3rd Parliament · 3rd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– Will the PostmasterGeneral lay on the table the papers relating to the proposed erection of an additional trunk telephone line between Sydney and Katoomba ?
– I see no objection.
– Has the attention of the. Prime Minister been called to the report sent to the Premier of New South Wales in respect to the water supply of the Canberra and Dalgety Capital Sites, and will he immediately communicate with that gentleman, in order to obtain official information regarding the supply from the Cotter and Mowamba Creeks?.
– The Government of New South Wales has been requested from time to time to supply all information on this subject in its possession, and I assume that the information asked for will be forwarded. ‘ If not, I shall have pleasure in asking for it.
– As several proposals for the amendment of the Constitution are being advocated for submission to the people at the next general election, will the Prime Minister consider the advisability of having a cheap reprint of the Commonwealth Constitution made available at all the post offices throughout Australia, free on application by any citizen?
– In view of the urgency of the matter, will the Prime Minister cause each member of the House to be supplied at an early date with a copy of the despatch containing the reply of the British Admiralty to the naval proposals of the Government?
– All the papers received or exchanged on that subject are being copied with a view to laying them before Parliament.
– Has the Prime Minister seen the following comments in the Age newspaper, upon the despatch from the British Admiralty, relating to the Australian Naval Defence: -
While, as was indicated yesterday, it is true that the advances made in the Admiralty’s latest communication towards the Australian stand-point are very considerable, it is doubtful whether the Government will be able to accept them without a further effort to induce Mr. McKenna and Sir John Fisher to realize how absolutely determined the Commonwealth is to secure an adequate coastal navy of her own. . ‘ . . The Australian Naval Agreement will, if the Admiralty’s alternative to Mr. Deakin’s scheme be accepted by the Government, be profoundly modified, though Sydney Harbor will not be entirely depleted of British warships.
Do these comments reflect the views of the Government? If so, will the honorable and learned gentleman state when the Commonwealth “absolutely determined” to ‘ secure an adequate coastal navy of her own?” Have the people of the Commonwealth everbeen consulted on the subject ? Has the Government proposed, or ‘does it contemplate proposing, to the British Government any reduction of the British Fleet in Australian waters?
– Answering the last question first, the Government has not suggested, and is not likely to suggest, any reduction of the British Fleet in Australian waters; quite the contrary. The comments in the Age express the opinions of that newspaper, but are without authority from the Government, whose intentions in this matter will be shortly made known to the House.
– Is the Prime Minister aware that some time ago the Sydney University engaged Colonel Foster, an officer of the Imperial Service, to deliver to its students a series of lectures on the subject of military science? Is. he also aware that these lectures have been published from time to time, duringa period extending over about two months, and, if so, will he consider the advisability of having them printed for the information of the House.?
– I am aware of the facts mentioned, and will consider the request.
– Seeing that the Bill providing for universal service, in connexion with which Lt.-Colonel Legge has done a great deal of detailed work, will be laid on the table this week, will the Minister of Defence let us have the advantage of reading the address which that officer was to have delivered last evening to the members of the United Service Institute, but which, I understand, was by the Minister’s orders not delivered?
– The address was not delivered ; but I have not seen it, nor do I know what was in it. My feeling is that the less military men talk about matters the better:
– Has the Minister or the Government at any time expressed an intention to introduce a Bill to provide for compulsory military service?
– The proposed Bill is to provide for universal training.
– Arising out of the question just put to the Minister of Defence, I should like to ask him whether the universal training which he states the new Bill will provide for will be compulsory on the Australian citizen or will provide for voluntary training.
– Parliament will decide that question.
Mr. EWING laid upon the table the following paper: -
Defence - Visit to England of the InspectorGeneral (Major-General J. C. Hoad) - Papers relating to.
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The replies to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
Survey of Proposed Route
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answer to the right honorable member’s questions is as follows : - 1 and 2. A progress report will be laid upon the table of the House. Meanwhile Mr. Deane, Consulting Engineer for the Commonwealth in connexion with the survey, who is at present in Perth, telegraphs that on the Western Australian side plans and sections have been plotted for 200 miles, and a preliminary traverse made to 385 miles. On the South Australian side satisfactory progress is being made, and a. report from the Inspecting Surveyor is now on its way. According to last advices the country had been examined and line located from Port Augusta to Tarcoola, and the country between Tarcoola and Nullarbor Plains was being examined.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– Premising that the position of Government Departments in this respect differs widely from that of private firms, and that the granting of the preference referred to is almost confined to the General Post Office which has granted the same preference - 10 per cent. - ever since Federation, I would inform the honorable member in reply to the first and second questions, that there is no secrecy associated with these tenders. They are all advertised. *
– But the rates vary.
– That is a different question. Recognising that circumstances have changed since the action of Parliament, to which the honorable member has called attention, I have issued instructions that whenever any future preference of this kind is granted particulars shall be laid on the table of the House. Parliament will then be able to judge whether the practice is justifiable in the special circumstances that govern those cases. Having obtained a good deal of information, I find that action in the past has been taken from very “different considerations and1 in widely different cases. It would be extremely difficult to attempt to lay down a rule in set terms.
– The Reid-McLean Adminstration granted a 25 per cent, preference.
– In some cases.
Proceedings before the High Court.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the right honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
Public Service Regulations
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
Whether it is a fact that under the Amended Public Service Regulations raising the minimum salaries of sorters, Grade I. sorters receiving less than the minimum reach that standard only by annual progressive stages, while those in a similar position in Grade II. had their salaries raised to the minimum of their Grade from 2nd March of this year. Is there any reason why the lower-paid officers should not immediately receive the minimum salary attached to the positions they occupy?
– The Public Service Commissioner has furnished the following information -
The provision for increasing salaries of sorters . by annual progressive stages until the minimum of ^138 had been reached was made in order to preserve the seniority , of officers who would otherwise have been passed over. Numerous anomalies resulting from State practice have thus been rectified since the classification of the service was issued, and as there are now only a few cases to be adjusted, the question of advancing sorters in all States to the recently increased minimum of ^144 is under consideration.
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The .answers to the right honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The Crown Solicitor has furnished the following information, namely -
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
What was the date of the last report of the Chief Medical Officer of Papua on the Gira gold-field?
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Will he see that in future all statutory rules, especially amending rules, prepared under various statutes and laid before Parliament, are sd drawn up that they may be intelligible in themselves without tedious and difficult comparison with other documents?
– I have issued an instruction to the Departments that in future Statutory Regulations laid before Parliament shall be accompanied by a) departmental memorandum stating their effect.
– In reply to a question put to me by the honorable member for Cook on 29th May last, I beg to lay on the table a return showing buildings other than those belonging to the State or Commonwealth in which public telephone bureaux exist.
Debate resumed from 18th September (vide page 188), 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.
.- The programme submitted by the Government for the consideration of Parliament during the present session is so well filled with problems for solution that I am not at all surprised at their anxiety to curtail debate at this stage as .much as possible. There are, however, two or three omissions from His Excellency’s Speech, as well as two or three matters touched upon in it that are worthy of passing reference. Dismissing the reference in it to the visit of the American Fleet with the remark that in connexion with that visitation much credit is due to J the Prime Minister, I would point out that we find ourselves face to face with what to many honorable members is an old friend - the question of the selection of a site for the Federal Capital, I do not think that the present Administration has done what it might have done to bring about a settlement of the question, and that remark will apply also to its immediate predecessor, I have hitherto adopted the view that in the determination of the site on which the Federal City shall be built, this Parliament should be allpowerful, and I do not intend to depart from that position. I repeat, however, that the Government has not done as much as could have been done to- secure a definite settlement of the question. It was hi 1904, I believe, that we passed a Bill selecting a site; but in 1908 we find ourselves exactly in the same position that we were in then.
– Because, I believe the Governments of the day have not devoted that energy to the settlement of the question that should have been devoted in the first place, and also because of the somewhat unreasonable attitude of the Government of New South Wales.
– Does the honorable member think that the present Commonwealth Government is in earnest on this matter?
– I believe that, Parliament having arrived at a decision, the Government of the day ought to be prepared to give effect to the will of the majority.
The Government cannot reasonably expect the House or the country to express a definite opinion when the members of the Government themselves are divided on the question. Had the Government been united and prepared to take steps in order to test the authority of the Commonwealth Parliament and the New South Wales Parliament respectively, we might reasonably have looked for a settlement of the matter before this time. Of course, if the Commonwealth Parliament declares for Dalgety and the New South Wales Parliament maintains its present attitude, then the possibility or the probability of an arrangement is far distant ; and the only means of determining the power of the Federal Parliament lies in an appeal to the highest tribunal in the land for a definition of constitutional powers. My own opinion is that all the right will not be found on the side of the Commonwealth - that it will be recognised by the High Court that the State of New South Wales has some rights. However, how far those rights of the State may be allowed to decide the question is beyond the scope of my remarks this afternoon, though I think the Government ought to be more definite at this stage. From the speech of the Governor-General we find that the new protection proposals are to be placed before us when the Defence Bill and the Seat of Government Bill are “ sufficiently advanced.” What is the meaning of “sufficiently advanced”? Such language is, in my opinion, most indefinite; and the question arises, who is to interpret the meaning of the words?
– We shall.
– Are the words “sufficiently advanced “ to be interpreted in view of the “ advance” made in the question of the Federal Capital site in the past ?
– The meaning is, as soon as we see that the House has given its attention to the subject, we shall proceed with the new protection.
– Does the Prime Minister propose to ask the House to consider the Capital site question and push it to a. conclusion ?
– I think the House will dispose of that question in one or two sittings at the outside.
– Then I understand that “ sufficiently advanced “ means when the measure is passed.
– I hope so.
– But supposing that hope is not realized, what attitude will the Government adopt? Will the Prime Minister press on other legislation before disposing of that question ?
– I cannot answer for all contingencies.
– The Prime Minister does not seem prepared to commit himself in any degree on this question, beyond the vague and indefinite language I have quoted. Personally, I do not see that any measure could be regarded as sufficiently advanced unless the definite opinion’ of this Parliament had been ascertained, and steps taken for the removal of the seat of Government from Melbourne. There are, I believe, a number of honorable members who are thoroughly tired of Melbourne as the Federal Capital.
– It is a brute of a place !
– I shall not deal with the ‘merits or demerits of Melbourne, but I do believe that the great majority of honorable members earnestly desire to have the seat of Government removed to its permanent home; and there is some reason for complaint at the inaction of the Government. It would not take up a great deal of time to make provision for removal, if we could only make up our minds as to the locality. Some of us may reasonably hope to sit in the legislative halls of the permanent Federal Capital ; but in order to realize that hope we must have something more definite from the Government. If we have the right under the Constitution to choose the capital site, I hope the Prime Minister will take steps to have the wish of Parliament carried intopractical effect.
– Would the honorable member deprive the New South Wales members of their only grievance?
– I should be sorry to think that that interjection represented the position. However, the New South Wales Government cannot disclaim the responsibility for much of the delay, even though the Commonwealth Government has been lax in the settlement of the question. I now desire to refer to the Defence proposals of the Government. I understand” Chat the Minister of Defence is going to break his long silence one day in the near future, and deliver himself on the policy to be adopted for the safety of the citizen’s of this country. We shall bep leased if that is so. In the past, apparently, only one member of the Government - the Prime Minister - has been prepared to open his mouth on any question. I do not say that the honorable gentleman has not done it well, but there are questions with which it is not reasonable to expect him to deal as exhaustively as would the Minister in charge of the particular Department concerned. The Minister of Defence, if it is only for the novelty of hearing him make a speech in this House, will be sure of a crowded audience when he rises to deliver himself on the Defence Bill. We are left to guess from the vague remarks in the Governor-General’s Speech the exact stage which the Defence Bill will have reached when it will be said to have been ‘’ sufficiently advanced.” Perhaps the Minister will enlighten us on that point. I hope that we shall have advanced the Seat of Government Bill right out of this House, and that the Defence Bill will have reached the same stage before it is proposed to abandon its consideration. We ought not to relinquish it when once we begin on it
– Does the honorable member think that both those measures should be dealt with before the new protection ?
– The Government state that their policy is to deal with them before the new protection.” The honorable member is well acquainted with my “ view that the new protection necessitates a referendum to the electors, and that there is no reasonable prospect of this Parliament spending the sum that would be required foi that purpose, prior to the next general election. If we are to have an extraordinary election before that, of course, it is reasonable to assume that’ the Bill for the amendment of the Constitution will be submitted in time to enable it to be placed before the electors on that occasion.
– The honorable -member’s party have only to arrange it. I should be delighted.
– Are honorable members iri that corner going to assist us to pass the Bill? I noticed that the other night, when an amendment which was equivalent to a motion of censure on the Government was moved from the Opposition corner, by one of the distinguished members of the party who sit there, there did not seem to be any wild rush for an extraordinary election. The mover could not get a seconder -for his amendment.
– Nor .was there a wild rush on the other side to support the honorable member for Kalgoorlie, when he was busy about six months ago.
– I had some supporters on that occasion, at any rate. I may reasonably conclude that the House is not likely to sanction a special referendum for an amendment of the Constitution on the question of the new protection, and I doubt very much whether it would be advisable to do so. We have difficulty enough in getting any considerable percentage of the electors to the poll even at election times, and it is reasonable to infer that if only a question of amending the Constitution was specially submitted, there would be a small poll. I do not feel pleased with the attitude of the Government that has led up to the present position of the new protection policy. The methods of delay which they adopted in collecting the Excise when the Act was passed placed them in the position of deserving censure. Although the manufacturers have received considerable assistance from Parliament in the matter of heaping up duties against importations, some of them, at least, are not prepared to deal reasonably or satisfactorily with their workmen. If we understand the policy of the Government aright, they propose, by means of an amendment of the Constitution, to seek power for this Parliament to control industrial . conditions throughout Australia in relation to industries assisted by the Tariff. If they intend to submit that question to the people at the next elections, they will have in that regard my generous support. The particular time at which the necessary Bill will be finally passed by both Houses will, of course, depend upon the time at which it will be possible to submit it to the people. It is strange that no mention is made in the Governor- General’s Speech of a Bill for the appointment of- a High Commissioner. On a previous occasion the fact that no reference was made to a certain proposal in the Speech from the Throne was urged as a great objection against its acceptance by the House when it was brought forward. I understand from the few remarks made by the Prime Minister the other day that the Government intend to submit the High Commissioner Bill this session. That is a matter which distinctly deserves the attention of Parliament at the earliest, possible moment. The omission of any reference to the question of trade marks legislation also calls for explanation from the Government. Those of us who were members of the last Parliament will remember that on one occasion the House was kept sitting night and day for almost a week in order to pass standing orders so that business might be done and the Trades Marks Act passed. The Act was passed, but the portion of it which particularly interested Australian workers has since been declared unconstitutional by the High Court. I asked the Prime Minister a few days ago about the matter, and he said he did not know the exact nature of the judgment..
– We have not received it yet.
– I presume the honorable gentleman refers to its exact wording. He surely will not say that he does not know its effect. The effect of that judgment was to prohibit the use of the workers’ trade mark. Although the text may be handy in the preparation of legislation to reach the desired position, still I think that the honorable and learned gentleman will agree with me that it need not prevent him from stating whether or not. he intends to seek the power to authorize the registration of workers’ trade marks. That, I think, he will admit is not an unreasonable conclusion for one to draw from the position. I see that I am only able to secure a nod to indicate that he agrees with my view. I want the honorable gentleman to express an opinion on the subject.
– If the honorable and learned gentleman says that he will express an opinion presently, there is hope. Although I admit that I dp not like waiting upon hope, still we have to put up with the best we can get. I want to point out to the honorable gentleman that the urgency of this legislation is no less to-day. than it was when the House was asked to sit continuously for. a week to pass certain standing orders. Because the aversion of the employer to the use of this trade mark in some States has been increased considerably since the decision of the High Court was given. I believe that in at_ least one State an effort has been made to get a mark which in most ways will resemble the union label now applied to garments, and distributed it with impunity amongst the members of the community. If that be so, 1 think that the Prime Minister will see that the only thing which the workers have achieved up to now is that they have lost the little which they did get while the legal question was in doubt.
– They have not got much yet, have they?
– The honorable member for Hunter seems1 to be in great glee about it.
– The Government have obtained more than the Labour Party o-ot out of them.
– I did not expect the honorable member to sympathize with the workers in their necessitous condition, because I well remember him vigorously opposing the acceptance of standing orders when it was proposed to put this legislation through the House. . That it has been’ rejected as unconstitutional is a matter of delight to him, I have no doubt; but at the same time it is a matter of very grave concern to some of the workers in various industries throughout Australia.
– Does the honorable member see any reason why the Prime Minister should wait until the workers know their mind on this question when he is prepared to bring in a measure ?
– Just now I asked the Prime Minister if he was prepared to indicate his intentions with regard to remedying that defect under which the legislation was declared unconstitutional by the High Court, and he indicated that he intends to make a statement in the near future. I take it that he is considering the terms in which he will submit a proposal to the House. The members of the Opposition can be quite sure, however, that the party which was largely responsible for the acceptance of this principle in the past are not going to accept as final the decision of the High Court.
– Are the Labour Party going to sack the High Court?
– No; but there is » power which is even greater than the High Court. I do not intend to question the merits or demerits of its decision. But if it has declared a particular provision to be unconstitutional, it is possible for this Parliament and the people of this country to remedy the defect without resorting to the extremity of removing the Judges. There is another complaint that I have to make against the Administration, and that is in connexion with the Insurance Bill. In 1906, when we were discussing a Fire Insurance Bill, the AttorneyGeneral informed the House that at the earliest possible time he would submit to the House a comprehensive measure dealing with insurance matters. I believe that on that occasion, as well as on a subsequent date, I made out a strong case against insurance companies throughout the Commonwealth. I declared, and I believe I established the fact, that the buildings in which they carried on business, and their affluent conditions, were due to a very considerable extent to the methods which they adopted in fleecing some of those who had to insure with them in order to be safe against the ravages of fire, or to get some relief from them. I demonstrated beyond the shadow of a doubt that some of the clauses on which the companies based a defence and fought those who might reasonably have expected to receive the sums for which they had insured, left them open to the charge of having obtained money by false pretences. I still think that the methods which the companies adopted to lead insurers to believe that they would receive a certain sum in the event of total loss, or a smaller amount in the event of partial loss, dealt with as they subsequently are by adjustors, and by those who reduce the amounts in every possible fashion, and under all possible threats, constitute a policy of getting money under false pretences. In 1906, the Attorney -General seemed to thoroughly appreciate the position. He did not like the method laid down in the Bill which I introduced, but he said that he would bring in a comprehensive Insurance Bill, providing for a uniform policy for’ use throughout Australia. However, after the lapse of two years and a month, I find on an overcrowded notice-paper a proposal to bring in a Marine Insurance Bill - in other words, not to deal with fire insurance except so far as it relates to dangers at sea. I do not know what justification the honorable and learned gentleman has for that position, or what explanation he has to give to the House. But I submit that if Ministers rise here and make definite statements that they are going to do certain things, and do not make any effort in that direction, we can only assume that we were deluded when we accepted their promises.
– The Labour Party are being tricked all right.
– The honorable member must like being deluded, as he is always supporting the Government.
– In this House an honorable member has to do a number of things which do not always happen to be in thorough accord with his views. I think that my honorable friend will admit that that is so, but, at the present time, my choice is between the Government and worse. I realize that there is no disposition on the part of a majority of honorable members to give to the largest party in the House their rightful position. There is no doubt that the Labourites, being the party in. the House with the greatest strength, and with the most definite programme, ought to be administering the affairs of this country.
– Why are they not?
– My honorablefriend asks, “Why are they not?”
– Does not my honorable friend think that the party which consents to be tricked year in and year out has shown itself unworthy of leadership?
– I am not taking upthe attitude that the party has been tricked. The Government proposal is one upon which I am justified in asking the AttorneyGeneral for an explanation. When that explanation is forthcoming I shall be able to decide whether or not the Ministry have adopted the course which might reasonably be expected of them. I now desire to touch briefly on the financial relations of the States to the Commonwealth. I have already entered a vigorous protest in this House against the attitude of the Government in running cap in hand to the conferences of States’ Premiers, which have been held from year to year, in one or other of the eastern capitals. I have previously described those conferences as having developed into nothing more nor less than anti-Federal conspiracies, and I do not propose to modify that statement in any way. With the exception of one, every Premier who has attendedthose gatherings has been desirous of curtailing the power of the Commonwealth in every possible direction. The State representatives at these conferences are prevented from making a united attack upon the Federation only because they cannot agree amongst themselves as to a common cause of action. I object to the Commonwealth approaching the States’ Premiers in regard to the settlement of the financial question. In 1910 the power to deal with it will become exclusively vested in this Parliament. We shall then be able to deal with it in the way that we desire, so that there ought then to be no more requests presented to the States’ Premiers, who haveconsistently rejected the Commonwealth proposals, notwithstanding that they have been made in the best possible spirit. We have already made provision for our most urgent necessity - that of the payment of old-age pensions.
– To what provision does the honorable member refer?
– To the passing of the Surplus Revenue Act.
– The funds provided by that measure will not permit us to go very far.
– They will permit us to pay old-age pensions until the control of the Customs and Excise revenues becomes vested in this Parliament.
– The High Court will upset that Act.
– My honorable friend argues that the Surplus Revenue Act is unconstitutional.
– I must ask the right honorable member to discuss that question with the honorable member for Flinders, who holds an entirely opposite opinion.
– We have discussed the matter many times.
