the items in this programme could well be embodied in the programme of a Labour Ministry; but the absence of a proposal for a progressive land tax and a national banking scheme to give cheap money to the people considerably weakens its value.
– The members of the Labour Party must take what they can get.
– Seeing that we are not on the Treasury Benches, we must make the best of what we can get. It is better for us to have in power the Prime Minister and his small following, seeing that they are in sympathy with us, than to have in power the Opposition, whose members are the enemies of progress.
– The honorable member is in sympathy with the Government. The Government have a ring through the nose of the Labour Party.
– I am in sympathy with all who are trying to better humanity. A great deal has been said by members of the Opposition about the action of the Labour Party . regarding & recent decision of the High Court. But those who have spoken seem to be ignorant of the great fundamental principle underlying our efforts in this House. What we desire is that justice shall be obtained for the whole of the people, even if an amendment of the Constitution be necessary to bring that about. Glancing back through the history of nations, we find that the great producers of wealth have always been robbed by one section or another, and their exploiters, who have lived as parasites1, have been helped by the military, the judiciary, the clergy, or some other power. I am proud to belong to a new party, which says - “ No matter what power stands by the .exploiting parasites to assist them in robbing the producers, we shall fight it.” If we find that the Constitution tends to permit the High Court to overrule the will of the people, it is our duty to amend it so that that body may keep within its functions, which concern the proper interpretation of legislation. I do not quarrel with the High Court, nor do I say that its Justices are in any way biased. The fault is in our Constitution and legislation, and it is for us to amend that Constitution, and to be careful in legislating. At the same time I cannot forget what has been the action of the judiciary in the United States of America. There the High Court appears to be the real governing power, the will of the people being thwarted, no matter what representatives are elected to Parliament. Whenever legislation operates against the great plutocracy, it is annulled or crippled by the High Court’s decisions. If, by amending the Constitution, and being careful in our legislation, we can prevent that sort of thing happening in Australia, we should do so.
– The honorable member is now getting into deep water.
– I am replying to the statements of the Opposition, that we wish to fight the High Court because it is biased. I do not make the assertion that it is biased. It must be remembered, however, that there 13 no guarantee that it will remain for two or for twenty years as at present constituted. Its Justices are not immortal. None can say what its private and political opinions may be seven years hence. The Opposition shrieked very loudly last night when it was sought to charge them with favoring the introduction of coloured labour because a Conference of representative women supporting that party voted for i:s introduction. Yet the attempt has been made to fasten on the Labour Party the desire to abuse the High Court because one of its supporters has done something in that direction. I am glad that the Treasurer proposes to restore to the business-paper the Manufactures Encouragement Bill. I am determined to support the granting of a bounty for the production of iron, if the condition is embodied in the Bill that an opportunity will be given for the nationalization of the industry. It is ridiculous to attempt to develop the industry here on other than national lines.
– Is that Socialism?
– There are 500 definitions of Socialism, mine being “Christianity applied.” “Justice to all men.” Among the reasons why the iron industry should be nationalized is the fact that the great users of iron and steel are the national railways, and great quantities will be needed by what. 1 hope, will be national shipbuilding establishments, and national factories for the manufacture of rifles and the munitions of defence. Furthermore, it would be a splendid thing if the nation could manufacture steel and iron of a quality which would be absolutely trustworthy, so that the users of Australian implements would know that the were the best of their kind. One of the troubles of the toilers in the distant wildernesses of Australia is that often, after purchasing expensive machinery, paying carriage on it, and waiting months for its delivery, it breaks directly it is used, because the material in it is of bad quality. I consider that the Bonus Bill, with a’ view to the ultimate nationalization of the industry, will do much to forward the prosperity of Australia.
– The honorable member would first give a bonus, and purchase the business for the Common wealth afterwards ?
– Yes, because I am sure we are quite willing to pay for any industry that is nationalized; I do not believe in the capitalistic method of legalized theft.
– How about future discoveries of iron deposits ?
– If the honorable member were to leave politics and happened to discover a valuable deposit, I have no doubt that the Government would be quite willing to reward him, and that there would be no difficulty in this regard. It is high time that the question of the Capital site was settled, if only with a view to inculcating a national Australian spirit, seeing that the suspicion is abroad that we shall be dominated to some extent bv parochial or State influences so long as the Federal Parliament remains where it is. When the Parliament is transferred to our own Capital, we shall meet on a better basis, and there will be a much truer Federal spirit than there now appears to be in some quarters. It is my intention at the proper time to suggest the consideration of the New England table land as suitable for a Capital site. 1 have seen the other sites, and while I think a good deal of some of them, nothing better has, in my opinion, offered than this table land, especially near Armidale. As one interested in the land, and as a representative of country districts, the proposed establishment -of an Agri-cultural Bureau appeals to me; and [ think we might very well emulate the United States in this connexion. [ notice that even the Opposition join with the La.bour Party in the cry to place people on the land, but wherein we differ is :hat, when we have settled people, we desire to mete out to them very different treatment from that accorded by private financiers, whose desire is to possess mortgages over their farms and homes, and to exploit the holders in various ways. In India there are some 80 per cent, of the people on the land, and we have there an example of absolute poverty and misery ; and the intention of the great party to which I belong is not only to provide the land, but in every way to assist the settlers to obtain ‘ the means of comfort, thus placing them in a position to substantially assist in the progress and development of their country. I know men on the land who, from want of knowledge, get a return very small in proportion to that which would result if they knew more of the possibilities of the soil in regard to the cultivation of marketable products. We see men running a few sheep on beautiful land on which agriculture might be carried on so profitably that where now the return i’s represented by .£100 a year, it could be increased to ^200 or ^300; and I think that an Agricultural Bureau, with its direct educational results, would do much to improve the position of our settlers. Much has been done by the States, and New South Wales particularly, to educate the people in the direction I have suggested, but it would be well for this and other matters to be regarded from the Federal stand-point, so that there may be a developmental policy carried out as a whole for the Commonwealth, instead of allowing each State to work .on its own basis. An interjection has been thrown out from honorable members opposite to the effect that honorable members in .the Labour corner are not in favour of immigration; but I should be astounded to learn that an honorable member belonging to any party was opposed to the introduction of honorable citizens. If we do not fill Australia with white men we must not growl if the Japanese or the Chinese fill it for us. Here we have a great continent, with enormous possibilities and a sparse population, right at the door of hose alien people who are so crowded that, in China for instance, people Have actually to live and grow products in boats on the water. We must expect those races to look with longing eyes at Australia as a place where they could make happy homes; and if we have not vitality enough to people our lands with our brethren from across the sea, and to defend the Commonwealth from alien aggression, it will only serve us right to lose it. Immigration, in my opinion, plays an important part in the defence scheme ; but it would be useless to introduce millions of immigrants if we left them absolutely untrained and unfit to defend their country. I am amused at the talk about volunteer defence, because, in a democracy like ours, we do not desire to see the volunteer ‘poor man do the shooting, while the wealthy man stands by and encourages war for the gain of commerce. History shows that wars, especially within the last century or so, have been instigated by people who- thereby hoped to make some private profit ; and it is painful to read how bloodshed has been caused for mere commercial ends. I hope that we in Australia will never see such wars waged. I am also amused to see raised the terrible bogy of expense, when I remember that little Switzerland, with a population of less than 4,000,000, can mobilize an efficient army of about 270,000 men under compulsory service, at a cost of 500,000 per annum. Even though that be a European system, I should be quite willing to copy it in Australia. It is, of course, regrettable that if we spend money on munitions of war, we may find them in the course of time become obsolete, and so much scrap iron. -.But all countries have to take that risk; and, in any case, the compulsory training must prove of lasting benefit to our youth. One of the accusations thrown against us ad lib. by globe-trotters is that the Australian, leans up against a post - that he is careless and of so letitslide a frame of mind as to be always looking for something to support him - and the speeches of members of the Opposition encourage the idea that we desire all the time to lean against the old Motherland. It is absolutely absurd to say that the training of our youths and men to make them efficient defenders of this section of the Empire would be of no public benefit. The attitude of the British Government has been, “ We are going to defend Australia whether she defends herself or not, because, for many reasons, we value the possession as part and parcel of the Empire, which it would not suit us to lose either at the hands of some other nation or by the cutting of the painter ; but if Australia stands up and makes her citizens capable of defending their own land, and thus strengthens this outpost of Empire, we shall be pleased and delighted.” The utterances of members of the British Government are much more in favour of the defence scheme suggested than are the Tory speeches we hear from the Opposition benches in this House. The British Government look at this question in its broadest aspect, while the good Tories of the Commonwealth Opposition can only raise the dear old bogy of “ Cut the painter.”
– Would the honorable member call the honorable member foi Lang a Tory?
– After the speech we heard this morning, I can come to no other conclusion. The honorable member contended that we ought not to train our citizens, and, in matters of defence, teach them to be self-supporting, lest we might ultimately cut ourselves away from the Mother Country.
– I did not say anything of the kind.
– I can not have heard the honorable member aright; but, in any case, I could only take him to be speaking jocularly. I am pleased that the question of Defence is to be dealt with, and I trust that before many months have passed, we shall have a system of compulsory military training established in Australia! I arn sure that, in time, we shall become quite as efficient as are the people of Switzerland to defend our country on the land, and eventually I hope to see a general strengthening of our sea defences, although at the present juncture I feel, with other honorable members, that it would be impossible for us to incur the enormous expense involved in attempting to build a large navy.