– I understand that the honorable member for Flinders adheres to his previously expressed opinion that the Surplus Revenue Act is quite constitutional. Anyhow, that question is one which will soon be decided. If the measure is held by the High Court to be constitutional, as I believe it will be, we shall have the means with which to pay old-age pensions until such period as the control of the finances will be vested in this Parliament.
– Only by breaking faith with the States.
– How can the right honorable member talk of “ breaking faith with the States” after the year 1910?
– I am speaking of the interim period.
– I do not expect the right honorable member to agree with my conclusion in regard to this matter after the vigorous way in which he presented his own opinion of it to this House and to the people of Western Australia.
– With what result?
– If the effect of antilabour agitation in Western Australia is to be gauged by the recent elections in that State, his representations have borne very little fruit.
– We shall see.
– I know that the right honorable member is as vigorous as ever when a political fight is in progress ; but I think he will agree with me that things look very black for himself and his only supporter from Western Australia at the next general elections. These honorable members admit that old-age pensions ought to be paid by the Federal authority ; but, despite that admission they opposed the passing of the only Bill which would provide the Commonwealth with the necessary funds for the purpose.
– I do not agree that old-age pensions should be paid by the Commonwealth taking from the States money which rightly belongs to them.
– Certainly, the requisite money has to be retained by the Commonwealth
– It was never intended that it should be.
– Seeing that the right honorable member opposed the only measure which would provide the wherewithal to pay old-age, pensions, is not his sincerity in this matter open to question?
– The honorable member argues that the end justifies the means. That is his leader’s idea, too.
– It is not. I have already denied that statement fifty times.
– The honorable member has not acted up to his protestations.
– I shall not repeat my denial.
– We must judge the honorable member by his acts.
– I am sorry that I should have stirred up so much feeling upon a question which we might reasonably have assumed to have been settled last session. If the Government submit proposals for the determination of the financial relations of the States to the Com monwealth, I hope that provision will be made for the control by the Commonwealth of the future as well as the existing debts of the States.
– What does the honorable member mean by that statement ?
– The honorable member is always anxious that other honorable members should enter into details, in order that he may be in a position to deal with them; but he is very careful himself to avoid entering into details.
– I understood the honorable member to say that the control by the Commonwealth of the States debts should include the control of their future debts. Of course, that means that the Commonwealth alone should have the power to borrow.
– Not necessarily. But we have to recognise that the States have borrowed more than £40,000,000 since the establishment of the Federation. Seeing that Australia possesses a population of only about 4,000,000, that sum, I contend, is out of all reasonable proportion to the amount that it ought to have been necessary to expend upon the development of this country. Further, whilst that money has been raised by State Treasurers, irrespective of the necessities of other States, the dates for the maturity of the loans have been so arranged that in some years ,£30,000,000 will be due for repayment, whilst in other years only about £1,000,000 will be due. That means a clashing of interests in regard to the redemption of loans that cannot be controlled by any one State, and must lead to considerable loss. The whole question of financial management throughout the Commonwealth ought to be vested in a central authority. The provisions of the Constitution should be carried out so as to provide for some control by the Commonwealth of borrowing in the future.
– The honorable member would change the Constitution in that way also.
– My right honorable friend seems to be oppressed by a terrible anxiety as to what the people will say in relation to the rectification of blunders which have been made in the framing of the Constitution. I recognise that there are imperfections which ought to be remedied, in the direction of enabling the necessities of the people of Australia to be met in the most economical manner. Why should we live under a Constitution that, in some respects, hampers the development and the economical government of the country? The right honorable member himself when a particular proposal agrees with his political views, is not opposed to submitting it to the people ; and in my opinion there is every reason to justify us in submitting to them the question of the control of the whole of the debts of the States by the Commonwealth, unless the States themselves consent to make such an arrangement, and I have not much hope of their doing so. I also wish to refer to a question that has been frequently discussed, namely, the management of the Post and Telegraph Department. I observe that the Minister of Trade and Customs has secured the inclusion of that old friend of his, the Penny Postage Bill, in the programme of the Government. Tn view of the fact that one member of the Cabinet is constantly going through the country getting the ear of the newspapers, and informing the [public that he cannot get money enough to carry on the work of his Department, and that his attempts to meet the needs of the Commonwealth are frustrated through lack of funds, it does seem extraordinary that the Government should seriously propose to undertake a proposal which will involve a. loss, according to their own estimate, of £200,000 a year. I believe that those honorable members who opposed the Penny Post measure on a previous occasion did so on purely economic grounds, believing that the necessities of the position demanded that the whole of the revenue now derived from the service should be utilized in order to enable us to give a more perfect service to th« community in the more thickly populated centres, and at least some service in the thinly populated areas.
– Let the other States do what “Victoria is doing and pay for their id. postage.
-We have this sorry spectacle of a Minister running round and saying to the newspapers, “ I cannot do what ought to be done because my colleague the Treasurer will not give me sufficient money,” whilst the Government propose to deplete their existing revenue bv decreasing the postage rate. As far as I am aware, it is not in accord with usage for one member of the Cabinet to visit various portions of the country and there charge a colleague with being responsible for the imperfections of his Department. Yet, almost every day, we find IncPostmasterGeneral apologizing for his failures by this method. Scarcely a day passes but we find the morning newspaper’s in Melbourne recording that he has discovered another reason for putting the blame on somebody else in connexion, with a refusal of facilities asked for, or some defect in the working of his Department. “if Ministers choose to transact their busi- ness in that way I do not know that it is the concern of other members of this House, although it does appear to me to be extraordinary conduct. Certainly if the Post and Telegraph Department is in need of more money, there is no justification for the introduction of penny postage at the present juncture.
– lt is an advertisement.
– I should not be surprised if that were the purpose. I also desire to refer to the question of guarantees in connexion with telephone services. It appears to me that there are one or two favoured districts in relation to this subject. For a number of years I have asked for telephone connexion between Norseman and Kalgoorlie, but have not been successful, because the authorities could not agree about a guarantee. But the State Government of Western Australia consider the town of Norseman of sufficient importance to build a railway there.
– Some places cannot get the connexion they require, although they have given the guarantee.
– In the case with which I am dealing the Western Australian Government have built a line half way between Kalgoorlie and Norseman, and at the present time. have let a tender for the construction of the other half of the line. Yet the Commonwealth Government cannot erect a telephone line between the same places unless they have a guarantee. If that were the policy generally pursued I should have no grievance, but it is not. We find that some favoured localities have considerable facilities in getting rapid connexion with the more thickly populated centres, and telephone connexions are granted to them without a guarantee from the State or municipality. Here we have the introduction of a system as to which Parliament ought to come to a definite decision. We should either abolish the guarantee system, or insist upon the same provision being carried into effect in all cases.
– Is it not an infringement of the Constitution to discriminate?
– It is certainly an infringement of the intentions of this Parliament to . give consideration to one centre that is not given to another. Only to-day I received a communication in regard to a place named Ginalbie, in my constituency, that has been en deavouring to secure telephonic or tele-i graphic connexion for a considerable time. The Department desires the residents to enter into a bond to extend over seven years. Now, any one who is conversant with mining camps in Western Australia knows that a certain percentage of the people frequently shift from one place to another. Although the total number of inhabitants of a particular place may not be decreased, still the number who move is considerable. I can quite understand, therefore, that these people are not prepared to enter into a bond extending over seven years. But, although there is every reason to believe that the construction of the line in question would be of considerable advantage to the Commonwealth, we cannot get it. The Department requires a guarantee. At the same time there are centres in this State which have been able to secure telephone connexion, and a guarantee has never been asked for.
– What guarantee was there as to the telephone line between Melbourne and Sydney?
– None ; except that we had a reasonable guarantee that there would be a loss in connexion with the line not only in relation to its own working, but also in causing a reduction of revenue from telegrams along the route. While we are faced with such facts as these there is no justification for the introduction of a provision for penny postage; and I hold that the question of guarantee or no guarantee in connexion with telephone centres is one that ought to be decided by this Parliament in the very near future.
– Although I do not intend to detain the House by a long speech, I certainly do not propose to apologise for speaking on the Address-in-Reply, which is one of the occasions, and, perhaps, the only occasion, upon which parliamentary practice allows honorable members to take a general review of the political situation. And though it is by no means always necessary to review that situation at length, I think there has been no occasion - and there certainly has been none since this Federal Parliament met - when it was more necessary than it is at the present moment to review with some degree of outline the momentous questions with which we shall shortly be called upon to deal. If we enter upon the discussion of the details of these measures without any preliminary consideration at all, I venture to submit that we cannot approach them with anything like the same satisfaction as we shall if an opportunity is given for a general review of them beforehand. I join with other honorable members who have spoken in tendering my congratulations to the Prime Minister upon the very great success which in every way attended his invitation to the American Fleet to visit our shores. I think the invitation was not only an extremely happy inspiration in itself, but that the honorable gentleman and the members- of his Government are entitled to credit’ for the way in which1 the arrangements were carried put, and for the way in which the Prime Minister personally represented the people and the country in connexion with the various festivities that were held. There are many ways in which it may prove of great benefit to us to have been brought into closer personal contact with some of the citizens of the great republic of the United States. We probably learnt more in a few hours’ conversation with some of those who came from different parts of the United States, and who may be said to have been representative of different classes of people in the republic, than we could learn from years of reading with regard to the important problems that beset politics in that country. Some of those problems are of vital interest and importance to us in Australia. I think .there are, especially, two great lessons to be drawn from the present condition of things in the United States which bear directly upon our conditions here and upon the future of Australia. To any one who has considered the matter fully, and who has nad the opportunity of discussing it with those who have been recently amongst us, it must be apparent that whatever other questions may seem to press upon us, we should lay it down as a cardinal principle that no race that is not capable ot ultimate racial fusion with our people should be permitted to get a foothold in this continent of Australia. We see the terrible evils that have resulted from the state of things that has arisen in America. They had a very small beginning, but they have gradually imposed themselves upon the country, in such a way that they now present, if not an impossible problem, then certainly one of the most difficult problems which any great nation has ever had to deal with. I feel very strongly upon this matter. Even if the maintenance of the policy that is known as the White Australia policy should , involve a considerable retardation of the development of some of the northern areas of Australia, I believe it to be so essential that our people should be preserved as a homogeneous race that I, for one, am quite willing to accept the position that there must be that retardation if it is a condition necessary to the maintenance of the policy to which I refer. But I will say this, that those who, like myself, believe that the maintenance of that policy is essential, believe also that it is absolutely necessary that we should honestly and courageously tackle the two great problems of immigration and defence. These things are absolutely bound together with the maintenance of the White Australia policy. We should endeavour to raise our minds above all difficulties of detail which, no doubt, exist, however important they may appear to be, and try to realize the fact that if we are going to claim the rights of a nation we must take upon our shoulders the responsibilities of a nation.
– And pay for it.
– And pay for it. I shall have a little more to say about this later on. We should never forget that these three questions are inseparably bound up together, and that they involve upon this Parliament, and the people of this country, the assumption of a financial burden which may, and possibly will, involve greatly increased taxation. But they are essentially necessary to our progress and development if we are ever to be more than a mere scattered series of small communities such as we have been hitherto. If we are to raise this Federation into a real Federation, if we are ever to approach the realization of those ideals which the Prime Minister, amongst others, placed before the people of Australia, we must Be prepared to face a very much greater expenditure than we have hitherto considered necessary.
– The honorable member makes immigration and defence an indispensable condition of his support of the White Australia policy.
– Yes, absolutely. 1 repeat that immigration and defence are the only conditions upon which effect can be given to that policy.
– Then if we do not introduce the whites the honorable member is prepared to bring in the blacks?
– The honorable member for Adelaide has only recently entered this House, and he may not yet have had time to fully grasp the position which honorable members generally take up on this subject.
– Some of them take up so many positions.
– I do not know that that criticism is very just. We all change our positions and our opinions from time to time. I am quite prepared to acknowledge that I do, if that is what the honorable member means, but I do not think I have ever varied in the slightest from the view that four millions of people under existing modern conditions cannot hold a kind of paper sovereignty over a continent of such vast extent as Australia, and situated as it is, unless they assume the burden of settling the waste places as rapidly as that can reasonably be done with the kind of people who will be able to coalesce with themselves.
– Might I say that we may be as much in possession with 4,000,000 of people as we should be with 40,000,000. The point is that we must be able to maintain that possession.
– Precisely. What I mean by sovereignty is an actual effective possession. As honorable members are aware, we are in effective possession of a comparatively small strip of the continent of Australia. Every individual and every community in a human society owes some duty to other communities in that society, and one of our duties is that we must effectively occupy with human beings the portions of this country which we claim to possess.
– Does the honorable member believe that that involves the breaking up of big estates in. order that human beings may occupy them?
– I should say so. I do not know that I am called upon to discuss that question just now, but if I am asked my personal opinion, I say distinctly yes.
– The honorable member has said it before.
– I have said it before. I have mentioned one lesson which may be learned from the history and the immediate conditions of the United States of America. There is another question which, if not of equal importance, may become of the very greatest importance to Australia. The United States of America is called a democracy. In form of Government, it is a democracy, the ideal being government of the people by themselves.
– Government by trust.
– I am speaking of the form of Government. I say that it is a purely democratic method of government, and we have adopted it in Australia. We have deliberately adopted that Constitution as the mould for our own form of government. But no one can regard the present state of affairs in America without perceiving that democracy there is rapidly tending towards two extremes - anarchy and plutocracy. The power of great aggregations of money under the control of trusts and combines has grown so much of late years, and has brought about the employment of such methods, that it is driving a wedge into the very vitals of the political machine. There was handed to me yesterday, by one who had no idea that I intended to say anything in public on the subject, a magazine called The Petroleum Gazette. It speaks of itself as. an “ independent oil and gas journal,” and is a trade newspaper relating to those great industries. It contains a report of what it refers to as an important decision in Tennessee. Honorable members may read the details of the case for themselves; it is sufficient for me to say that it was proved to the satisfaction of the Court that a very powerful trust - the Standard Oil’ Company - successfully ousted the fair and legitimate competition of another company by the employment of bribery, intimidation of all kinds, and other illegal methods. The report also shows the extent to which local legislation for the checking of such practices has gone. The sections of the Act are too long to read, but their gist is that, where a corporation has violated the law by practices such as I have spoken of, it may be prohibited from further doing business in the States. Of course, that is going very far. We are not now dealing with anti-trust legislation, and I do not propose to even outline my views on the subject; but I should like to say, first, that, although the evil of trusts does not exist here, or is only in its infancy, I recognise that if our Government is to. be free from influences such as have grown to such gigantic proportions in the United States, we must devise much more effective anti-trust legislation than there is on our statute-book. I do not mean to say that our present legislation is not drastic. In some respects it is too drastic,. but in other particulars it is not drastic enough. When the matter is again brought forward, I shall detail my views in regard to it, and show where the present legislation seems to me ineffective, and how it could be made effective.
– The only way to deal successfully with trusts is to nationalize industries.
– Nationalization is to the honorable member what King Charles’ head was to Mr. Dick. I agree with him, and with some of the more outspoken journals which support his party, such as the Brisbane Worker, that all legislative attempts to regulate rates of wages, and to control industries, are mere palliatives; but, before we can have complete and effective machinery to guard us from the danger which is so menacing in America, it will be necessary to amend the Constitution to enable this Parliament to deal, not merely with the commerce between the States and withother countries, hut with commercial relations generally. Further, although for reasons which I hope in a few moments to lay before the (House, I am opposed to any attempt now to increase our powers by an amendment of the Constitution, I believe that, when the time comes, it will be wise to ask for the power to legislate in regard to not merely commercial relations, but probably also industrial relations generally. I did not intend to dwell on these points at such length; but the visit of those whom we have called our American cousins, and from whom we have had an opportunity of learning something about the actual conditions of things in their own land, must have impressed us all with the importance of these questions, with which, at some period of our career, we shall Have to grapple more effectively than we have yet done. I find in the very carefullyworded speech of the Governor- General - because, although the Ministerial programme is short, I venture to say that it has gone through the mill a good many times - the following statement relating to the new protection -
Recent decisions of the High Court render necessary the submission of an amendment of the Constitution relating to the “New Protection,” which will be laid before you when measures defining the Seat of Government and providing for National Defence are sufficiently advanced.
I agree with those who have criticised that statement on the score of its vagueness; but 1 think it a mistake to deal with a policy which is not yet before us. I would, however, refer for a moment to the rather remarkable explanatory memorandum placed before the House in December last, in which provision was made for the creation of a Board of three omniscient archangels, whose duty it would be to watch over the industrial interests of Australia, to see that the wage-earners got good wages, the manufacturers fair profits, and the consumers cheap wares - in other words, to bring about the industrial millennium. I do not suppose that we shall hear more of that scheme, and never regarded it as a serious political proposition.
– There the honorable member is wrong.
– I looked upon it as a rather highly-coloured balloon, sent up to amuse a House jaded with the discussion of the Tariff. It has been punctured in a good many places since then, and is now rather flabby.
– If ithas been punctured, it will not float.
– It will take more gas than the united efforts of Ministers are capable of to make it float again. When the Government bring forward serious proposals regarding the new protection, I suppose they will include the taking over, under an amendment of the Constitution, of some power of general control in regard to a portion, at all events, of industrial legislation.
– Why not the whole?
– Perhaps the whole; I suppose that is in the minds of Ministers. The need of dealing with the matter as it has been dealt with was due to the fact that the Constitution contains no direct power for legislating in regard to it. I have already made my views on the point clear. It may be necessary, at some future time, that we should possess the power of control in all industrial and commercial relations. But that is far from saying that it is desirable and justifiable for us now to attempt to wrench this power from States which are unwilling to cede it to us. It would be most disastrous if we used the power given to us to meet cases of extreme necessity in order to avoid the infinite evils which may threaten us, a power to be used in the last resort - that of amendment - simply to get Over a difficulty which a majority of honorable members have found in giving effect to their ideas;
– Why does the honorable member say that the power is to be used only in the last resort? Why should not the people express their will at any time?
– The convention which framed the Constitution was composed of the ablest men in Australia at the time, and, while we see many defects in that instrument, though we are not agreed as to what they are, the Constitution is, in the circumstances, as useful and as complete a one as it was possible to obtain.
Colonel Foxton. - In any case it embodies a contract.
– There is that view to be considered, that it is not merely an instrument of Government, but also a contract of partnership between the Commonwealth and the States.
– A contract containing a clause permitting of its own alteration !
– It is in the nature of a contract of partnership. Its framers did not intend to make it an instrument which could not be altered. They recognised, as the framers of the American Constitution recognised, that alterations might be necessary; but the restrictions which they placed upon the power of amendment show that they did not intend that the power of amendment was to be brought into play merely because the majority at any time could not succeed in giving effect to their wishes. Something far more important and serious - a far greater dislocation of the affairs of or danger to the Commonwealth - was to be necessary to bring it into action.
– The last amendment of that Constitution provided simply for an alteration in the date of general elections.
– To suit the Property Owners and Producers League.
– The framers of the Constitution have shown that they did recognise that a process of evolution would go on - that it was necessary that a process of evolution should go on in the course of which certain of the powers of the States might have to be transferred to the Commonwealth. They adopted what seems to me to have been an extremely wise provision to meet cases of the very class to which that now before us belongs. I refer to section 51, sub-section xxxvii., of the Constitution, which provides that this Parliament may make laws with regard to matters referred to it by the Parliament of any State or States. I would ask the Prime Minister whether the State Parliaments have been approached to ascertain whether they are willing or unwilling that we should take from them the right to exercise this power.
– Surely the people of the States should have the right to decide.
– The people must ultimately decide all these questions. Whether it be through the ordinary method of the ballot-box, in connexion with the return of members to this Parliament or to the State Parliaments, or whether it be by way of a referendum on a proposed amendment of the Constitution, the people must be the ultimate arbiters of every question of the kind. But that is not the exact point with which I was dealing. There are various ways of taking action, but the only course which one would have expected the Government to take is that it should have approached the Governments of the various States, and have asked them whether they were, or were not, prepared to invite their Parliaments to hand over to the Commonwealth Legislature the power to deal with industrial matters so far, at all events, as protected industries were concerned.
– There has been too much waiting on the State Parliaments.
– In some respects there must be.
– The action the honorable members suggests was taken.
– Then either we have no reason to believe that the States Governments have changed their minds, or the matter may be in doubt. If there is any reason to think that they have not changed their minds on this question, then we are asked to plunge the Commonwealth into the throes of a serious constitutional struggle in which we shall have the States Parliaments and States politicians arrayed against us.
– Has not Mr. Wade, the Premier of New South Wales, stated already that the States have declared war onthe Commonwealth ?
– I have not read that statement, and should be very sorry to hear that a Minister of the Crown in any of the States had uttered it.
– The statement was, published in a newspaper.
– In the Brisbane Worker?
– I am as strongly of opinion as is any” honorable member that there are cases in which we should not wait upon the States. We have, for instance, waited too much upon them in dealing with the financial question. That matter has been deliberately intrusted to us by the Constitution ; we represent the rights of the States as well as those of the Commonwealth, and our absolute duty is to do the best we can with it.
Sir John Forrest__ Should not the States Governments be asked to assist us ?
– We ought always to endeavour to find a harmonious way out rather than to attempt to force any one’s hand. What I hope we shall have before this proposed amendment of the Constitution is brought before the House, is a statement by the Prime Minister as to whether the State Governments have been approached with the view of ascertaining what their Parliaments would do.
– There has been no approach since that made during the first Parliament of the Commonwealth.