.- The Government no doubt are to be commended for their desire to close this debate as soon as possible, but their attitude reminds me of an incident that once happened in a. rural congregation in Scotland. At that time it was not uncommon for the shepherds to bring their dogs to church with them. On one occasion the clergyman had been unusually vigorous in the pulpit, and at last excited one of the dogs that were lying peacefully under the seats to commence barking. The minister immediately ordered the shepherd to take his dog out of the church, asking him if he had not noticed that the dog was making a noise. The shepherd, catching the dog by the collar, and dragging him along the aisle, replied, “ There is nae doot that the dog was making a noise, but allow me to inform you that it was yersel that began it.” If the Ministry want a debate of this kind to be reduced to the smallest possible dimensions, they should not put up members to propose the AddressinReply who make lengthy and to some extent fighting speeches. If the Government would only see that those whom they appoint to that duty discharged it formally, I have no doubt it would be found an excellent method of cutting the debate short. I have recently returned from a visit to the Old Country, and wish to take the very first opportunity of emphasizing a view that I have always held, and that has been confirmed by my experiences there. I refer to the absolute necessity for the appointment of a. High Commissioner and for undertaking a vigorous system of advertising in Great Britain the resources and attractions of Australia to immigrants, especially those who are prepared to go upon the land. I have always held the idea that people in the Old Country have very imperfect impressions of Australia, and that idea was more than confirmed by my experience during my recent visit. I found that Australia, as a rule, was regarded as a land of droughts and fires, of ferocious wild animals, and equally ferocious men, and that any one who started out for this countrywas looked on as showing a great amount of fortitude. I can give one or two rather amusing illustrations of this lack of knowledge of Australia. In one house I happened to pick up a book purporting to describe the adventures of some young Britishers in Australia, written by a man who was evidently of some standing in the literary world. The book had the appearance of having a fairly good circulation, and the volume I held had been well thumbed. But the adventurers in this case had no sooner left Melbourne than they were surrounded by blackfellows and bush-‘ rangers, and had a most exciting time. On the boat that brought me back I made the acquaintance of an educated and intelligent young man belonging to the middle class. He told me that his reason for avoiding settling in Melbourne was, that he did not wish to come into contact with a rough and immoral gold-mining population. I was at pains to convince him that there were no gold mines in the vicinity of Melbourne, and consequently not much of a gold-mining population, and that, even if there had been, such a section of our community was always one of the most lawabiding and peaceful. I told him that the American picture of the miner, with a bowie knife in his ‘teeth and a revolver in each hand, wrecking a saloon did not appertain to the Commonwealth. In striking contrast to the views held of Australia in the Old Country was the knowledge of Canada. I found Canada advertised very judiciously and extensively. Canada was in the mouth of almost every one who contemplated immigrating, and every facility was given for obtaining useful information while even the newspapers were judiciously utilized to put before the people of :the Motherland ‘information which might cause them to go to that part of the Empire. I found, time and again, in the daily press, glowing pictures of the opportunities offered by Canada, and of the glorious existence that could be led there. And any one knowing the circumstances in which those things appear in the papers could understand perfectly well from their appearance that they had been paid for and inserted as advertisements. No doubt_ Canada has judiciously boomed the facilities which she has to offer for settling people on the land, and though some of the Australian States are backward in that respect, there are at least two - Western Australia and Queensland - that still offer excellent opportunities for any one wishing to make a home. I have no doubt that we shall soon see active and energetic co-operation with the Commonwealth Government by the various State Governments to give even greater facilities for settling a rural population in Australia than at present obtain. I regret to say that I found also in the Old Country ‘ a growing conviction of the imminence of war between Great Britain and Germany. People have been slowly, and in many cases reluctantly, forced to the conclusion that the preparations made by Germany - the immense sacrifices being made by that nation in building up a navy - can have no other object tuan a trial of strength at no remote time with the people of Great Britain. Such a situation is fraught with dangerous possibilities even to Australia. If such” a great calamity as a war between those two countries should occur, we cannot say that we would be safely out of the range of hostilities. There are other possibilities arising, out of such a situation that should makeAustralia tackle the question of national defence even more seriously than is being done at present. Is it impossible that Germany should ultimately be able toseduce Japan from its friendly alliancewith Great Britain? I think not. I th inkthere is a bribe sufficiently attractive to a country like Japan to induce it to take such a step. History shows that such sudden changes of policy on the part of nations areby no means uncommon. I am with thosewho believe that Australia must set to work earnestly and thoroughly to perfect a system of national defence. I am totally opposed to militarism, but that term is frequently in the mouths of people who do notreally understand it. It is quoted from German and other European writers, and? applied to a condition of affairs in Australia totally different from that which obtains on the Continent. In Germany and other European countries, militarism is undoubtedly real in the sense that the peopleare ground down and crushed by the weight of warlike preparation over which they have practically no control. In Australia militarism, if it means anything, means the development of a citizen army, and the giving to the young men of the Commonwealth a training and discipline that I believe wilL be of immense benefit to them. We can make it efficient without interfering with the daily lives and occupations of our people. We can carry it out safely, if, as. the honorable member for New England suggested, we take for our example that very up-to-da’te and ^thorough-going countrySwitzerland, which has in vogue a system, of national defence that no one would attempt to identify with what is ordinarilyunderstood by militarism in Europe. I was very much amused to listen to the wail of the honorable member for Parramatta yesterday. In his opinion, apparently, wehave come to the end of our resources in the matter of legislating for existing and growing evils. That is not the attitude of a statesman. A statesman is supposed tobe one who can and does meet new situations with new methods. While new situations are undoubtedly being created in our commercial and economic systems, it is our duty as legislators, if not as statesmen, to meet them with such legislation as is necessary in the interests of the community. The honorable member for Parramatta spoke of the futility of at- tempting to regulate prices throughout the Commonwealth, but surely he is aware that prices are being regulated in many respects already by an interested few, against the best interests of the many. We see everywhere around us these combinations progressing and developing, and, in spite of ourselves, we shall be compelled to take action. The sooner we take it the better. The meat supply of Western Australia is controlled in a most rapacious way by a privileged few. I see to-day in the daily press that in Victoria the bread supply of the people is also under some curious method of control as regards prices, in that, while the price of a loaf goes up in sympathy with the slightest rise in the price of flour, it takes a long time to bring that price down again, and, curiously enough, the bakers of the community seem to act in concert in the matter. We have there what is undoubtedly another danger to the community. We have confectionery rings, and tobacco rings, and, if we do not take action promptly and rapidly, we shall be in as bad a state as are the people of America, who are said to be controlled, from the cradle to the grave, in respect of the price of everything that they purchase. The Prime Minister in response to an interjection made a statement in this connexion that I was sorry to hear. When the honorable member for Robertson inquired whether he would take the referendum on the new protection proposals as soon as possible, he replied that he would prefer to take it as soon as desirable - as soon as the country was perfectly informed of the proposition. If that means that there is to be any further delay in connexion with the attempt to bring into full effect the principles of the new protection, I strongly deprecate it. J do not ‘agree with the Prime Minister that the country needs to be schooled to a realization of the principles of new protection. During the last Tariff debates those principles were fully seized and enthusiastically adopted by a majority of the community. As one who always opposed the old protection, I hold very strongly that at the earliest opportunity what the Prime Minister describes as the necessary corollary to a system of fiscal protection at the Customs House should be carried into full effect. The people should be protected from extortion. There should be a regulation of the whole of the trade within the community as well as of the trade that seeks to enter from abroad. For this purpose it may be necessary to call into existence the Interestate Commission which we were “ given to understand during the proceedings of the Federal Convention would be a necessary part of the machinery of the Commonwealth. There is no justification for delay in calling into existence some such body. The remark made in this connexion by the deputy leader of the Opposition that Parliament could not deal with the regulation of prices, if it applies to details, is correct, and that work would have to be delegated to some body constituted by it. I see in the creation of a Commission of this kind the best means of dealing with these economic problems. We have also heard a wail repeated several times by the Opposition with regard to the divided state of this- House, and it has been suggested that the divisions that exist are more likely to increase than to diminish. There are in this House divisions which some honorable members appear to think very serious, and which, in their opinion, incapacitate it so far as many of its functions are concerned. I hold a totally different view. I care not how many divisions and subdivisions there may be. I rather take the view that these subdivisions will tend to increased activity. Then it is further deplored that the Ministry has not behind it an absolute majority. To my mind, it is an advantage rather than a disadvantage to the work of Parliament that the Ministry should be the servant, and not the master of honorable members. In other words, I think that it is to the advantage of this Parliament that the Ministry should have behind it only a minority, for in that way we secure the most representative method of legislation. We have in that phase of the position an approximation to a principle that. I have always advocated, and will continue to advocate till it is carried into effect - the system of elective Ministries.
– Under that system every honorable member would form a party of one.
– That is my ideal of parliamentary government. I want- every honorable member to be immediately and directly responsible for all his actions in Parliament, instead of sheltering himself as many do at present behind the responsibility that he owes to his party.
– Would not such a change be fatal to the Labour Party ?
– No. It would not mean an abolition of party, but it would do away with the objection that Parliament is controlled by a privileged few whom we call “ the Ministry.”
– Under such a system, would the honorable member still sign a pledge to abide by the decision of the majority of his party?
– I am prepared to sign any reasonable pledge. I have always to pledge myself to my constituents to do certain things, and if I pledge myself to act with certain other honorable members in carrying out my promises to my electors there can be no possible objection.