– If that be soand that approach was not a very successful one - we shall be asked, without seeking any further information, to throw down the gage of battle to the States. We shall be asked to say to them, “ We are going to attempt to wrench from your unwilling hands powers which you very much prefer to exercise for yourselves.” Has the lapse of time shown any reason for adopting such an attitude? Has the time arrived when we, as the responsible Parliament of the Commonwealth, should be asked to throw down that gage to the States ?
– The people decide the matter, we do not.
– And we are to hale the States and the States Parliaments before the ultimate tribunal of the Constitution. I once heard a statement made with regard to a matter of this sort which struck me as having a great deal of force. It was that we ought not to make the extreme medicine of the State its daily food. It is not the most wholesome kind of food. The Constitution itself has laid down a very fair extent of legislative subject-matter for us to deal with. How much have we dealt with? Instead of dealing with those questions which lie in the very forefront of the Constitution - placed before us as matters that we should deal with first of all - we have gone into the by-ways of the Constitution. We have entered upon legislation and have exercised powers that were em bodied in the contract of partnership only at the last moment as something that might ultimately be used. Upon those matters we have spent most of our time and energy. Now that some honorable members find that they cannot give effect to one of them according to their own ideas - the power to regulate wages, which no member of the Convention in his wildest dreams, nor any citizen of the Commonwealth at the time thought to be included in this scheme - we find them saying, “Let us amend the Constitution. Let us throw down the gage of battle to the States. Let us enter into a conflict, the end of which none of us can foresee.” But we all know that one of the outcomes of it will be political bitterness and discord, and that it will obscure and obstruct every effort of this Parliament to discharge the duties specially committed to it. There is only one other subject in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech to which , I intend to refer. I find, occupying fourth or fifth place, a subject which I think ought to have been mentioned first - the important proposals affecting the financial future of the Commonwealth. The very first question that we ought to have been asked to deal with is the settlement of our financial relations with the States. That settlement is necessary as the basis of our financial conduct of the future. Look at the subjects brought before us. I and others protested last session against the adoption of any scheme of old-age pensions without an attempt being made first of all to define the basis of our future financial relations with the ‘States. It is all very well for honorable members to say, as. I have heard them, “ We shall have a financial statement from the Treasurer in the ordinary course: let us wait for that.” In ordinary circumstances there may perhaps be some reason for taking up that position, because all that a representative assembly in that position has to do is to receive the accounts of the year, and provide for the expenditure of the year. When that has been done its ordinary duties are complete. But we are not dealing with ordinary yearly expenditure. “What we have been asked to deal with, and what we must be asked to deal with in connexion with measures that are immediately before us, are huge questions that involve the laying down of the lines that we are to follow in the future. We have to deal with questions relating not merely to the expenditure of this year or the next, but to financial and political obligations that will run in many cases for all time. I have only to point, by way of illustration, to the Old-age Pensions Bill which we passed last session, and by which we committed ourselves to a scheme that will certainly involve an expenditure of ,£1,500,000 a year. We are now to be asked to commit ourselves to the establishment of the Federal Capital. Unless we are dishonestly attacking the subj’ect-r-and I hope and believe we are not - the determination of that question must and ought to be followed immediately by proposals for a very large expenditure of money.
– Does the honorable member think that the Government really mean to settle that question?
– I say that, assuming we are honestly approaching the subject, the determination of the site of the Federal Capital must be followed by an expenditure of the money necessary to give effect to our decision. Then again, I may refer to the defence expenditure. We have not had from the Government any definite proposals, except those embodied in the speech made by the Prime Minister about a year ago. I am unable yet to ascertain, even approximately, from the terms of that speech, what increased expenditure the Government scheme will involve, but I think that the Prime Minister will admit that it will mean a very large increase.
– I showed exactly the expenditure that I believed, at the time, it would lead to.
– I thought at first that it was to be £400,000 per annum.
– It is rather less than more than that, I think.
– I do not want to ask the Prime Minister at this stage to commit himself in any way ; but, at any rate, the Government’s defence scheme will involve a large and permanent addition to our annual expenditure. Then again, towards the end of last session we passed “the Surplus Revenue Bill. Whatever difference of opinion there may be as to the constitutionality of that measure, I have never altered my opinion that it is within our power. The right honorable member for Swan and I may differ on that point, but can there be any difference of opinion as to the unwisdom of dealing with the question of surplus revenue separately and distinct from our financial arrangement with the States? Could there be any difference of opinion as to the unwisdom of the attitude we took up towards the States, when we said, in effect, to them, “ Now we are going to exercise this power; we are going to take away all your surpluses, even if our. action throws your immediate financial proposals into confusion.”
– The States had to find out what we intended to do.
– They did not know what was going to happen until the Bill was passed. I do not want to repeat what I said on a previous occasion, but perhaps the House will extend me its indulgence for a. minute or two whilst I reiterate the results of the position with which the people of this community are now faced. I may be pardoned for referring to the speech that I made only a few months ago; in which I laid before the House, not my own. figures, which might be open to cavil, but the estimates and figures of the Treasurer and of his officers. I showed then the results which those figures clearly foreshadowed. I shall now give only the results. Our revenue from Customs and Excise last year was, in round figures, £.12,000,000. The Treasurer, citing the reports of his own officers, stated that the revenue would decrease steadily as the result of the protective character of the Tariff, and it was estimated that before 19 10 the revenue would, apart from any increase of population,, be £2,000,000 less, or about £10,000,000. Assuming that the Post and Telegraph Department simply pays its way - and it cannot be asked to do more, or as much - we have £3,149,000, as the annual expenditure of the Commonwealth. That will leave, if the Treasurer’s estimate of the future revenue be correct, exactly the sum of £851,000 available for all purposes and all increases. What have we done? We have already passed a Bill which, if it is not to be a farce, or one of those measures which keep the promise to the ear and break it to the hope - if it is to be a real old-age pension scheme - will not only absorb the whole of the £851,000, but an additional £500,000. Then, there is required £300,000 or £400,000 on the score of defence. I am speaking now on the basis that we are going to return to the States only £6,000,000 a year, which the Treasurer said he would give them, and assuming that we retain the whole of the increase that may possibly come from the Customs ; and, further, we shall have in addition to pay them £450,000 in interest and sinking fund on transferred properties, unless we are going to settle with the States on the basis that we give them only £6,000,000 and make them hand over the transferred properties to us. Taking these items alone - and, I repeat, they are not my figures - and putting them against the £851,000, which the Treasurer anticipates to receive, we may, at the end of the next two years, expect to see £2, 350, 000 practically hypothecated or immediately to be hypothecated. And it must be observed that this makes no provision whatever for immigration.
– Nor the Northern Territory.
– Immigration is the question with which I desire to deal first. Are we to have a real or only a nominal policy of immigration - are we to have a real policy or only a nominal policy of spending, say, £25,000 in posters and in distributing illustrated tracts in Great Britain ? Are we to have a real policy like that which Canada has been carrying out for so long?
– If we do not, it will not be our fault.
– I am sincerely glad to hear that from the Prime Minister, but such a policy will cost not £25,000 but £250,000 a year.
– Has the honorable member ever known the Prime Minister to attempt anything without saying that if he did not do it, it would not be his fault?
– I am not now criticising the Prime Minister; all I want is some intelligible idea of whither we are going and how are we to get there. The honorable member for Franklin interjected about the Northern Territory, but I have left that matter out of my remarks because the contract seems to have fallen into abeyance.
– It has been accepted by the South Australian Parliament and by the Imperial Government.
– At any rate, the matter has not been pressed forward or brought before us for our consideration. Otherwise we should have the amazing fact that, in addition to the expenditure I have already indicated, we should have to meet according to the officers consulted by the Treasurer - not according to the Treasurer, because he declined to accept any personal responsibility - a further liability of nearly £500,000 a year. There is also the matter of the Transcontinental Railway, which will cost I do not know how much.
– Not much.
– There is just one other subject to which I desire to re- fer. All parties and all sides of the House have shown a strong desire to assist the iron industry, which certainly cannot be adequately encouraged by trifling little bounties. If we are to establish this industry, we must be prepared to do it on a largescale, and increase thereby our” financial obligations. I shall not take up the time of the House any longer in dealing with this matter. I must apologize for having been guilty of repeating myself, which I have done only because I feel strongly that the matter is one which ought to be kept before honorable members, as well as before the public, until it is settled. My principal criticism in regard to the speech of the Governor-General is that it has not placed in the forefront of the Government policy some scheme for the settlement of the financial relations of the States; and the Commonwealth. If there is a question we ought to deal with promptly, it is that of those financial relations ; because, before we can properly deal with any subject, that one of all others must be settled. We cannot cut our coat until we know how much cloth we have; and yet we are actually dealing with vast problems involving great future expenditure, in a lighthearted, irresponsible way, “ as if “ - to use Mark Twain’s expression - “ there were no hereafter.”
– The honorable member’s idea of a settlement ofthe finances is by agreement, is it not?
– No; I said, in the first speech I made in this House, that desirable as it may be to obtain agreement - and numerous attempts have been made to that end - the ultimate responsibility for a settlement rests with us, and I say so again. I do not think that we are very far from agreement ; but the time has come when we ought no longer to defer a definite understanding. Of course, the Premiers of the various States have, no doubt, to ask for as much as they think they can get ; and, for my own part, I think we ought to deal with them generously - a great deal more generously than in the scheme outlined by the Treasurer.
– It would be interesting to hear the honorable member on the nature of the settlement he would like us to arrive at.
– If a settlement were arrived at by agreement, would it not be competent for Parliament to alter that agreement ?
– If we passed an Act affirming such an agreement, it is not at all likely that Parliament would undo that Act. I do not think that the leader of the Labour Party is quite fair in asking me to outline at this stage a complete financial agreement.
– I should like to hear the honorable member outline a scheme he thinks better than that submitted by the Government.
– I should like an early opportunity to give more than an outline, but that I cannot do at the present moment. What I now say is that to allow this question to drift and drag until the last moment - right to the edge of the precipice - is the worst course this Parliament can adopt ; and I. believe that if we realize to the full extent our duty at ‘this moment to the people of Australia, we shall determine that this is the problem we should first attack, and that we should attack it in a spirit of honesty and courage.
.- The honorable and learned member for Flinders has made a most interesting speech, but I do not intend to traverse the arguments he has advanced. The honorable member probably laid most emphasis on the inadvisability of, at the present time, doing anything to alter the Constitution - that we ought rather to suffer our present ills than venture to alter the conditions.
– Why not give the complete quotation?
– The honorable member’s literary knowledge renders the complete quotation unnecessary. The honorable member for Flinders suggests that it was the intention of the framers that the Constitution should be altered, not readily, but only in cases of emergency. I do not contest that view for a moment, but I would point out that amongst those who took part in the Federal Convention, was Sir William McMillan, at one time acting leader of the Opposition, and he offered some remarks on the following motion submitted by Mr. - now Justice - Higgins -
That, in the opinion of this House, it is expedient for the Parliament of the Commonwealth to acquire (if the State _ Parliaments see fit to grant it, under section 51, sub-section (37) of the Constitution Act) full power to make laws for Australia as to wages and hours and conditions of labour.
The idea of this motion was that the States should be asked to agree to the granting to the Commonwealth power to make such laws. I make’ the honorable member a present of that, but it does not affect the question of Sir William McMillan’s views. That honorable gentleman said -
Since we met in the Federal Convention, which framed this Commonwealth Constitution, there has been a very considerable evolution of thought with regard to certain matters that were then discussed. I confess myself, by reflection, and by listening to arguments, to be more convinced than previously of the necessity of including certain powers in the Commonwealth which we decided to leave in the States.
That was said as early as June 28, 1901 -
I hold generally that everything that affects the rights and liberties - especially the industrial life of the community - ought to be in the hands of the national Parliament. I have seen, since that Convention, certain attempts at legislation in some of the local Parliaments. I am not going to say whether that legislation is sound or not, but it certainly is of such a far-reaching character with regard to the liberties of the people in their industrial life - and, after all, Australia is an industrial community - that I do not think those great subjects should be settled except by a national Parliament. . . . Anything that enters into the national life - the industrial life of the individual - anything that may affect a man’s liberty or his industrial interests, ought to be relegated to this Parliament.
– Was not Sir William McMillan saying it was desirable that the Parliament should have these powers?
– Certainly, and that in his opinion the framers of the Constitution had made a mistake in not including them. His remarks have a bearing on the intentions of the framers of the Constitution. He spoke for his party, the Opposition. Sir Edmund Barton, who spoke for the Government side of the House, also laid down the same proposition. He said he had come to the conclusion that the power of legislating on industrial matters should be in the hands of the national Parliament. His words were : -
That there ought to be such a power exercised, I am now convinced, and for this reason : that the grant of Inter-State free-trade, which follows the adoption of a uniform Tariff, is likely, in many_ respects, to be crippled, unless the Commonwealth has power to deal uniformly with the conditions of employment throughout Australia.
Then he went on to elaborate that argument, so that the leaders of both sides of the House declared that, although previously they had not been of that opinion, they saw the necessity, six weeks after the meeting of Parliament - as soon as they came to consider the practical bearing of industrial matters on Commonwealth legislation - of having uniformity, and had become convinced that they made a mistake in not putting in the Hands of the Federal Parliament full power to deal with the matter.
– Is the honorable member in favour of uniform wages in similar industries all over Australia?
– I did not say so. It does not follow because I used the word “ uniformity “ that I believe in what the honorable member understands by the word. I did not say I was in favour of uniformity. I said the leaders of both sides of the House declared that in their opinion the Federal Convention had made a mistake in not giving this power to the Parliament. I did not necessarily say that there should be uniformity. That is another matter. I do not believe in uniformity, if the honorable member wants to know, but I believe in this Parliament having the control of the subject, so that an absolute absence of uniformity which is disadvantageous to the community shall not be allowed to continue. We should certainly have uniformity in some matters, although we do not want it all round in industrial legislation. I do not mean that the wages in Kalgoorlie, for instance, must necessarily be the same as they are in Melbourne.
– I wanted to know whether the honorable member believed in uniformity in a manufacturing industry, for example, where the employers were competing with one another.
– It would depend on the circumstances. I believe that there should be the same governmental machine for controlling wages in each State - not that the wages or the hours should be uniform, but that the same control should exist in all States. We can, and do, have now such varying conditions that there is no Inter-State free-trade at all. Arguments such as the honorable member for Flinders used this afternoon as to the desirability of retaining the Constitution unaltered as long as we can, will not prevent the people of Australia from altering it when they find that it hampers them in carrying out the desires of the majority. The government of Australia has been placed in the hands of a majority of the people, and unquestionably when they find that they are hampered by the written terms of the Constitution, they will alter’ it to suit varying conditions as they arise. No other form of government is a free one. No form that fetters us and prevents us from acting promptly whenever the necessity arises, is a free government at all. I rose, however, to speak of one item only appearing on the list placed before us of proposals for consideration during this session. I wish to urge the Government not to allow anything to interfere with the earliest possible placing of the Northern Territory agreement before this House for decision. Honorable members will readily understand that in the present position of. the Territory, with the question of ownership unsettled, its development is altogether suspended. While we talk about the necessity for increased population, and coin pretty phrases about peopling the huge unsettled areas of Australia, we ought to recollect that this Parliament is itself retarding the settlement of about one-tenth, or even more of the whole continent by hanging up this agreement.
– It has not been hung up-.
– It is hung up temporarily.. It was entered into between the Prime Minister and the Premier of South Australia before the conclusion of the last session of this Parliament. It was not considered last session, and I dare say there were good reasons why it should not have been.
– It had not been .considered by South Australia until last session, and it was only assented . to in March.
– Still it was put through the South Australia Parliament much earlier than that - at the end of the previous year. There was, of course, no question about the Royal assent being given. However, I am not complaining, and, so far, I have no right to complain, that the Government have taken up the attitude of suspending the matter, but I have noticed that, in regard to many questions the Age frequently speaks, I will not say with authority, but as if inspired, and I observed with some consternation a paragraph in the Age of a little while ago suggesting that the Northern Territory agreement would be one of the slaughtered innocents of the session - that it should be held over until next session, because of the many other matters of great import that had to be attended to. The question of deciding the fate of the agreement, so that either we can attempt to settle the Territory, or that South Australia will understand that it is her duty to do so, is of paramount importance. There is that huge area locked up now, and nothing can be done in it until the decision of this Parliament is given for or against the agreement. Important as is the question of defence, important as are all these other questions, the settlement of that vast Territory is complementary to any defence scheme, and even to any immigration scheme. Undoubtedly there is need for land to be thrown open to the public in the southern and eastern portions of Australia, but here the Commonwealth is offered some 500,000 odd square miles of country, of which it will have absolutely full control, and in the apportionment of which it can undertake any system of immigration that it chooses. I therefore put it to the Government that not a. day ought to elapse before the matter is submitted for the consideration of the House when the questions which it is absolutely essential to deal with immediately have been got out of the way. In fact, the fate of” the Federal Capital site seems somewhat small in importance compared with that of the Northern Territory. However, it has been decided that that question shall take precedence, and I ask the Government to bring this question on as early as possible afterwards, so that the House may have an opportunity of settling it.
– The agreement will have to he modified a great deal before the House will accept it.
– I do not want to discuss the terms of the agreement now. I wish the Government to bring it forward so that it may be debated and decided.’ It is rather unfair to- the Premier of South Australia to let the matter stand over, because he has been pestered by capitalists and syndicate mongers who want to get a slice of that country, and who are only too anxious to administer it as a chartered company or in some capacity of that kind. They will build a railway through it or do anything else if they can only get hold of 4he land.
– He ought to let them have it.
– I know the honorable member has some very reactionary ideas.
– Let us go ahead.
– The effect would rather be “ Let us go out.” It would be handing over the country, as America has been largely handed over, to trusts, against which the honorable member for Flinders spoke so eloquently this afternoon. I urgethe Government once more to bring the matter forward at the earliest possible moment.
.- It is the custom for those who address you on this motion, Mr. Speaker, to first draw attention to the fact that an American Fleet has visited us. Every honorable member who has taken part in this debate has made use of the American Fleet as an introduction to his remarks. The visit of the American Fleet was answerable today for a very strong pronouncement by the honorable member for Flinders. In fact, it is the strongest one that, he has made since he became a member of the House. I expected before he concluded to hear that at last we had thrown into our political life another able and eloquent radical. That was the impression which I formed in the first instance. When he said that his conversations with the Jackies from Georgia and his cousins from some other State led him to take a very strong stand in regard to defence, immigration, and kindred matters, and pronounced most radical views upon them, I was on the point of cheering him to the echo ; but for once in my life I exercised a little caution.’ I thought that he intended to announce himself as the quondam friend of the present Prime Minister, and one of the most ardent radicals which this Chamber has ever contained.. If he had stopped at his references to White Australia and to the necessity for active legislation - the outcomings of his conversation with his cousins from America - if he had stopped at that, then, indeed, this House would have- had much to be thankful for. But afterwards he watered away his pronouncement by remarks about the ideas of those who sat in the first Federal Convention, and theideas of the Constitution itself, suggesting that we must not hurry along in these matters. All his fears were dissipated by his reverence for the framers of the Constitution and his absolute veneration for the
Constitution itself. I am satisfied that the invitation to the American Fleet to visit Australia was a happy idea. I was well pleased that, in all his public utterances the representative of that Fleet showed that he was as skilled in the political movements of the world as in matters of warfare. We all know that that famous admiral was the representative of the United States at the Hague Convention. He is noted for his literary’ ability, and there is good reason to speculate that in the references he made in such a diplomatic manner to Great Britain, Ihe spoke as the mouthpiece of the great republic. That is the view which 1 as an Australian take of his utterances, knowing his great career. Since the newspapers and the Prime Minister have referred in eloquent terms to the Peace Armada of the world, it may not be a vain speculation for me to suggest that when we find America, through the mouth of this great admiral, going out of its way to compliment ‘Great Britain, and practically the British Empire - a most unusual thing to do - it is a sign of a good feeling existing between the governing force in the United States and the governing force in Great Britain to-day. I believe that his statements will meet with ready approval from millions of his own people, because I am satisfied that he would not be foolish enough to utter those sentiments unless he spoke with the authority of the governing power of the United States. If that speculation is not a vain one, I hope that by the time the American Fleet has completed its tour of the world Great Britain itself will have been the means of bringing about an alliance between the two countries for the purpose of insuring the world’s peace. I certainly hope to see that result achieved. As references have been made to the great power-, Germany, let me say that it might be a very fitting thing if Great Britain could secure an alliance with the United States if only for the purpose of showing Germany that at last the time has arrived when the white races of the world, instead of struggling for supremacy and power, should be allied against the great dangers which they anticipate in the very near future. I hope to live to see, as the outcome of the visit of the American Fleet to Australia, this step in foreign policy taken. It is one which I know, in the near future, we shall be compelled to take so far as the southern seas are concerned. I am satisfied that
Australia will have to play a very important part in regard to those whopeople the southern seas. In fact, she will have to play in those seasthe. part which Great Britain hasplayed in the northern seas. Knowing that America, France, and Germany have their own colonies and stations in the southern, seas, and aTe, at any moment, likely to cause trouble and danger to Australia, I think that one of the great necessities of the Commonwealth, in the near future, will be to drop ordinary provincial politics, and to take a very high stand in regard to matters of foreign policy, so far as they affect the southern seas. That being so,, sir, I hope that my little dream or speculation will be just as acceptable as someof the compliments which were paid, and, probably, deservedly paid, in regard tothe visit of the American Fleet. Certainly, as an Australian, I was glad to see the battleships here. I was pleased to notice that the -people of Australia required1 no adventitious aid to arouse their sentiment. Somehow or other a chord of feeling seemed to be touched immediately by the presence of the Fleet. I think that the people realize that the age of warfare and trouble, so far as we are concerned, is within a reasonable distance of being brought to an end. I believethat if the United States and Great Britain were allied for this specific purpose,, it would go a good way to show Germany and other envious powers that the game isplayed out, and that the best thing they can now do is to come in and make an arrangement for the protection of the white races of the globe. That is all I wish to say in that regard, only regretting that the British authorities did not, as I suggested on several occasions last session, see that Great Britain was properly represented in our waters during the visit of the American Fleet. We can very well afford’ to wait a little while to see a naval demonstration in our waters, but I do hopethat within two or three years Great Britain will seize a favorable opportunity tobe represented in our waters in greater strength than has hitherto been the case. The Governor-General’s Speech reminds me of the drop curtain in the theatre. Probably, sir, you have been to a theatre onseveral occasions, and observed that scenic artists display their ability in different waysat certain times. In your early childhood* the drop curtain was noted for its startling; colours but in later times we have become more aesthetic, and are accustomed to see a curtain in less glowing tints. Now I regard the Prime Minister as one of the keenest statecraftsmen in the House. I am .not one of those who think that he is simply an orator - a man who merely captivates the general public by his oratory ; but I am one of those who think that he is about as lynx-eyed as any man in the Commonwealth to-day. I do not consider that he requires any assistance from any colleague in statecraft. He gauges the practical turn of affairs with very good effect. On his utterances, I am compelled to give support to most of his measures for the simple reason that they are based on radical ideas. Until I am led to believe that the measures are not radical in their purpose, I am compelled to give him my support. I certainly think that today, if there is any_ room for hilarity, it must be within his breast at the thought that he and fourteen supporters are being kept in power by an organized body with twenty-eight members. It seems to me that we cannot alter the existing state of affairs, and if the Labour Party is satisfied, that is their concern, not mine. I take it that if they can get from the Prime Minister the measures which they were sent here to obtain, they will support him. If I read correctly the intention of my constituents, I have no other course open to me than to vote for his radical measures. By instinct, and by association, I am a radical, and in policy I shall remain one. My electorate is peopled by persons with a purely radical turn of thought, and they require a policy moulded in that direction.