– What would be the position if the honorable member’s pledges to his constituents conflicted with the pledges that bound him to the decision of the majority of his party?
– My pledge to my constituents is a pledge to work harmoniously with other members of this House.
– Is that the only pledge?
– That is the only pledge I take in connexion with the party to which I belong. The adoption of the system of elective Ministries would not interfere with my loyalty to my party, nor with that of any honorable member to anyother party with which he might associate himself. I should like to see at an early date an attempt made to introduce the system, and shall avail myself of the first opportunity to give honorable members a chance to adopt it.
– Where would the election take place? In Parliament, the club room, or the Trades Hall ?
– I am sorry that the honorable member does not take my proposal seriously. The election of a Ministry, like the election of Mr. Speaker, would take place on the floor of this House. It would be done just as openly, and the result would be far more effective than is the present method of selection. I do not wish to labour the matter, but I point out that in the proposal for elective Ministries we have a way out of the difficulty that so many honorable members have deplored during this debate - the difficulty of a divided House and an incapacitated Government. That may, to some extent, be the position of the present Administration, but a Ministry consisting of men selected by the House because of their fitness to fill the offices allotted to them would give us, I am sure, a committee of management - and that, after all, is what a Government is - infinitely superior to any that could be obtained by our present method. It may be objected that some honorable members so selected might hardly work harmoniously with others. But we all know that the violent antagonism shown by honorable members sitting on one side of the House towards those on the other is simply so much stage thunder. We know that, personally, they are on the best of terms, and long may that be continued. We have in every Ministry a collection of gentlemen who are not always fitted by nature, or by any personal attraction towards one another, to work harmoniously in Cabinet. We can point even in the case of the present Government to instances of men being brought together who are not at all in harmony, but who, so far as we know, get on well enough. T am sure that we could select from all parties in the House a Ministry that would work just as harmoniously as the curiously constituted Cabinets that we have had at various times, controlling the affairs of the Commonwealth. I do not wish to detain the House any longer. I rose merely to point out what I regard as the urgent necessity for further advertising in the Old Country the advantages which Australia offers in the matter of immigration. Immigration must be encouraged. It is a vital necessity to Australia. I hope that my suggestion for. the appointment of a High Commissioner at no distant date will be adopted, and that some one will be chosen who has the full confidence of the people of Australia and can be trusted to exercise an enthusiastic, yet judicious, advocacy of the Commonwealth.
.- The honorable member who has just resumed his seat appears to think that, under all circumstances, the pledges which members of his party give to their electors could not be brought into conflict with that which they give to their official organization to vote on all items dealt with in the programme as the majority of the party decides. I cannot see that the honorable member is correct.
– If the honorable member will join our party we will show him that my statement is correct.
– I do not propose to take any really serious risks. Judging by the constant sound of discord that reaches us from the caucus , room. I am afraid I am too light a weight to fake part in their intellectual bouts. Let me point out what would be the position. It is quite possible that an eminently reasonable man like the honorable member for Perth might induce equally reasonable electors like those of Perth to support him on the ground that he would be very reasonable indeed in exercising the power of nationalizing monopolies under that section of his party’s platform.
– Oh, they have every confidence in me.
– I am quite sure that they have every justification for having confidence in the honorable member, and that they would feel quite certain that he personally would be reasonable -and carry out his pledge to them not to nationalize more than a very few industries under that plank. But he goes into a camp with the honorable member for Kennedy, who is “dead anxious” to nationalize for instance all the industries of Queensland. He finds also other members, like the honorable member for New England, who are not satisfied with nationalizing the industries of Queensland but who want to nationalize industries all over Australia. My honorable friend has made a practical pledge to the electors of Perth, even if he did not sign it, that he would be moderate in exercising this particular plank.
– But I never pledged myself to be moderate where there is good to be done ; I like to go as far as I can.
– My honorable friend likes to be immoderate in doing good! If there is jam to be eaten he never ceases to eat jam. He is very much like the boy who eats a vast number of scones and who, when he gets a pain in an unspeakable place, says - “I must go on eating scones or I will never be well.” But the fact remains that so far as the Labour Party is concerned a. man’s pledges to his constituents must bring him into conflict with his pledges to his party. If he votes with the majority of the party to nationalize everything he deceived his own constituents when he told them that the nationalization of monopolies plank meant only the nationalization of a few hurtful monopolies. I did not rise to make an oration with regard to the methods of my honorable friends.
– But the honorable member has started one.
– I have been making a few general remarks in the hope that the Minister of Defence would make a belated appearance in the Chamber. I have some remarks to offer to that honorable gentleman, but I am afraid that I shall have to make a few general observations before lunch, in the hope that he may appear here immediately afterwards.
– Why not wait for the Bill to be introduced?
– I propose to accept the suggestion made by the Prime Minister to make remarks in this debate as brief and as general as possible. I think that in a discussion of this character what one has to say should necessarily be brief, and free from details of the measures which will afterwards be submitted for our consideration. I shall not fall into the mistake which honorable members occasionally fall into on an occasion of this kind. I shall not take it for granted that the measures, the titles of which alone we find in the Speech, will be what we anticipate; and consequently on subjects like that of new protection I prefer to reserve my remarks until 1 see the measure. I do not know whether the honorable member for Perth, or any other member of the Labour Party, has referred to the matter ; but I did think that some remarks of the Prime Minister yesterday were rather novel. He said that the Government proposed to take a referendum on the new protection “ so soon as the electors of this country understood the question.”
– I agreed that there was no necessity to wait for anything of that kind.
– It seems to me to bequite incomprehensible that the Prime Minister and the party who were prepared to take the responsibility of placing this legislation on the statute-book more than twoyears ago, are now ready to wait for a still further period in order that the people- from whom they take all their authority in this chamber make themselves conversant with the details to deal with it for themselves. It strikes me as an incomprehensible position for the Prime Minister to take up.
– We do not want totake a referendum before the general election, do we?
– Why should we not hasten the general election? What is toprevent us from sacrificing ourselves uponthe altar of duty; what is the harm in taking a course like that? I admit that to the Government it may seem a preposterous position. They may possibly feel that their continued existence on ‘ theTreasury bench is a vastly greater comfort to the workers in the protected industries of Australia than is this much vaunted new protection, concerning which we have heard so much, and about which they promised so much to the supporters of my honorable friends in the Ministerial corner ! I desire to say a few words with reference to the access of strength which the Government party in this House has received from the loyalty of the honorable member for Riverina. If one could want a contrast, I do not think that we could find a happier contrast than that of the honorable member only last session when moving heaven and earth to force the Government to his will, and the picture of him the other day humbly moving the Address-in-Reply from immediately behind his friend the Treasurer.
– There has been a big change on the Opposition side, too.
– I am sure that my honorable friend will congratulate the Opposition upon any change which has occurred during the recess.
– What does it matter in any case?
– I want to congratulate the Ministry on this access of strength, and I am forced to take this course because I cannot find the Minister who is in charge of the most important measure to be submitted this session. I refer to the Defence Bill. During the speech of the honorable member for Lang, I stated that the present Minister of Defence had described the advocates of an Australian Navy as disloyal, and the Attorney - General said that my statement was not correct. I replied that in due course I would prove my statement up to the hilt, as I hope always to be able to prove anything I may say in the House. I refer honorable members not to some mereravings of the political platform, not to any mis-reported speech in this House, or elsewhere, but to the considered writings of the present Minister of Defence, in the Sydney Morning Herald. In 1903 he contributed to that journal some of the most forceful l etters against an Australian Navy that have ever appeared in the Australian press. In those articles occurred certain passages which I propose to read to the House.
– He is not here.
– The Minister will not deny them, he cannot.
– Is the honorable member proposing to read from the Minister’s biography ?
– I propose to read, from some press cuttings, what the Ministerof Defence contributed over his own name to the Sydney Morning Herald.
– Are they signed by him as Minister of Defence?
– They are signed “ Thomas Thomson Ewing,” who was not then Minister of Defence, and under the domination of the Labour Party, but who is identical with the gentleman who now sometimes graces the Treasury Bench.
– That is ancient history.
– My honorable friend may change his convictions twice a fortnight - I do not blame him - but I am now trying to justify a statement I made here less than an hour ago, and that is that the Minister of Defence once characterized as disloyal persons who support an Australian Navy project. He said -
Whether Canada, Australasia, and South Africa are to remain connected with each other and with Great Britain, or whether they are destined to drift asunder and to form separate nationalities, is an alternative which insistently obtrudes itself upon the mind of every person who attempts to formulate his views upon the topic of Imperial defence. If he believes, as I do, that it is to the interest of the British people, or those who come of British stock, to stand by each other, and to form one world-wide organism, his views will, of necessity, be Imperial ; but if he believes that colonies tend naturally and inevitably towards separation and independence, or if, in addition, he desires to hasten the process of disintegration, his views will, with equal necessity, be local and national. As a general rule, it may be assumed that advocates of separate colonial navies do not set great store by the Imperial connexion.
That is the considered opinion of the honorable gentleman who is at present proposing an Australian Navy to the people of Australia! He goes on to say -
If the tendency of Anglo-Saxon communities to become self-centered is allowed to increase without check or limit; if it must inevitably overmaster the social and racial cohesion, then we shall have to admit that we are not fitted for Empire, and must give way to nations which know how to reap as well as to sow.