– If the honorable member gets a united opposition, his associations will not be radical.
– So far, I have been able lo take care of myself, and will try to do so for the next few years. It is not a pleasant thing for a man to be always battling alone. It requires a little more courage for a man to go alone, and to fight his own people, even if they think that he is wrong, than to work with men in packs or in organizations. I concede to the Labour Party no patent rights in legislation. If you, sir, or I, choose to favour a measure, there is no copyright in it as regards the Ministerial party, or the Opposition party, or the Labour party. The latter have not attained to such altitudes that, out of their inner consciousness or know ledge, they have been able to frame any legislation to which they- can claim patent rights. I simply support measures in which I believe. In my parliamentary experience, extending over fifteen years, my difficulty has been to get’ my friends in my electorate to keep abreast with me in radical thought. In voting for the measures now indicated, I shall, to my way of thinking, be doing the best that I possibly can for the Australia of to-day and the Australia of the future. The .honorable member for Flinders, whilst leading us to believe that the visit of the American Fleet had induced him to entertain a certain view, urged that we should be careful not to take too drastic action for fear of the consequences, although he declared that we could not afford to shut our eyes to the questions of defence and immigration. He affirmed that in connexion with these matters, immediate action was imperative. I thoroughly agree with his statement that immigration is necessary for an adequate defence policy. But, as these questions are co-related, may I suggest that it would be idle to legislate in regard to them if we are unable to absorb all immigrants upon their arrival. That is the hurdle which the honorable member for Flinders feared- to take. He took the first two hurdles, but hesitated at the third. If Australia is to be aroused from her present lethargic state - if we are to embark upon an* active defence policy - that policy must be accompanied by a vigorous immigration scheme. Unquestionably the two chief problems before this Parliament are those of defence and immigration, but it would be absurd to invite immigrants to come to our shores if we cannot profitably absorb them upon their arrival. Now the only way in which they can be absorbed is by settling them upon the land. Last year Canada put 30,000,000 acres upon the market at 12s. 6d. per acre.
– And yet only 10 per cent, of the immigrants into Canada took up land.
– The honorable member.is anticipating me somewhat. Even if only 10 per cent, of them took up land, he must recollect that there were 30,000,000 acres available for those who desired it.
– Ninety per cent, of the immigrants into Canada last year sought employment in various capacities.
– Even though only a small section may have settled upon the land as producers, that section must have opened up avenues of employment which absorbed the energies of thousands of others. The old axiom that the city lives upon the country is applicable to national affairs. The safety of Australia rests upon the adoption of an advanced defence policy and upon the encouragement of immigration. What is necessary is the steady influx of a desirable class of immigrants. But when they have reached our shores, how are we to provide for them? I am thoroughly satisfied that sooner or later - in order to accomplish our ends - we shall have to impinge upon the State powers. We shall have to appeal to the people for a further grant of power than is contained in the Constitution. You, sir, are no doubt proud of your earlier association with the Federal movement, but I take it that your pride does not obscure your mental vision to the extent of inducing you to argue that upon no account ought the Constitution to be altered. No doubt at the time that instrument of government was being framed, you voted in certain directions in which - in the light of your experience of the States under Federation - you would not feel justified in voting today. You would doubtless be inclined to take a more radical stand now than you did nine or ten years ago. The framers of our Constitution, were the ablest men in the public life of their time, and, as an Australian, I am quite prepared to give them every credit for the work which they did. But, if it can be shown that the Constitution is not sufficiently elastic, or that it imposes a barrier to radical advancement, I hold that it ought to be amended. The caution exhibited by the honorable member for Flinders need not be exercised in this connexion, because the power which breathed into the ‘Constitution the breath of life, can also breathe into it added vitality. This Parliament cannot thrust upon the electors something which they do not desire. It can only ask them for power to amend the ‘Constitution in certain directions. We must all recognise that the States. Parliaments and the States Premiers are extremely jealous of the power which we exercise. They realize that the more the Commonwealth wins the appreciation of the public, the weaker must become their own positions. If the people are incensed at the action of this Parliament, if they think that our legislation is too drastic, and that those who enacted it en1tertain ideas of loo revolutionary a character, they can send us about our business. If I misinterpret the feelings of my constituents, will they not give me my political quietus at the proper time? The Prime Minister who takes the responsibility of recommending to the people an amendment of the Constitution has a big fight before him. But, personally, I would rather see him adopt that course than attempt to achieve his end by some halfhearted legislation. Not very long- ago the Premier of New South Wales threatened that any honorable member of this Parliament who supported the passing of the Surplus Revenue Bill would receive his vigorous opposition at the next general election. I resent his attempt to intimidate us, and I am quite prepared to justify my, action in supporting an amendment of the Constitution to enable us to give effect to the policy of the new protection. I am perfectly willing to accept my full responsibility in this matter. Irrespective of whether or not I may be in this Parliament, I shall always adopt the view which I should entertain if I were an ordinary elector. So long as I live, those who advocate radical politics will receive my support, in the interests of my family. I am convinced that the electors of the Commonwealth require more, instead of less, freedom in regard to these matters.. It is idle for honorable members to declare that they favour the policy of the new protection if they will not consent to an amendment, of the Constitution to give effect to it. I am very pleased to think that the Government intend to push forward that policy. I declared myself in favour of it from the very outset, and I am determined that the majority of the taxpayers shall obtain some benefit from the high protective Tariff which we have imposed. I intend to exhaust every possible means to make the new protection effective. 1 arn” very glad that this new idea of economics has been” brought forward. I have heard some honorable members discourse lengthily upon the High Court. I fail to see why that tribunal should be regarded as a fetish any more than should this Parliament. The Commonwealth Parliament is, for the time being, the instrument of the people, just as is the High Court. I think that their decision in the excise case was an interpretation of the law which did -not affect the powers of this Parliament under the Constitution.
– One of the provisions of the Excise Act conflicted with the Constitution.
– I do not see why the High Court should be invested with the halo of dignity that some people attach to it. I would remind honorable members that two Judges decided in favour of the constitutionality of the Act and there were two on the other side, whilst the fifth Judge, the Chief Justice, agreed with those of his colleagues who considered that the measure was not constitutional. So that to-day Australia stands in the position of being ruled, as far as these matters are concerned, by one who is, no doubt, an eminent man, but who has no claim to be regarded as infallible. I allude to the Chief Justice of Australia, Sir Samuel Griffith. Mr. Justice Higgins and Mr. Justice Isaacs held one view, whilst Mr. Justice Barton and Mr. Justice O’Connor held the opposite. The one side has just as much right to be respected as the other. I pay my small tribute of admiration to the abilities of the Chief Justice. I am proud that we have such an able jurist as Sir Samuel Griffith to preside over the High Court, and am glad that Australia has been able to produce such a man. But that is no reason why we should bow down and worship his decision. Parliament is surely not going to rest upon that. According to the present interpretation of the law we cannot go any further. Consequently, we must appeal to the people to allow the Constitution to be altered so that the decision of one man may not govern industrial matters in Australia. I am sure that Sir Samuel Griffith does not desire that that should be the case. No doubt a case will be made out against the authority which this Parliament has exercised in this and other matters. It will be put to the public that the Commonwealth, in regard to the Surplus Revenue Bill, is endeavouring to rob the States of monetary advantage. It will be said to them, “ Do not let the Commonwealth get hold of your money or you will never hear any more of it.” Those who submit that view will not tell the public, however, that the Commonwealth Parliament wants the money in order to enable it to perform certain work which the States now perform. In whatever way we look at the matter there is going to be a pretty stiff fight, and we may as well haveit now as later on. All my influence willbe given in the direction of extending our powers. We shall have to ask the public to remember that if we return money tothe States the citizens themselves get none of it. The State Treasurers spend it through State Departments. I am very glad to see that the navigation laws are to be dealt with by this Parliament. That is a matter as to winchthere is very good ground for radical reform on the part of the Commonwealth. As to defence, I hope that the Minister will put an end to the sectional system in regard to the cadets. A little while agoI read in the newspapers a statement to theeffect that the honorable gentleman said’ that he intended to ma.ke some alteration. I wish to put the matter quite frankly. The reference was with regard to the Roman Catholic body having certain corps of cadets of their own. My objection to that system goes further than the Minister’s. This is a democratic country, and our cadet system and the defence system generally must be upon a democratic basis. There must be no sectarianism, and noclass distinction amongst the cadets. Why should the Scotch College, Wesley College, and the other public schools, as they are called in Victoria - we call them private schools in New South Wales - have their own cadet corDS?
– They do not. The rule laid down is this : It is purely a questionof locality and of the size of the corps. We know nothing about sections and classes.
– The Minister tells us that it is a matter of locality.
– I laid it down specifically that there was to be no such thing as thehonorable member describes.
– Yet in Sydney they have their Grammar School cadets, and there are cadet corps at other schools.-
– But they all form part of particular battalions.
– They do not all drill in the same battalion. I do not want to have any distinction in defence matters at all.
– There are twelve companiesto a battalion, and when the twelve companies are complete, we start another battalion.
– I am not referring to the grouping system, but to the fact that in connexion with our cadets we do not want to have any differentiation between classes -and denominations.
– There will not be any.
– I remind the House that if we are going to strengthen our defences, we must be prepared to pay for it. 1 should like to know where the Government are going to get the money with which to pay for the proposed increase of our defence forces. They will have to take up a radical’ stand. Now that the- Commonwealth is committed to a defence :system and an immigration policy that will involve larger expenditure, I am prepared to look out for other means of raising taxation. It is all very well to say: “Put the whole of Australia under arms,” and to ask the rank and file to serve as citizen soldiers under a system of universal training. But the wealthy part of the community will have to pay its share of the cost of protection. They cannot expect the increased expenditure to be met out of Customs and Excise revenue. We shall also have to pay more for our naval defence. Personally, 1 should prefer to see an increase of the naval subsidy. One of the best ways of securing adequate naval defence ig to pay a large subsidy to the Imperial authorities to increase the strength of the British squadron in our waters. But where are we going to look for increased revenue? I can see quite plainly what matters are coming to in the near future, and I can tell the House that when it comes to “ a question of raising revenue for such purposes as these he will have to be a pretty strong radical who can outradical me. As some of the States have surrendered their income tax, it would be a good thing for the Commonwealth to consider whether it would not be wise to impose a general income tax for these purposes. In New South Wales, when the State- Treasurer was able to relieve the people of taxation, he did not remove burdens from the poorer classes, but from the well-to-do by repealing the income tax. If New South Wales can db without an income tax for State purposes, it might be a fair thing for the Commonwealth to reimpose it to raise revenue for defence purposes.
– Other States have not surrendered their income tax.
– No; but some of them can, afford to do so. My view is, I know, a radical one, and I advance it with great respect to those on my own side of the House who differ from me. I take this opportunity of saying that I do not wish to pretend to share the views of those from whom I differ on many such points. I would rather go out of public life altogether than bend in my attitude on these matters. As to political parties, any one- who studies this House must come to the- conclusion that there is but one well-defined1 party here, and that is the Labour Party. But in the Labour Party there is no room for individuality, and consequently no room for a man like- me. I like progress, but not at the expense of what I consider to be essential for the advancement of a nation, and that is individuality. Still, however, the Labour Party is the only party in this House that has a definite objective with definite rules. We cannot say that the party behind the Prime Minister has a definite political programme. On this side of the House we have many men holding many different views. I respect them all, but they cannot expect me to hold the same opinions on all subjects as they do. All that I hope is that if the Prime Minister continues to hold office - and I believe that he has statecraft enough to take advantage of the situation - he will continue to put forward a progressive programme. His method is to put a programme up for auction. He says, “ Here are so many proposals to be knocked down to the highest bidder ‘ ‘ ; and if the measures mentioned in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech cannot be carried out, he drops them. Of course, if those honorable members who are now on this side of the House occupied the- Ministerial benches they would follow exactly the- same scheme. I have watched them for years, and theonly thing I am sorry about is that they are not in a position to do it. This is not a time for the airing of personal” preferences, but I may say that there are some members on this side of the chamber to serve whom I would willingly travel many miles, though there are others in regard to whom I’ would travel miles in the opposite direction. It is a sort of “go as you please “ over here, and I am goingas I please in a radical direction. If I were to do otherwise my political career would be a living lie. As far as radical and democratic views are concerned, I give place to no member of the Labour Party.
– The honorable member ought to be with us.
– I should not have the freedom that I value if I were, though no doubt I should have an easier political battle in front of me than I shall have under present circumstances.
– I doubt whether the honorable member would have an easier time of it.
– I do hot think that the deputy leader of the Opposition writes me down as an idiot in political matters. I think that I can detect the gleam of a lighthouse as quickly as most men, and it would be odd if I could not, after having been so long under the tuition of the honorable member for Parramatta. I really believe that the Prime Minister is a democrat at heart. He has a good thing on hand, and as long as he comes down to this House with a democratic programme he need not bother about the Labour Party. They will have to support him. They can do nothing else. But if he should fail to present democratic measures there will be trouble. There are many members on this side of the chamber who are radicals by instinct.
– There are some good old conservatives over there, too.
– There are also some conservatives in the Labour Party. I would remind the honorable member that there are some in that party who call themselves radicals, but who in their habits and tastes adapt themselves very closely to conservatism.
– But all the members of our party are pledged to a radical programme.
– Some of the members on this side of the chamber are also pledged to a radical programme. In my opinion democratic feeling must be an instinct with, a man, and he should be prepared to resign public life rather than give up his democratic views. I do not wish to be vainglorious, but I may say that a much’ easier and more comfortable course for me has been pointed out by honorable members on this side than that which I have chosen to pursue, although it would be against my democratic instincts. The mere carrying of a resolution or. the submission of certain measures do not make a. democrat
– A mere programme does not make a democrat.
– That is so; but I consider the Prime Minister’s programme a democratic one, and where it is not so I shall be prepared to make it as democratic as possible. I believe that the public of Australia generally regard the Prime Minister as a courageous man, and are only waiting for him to give effect to his programme.
.- With the last speaker, I do not believe that the last word has been said on a subject when the High Court has given a decision upon it. I am aware that since the High Court pronounced decisions on the new protection policy and the workers’ trade mark, there has been a little criticism by members of this House, and by people outside. I judge from questions asked here, and from comments made outside, that an idea must be growing that the High Court is beyond criticism, and that once the Justices of that Court have delivered a judgment, no one is free to criticise it. If that idea is gaining currency I should like to say that I, for one, am not prepared to subscribe to it. A Judge is no more free from criticism than is a Treasurer after he has delivered his financial statement. Whilst a case is sub judice no criticism is permitted, but that rule is in the interests of litigants, that an unbiased decision may be arrived at, and is not in the interests of the Judges. I understand that in all British communities it is recognised that the King on his Throne, as well as the humblest in the land, is subject to criticism.
– There is this distinction between a Justice of the High Court and the Treasurer - the Treasurer is here to answer criticism, whilst the Justice cannot do so.
– Do we refrain from criticism because the person whom we desire to criticise is not present to answer? So far. as I know, though the press criticises members of Parliament, newspaper proprietors are not very anxious to give them an opportunity to answer their criticisms. I am sure that in the course of our electioneering speeches we do not, because our criticisms may not be answered, refrain from criticising each other.
– I am sorry the honorable member does not make a greater distinction. To my mind there is a very wide difference between the position of a Judge and a Treasurer. I am not saying that a Judge should not be subject to criticism.
– During an election in New South Wales, about four years ago, the
Chief Justice of the State delivered a very strong expression of opinion upon the Arbitration Act, which was held by every one at the time to be a political utterance. In the following week he was lampooned in the Bulletin, and replied to from every platform in the land, and very properly so. I venture to say that he would be the last man to claim that his judgment was free from criticism. If the judgments of the High Court are not to be subject to criticism, we ha.ve set up a tribunal with more power than, so far as I know, has been claimed for Judges in England, or in any other English-speaking community. I assert the right of the leader of the Labour Party to criticise, adversely if he pleases, the decisions of the High Court, and I agree absolutely with his statement that Judge-made law goes against the workers. I propose, very briefly, to trace the development of one or two of our common law doctrines to show, if I can, that when Judges have been intrusted with the power of making laws or of declaring the law they have set up principles that have always worked in favour of the employing class and against the working classes.
– Does the honorable member say that they have done so wilfully?
– I am not concerned with whether they have done so wilfully or not ; the fact that they have done so is what I propose to establish. It may be only a coincidence that during the whole of the last century judge-made “law has been in the direction indicated. I may be told that that will be met by a coincidence during the next century when the declarations of the Judges will operate in favour of the working class, but I shall not believe that until I see it.
– What about the late Chief Justice Higinbotham? Was he not a great advocate of the worker?
– If the honorable member says that he was I am prepared to admit it. I propose to refer to a portion of the law of the land for which we are indebted, not to Parliament, but to the Judges. In order to show that it is by no means incumbent upon honorable members who have the interests of the worker at heart to leave to the Judges the last word in deciding what should be the law, I take, for example, the development of the very welknown common law doctrine enabling employers to evade their responsibility. I refer to the doctrine .of common, employment. Since the earliest history of the English Courts, it has .been held, as a general rule, that every man is responsible, not only for his own acts, but for. the acts of his servants. We must go back centuries to discover when that principle was established. I allude to’ that now to show that whilst- that is the general principle, specific exceptions are made when it is applied to workers, and they are robbed of the rights to which they would be entitled upon the enforcement of that principle. Respondeat superior - let the master answer - is the general rule, but when the rule is applied to workers a specific exception is made. I understand that the honorable member for Robertson owns a motor car, and if, whilst I am walking down the street, the car runs over me, even though the honorable member is not in it, he must pay me compensation.
– Only if the driver is on the honorable member’s business - not if he is out for a jaunt himself.
– The point I wish to make is that the owner of the motor car would only be compelled to pay me compensation if I did not happen to be a fellow servant of the driver of the car. If I were a fellow servant of the driver of the car I would, in common law, have no claim for compensation against the owner of the car.
– If the honorable member were a fellow servant working at the same work.
– And as the honorable member knows, the very broadest interpretation is put upon the term “ common employment.” Will the honorable member contend that if I were a fellow servant of the driver of the car the owner would be liable to pay me compensation?
– If the honorable member were a fellow servant out for a walk and was not engaged on the motor car.
– If I were a worker in a factory and my leg was broken because the owner of the factory employed unskilled servants, as a fellow servant I should get no compensation for injury. That has been laid down since 1850.-
– What case does the honorable member quote?
– I propose to quote a leading case on this subject in 1850 - Hutchinson versus the. York, Newcastle and Berwick Railway Company.
– The Employers’ Liability Act has been passed since then.
– That is a parliamentary law. I am showing that laws which are made by Judges operate against the workers. In the case to which I have referred Baron Alderson, in making the. exception in the case of a’ fellow servant, gave this as the explanation -
He knew when he engaged in the service that he was exposed to the risks of injury, not only from his own want of skill and care, but also from the want of it on the part of his fellow servants ; and he must be supposed to have contracted on the terms that as between himself and his master he would run this risk.
– On the ground that it is an implied condition of the service?
– Implied conditions are always read into it.
– What chance would any man have of employment who sought to avoid that condition ?