I refuse to believe, however, that we are so wanting in political intelligence and courage as to be willing, without a struggle, to leave incomplete the great work we have already accomplished. In all our colonies it must be admitted there are men who desire separation, men who grow restive under the gossamer ties which connect them with the Motherland and with other British communities.
He gives then a long list of such persons beginning with -
Persons who nurse memories of political and other wrongs, and carry info other lands seeds of strife originating in pre-historic times. The majority of these, so far as- they themselves know, are honorably loyal to the throne, but they are ill-informed, swayed by violent prejudices, and often the victims of wire-pullers, whose subtle designs they do not thoroughly comprehend. As a rule they are enthusiastic for Nationalism (separate navies).
Do we not find the word “ national “ used in relation to the question of defence in the speech from the Throne, and one which the .honorable gentleman who wrote those words only a few years ago now cordially concurs in ?
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.15 p.m.-
– Writing in the Sydney Morning Herald, in 1903, the Minister of Defence proceeded to show that those who favoured an Australian Navy were actuated by no feeling of loyalty toward the Imperial connexion.
– five years ago.
– Does the honorable gentleman still hold those views, or does he believe that an Australian Navy is the best expression of Imperial ideas for those who wish to see Great Britain continue . powerful on the sea? Personally, I agree with the convictions of the honorable gentleman expressed five years ago.
– Then they must be wrong.
– I will give the quotation for what it is worth. After citing, a list of persons who, in his view, were not favorably disposed towards the Imperial connexion, he wrote -
If my argument be right, it is surely the duty of all British people to stand shoulder to shoulder to strengthen by all possible means the cohesion which circumstances and our own culpable neglect have allowed to become relaxed, and to refrain from any policy - and, I think, the proposal to create a Colonial Navy is a case in point - which would tend to the further division of our already scattered forces.
Those remarks of my honorable friend put in the clearest possible form the dangers which underlie this idea of an Australian Navy. The case is based upon irrefutable facts. We have in this Chamber men of all shades of political opinion, and of all views on all subjects ; but I “think that on one subject they are all agreed - that voluntary co-operation is the spirit of the age. We have the members of the Labour Party informing their constituents in the country that the future happiness and prosperity of this country depend not only upon voluntary co-operation, but even upon enforced co-operation under a system of Socialism. We have at present people of British stock - our own flesh and blood - acting in co-operation with us. We have these people living on islands in other parts of the world whom we cannot help in the hour of need, nor they us, unless we maintain the command of the sea. Are we, then, knowing that their trade, as well, as ours, is imperilled if the seas are not saf e - knowing that our own shores, as well as theirs, are imperilled if the command of the sea is not held - going to be so out-of-date and behind the times as to refuse to co-operate with them for our mutual defence? Are we going to refuse to devise some wise and sound means - even if it implies some slight alteration eventually of the Imperial Constitution - to bring into existence a truly Imperial Navy to which we in Australia should look for our own defence ? What kind of an Australian is. he who shelters himself all the time behind the Imperial Navy, and yet refuses to do a hand’s turn for the Imperial Navy by which we. live? We are all in favour of co-operation ; and there can be only one consideration which would induce a man on reflection to refuse to take the necessary steps to bring about naval co-operation, and that is the consideration that we are bound eventually, and that it is wise for the Australian people,, to step out of the British Empire ?
– Whoever suggested breaking away from the British Empire?
– The honorable membersuggested it himself. Clearly the conclusion which I ‘ have just arrived at is to bedrawn from his own writing, when he said that -
Whether Canada, Australasia, and SouthAfrica are to remain connected with each other and Great Britain, or whether they are destined’ to drift asunder and to form separate nationalities, is an alternative which insistently obtrudesitself upon the mind of every person who attempts to formulate his views upon the topic of Imperial defence. If he believes, as I do, that it is to the interest of the British people, or those who come of British stock, to standby each other, and to form one world-wide organism, his views will, of necessity, be Imperial; but if he believes that Colonies tend’ naturally and inevitably towards separation and independence; or if,” in addition, hedesires to hasten the process of disintegration, his views will, with equal necessity, be local and national. As a general rule it may be assumed that advocates £f separate colonial navies do not set great store by the Imperial’ connexion.
Those were the words of the present Min- ‘ister of Defence only a few years ago, before he was under obligations to peoplewith whom he does not agree.
– The honorable member should not say nasty things like that.
– I thought I was being most gracious. I was trying to find a reason for the change from this wise method of reasoning which the Minister exemplified before he was affected by circumstances.
– It is a wise method, because it conforms to the honorable member’s own standard.
– I will ask the honorable member for Melbourne Ports this question. He has talked, and his party have talked occasionally, a good deal in refutation of the charge that has been made that they are not very keen on Imperial questions. What answer can the honorable member bring to such a charge when it is shown that it is due to the fact that his party has been controlling the Government that the Minister of Defence has changed the views which he held five years ago?
– I rise to order. I submit that the honorable member is out of order in making the statement that the party controlling the Government is capable of inducing the Minister of Defence to alter the views that he expressed some time ago. First of all, I have not altered my views. I am fully in agreement with the general principle of everything that I have said previously on the subject in question. I submit that the honorable member cannot be in order in making such a statement.
– I do not think that the honorable member for Wentworth has broken any rule of Parliament; but, of course, if the Minister of Defence regards anything that has been said as personally offensive to him, I have pleasure in asking the honorable member for Wentworth to withdraw it, and I am sure that he will do so.
– I should be the last to wish to offend any one whom I regard personally with such deep affection as I do the Minister of Defence. I can understand that it was extremely disagreeable to him to hear such things. I feel sorry for him,; and, sir, if you require that I should withdraw what I have said, I shall do so in the parliamentary sense, whatever may be the view which I retain in my own mind.
– The objection I took to the honorable member’s statement was that it was not a fact.
– If the Minister believes that a party of sixteen-
– I beg pardon; they have lost one ! If the Minister believes, and wishes a trusting country to believe, that a party of fifteen, however intelligent they may be, can absolutely control a House of seventy-five members, I think that he expects a degree of credulity on the part of the electors which he is not likely to find. This party - I do not know whether to call them the Socialist Party or the Labour Party nowadays-
– The Labour Party.
– Honorable members opposite are rather running away from their Socialism, I think !
– The honorable member can call us anything he likes.
– This party is supporting the Government so effectively that the Government feel it to be their duty to give them everything they want - even an Australian Navy ! Perhaps that is a happier way of putting it. What has the party that is doing the Government this great service done to prove its Imperial loyalty? The Naval Agreement, which the Labour Party are now demanding should be dropped, was brought into existence, not by way of subsidy for Imperial protection, but in order that Australian sailors might be trained in the highest school of seamanship in the world, the Imperial Navy, under “ one control “ ; in order that eventually the seeds of co-operation so sown might grow into a great Australian naval effort under the wider Imperial control in which eventually we shall have some voice. What attitude did the Labour Party take up in regard to that? Unanimously they voted against the system of co-operation so proposed. There have been other indications of the same spirit. There was the Queen Victoria memorial. I think that, with one exception, the Labour Party voted against the proposal made in that connexion. There was the question of the Imperial division of authority, a matter in which we are not concerned. I refer to Home Rule. On that question, also, this party was solid in its vote for a particular disintegrating measure. Those are just a few instances.
– That was a vote in favour of true co-operation.
– And yet, if the honorable member were secretary of a union, he would bitterly resent it if another body of workers in the same industry wished to start another union with the same objects, and to appeal- with similar privileges before die local Arbitration Court ! But I have already transgressed against my original intention not to extend at the present juncture the discussion of these matters. I merely wish to submit these facts for the consideration of the House. The Minister of Defence himself made the discovery that a separate local navy for Australia involved dangerous possibilities in the direction of Imperial disintegration. I subscribe entirely to the honorable gentleman’s real opinion, and I say that it should weigh deeply with every member of this House before he comes to any conclusions upon this important question. With reference to the administration of the land forces of the Commonwealth during the recess, I believe we have to congratulate the Minister of Defence upon quite a number of things. The first point on which I find it necessary to congratulate hine is that he should have so successfully administered his Department that the most important officer in it apparently can go away to England for six months, no one need be appointed to fill his place, and it makes no difference whatever to the working of the Department.
– That shows how perfectly organized it is.
– Obviously it must be perfectly organized, and I am congratulating the Minister upon the fact. However, this is not the first instance of the kind. We have a secretary of this Department who, one would think, should be one of its most important officers, and yet he has been away from his post for some years. Although his duties have, I understand, been very ably carried out by another officer acting in his place, that officer has not been given the position, and is not, I understand, given the pay attached to the position. In the circumstances it would seem that the Government are of opinion that the work originally done in connexion with the office was not worth the money voted for it on the Estimates.
– That has bee’n going on for years.
– That does not make it any better. We have now a second instance of the same kind. We have the InspectorGeneral of the Military Forces sent Home by the present Government. I do not know yet why he has been sent Home, as I have not seen the official papers, though I have noticed some references to the matter in the press.
– I have known the managers of banks and big institutions to be sent to England now and again.
– But has the honorable gentleman ever known the authorities of a bank to send an inspector to the Old Country without immediately filling his place by somebody else? Who is acting as InspectorGeneral of the Military Forces in the absence of Inspector-General Hoad? The duties attached to the position are so important that without the. assistance of such an officer we have at present no means of gauging the efficiency of our Forces. Has the Minister taken any steps to see that the process of investigation and report on the working of the Forces shall be continued in the absence of the Inspector-General, or does he regard the position as of so little moment that he has not yet thought it necessary to appoint a substitute for this officer? The action of the Minister is utterly incomprehensible unless on the assumption I have suggested that he has such complete trust and confidence in the organization and efficiency of the Department that he believes that any officer, however important his duties, may be absent from his post and no evil” result accrue. I should like to say that I deeply regret the language which was used by the seconder of the motion for the adoption of the AddressinReply with reference to a nation with whom, at the present moment at any rate, whatever may happen in the future, we ‘are allied. One might search the records of the Parliaments of the world without finding a precedent for such a thing. I believe that our safety in the circumstances depends absolutely upon our complete international unimportance. ‘ If this country were standing, alone and were a place of international importance, remarks such as those to which I allude, delivered in the Parliament of the country in the seconding of the Address-in-Reply, could not fail to call forth a serious protest from the country against which they were directed. It may be all very well to prepare against all contingencies, whether against present allies or anybody else; but from those intrusted by the Government with the moving of an Address-in-Reply on the opening of Parliament, we have a right to expect something more than mere claptrap against a friendly Power. I agree with the remarks of the honorable ^member for Parramatta, and other honorable members who have spoken in the course of the debate, that at the present time, or, I shall say, for at least a decade hence, the greatest danger that Australia has to face is not to be looked for in the Far East at all. There are present sources of danger, which we hope may never eventuate, in European waters ; and the Mother Country, behind whose fleets we shelter ourselves, has concentrated her naval power where it is likely to be wanted in the event of an outbreak of war. But the strongest power in the East is our all v. and, so far as I know, our loyal ally. As to the danger from China, which some of our honorable friends seem to apprehend, so far as I can read passing events in the East, Siberia is far more in danger of being overrun by Chinese than Australia is ever likely to be.
– There are 12,000,000 of white people east of Lake Baikal at the present time.
– That remark is almost as extravagant as the honorable gentleman’s proposition to go to India to serve the British Government.
– That does not affect the accuracy of the statement.
– I apologize for- my remark ; it was uncalled for. I should like to say that the honorable member is entirely at sea. West of Lake Baikal there is a new Russia, and east of Lake Baikal there is to-day practically ‘ an uninhabited region which the latest writers on the subject tell us is being filled by Chinese from the south as rapidly as the Russians clear the’ forests along the railways. As Russian railways are constructed, and the forests are cleared, and the land opened to the sun and rendered fit for cultivation, the agriculturists and the hawkers and traders from the south are coming up to occupy it. I should J ike to remind honorable members that the country east of Lake Baikal is far greater in extent than is the Commonwealth of Australia, whose interests we have so much at heart.
– Only for the legislation of Australia there would be more Chinamen than white men in Australia to-day.
– I quite agree with the “ white “ legislation of Australia, and am quite prepared to uphold that legislation, t>ut I say that if we are to continue to do so, we must keep the sea safe, and we cannot long keep the sea safe by going in for local fleets under separate control and letting the Imperial Navy be unsupported by 13,000,000 of people outside the British Isles. This is one of the reasons why I, as a keen and loyal White Australian, believe in Imperial co-operative naval effort. Canada, across the Pacific, and New Zealand, as well as ourselves, have the same race dangers to meet, and if we are actuated more by the principles which actuate the leaders of industry and the workers in industry, we shall not lend ourselves to the process of disintegration and decay which the Minister of Defence forecasted as the result of his present policy.
– In the first paragraph of the opening speech of His Excellency the GovernorGeneral, I find this statement -
I congratulate you most cordially upon the brilliant success attending the visit to these shores df the great Fleet of the United States.
The success attending the visit of the Fleet to Australia was due entirely to the efforts of the people, and not to any effort on the part of the Government. It was not until the people forced them forward that the Government did anything.
– That may have been so in the case of the Northern Committee.
– I am speaking of the Northern Committee, of which I was a member. That they should have been ignored by the Government after having been appointed at their request - is, I think, very reprehensible, and is a matter upon which the Government ought to have something to say upon the floor of this House. An apology is due to that Committee, to say the least of it. No doubt the course which should have been adopted by the members of that body was that of resigning. However, they did not take that extreme step, and as I did not resign myself I m prepared to accept my share of the blame that attaches to their retention of office. I notice that the Government have again thrown upon the table of the House an ill-digested speech. We have merely to peruse it to see how very little attention has been devoted to its preparation. The small attendance of Ministers while this debate is in progress is an evidence that they have no regard for the opinions expressed in this House.
– There are more Ministers present than there are members of the Opposition.
– The attendance of Ministers this afternoon is fairly good, but, as a- matter of fact, there was not a quorum present this morning. The Attorney-General was the only Minister in attendance in the Chamber. To my mind it is a disgrace to Parliament that upon the second day of the debate on the AddressinReply Ministers should absent themselves.
– The honorable member asked me if I could grant two or three telephones in hi’s constituency, and that is why I was absent.
– The Minister should find time, to attend to his administrative duties when the House is not sitting. One question to which prominence is given in the Vice- Regal Speech is the selection of the Federal Capital site. But the Government propose to take no responsibility whatever in that connexion. They merely intend to throw & Bill upon the table and practically to invite the House to alter it as it may think fit. Personally I hold that the Ministry should propose a site and stand or fall by its selection. It is portion of the constitutional compact that the permanent Seat of Government should be established in New South Wales. The Government command a majority in this House, they hold an opinion upon this matter, and consequently it is their duty to accept responsibility in connexion with it. But from a word inadvertently dropped by the Prime Minister, I am under the impression that after the site has been chosen nothing further will be done for a considerable time. I trust that that is not their intention. I have heard it stated that honorable members are prepared to compel them to take the necessary steps for the laying out of the city as soon as the site has been definitely chosen. I am inclined to believe that it would be a good thing - when once the permanent Seat of Government has been selected - to hold an International Exhibition, at which persons from all parts of the world should be invited to exhibit their wares. By doing so a great deal of the initial expenditure incidental to the building of the city would be contributed by enterprising firms in foreign parts. This idea, I think, merits some consideration. The Government also propose to take a referendum for the purpose of securing an amendment of the Constitution so as to enable them to give effect to what is known as the “new protection.” I am glad to find that honorable members generally are of opinion that there is no difference between the old protection and the new, because I expressed that view upon the floor of this House some time ago. But the idea of putting the country to an. expenditure of ,£50,000 in order to determine whether the new protection policy of the Government shall become law is oneto be deprecated. Many honorable members appear to hold the view that the Constitution requires to be amended. The right honorable member for Swan is desirous of securing its alteration in one direction, andi the honorable member for Kalgoorlie is equally anxious to secure its amendment in. another. I hold that if an alteration of theConstitution is to take place it is one which, should be far reaching in its effect and which meets with general approval. Tomy mind the framers of our Constitution when they met in the Federal Convention* proceeded upon altogether wrong lines. They followed the example of the United* States by specifying in that charter of government the services which should be taken over by the Commonwealth, whereas themature experience of Canadian legislatorsinduced them to enumerate in the Canadian. Constitution the powers which should remain to the States. I believe that any amendment of our Constitution should bein that direction.
– That would practically be unification.
– It would not. It would be a combination of States similar to that which obtains in Canada.
– But they would besubordinate to the central authority.
– Every State issubordinate to the central authority. Wehave sovereign States which are constantly in opposition to the Federal authority. Thetime has therefore arrived when an effort should be made to educate the people up tothe desirableness of so amending the Constitution that the Commonwealth would’ have unlimited powers in respect of matters other than those defined as being exclusively under State control. There isurgent need for the adoption of this course. The question of the transfer of the Statesdebts has provoked a great deal of correspondence, and quite a number of differences have arisen as to the best way of” grappling with it. I contend that all thoseservices which the States cannot financeshould be taken over by the Commonwealth. But these cannot be controlled by the Federal authority until the course which I advocate has been adopted. An> amendment of the Constitution is necessary to enable “the powers of the Commonwealth to be extended. By pursuing the course that I have suggested we should at once get away from the sovereignty of the States and from their jealousies, which in a veryshort time will outgrow even the influence of the Commonwealth. The great States of New South Wales and Queensland must eventually overwhelm the Commonwealth, unless we secure an extension of our constitutional powers. In the course of a few years we shall have practically exhausted bur functions under the Constitution, and we shall then have nothing to do but fight with the States for the control of additional services. I believe that the Judiciary should be taken over from the States and that the railways and the lands of Australia should also be controlled by the Commonwealth.
– I do not think so.
– The Treasurer does not dare to think so. We cannot adjust the financial relations of the Commonwealth and States unless we take over these great services. Unless we obtain control of them we must return to the States at least £9,000,000 annually.
– I say “ Yes.” If we leave to the States, which are growing by leaps and bounds, the administration of these large services, we must provide them with the requisite money for their efficient management. These are matters which the Government ought to consider. I would take the bull by the horns and seek to educate the people upon this question with a view to taking an early vote upon it. It does not necessarily follow that we should take over these large services’ at once. There is no difference whatever between a State elector and a Commonwealth elector. I am satisfied that if the people were appealed. to they would sanction the amendment of the Constitution which I suggest. Of course it would be impossible for us to take over the railways of the States at the present time, but the period is not far distant when we shall have to boldly face that question. The Government propose to construct a transcontinental railway which will cost approximately £5,000,000, and I understand that an additional expenditure of several millions will be necessary to complete the line from Oodnadatta to Pine Creek. If we are to have railways controlled by two different authorities within any State we shall experience no end of trouble. We shall be face to face with a difficulty which I have already emphasized, and shall then be compelled to seek an amendment of the Constitution. The taking over of the railways is a problem that has been brought very forcibly under our notice of late. The mobilization of the Commonwealth Forces is impossible without the assent of the States, which put a veto on Commonwealth action, even in connexion with the friendly visit of the American Fleet. The States would not bring the military to Melbourne and Sydney. They said, “We cannot do it.” I am not prepared to say that they could do it, but they did not do it. They were able to checkmate any move made by the Commonwealth, because of their control of the railways. If the Commonwealth wished to move a military contingent to any city, for the maintenance of law and order, the States could prevent it from doing so.