– Is this not rather an antediluvian argument, when it is not the law now ?
– I am contending that when Judges make a declaration of the law, we are not bound to accept it without question. I propose further to contend that it is the duty of this Parliament to correct the decisions of the High Court as the Parliament of England corrected the decision to which I have referred. I have pointed out that Judges have laid down the principle that a man seeking employment must take certain risks. Suppose a man seeking employment at a factory were to say, when told that he would be taken on, “ What sort of managers have you here - are they very careful? What sort of machinery have you j is there any danger of accident ? If so I must be paid an extra wage because of the extra risk.” What chance of employment would that man have?
– No one objects to the law being altered if the Parliament approves of the alteration.
– I shall show directly that even when the law to which I have referred was altered, extraordinary decisions were given by Judges with the object of reverting to the common law doctrine previously laid down. This shows that Judge-made law has been against the workers, and the leader of the Labour Party said no more than that; but because he said that we have the deputy leader of the Opposition asking the Prime Minister if he proposes to deal with the leader of the Labour Party for what he said. Efforts were made from time to time to correct the decision to which I have referred, arid in 1880 the Employers Liability Bill was brought in to remedy the obvious injustice which had resulted from this common law doctrine. Parliament sought to make it the law of the land that a man, who was a fellow employ^ of another, should not suffer any disability by the fact of his fellow-employment. The doctrine of common employment was to pass away, .and the workman was to be placed’ in the same position as a stranger, the employer having to answer for the wrongful acts of his servant. This became law, and the Act itself then came up for judicial interpretation, I wish honorable members, particularly those who seem bent on following the High Court, to notice the extraordinary decisions which were given by Judges in their efforts to get back to the old state of affairs, by which workers were penalized, and employers protected. The Court had to decide what was a “workman,” and proceeded to lay down a number of exceptions. The first case concerned a bus conductor, and the question raised was whether a ‘bus conductor was a “workman” or not. If he was, he would be entitled to the advantages of the provision in the Employers Liability Act that a workman should be in the same position as a stranger. If he was not, he would be robbed of those advantages. The case was Morgan v. The. London General Omnibus Company. I ask honorable members to notice the reasoning by which the learned Judges of England came to the conclusion that a ‘bus conductor was not a worker–, and that is the law in Australia to-day* Mr. Justice Brett, Master of the Rolls, said -
As to the conductor of an omnibus, I cannot think that he falls within any of the classes enumerated : he is not “ engaged in manual labour,” he does not lift the passengers into and out of the omnibus; it is true that he may help to change the horses, but his real and substantial business is to invite persons to enter the omnibus and to take and keep for his employers the money paid by the passengers as their fares.
No doubt it is very gratifying to al ‘bus conductor to learn that he is not a workman. That case, once established, opened the door for a score of other exceptions. If a ‘bus conductor was not a, workman, a number of other men could not be workmen either, and therefore could not obtain the benefits of the Act. The next decision was that a tram driver was not a workman. Under the provision of the Employers Liability Act it was an advantage to be a workman, but none of the men I have mentioned were workmen, according to the learned Judges.
– Did not the Act give a definition of the term “workman”?
– The Act gave an interpretation, and the Judges interpreted the Act. Mv main contention is that when the Judges give interpretations, they give them against the worker. They laid it down that a tram driver was not a workman ; also that a shop assistant, a hairdresser, and a grocer’s assistant were not workmen. None of those men are workmen when there are advantages to be gained from being workmen.
– Does the honorable member say that the Judges refused to regard those men as workmen because there were advantages to be gained from their being regarded as workmen? I object to the Courts being charged with bias.
– The honorable member may object as much as he likes, but if an Act had been passed providing that any workman who went on strike should be put in gaol for a month, and the tram drivers, bus conductors, and shop assistants, all struck, does the honorable member think that the Judges would have refused then to regard them as workmen?
– I think the Judges would have given quite as honest an interpretation of what they really thought the Act meant in that case as they did in the other.
– I do not deny it. It will not interfere with my argument if I admit at once that the Judges have been perfectly honest. I do not say that they have been dishonest. When the Scotch Courts were called upon to interpret the term “ workman,” very eminent Judges there decided that a tramway conductor was a workman, tn that decision they were overruled.
– Of course Judges differ.
– On that subject, may I quote the opinions of other Judges? Lord Ormidale, an eminent Judge of Scotland, said, “ I can entertain no doubt but that he is a workman “ - referring to a tramway conductor. The Lord Justice Clerk said the same, but, as I have observed, they were ultimately overruled ; and to-day, despite the fact that Parliament tried by. solemn legislative enactment to remove from workmen the disabilities which the Judges read into the law, the law has gone back, by those very decisions limiting the definition of “ workman,” to very much the same position as before, and the workers have lost the advantages that the British Parliament intended to give them.
– Why has not Parliament amended the law if it intended to include those people?
– That is the very point I wish to make - that where adverse decisions are given Parliament should alter the law.
– Will the honorable member explain what Judge-made law is? Mr. Justice Higgins’ decision fixing the rate of wages is Judge-made law.
– I will presently give the honorable member an explanation of what Judge-made law is.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 7.45 p.m.
– Before we adjourned for tea it was suggested by the honorable member for Wilmot that in the course of my remarks I had cast personal reflections on some of the Judges. As you are aware, Mr. Speaker, I had been attempting to show that in the development of some of our common law doctrines, notably the doctrine of common employment, judge-made law had worked .out unfairly to the workers. May I. say that my language and judgment on the matter will not go further than that of the leading text-book writer on the subject of employers’ liability. 01 refer to Mr. Ruegg, K.C. I purpose quoting briefly the language of that writer regarding the reasons that actuated the Judges in devel-oping the remarkable doctrine of common employment, and his view as to the nature of it. Having traced its establishment in a way that I have attempted very briefly to imitate to-night, he says* -
In this manner came the doctrine of common employment to be fully established as part of the common law of England. That the doctrine was unjust to workmen, and can only be defended upon illogical reasoning, is now almost universally admitted, but, except in so far as it is affected by the Employers’ Liability Act 1880, and the Workmen’s Compensation Acts T897 and r900, it : still exists, and may be set up as a defence by an employer.
I go no further than that. I simply say that that doctrine, like one or two others which I shall trace to-night in support of my argument, was unjust to workmen, and was founded upon illogical reasoning. That is not the statement of Mr. Fisher, the leader of the Labour Party, addressing labour supporters at Alexandra; it is the view expressed by a leading text-book writer in addressing the many barristers throughout the world who find his work of assistance to them in discussing this problem. The other illustrations that I purpose giving to-night in support of my argument may be described in the same terms. Just. before we adjourned, the honorable member for Robertson asked what I meant by “judge-made law.” I regret that he is not here to hear my explanation. “ Judge-made law,” in the sense in which I used the term, covers laws that are not the subject of statute. For example, I am hot aware that there is any statute governing the civil law of seduction, lt is a matter that has been declared by the Judges. The Courts had to declare what the law on the subject was, and they developed and declared it upon what are admitted to be certain legal fictions. I wish honorable members to note the effect of those legal fictions, and the way they were developed, as supporting the proposition that I started with, namely, that when the making of laws is intrusted to Judges, and not to Parliament, the Judges themselves are unjust to the employed classes, and favorable to the employers. The civil law on seduction is that if one- man go to the house of another and seduce his daughter, the seducer is liable to an action by the father or the parents of the girl ; but if an employer seduce his servant, neither she nor her parents can have an action against him. That is the law in our own courts to-day. And so with other laws founded on legal fictions invented by Judges ; they all favour the employing classes, and operate against the workers.
– The honorable member ought to remember that those legal fictions were introduced to give a remedy where none existed.
– I admit that.
– The Judges extended the law.
– Certainly; and in extending it they took care to introduce fictions that did not hit the employer too hard.
– But they gave a remedy where none existed.
– But not a remedy for all conditions.
– I do not deny what the honorable member for Angas has said. I listen always with the greatest respect to his criticisms on questions of law ; but it is obvious that the trend of the minds of the Judges in developing these fictions was in the direction of protecting the employing and not the employed classes.
– There is no doubt that they narrowed the class of employment.
– Take again the development of the conspiracy laws, and I am dealing, in this connexion, not with the criminal but with the civil law in relation to conspiracy. That is the development of the Judges. I do not want to follow the long intricate string of cases which in comparatively recent years have engaged the attention of the English Courts and have been applied in Queensland by the High Court. I shall simply state that their effect is that whilst the employing class, as laid down in the judgment of Mogul v. McGregor, have a right to combine to ruin a rival employer, the employes, as laid down in the cases of the Quinn and Letham, and the Taff Vale, have no similar right. If unionists combine to ruin a non-unionist, they are liable.
– Whilst, on the other hand, employers can combine to fix prices.
– That is a sample of judgemade law. The shipping ring operating on our coast to-day may unite to crush a rival. As a matter of fact it does so. And to-day it has practically a complete monopoly. I know that their case has been considered with a view to the institution of proceedings against them for conspiracy, but our laws have been so declared that whilst employers may combine and crush a rival, the shipwrights in Brisbane who attempted to take action——
– Does not the fault lie with Parliament in failing to make clear its intention ?
– The cases to which I refer are not governed by statute. I am alluding to developments of the law, or in other words to common law decisions. When the workers tried to do what the employers have done, they find’ that they are barred. The employers may unite and say to one of their own class, “ Unless you charge a certain rate of freights we shall crush you”; but if the unionist workers unite and say to a non-unionist, “ Unless you demand certain wages and conditions we shall not recognise you,” they are liable. That was the decision in the Taff Vale case.
These are illustrations which support the proposition I have made’ that the Judges - and I have no doubt that they act with absolute honesty so far as their lights go - allow their minds to work in a certain direction. Take the position of the High Court of the Commonwealth. How does it interpret the laws affecting the workers in this country? Let me allude very briefly to a few of its decisions. We had in New South Wales for some years an Arbitration Act, under which many of the workers were secured a large number of benefits. For a time the lower Courts and the Supreme Court of New South Wales considered that that Act had a certain operative force, but ultimately appeals went regularly to the High Court to determine what powers were granted under it. 1 propose to read one definition in the Act as to what the Court had power to deal with, and then to quote a case showing what the High Court ruled it could deal with. The Court had to consider what was an industrial dispute, and an “industrial dispute” had been defined by the ‘New South Wales Parliament as - a dispute in relation to industrial matters arising between an employer or industrial union of employers on the one part and an’ industrial union of employes or trade union or branch on the other part, and includes any dispute arising out of an industrial agreement.
In other words, the State Parliament said that an “industrial dispute” was any dispute arising between an employer or a union of employers on the one part, and a union of employes on the other, or individual employers on the one part, and individual employes on the other. In the case of the Northern Miners’ Colliery Federation v. Brown, however, the High Court laid it down that there could be no dispute between a union of employes and a union of employers - the dispute must be between one individual employé and employer, or more- Undoubtedly, to the average man the intention of Parliament according to the wording of the Act appeared to be to say, “We will protect employes. We will not make one man face a union of employers and risk dismissal. We will allow disputes to take place between a union on one side and an employer on the other.”
– Collective bargaining.
– Quite so; but the High Court has disturbed that idea, and in New South Wales in later years it has required the services of a trained solicitor to advise men what to do if they wished to create an industrial dispute under the Act.
– But the honorable member would not say that the Court was wrong. The Court declared that there must be some definite dispute between the particular parties interested. The honorable member is finding fault with the Court when the fault rests with the Act.
– When the English Courts declared that a ‘bus-driver was not a workman, and could not be awarded compensation under the Workmen’s Compensation Act, it was said that Parliament should have spoken more clearly. As the honorable member is aware, when cases of this kind come before the Court many rival canons of interpretation are contended for, and what I want to make clear is that the High Court, like others, when called on to deal with cases affecting the conditions of workmen, has by some coincidence almost invariably decided against the workers. I am asking the House not to be bound by the decision of the High Court in regard to the new protection and workers’ trade marks. Take again the Miners’ Accident Compensation Act, and the decision of the High Court in the case of Watson v. Smith. We have in New South Wales a rule that those who work in mines shall contribute a certain amount per week to a fund from which they shall secure compensation if injured. Watson, a miner, was hurt, and he soughtto recover compensation. The Miners’ Accident Relief Board said, however, “ We have a discretion in this matter, since the law says we ‘may ‘ pay.” They demurred. All the lower Courts held that the position of Watson was really that of a man who had insured against accident ; 1 hat the word “may” was accompanied by a duty; that there was no option, and that the Board had to pay. The Supreme Court of New South Wales also held that view, declaring lhat Watson was paying into what was practically an insurance fund ; that he was hurt, and that he was entitled to claim against it, just as a man might make a claim against an insurance company with which he had insured against accident. The case then went to the High Court, where it was dealt with by three Justices. Mr. justice Isaacs said, “This seems to me to be so plainly a case of insurance that I should have said there was no doubt about it, had I not heard my learned brethren’s decision to the contrary.” The
Chief Justice had just decided against the claim, and Mr. Justice Barton had concurred. It may be only a coincidence that when these cases affecting the lives of workers come before the High Court the worker generally goes under. I want to refer to two other cases. Take the harvester case. It was decided by the same Judges, and with the same concurrence, that whilst employers could be protected, employes could not.
– It must be remembered that the Judges did not say a word about the policy of the Act, intimating before they gave their judgment that they had np intention of impugning it.
– That is not much satisfaction to the workers; the fact remains that while it could be made a crime to imitate a trade mark of employers, the same does not hold good in regard to a trade union mark.
– Surely the honorable member does not claim that the workman has any personal property in the article he produces.
– I shall not go into the merits of the case, which, I may inform the honorable member, was argued for about ten days.
– It seems to me that what I say is the basis of the whole case.
– All I am pointing out is that, from the stand-point of the workers, the usual unfortunate result follows, .and I desire to make a suggestion as to the way in which the position can be met. I admit that this is a debatable question, and I hope to have an expression- of opinion from the House in respect ‘ to it. I venture to say that we should not find it entirely satisfactory, every time the High Court rules that a measure is unconstitutional, to rush to the people with a referendum. I should prefer, if it were possible, to limit the right to challenge the constitutionality of a measure. What I mean is that if, in passing an Act providing for workers’ trade marks, we do wrong, that wrong is against the States Parliaments; and I submit that only those against whom the wrong is done, should have the right to raise the question of constitutionality.
– The weakness of that argument is that the States Parliaments have no power in relation to an alteration of the Constitution - that power lies with the people.
– Undoubtedly the States Parliaments have power to question the constitutionality of any Act we may pass.
– But the States Parliaments have no power to alter the Constitution.
– I have no objection to any representative body, which thinks that its powers have been usurped, questioning the constitutionality of an Act passed by this Parliament.
– The assumption of the States Parliaments would be that the Constitution is in their favour.
– Yes, and there must be some court to settle the question. My point is that an offender under the Act should not be allowed to escape penalty by pleading unconstitutionality. In a case in the United States, that of Hamaga v. United. States, where one. Indian had murdered another, the Indian charged did not say he’ was not guilty, but pleaded that Congress had no power to pass -the law under which he was arraigned. That, of course, is not right ; and a similar position arises in regard to the trade marks of the trade unions. I have no objection to the States saying, “ This is our business, leave it to us “ ; but I have a great objection to a person who has been guilty of a fraudulent imitation pleading unconstitutionality. In Western Australia the tailors and tailoresses have a trade mark. People on the gold-fields desire to have union made goods, but since the High Court has held that the Commonwealth Parliament has no power to punish employers, goods are being made in sweating shops, and branded with labels not distinguishable from the union label. And my suggestion is .that fraudulent imitators should not be allowed to plead unconsitutionality. Only those Parliaments who think their powers have been usurped should have the right to do so.
– If the Commonwealth Parliament were to pass an Education Act, would the honorable member say that it should be allowed to hold good unless the States interfered ?
– What would then become of the delegated power?
– The States Parliaments are bound to interfere when we take away their power, but when the interference is so microscopical .that two out of the five Judges cannot see it, then I think a contest might be avoided. I do not object to the States Parliaments pleading unconstitutionality, because they have to run the risk of meeting the electors. If a State Parliament succeeds in upsetting one of our Acts in the High Court, then the members of that Parliament have to meet the same electors that we have to meet.
– But the power of the States would be gone if the Federal Parliament could act without the people delegating the power.
– I do not say that, but if the people are prepared to allow the power to be exercised by the Federal Parliament, why object?
– If a State Parliament usurped our power, would that hold good in the absence of any objection?
– Ishould say that the converse would hold good.
– That was so in the wirenetting case.
– All I am objecting to is that those who commit a crime should not escape the consequences by pleading unconstitutionality.
– The wire-netting case is not one in point.
– That issue was deliberately raised by Ministers, whereas I am referring to an issue raised by a representative body. I am simply throwing out at this stage a suggestion which I hope to have an opportunity to more fully deal with at a later date.
.- As it appears to be the custom to offer congratulations, I should like to offer mine to the honorable member for Flinders on the earlier portion of his speech. It came upon the House like a gleam of sunshine in a blizzard. It is to be regretted that the honorable and learned gentleman did not continue in that strain, because it showed a remarkable advance on his previous political position.
– Does the honorable member think that the leopard can change his spots?
– In politics there may be certain mental progression as in other spheres of human activity. Turning to the position of parties, the Government are to be congratulated on their flourishing position, despite the numerous efforts made by honorable members opposite, and the press outside, to bring them into discredit. Unfortunately, there are too many captains in the present Opposition, and I suppose they cannot agree as to their future tactics - as to which is to be leader. If the Opposition remain much longer divorced from power, their position will be akin to that of “ the daughter of the warrior Gileadite,” immortalised in the “ Dream of Fair Women.” That heroine, it will be remembered, repines : -
Single I grew, like some green plant, whose root
Creeps to the garden water-pipes beneath.
Feeding the flower; but ere my flower to fruit Changed, I was ripe for death.
Judging by all appearances there are several aspiring leaders on the Opposition side who are ripe for political death.
– That is a dream of unfair men !
– The honorable and learned member will not expectme to indorse that version of the matter. We have heard a good deal from the Opposition press recently about the tendency of the Government to be dominated by, and to make concessions to, the Labour Party in order to retain the Treasury Benches. This is all pretence. Reverse the situation, and the Opposition would do exactly the same thing. I am not complaining so much of the Opposition as of the Opposition press, which is continually ridiculing the Government for its dependent position in the House. But the attitude of the Government has been vindicated by results. In this connexion James Russell Lowell, in a sketch of that great man, Abraham Lincoln, has a luminous and pregnant passage : -
The imputation of inconsistency is one to which every sound politician and every honest thinker must sooner or later subject himself. The foolish and dead alone never change their opinion. The course of a great statesman resembles that of navigable rivers, avoiding immovable obstacles by noble bends of concession, seeking the broad levels of opinion on which men soonest settle and longest dwell, following and marking the almost imperceptible slopes of national tendency, yet always aiming at direct advances, always recruited from sources nearer heaven, and sometimes bursting open paths of progress and fruitful human commerce through what seem the eternal barriers of both. It is loyalty to great ends, even though forced to combine the small and opposing motives of selfish men to accomplish them ; it is the anchored cling to solid principles of duty and action, which knows how to swing with the tide, but is never carried away by it - that we demand in public men, and not sameness of policy, or a conscientious persistency in what is impracticable.
I commend that extract to the leaders of the Opposition, and especially to the Opposition press.
– The Opposition seems to be attacking an immovable obstacle in the present Ministry.
– That is so. Brief though the speech of the Governor-General is, it has been considerably amplified by the’ Prime Minister. Some of his statements deserve to be emphasized. He very shortly referred to the impossibility of economical government so long as the Federal Parliament is obliged to find money for the Governments of the States to spend, and it seems to me that the attention of the country should be drawn to the increase of State expenditure since Federation. With that object I shall submit a few figures which amazed me when 1 first looked into the subject, and will, I am sure, astonish those electors, who study it. In 1899-1900 - the year prior to Federation - the expenditure of the six States from their Consolidated Revenue only aggregated £28,331,041, and in 1906-7 - seven years later - it had increased by £2,942,088, being in that year £31,273,129. While an annual increase of nearly £3,000,000 is in itself significant, it must be remembered, to thoroughly appreciate its magnitude, that last year the Commonwealth spent on the transferred departments £3,751,142 more than they earned, and on new works and buildings, £472,059. In other words, the States have been relieved* of the annual necessity of expending over £4,000,000, and yet have increased their annual expenditure by nearly £3,000.000, the yearly increase in the cost of governing Australia being £7.-165,289.
– The expenditure of New South Wales alone has increased by £2,000,000 per annum.
– That may well be; I am dealing with Australia as a whole. This increase in expenditure is exclusive of the expenditure directly due to Federation. It may be replied that our population greatly increased during the period with which I am dealing. Well, let us look at the figures. In the year
T900 the population of Australia was 3-765,339, and in the year 1907, 4.;ii9,48i, an increase of 354,142. But of those 354,142 no fewer than 347,988 represents the excess of births over deaths, that is, they are me-e infants, only 6,154 having been added to the population by the excess of arrivals over departures.
– Infants are a very costly item.
– They do not add much to the cost of governing the country, since they do not make it necessary to carry out railways, to build post offices, or to undertake other public works. The fact is important in that it is not an increase of adults, capable of paying their share of taxation. Leaving out for the moment the cost of the services of which the States have been relieved, they have spent £8 6s. per head of the increased population.
– There has also been an increase in loan expenditure.