– The Constitution empowers us to control the railways for defence purposes.
– The case I am thinking of is that in which the Commonwealth might deem it necessary, in the interests of law and order, to move a military contingent into a city.
– The Constitution covers that.
– There must be trouble with the States before effect can be given to the Constitution. The Government appealed to the Railways Commissioners to bring men to the city, but the Railways Minister said that they could not come.
– Did the Commonwealth Government make representations to the States Governments in connexion with the recent visit of the American Fleet?
– It asked for men to be brought down, and the States said that that could not be done. It was said, first of all, that if Victoria would bring volunteers to Melbourne, the New South Wales Government would bring volunteers to Sydney.
– Was a request made by the Commonwealth Government to the State Government ?
– I believe so. I know that what I have stated took place. The States were prepared to bring men down under certain conditions ; but the Victorian Government, having refused to bring men to Melbourne, the New South Wales Government would not bring men to’ Syd- ney. If there were trouble between the States and the Commonwealth, the military could not be moved to any city without enforcing a provision of the Constitution, which would be equivalent to a declaration of supreme authority. The Commonwealth should also have power to deal with immigration. When immigrants are brought to Australia by theCommonwealth, we should be able to send them where we choose ; but, at the present time, immigrants may be brought to Victoria, and then be attracted away to any other part of Australia, where the land laws are. believed to be more liberal and the conditions of living more pleasant. The Commonwealth should have control of the land, so that the land laws of Australia may be uniform, and the land be settled to the benefit of the people. These are a few of the matters to be considered in connexion with the proposal to alter the Constitution, and the Government should make any referendum a comprehensive one. It should be so general as to embrace all likely alterations.
– Would the honorable member support a proposal for the extensive alteration of the powers of the Commonwealth ?
– I would vote for the substitution in our Constitution of the Canadian principle for that of the United States. I do not say that I shall vote for the alteration proposed by the Government. I may oppose it. I might even oppose, at this juncture, the taking over of the railways, or of the Judiciary. I am not prepared to say that all the powers which the Commonwealth ought to have can be taken over at once; but in the near future, the granting of further power to the Commonwealth must be considered. I do not think that the affairs of Australia will be conducted as they should be until the Parliaments of the States have been deprived of many of the powers which make them influential and hard to do business with. I hope that, with the taking of powers from the States, their Parliaments will cease to be bicameral. The Legislative Councils should be abolished. They will have local affairs to control, and will be as influential, perhaps, as the London County Council was in the beginning, or as many of the English municipal coun cils which have the spending of millions of money ; but they would not be so uninfluential as this Parliament is at the present time.
– The honorable . member will soon be eligible to join the Labour Party.
– The Labour Party is too slow for me. It has made it impossible to carry out many of the reforms which should be carried out. It has established a system of old-age pensions for which the old men and women have to find the money. It is a disgrace to the party that the masses of the people should have to find the money for old-age pensions.
– We had to take the method adopted as better than nothing.
– The Labour Party does not know its business. It has good intentions, but goes to work in a left-handed way.
– Will the honorable member support our land tax proposals?
– No. I regard the honorable member as a Socialist. The Labour Party has made it impossible to impose a land tax. There should be only one land tax; but if they had their way there would be a dozen. Old-age pensions should come out of the unearned increment of the land ; any other method of providing for them means taking money out of the pockets of the industrial workers. We, on this side, fought for the White Australia principle for racial reasons, but the members of the Labour Party supported it to protect the worker against the blackfellow. What a disgrace to the worker !
– We support a White Australia to prevent race deterioration.
– That is altogether a new idea with the Labour Party. We accepted their support and carried the measure.
– No. We accepted the support of the Opposition.
– The members of the Labour Party had a selfish motive ; but we had to take them as we found them. We got the measure placed on the . statute-book, and will always defend the White Australia principle. But the White Australia policy, as advocated by the Labour Party, is the policy of protecting the white man from the competition of black labour.
– Does the honorable member not believe in protecting the white man from black labour?
– I should not insult the white man by comparing his labour with that of the blackfellow. I should aim at protecting the race from deterioration by admixture with inferior blood, and at raising the standard of life and civilization; and that is the policy of honora’ble members on this side. The Labour Party, however, seek to make it more expensive for the working men to live, and, at the same time, call themselves the representatives of the working classes. But there is only one set of men here who really represent labour, and those are the Liberals who sit on this side of the House.
– What about honorable members in the Opposition corner?
– Those honorable members would not be in public life, and representatives of the people, unless their desire was to benefit their fellow men. In details, of course, honorable members in the Opposition corner and honorable members in the direct Opposition may differ - doubtless some of the Opposition corner members have an idea that it is good to restrict trade by means of protection. My only regret is that their opinions are not more liberal in this connexion. But men change their views;” and it does not follow that, because those honorable members desire protection for industries, they propose to make protection prohibitive so as to impoverish the working classes and tax a large section of the people, who cannot reap any advantage from protection, for the benefit of a class. The Labour Party started out originally with very fine ideas, but are gradually drifting from one selfish proposal to another. A short time ago they were strongly advocating Socialism, but now we are told that that is a policy in which they do not believe. The Labour Party is constantly taking from our platform the most liberal of our planks; and we know that they cannot possibly carry any proposal by themselves. I disagree with those who say that the Government are governed by the Labour Party. My own conviction is that the Government have got a ring in the nose of the Labour Party, of whose support they are sure, because-that party are pledged not to support the Opposition. The Government can give the Labour Party only what they chose to give, and on this point I should like to read the following extract from the Brisbane Worker -
Alfred Deakin now has to pay the first instalment of the price of office. The’ Labour-Socialist Party wants the (political) union label- the engine of the boycott - to increase its own political organization; and Alfred Deakin is the man to gag Parliament to give it.
Did the Labour Party get the union label ?
– We shall get it.
– The LabourParty will never get the union label, because the Prime Minister is an astute man, and has no intention of meeting their wishesin that regard.
And what is Alfred Deakin to get in return, beyond mere office for a time? Not “Protection for local industries,” for the last Federal Labour Convention has definitely refused to indorse that policy.
Did the Labour Party get new protection ?’ Excessive protection was accorded to local industries, but not so new protection. Asa matter of fact, of all the Labour Party expected to obtain from the Government, for a number of years, they have got zen little. We are in the habit of “ pulling the leg “ of the Labour Party, and telling them that they are all-powerful in the country, whereas we know that they mereally weaklings. There was a time whet* it was necessary that we should put the Labour Party into power, and when we did’ so they carried out the legislation that we desired.
– What became of thegreat free-trade party ?
– The great free-trade party put the Labour Party iti power, and got legislation such as we could not get in any other way ; in short, we have been “ using “ the Labour Party from beginning to end, and shall continue to do so. As I have already said,, the Labour Party have no power whatever either in this House or outside.
– Where are the Ministers of the late Government?
– The late Government only had a narrow majority, and when that disappeared, they had to “ throw up the sponge.”
– The country refused to return them to Parliament.
– As a matter ot fact, the party with which I am associated are strong in the country. True, New South Wales changed some of its representatives, but there will be another change at the next election, and vicissitudes of the kind have, been experienced by the greatest men in public life. The people of New South Wales intend to go forward ; and if a man is too conservative, he will be put on One side, because the public wilt must be obeyed. It was not until theLabour Party said that they were not Socialists but progressionists that they received any support from the country. As soon as we put our imprimatur on a man, as really progressive and true to the traditions of liberalism - as soon as we show that a man is of that party he is accepted by the people.
– The honorable member’s party is but a remnant.
-Just before the last general election in the Old Country the Liberal Party there were a remnant ; but they returned from the polls with a greater majority than has ever hitherto been given to liberalism; and history will repeat itself in the Commonwealth.
– And soon !
– No one should prophecy unless he knows; but the pendulum, when swung too far in one direction, comes back with greater force. As far back as the reign of Edward VI. all that the Labour Party are now proposing was law ; and our forefathers bled and died to undo such legislation as the Labour Party, in their stupidity, are now advocating. Personally, I am not at all afraid of the Labour Party, who are doing much good for liberalism. True, they run into extremes, and cannot possibly govern by themselves ; but when it is shown how their crude proposals can be modified and made practicable, their ideas begin to receive public support. The admission was made yesterday by the leader of the Labour Party that they are legislating for a class ; and I point out that no party ever lived long that so confined their efforts.
– It is not correct that that admission was made.
– The leader of the Labour Party admitted that the idea was to legislate for the artisan and skilled labourer, who, when he is brought into the trades unions, may be harnessed and dragooned. The Labour Party are constantly taking our planks, and. calling them their own. They then announce them to the people as their advanced policy. That is cunning, but near-sighted, because it will bring its own punishment. They will have to meet the wrath of the people and the opposition of the constituencies.
– Why does not the honorable member attack the Government?