– I am coming to that. It may be advanced that the State Parliaments have been busy extending their railways, and constructing other public works. But the capital cost of the railways of Australia was £124,041,792 in 1901, and £137,196,168 in 1907, an increase of £13>I54)376- I’1 the interval, the Governments of the States have expended no less than £40,959,143 out of loan funds, though I am unable to learn from the statistics available in the Commonwealth Year-Book how the difference of £27,804,767 is to be accounted for.
– Was not a great part of it used for conversion purposes?
– No. I am not dealing with loans for conversion purposes. I am quoting the actual expenditure of loan funds on public works.
– The indebtedness of the States at the time of Federation was only
– Yes. The figures I have given take no account of the interest due on the debts of the States, to which I propose to allude later, in connexion with a further remark of the- Prime Minister. The honorable and learned gentleman, in his speech the other night, said -
If the States complain that they have unproductive but necessary Departments that must be maintained at increasing cost as the population increases, let the Commonwealth itself undertake to maintain those Departments.
I presume that expresses the matured opinion of the Prime Minister and of the Government. If so, the honorable and learned gentleman has never made a more important statement in this Chamber. It marks a fundamental change on his part. This was not his attitude when the Constitution was framed, nor was it the view of those who shared with him the work of laying the foundations of the Federation. The expression which I have just quoted obviously points in the direction of unifica- tion but I cannot yet follow the honorable and learned gentleman in support of that policy. Our experiences so far do not justify the belief that this country can be satisfactorily administered in every detail of public affairs from any one centre.
– Hear, hear.
– Therefore at this stage I am not able to offer any encouragement to unificationists. What is their object? Has it any prospective advantage beyond securing uniformity of administration? That would be very valuable if it could be obtained ; but it would seem that Nature has placed an eternal prohibition upon uniformity. Conditions which are applicable to a place like Tasmania could never apply successfully in the tropical portions of Australia.
– My remark, as I thought the honorable member indicated before, referred to the fact that the Government which raised money should be the Government to spend it, and only, so far as that goes, on a fair distribution, as between the States and the Commonwealth, of the expenditure as well as the revenue. It was not intended to point to unification at all.
– I regret if there has been any misinterpretation of the Prime Minister’s remarks. The honorable and learned member made another statement which I think gives colour to my interpretation. He said -
A suggestion that at present finds favour with the States is that after the debts have been dealt with they should continue for all time to share to some proportional extent in the Customs revenue of the Commonwealth. It is urged that they should, because with every increase of population the charges they have to bear in respect of the Departments of Justice, Education, and so forth, are increased. It is urged that it is only reasonable that, since the Customs revenue is likely to grow as our population increases, the returns from the Commonwealth to the States should grow also. That appears to be, on the face of it, a reasonable contention, but without disputing its general fairness, its application ;n that way seems to me dangerous, and, perhaps, fatal.
Then came the statement to which I referred. Accepting the Prime Minister’s explanation, I do not think that he will find it possible to carry out the suggestion for taking over the unproductive departments of the States.
– It relates to the time after we have dealt with the debts, looking ahead from thirty-five to fifty years.
– Then the matter is scarcely worth discussing now.
– That is the time when, according to the proposal submitted by the States, a permanent liability is to be placed on the Commonwealth, to pay to them so much per head for all time. I offered my suggestion merely as an alternative to that proposal.
– Well, so far as the present time goes, it seems to me a financial impossibility. If the Prime Minister takes over all the unpayable Departments, the States will have little left. Their status will .be lowered; their importance diminished. That is why I assumed that he was shaping towards unification. I think that the desire of the Convention which framed the Constitution was that, first of all. our surplus revenue should be applied to the liquidation of the interest on the State debts.- That is provided in the Constitution. We should apply ourselves to that question first, and -if we should have any surplus revenue - and I do not think that we shall - we might then consider the advisability of taking over any of the unpayable Departments of the State Governments.
– That is the exact proposal.
– It is very unfortunate that I have misread the honorable gentleman’s reference; it was a very brief one.
– It was too brief for the subject, I admit.
– I found, so far as I could judge; that it would be altogether impossible for us, within any reasonable time, to do what the honorable gentleman suggested. For instance, the Commonwealth revenue at the present time is only £12,832,889, and the net cost of the transferred Departments is £4,987,315, so that we have left a surplus of only £7,845,574 per annum. Now, in 1907, the total loan indebtedness of Australia, less sinking funds, was £236,500,000, the average annual interest being 3§ per cent. The interest on that sum is £8,573,100. If we were to take over, as has been suggested elsewhere, a Department like that of Justice, the Police Department, which costs £1,170,000, all forms of education, which cost £2,629,500, and prisons, which, with other services, cost £739,500, we should have a liability of £13,112,100, with only £7,845,574 to meet it. That is not taking into account the increased cost of defence, which, I presume, if the intentions of the Prime Minister and his colleagues are carried out, will be at least an additional £1,000,000 per annum in the future.
– It will be a long while before it reaches that sum.
– If we are to have ships of war for our coastal defence, as the honorable gentleman promises to us, it will run into a good deal of money. We have also to provide for old-age pensions at a cost of £1,500,000, the Federal Capital, two transcontinental railways, and the development of the Northern Territory and Papua. It seems to me that if we are to apply ourselves to those things which are nearer to our hands than the taking over of any State Departments, we shall have ample scope for all our financial resources for a good many years ahead. There seems no necessity to refer in detail to the programme outlined by the Government. It is full enough for the time at our disposal, and our object should be to approach it in a business-like way, in order that useful legislation may be accomplished before the close of the present session.
.- With one of the first proposals in the GovernorGeneral’s speech I quite agree, and that is that we should deal with this programme as promptly as possible. I hope that this will be the last debate of this kind that we shall ever have. I know that seme persons say that we must adhere to old rules and old principles.
– Not because they are old.
– Because we cannot find anything better. Some persons adhere so strongly to old usages that they cannot give them up. I think that this is the only feature of parliamentary practice which remains exactly as it was fifty or one hundred years ago. We have found new methods of doing practically everything under the sun except parliamentary business. I do not think that honorable members can point to any other proceeding which is conducted on the same principle as it was fifty or one hundredyears ago. But because we have an old system: that has been handed down to us by past generations in the Motherland, we want to maintain it with what I may call all its traditional paraphernalia. I think that the sooner we do away with some of our forms of parliamentary procedure the better it will be for tins country. The honorable member for Perth has referred to the Question of elective Ministries, but I find that honorable members on the other side of the House are in great distress because they have so many parties at the present time, and cannot get them welded together.
– Who said that they were in distress?
– The deputy leader of the Opposition said that his trouble was not so much with this side of the House as with the members of his own party. If that was not an indication of distress, I will withdraw the word, and the honorable member can use any other word that he has brought from Western Australia. I do not propose to deal at any’ length ‘with the question of elective Ministries. But any honorable member who likes to take up the speeches delivered - a few years ago by the late member for South Sydney, Mr. G. B. Edwards, and the honorable member for Perth, will find .sufficient reasons why we should alter our present system. I hope that the House, in its wisdom, will come to a decision on the subject before very long. At the present time we have in the Ministry men who may all be capable of conducting the affairs of Australia. We have as Prime Minister one who, I think, is in the right place, and I hope that he will long continue there. At the same time, if we have in the House any man who is specially qualified to administer a Department, no matter what it is, I think that he should be its administrator, and that it should be left open to the House to decide in reference to the expenditure, or anything of that description. Take, for instance, the Department of Defence. For aught I know to -the contrary, the present Minister may be the best man out of the in members of this Parliament to administer that Department. At the same time, if there is one man specially qualified to be Minister of Defence, I contend that the united wisdom of the House ought to select him.
– Would he not have to go te the Treasurer for money?
– The defence of the people is a question of great importance, but the chief thing, I contend, is for the Commonwealth to have a good administrator in every Department. We have, perhaps, the money. but what is that unless we have as Minister a good man ? At the present time we have in the Defence Department men who are not worth the money they receive, and Ministers and others know it. Yet we pay them for conducting our affairs in a slipshod way. We were better off as regards our defence under a purely volunteer system - I know that it was so so far as Tasmania is concerned - than we are at the present time. Take again the Treasurership. Why should one man have the . selection of the whole team? If there is in the House an honorable member who is specially qualified to deal with the finances of Australia, he should be chosen. The figures quoted by the honorable member for Coolgardie show how necessary it is that we should have the best financier there is in the House, or in the two Houses, in charge of that very important Department.
– Is not the honorable member satisfied with the present men?
– They may be the best men, but that may be only my opinion. We are reminded as we enter this building that “In the multitude of counsellors there is safety.” I hold that by our united wisdom we should select the best man to deal with the all-important question of finance apart altogether from politics.
– Under the honorable member’s system, would not the Treasurer be the Ministry?
– Certainly not. The system is in operation in Switzerland today.
– And they have the initiative and the referendum there.
– I do not interrupt other honorable members, and I do not wish’ them to interrupt me. If they want to make a speech they can do so when I have finished. The honorable member for Grey referred jusT now to the Postal Commission. Certainly the House might have selected its members. If I had not been chosen I should have been quite satisfied to make way for the honorable member for Grey if it was considered that he was a better man for the position than myself. In the. case of the Treasurership, under a system of elective Ministers we should be more likely to have continuancy in office. What has been the result of the attempts to deal with the financial question? We have had three or four different Treasurers dealing with the States, but if the House were free to elect a Treasurer he would in all probability remain in office for a number of years, and would be able to deal with that question, and also with the various Departments better than it is pos sible for a man to do when he has been in the Treasury for only a year or two years.
– Is the honorable member dissatisfied with the present Treasurer?
– I am not dealing with the personnel of the Ministry. Those who know me best know that I never deal with the personality of any man, whether he is in the. Opposition or in the Government I am supporting. I always try to deal with measures and not with men. If we elected the Ministry, all that personal element would disappear from our discussions, and we should be able to act in a fair and intelligent .way, and to_ vote according to measures, and not according to the men who happened to be on one side of the Chamber or the other.
– How would the honorable member determine the men to be chosen ?
– I should exercise the wisdom which God has given to me, and if I made a mistake that would be my misfortune, and not my fault. In many cases, unfortunately, honorable members are not guided by wisdom, but by the interests of the party they happen to support, whether they sit on this side or the other.
– I am afraid that that would also occur under a system of elective Ministers.
– Under that system the best men would be selected. What takes place in every walk of life? What should we have in. a financial institution like a bank if we had directors elected, and an .opposition set up, and if before they dealt with any financial’ scheme they had to report, and make the whole business public? A system of that kind is unreasonable. Take, for instance, the property in London, which we are talking of buying. If the House should decide that it is advisable to secure a property, the Government or a Minister ought to be empowered to buy it without reporting to the House, because if it. were a bargain, and were discussed here publicly, the fact would become known all over the world, and it is not likely that we should get it. If it were quoted at over its price it would be open to us to buy the property at any time.
– Does not the honorable member .with his knowledge of humanity think that the party with a majority would be able to pick all the Ministers?
– That may be the honorable member’s idea of humanity, but it is not mine. If I had to choose Ministers from within the House, there are men on the Opposition side, and men on this side, for whom I would vote.
– The honorable member would not vote for a free-trader when the Tariff was about to be revised, would he?
– I should if I thought that he was the man best able to transact the business. That interjection shows that the honorable member has not studied this question, because it is the majority of the House who rule, and no matter whether the Minister of Trade and Customs is a freetrader or not, if the Tariff is fixed at 20 per cent, he has to charge that rate.
– We should then have to revise the Tariff.
– If the honorable member, as a protectionist, were elected to a Ministry that fact would not compel him to vote as a free-trader. This question is a new one, and, therefore, is but imperfectly understood. People regard it in much the same way as they regarded telegraph wires when they first saw them running along- our streets. They imagined that if they hung a pair of boots upon them the boots would straightway be conveyed to the bootmaker for repairs. Until honorable members study the question of elective Ministries for themselves the proposal is sure to be received with ridicule. We have been told that we should learn wisdom from the past and be guided by what has occurred in other lands. Had that policy been adopted,. Australia would never have been discovered - it would still be overrun by aborigines. Had our explorers been content with the old roads they would never have discovered the mineral wealth of Broken Hill. The only reason why the parliamentary machine has continued to run under the existing system is that whenever a deficiency has occurred in our finances we have been able to fall back upon the general taxpayer. But no private institution would be able to carry on operations if it were afflicted with an opposition and a corner party who were constantly wrangling as to who should control it. What have the newspapers been discussing recently ? Have they been debating the development of Australia, how we can increase the number of our factories, or how we can find work for the unemployed so that immigrants may be attracted to our shores? Certainly not. They have been discussing how the number of parties in this House may be resolved into two so that those parties may be insured a fair fight at the next general election. Personally, I do not care what party is in power. I intend to fight for the principle of elective Ministries. I became convinced of the necessity of that system many years ago, when I found that the Opposition in the Tasmanian Parliament was always opposed’ to every progressive movement. I believe that any man who considers this question will arrive at the same conclusion as I have reached. I believe in the policy of the new protection, which will protect the employe as well as the employer. I do not believe in supporting manufacturers who act in the way that the Victorian millers have been acting recently. They have been selling their flour in Tasmania for £1 15s. per ton less than they charge for it in Victoria, their object being to starve out the Tasmanian millers so that they might obtain a monopoly, and subsequently charge whatever price they chose. Whenever I find any person endeavouring to impose upon his weaker brethren in that fashion, I will vote to accord him no protection whatever. Some time ago I asked the Postmaster-General a question in reference to linking up Flinders and King Islands with Tasmania by means of wireless telegraphy. At present those islands receive only one mail in three weeks, even if the wind is favorable. The contract is let to a sailing boat, and if the weather be not favorable the settlers have to wait for their mails till finer weather prevails. A little while ago I ‘asked the Postmaster-General whether these islands were to be given the benefit of communication by wireless telegraphy,’ or whether the proposal was merely intended as a political placard. In reply the PostmasterGeneral assured me that there were no political placards in his department. Now, however, I learn from the newspapers that tenders for this work is not to be accepted. If the residents of these islands do not get the benefit of a wireless telegraphic service or of a cable service they will have very just cause for complaint. Flinders Island is only about 30 miles from the Tasmanian mainland. Shipwrecks have frequently occurred upon the islands, and’ the people there have been unable to communicate’ the fact to the mainland for” weeks.
– The newspaper statement to which the honorable member refers does not apply to tenders which have not been opened. Separate tenders have been called for services to those islands.
– If tenders for these services are going to be accepted I am quite content.
– I cannot say whether tenders will be accepted until they have been received.
– In the GovernorGeneral’s speech mention is made of the proposed transfer of the Northern Territory. As far as I am concerned the conditions published some time ago in regard to the transfer of that territory will need to be considerably modified before they will be acceptable to me. In seconding the Address-in-Reply the honorable member for Laanecoorie made some observations in reference to friendly societies. I think that the Government have interfered with those societies too much. I have no objection to the Commonwealth exercising a certain amount of control over them, but the honorable member appears to think that they require looking after in order that their members may be assured of the benefits which are promised to them. In Launceston I know that these societies have been unnecessarily interfered with by Commonwealth regulations. The privilege which friendly society dispensaries foi.merly enjoyed in respect of the manufacture of their own spirits has been taken away from them. Under those regulations they are not permitted to keep more than five gallons of spirits upon their premises. When they have exhausted that quantity they alt frequently compelled to purchase supplies from other chemists at an increased price. This, I contend, is a hardship. These societies have done a noble work in the past, and it would be better for us to leave them severely alone. We could with much greater profit focus our attention upon some of the bogus companies which fleece the public, upon some of the dishonest lawyers who get away with the money of poor people, and upon the crooked financial institutions.
– The question to which the honorable member has referred is purely one of administration.
– Undoubtedly. Concerning the bookkeeping question, I ask honorable members who wish to inform themselves of its working to pay a visit of inspection to the General Post Office,
Melbourne. They will . then realize the amount of labour that is involved in keeping the set of books requisite under that system’.
– It ought to be abolished.
Mr.- “STORRER.- Certainly it ought, and until that is done it cannot be said that we have true federation. An entry has to be passed for every little parcel which enters Victoria from the other States, even though it is valued at only is. 6d. This necessitates the employment of a staff of officers. If the system were abolished we should save thousands of pounds annually. In pre- Federation days when goods entered Port Phillip, no inquiry was made as to whether they were intended for Melbourne, Ballarat, or Bendigo. Why, under Federation, should a question be raised as to whether their destination is Melbourne, Launceston, or Perth? I trust that before the session closes we shall deal with the very important question of the financial relations of the States to the Commonwealth, and, incidentally, that we shall abolish the bookkeeping system, which inflicts great injury upon the whole of Australia and tends to prevent the realization of that ideal of which we have heard so much - “ One people, one destiny.”
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by. Mr. Deakin), agreed to -
That the House will, to-morrow, resolve itself into a Committee to consider the supply to be granted to His Majesty.
Motion (by Mr. Deakin), agreed to -
That the House will, to-morrow, resolve itself into a Committee to consider the Ways and Means for raising the supply to be granted to His Majesty.
Motion (by Mr. Groom), agreed to -
That leave be granted to bring in a Bill for an Act to determine more definitely the Seal: of Government of the Commonwealth in the neighbourhood of Dalgety, and the territory there within which it shall be, and to provide for the grant to and acceptance by the Commonwealth of the territory, and to provide for other matters in relation thereto.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
Motion (by Mr. Deakin) agreed to -
That on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday in each week, until otherwise ordered, Government business shall take precedence of all other business; and that on each Thursday until halfpast 6 o’clock, until otherwise ordered, General business shall take precedence of Government business.
Motion (by Mr. Deakin) proposed -
That on Thursday in each week, until otherwise ordered, General business shall be called on in the following order, viz. : -
On one Thursday -
Orders of the Day.
On the alternate Thursday -
Orders of the Day.
– I should like to point out that the session just commencing is in the very nature of things to be a very short one, and we should insist first of all upon business being so arranged that time will not be wasted. There seems to be no advantage in devoting a portion of the Thursday’s sittings to private members’ business at the beginning of the session, and taking away that privilege from private members later on. Would it not be better for all practical purposes, seeing that we are to have so short a session, and that very important work is to be undertaken, to ask private members to forego their rights on Thursdays f rom the commencement ? It seems to me that that would be far preferable.
– If the honorable member will look at the motion which the House has just passed, he will see that it has been determined that on each Thursday private business shall take precedence of Government business. The motion now before the House is simply as to the order in which private business shall be taken on alternate Thursdays.
– I am aware that we have already partly dealt with the question, and that a motion has been carried ; but we have not fixed on the order of business for alternate Thursdays. It was quite an oversight on my part to allow the previous motion to be adopted without calling attention to the matter. I would ask the Prime Minister, even although the previous motion has been carried, whether it is worth while commencing with private business during this session?
.- I desire to say that I do not agree with the views expressed by the honorable member for Parramatta.
– What is the honorable member’s little lot?
– I have a couple of proposals as to which it is highly desirable that the House should have an opportunity of expressing an opinion. The time allotted on Thursdays affords the only opportunity that private members have of submitting to the House questions that are not included in the programme of the Government. I think that up to the present the practice has not resulted in an undue expenditure of time ; because in the event of this privilege being taken away other means would have to be devised to secure discussion of the questions, and that would probably lead to a greater expenditure of public time. The motion only involves the application of three or four hours of time on one day in each week, and I consider that private members have a right to ask for the support of the Government in retaining that privilege.
.- I trust that the Prime Minister will give us an opportunity of devoting to public business the time proposed to be given to private members on Thursdays. It seems to me that the practice leads to a ridiculous waste of time. I remember that while I was a member of the State Parliament I, as a private member, had a measure called the Ancient Lights Bill on the noticepaper. But nothing came of it. It would be better to give private members a day or two towards the finish of the session for discussion of the questions in. which they are interested.
– I pointed out just now to the honorable member for Parramatta that the motion which has just been adopted has disposed of the question whether time shall be allotted to private members on Thursdays. I cannot allow that question to be further discussed on the present motion.
– I wish to explain that I felt under an obligation to propose this motion, because last session, when inviting honorable members to sacrifice the right that they then possessed, I indicated that if it were at all possible we would make up the time to them during the coming - that is, the present - session. When that promise was made, it was not supposed that the session would linger on as it did almost to the end of the financial year, or that we should now be faced with a short session. However, having given that undertaking, I did not feel that I could ask the House to withdraw the time from private members at once. I should, however, be only too delighted if, instead of holding me to that engagement, honorable members could see their way to release us from it, so that we might devote the whole of our time to Government business ; on the understanding that if there be any time available towards the close of the session, we shall devote some portion of it to private business.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– On behalf of my colleague the Treasurer, I trust that the House will consent to allow this motion to be adopted. The effect of it will be to place us in the same position in regard to the Manufactures Encouragement Bill - that is, the measure generally known as the Iron Bounty Bill - as we were at the close of last session. I beg to move -
That the proceedings on the Bill intituled “A Bill for an Act for the Encouragement of Manufactures in the Commonwealth,” which were interrupted by the Prorogation of Parliament last session, be resumed at the stage then reached in connexion with the said Bill, and that the further consideration of the Bill in Committee of the whole House be made an Order of the Day for the next day of sitting.
– What stage had been reached?
– We had reached the schedule.
– Mr. Speaker-
– This matter must be settled without debate. I am bound by the Standing Orders to put the motion.
– Without debate? Is that in accordance with the standing order ?
– I think there can be no doubt about it.
– This is the new gag resolution.
– I thought honorable members opposite all wanted this measure.
– Do we understand that this motion has to go without debate?
– It simply allows the Bill to be taken up at the stage which it had reached last session.
– The standing order under which the motion is submitted is No. 214a, and the practice, I assume, would be the same as under the standing order printed on page 71, which deals with business that has lapsed. That standing order reads as follows -
The following motions are not open to debate, shall be moved without argument or opinion offered, and shall be forthwith put from the Chair without amendment and the vote taken -
Amongst those is - “ a motion to reinstate on the notice-paper business which has lapsed because of a count out.”
The Bill in question did not lapse because of a count-out, but, so far as I remember, we have always applied the rule with regard to there being no discussion on certain motions to this one.
– I thought that the motion could be objected to as formal.
– If the motion were not moved after notice, objection could be taken to it, but it has stood upon the businesspaper for two or three days, and therefore it does not seem to me that objection can be taken to it. What will happen as the result of passing the motion will be that the Bill will appear upon the businesspaper to-morrow.
– Will it be taken at the stage at which it was left last session?
– That is certainly so under standing order 214A.
– Do I understand that if this motion be carried we shall tomorrow go into Committee on the Bill, and that the consideration of it will be resumed at the point where we left off when proceedings came to an end last session?
– If this motion be carried, the Bill will appear upon the noticepaper to-morrow just as if we had been proceeding with it during the present session. As far as I can see, there will then be no opportunity for debate except on the matter actually before the House or on the necessary message from the GovernorGeneral. This procedure is not new. We have already followed it on several occasions in previous sessions.
– I desire to speak to a point of order, because I think that there has been a misinterpretation of the rule of the House concerning the matter. I point out that the standing order to which von have referred honorable members was passed in regard to business interrupted l-y a count out, and with the object of replacing such business on the business-paper without debate. lt must be understood that that standing order was passed, not exactly as a closure measure, but to prevent discussions taking place on a motion to restore business to the paper in the event of the House being counted out, as had occurred on several occasions. But it was never intended that the standing order should apply to a Bill that had lapsed owing to the close of the session. ‘ It was never intended that the standing order should apply to a motion concerning a lapsed Bill, but the object was that the House might not lose the valuable time that had been expended on the discussion of a measure proceedings upon which had not been finished at the end of a session. The standing order was brought in to enable such a measure to be resuscitated after it had lapsed in a previous session. I may say that in every Parliament in Australia in which that standing order is in force the motion for the replacing of the business on the paper is debated, and in many cases the debate occupies as much time as the original debate on the second reading of the Bill. On this account, the wisdom of such a standing order has been questioned bymany parliamentarians. With all respect to roll, sir, I maintain that it was never intended that the standing order preventing debate on a motion to restore business lapsed by reason of a count-out should apply to a motion for the resuscitation of business under standing order 214A. We have here a most contentious measure, and, in my opinion, it would be entirely wrong to deprive honorable members of the right to discuss the wisdom of restoring it to the business-paper in the way proposed. Such a motion may in the past have been agreed to without debate, but if that be so it must have applied to a measure to which there was no opposition.
– During the time the honorable member for Kennedy has been speaking, I have had some of the precedents looked up. I see that at least on one occasion, when it was proposed to restore the Papua Bill to the business -paper after it had lapsed in the previous session, there was debate <>n the motion. That being so, if the honorable “member for Parramatta desires to move the adjournment of the de bate, or the Government desire to adopt some other course, I shall offer no objection.
– I intend neither to move the adjournment of the debate nor to debate the proposal further than to say that, so far as I know, not the slightest obstacle will be interposed from this side of the House to the restoration of this business to the paper. But I certainly do desire to protest as strongly as I am able against statements made immediately after the prorogation last session by the Minister in charge of this measure, in which he blamed the Opposition for the lapsing of the Bill on that occasion. As the most cursory glance at Hansard will show, no more incorrect statement was ever made from a platform in this country. I protest most strongly against a Minister permitting such a Bill to lapse when every opportunity was afforded for passing it, and then going before the people and blaming his opponents, who, on that occasion, as on this, interposed no obstacle to the consideration of the measure. We are as anxious as the Government can ever be to see this matter disposed of. I repeat that it is a most unfair proceeding for the Government to seek to saddle the blame upon the Opposition for the failure of their measure 011 the last occasion as the Treasurer so despicably tried to do.
– If my memory serves me, what the Treasurer did was to complain of a particular amendment moved from the other side.
– And the honorable gentleman blamed, honorable members on this side for defeating the measure.
.- I wish to say that when it was first proposed to permit the moving of motions to restore lapsed Bills to the stage which they had reached in previous sessions, I was entirely against it. I believe such a practice to be inconsistent with proper parliamentary procedure. It is certainly out of place in the case of measures which require the appropriation of money. Since last session a new member has been returned to this House, and the possible election of new members during a recess is one of the objections to the adoption of such a. practice. It has always been a strong point with me that any Bill involving the appropriation of revenue should be completely dealt with in one session. So far as the Manufactures Encouragement Bill itself is concerned I hold definite views on the subject* and when it comes on I shall take definite’ action. It is a very important measure, and it is for the Government to pursue the policy they consider best, and accept responsibility for their action. Speaking from memory, I think that last session we had reached the schedule of the Bill.
– Yes, we were dealing with wire netting.
– I do not care what the particular matter dealt with was ; we are here to perform our public duties, and happily all that is done must be done openly. I am, of course, for the nationalization of the iron industry.
– But there will be no opportunity to secure the nationalization of the industry if this motion is carried, because we must take up the Bill at the stage which it reached last session, when the schedule, was being considered in Committee.
– If what the honorable member for Kennedy says is right, I might move the adjournment of the present debate.
– I hope the honorable member will not do so, as we shall be blamed for it if he does.
– I shall take some further opportunity to deal with the matter.
– Like the honorable member for Wide Bay, I should prefer to see the iron industry nationalized rather than conducted by private people under any form of public encouragement. But one has to recognise that there appear to be certain difficulties in the way of achieving the nationalization of the industry at the present time. I shall, of course, have to support such a proposal if it is made, but I do not believe that there would be much advantage in - taking any step now for the nationalization of the industry, in view of the state of parties in this House, and possible constitutional difficulties., But, apart from my preference for the’ nationalization of the industry, I emphatically object to the Manufactures Encouragement Bill for other reasons. I should like the Minister in charge of the measure, or the Ministry, to give the people some indication of where they propose to get the money necessary to finance the various schemes they have in hand. The honorable member for Flinders brought up this question some time ago, but twelve months or more before he spoke I had taken the same attitude with regard to the indif- ference to the question of the finances disclosed by the Government, and indirectly by the House. I enumerated a large number of commitments, which required to be undertaken in the near future, and some of them were of much greater importance to the future of Australia than even the establishment of the iron industry, important as that undoubtedly is. When this Bill was before the House on the last occasion, just before the prorogation, I referred to its probable effect on the finances if carried. We cannot, during the next two and a half years, expect to obtain any more from the Customs than we have been getting, if we are likely to get so much. I am inclined to think we shall not get nearly as much as we have recently been getting.
– The Government estimate is that we shall get £2,000,000 less.
– That is so. We have already incurred the responsibility of providing the balance of the money that will be necessary for the payment of old-age pensions. It is true that a little time ago some of the States Premiers indicated their willingness to do something in that direction by allowing us to take a portion of the three-fourths of Customs and Excise revenue returnable to their States’, but no practical effect has been given to that suggestion. As a matter of fact, there is no present indication that the States Governments are prepared to assist the Commonwealth, so far as provision for the payment of old-age pensions is concerned, before July, 1909-, the date we have set down for commencing their payment, and they are very unlikely to do much then. This, in itself is a. grave responsibility on the shoulders of the Government. The old-age pensions scheme we have adopted is so liberal, and properly so, I think, that f believe it will require considerably more than the sum at first estimated as adequate for the purpose. I am convinced that the amount required will be more nearly £2,000,000 than £1,800,000.
– It will be more than £2,000,000. We are providing pensions for invalids also.
– I will not say that more than .£2,000,000 will be required, but the amount will certainly be more nearly £2,000,000 than £1,800,000. That being so, it is right that we should consider what was our balance last year. I believe we obtainedan enormously increased revenue, and a much higher revenue than we are likely to receive this year, or in the succeeding year, and we had not even then such an enormous balance that we could afford to play fast and loose with the money. In addition to that big responsibility, we have other claims upon us equally pressing in the acquisition of the Northern Territory, the defence proposals, and the taking over of lighthouses.
– And the appointment of a High Commissioner.
– Yes ; that is a very important matter. I trust that we shall pass the High Commissioner Bill, and have the appointment made, because, in the meantime, Australia is suffering. There are these matters of real urgency from a national stand-point staring us in the face, and it is due to the country that the Government should give some indication of where the money to finance them iscoming from. If the Manufactures Encouragement Bill is carried, it will involve claims upon the Treasury to the extent of at least £250,000, assuming that the manufacture of wire netting, and trivial matters included in the schedule are left out of account altogether, and only the £250,000 bonus for the manufacture of iron is provided for. As the industry is in some measure already in existence, it is certain that the Treasurer will be asked for that money. Personally, I view with some concernthe question of where the money is to come from. If we are to impose direct taxation, I shall not grumble, but I do think that we should know exactly where we are being landed. I said before, at the close of last session, that I thought the Government were unwisely saddling themselves with expenditure. There is a means for establishing and encouraging the iron industry, for which preference has been expressed by those most vitally interested, which involves no charge upon the revenue - the imposition of a small duty. Preference for that means was expressed by Mr. Sandford, Mr. Jamieson, and others when the matter was inquired into some considerable time ago.
– Mr. Sandford afterwards withdrew his statement.
– Of course, Mr. Sandford and the Messrs. Hoskins will take what they can get, and do not wish to place any obstacle in the way of a Bill granting bounties. I do not blame them for that. They are worthy gentlemen, and the Messrs. Hoskins deserve credit for their pluck on entering into the undertaking, ‘ for which I wish them all success. The duties for which preference has been expressed by Mr. Sandford are 12½ per cent. against the foreigner, and 10 per cent. against Great Britain.
– To impose such rates itwoul d be necessary to re-open the Tariff.
– I think not. We increased the duties on machinery, and provision was made for a further increase under certain conditions. It must be remembered that the makers of machinery - the secondary users of iron - are in a better position now than they were in before the last Tariff was passed, and the proposed rates would handicap them very little, even if they had to pay the full amount. The difference between the value of raw iron and that of iron in its manufactured state is so great that in some cases a duty of 10 per cent. on raw iron would not amount to1½ per cent. on the manufactured article.
– In most cases it would be inappreciable.
– Quite so. When a member of the Iron Bonus Commission, I examined some engineers on this question, and one, who was in a very big way of business in Sydney, said that he could afford to pay 5 per cent. more for iron if he could obtain a local supply which would be always available, because that would render it unnecessary to carry such large stocks as are now requisite. That accounts for half of the duty right away. It seems to me that the Government ought either to tell us how they propose to make good the deficit which must stare us in the face if we are to have only one-fourth of theCustoms and Excise revenue at our disposal, and yet carry on the various enterprises essential to the welfare of Australia, or why they are not prepared to adopt, in this instance at any rate, a method of assistance involving no drain upon the Treasury, and, in the opinion of those who are in a position to know, one likely to achieve the desired object.
– We require a finan cial statement which will not be confined to this year.
– I do not think that the Government can be expected to give a financial statement for a period manyyears ahead; but we should know how Min- isters propose to finance the undertakings immediately in view. The taking over of the Northern Territory would involve a very large annual expenditure, and one well justified from an Australian stand-point. The establishment of the Federal Capital will mean another big outlay, and there are other huge expenditures staring us in the face which are not a question of years ahead, but of to-morrow.
– There is the penny postage proposal.
– That, I think, is useful only for placarding purposes. I do not suppose that it will be carried in this House in our present financial condition.
– Would the honorable member support it?
– No. We cannot afford penny postage at present.
– I understand that the Labour Party is divided on the subject?
-It is not a party question. As for party division, I am credibly informed that there is nothing upon which the members of the Opposition can agree, except, perhaps, the need for a change of Government. Before proceeding further with the Bill, we should have a statement as to how its administration is to be financed. No doubt, as honorable members voted for the measure last session, it will be carried, and I do not wish to offer factious opposition to it ; but I desire to know how it is proposed to find the money to administer it and other measures which will involve a big expenditure in the immediate future. If a statement is not given, I shall be content to record my vote against the motion..
.- Ministers might well give their serious consideration to this matter.
– Move the adjournment of the debate.
– I do not wish to do that. 1 think that a reply should be given to the case so ably presented by the honorable member for South Sydney. Some honorable members took the view, a considerable time since, that the Government should present a definite statement of its intentions for the next few years before the House engaged itself to these big responsibilities. Honorable members are not at the present time thoroughly cognisant of the details of the measure, and much might depend, under ordinary circumstances, upon the statement of the Government as to the attitude adopted in regard to important provisions in it. But if the motion be carried, the only thing left to be considered will be part of the schedule, affecting proposals for bounty on wire netting and one other production. The Bill has practically been passed.
– Why did not honorable members take up this position last session ?
– We did.
– The Bill was rushed through in three or four hours.
– I made a speech in connexion with the measure which led to the demand for a financial statement made by the honorable member for Flinders. I gave a long list of works pressing for consideration, many of which have to-night been referred to by the honorable member for South Sydney ; but the Government would not inform us how it proposed to get the money necessary to carry out its obligations, or how it would dispose of the funds at its disposal. To ask honorable members to pass the motion without dealing with the merits of the proposal lying behind it is to handicap us in a manner in which, I am sure, the Prime Minister does not desire. He will recognise that if this motion be agreed to the Bill will be taken up at a stage at which discussion would be practically useless. Honorable members have made up their minds as to the merits or demerits of the proposal, and the question is, chiefly one of ways and means. I am unable to agree with the honorable member for South Sydney that a duty is preferable to a bounty. I favour the granting of a bounty until the industry is able to meet the necessities of the secondary industries of the Commonwealth. The question is one on which honorable members should have an opportunity, if they desire, to speak and to vote. If we agree to this motion they will be deprived of the chance of declaring for a duty instead of a bounty to assist the industry, although they may have an opportunity to vote “for or against the Bill in the form in which it is passed.
– The honorable member should ask leave to continue his remarks so that I may have an opportunity to look into the Bill.
– That suggestion comes from the latest addition to our ranks. The Bill has been out ofhand for some months and, in view of our altered financial position, I think the honorable member’s proposal is a reasonable one. Honorable members have either to reject the Bill which has practically been disposed of–
– No, I am perfectly prepared to say that if this motion be agreed to we shall’ not proceed further with the Bill until the Treasurer has made a financial statement, and that if it be necessary to enable clear effect to be given to it, and my colleague will consent, to recommit any portion that will be necessary to enable the House to decide.
– I am prepared to accept the Prime Minister’s assurance.
.- The statement just made by the Prime Minister affords sufficient reason for the adjournment of the motion. He tells us that there is no hurry.
– I have not said so.
– The Prime Minister has just said that if the motion be agreed to the Government will not proceed with the Bill until the Treasurer has made a financial statement. That must necessarily mean some delay, and in the circumstances why should the motion be pressed to-night? One honorable member has entered the House since the Bill was. last before us, and consequently has not had the opportunity which others have enjoyed to discuss it. If this motion be passed he will be confined to a discussion of a few details of the measure in Committee.
– He will be able to discuss it generally on the motion for the third reading.
– I can well imagine what the honorable member would say if he were in the Opposition and were told by a Minister that he would have an opportunity to discuss some measure on the motion that it be read a third time.
– The Prime Minister says that he will agree to a recommittal if requested to do so.
– Even so, honorable members will not be able to discuss the general principles of the Bill. On the motion itself that might be done, but it has been sprung upon us to-night, and honorable members have not come prepared to discuss it. Some honorable members have referred to the big obligations that the Commonwealth has undertaken. It appears to me that the Government are prepared to undertake obligation after obligation without considering where the money is to come from. We have already passed a Bounties Bill under which there will be a disbursement of a large sum, and we are now practically passing a measure to give one particular firm £304,000. We have no right to give any firm, by way of bounty, such an enormous sum at the expense of the people. If we are to assist the iron industry, then the proper course to adopt is that suggested by the honorable member for South Sydney - to do so by means of a duty. It is extraordinary that honorable members of the Opposition who two or three years ago opposed the Bill are now in favour of it.
– Not all of them.
– I admit that the honorable member and one or two others are not, but the change of attitude on the part of many members of the Opposition is certainly remarkable. If we were likely to have a number of firms competing for the proposed bounty on the production of iron I could understand the proposition, but as a matter of fact we have only one established firm in the iron industry, and it must reap the whole benefit. The Parliament ought not to give any person or firm such an enormous sum. I intend to call for a division upon this motion, believing that its adoption will do away with the opportunity to discuss the whole Bill in the light of our present financial position. We were more than half through the schedule when we dropped its further consideration last session. The Treasurer, in his second financial statement last session, quoted a table of figures prepared by the Secretaryto the Treasury - though, I must say, the Treasurer did not wish to commit that gentleman definitely to the figures - showing that our revenue from the Customs must gradually diminish so that in the second or third year we should be receiving about £2,000,000 less than we were then receiving. Under the circumstances, it is only right that the House should clearly understand what the Government are doing ; and, personally, I hope that this motion will be postponed so that the matter may have the fullest possible consideration.
.- To use mild language, I think the Government are most unfair in their present proposals. Shortly before the adjournment on the Friday evening prior to the prorogation we were given to understand that nofresh business would be undertaken ; but the next day we learned from the newspapers’ that this Manufactures Encouragement Bill had been brought in, and rushed through an empty House. Having got the measure to its present stage the Government now try to manoeuvre it through practically to the last of the schedule. Seeing that we are promised a financial statement, which may influence honorable members on this question, it is only fair that there should be a postponement. In view of what took place when this Bill was last before us, one cannot altogether rely on assurances that are given. I know that, personally, I have had assurances on other matters, and have found the Government not holding to an honorable understanding given in the House.
– And yet the honorable member keeps on supporting the Government !
– I can say that my liking for the Government is not increasing with acts of this kind ; and, if I were not confronted with the Conservative spectre of the Opposition, I might take a different view. It is not often that I say anything harsh about the Government, but I think it is most unfair to treat honorable members in this way. When the Government arrive at an understanding, honorable members ought not to “ have a march stolen upon them “ after they have left the House.
– That is pretty hot !
– Well, what was iti’ We were told that nothing but formal matters would be dealt with, and yet next morning we found that this Bill had almost gone through. We are proposing to give a bounty without any guarantee of proper management for the business. I heard it said the other day that certain machinery which had been imported was not understood, and that, consequently, the work expected was not done, with the result that there was financial loss; and it would appear that the Commonwealth Parliament is to be called upon to make good that loss. Before any bounty is paid we ought to have some guarantee that the business will be properly conducted. There ought to be some inquiry into the management of the industry. There are now new proprietors, and we do not know but what there may be great mismanagement.
– They desire to reduce wages.
– That is so.
– There is a Wages Board to look after that,
– No Wages Board can provide good management ; and if there is bad management those responsible ought to bear the loss. At present the proposal seems to be to take money, by means of the Customs duties, from the poorer classes and give it to those who have more than enough.
– Why did the honorable member not think of that when he was voting for protective duties?
– So far as I could see I voted for keeping down the revenue resulting from protective duties. As a matter of fact, it is not protective duties which produce revenue, but rather the duties on rice and other products which are consumed largely by the poorer classes. There is no guarantee that this industry is going to be managed in a business-like way, nor is there any guarantee that, when the period of the bounty expires, it further claim will not be made by those conce’rned in the industry. It may be that the bounty will simply mean the working profit of the company, and that the moment the bounty period expires1 we shall be told there is a further loss as an excuse for the expenditure of another quarter of a million of public money. For twenty-five years that has been the experience in Canada.
– Would the company give the Commonwealth 250,000 shares in the venture?
– I think that is a good suggestion. If we contribute £250,000 we ought to have as many shares, with Government representatives on the board of directors.
– Just as the British Government hold shares in the Suez Canal.
– Exactly. It would also be some guarantee against the watering of stock, and the consequent unfair burden upon the industry in respect of capital charges which have no right to be made. But, apart altogether from the merits of the bounty, it is most unfair, after an undertaking is given to an honorable member that matters of this kind are not to be gone on with, when there are various clauses in the measure upon which honorable members have varying opinions, and which they might wish to amend, and when members have gone to their homes, that the Government should introduce the Bill, rush it to an advanced stage, and desire to push the remaining parts of it through at this stage of the new session. By that means honorable members will have been deprived of the right to criticise or move amendments on the clauses. I hope that the Government, seeing that something further is to be said about the finances/will postpone consideration of the motion so as to give honorable members an opportunity, before they finally vote either upon the remaining items of the schedule or upon the Bill itself, of knowing exactly what the financial proposals of the Government are for the immediate future.
– I should not have spoken but for a remark of the honorable member for Kennedy, who seemed to infer that everybody on this side of the House intended to vote for the measure.
– It was not in my mind if I did so. I did not intend it.
– I, who opposed similar bounties and other assistance being given to the manufacturers of other parts of Australia, am not going to support this assistance being given to a manufacturer in New South Wales. But honorable members who gave every support to industries and firms in other parts of Australia, are now expressing their readiness to oppose the extension of that assistance to this industry. That is where the inconsistency lies, and certain! v not in the attitude that I will take. While I have opposed this Bill in previous Parliaments, and will vote against it now, having expressed my reasons fully on many occasions, I quite agree that it is high time the matter was settled. Those engaged in the industry have a right, when they see how persons engaged in other industries have been treated by this Parliament, to expect the prompt settlement of the question, and an early knowledge of what their position is to be. ‘
– My suggestion is to treat them on similar lines.