– The Labour Party are doing the will of the Government, and that is why I am attacking them. The Government should have gone out of power long ago. They have not a true sense or their obligations.Theydo not administer their Departments faithfully and well, andI emphasize the word “ faithfully.” There should be a noconfidence motion, in order that we might unearth and make public many things that are scandals, and the Government should be sent from office. But they remain in office with the support of the Labour Party who, in return, are getting nothing but “ leg-pulling.” If they analyze what they have got they will see that they have not obtained a single thing of any value from this or any other Government. They have been used from beginning to end. They are mere tools in this House, deceiving the people, and trading upon the fact.
– And the next honorable member who speaks from that side will say that the Government only live by carrying out the behests of the Labour Party.
– I began by saying that there are honorable members on this side who do not agree with my views, but I do not agree with those who say that the Labour Party are governing the country. I hold that they are weak and impotent. The present Government could not have carried their measures with the help of the Labour Party alone. There was always something in their proposals that enlisted the support of the corner opposition party or of this party. The Labour Party never did carry anything of themselves or in conjunction with the Government alone. There has always been a good majority to be found on this side of the House in favour of liberal proposals. The Labour Party come along with something restrictive and selfish, and it is put in the Government programme because it is unconstitutional. That pleases them, the Bill goes through, and the present Government retain office. The Government are unfit for office, having played those tricks upon members, and traded upon the innocence of the Labour Party.
– I feel considerable hesitation in addressing the House after listening to the scathing denunciation of the Labour Party that has fallen from the lips of the honorable member for Robertson, but there are one or two things that I wish to say. The speech which has been placed in our hands bears on its face the evidence of brevity. It is certainly a masterpiece. It is concise and very much to the point, but when one comes to look into it one finds that it proposes that we should do work which it ls absolutely impossible for us to carry out in the short time at our disposal. It would take several years if we gave to the matters mentioned in the speech the consideration that they deserve. They_ are most momentous matters connected with the government of the Commonwealth. They will have far-reaching effects, and should receive most careful consideration, but instead of that we are asked by the Government to complete the whole of this enormous programme within the next ten working weeks.
– We shall have to do a little overtime.
– Although I am not a member of the Labour Party, I sympathize with them in some things, one of which is their objection to overtime. I believe that a man should not work longer than is absolutely necessary. To get through this programme, it would be’ necessary for us to work a considerable amount of overtime, and that I object to. As it is, we are giving too much of our time to legislation. When the Commonwealth was first inaugurated, no one supposed that the sittings of this Parliament would last for the length of time that they have done, running to ten and eleven months in the year. We are making a grave mistake in carrying on in the way we are doing. We should select those measures which are most important, give our attention to them, and not occupy more than six months of the year in our legislative work’. The present practice is not fair to us or to our constituents. It is grossly unfair to us personally. It is a simple matter for those honorable members who live in Melbourne to attend Parliament a few hours every day, and at the same time to attend to their own businesses, but we, who come from other States, have been compelled to give up our whole year to the work of legislation, and, consequently, to neglect our own individual interests. The remuneration that we received in the first instance was never intended to cover work such as that. It will only lead to the production in Australia of a class of men who are neither more nor less than professional politicians. I object to men giving the’mselves up entirely to the profession of politics for the purpose of earning their bread and butter. I do not think that that is the class of men we should encourage to legislate for this country.
– The man who undertakes a trust ought to fulfil it even if it involves a sacrifice.
– It is a great sacrifice for us to make, and I am satisfied that itwas never expected of us when the Constitution was framed. In the first paragraph of His Excellency’s Speech we are congratulated upon the brilliant success attending the visit to these shores of the great Fleet of the United States. I cordially indorse that statement. Although I was a member of the Reception Committee, I cannot refrain from saying that those charged with the reception arrangements deserve great praise for the way in which they fulfilled their duties. Most of the work fell upon the shoulders of officers of the Parliament, who were deputed to attend to it, and I think that we are fortunate in possessing their services. I am satisfied that the visit of the Fleet will have far-reaching effects. The picture that I saw before me as I stood on the shores at Port Jackson and watched that magnificent Fleet entering the Heads was one that I shall never forget. The visit of the Fleet will have the effect of drawing closer the bonds between the English-speaking nations of the earth. After all, brood is thicker than water, and the time may come - let us hope in the far-distant future - when it may be necessary for the Englishspeaking peoples to police the Pacific. The visit was also an object-lesson to our own people. It was an example of the value of discipline. We saw thousands of men let loose within the gates of our cities, and allowed to roam at their own free will ; but, while subjected to all the forms of temptation that hospitality entails, they in no way offended against those who were entertaining them. Their behaviour showed us how admirable must be the discipline of the Fleet. There were two sights connected with the visit that I shall never forget. The one was that’ to which I ha,ve referred - the entrance into Port Jackson - and the other the spectacle of 9,000 children going through a series of exercises on the Sydney Cricket Ground. That display brought home to my mind what a valuable asset we have in the children of the Commonwealth, and what can be done by organization and discipline. If we are to look to the future for the defence of our country, we cannot do better than begin with our children. We should begin with our cadet system, and gradually train up the younger members of the community so that when their services are required they may be easily converted into good soldiers. Having regard to our small population, we cannot hope for many years to organize a force sufficient to hold this country against foreign invasion. We must depend for years hence upon the British Navy. Having regard to our limited numbers, it is idle to think of forming here an adequate defence force to protect the huge territory in which we live, but I see no reason why we should not, as far as possible, make a start to establish a defence capable of protecting our ports. I do not propose to discuss the question further at this stage, since we are promised an opportunity later in the session of dealing with it. We have also in the Speech a reference to Agricultural Bureaux. It seems to me that, instead of talking of the new protection and of giving effect to various Utopian ideas - instead of discussing what the honorable member for Wentworth has so ably pointed out are mere willo’thewisps ; mere phantoms which the Prime Minister causes to flit before the Labour Party in order that he may secure their support - we should give our attention to such questions as the formation of Agricultural and Health Bureaux, and other undertakings of that description. In that way we shall do far more than we can hope to accomplish by passing some of the legislation proposed in the Governor-General’s Speech. The Minister of Trade and Customs has at heart the question of Universal Penny Postage, and I cannot understand why penny postage should prevail, in Victoria, whilst the people of New South Wales are obliged to pay 2d. on all letters.
– Who blocked the proposal for penny postage last session ?
– The Labour Party.
– The honorable member for Wentworth is not a member of the Labour Party.
– And a good many honorable members will try to block it again.
– I shall appeal to the Labour Party to support the proposal. I have received from Chambers of Commerce and similar bodies in my electorate numerous requests to support this reform. Those institutions consist of men specially interested in financial and business matters, who should be able to speak authoritatively on this subject. Unfortunately, Federal politics have not yet come home to the people generally, but they ought to know that the Labour Party opposed penny postage last session, and are likely to oppose it again.
– We have in our party supporters as well as opponents of the system
– I think that the majority of the party in this House are opposed to penny postage, their argument being that the worker does not write many letters, and therefore does not require to buy many stamps.
– No, the argument is that even with the revenue derived from twopenny postage the postal facilities in country districts are wholly imperfect.
– i’ agree with the honorable member that they are inadequate.
– If we reduce the postal revenue by £200,000 per annum, we shall not improve the service.
– If we reduce the cost of carriage our revenue will be increased.
– That has been the result of penny postage everywhere.
– The Minister of Trade and Customs is an authority on the question, and he tells us that penny postage, wherever introduced, has led to an increased revenue. I really cannot understand why a so-called liberal-minded body of men, such as are supposed to represent the workers in this House, should be opposed to a measure of this kind, unless it is that they wish to squeeze the capitalist for all he is worth, and to legislate for one class as against all other classes in the community. If the capitalist or the business man is to reap any advantage from a reduction in postage, surely to goodness the worker will reap some benefit too ! Consequently, I see no reason why the Labour Party, as a body, should oppose the proposal.
– It is absolutely incorrect that, as- a body, they do oppose it.
– From the speeches I have heard him make on this subject, I think that the leader of the Labour Party is opposed to penny postage.
– Well, I shall vote for the proposal whenever it is submitted.
– I am very glad to hear that declaration, and I urge the Government to put the proposal in the forefront of their programme, and to let us have, if possible, some kind of reasonable distribution of the taxation which we are called upon to pay for the distribution of our letters. After all, it must be looked. upon in the nature of a tax, because nobody supposes that the Department can possibly be made to pay; no one expects that. The indirect advantages which we should receive from the proposed reduction are so great that we might, to a certain extent, consider that it would be a paying investment if adopted. Anything that would tend to reduce the cost of carrying the mails would be of advantage, not only to the great cities on the seaboard,_ but also to the settlers who live inland. There is only one other subject on which I wish to speak to-day. It is one which I think the Government propose to put in the forefront of their programme, and that is the question of the Federal Capital Site. I am very doubtful whether the Ministry are in earnest in what they say they intend to do. If one could believe what they say, one would think that the dearest wish of their heart was to get the question settled at the earliest possible moment.
– That is pretty warm on them.