– We hive had two lines. We have given bounties as well as duties. Personally I would oppose either the giving of a bounty or the imposition of a duty. But after every industry that is covered by the Tariff has been dealt with, most of them very liberally - in fact, we have been piling on duties where large profits were manifestly being made under the lower duties - those engaged in this industry have a right to know whether the members who supported that policy will continue to support it in this case, and whether their industry- is or is not to receive assistance. I would, therefore, be at one with the Ministry in reaching the earliest possible decision. I am glad that notice has been at once taken of the remarks of the honorable member for South Sydney as to the necessity for some forecast of where the money is to come from to meet the various commitments we have already made, and those other schemes which the Government have expressed themselves in favour of. We have urged, more than once from this side of the House - the honorable member for Flinders and other honorable members have done so, and I have done so - thatthere should be some better handling of our finances than is being exhibited by this Ministry. If there is not, if the House permits proposals such as this and others to go forward and blindly accepts them, we shall be committed to a serious financial position which will end in a crisis, and the loss of the reputation in financial matters of the Federal Parliament. I quite agree with the honorable member for South Sydney. I remember his urging something of the sort before, and he repeats it now. We as a Parliament have no right, whether we are supporters or opponents of the Government, to accept every scheme that is brought forward, even if a majority are in favour of it, unless we know how the finances are going to meet the strain imposed by our legislation.
– The Prime Minister has premised that the Treasurer will make a financial statement.
– I know. I am pleased that the honorable member for South Sydney has added this pressure to what he exerted before, and what otherhonorable members have exerted since, sothat a promise has been given which we could never procure, although our arguments were on the same lines.
– It is about two yearssince I made a similar speech about thefinances from this corner.
– I know it is a long time ago. I remember that speech, and quite, agreed with the tenor of it. It has been a long time in taking; effect, and if the honorable member has by this other speech produced a late repentance on the part of the Ministry, weshall be only too happy that He has produced repentance at all. I hope the PrimeMinister will amply fulfil the promise that he has. made. He must see himself the necessity for it. He knows we aTe getting so seriously near to the exhaustion of all margin that it is high time we looked the matter in the face. I intend to assume with regard to the Bill the attitude that I took up before, but I do think that those engaged in the industry have a right to know as early as possible what is to be . their fate in the distribution of assistance that has been going on.
– The principal point of the last speaker was a charge that those who have supported the giving of assistance to other industries by means of protection through the Customs House now refuse altogether to give protection to the iron industry.
– I did not say that they refused.
– I took the honorable member to mean that we were opposed to conceding to this industry what was conceded to others. I may say at the outset that if I had thought that a certain decision was to be given in a certain Court I would not have voted for most of the duties that I supported in connexion with other industries.
– The honorable member finds at last that he has been fooled.
– I find that I have, and I do not intend to be fooled much longer. The Government wish to take up this Bill where it was left prior to the close of last session, but there is quite a different face on the matter now. I should have been willing to support it, failing the nationalization of the iron industry, but for the future I shall trust nobody who promises me anything, unless I have an absolute assurance that that promise will be carried out. I shall vote for no Bill of a protective character unless I have a positive, and not a possible, assurance that it will not come into operation until an Act, which is constitutional, to give effect to the new protection, is placed side by side with it on the statute-book. I admit that the production of iron here should be encouraged just as much as, perhaps more, than other industries, but having regard to our past experience, I am rather doubtful about approaching the question at the present time. Seeing that we discussed the Bill, and got so far as we did, with the hope that labour conditions might be attached which would be not only carried out by those who were getting the protec tion, namely, the manufacturers, but also upheld at law, until I can be satisfied that the workers will be assured good wages and fair labour conditions, I shall not vote for a bounty upon the production of iron. One of the reasons why I submit that the Ministry should not persist with their desire to take up the Bill where it was left last session is because honorable members have had great reason for altering their opinions. If we had had a few more hours to spare, and honorable members who had left for their homes had been present, it is quite possible that the Bill might have been put through the House, but ‘ that would have been done by the votes of men who had hoped that the workers as well as the manufacturers would receive a benefit.
– There is a wages provision already incorporated in the Bill.
– Yes, there is a wages condition attached, but the moment we passed the Bill, we might find that it was unconstitutional. Not being a legal man, I do not propose to air my knowledge of constitutionality, as I said here once before.
– It is quite an open question.
– In spite of the decision that was given, I am satisfied that the intention of the people of Australia was that the employes, as well as the employers, should be protected. That question has already been discussed, and the honorable and learned member for Werriwa has given an exposition of judge-made law which I, as a layman, think would appeal to any body of men possessing an ordinary amount of common sense. While I have always given fair support to the Government on this question, it is not my intention to follow “their lead unless they can, not promise, but satisfy me, that there is in the proposal something which will be beneficial to the workers as well as 10 the manufacturers. I admit that as a representative my first thought, as well as my last thought, has always been to secure good wages and fair conditions for the workers, always being satisfied that a man who has his money invested in a_factory shall receive a fair profit. I am here because the wage earners in my electorate were not satisfied that they received their share of the protection which was given to their employers. Therefore, it is quite natural that in all these matters my first idea is to consider the rates of wages and the conditions of the workers. In view of that fact, and seeing that we have had evidence that possibly that portion of the Bill which relates to employes may be declared unconstitutional, I suggest to the Ministry that they should allow its provisions to be discussed from the present stand-point. Not because this industry is located in New . South Wales, but because I know that the workers of that State deserve protection just as do the workers in Victoria, or any other State, it is my intention to vote against the proposal to take up the Bill at the stage where it was dropped last session. I have my doubts - and I do not stand alone in that respect - as to the financial possibilities. We have been promise’d by the Prime Minister a financial report, and I suppose that the Treasurer is satisfied that these is in hand a certain amount of money which is ear-marked for a certain contingency. I place before the sanction of an iron bounty the introduction of a system of old-age pensions. Last session we passed a Bill for that purpose, and I want to be assured that we shall have the wherewithal to pay the pensions when the time for their payment arrives. Without a doubt the passing of that measure by the House was hailed with delight by the people of Australia, and I doubt if any of the honorable members opposite, who, while they said that they supported the payment of old-age pensions
– The honorable member voted over £300,000 for other kinds of bounties without once mentioning old-age pensions.
– Perhaps I had better withdraw my assertion that honorable members on the other side voted for old-age pensions. What I meant to say was that they were all in favour of the principle - but when we came to make arrangements for financing a scheme, they perceived so many difficulties that, according to their view, it was impossible. There may be something in the warning which they then gave me. I wish to have it more explicitly explained to me - and I take it that other honorable members are of the same opinion as myself - that the wherewithal with which to pay the old-age pensions will be available. For the reasons I have given, I wish to discuss the Bill again fully, with a view to forming a judgment from the present stand-point.
.- I am rather surprised at some of the expressions of opinion which have come from my honorable friends in the Labour corner. I want first of all to correct what I am sure was an unintentional misstatement made by the honorable member for Cook in reference to the way in which the Bill was brought before the House, and dealt with on the closing day of last session. It is true that we all felt that the Government should have brought the measure forward earlier than they did j but it is not true that it was dealt with after the Sydney train had left. It was brought .on in an earlier portion of the sitting, and then put on one side, and the Estimates were brought on before the train for Sydney left. 1 have a distinct recollection of the circumstances, because I stayed to see the Bill, and also some of the Estimates put through before the train left. The question of finance, which is troubling certain honorable members so much now, did not seem to trouble them then to anything like the same extent when they were asked to vote £400,000 to encourage the production of sisal hemp, mohair, coffee, peanuts, linseed, rubber, fish, dates, and other articles which, to my mind, are not of nearly as much national importance as is the production of iron.
– The honorable member opposed the payment of a bounty upon the production of those commodities.
– I opposed the whole of the bounty proposals. What I cannot understand is the attitude of those honorable members who supported the payment of a bounty upon these twopennyhalfpenny, trumpery articles, and who are yet so consistent in their opposition to an industry which above all others is a working man’s industry. For instance, the total cost of the production of pig iron is about £3 10s. per ton, of which wages and material absorb £3 5s.
– That cannot be the wages cost.
– I said that the cost of wages and material was ,£3 5s. per ton. The material in question consists of ore, flux, coke, and other commodities the cost of which is almost entirely made up of wages. I am quoting from the figures of Mr. Allard. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports appears to be very much concerned about the welfare of the workers. But he knows perfectly well that unless this Bill be passed some 600 or 800 men will be thrown out of employment.
– What assurance have we that those men will be continued in their employment at proper rates of wages if the Bill becomes law?
– In New South Wales a Wages Board has been appointed in connexion with this particular industry, and at the present time that Board is sitting to determine the rates of wages which shall be payable in it. The ironworkers are very well satisfied with their power to safeguard their own interests.
– They may get an award similar to that under which ironworkers’ assistants in Victoria were granted 6s.9d. per day.
– They may and they may not. The ironworkers of Lithgow are quite satisfied with their power to secure proper wages at the hands of the Board.
– The honorable member may safely leave that question to the workers. They will look after themselves-
– That is exactly what I suggest. If the interest of the honorable member for Melbourne Ports in the wage earners of New South Wales is as great as his interest in the workers of his own electorate, I do not see how he can oppose the passing of this Bill.
– The honorable member did not vote in favour of certain articles being manufactured from the iron in his own electorate.
– The honorable member may charge me with inconsistency if he chooses, but if he wishes to be a model of consistency he will support the passing of this Bill. He was consistent in voting to protect every conceivable industry, and he also supported the payment of every bounty proposed by the Government. Yet he now says that he will not vote for a bounty upon the production of iron.
– I did not say so. I merely said that I wish to consider the matter in the light of any further knowledge that may be available.
– Where is the honorable member’s consistency if he does not vote for this measure?
– Is there a moral to this tale?
– The moral is that consistency is a very good thing, and if members of the Labour corner wish to be consistent, they will support this measure.
– Is it not a question of consistency if the honorable member votes for this proposal?
– It may be. I am not cancerned with whether or not I am charged with being inconsistent. There is another aspect of this matter which I desire to bring under the notice of the House. Although the sum of £250,000 is specified in the Bill, honorable members must recollect that its payment is to be distributed over a period of five years.
– It may be paid in one or two years.
– No, the Bill provides for the payment of a maximum sum of £50,000 annually for five years - a total of £250,000.
– I do not think so.
– Speaking from memory, that is my impression.
– There is no provision in the Bill for the payment of only £50,000 a year.
– No; it provides for the payment of a lump sum.
– Then my memory was at fault. But the probability is that the £250,000 in question will be distributed over a considerable period, because those engaged in the industry will not be able to manufacture sufficient pig; iron to claim the whole of the bounty in one year.
– Would any firm other than that at Lithgow be afforded a chance of securing the bounty?
– Would it not take twelve months to erect the necessary plant ?
– Yes. But the persons who are at present engaged in the industry could not manufacture sufficient pig iron in one year to claim the whole of the bounty.
– They would run their furnace to its full capacity, and they would be very bad managers if they did not.
– The output of the furnace at Lithgow is limited to about 800 tons per week. It is limited not only by the capacity of the blast furnace itself, but by the ability of the manufacturers to obtain the coke and ore necessary for the production of the pig iron, so that it will be found that it will not be so serious a matter as some honorable members think, and it cannot possibly adversely prejudice a huge expenditure like £2,000,000, such as will be necessary in connexion with the old-age pensions. Whether the bounty is voted or not, I wish to impress upon honorable members the necessity for dealing with the matter one way or the other without delay. As the honorable member for North Sydney so well put it, whatever the decision of Parliament may be, the proprietors are entitled to know what is intended to be done with the least possible delay. The Messrs. Hoskins have put into the enterprise between £220,000 and £230,000, or undertaken liabilities to that amount. They are justified in asking Parliament to let them know without delay whether they are going to receive a bounty or a duty, or no assistance whatever. The least we can do is to remove uncertainties, because while uncertainty exists, things are more or less in a state of flux, and there is not the same facility for proceeding with the work as there would be if they knew what assistance, if any, they were likely to receive from the Commonwealth. The matter is one of serious importance to Lithgow. I hope that honorable members in the Labour corner will realize that unless this bounty or some other assistance is given to the industry, it probably means closing it altogether, and throwing out of work hundreds of men, besides the miners and others employed indirectly. Consequently, it will be realized that the matter is one of very great importance to that portion of the Commonwealth. I trust that the motion before the House will afford an opportunity of determining one way or the other what we are going to do with reference to the question.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Roberts) adjourned.
– Pursuant to standing order 25, I lay upon the table my warrant nominating Mr. Batchelor, Mr. Fowler, Dr. Carty Salmon, and Mr. Wilks to act as Temporary Chairmen of Committees when requested so to do by the Chairman of Committees.
Manufactures Encouragement BillLobbying - Appropriation Message.
. -In moving -
That the House do now adjourn,
I take the opportunity of pointing out that there was no intention, in moving the motion to-night in regard to the Manufactures Encouragement Bill, to take any unfair advantage of the formal proposal necessary for the restoration of the measure to the notice-paper. Indeed, it was only in accordance with an understanding with representatives of the Opposition that the motion would be taken as formal that it was brought forward, in the belief that there would not, and need not, be any demur. Even if the motion had been carried, there was no such closure of debate as some honorable members appeared to anticipate. A fresh message from the Governor-General has to be laid upon the table, and that will open up the financial question, and give the fullest opportunity for discussion in that way. A statement of the financial position likely to be created by the passage of the Bill was a natural and proper request ; and it was acceded to without a moment’s hesitation. Indeed, such a statement would have had to be made even if no request had been preferred for it.
– We have kept our part of the contract.
– Quite so : in every way.
– Will the Prime Minister inform the Treasurer of that?
– I will; although the Treasurer’s former complaint was with reference to an Opposition amendment. It was to it that he attributed the defeat of the Bill. Further, the Bill was not brought on upon the last day of the last session without a word of notice. I have turned up Hansard, and find that on the 2nd June, on the 3rd June, and on the 4th June, the Treasurer mentioned the measure, and called the attention of the House to it. It was brought forward and dealt with on the 5th June.
– On the last day of the session.
– Whoever thought that the Government would deal with a Bill of this character on the last day of the session ?
– I am answering a statement that it was only on the last day of the session that an announcement was made in regard to it. It was mentioned on the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th June, as well as on the 5th. I have not turned up Hansard for preceding days, and do not know how often it was referred to at any other time. There was certainly no desi’re to take advantage of anybody. It was quite realized that even if the measure passed this House it still had to run the gauntlet in another Chamber.
– That is the real reason why it was dropped.
– Unfortunately, I was not able to be present during that week. I think the House is fully seized of the importance of the industry at stake. The House is presented with a choice of alternatives. The Government have chosen this alternative, and it will need some extraordinary set of circumstances to convince them that it would be desirable to take the serious step suggested this evening, though, at the same time, it is a matter for discussion upon which the House is entitled to have the fullest information.
– Would it not have been a fair thing, under the circumstances, to give the House due notice that the measure was coming on, because it is obvious that we shall determine the whole question at this stage.
– I hope that we shall determine the question at this stage, and certainly due notice will be given. This is not a party measure in the ordinary sense at all. There will be a crossing of votes from all sides. The measure has every prospect of being dealt with on its merits. I should not have detained the House now except that I desired to assure the honorable member for Kennedy and other honorable members that in bringing forward the motion as a formal stage it was not intended to deprive honorable members of opportunity for the discussion of the schedule or any other feature of the Bill; although, unless we are prepared to sacrifice ourselves sometimes and deal expeditiously with the measures before us, it is obvious that it is perfectly hopeless for us to expect to deal with the business that faces us during the present session.
Mr. MCDONALD (Kennedy) [10.40I- I do not wish the Prime Minister to think for a moment that I believed he desired to sneak this measure through. When the standing order for the restoration of lapsed business was adopted I anticipated
that trouble would arise from it, because there is always difficulty attending such matters. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports put quite a new complexion on this matter to-night, and it can readily be seen that were the measure brought forward now in the ordinary way quite a different vote would be given concerning it. I did not get up to reply to the Prime Minister, but to say a word or two concerning the conduct of business in this House. I do not see how you, sir, are to effect any alteration in the matter, but from time to time when the Tariff was going through, and other measures in which certain persons, were specially interested were under consideration we found the galleries full. I regret to have to refer to this matter now, because a little while ago a gentleman interested in this particular Bill was in the gallery. Some time ago, on the 19th of this month, I think, a statement appeared in the Age newspaper that a member of a certain firm, the name of which I need not mention, but which will probably benefit by the passing of the Manufactures Encouragement Bill, was in Melbourne at the present time interviewing members concerning the measure. Whilst I am prepared to give the gentleman every credit as an interested party, if he is here merely to lay his views before honorable members, I still think it is not the correct thing to do. I do not believe that any one pecuniarily interested in the passing of a measure should go round personally interviewing members in connexion with it. If that is permitted in this instance we may have a repetition of a scene which occurred in this Chamber some little time ago, when honorable members supporting a particular duty were told that some persons had them “ in the bag.” I think that this inter-‘ viewing of honorable members is politically immoral, and ought not to be allowed. I may say that I have not personally been approached in connexion with this matter, nor do I know of any other honorable member who has, but the statement appeared in the Age that a gentleman interested in it was interviewing members. Whether he has done so or not, I cannot say, but I regard it as an immoral thing to do, and if there were some way in which this House could prevent the practice, I should like to be able to take the earliest opportunity of doing so.
.- We are still working under temporary Standing
Orders, which, were frequently discussed in the two Parliaments preceding the present. I have mentioned that in my opinion the practice of bringing down a message from the Governor-General, recommending the appropriation of revenue in connexion with such a Bill as that under discussion, is the most lax that I ever read or heard of in any Parliament. It is, I think, a dangerous and an intolerable practice that a Bill involving the appropriation of a large amount of revenue should be introduced and carried almost to the third reading before any message recommending the necessary appropriation is brought ‘down. The practice is absurd and unreasonable. I have risen to impress upon you, sir, and the members of the Standing Orders Committee the desirability of getting to work at once to bring down an amendment of the standing order, so as to compel the advisors of the Crown to bring down the message from the Governor-General, recommending the appropriation of revenue, with the Bill, so that it may be discussed when the Bill is introduced. I trust that this will not be lost sight of. I wish only to add this regarding the restoration of the Manufactures Encouragement Bill to the paper: The measure may be said to be improperly before Parliament, inasmuch as no message recommending the appropriation involved has been submitted. It is true that the Standing Orders permit this to be done, but that only shows the necessity for more care in cases of this kind.
.- With reference to the presence of interested persons in the Strangers’ Gallery, I wish to say that the gentleman referred to in connexion with this Bill has never said a word to me. Honorable members are very sensitive about the presence in the gallery of persons who differ from them in opinion. That is what we found when the Tariff was being considered. When free-traders were in the gallery the free-traders in the House did not object, and when protectionists were in the gallery protectionist members offered no objection.
– That is not correct.
– So far as-1 am concerned I regard this as an open Parliament. I believe that every elector has a right to come here, and if he thinks fit, to interview honorable members. If the are so weak-minded as to be influenced by the statements of interested persons, it says little for the intelligence of the electors who returned them. If fifty people, interested in a particular industry wished to interview me, and I had sufficient spare time, I should be prepared to hear their statements, because I believe I should then be in a better position to give an intelligent vote on the question involved. I do not object to persons interviewing members of Parliament, but I do object to misrepresentations, such as that made by the honorable member for Cook, being made in this House, when he referred’ to these measures being dealt with on the last day of the session after the Sydney train had left. This Bill was before the House between the hours of 12.32 and 3.49 p.m. on the Friday. I object to the statement being made that the Government have attempted to sneak measures through in this House.
.- I have no wish to cast any unfair reflections upon any honorable member, but I was told on the Thursday before the House adjourned last session that it was not intended to bring forward any fresh business.
– But Sir William Lyne made a statement when the House rose the night before.
– The honorable gentleman made a number of conflicting statements. He was on several occasions asked what business would be taken, and it was well known that he had some doubt as to what measures would be taken during the remaining hours of the session. I cannot speak with certainty, but I believe I consulted the Government Whip before I left on the Thursday afternoon.
– The honorable gentleman said Friday a little while ago.
– If I did, it was a mistake. I should have said Thursday, because it was on the Thursday I left. I conceived the idea, from something said on behalf of the Government, that only two or three unimportant and noncontentious measures were to be proceeded with. When, next morning, I learned from the press that the Manufactures Encouragement Bill had been dealt, with, I was staggered. Had I known that it was to come on, I should have stayed, because I wished to speak on several of its clauses. However, the quotations which have been made from the Hansard report as to statements made by the Treasurer have created some doubts in my mind, and, therefore, I withdraw my statements as far as be is concerned. I certainly left on the Thursday afternoon under the impression that the Iron Bounties Bill would not be proceeded with.
– Before putting the question, I draw the attention of the honorable member for Wide Bay to section 56 of the Constitution, which provides for recommendations of the Governor-General before the passing of any Act relating to appropriation. He will see there the principles on which the whole thing rests.
– But may not we deal with the matter by standing orders?
– No standing order could be considered for a moment which would have the effect of amending or modifying any part of the Constitution.-
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 10.52 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 22 September 1908, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1908/19080922_reps_3_47/>.