– Does any member of this Parliament think for one moment that the Ministry are anxious to have the question settled? I certainly do not think so. I consider that if the matter is brought forward, and if, after a fair vote has been taken, a particular site is decided upon, all the members of this Parliament should do their best to have the project carried out as early as possible. According to the Constitution, a bargain was made with New South Wales that the Federal Capital Site should be as near as possible to the 100-mile limit from Sydney. It is all very well for honorable members to say that the arrangement was that the site should not be nearer than 100 miles of Sydney, but that it might be anywhere outside that limit. That was not the arrangement at all. According to the public reports, the. arrangement was that the site should be within a reasonable distance of the 100-mile limit. Surely to goodness that is plain enough for everybody ! One may be accused of provincialism for taking up this question from a State point of view. One may be said tobe parochial for claiming that the rights of New South Wales should be considered. But it must not be forgotten that that was the price which was paid in order that New South Wales might be enticed into the Federation. That was distinctly understood at that time.
– And now they want to interpret the right to have the Federal Capital within their territory into a right to pick the site itself.
– I should not like to go so far as to say that the State claims a right to pick a particular site. What it claims is that the site chosen should be within a reasonable distance from the 100- mile limit. This is a question which today is much more far-reaching than we seem to appreciate.
– Is the honorable member prepared to accept the decision of this House next week?
– I said that whatever site is selected, if the method of selection is a fair one - and, mind, a great deal hinges upon that - we should accept that decision and endeavour to bring the matter to an ultimate issue. Nothing could be fairer than that. But the Ministry of which the honorable gentleman has the honour to be a member are not sincere in their endeavours to get the question settled.
– Why does the honorable member say these unkind things?
– Because I am here to say what I believe, and to represent the people who sent me here. During last session I was amazed at the interest which was shown in this matter, and the illfeeling which was stirred up by the duplicity and the laxity of this Parliament.
– The honorable member is transgressing the limits of parliamentary language.
– Almost every man who speaks to me on political matters says, “ When are you going to give us our Capital? We are not satisfied that the Capital should remain in Melbourne year after year.” We believe that the Victorian politicians are dominated by the local press. We believe that it is not good for the nation that the Parliament should remain under such domination. We also think that those members of the Federal Parliament who represent constituencies near to Melbourne, and come to slumber on the cross benches occasionally, are anxious that the Capital should remain in Melbourne as long as possible.
– Do not say that, because it is not strictly correct.
– I am only expressing an opinion. Judging from their votes in the past, I think the Victorian representatives are not anxious to have the Federal
Capital removed from this city. I believe that the people of this State, taking them as a whole, would be quite satisfied to see the Federal Capital in Sydney. They are generous in their feelings. State members would be only too glad to return to these palatial halls, which they vacated for our convenience. Has not the Premier of Victoria said over and over again that he would like to see us out of this place? I should like to see this Parliament established in a building of its own, but what is it that keeps us from settling the question?
– The fact that New South Wales will not accept the decision of this House.
– Argue as one may, he is always met with this peculiar position, that the obstacle is the Labour Party. What is it that they want?
– They do not know, and keep on asking for it.
– We want this Parliament, instead of the Parliament of New South Wales, to fix the site for the Federal Capital.
-Unfortunately, the Labour Party know too well what they want. I know that New South Wales wants the Federal Capital elsewhere than in Melbourne, and I shall do all I can to further its wish. The Labour Party is an obstacle in this respect. The Constitution says that the Capital Site shall be in territory granted to or acquired by the Commonwealth not less than 100 miles from Sydney, and of an area not less than 100 square miles. Does not that lead one to think that the area might be perhaps a little more than 100 miles in extent, but certainly not 900 square miles? But the Labour Party wishes to make an experiment in land nationalization. They say : “ We will have a sort of experimental farm,” as it were. They want to be able to tax the people as they like. They want, to try all sorts of experimental legislation. Thank God, we have a country that can stand experiments. If it were not one of the finest countries on this earth it would have been ruined by the experimental legislation that has been tried in it. This country must bleed at every pore as the result of the socialistic legislation which honorable members ‘ opposite are endeavouring to pass, but ‘the time will come when we shall rise superior to such policies, and the country will renew itself. But we must, I fear, pass through a period of stress and difficulty before we arrive and know ourselves truly. The Labour Party, I say, wants to secure an area of 900” square miles in order that it may try a scheme of land nationalization. They also want to establish a huge manufacturing city. They lay stress upon the fact that we have at Dalgety water supply sufficient to produce power which can result in establishing a huge manufacturing centre. Is that the sort of thing that we want for our administrative city? One of the chief advantages of the site should be the absence of manufactories within its bounds. Why should the Labour Party lay such stress on the fact that water supply is obtainable, and can be used for motive power, except that they wish to have a manufacturing city within the Federal Territory, and to be able to pass laws regulating wages and the hours of labour, and enforcing the new protection principle to their heart’s content? What sort of site has already been selected by this Parliament? I have already said what I think about Dalgety, and am not going to repeat my opinion now. But I will say that such a place is not a site where we should erect a Federal Capital, one reason for that opinion being that it is too far away from Sydney, and, secondly, that the selection is altogether opposed to the agreement made with New South Wales, when the Federal Constitution was framed. The inducement made to bring New South Wales within’ the bond was that the Federal City should not be far from Sydney. I have not much more to say with reference to the Governor-General’s Speech. Though it looks short, it contains an enormous quantity of material, and it will be absolutely impossible, unless the majority of the items are jettisoned, for us to terminate the session within a reasonable time. There is one other subject to which I have not referred, and about which I have a word or two to say - that is the Northern Territory. An honorable member who spoke this morning referred to the party of which I am a member as being in favour of the introduction of aliens into Australia. That any reasonable man could accuse us as a party of being opposed to the White Australia policy is, in my opinion, conduct beneath con tempt. The honorable member knows very well in his own mind that we do not want to have black blood mingled with our own.
– What I said was thatthe ladies of the honorable member’s Liberal Association met in conference, and carried a resolution to that effect.
– I do not care so much what the honorable member said; I am replying to his insinuations, which meant that we who were born in Australia, and who are in favour of the White Australia policy, want to see our white blood contaminated. Well, I do not. From the racial point of view, to say nothing of the medical point of view and the view of protecting the worker from the competition of the black man, we, as the sons of British people, born in Australia, want to see the White Australia policy maintained, and always have done.
– Will the honorable member deny that the ladies, at the Conference referred to, did make the statements quoted ?
– The honorable member must be a very young man indeed if he is prepared to be responsible for all the remarks that his lady friends make. I certainly am not. As to the Northern Territory, however, it appears that the bargain is going to be a very expensive one for the Commonwealth. It involves something like , £8,500,000. Nevertheless, the sooner we take over the Territory the better, because, if we do not, some foreign nation, which is not an advocate of the White Australia policy, may get possession of it, and prove very formidable and troublesome. We have in Port Darwin a magnificent harbor, without at present any protection whatever. The day must come when the Federal authority will have control of the railways of the Commonwealth. I hope it will be soon. We shall then have complete unification of our railway system, and some day, no doubt, we shall construct a line which will be useful for military purposes, from the southernmost point in Australia right to the north at Port Darwin. I shall conclude my remarks by quoting the utterances of the Admiral of the United States Fleet on leaving our shores. I saw them in the newspaper to-day, and they appeared to me to be so kindly and so wise that it is only right that they should be recorded in Hansard. Rear-Admiral Sperry, on leaving Albany, Being asked if he had a mes sage for the Commonwealth, made use or these words -
I am sorry that the time has arrived for farewell messages. Cheap sentiment is a cheap thing, but the feeling in this fleet towards Australia could not be purchased with gold. We are truly sorry to leave you. Some of us apparently are determined to be adopted by you. This is not remarkable, for, from the Prime Minister downwards, and from Sydney to Albany, Australia has treated us in a way that can engender but one desire in the breasts of those who have been the fortunate recipients of her lavish hospitality - namely, to remain, and bathe in its effulgence for the rest of their days. Df the vigour and potentialities of the Commonwealth my mind is full, as my heart is brimming with the kindness of its people ; but to talk about it just now is a pleasure in which I cannot legitimately indulge myself. It must suffice, as I am sure it will, if I mingle with my unqualified thanks to your people my confirmed admira-. tion of their island continent. May it be permitted to continue in peace its beneficent work of development. When that is completed who shall compute the national importance of Australia, the Empire’s queen daughter of the southern seas? . Give my farewell to your people, and say we hope to carry our recollections of Australia beyond the grave.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Frazer) adjourned.
MINISTERS land upon the table the following papers -
Exhibition Bureau - Letter from Mr. H. J. Scott, recommending the establishment of an Exhibition Bureau as a branch of the proposed Intelligence Department of the Commonwealth.
Census and Statistics Act -
Official Year-Book of the Commonwealth -
No. 1 - 1901 to 1907.
Australian Commonwealth - Its Resources and Production.
Official Bulletins -
Trade, Shipping, Oversea Migration, and Finance -
No. 14. - February, 1908.
No. 15. - March, 1908.
No. 16. - April, 1908.
No. 17. - May, 1908.
No. 18. - June, 1908.
Population and Vital Statistics -
No. 6. - Quarter ended 31st December, 1907.
No. 7. - Summary of Commonwealth Demography, 1901 to 1907.
No. 8. - For 1907.
– I move -
That the House do now adjourn.
In submitting the motion, I desire to say that the Government wished to close the debate on the Address-in-Reply to-day, but the deputy leader of the Opposition seemed very anxious that it should stand over until next Tuesday. The honorable member has agreed that, so far as his influence will go, the debate shall be brought to a conclusion on Tuesday. That is the understanding that was arrived at when the Government agreed tothe adjournment. I hope that on Tuesday we shall be able to finish the debate.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 3.56 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 18 September 1908, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1908/19080918_reps_3_47/>.